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Old March 17th, 2008 #4
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: living in Belgium for last 10 years
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Inquiry into Belgium's Nazi record
Belgium may investigate the alleged complicity of its wartime authorities in the deportation and murder of some 25,000 Jews.

The centre-left MP Olivier Maingain has proposed a committee of inquiry in the hope that it will prompt a national debate on the issue.

Belgium's record during the second world war has long been a matter of debate. Occupied from 1940 to 1944, its king opted to stay in Belgium with most senior civil servants and police, while the government fled to London.

Many Belgians allegedly helped the Nazis identify 25,257 non-Belgian Jews for deportation; 28 convoys were dispatched to concentration camps between 1942 and 1944, and only 1,207 Jews survived. Antwerp policemen allegedly helped the Germans and an SS regiment of native Flemish reservists carry out raids and arrest Jews.

Mr Maingain says that with this year's 60th anniversary of the first deportation, it is time to establish Belgium's complicity.

"Historians have revealed that the Belgians' help was indispensable in realising the final solution - and that the Belgian administration agreed to loan its services to a Nazi occupier which didn't have enough manpower to do the job itself," he says.

An inquiry established after liberation tried individuals for war crimes but did not deal with deportations. A more recent investigation confined itself to damages.

But Mr Maingain believes that looming elections next year, a fear of confronting the past and fierce opposition from the Flemish community will delay any inquiry.

"I fear that it will be kicked into the long grass. There is incredible sensitivity about this issue and there was a very strong collaborationist streak on the Flemish side. In Belgium, we have a long history of not wanting to look the past in the face."