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Witte Brigade

De Geuzengroep (1940-1944)
Witte Brigade-Fidelio (1944)
Participant in the Belgian Resistance (World War II)
Witte Brigade.jpg
Insignia of the Witte Brigade-Fidelio, displaying both the group's initials, but also a V for Victory
Active1940-September 1944
LeadersMarcel Louette
Area of operationsFocused on Antwerp region, Belgium
Opponent(s)Nazi Germany German Occupying Forces

The White Brigade (Dutch: Witte Brigade, French: Brigade blanche) was a Belgian resistance group, founded in the summer of 1940 in Antwerp by Marcel Louette,[1] who was nicknamed "Fidelio". The group was originally known as "De Geuzengroep" but changed its name after liberation to its better-known title of Witte Brigade-Fidelio.

The name was chosen in opposition to the "Black Brigade",[2] a collaborator group led by SS-Untersturmführer Reimond Tollenaere, who was responsible for the propaganda of pro-German Flemish National Union. The Witte Brigade was based in Antwerp but had smaller branches in Gent, Lier, Aalst, Brussels, Waasland, Wallonia and in the coastal region.

Activities

During the Second World War Belgium was occupied by Germany. While the fascist group known as the Black Brigade were collaborators with the Germans, they were opposed by the underground Witte Brigade. Important activities of the Witte Brigade were distributing anti-German propaganda, the creation of lists of collaborators and organizing patriotic demonstrations on key Belgian holidays, such as 21 July (National Day) and 11 November (Anniversary of the German surrender in the First World War). The resistance group published its own propaganda newspaper called "Always United" (French: Unis Toujours, Dutch: Steeds Verenigd) with some 80 editions published. In addition, the group was concerned with obtaining military information about the Port of Antwerp and the possible German invasion of Britain. The Witte Brigade also aided the Comet line, helping shot-down Allied pilots to return to Britain, helping the Allies replace valuable flight crews. Additionally, the Brigade protected Jewish families, using their network of informants and saboteurs to evade the German occupiers. The Witte Brigade had connections with various intelligence networks, code-named Luc, Bravery and Group Zero. It was also the only resistance group early in the War with contact with the Belgian government in exile, along with the British.

Members and arrests

Many members of the Witte Brigade were policemen. Members of the Deurne police were particularly represented. During Nazi Germany's repression of Belgium in 1943-1944, 700 members of the resistance were arrested. This, in addition to other losses, reduced the groups strength to where it played a minor role in the later liberation of Belgium.[3] When a prominent member was captured in possession of list of other members, 58 members were arrested and sent to German camps. In Deurne in a raid in January 1944, 62 members were arrested and that same year, on May 9 the founder Marcel Louette was arrested and deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Louette would eventually return from Germany and died in Antwerp in 1978.[1] In total, the Witte Brigade suffered 400 losses of the 3,750 recognized members.

See also

Achievements

Despite their heavy losses, the Witte Brigade, along with the Armée secrète, the Front de l'Indépendance, the Mouvement National Royaliste and Groupe G, helped allied forces capture the port of Antwerp intact in 1944. The Witte Brigade prevented the Germans, who had attached explosives to docks and cranes, from scuttling the facilities’ infrastructure, allowing the port to be opened once the Scheldt was cleared of sea mines. Additionally, the Witte Brigade acted as a scouting and intelligence network for the Canadian 4th, 5th and 6th brigades in September 1944. The Witte Brigade provided reports on the Germans' strength, defenses, and numbers. Additionally, resistance members pinpointed the location of German minefields.[4] The influence of the Witte Brigade was considerable. The organization had been known popularly as the "White Brigade" so, after liberation, the group changed its name, adding the word "Fidelio", the pseudonym of Louette.

References

  1. ^ a b "Breendonk - Memorial". www.breendonk.be. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  2. ^ "Over 'Moffenmeiden', zwarten en collaborateurs". politics.be. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  3. ^ cegesoma.be. "CEGESOMA - Homepage". www.cegesoma.be. Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  4. ^ Batchelor, Dahn (2017). Whistling in the Face of Robbers: Volume Two—1944–1951. Xlibris. ISBN 978-1-5144-1405-7.

External links


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