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Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond

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Flemish National Union
Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond
LeaderStaf De Clercq (until 1942)
Hendrik Elias (from 1942)
Founded8 October 1933
Dissolved2 September 1944
Preceded byFrontpartij
HeadquartersBrussels, Belgium
NewspaperVolk en Staat
Youth wingNationaal-Socialistische Jeugd in Vlaanderen[1]
Paramilitary wingDiets Militia—Black Brigades
Membership25,000 (1939 est.)[2]
IdeologyFlemish nationalism
Greater Netherlands (until 1940)[3]
Corporate statism[4]
Right-wing populism
Political positionFar-right[5]
French-speaking counterpartRexist Party (1936–1937)[6]
Slogan"Authority, discipline, and Dietsland"
Party flag

The Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond (Dutch for "Flemish National Union" or "Flemish National League"), widely known by its acronym VNV, was a Flemish nationalist political party active in Belgium between 1933 and 1945.[7] It became the leading force of political collaboration in Flanders during the German occupation of Belgium in World War II. Authoritarian by inclination, the party advocated the creation of a "Greater Netherlands" (Dietsland) combining Flanders and the Netherlands.


The Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond (VNV) was founded on 8 October 1933. Its origins were in the long-established Frontpartij, a moderate Flemish patriotic party which was taken over by Staf Declercq and moved to the right in 1932.[8] From the start, the VNV was authoritarian and anti-democratic, being influenced by fascist ideas from elsewhere in Europe.[9] However, it initially included both moderate and radical wings. It was not a genuinely fascist organisation per se.[10] Ideologically, the party rejected Belgium and supported the creation of a new polity known as the Greater Netherlands (Dietsland), through the fusion of Belgian Flanders and the Netherlands, which would be linguistically and ethnically homogeneous. The party's slogan was: "Authority, discipline, Dietsland".

It shared many ideological elements with Verdinaso, a rival party founded two years earlier but slightly less radical. Unlike Verdinaso, the VNV took part in elections and included a relatively moderate wing.[11] Initially, it also differed from Verdinaso in not being an anti-Semitic movement. Still, it increasingly embraced anti-Semitic elements after 1935, out of political calculation rather than ideological conviction.[12]

In the 1936 Belgian general election, the VNV received 13.6% of the Flemish vote, corresponding to 7.1% nationwide. After the election, in which the far-right nationalist and Catholic Rexist Party also performed strongly, the two parties concluded an alliance intended to create a corporatist Belgian state with great autonomy for Flanders. The VNV revoked this agreement after just one year.[6] In the 1939 elections, the VNV moderately increased its share of the Flemish vote to 15% (8.4% nationally) while the Rexist vote collapsed.[11]

Despite cooperating with the Flemish section of the mainstream centre-right Catholic Party on the local level, De Clercq realised that his movement would not be able to take power by democratic means. Instead, he contacted Nazi Germany, hoping his project could be realised with German help. He contacted the Abwehr, Germany's military intelligence service, informing them that a part of the Belgian military supported his movement and could be controlled by him if Germany declared war. The Belgian state security gained knowledge of these contacts and arrested some VNV supporters.[11]


Hendrik Elias who led the VNV after Staf Declercq's death, pictured in 1942

When Nazi Germany invaded Belgium in 1940, De Clercq immediately chose to orient the VNV towards collaborationism, despite his previous declarations that he would not do so. Adolf Hitler did not install a civilian government (as in the Netherlands), but instead installed a military administration headed by General Alexander von Falkenhausen of the Wehrmacht. This, along with the departure of Ward Hermans and René Lagrou to form the Algemeene-SS Vlaanderen,[13] led the VNV out of focus, forcing it to intensify its collaboration to gain influence. Hitler and SS leader Heinrich Himmler profited 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 ("German-Flemish Working Group"). Nevertheless, VNV politicians were given the mayor's office in several Flemish towns. VNV-led local administrations participated in the organisation of the deportation of Belgian Jews to Eastern Europe as part of the Holocaust in Belgium. They willingly implemented Nazi policies like the obligation of Jews to wear the yellow badge. VNV activists led in the Antwerp pogrom of April 1941.[14]

Declercq died suddenly in October 1942 and was succeeded by Hendrik Elias, a member of the more moderate side. Elias continued collaborating with the Nazis but tried to come to terms with the military government to prevent the installation of a civilian government 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 was liberated by the Allies. The VNV was outlawed after the liberation of Belgium. Elias fled to Germany but was tried after the war and imprisoned until 1959.

Electoral performance[edit]

Election Votes Seats Position Government
# % # ±
1936 166,737 7.06
16 / 202
Increase 16 Increase 5th
1939 164,253 8.40
17 / 202
Increase 1 Increase 4th


  1. ^ Witte, Els; Craeybeckx, Jan; Meynen, Alain (2010). Political History of Belgium: From 1830 Onwards. Asp / Vubpress / Upa. pp. 203–204. ISBN 978-90-5487-517-8.
  2. ^ VLAAMS NATIONAAL VERBOND (VNV). www.belgiumwwii.be.
  3. ^ DBNL. "Maurice de Wilde, België in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Deel 3 · dbnl". DBNL (in Dutch). Retrieved 2021-07-03.
  4. ^ Badie, Bertrand; Berg-Schlosser, Dirk; Morlino, Leonardo, eds. (7 September 2011). International Encyclopedia of Political Science. SAGE Publications (published 2011). ISBN 9781483305394. Retrieved 9 September 2020. ... fascist Italy ... developed a state structure known as the corporate state with the ruling party acting as a mediator between 'corporations' making up the body of the nation. Similar designs were quite popular elsewhere in the 1930s. The most prominent examples were Estado Novo in Portugal (1932–1968) and Brazil (1937–1945), the Austrian Standestaat (1933–1938), and authoritarian experiments in Estonia, Romania, and some other countries of East and East-Central Europe,
  5. ^ Witte, Els (2009). Political History of Belgium, from 1830 onwards. ASP. p. 157.
  6. ^ a b Capoccia, Giovanni (2005). Defending Democracy: Reactions to Extremism in Interwar Europe. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 114.
  7. ^ Kinderen van de collaboratie. Ervaringen en getuigenissen van nakomelingen van collaborateurs in de Tweede Wereldoorlog. University of Ghent, 2010, Master thesis history
  8. ^ Ishiyama and Brening, p. 1123
  9. ^ B. De Wever, Vlaams Nationaal Verbond (VNV) at Belgium-WWII
  10. ^ Payne, Stanley G. (1995). A History of Fascism, 1914–1945. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 424.
  11. ^ a b c De Wever, Bruno (2006). "Belgium". World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 86.
  12. ^ Kallis, Aristotle (2009). Genocide and Fascism: The Eliminationist Drive in Fascist Europe. Routledge. p. 278.
  13. ^ Rees (1991). Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right. p. 179.
  14. ^ Kallis, Aristotle (2009). Genocide and Fascism: The Eliminationist Drive in Fascist Europe. Routledge. p. 280.


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