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The VNV flag

The Flemish National Union (Dutch: Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, VNV) was a Nationalist Flemish political party in Belgium, founded by Staf de Clercq on October 8, 1933. De Clercq became known as den Leider ("The Leader").

Creation

The VNV was tied to the idea of uniting the many Flemish parties in post-1920s Belgium into a single movement, an objective finally attained with the party's creation, and it moved on to advocate the creation of a pan-Dutch state, called Dietsland, to include both Flanders and the Netherlands. Its slogan was: Authority, discipline and Dietsland.

Along the way, the new party became more and more authoritarian in doctrine, and it quickly became a Fascist movement - despite including a large grouping of democratic elements.

Collaboration

When Nazi Germany invaded Belgium in 1940, de Clercq immediately chose its side, disregarding his own previous declarations that he would not collaborate should such a situation occur. Adolf Hitler chose not to install a civilian government (such as he had done in the Netherlands), but instead installed a government headed by Alexander von Falkenhausen of the Wehrmacht. This, along with the departure of Ward Hermans to form the Algemeene-SS Vlaanderen[1], led the VNV out of focus, forcing it to intensify its collaboration in order to gain influence. Hitler and SS-leader Heinrich Himmler made profit from the situation, and increased competition between various groups by founding some more extreme collaborationist groups like the 6th SS Volunteer Sturmbrigade Langemarck and DeVlag, the German-Flemish Workers Community.

De Clercq died suddenly in October 1942, and was succeeded by Hendrik Elias, a member of the more moderate side. Elias continued the collaboration but tried to come to terms with the military government - in order to prevent the installation of a civilian government, which would be composed of Nazis. Elias failed, as Hitler installed the new body and declared the annexation of Flanders by Germany in 1944; seven weeks later, Belgium had been liberated by the Allies. The VNV was outlawed after the war, and Elias was put in prison until 1959.

References

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