Thursday, August 31, 2006

The French are French wherever you find them

In The Brussels Journal Paul Belien gives us a lesson in a history that some people would rather be forgotten:

The Belgian authorities have destroyed archives and records relating to the persecution and deportation of Jews in Belgium in the 1930s and 1940s. Some of this happened as recently as the late 1990s. This was revealed during hearings in the Belgian Senate last Spring. Though the Senate report dates from 4 May the Belgian press has not yet mentioned the affair. The Senate report says that “documents about the period 1930-1950 have been destroyed on a massive scale.”

The systematic destructions of the records of police and judiciary from the 1930s and ’40s happened chiefly in Brussels and Wallonia, the French-speaking south of Belgium. The Senate report states that in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking north of the country, archives have been saved thanks to conscientious archivists. “This policy – of having competent archivists manage dead archives – contrasts with the disastrous situation at the offices of the public prosecutors in Brussels and
Wallonia.”


While the records about the persecution of the Antwerp Jewry have been kept intact, documents about the fate of the Jews in Brussels and in French-speaking cities with large pre-war Jewish communities, such as Charleroi and Li├Ęge, were purposely destroyed. In Charleroi all the archives relating to the 1930s and the war years have vanished. In Brussels the judicial archives are present “until the early 1930s, while there is (almost) nothing left of the period thereafter,” the report says, adding that “Reference is often made to the 1944 fire of the Palais de Justice to explain this lack of archives [...] However, there is no doubt that large parts of the Brussels judicial wartime archives were destroyed after 1944.”

The report says that some archives disappeared very recently, during the reform of the Belgian police forces in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Gendarmerie was abolished and the Federal Police was instituted. Crucial parts of the Gendarmerie archives vanished in the process.
In Charleroi the archives of both the municipal
police as well as the judicial police were completely destroyed in the late 1970s. Before the war Charleroi had a relatively large Jewish community which was all but exterminated during the war, while in Antwerp a significant proportion of the Jews managed to survive. Yet in Belgium no-one is familiar with the extermination of the Walloon Jewry, while Antwerp is regularly blamed for having been a “center of anti-semitism.” By destroying paper trails people are made to forget that certain events ever took place.


There is a good deal more and reading it is well worth your time.

I note with no surprise whatsoever that the majority of the collaboration with the Nazis was French Wallonia rather than Dutch Flanders. This is also where the destruction of incriminating documents seems to be centered.

It would seem that surrender to and collaboration with evil are traits which are deeply ingrained in what passes for the French soul.