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Belgium's Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo points at a map from where in Europe Jews were transported, at the former Nazi death camp of Auschwitz in Oswiecim, southern Poland Yves Logghe/AP/Press Association Images

Belgian premier apologises for WWII deportation of 25,000 Jews

The Belgian Prime Minister said the country has been “complicit in the most abominable crime” by deporting tens of thousands of Jewish people to Nazi concentration camps during the war.

BELGIUM’S PRIME MINISTER Elio Di Rupo today apologised for the deportation of thousands of Jewish men, women and children to Nazi death camps during World War II.

“By assisting in the Nazi policies of extermination, the authorities of the time and the Belgian state failed in their duties. They were complicit in the most abominable crime,” Di Rupo said at a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the start of the deportations.

“I want to now… express the regret and shame that collaboration brought upon us,” he said at the ceremony in the city of Mechelen, where the first convoys of Jews left on September 9, 1942.

Of the estimated 56,000 Jews living in Belgium at the beginning of the war, around 25,000 were deported to death camps. Only about 1,200survived.

Some six million European Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis during World War II.

Di Rupo also called on the Belgian senate to discuss adopting a resolution about the responsibility of the Belgian state in the deportations.

- © AFP, 2012

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