To speak Flemish or French in Belgium?

As a short introduction to my post I will tell you the followign story. I was born in Antwerp, in the Flemish speaking region of Belgium. In 1940 my parents and I go to Brussels to stay there. Quickly I mastered french. In these ‘prehistoric times’, French and Flemish lived in good neighbourhood in Brussels. During the ww2 I was hiding in Wallonie and learned the Walloon’s french dialect. So,  in a nutshell, this is the whole story  of how I become a “Cosmopolitan Belgian Linguist”.
 
And from here on, taken with a grain of Belgian humor , don’t show in Belgium that you are a “Cosmopolitan Belgian Linguist” . If you are in a Flemish speaking region don’t speak french, because it may cause you trouble.To be on the safe side speak in English. In a French speaking region speak in Flemish nobody will pay to much attention.
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 Well ,why all the mess?
 
On Agora Fox, a french language citizen media site, I found this post “L’obsession linguistique de la Flandre” or translated “The  language obsession of Flanders”.
 
I quote from the (transaled) post..”This arrogant linguistics obsession , in defiance of reports of the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations, is not just a cultural chauvinism for a little spoken language in the world. Linked to the unassailable “right of soil”, it is the glaring reflection of a bad nationalist decline , “a kind of  non-violent fascism ” to resume the vision of the New York Herald Tribune.”….
 
Now,….”Consider a few actual examples: the refusal to appoint  three French mayors democratically elected on the outskirts of Brussels for non-compliance with the use of languages;   the language requirement “wooncode (code housing) for public housing in Flanders;  the obligation to know the Dutch language to be able to acquire a building or land in some communes of Flanders (Zaventem and Vilvoorde); the banning of children from playground if they are not speaking Dutch (Liedekerke);…. the obligation to notify illegal immigrants in Dutch of their expulsion, if they are intercepted at Brussels Airport- a land located in Flemish territory;   the obligation to provide public libraries with 80% of books in Dutch, while the citizens are a French-speaking majority; the prohibition against the French Community of Belgium to finance the francophone associations in Flanders.”….see here in french.
 
A more detailed picture comes from the little town Lidekerke, 15 minutes by train from Brussels. A few excerpts from the ‘International Herald Tribune’ exemplifies the situation, I quote…”If Belgium vanishes one day, it will be because of little towns like this one, where Flemish politicians are riding a new wave of nationalism and pushing for an independent state.”…
 
….”Liedekerke has only 12,000 inhabitants, but its elected council has caused a stir by insisting on the “Flemish nature” of the town. Not only must all city business and schooling take place in Flemish, true throughout Flanders, but children who cannot speak the language can be prohibited from taking part in holiday outings, like hikes and swimming classes.”…
 
Marc Mertens, 53, is the full-time secretary of the town, a professional manager who works under the elected, but part-time village council, he said:
 
…””Brussels is coming this way,” …. explaining that the people here, having gained autonomy, do not want to be overwhelmed again by another French-speaking ascendancy. More of schoolchildren, taught in Flemish, have French-speaking parents.”…
 
…”When I was young I never heard a foreign language here,” he said. “Now every day I meet people speaking French.There are days “when I think I’m not in my village any more,” he added.’…
 
…”Part of the black community here invited relatives and friends with children from Brussels to play,” he said. “There were too many, and more than half didn’t understand Dutch.”…
 
…”Johan Daelman, the head of the far-right, anti-immigrant Vlaams Belang party here and a village councilman, want to keep French-speaking immigrants from Africa out of town, too – all in the name of keeping Liedekerke “unspoiled,” meaning free of the crime and racial tensions of nearby Brussels.”…..etcetera..see more.
 
The above citations gives a feeling on what is at stake, the language crisis only being the top of the Flemish extremist  iceberg.
 
From my own ‘Belgian’ subjective standpoint, it is almost unbelievable, that the people I did know 18 years,  Flemish and French , are now entrenched in an ‘ethnic’ war threatening to disrupt their own country.
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Nazi Propaganda in Misleading Paris Occupation Photos

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Via my Internet subscription to the french newspaper “Le Figaro” I found an article named “Cette exposition est tout à fait légitime”. Seeking an English written article on the same subject I found one on “FRANCE24″ named “German occupation photo exhibit causes scandal” . The opening lines describes in a few words what it’s all about “A controversial new photography exhibit entitled, ‘Parisians Under Occupation’ shows scenes of daily life that contrast sharply with the reality of the German occupation from 1940 to 1945″. (Photography exhibition, “Parisians Under Occupation” at the City Hall Library in Paris features 250 color photographs by French photographer André Zucca taken for the Nazi propaganda daily).
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Paris 1940-45
 
  Looking at the exhibition’s video clips reminded me of the same years in Brussels, where as a kid, I was living and hiding from the Nazis, with my family.The architectural resemblance between Paris and Brussels are striking; the same houses, streets., the same fashion, the false Idyllic look of a good living world. And all this, only a propaganda veil hiding the atrocities of the Nazi regime all over Europe.
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What ignite the fire of scandal was , I quote, that… “These unedited images, taken by a 24/36 Leica, were taken between 1942 to 1945, the height of the German occupation. The absence of any explanation about the propaganda element in the exhibit is striking…
 
  ..Most of the photos contrast sharply with the history books recalling the Vel d’hiver roundup and deportation in July 1942. Where are the snaking lines outside food stores? Where are the witnesses of the occupation? Rare are the photos where a yellow star sewn on coat lapels is seen on passers-by. This unexpected take on “German France” does not leave one indifferent.”…see here.
  
