Last updated: 5 March, 2013

Israel’s Peres starts Europe tour with Holocaust ceremony

Israeli President Shimon Peres kicked off a European tour Tuesday with a homage to 22 Belgians honoured for their bravery in saving Jews during the Holocaust.

Their names are to be added to 1,650 other Belgians named “Righteous Among The Nations,” the highest distinction awarded by Israel for wartime bravery towards Jews in peril.

The sole survivor to receive the award at Tuesday’s ceremony was Martin Aguirre y Otegui, who was barely out of his teens when he helped shelter small Jewish children, including Fred Bild, who was taken in by four members of the Robberechts family, who received the award posthumously.

Bild later emigrated to Canada and became its ambassador to Thailand and to France.

During his visit, Peres will deliver a historic speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg and meet leaders from France, the European Union and NATO as well as Bulgaria’s President Rosen Plevneliev.