(AFP) - The city of Brussels officially recognized Sunday its complicity in the deportation of thousands of Jews to Nazi death camps during World War II.
At a ceremony attended by Israel's ambassador and Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Joelle Milquet, Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans acknowledged the key role the city's register of Jews played in raids that sent thousands to death camps.
"Without this register of Jews, the progressive arrests and the raid of September 1942 would never have had the same impact in Brussels," Thielemans said, quoted by Belga news agency.
Approximately 5,640 names were registered.
On the other hand, Brussels was credited by Thielemans, who noted that in 1942, city mayor Jules Coelst refused to involve the city's police in the raids and to distribute the yellow stars used to publicly identify Jews.
A state-commissioned study released in 2007 said Belgian authorities agreed in late 1940 to a Nazi demand to register the names of the Jewish population.
In 1942, cities across the country except Brussels and Lieges, began distributing the stars.
Of the estimated 56,000 Jews living in Belgium at the beginning of the war, approximately 25,000 were deported to Auschwitz. Only about 1,200 survived, while the other 23,800 were among the six million European Jews slaughtered and starved to death by the Nazis during World War II.