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The use of Violence in Times of War

Public History Encounter at the CegeSoma (2019 - 3)

 The use of Violence in Times of War. Third Public History Encounter at the CegeSoma.

In 1984, Lannoo published the work of Bruno De Wever entitled 'Oostfronters. Vlamingen in het Vlaams Legioen en de Waffen SS'. In 2019, the book by Frank Seberechts entitled 'Drang naar het Oosten. Vlaamse soldaten en kolonisten aan het oostfront' is published. These two seminal works are  thirty-five years apart….

The work of Frank Seberechts deals with war crimes and crimes against humanity that Flemish volunteers have committed or that they have witnessed while deployed at the Eastern Front' during the Second World War. This is the first time that this issue is addressed so thoroughly. For a long time, the volunteers of the Flemish Legion and the SS regiment Westland, the Flemish members of the NSKK-Vervoerkorps and the Todt Organisation were represented as idealists engaged in the battle against Communism, as though they had nothing to do with the murder of civilians, of partisans and Jews from Poland, Ukraine and Russia between 1939 and 1945.

This fight against partisans is certainly addressed in the book by Bruno De Wever, but it is only one aspect of his research. The context of publication and the approach were different. Knowledge and susceptibility was different as well. But why exactly? Which archives were available at the time? What has changed since 1984 ? How did  historiography change? Hoe moeten we vandaag kijken naar de ervaringen van die vrijwilligers?

Frank Seberechts en Bruno De Wever werden geïnterviewd door Bart Willems (wetenschappelijk medewerker bij het Rijksarchief te Antwerpen) en samen hebben ze een stand van zaken opgemaakt over het delikate vraagstuk van geweld in oorlogstijd.