Allied leaflet airdropped over Belgium in 1944 (Collection of leaflets and official documents [AC 9/6]: nr. 285739), © CegeSoma/State Archives.

Focus on the Resistance

On 1 October 2019, the TV series 'Kinderen van het Verzet' (Children of the Resistance, broadcast as from 22 October 209) by Canvas was launched at CegeSoma.
The series addresses the growing  interest of society and historical research in the history and remembrance of the resistance in Belgium. CegeSoma plays a key role in this trend and we give an overview of our main 'resistance initiatives'.
The history of the resistance has always been closely linked to the history of CegeSoma. When the institute was founded in 1969, associations of patriots and former resistants had been pleading for the creation of this type of centre for many years. Research about the resistance and the collection of their sources was therefore a priority. Thus, heightened interest in the resistance in this commemorative year is very fitting. In this context, the first results of the current project TRANSMEMO (about family memories about collaboration and resistance) were presented in the Senate on 3 October 2019. Fresh scholarly results will also be published in 2020.

The resistance is currently also the major focal point on our online platform 'BelgiumWWII'. Many articles were published in recent months, among which about violence, administrative resistance, resistance and liberation, gender, the Jewish Defence Committee, the Secret Army, the underground Soir newspaper, the Enfranchised, the communist party and the Maquis de Semois, as well as people such as Amanda Stassart, Marguerite Bervoets, Nina Erauw, Henri Malfait, Eugène Predom, Raoul Baligand, Paul Struye, Andrée Herscovoci, Charles Rahier, François Amiel, Fernand Demany, Yvonne Jospa, Herz Jospa, Louise De Landsheere. Furthermore, a timeline of the resistance will be pulished on our website shortly. After 22 October, Doctoral researcher Babette Weyns (UGent) shall provide critical comments on the Canvas series through the blog of BelgiumWWII.

Together with her doctoral colleague Michèle Corthals (UAntwerpen), Weyns will also serve as guest editors for a special edition of the Journal of Belgian History about new historical research about the Belgian resistance.

Progress is made with regard to archives as well. Indeed, the archives of the organisation 'les enfants de la patrie' is currently being inventoried by colleague Gertjan Desmet. The remaining archive documents of the Witte Brigade / Fidelio (i.e. all personal files) were handed over to CegeSoma on 2 October 2019. We now conserve the entire archives of this armed resistance group.

Last but not least,  a book will be published in spring 2020 entitled 'Was opa een held ? Speuren naar mannen en vrouwen in het verzet' ('Papy était-il un héros ? Sur les traces des hommes et des femmes dans la résistance pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale') (Lannoo/Racine) under the supervision of colleague Fabrice Maerten. Just as the previous title 'Was opa een nazi?' ('Papy était-il un nazi ?'), this book shall provide an overview of sources and information but also delve into the history of the resistance in Belgium. This major work is in its final stage and shall become a key working instrument for researchers once it's published.

All these initiatives show that the history of the resistance is one of our focal points in the coming six months.