Re: (Belgium) Historians Quit Belgium's Holocaust Museum over Anti-Israel Activist Being Honored

Marcel Apsel

I am following the discussion about 9 professors quitting the Scientific Counsel of the holocaust museum of Mechelen (Belgium).  All this started when the Belgian authorities wanted the original Dossin Barrack museum (which was meant to show and remember all activities about the holocaust and the resistance in Belgium during World War II), to be transformed through a new building opposite the Dossin Barrack itself into a place of activity where it should be possible to discuss all genocides over the world including racism.  The idea itself is good, but plenty of people believed this should be done through a different museum and not in the museum of Mechelen.  They were afraid that in the long run the holocaust (Jewish genocide), which is the main purpose of its existence would become a small part of its activities.  Nathan Ramat, who was the founder and first chairman of the Dossin Barrack museum told me, off record,  about 10 years ago, that the authorities intended to transform the original goal of the museum into a general genocide museum, The board at that time had to accept this,  if the Dossin Barrack museum wanted  to get financial funds.  And so it happened.  Nathan Ramet, who was knighted by the king of Belgium for his activities for talking about the holocaust, passed away about 8 years ago.  If he knows what happens now, he will turn around in his grave, being an Auschwitz survivor. 

The Anti-Israel Activist Brigitte Herremans, who will always criticize Israel and always defend Hamas will (in)directly give occasion to some severe anti-Israel activists to consider the Israelis as Nazi Germans in order to promote the conflict into a Palestinian holocaust.  The fact that Brigitte Herremans was supposed to get a honorary degree for her activities in the premises of the museum  is a bridge too far.  It would be the same thing as putting a wolf in the middle of a cattle of sheep.  Therefore the board of directors intervened and refused to have the ceremony for Brigitte Herremans to take place in the premises of the museum.  That therefore 9 professors withdraw their membership of the scientific board of the museum is their problem.  Most of those professors consider the holocaust as a personal interest of history without taking in consideration of sensitivities of survivors and their descendants in Belgium, Israel and the rest of the world.   

Has this any influence on Jewish genealogical research.  I really do not know, but on the long run it maybe can have an impact on the activities of the museum including further research of information of the holocaust in Belgium.


Marcel Apsel

Antwerpen, Belgium

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