Jef van de Wiele
Fredegardus Jacobus Josephus (Jef) van de Wiele (Deurne, Belgium, 20 July 1903 - Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

, 4 September 1979) was a Belgian
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 Nazi politician.


Van de Wiele was a staunch admirer of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and in 1935 he set up the Duitschen-Vlaamsche Arbeidsgemeenschap (German-Flemish Labour Community, popularly known as Devlag
Deutsch-Vlämische Arbeitsgemeinschaft , better known as DeVlag, was a pro-Nazi organization active in Flanders during the German occupation of Belgium...

) to campaign for the incorporation of Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

 into the Third Reich. This group used the Nazi eagle and swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

 combined with the black lion of Flanders
Coat of arms of Flanders
The official arms of the Flemish Community are: Or, a lion rampant sable, armed and langued gules. Although the lion has been in use for about a century as symbol of the Flemish movement, it only became the official symbol of the Flemish Community in 1973...

 as its symbol. Van de Wiele had some contact with the Nazis before the invasion of Belgium and even claimed that Hitler had promised him that Flanders would be incorporated according to his wishes and that he had further been promised the position of Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...


Influence under the occupation

Under the occupation he did enjoy some influence, although the complicated nature of Belgian politics
Politics of Belgium
Politics of Belgium takes place in a framework of a federal, parliamentary, representative democratic, constitutional monarchy, whereby the King of the Belgians is the Head of State and the Prime Minister of Belgium is the head of government in a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by...

 meant that he did not gain the full influence he sought. He enjoyed a good relationship with Walloon
Walloons are a French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia. Walloons are a distinctive community within Belgium, important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people. More generally, the term also refers to the inhabitants of the Walloon...

 leader Léon Degrelle
Léon Degrelle
Léon Joseph Marie Ignace Degrelle was a Walloon Belgian politician, who founded Rexism and later joined the Waffen SS which were front-line troops in the fight against the Soviet Union...

 and accompanied him on various public engagements. At home however he had struggled to gain influence from the far-right but pro-independence Flemish National Union
Flemish National Union
The Flemish National Union was a Nationalist Flemish political party in Belgium, founded by Staf de Clercq on October 8, 1933. De Clercq became known as den Leider .-Creation:...

 and clashed repeatedly with its leaders Staf De Clercq
Staf De Clercq
Staf De Clercq was a Flemish nationalist collaborator, co-founder and leader of the Flemish nationalist Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond .-Biography:...

 and Hendrik Elias
Hendrik Elias
Hendrik Josef Elias was a Belgian politician and Flemish nationalist.-Biography:Elias was a noted academic, holding doctorates in both Law and Philosophy from studies at the Catholic University of Leuven, the University of Paris and the University of Bonn before serving in a number of leading...

, who maintained ambiguous attitudes towards the Nazis. Van de Wiele however worked enthusiastically with the Nazis, advocating the full mobilisation of the region and, in 1943, turning the entirety of his youth movement over to the Hitler Youth
Hitler Youth
The Hitler Youth was a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. It existed from 1922 to 1945. The HJ was the second oldest paramilitary Nazi group, founded one year after its adult counterpart, the Sturmabteilung...

. After the liberation of Belgium by the Allied forces he fled to Germany, and was designated the head of the theoretical "Reichsgau Flandern
Reichsgau Flandern
The Reichsgau Flanders was a short-lived Reichsgau of Nazi Germany established in 1944. It encompassed the present-day Flemish Region in its old provincial borders, so including Comines-Warneton but excluding Voeren...

" in December of 1944.

Post-war life

Following the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 van de Wiele was branded a traitor for his enthusiactic collaboration and sentenced to death in November 1946. However the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he was released after 17 years, settling in West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

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