10/20/2014

Belgian historical researchers ask Minister of Justice Koen Geens to open the archives about the Collaboration

well, strange as it looks like but this Minister of the Justice will have to decide in a government with the flemish nationalists if he wants to open the archives of the collaboration after the second world war. It was asked by the most important historical researchers of this period on the RTBF yesterday. 

Normally the access to these archives of the collaboration and the repression afterwards are closed unless a commission by the highest judges decides otherwise. 

They say that it has to do something with the privacy and that not people are not 'yet' dead - but this is for 90% of the cases so and normally we are approaching the 70 years (or 100 or always extended) secrecy limit of some of the states archives. This doesn't mean that those archives can be made really public (this is published on the internet). You still have to file a demand and you still have to go to some library and you still have some conditions attached to the use and so on. 

The result of all this is that you can have discussions that are based on presumptions and not on research and historical evidence. These myths are dangerous because they take a life of their own. 

At the same time this government can also show the will to introduce a 'Freedom of Information' Act and also take some initiatives to open archives about some other periods in our history which need more historical research (the second world war, our colony and its decolonisation and our interventions, the cold war, .....) 

And even if not all the documentation is put online or made available about these later periods, maybe a collection of specialised Belgian and international professors and researchers can have access to publish a 'white book' giving maybe a new look at these difficult periods in our national history (Leopold III, strikes of the 1960, ....) and with that learning from what went wrong and what we did right. And it will also in these cases be possible for other professors how things changed afterwards and what we can now learn or remembers from those crises (in Security we call this the 'lessons learnt' research)

It is very strange to have access to those thousands of US documents stamped secret or confidential before and sometimes just a few months or years old while we here have to wait ages before such a document becomes part of the public debate or memory. 

It is only if we understand history that we can prepare for the future. 

This is maybe the reason I am reading about the cold war and the KGB to understand Putin and about surveillance and instelligence to understand Snowden and the new kind of cyberwar (that looks more like espionage operations)

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