By Dr. E.R.Fields
The author was well known in racial nationalist politics for his editing of his newspaper The Thunderbolt and for his leadership of the National States Right Party (circa 1950-70) . Until 2008 he was editor of a monthly journal called The Truth at Last. This mini-biography of Leon Degrelle will be of use to students who need a brief overview of the lives of patriotic and religious collaborators with the Third Reich.
Leon Degrelle was born on June 15, 1906 at Bouillon, Belgium, in the oak forests of the Ardennes – two miles from the border with France. The family were devout French Catholics. Degrelle entered the University of Louvain in 1925 where he studied law. There he fell under the spell of the brilliant French nationalist intellectual Charles Maurras and read his newspaper Action Francais Maurras taught that democracy was flawed because of its belief that everyone should vote. He favoured government by a carefully selected skilled elite. Maurras held that Parliamentary rule is irresponsible and corrupt. He argued that a viable state must be based on order, competence, and responsibility.
In 1930 Degrelle went to work for a small publishing firm sponsored by the Catholic Youth Society. It was called Christus Rex (or Christ the King.) The following year, 1931, Degrelle, at the age of 25 became its Director. Then the publication took a sudden leap into the arena of dynamic public politics. After some spectacular election successes the war intervened and in1940 he was imprisoned and tortured by the French. He was reported dead – but this was a mistake. However, among the actual victims was Joris Van Severan, a nationalist Flemish leader of a movement calling for union with the Netherlands (Verdinaso). Leon Degrelle led the French speaking nationalists of Wallonia in a great anti-communist campaign against the USSR. Here he became the much decorated Waffen SS leader of whom Hitler said If I had a son – I would have wanted him to be like you. After the war Degrelle was sentenced to death in his absence, as he had escaped to Spain, where he lived in retirement. He continued writing his memoirs as well as many articles for sympathetic groups around the world.