Belgium during World War II - Resistance, Nazi occupation and collaboration.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
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Belgium concern as WW2 Nazi collaborators get German pensions
Belgian survivors of Nazi persecution appealed to the government to stop the payments, and Pensions Minister Daniel Bacquelaine "shares their indignation", adding that Germany manages the payments and "we have no official figures" for the recipients. Belgians who served in the SS were made Germans by an Adolf Hitler decree. After the 1945 liberation, 57,000 Belgian collaborators were convicted. The Memorial Group, lobbying the Belgian government, estimates that as many as 2,500 ex-collaborators are receiving German pensions.
Sister of Belgian Nazi leader Leon Degrelle hid three Jews in her home during the Holocaust
The sister of a Belgian Nazi leader hid three Jews in her home near Brussels during the Holocaust. Hanna Nadel said she, her mother and her niece were rescued by M. Cornet, the sister of Leon Degrelle, who, as leader of the Belgian Nazi Rexen movement, was responsible for deporting Jews to their deaths during the Nazi occupation of Belgium. The three, having escaped deportation orders, wandered with around the town of Sint-Genesius Rode, where they happened upon a help-wanted sign on Cornet's door, who, without asking many questions, hired the mother as cook and Nadel and her niece to work as chambermaids. Cornet knew the women were Jewish and promised them they would survive.
Belgium's banks and government to pay Holocaust survivors $170 million
David Susskind made it by fleeing to Switzerland, and joining the French Resistance. When he traveled back to Belgium after the war, he had nothing. His mother died in the Nazi death camp. Strangers lived in his home. "We lost everything. There was nothing." Now Belgium's banks and government sought to make material amends, declaring $170 million in restitution for the Jewish community and families of Holocaust survivors whose goods were looted by Nazi occupiers. $54m will be paid to individual claimants, with the rest going to a Jewish trust that will help the poor and keep the memory of the WWII horrors alive.
Wolf woman Misha Defonseca admits: Holocaust book was a pack of lies
Misha Defonseca's account of how she lost her parents to the Holocaust and lived with wolves in the forests has been revealed as a fabrication. In a statement she admitted that while her parents, members of Belgium's resistance, were killed by the Nazis most of the events of the book were made up. Her book "Surviving with Wolves" (also turned into a film) became a bestseller after its publication in Italy and France and has made her a millionaire. At the film's premiere she showed up with a little compass, "my most precious talisman", which she said had helped her find her way on her journey.
The Escape Artist - He had no idea how he would ever get home
The Nazis had by then invaded the Low Countries. Allied planes tore through the clouds, coming and going from bombing raids on Third Reich, dodging antiaircraft fire. In 4 years, hundreds of Allied aircrafts would go down over Belgium. Those airmen who survived cut themselves loose from their chutes, knowing that that their fate now lay in their ability to vanish. British gunner Jack Newton ran away from his Wellington bomber and hid in a cornfield. Instead of being swept up by German military police, he was taken in by Belgians. He was fed, camouflaged in civilian garments and passed on through a secret network of safe houses of the Belgian Resistance movement.
Resistance fighter Countess Andree De Jongh set up Comet Line escape route
Countess Andree De Jongh, who set up the Comet Line escape route that helped hundreds of British airmen flee the Nazi occupation of Belgium during World War II, has died at 90. The escape route - which went through Belgium, occupied France and over the Pyrenees into Spain's Basque country - was set up in 1940 to allow downed British airmen to return UK and escape German imprisonment. By the time she was arrested, she had brought 118 people, including 80 pilots to safety. The Comet Line itself rescued more than 700 pilots. After her arrest in 1943, she survived German camps before being liberated at the end of WWII.
Tanks in Town - An annual assembly of World War II tanks in Mons
Belgium: The 9th annual "Tanks in Town" assembly of World War II tanks in Mons will draw more than just the heavy armor. There will be the re-enactors, period military vehicles, parades and thousands of onlookers for the Aug. 25-26 event. The gathering commemorates the Sept. 2, 1944, liberation of Mons by the 1st Infantry Division and 3rd Armored Division. The Battle led to the defeat of 30,000 German soldiers. The Mons gathering ends on the afternoon of Aug. 26 with a 2-prong parade, one consisting of battle tanks and the other World War II vehicles, like transport trucks to motorcycles.
