Daily Israel Report

Belgium: Train Announcement Asks Jews to 'Get Off at Auschwitz'

Horrifying anti-Semitic announcement on Belgian train bears striking similarity to 2012 incident; perpetrators have not been caught.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/12/2014, 3:48 PM

Trains in Belgium
Trains in Belgium
Reuters

A Belgian train announced two weeks ago that Jewish passengers should get off at Auschwitz, according to Walla!, sparking complaints to local police. 

According to Luxembourg broadcast network RTL, the perpetrators - probably local teenagers playing an anti-Semitic prank - gained access to the speaker system at about 5 p.m. on a train from Namur to Brussels.

One of them then announced, in French, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are approaching Auschwitz. All Jews are requested to disembark and take a short shower." 

The perpetrators have not been caught, according to the network, but Belgium train company SNCB did file a complaint to local police over incitement to hatred. 

The incident bears striking similarity to a 2012 incident whereby an unidentified passenger stated “Welcome to the train to Auschwitz. The Jews are asked to get off at Buchenwald," over a loudspeaker on the exact same train line. The European Jewish Parliament (EJP) and The European Jewish Union (EJU) strongly condemned the incident

Growing Anti-Semitism in Belgium

Just last week, Belgian Jews were shocked after they discovered that concentration camp uniforms were being sold as costumes in Belgium's large Delhaize supermarket chain, prompting a recall. 

Joel Rubinfeld, President of the Belgian League against Anti-Semitism (LBCA), led the move to have the Holocaust prisoner costumes removed, and notes Delhaize's management said it wasn't aware of the historical context of the costumes.

The costumes were put on sale for the upcoming Christian holiday of Carnival in February, which is celebrated in Belgium and the Netherlands with parades. In 2013, the parade included men dressed as Nazi SS officers and boys dressed as religious Jews, traveling on a rail car decorated with posters depicting pails labeled “Zyklon,” the chemical used in the Nazi gas chambers.

Belgium is also a hotbed for European anti-Semitism, which a recent poll revealed is escalating dramatically. The country was named among the worst for European Jewry.