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Antwerp apologizes for WWII deportation of Jews
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09:38, October 29, 2007

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The mayor of the Belgian city of Antwerp apologized on Sunday to the Jewish community for the city government's role during the Second World War, Belgian broadcaster VRT reported.

In a pre-recorded video message, Mayor Patrick Janssens offered the apologies on behalf of the city council to a congress on the Nazi extermination of Jews during the Second World War.

Recent research shows that Antwerp officials and police were actively collaborating with the Nazi occupation at that time.

In the summer of 1942, more than 1,200 Jews were rounded up during razzias and subsequently deported to concentration camps, even though the Germans had only asked for 1,000.

Flemish historian Lieven Stevens said that initially the police only assisted the Germans in tracking down Jews for deportation to the death camps. But later they also actively helped round up Jews.

In contrast, the city council and police of the capital Brussels refused any collaboration with the Nazis.

About 65 percent of Antwerp's Jewish community were deported during the Nazi occupation.

The mayor called it one of the darkest periods in the history of his city.

The biggest sea port and a major trade center in Belgium, Antwerp has a sizable Jewish community. Currently around 15,000 of Belgium's 40,000 Jews live in the city.

Source: Xinhua

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