Friday, 17 April 2015
On the occasion of the international day of remembrance for the Holocaust, several hundred people attended a commemoration ceremony in Anderlecht. The ceremony commemorated the 72nd anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising and the blocking of the 20th convoy of Jews deported from the Dossin Barracks (Mechelen) in Auschwitz. The ceremony took place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday on Anderlecht’s Square des Martyrs juifs. The ceremony ended the uninterrupted reading of names of the 24,036 Belgian deported Jews that were murdered and the 245 Jews killed in the resistance, a reading which started on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Many ambassadors and political representatives were in attendance, including Pensions Minister Daniel Bacquelaine, the Minister of the Middle Classes Willy Borsus, Wallonia-Brussels Minister Isabelle Simonis, Secretary of State for the Region Bianca Debaets, the Vice President of the House of Representatives Françoise Schepmans, Senator Jacques Brotchi…
Town representatives opened the ceremony with a speech about the importance of living together. The President of The UEJB (Union of Jewish Students in Belgium), Jonathan De Lathouwer, spoke about the dangers of the rejection of Israel’s policy leading to people being stigmatised for their religious affiliation.
Paul Sobol, deported to Auschwitz as a youth, talked of how he lost every member of his family bar his little sister, and of his experience of the prisoner “death marches” at the end of the war. After a 40-year silence about this part of his life, his return to Auschwitz marks the beginning of his new role as an active witness.
Writer Alain Berenboom read a text entitled “I have a problem with the Holocaust,” in which he explains how his parents were reluctant to talk about the war and his desire as a writer to no longer be a vicitim and to instead contribute to the contemporary debate. He concluded by saying: “I decided to stop ‘having a problem with the Holocaust’. I realised that, like it or not, history cannot be locked up in a closet while we wait for a better tomorrow. If it is, beware whoever opens the closet that day. We’ve seen the results in Rwanda and Cambodia, where humanity tried to deny the existence of a genocide… A Jew, however atheist he or she may be, keeps the history of his people and their persecution alive.”