Flemish leader sparks Belgian row over Nazi collaboration

22nd September 2010, Comments 1 comment

The leader of the Flemish nationalist party opened a wartime wound on Wednesday, accusing Belgium's French-speaking region of historical amnesia over its collaboration with Nazis.

Smack in the middle of tense coalition talks with French-speaking parties, Bart De Wever sparked a row by charging in a Flemish newspaper column that research on francophone collaboration during World War II was "particularly brief."

The head of the N-VA party pointed to the lack of attention given to what he described as the anti-Semitism and fascist leanings of legendary comic book writer Herge, the creator of Tintin, during the 1940s.

Contrary to French-speaking Wallonia, De Wever wrote, Flanders had owned up to its collaborationist past, making it impossible for the Flemish region to "sweep under the rug the 'New Order' temptation as if it had just been a fling.

"It is better to shed light on a society's past without hiding reality," he wrote in a column in De Standaard daily entitled "Flemish Nazis."

He accused Walloons of "judging by virtue of a moral superiority that is out of place and based on collective ignorance."

The leading francophone daily, Le Soir, condemned De Wever's column in its own editorial on Wednesday, under the headline: "The Unhealthy Game of the Most Collaborationist Belgian."

De Wever's grandfather was a member of a collaborationist party during World War II. The Flemish leader has himself been accused by francophones of having fascist sympathies.

Many people in Flanders believe that the purge that followed the liberation of Belgium mainly targeted Flemish collaborators while prosecutions were more rare in Wallonia.

Belgium has been without a new government since the June legislative elections when De Wever's party came out on top in Flanders.

Marathon seven-party negotiations have so far failed to produce an agreement on Flemish demands for greater autonomy.

© 2010 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • Jef posted:

    on 28th September 2010, 19:08:21 - Reply

    Off course will the Walloon newspaper Le Soir criticize De Wever's article, because Bart De Wever (as an accredited academic Historian) reveals the little known fact of Le Soir's collaboration with the Nazi's. The reason why Bart De Wever brings up the topic right now is because his N-VA party is under constant attack by Walloons as being fascist, ultra-right with a past of WWII collaborators as its members. N-VA is a descendant of the VU party, from which the ultra-right wing members broke off to form the Vlaams Blok (now Vlaams Belang party). They felt VU was too soft. The only thing the N-VA wants is political independence from Wallonia BECAUSE they believe the alliance is killing the country economically. They have very good academically-supported arguments for this. The historic rethoric only attributes to the emotions but has never been the main reason for the fight for independence. If the coalition with the Walloons would have worked, the Flemish would have been happy to forget the past.