Zedelgem in Belgium

A Simple Victory for Decency and European Values in Zedelgem, Belgium: Waffen SS Monument is Coming Down



ZEDELGEM  |  BELGIUM  |  EU  |  LATVIA  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

The city council of Zedelgem, Belgium decided on December 3rd that the pro-Nazi Latvian “Beehive” monument, commemorating Latvia’s Hitlerist Waffen SS, will be removed. Three years ago, in a somewhat insidious and perverse manner, PR savvy reps of Riga’s “Occupation Museum” convinced the municipal council of Zedelgem in West-Flanders, Belgium, to allow them to unveil a monument honoring their wish for de facto whitewashing and heroizing of the 12,000 Latvian Waffen SS Legionnaires who had been detained in in a British detention camp in that town in 1945/1946. Indeed, the president of the board of directors of the Occupation Museum of Riga – a well-known Holocaust revisionist institution – and members of Dagavas Vanagi (an organization of former Latvian Waffen SS) were present for the monument’s festive launch. That event was primarily covered by the Flemish speaking press without any mention of possible issues, without in fact anybody asking any question of how it might have been possible that a Flemish town had allowed the construction of a monument in honor of former members of the Waffen SS, a Nazist organization whose members swore loyalty to Adolf Hitler, and who fought against the freedom of Belgium, and, in effect, all of Europe.

Nothing much happened until the beginning of 2021. The first person who reacted and tried to do something about what he perceived as a Nazi monument was Wilfred Burie, founder of the website The Belgians Remember Them which lists all known  4,000 or so  flying personnel of Great Britain’s Royal Air Force who came down on Belgian soil during the war and states what happened to them. Through his intervention, a Belgian Minister of State, André Flahaut, officially questioned the Belgian Minister of Justice, but to no avail.  My article on the subject appeared here in Defending History on March 8th. Later articles critical of the existence of what was called a Nazi or pro-Nazi monument in Zedelgem were published by local and international Jewish organizations and by the French-speaking press in Belgium. Then, on May 20, Michel Bouffioux published in Paris Match Belgique, a well-researched and eloquent lengthy article on this abomination; he kindly mentioned Wilfred Burie and myself for having raised the alarm in online publications. Then, later, thanks to the intervention of Flemish writer and painter Jan Vanriet who contacted Flemish journalists, a series of articles were published in Flemish-speaking newspapers, including some by mainstream American journalist Lev Golinkin, who is also a successful author. Some Flemish historians in Belgium started to state, tentatively at first, that this monument had to be removed. That it was a source of shame for Flanders. Which it is.

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Over In Zedelgem, Town in Belgium where Latvian Waffen SS Veterans Feel Most at Home



OPINION  |  ZEDELGEM  |  BELGIUM  |  EU  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Zedelgem, a quiet Flemish town in West Flanders, was occupied by the Nazis between May 1940 and September 1944. During World War I it had also been under German yoke for over four years.

Now, 74 years after the end of the the Second World War, former Latvian Waffen SS men, who wore the same barbarians’ uniform as the occupiers of Zedelgem during the occupation, who fought for the same ideals and were condemned by the same Nuremberg Trials of 1945/1946 as members of a criminal organization, now, more than seven decades  after Waffen SS men being freed from an Allied POW camp situated in Zedelgem, these former Latvian SS men and their current far-right, neo-Nazi and Hitler-sympathetic admirers have convinced Flemish officials — many report more than a little impetus to call them morons, plain and simple — in and in the region of modern Zedelgem to enable them to  erect a monument to “Liberty” in their memory. A monument to Liberty! The very Liberty they had denied the 100,000 Jews killed in their native country and the dozens of thousands of innocent Soviet citizens of an array of nationalities and religious they killed while fighting in the USSR, near Leningrad and at other fierce, lethal battles. They wore the same barbarians’ uniforms as the Nazi occupiers of Belgium and Zedelgem. They all fought for the Führer to whom they had sworn a common oath of loyalty. They too fought for the same ideals as the Führer.

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My Letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the Shameful Latvian Waffen SS Monument Plonked in Belgium



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  BELGIUM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Carbuncle in the heart of the EU?  Monument in Belgium glorifies  Latvian Waffen SS who fought for Hitler

 

Note: for background on the monument to Latvian SS war criminals in Zeldelgem, Belgium, please see DH’s Zedelgem section, and for Latvia more generally, Roland Binet’s contributions and DH’s  Latvia section.

