(Belgium) Historians Quit Belgium's Holocaust Museum over Anti-Israel Activist Being Honored
Jan Meisels Allen
Kazerne Dossin is Belgium’s Holocaust Memorial Museum and Documentation Center located in Mechelen, Belgium, and is the location where between 1942 and 1944 over 25,000 Jews and 352 Roma and Sinti were deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Many of these people were not from Belgium originally but fled there as the war expanded to their European countries. Only just over 5% returned. During this time it was known as the SS-Sammellager Mechelen, a Nazi collection and deportation camp. The Museum was built by constructing the new museum opposite the old barracks, opening in 2012.
In late 2019, the then museum director resigned because he felt the daily management was focused too much on the Holocaust memorial aspect and not enough on documenting current human rights violations. Earlier this month 10 historians stepped down in protest of canceling an event honoring a vocal Israel critic. Brigitte Herremans, an activist who has called on the European Union to sanction Israel and its citizens, and has accused Israel’s supporters of “inflating anti-Semitism” to deflect criticism, was set to be honored as an “ambassador of peace” by the Catholic aid group Pax Christi. The Board of Kazerne Dossin suggested it would continue to resist initiatives that it believes will dilute its core mission of commemorating the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis and their collaborators against Jews and other victims.
In full disclosure I have visited this museum in 2012 and IAJGS had as a speaker at one of its conference’s the then director of the Museum.
The website for the Museum is: https://www.kazernedossin.eu/EN/Museumsite/Museum/Inleiding
Their Documentation Center is https://beeldbank.kazernedossin.eu/ The Site is available in Dutch and English. Click on search key. If you would like to consult the archive or the library you need to submit a research statement. The form is downloadable
This is not the only Holocaust Museum that has undergone similar controversy. Last year the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports, “the director of Berlin’s Jewish museum resigned after the museum tweeted a link to an article defending the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel that the German parliament declared to be anti-Semitic the previous month. The Jewish museum of Munich was accused last July of libeling Israel in an exhibition that suggested that it is an occupying force.”
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee