Within a year of Belgium falling to the Germans in 1940, Belgian citizens were volunteering to join the Waffen SS to fight communism on the newly formed Eastern Front. Thousands volunteered, and the suffered heavy casualties.
At the very beginning of the Second World War Germany invaded and occupied Belgium. Yet less than a year later some of Belgium's citizens volunteered to join the Waffen-SS and go and fight on the newly formed Eastern Front against Stalin's Soviet Union. By the end of the war thousands had volunteered. casualties were high, but there were survivors and they returned home, often to face condemnation and retribution. This book is about the war they fought in their own words, the very few who remain, the last testament before they are all gone. The motivations of these men were complex: the Flemings have their own culture and identity and some longed for a state independent of a French-speaking Belgium. Some volunteered through a deep hatred of communism, often fuelled by their Catholic faith. Some, of course, were simply persuaded by Hitler's vision of a new world order. The Flemish Waffen-SS, in various configurations, saw action on the Eastern Front from 1941 onwards - at the siege of Leningrad, in the Ukraine, then retreating into Germany itself with the remnants surrendering to the Allies as the Reich lay in ruins. This was hard fighting - and for those men who had chosen this path, the war was not over. Some stayed in Germany, some returned home, perhaps to trial as war criminals. The interviews gathered by author Jonathan Trigg are vital historical documents.
I’m joined by Jonathan Trigg author of Voices of the Flemish Waffen SS. He has been gathering the stories of these men and women. What remarkable stories they are, I devoured the book in just two evenings…
I’ll probably get Jonathan back on, if you look at some of the books he’s published there are some cracking topics for us to investigate.