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A VMO march in Brussels

The Vlaamse Militanten Orde (Flemish Militants Order in Dutch) or VMO – originally Vlaamse Militanten Organisatie (Flemish Militants Organisation) – was a Flemish nationalist activist group in Belgium defending far-right interests by propaganda and political action. In 1949, this organization was founded by the Vlaamse Concentratie (Flemish Concentration), a group of former VNV members. Later, in 1954 they would found the Volksunie (VU), a Belgian political party. The links between the extremist VMO and the VU lessened as the party moved towards the centre until all links were formally severed in 1963.

Contents

Foundation and early years

The VMO was founded in 1949 by Bob Maes, a Flemish militant who sought the creation of an independent (some even used the words racially pure) Flanders.

In the years following the end of World War II, Flemish nationalists often fell victim in anti-Nazi rallies, manifestations and riots because of their anti-Belgicism and because the entire Flemish movement was discredited by military, political and economic collaboration with the Germans during World War II. The Flemish nationalists were considered neo-Nazis and outlawed. The VMO was founded as a security force to protect Flemish nationalists against public lynching.

Soon, the VMO started expanding and turned into a full-size paramilitary organization, a state within the state. Their armed members were prepared for combat and war in the numerous VMO training camps in the Ardennes.

Between 1950 and 1970, the VMO was heavily criticized but nevertheless tolerated by the Belgian Department of Justice. On 14 December 1953 however, 16 individual VMO members were convicted for the possession of forbidden weapons and for battering and injuring war heroes and resistance members, earlier that year. The VMO itself was not convicted (since it was impossible back then to prosecute a group on penal grounds, only individuals).

First trial

On 14 June 1970, a trial against the VMO was initiated after violent clashes with supporters of the Democratic Front of Francophones at a rally, leaving one man dead and several other severely injured. The VMO chairman Bob Maes decided to disband the VMO to prevent the members of further prosecution. Soon after this, Bob Maes was elected senator for the Volksunie and started defending more moderate points of view.

The new VMO

A VMO demonstration in Voeren

Numerous members of the disbanded VMO did not support Maes' decision and reconstituted the VMO in 1971 as "Vlaamse Militanten Orde", referring to the "Dinaso Militanten Orde". Several Flemish extremists, radicals, neo-fascists and racists could be detected among the founding members, including the white supremacist Bert Eriksson. The 'new' VMO soon became an unofficial guard for the then marginal Flemish Block, the predecessor of the Vlaams Belang party.

The new VMO became associated with a series of attacks on immigrants, Walloons and leftists as well as the organisation of annual international neo-Nazi rallies at Diksmuide, where representatives of the League of Saint George and the National States' Rights Party were amongst those in attendance.[1]

In the seventies, VMO gained international attention by repatriating the dead corpses of former collaborators of WW2 to their homeland. In Austria, a VMO commando (Operation Brevier) claimed to have dug up the corpse of the priest Cyriel Verschaeve, the former leader of the national-solidarist Verdinaso, and buried it again in Flemish soil.[2] The dead bodies of Staf De Clercq, the former leader of the Vlaams Nationaal Verbond (Operation Delta), and Anton Mussert, the former Dutch NSB leader (Operation Wolfsangel), were also dug up and reburied in Flanders.

Overview of the alleged crimes

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1978

1979

1980

1981

1982

1983

  • July: attack on a francophone bar in Voeren.

1984

  • December: attack on a socialist bar in Bruges.

1985

  • March: attack on leftist demonstrators in Ghent.
  • September: fire-bombing of a socialist book store in Sint-Niklaas.
  • October: attack on the Masereelfonds building in Bruges.
  • November: attack on anti-fascist demonstrators in Lommel.

The end of the VMO

In 1981, 109 VMO members were sentenced by the Antwerp Court to imprisonment. In 1983, the VMO was condemned as a private militia by the Ghent Court of Appeal and outlawed.

Despite this verdict, the VMO was considered to be active and operational until the late eighties, when several similar organizations were founded to replace the VMO. The three most successful of these VMO successors are the Odal Group, Blood&Honour and Voorpost.

References

  1. ^ Ray Hill & Andrew Bell, The Other Face of Terror, London: Grafton, 1988, pp. 165-166
  2. ^ Western Europe

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