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Léon Degrelle and the Walloon Legion  
 

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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1982 Posts
Posted 05/28/2011   10:31 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add PostmasterGS to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
Thought I'd share another tale from the collection.

In 1930, Léon Degrelle founded the Rexist Party in Belgium. Rexism called for a reformation of Belgian society in conformity with the teachings of the Catholic Church, but in a fascist form of government.


Flag of the Rexist Party

In 1935-36, the Catholic Church cut ties with the Rexists over their increasingly close ties with Hitler and Mussolini. The Rexists began receiving monetary support from Germany and Italy, to the tune of approximately 2 million lire and 100,000 marks in 1936 alone.


Léon Degrelle

In the 1936 elections, the Rexists reached the peak of their power, claiming 21 deputies and 12 senators in the Belgian elections. To raise funds for the election, the Rexists published this stamp featuring Degrelle. It was sold in booklets of 10.


Léon Degrelle Stamp


Booklet front


Booklet back


Booklet inside

With the violation of Belgian neutrality by the Nazis on 10 May 1940, the Rexist Party split over the matter of resistance. Many Rexists went underground and began resisting the German occupation. Others, most notably Degrelle, sided with the Germans. Degrelle was arrested for collaborating with the Germans and was evacuated to France, where he was eventually released by the Germans.

Upon his release, he returned to Belgium and joined the Walloon Legion of the Wehrmacht, which was formed by Belgians from the Walloon region to fight against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front. Degrelle would eventually rise to the rank of SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel), and become one of only two foreigners to be awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.

On 10 April 1942, the Walloon Legion released this series of stamps to benefit the Legion.



At the end of the war, Degrelle fled to Denmark and Norway, where he then commandeered a Heinkel He 111 aircraft and fled to Spain. Franco's government refused to turn over Degrelle for extradition, even going so far as to allow him to escape from the hospital where he was staying while handing over a look-alike. In 1954, Spain granted him Spanish citizenship under the name José León Ramírez Reina. Belgium convicted him of treason in absentia and condemned him to death by firing squad.

Degrelle would remain in Spain until his death in 1994.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
5703 Posts
Posted 05/28/2011   11:26 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Cjd to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for sharing...the Degrelle stamp was new to me.

C.
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Pillar Of The Community
Canada
1227 Posts
Posted 05/28/2011   11:48 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add mhc99 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Postmaster, I found this to be very interesting reading. Thanks very much for sharing this bit of WWII history on stamps.
Regards
Mike
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
3547 Posts
Posted 05/28/2011   11:55 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add tonymacg to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks! Another excellent contribution!
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Valued Member
56 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   12:42 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add san_onofre_collection to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks for the History Lesson
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Valued Member
220 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   02:44 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add lockumupthrowawaykey to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I enjoyed very much.. Thank you
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Valued Member
United Kingdom
400 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   04:22 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DavidR to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Postmaster
An interesting story and superb mini-collection. The mini-sheets look superb. Did you acquire all the Degrelle items together - or did finding one lead to the history which led to more stamps? Just curious!
DavidR
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
1884 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   04:24 am  Show Profile Check jimjamtwo's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jimjamtwo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
This is a piece by Degrelle, and well worth a read too:

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v14/v14n3p22_Degrelle.html
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Pillar Of The Community
Australia
1981 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   04:25 am  Show Profile Check jubilee's eBay Listings Bookmark this reply Add jubilee to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Excellent. I knew nothing of this at all
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www.globalphilately.com
- Member APS & IPDA
Pillar Of The Community
United Kingdom
1355 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   06:01 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add stampgal to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
What a fascinating piece of history and philately. Thankyou!
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Valued Member
Norway
259 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   06:22 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add yobo to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
An interesting read. Thanks for sharing this.
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1982 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   08:37 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add PostmasterGS to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Did you acquire all the Degrelle items together - or did finding one lead to the history which led to more stamps? Just curious!


I collect stamps of the Foreign Volunteer Legions during WWII, so I had a little knowledge of the history of the Walloon Legion before I bought any of the stamps. A couple years ago, I bought the Walloon Legion issues to fill that hole in my Legion collection, and it was only at that point that I really dug into the history as I was drafting the accompanying write-up for my website. Because on this, I was familiar with Degrelle's name in passing, but I didn't know the Degrelle vignettes existed.

A couple years after acquiring the Legion issues, I was browsing a philatelic auction site and I clicked on the Walloon Legion, since I'm still looking for the imperf sheets of those issues. They had the Degrelle booklet listed, and I thought it would make a nice addition, even though it wasn't technically a Legion issue.
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Valued Member
United Kingdom
400 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   09:22 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DavidR to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Must be a fascinating collection Postmaster.
I will keep an eye open for those imperfs for you, you never know where these things will crop up!
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1982 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   09:34 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add PostmasterGS to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
David,

It's definitely a fascinating topic. It's a little piece of military history that most people don't know about.

Here's the collection if you want to see the rest.
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Valued Member
United Kingdom
400 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   10:24 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add DavidR to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Postmaster
I was aware there had been various groups from the occupied territories that fought for the Germans, but the Belgian group was a new one for me, as are a couple of the others shown on your superb website. I am slowly forming a collection of Germany at the moment, now I know about your site it will be a great reference tool.
I understand the Germans tried to form a unit of British POWs, but that they never saw active service. Is there any postal history regarding them?
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Pillar Of The Community
United States
1982 Posts
Posted 05/29/2011   10:46 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add PostmasterGS to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
To my knowledge, there isn't any postal history associated with the British Free Corps. It was never more than a couple dozen men, so I would be surprised if anyone went to the effort of producing any philatelic items.
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