The only documented case of resistance stopping a train to save lives (Article no longer available from the original source)
In the dark amid the steam engine's hisses, Simon Gronowski snuggled against his mother on a cattle train bound for Auschwitz. Suddenly there were shrieks of brakes, and gunfire. Outside, Robert Maistriau's fake stoplight had done its work and the Belgian resistance fighter forced open a car. It was April 19, 1943, the only documented case of resistance fighters stopping a train bound for Auschwitz. Simon had practiced jumping for freedom from the top beds ever since the Gestapo had locked up his family. And when the train lost speed, he took the leap of his life, a 100 franc bill tucked in his sock. "Then I waited for my mother." She never came.
Belgians to restore historic American M4 Sherman tank at Bastogne
An American tank got blasted, though not by one of the usual suspects. Of all people, it was a group of Belgians, and they sprayed the armored vehicle hard enough to peel paint. One of the participants, a soldier, even called the experience a privilege. "I never thought that one day I would work on that tank," said Adjutant Daniel Libert, a maintenance chief at a Belgian military arsenal in Rocourt. If all goes as planned, the Sherman M4 tank, that has been absent from McAuliffe Square in Bastogne, will return by Memorial Day. Bastogne is linked to the largest land battle in U.S. military history: the Battle of the Bulge.
World War II heroine Lulu: Belgian teen who took on the Gestapo
A World War 2 heroine who joined the Belgian resistance at 15, and was later tortured by the Gestapo, was buried in Dorset. Code named Lulu, Lucie Bruce, a Belgian who moved to Britain in 1946, spied on Nazis after joining the resistance in 1940. She forged papers so she would appear old enough, and at 17 she was a seasoned resistance fighter, destroying bridges and ambushing troops. She was involved in direct combat, and helped blow up Schaerbeek railway station, which was packed with German soldiers going home. Towards the end of the war, she was arrested and turned over to the Gestapo. She underwent intense torture.
Extent of Belgian World War II collaboration with Nazis revealed
The Belgian state collaborated actively with Nazi Germany before and during World War II, according to a historical report. The report said that with rare exceptions Belgium had provided "maximum administrative collaboration" - the authorities anticipated and went beyond the demands of occupying German forces. PM Guy Verhofstadt said that the findings should be incorporated into history text books. In a sign of how the country's linguistic divisions affect perceptions of history, French-language papers gave broad coverage to the study while Flemish media reported it on inside pages or not at all.
Belgians destroy persecution records in the 1930s and 1940s
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. The Senate report says that "documents about the period 1930-1950 have been destroyed on a massive scale." Documents about the fate of the Jews in Brussels and in French-speaking cities with large pre-war communities, such as Charleroi and Liège, were purposely destroyed. In Charleroi all the archives relating to the 1930s and the war years have vanished.
Auschwitz escapee and leader of Belgian Resistance - William Herskovic
William Herskovic escaped from Auschwitz and helped inspire Belgium's resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War. Three months after being sent to Auschwitz, Herskovic escaped by cutting through a chain-link fence with two other prisoners. The three hopped a train to Breslau, but a local rabbi threw them out when they tried to tell him about the horrors at Auschwitz. In his prewar home of Antwerp, Herskovic delivered one of the earliest firsthand accounts of the atrocities of the Holocaust. The resistance swiftly mobilized, placing bricks on railway tracks to stop a train bound for the camps.
Belgian holocaust survivor to sue Monaco
Jean Geismar has been fighting for the past 10 years for Monaco to recognize its involvement in the deportation of Jews. His relatives left Belgium after the German invasion in 1941. In March 1944, after three years of residency in Monaco, they were arrested and sent to Drancy, the French transit camp. From there, they were sent to Auschwitz and never came back. An official document shows that the couple was in possession of various valuable objects and receipts from a Monaco bank. "However, neither the authorities nor the bankers want to recognize these official documents," Geismar said.
Belgian historians examine country's role in atrocities against Jews
Over 60 years after the first "death train" left Belgium for the gas chambers of Auschwitz a probe into the complicity of the Belgian authorities in the final solution is to be carried out. Historians are for the first time to be given full access to archives. According to official figures 30,544 Jews were deported from Belgium to Nazi death camps. Only 1,524 survived and at least 20% of those who died were kids. Local authorities actively collaborated in rounding up Jews for deportation. Jewish groups want a probe into the role of the Catholic church, which stayed silent, and clarification of the role of certain Jewish lobby groups whom they suspect of collaboration.