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De afrekening. Geweld tegen collaborateurs in Antwerpen, 1918 en 1944-1945.

CegeSoma Public History Meeting (2024-2)

De afrekening. Geweld tegen collaborateurs in Antwerpen, 1918 en 1944-1945.

Conference-debate (in Dutch) with guest Antoon Vrints.

Interview by Bruno De Wever.

Scissors, blows, insults and spit, images inextricably associated with the liberation days of 1918 and 1944-1945. The enemy's friends had to be on the lookout. Riotous, hysterical crowds allegedly indulged in indiscriminate violence. This chaos also would have been a dreamed opportunity to settle personal scores. People's rage is more than often presented as the very opposite of justice.

In his book 'De afrekening', Antoon Vrints chooses to avoid this moralizing perspective. He takes a completely different look at violence, adopting the perspective of its perpetrators, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel. Starting from the street level, he unravels the logic of violence following the Armistice and the Liberation in Antwerp. What messages did the perpetrators of this violence wish to express, and what did they hope to achieve? Which groups did they target, and why? Which behaviors provoked the most violence, and what were their backgrounds? In other words, just what scores were being settled?

While much ihas been said about this popular violence, very little is known about it ...Through an analysis based on contemporary sources, including the archives of the Antwerp police force, Antoon Vrints offers us, for the first time, a sober analysis that shatters many myths.

To discuss this delicate and controversial subject, CegeSoma and its non-profit organization "The Friends of CegeSoma" invite you to a conference with Antoon Vrints on Wednesday, 15 May, in the framework of their Public History Meetings. The author will be interviewed by Bruno De Wever.

Everyone is most welcome!

Antoon Vrints is Senior Lecturer in History at Ghent University. He specializes in the social history of World War I and conflict regulation from a long-term perspective. He is the author of 'Bezette stad: Vlaams-nationalistische collaboratie in Antwerpen tijdens de Eerste Wereldoorlog' (2002), 'Het theater van de straat. Publiek geweld in Antwerpen tijdens de eerste helft van de twintigste eeuw' (2011), and is the co-author with Maarten Van Ginderachter and Koen Aerts of 'Het land dat nooit was. Een tegenfeitelijke geschiedenis van België' (2014) and with Martin Schoups of 'De overlevenden: De Belgische oud-strijders tijdens het interbellum' (2018).


Bruno De Wever is Professor Emeritus at Ghent University. A historian specializing in the history of the Flemish movement, collaboration during World War II and public history, he is the author of numerous books, including 'Greep naar de macht. Vlaams-nationalisme en Nieuwe Orde. Het VNV 1933-1945'.
He is also Vice-Chairman of CegeSoma's Scientific Committee.