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Gil Shefler, Jerusalem Post
May 22, 2011
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor blasted Belgian Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck on Thursday for saying the Nazi period should be forgotten and for supporting amnesty for collaborators with Germany during World War II.
“Europeans have already forgotten the Holocaust and now politicians are making it official,” Kantor said. “The fact that a European justice minister can claim there should be a statute of limitations for genocide should be unthinkable, and the idea is repugnant.”
Calls for De Clerck to resign have grown louder since last week after he came out in support of a pardon for Belgians who collaborated with the Nazis at a televised debate.
“Perhaps we should be willing to forget, because it is the past,” De Clerck said. “At some point one has to be adult and be willing to talk about it, perhaps to forget, because this is the past.”
At the same time, the Belgian Senate narrowly passed draft legislation proposed by the rightist Belang party that would grant amnesty to Nazi collaborators. The bill still needs approval by the lower house of parliament.
Kantor said the remarks made by De Clerck, coupled with the results of a recent survey carried out by the EJC showing that two-thirds of respondents under the age of 45 did not know that six million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust, were particularly concerning.
The recent conviction of John Demjanjuk by a German court for his part in the murder of thousands of Jews at the Nazi concentration camp of Sobibor is no consolation for the seemingly growing ignorance among Europeans of the Holocaust, he said.
“The message that the conviction of Demjanjuk sent has now been undone in a matter of days due to the irresponsible words of De Clerck. While aging Holocaust survivors thought that they could see justice, even in their final days, the Belgium Justice Minister has robbed them of that,” said Kantor.
He added that statements like De Clerck’s were seeping down to Europeans, and that this is the main reason why there is so much ignorance of the Holocaust.
In memory of Dr. Gary A. Tobin.
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