Nazi raids on Brussels Jews remembered

Around 400 people gathered on the Herschel Grynszpanplein in Brussels on Monday afternoon to remember the Jews that were rounded up and deported to death camps by the Nazis during the German occupation of Belgium between 1940 and 1944. The Mayor of Brussels Philippe Close (Francophone socialist) marked the remembrance ceremony by unveiling a new square, the 3 Septemberplein that is at the crossroads of the Spiegelstraat, the Huidevettersstraat and the Brigittinestraat. 

During the night of 3 September 1942 the German occupiers detained 718 foreign Jews in the Marollen area of Brussels for deportation to concentration camps. A year raid on 3 September 1943 Belgian Jews were rounded up, detained and deported by the Nazis.  

A the start of the remembrance ceremony a boy sung the Belgian national anthem. In his speech the Mayor of Brussels remember the role that the Belgian authorities and local officials had played in the raids. 50 Stolpersteins (cobble stone sized copper-coloured plaques that show the names of Jews that perished in the Shoah) that were laid in the Huidevettersstraat over the past week were officially unveiled during the ceremony.     

Tribute was also paid to the 1,742 Belgian that have been given recognition by the Yad Vashem Institute for having risked their own lives to protect Jews.  

The Nobel Prize winning physicist François Englert who escaped deportation to a Nazi death camp as a child than to have been hidden spoke at the ceremony. He spoke of his experiences and of the courage of those Belgians that resisted the Nazis.  

With the Russian Ambassador in the audience, Mr Close stressed the importance of the role played by the Russians in defeating the Nazis. A free concert in the Our Lady of Kapellekerk church by Hélois Azoulay concluded the ceremony.