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Rudi Van Doorslaer, studied contemporary history at Ghent University. He held the position of editor-in-chief of the ‘Cahiers d'Histoire du Temps présent’ (Journals of Contemporary History) and has produced publications on the subjects of Jewish history, migration, communism and anti-communism, the Spanish Civil War and several themes in relation to the history of the Second World War in Belgium.
As a Belgian knowledge centre for the history of the major political, social and cultural conflicts of the 20th Century, the Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society (SOMA-CEGES) studies, collects and grants access to documents relating to the world wars and contemporary society. The centre has a library of more than 62,000 books and brochures, as well as a great many press clippings, an important collection of private and public records (management agreement with the State Archives), and an extensive photographic library and media library.
The centre serves as a portal for research in the area of Belgian contemporary history and in so doing maintains relations with all of the country’s universities and scientific institutions. It also takes part in the international networks that link similar institutions together.
The SOMA-CEGES publishes a newsletter, a scientific journal and monographs, and organises colloquia and seminars. The Centre has started the process of digitising its collections. At the present time, it has already listed and scanned 172,000 photographs.
It has also earned distinction with an important publication on the complicity of the Belgian authorities in the persecution of the Jews during the German occupation.