26 February 2018
Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, will host the Belgian Ambassador to Israel H.E. Mr. Olivier Belle, as well as members of the Committee for the Designation of Righteous Among the Nations, for the signing of an agreement between Yad Vashem and the Government of Belgium on 26 February 2018. The agreement delineates the funding of a project by the Belgian government aimed at uncovering new rescue stories of Jews by non-Jews during the Holocaust. The project will intensify research of archival evidence and survivor testimony in order to reveal such accounts, and in turn apply for recognition of new Righteous Among the Nations from Belgium. While the Belgian Royal Decree supporting this program was signed in January, the agreement signed Monday will commence the official start of the project.
"Each person and every story behind the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust is unique and special," stated Irena Steinfeldt, Director of the Yad Vashem Righteous Among the Nations Department. "Regardless of background, religion and social class, the unifying quality among these heroic men and women is that they chose not to stand idly by as fellow human beings were threatened, pursued and murdered. This project comes at a critical time, as the generation of witnesses is gradually leaving us."
To date, Yad Vashem has recognized some 27,000 Righteous Among the Nations from over 50 countries around the world; of these, more than 1,700 are from Belgium. Launched in 1963 as part of Yad Vashem's mandate, the Righteous Among the Nations program is intended to convey the gratitude of the State of Israel and the entire Jewish people to those non-Jewish people who acted selflessly, despite the grave risk to their own lives and those of their families, in order to save Jewish lives. Although many decades have passed since the end of World War II, Yad Vashem remains committed to discovering and recognizing as many of these individuals as possible.
For more information regarding the Righteous Among the Nations Program and their stories, please visit our website or contact the Communications Division at Yad Vashem.