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Flemish historian Pieter Lagrou had this to say in an exchange of correspondence pertaining to the quandary of what to do with that monument in Zedelgem glorifying Latvian Hitlerist Waffen SS men. It so happens that he is the one whose official opinion in this matter will be asked on how to further proceed with the “Latvian Beehive” as the pro-Nazi monument on Belgium soil is known:

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Latvian Government Again Claims that Waffen SS Monument is “Not a Nazi Memorial”



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  BELGIUM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  LEGACY OF JUNE 23rd 1941

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…”  Above, some Latvian Waffen SS members fighting for Hitler during World War II. Now, a monument in Belgium honors them as supposed war heroes…

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Latest on Latvian SS Monument in Belgium: Latvia’s Well-Oiled Propaganda Machine is On the Job



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  BELGIUM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Before my initial Defending History article last March on the monument to the Latvian Hitlerist Waffen SS on Belgian soil, there had only been one Belgian trying, from December 2020 onward, to get attention to what he deemed an infamy. Wilfred Burie, president and founder of the “Belgians Remember Them” association, alone compiled a list of names of more than 4,000 personnel of Britain’s Royal Air Force, whose planes were shot down in Belgium and, for each person, what became of them. There had been a parliamentary question to the Federal Belgian Minister of Justice to no avail, and, also, some articles published in minor French-speaking newspapers as well as outcries from Belgian Jewish organizations, also without consequences. On April 28, an article of mine was published in the French-speaking newspaper “La Libre Belgique” under the title “Why This Monument in Honor of the Waffen SS in Zedelgem?” with quotes from Lev Golinkin’s pioneering study on Nazi monuments around the world, published in New York’s Forward.

 Then, on May 20 of this year, Michel Bouffioux from the weekly Paris Match Belgium, published his well-documented “Latvian Waffen SS celebrated in Flanders” including interviews with Dr. Efraim Zuroff (Simon Wiesenthal Center) and Dr. Leanid Kazyrytski (University of Gerona in Spain). He subsequently published sequels to his initial article with among other international reactions comments from Lev Golinkin.

Unfortunately, all reactions to that point had been only in the French-speaking part of Belgium. Then, on May 31, the website Apache.be, a Dutch-speaking media outlet, published a well-informed article with the flamboyant title “Great Damage for Zedelgem’s Image from the Latvian Waffen SS Monument,” with interviews of established Flemish historians. And finally, Jan Vanriet, a well-known Flemish painter, son of a Resistance fighter, who had previously been featured in a film about the resistance in Belgium, whom I had contacted on that matter, alerted Flemish-speaking media, and two articles were simultaneously published in Flanders on June 25, in Het Nieuwsblad (“A Sudden Realization: This is a Nazi Monument!”) and De Standaard (“Zedelgem Hhonors 12,000 Latvian Collaborators”).

But the town council of Zedelgem refuses to demolish or remove the monument, saying repeatedly that it is a monument to peace and assuring that a plaque will be added to it, explaining that “there shall be added an extended text in accordance with historical specialists, in order to avoid all susceptibilities” (Het Nieuwsblad, 25 June, 2021).

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Latvian Waffen SS Worshippers Have Set Up a Monument in — Belgium



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  BELGIUM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Authorities in Riga, Latvia, who tolerate marches and memorials for the nation’s Waffen SS, that fought for Hitler and swore an oath to him, are nonetheless careful not to allow an overt monument to Nazi forces in Riga. How is it that modern-day glorifiers of the Waffen SS have managed to persuade a town in Belgium to host just such a monument (pictured in both images above)? The monument stands at the “Brivibaplin” in Zedelgem, a  town situated in the province of West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders) in Belgium; GPS coordinate’s are 51.15 lat. 3.1333 long, some 20 kilometres west of Bruges.

 

What does Latvia have in common with Flanders in Belgium? Believe it or not: a monument in honor of Latvian Waffen SS on Flemish soil in Belgium, a country in the heart of the European Union and prime home of the European Parliament. The Latvian Waffen SS was part of Adolf Hitler’s forces in wartime, Holocaust-era Eastern Europe and its member all swore an oath to Hitler. So how could this be? This is how the official press release put it on the day:

“On 23 September 2018, in the Belgian town of Zedelgem, the ‘Monument to Freedom’ sculpted by Latvian sculptor Kristaps Gulbis was unveiled. The monument is dedicated to the Latvian Legionnaires, who did not lose faith in freedom for the Latvian State, during the winter of 1945 to 1946 when they were held in Zedelgem prisoner of war camp.”

As  excerpt from Mr. Valters Nollendsorf’s speech on the occasion:

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Monuments to Nazi Collaborators in Eastern Europe and — Recent ‘Exports’ to the West


[UPDATED]

ArmeniaEstoniaLatviaLithuaniaMacedonia.  Slovakia.  Ukraine

Our take? The export of East European Holocaust revisionism is best exposed and countered now, before it becomes the pillar of the twenty-first century’s incarnations of Holocaust denial: Double Genocide, Holocaust Obfuscation, and glorification of the perpetrators as being (simultaneously) “heroes”…

This page was developed with the generous help of Lev Golinkin whose 26 January 2021 project in the Forward supersedes this page (see particularly his Lithuania section).

JUMP TO:

Latvia → Belgium

Lithuania → USA

Ukraine → Canada

Ukraine → USA

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on Juozas Lukša, Double Genocide, EU, History, Human Rights, Latvia, Lithuania, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Zedelgem in Belgium | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Monuments to Nazi Collaborators in Eastern Europe and — Recent ‘Exports’ to the West