Honoring Holocaust Rescuer Belgian Prince with a Tree in Israel

July 21, 2016 11:03
2 minute read.

Honoring Holocaust Rescuer Belgian Prince with a Tree in Israel. (photo credit: KKL-JNF)

The descendants of Prince Eugène II de Ligne of Belgium, who hid hundreds of Jewish children in his castle during the Holocaust, plant an olive tree in his memory at Belgium Park in Neve Ilan. The delegation was led by Michel, the 14th prince de Ligne.

Belgium, the summer of 1942: The Nazi occupation, which controlled the country, began sending Jews to the death camps. Eugène II, the 11th prince de Ligne, and his wife Philippine transformed the castle of Belœil into a hiding place for hundreds of Jewish children escaping the Holocaust.

The transports taking Jews to their death continued until the end of the war. Twenty-nine thousand of Belgium’s Jews perished in the Holocaust, but more than half of the Jewish community survived, mainly thanks to the assistance offered by the people of Belgium including that of the royal family. In 1975, Yad Vashem recognized Eugène and Philippine de Ligne among the Righteous of the Nations.

Belgium Park, the summer of 2016: A delegation of the Ligne family, related to many noble families in Europe, arrived in Israel to plant an olive tree in memory of the bravery of their predecessors, who risked their lives to save Jewish people. Prince Michel de Ligne, who led the delegation, said, “The tree we are planting today will live another thousand years. It is an eternal symbol of the heroism of our predecessors. Responsibility for the other is very important. We must have solidarity, in order to protect the right to life. The location chosen for planting the tree symbolizes courage and solidarity.”

Belgium Park is located in the Neve Ilan Forest in the Judean Hills approaching Jerusalem. The green landscapes and clear mountain air make the place a magical nature site that has both planted trees and natural woods.

“There is no more suitable a place for commemorating Prince Eugène and his wife than Belgium Park in Neve Ilan, a village near Jerusalem that overlooks the holy city,” said Jacky Benzennou, the President of KKL Belgium. “The forest symbolizes the good relations between Israel and Belgium. Planting a tree in this forest is a living monument to our wish to continue progressing and developing the land of Israel, and this is precisely the mission of KKL-JNF.” 

Results of the work of KKL-JNF can be seen all over the country, as in the Neve Ilan forest, which has recreation areas, scenic lookouts and historical sites that were developed by KKL-JNF. Belgium Park was developed in conjunction with the Association of Former Belgians in Israel, to commemorate the members of the Jewish community and the major landmarks in its history.

Turning to Michel, the 14th prince de Ligne, Sally Zajfman, the President of the Association Originaires de Belgique en Israel (OBI) said, “Your visit today connects remembrance, friendship and hope, three important values of the Jewish people -remembering the past, friendship in the present and hope for the future.”


For further information, comments or permission please contact
Ahuva Bar-Lev
KKL-JNF – Information and Internet Department

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