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Belgian World War Two resistance hero dies

25 May 2005

BRUSSELS – One of Belgium’s best known World War Two resistance heroes has died at the age of 91.

On Wednesday, tributes were paid to Arthur Haulot who was made a Baron by King Baudouin and received an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Brussels (ULB) in 1996 for his resistance to the Nazis.

The news agency Belga reported that Haulot died on Tuesday afternoon from thrombosis. He was taken into hospital on 9 May, the day after he joined celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice.

Born in Angleur in Liege, Haulot left school at the age of 16, working first for a factory and then for a cooperative bank. However, his articles for the journal ‘Faucons rouges’ (Red hawks) won him recognition and he was taken on in 1931 as a journalist for the radio company INR, the then RTBF.

In 1937, he was picked for the cabinet of the communications ministry and the following year was named an inspector for the National Office for Workers’ Holidays.

In 1939, he and Henri Janne formed the General Commission for Tourism.

When the Nazis occupied Belgium, Haulot formed part of the underground socialist party’s resistance, but at the end of 1941 the Gestapo arrested him and imprisoned him in Brussels.

Soon he was sent, along with about 40 other prisoners, to Mauthaussen concentration camp in a category labelled “destined for death”.

In 1942, he was transferred to Dachau concentration camp where he helped organise the International Secret Committee until the Americans liberated the camp.

Since the war, Haulot has been respected for his accounts of his life in Mauthaussen and Dachau.

For several months after the war he worked as a journalist for Le Peuple, covering the trials of Nazi war criminals.

In 1946, he became head of cabinet of the ministry for reconstruction before again taking up his post at the General Commission for Tourism – a role he occupied until 1978.

As well as his resistance work, Haulot made his name in Belgium for his years struggling to ensure everyone, particularly the working class, had the right to decent breaks and holidays. He also promoted Belgium abroad.

Haulot was also a poet, who published a number of collections, and was co-director in 1951 of the ‘Journal des poetes’ (Journal of Poets), created the International Poetry Biennales and was also president of ‘Maison internationale de la poesie’ (International poetry house).

After the death of his first wife, he married Moussia, who illustrated his poetry books, and the pair organised the International Day of Children’s Poetry.

In 1994, he was appointed to the coordination committee to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Belgium. He was also president of the memorial group, founded in 1977, to unite war veterans and former Nazi political prisoners.

Haulot was also quick to sign his name to humanist and socialist movements. In 1996, notably, he was one of 135 personalities who wrote an open letter reminding Belgium of its fundamental principles of democracy and the declaration of the rights of man.

As Belga put it: “Throughout his whole life, Arthur Haulot was always a very active militant, both for the socialist party and in numerous campaigns for liberties, against injustice and particularly against the extreme right.”

For further information, see the French-language website: www.arthurhaulot.be.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news