Degrelle, Leon Joseph Marie

Degrelle, Leon Joseph Marie
▪ 1995

      Belgian fascist (b. June 15, 1906, Bouillon, Belgium—d. March 31, 1994, Málaga, Spain), was perhaps his country's best-known World War II Nazi collaborator, leader of the fascist Rexist Party of Belgium, and commander of the Walloon (French-speaking Belgian) troops in the German army. Degrelle, the son of a prosperous brewer, attended the University of Louvain. In 1930 he founded the Rexists as an extreme right-wing Roman Catholic populist movement, and in the 1936 national election the party unexpectedly won more than 10% of the vote and 21 of the 202 seats in Parliament. After the Rexists broke with the more moderate Roman Catholics, Degrelle lost influence until the German invasion of Belgium inspired him to collaborate with the occupation forces. In 1941 he founded the Walloon Legion, which was later attached to the Waffen-SS on the Russian front. He won the Iron Cross and was decorated by Adolf Hitler personally. After the war Degrelle was tried in absentia and sentenced to death, but he had fled to Spain, where Gen. Francisco Franco rejected Belgian demands for his extradition. In 1954 Degrelle became a Spanish citizen under the name Léon José de Ramírez Reina.

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Universalium. 2010.

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