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Flemish parliament ‘regrets’ inclusion of Nazi collaborators in anniversary celebration

17:22 26/01/2021

The Flemish parliament has – more or less – apologised for the inclusion of two Nazi collaborators in a profile of historical figures that were significant in the founding of Flanders as a legislative region. The profiles were part of a special edition of the Belgian edition of Newsweek to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Flemish parliament.

A section in the edition is dedicated to 14 people considered crucial to the forming of an independent region. They includes well-known Nazi collaborators August Borms and Staf De Clercq. After the Second World War Borms (pictured above, centre) received the death penalty and was shot by a firing squad.

The parliament has published a statement on its website that points the finger at Newsweek, insists that controversial figures not be deleted from history and ultimately admits that those two men did not belong in that section of the magazine.

History ‘should not be silenced’

Newsweek, which was responsible for the editorial content, sketched the history of the Flemish parliament as well as looked back at Flemish emancipation leading up to 1971,” the statement reads. “A number of people who were instrumental in the emancipation of the Flemish language and people were spotlighted, including two names that contributed to a certain period in Flemish history that was stained by collaboration with Nazi Germany.”

The inclusion of the two men “is very sensitive,” continues the statement, “but the dark pages in our history should not be silenced. Only by approaching this critically can lessons be learned.”

The statement, signed by parliamentary speaker Liesbeth Homans (N-VA), concludes that the men should not have been included in that particular section, alongside the names of noble contributors to the Flemish cause, such as the famous clergyman and activist Adolf Daens.

“The Flemish Parliament regrets the commotion that has arisen as a result of this and expresses its regret that people feel insulted and hurt by it, which was unintentional.”

Photo courtesy state archives

Written by Lisa Bradshaw