Here are more photos:
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I extracted the photos from  France 24″ here and from ”Le Figaro” here.
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Meanwhile the scandal continue,  I quote,..”WIthout questioning their beauty, the photos are disturbing. Even worse, the very title of the exhibit is rather shocking, due to its inaccuracy. Christophe Girard, the Parisian deputy mayor in charge of culture, is quite clear.”… “We should stop this exhibit!” …”Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë says the incident was “badly managed”, and is trying to put things right. He preferred not to ban the exhibit to avoid accusations of censorship, but removed the posters advertising the show. Organisers are also planning a debate titled “Is the camera an objective witness?” in a last-minute attempt to correct their early mistakes”..see more.
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 Well, I was a witness of those past days. What I remember are photos like these  from the “..’round-up’ or ‘raid’ of the Velodrome d’Hiver’,(see here), mirroring similar photos of Nazis raids in Brussels.
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I published this story on NowPublic and add here the comments by  NowPublic editors and contributing members.
 

 

 

 

 
good stuff:For me, the only way to take those exhibited images beyond revisionism/propaganda would be to show them alongside documentary counterparts: the image and the reality… sort of like what you did in the story above!

jordan thanks for the comment and the GS.

The curators of the exhibition trayed to minimize their mistakes, “..A large excerpt from the preface to the exhibition catalogue (Ed Gallimard / Paris Library), prepared by Jean-Pierre Azema, a specialist historian of this period is included in the exhibition since its opening and also recalls the historical context in which these photographs were taken, for more see here ..

…A weak palliative for bad conscience.

 
good stuff:korzac, I like this story. It’s good stuff. Excellent story and coverage Korzac

Barry Artiste, thanks for the comment and the GS.

 
good stuff:One must always guard against revisionist history. 

Karen Hatter, the exhibition is a form of visual deceit under the decent patronage of ‘culture’. But the french living witnesses of those years denounced the fraud..

Thanks for the comment and the GS.

I think all governments contribute propeganda to their citizens.

History reveals many things, sometimes it takes a while to come out. Many Germans, I believe, had no idea what was happening far away.

Of course they would prfer to be thinking of good things happening from their nations actions, just as we all are wishing to belive good things are happening from current conflict zones.

Matte, about your..”Many Germans, I believe, had no idea what was happening far away”..

Look at this ..”In a seminal study published thirty-five years ago, The Destruction of the European Jews, Raul Hilberg observed that the perpetrators of the Nazi holocaust were “not different in their moral makeup from the rest of the population…. [T]he machinery of destruction was a remarkable cross-section of the German population.”..see here.

Or look at this ..”To think that the Germans were unaware of the genocide is ignorant and absurd. The Germans saw as well as the Jews did what was going on. Why do you think so many Jews fled the country? They knew that death awaited them in the hands of the Nazis. The Germans saw the Jews being humiliated, corralled through the city, loaded up in trains and sent off to die horrible deaths in the concentration camps.’.. see here.

And look at the link with the title ..’The Genocide Generals: secret recordings explode the myth they knew nothing about the Holocaust“…see here.

I think Matte perhaps is stating that German civilians and soldiers far away from the conflict of the cities, perhaps the countryside and soldiers stationed outside of Germany may not have known about the concentration camps. Though I am sure rumours circulated, and perhaps even the rumours were infathomable to believe that humans could do that to humans.

Propeganda means different things to different people, and people belive what they want to believe. A study after a war cannot accuratly deduce what was going on inside people’s heads at the time. Yes people were being taken away – but at the time I belive NO ONE knew to where or for what fate.

People belive until they know otherwise, as has happened with the Iraq situation – people are fed propeganda and lies, until the truth is finally revealed. There is no blame for this on the part of the population, they just belive what they are told.

Just as in the Seconf World War the Japanese being portrayed as devils….but they were only following their leaders and fighting their war the way they were told, as is the US military, the Chinese military etc.

Matte about your “Yes people were being taken away – but at the time I believe NO ONE knew to where or for what fate.” What I most liked in this sentence is the irrevocable absoluteness of “..NO One knew..”

 Well, by ‘my what I where told by myself’  I know that SOME know what where the fate of the people taken away…

For example, the Belgian Benedictine priest, Reverend Henry Reynders  who saved my life and the life of  many other children from deportation, he and the whole Belgian rescues organisations knew perfectly well what would be our fate..see here  So,It would be very comforting that you indulge yourself in upgrading your knowledge from ‘No One knew’ to Some knew. The remaining question  will then be: how many is some.. 

 

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