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Saturday, June 28th 2014, 4:02pm

Belgian News 1945

Belgian News 1945

27 January
Lodewyk van der Berg, former prime minister of the Netherlands and leader of the Dutch Catholic Rooms-Katholieke Volkspartij today presented a bold report to the Dutch Cabinet which is the most important document for the United Kingdoms in generations and which no doubt will prove as divisive as it is inclusive. At a press conference this afternoon Mr. van der Berg described his ‘Confederation Plan’ as “the roadmap to a unified political bloc under which all the United Kingdoms will share prosperity, justice and protection in a union that will be truly global in its span and a tower of strength to all its members.”

The aim is to design a unified political structure for the Low Countries and the member nations of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands that will:
1. Allow for mutual foreign and economic policies
2. Provide for mutual defence
3. Allow the economies of the Provinces to grow at disparate rates within a unified system
4. Allow for the richer economies to provide capital to the poorer, leading to fast growth and good return on investments
5. How to ensure some common values and rights
6. How to preserve strongly individual societies
7. Allow provincial areas towards to sovereignty within the overall framework.

These aims will be met by a series of policies:
1. A Bill of Rights which would establish minimal rights for all peoples and faiths. It would include the right to education and languages. Each nation would commit to teaching Dutch in addition to a native tongue and a foreign tongue. The Dutch native speakers would have to learn a Confederated tongue. All bureaucrats would have to demonstrate proficiency in the language of the area posted.
2. A ruling council representing the nations would be created, with a Monarch as head. This would also serve as a constitutional court to validate elections and signal agreement on member nations forming treaties outside the Confederation. The council would also decide when a military action by all was required. The council would generally act by 2/3rds majority, the exception being when judging elections/constitutionality of a nation, that nation would not vote.
3. The Monarch would be designated as the head of the House of Orange, or the next in line of succession if the head of household was not at age of majority.
4. All Heir Apparent, Monarchs, and Prime Ministers would be subject to being found unfit for service and disqualified only by a supermajority vote of the council, followed by a majority vote of the non-involved nations parliaments.
5. The member nations would become a series of constitutional monarchies led by the House of Orange. The Dutch East Indies would be ruled by constitutional monarchs drawn from the native nobility.
6. A centralised Customs Union and coast guards would be founded, with a nominal tariff funding.
7 Each Nation would have to contribute a percentage of their annual tax income to a central treasury. This would fund both the Council, and common armed forces for defence.
8. A central treasury would be entrusted with minting coinage, controlling the primary currency and any secondary currencies pegged to it, controlling debts and loans and deciding on joint monetary policies.
29 March
Today saw the final day of the inaugural Dwars door België (Across Belgium) road bicycle race. This new two-day stage event marks the start of Flemish cycling week. The winner was Rik Van Steenbergen riding for the Mercier-Hutchinson team.

28 January
Press and political reactions to the Confederation Plan:

Editorial in the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws; “At last the long awaited van der Berg Plan has emerged. It scope is broad yet its sense of social duty and political freedom is of a higher order in the best traditions of Belgo-Dutch democracy. Whether we will benefit from such economic and political unity will no doubt continue to fill the pages of this paper for many months, but it a discussion worth having if Belgium is to take its place among the premient nations of Europe and the world.”

Editorial in the newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen; “…are the weak-kneed politicians going to take this proposal seriously, and are we going to have to drag the Walloons who seek Franco alliances with us kicking and screaming?”

Editorial in the newspaper De Standaard; “This is but the next step in the ever increasing grip of the House of Orange to subsume our nation into a Flemish bloc of moribund monarchist rule and we shall become another province of Holland as the sure as the Asiatic of the East Indies have been ensnared by the silvery tongues of the Queen’s advisers.”

Editorial in the newspaper De Schelde (mouthpiece of the Flemish National Union (Vlaams Nationaal Verbond, VNV) Party); “This plan offers Belgium the political and economic power to reach the world stage and make our voice heard. If we are to compete in an ever more competitive economic environment we must take these opportunities to ensure growth. However, even now we suspect that the Walloon majority is stocking up on its supplies and readying themselves to throw barricades across the path of progress.”

Spokesman for the Communist Party of Belgium (Kommunistische Partij van België, KPB/ Parti Communiste de Belgique PCB); “While some of the democratic reforms overseas are welcome, any Confederation under the command of self-appointed monarchs is an undemocratic monster which will squeeze millions of people, white and black, of their money and labour into the coffers of a giant Treasury which no doubt will be the basement of the Queen’s Palace. We call on a real democratic government governed by the people and no colony should be shackled by any form of Confederation if they do not so wish. For colonialism is as deadly and outmoded as capitalism and slavery.”


Sunday, June 29th 2014, 11:15am

7 February
The German Foreign Minister, Dehler, arrived this afternoon in Brussels, where he and other officials of the Foreign Ministry will meet with government figures to discuss matters of mutual interest. This represents the first visit to the Belgian capital a ministerial delegation for several years, and hints at the possibility of improvements between Germany and Belgium.

10 February
The German Foreign Minister, Dehler, and his retinue departed from Brussels this morning via the city's railway station. The Foreign Ministry made a brief statement saying that the talks were fruitful and avenues for future discussion and co-operation have been will meet with government figures to discuss matters of mutual interest. The spokesman refused to be drawn on whether the Confederation Plan was discussed. General opinion is that Germany generally disapproves of this move by the Dutch to seek greater integration within the United Kingdoms.

16 February
The Defence Ministry today confirmed that under a Naval Cooperation Plan with the Netherlands, that two light cruisers and nine destroyers transferred to the Netherlands. The rationale for this move is to reduce costs which have spiralled out of control and to ease chronic manpower shortages within the Navy. In the Chamber of Representatives some Walloon members decried this plan as trying to enact the Confederation Plan via the back door. They were also annoyed that the Navy also announced in the press communiqué that the political demands for coal firing boilers were absurd on technical and economic grounds. Work has already begun to convert the major ships of the Navy to oil-firing. Leading industrialists welcomed the move and the possible release of stocks of coal which are badly needed by the iron and steel industries. It is thought the Chamber may try to delay the fiscal approval for these refits despite the soundness of the decision.


Saturday, July 5th 2014, 10:47am

5 March
Staf de Clercq, leader of the Flemish National Union (Vlaams Nationaal Verbond, VNV), begins a staunch pro-Confederation campaign via the Frontist newspaper De Schelde which the party controls. He claims Belgium must join for the economic benefits it brings and that Belgium “must not be hidebound by old tribal notions of language”. Several Walloon politicians decried his comments and threatened a political response.

9 March
“My dear Juliaana you must use your influence. Count Pierlot is an honourable man and has long known of the desire to extend the Confederation, to formalise it.”
“But mother, the time may not be right…”
“Nonsense, the time is right. Both sides are full of talk and yet nothing is being discussed beyond the stuffy gentlemen’s clubs. It time the Count took hold of his government and forced the proper discussion of van der Berg’s plan. If he does not act soon the people will become restless and any hope of political unity will be gone.”
“I agree we must prevent a serious division, if you think it best then I will call him this afternoon.”

“I am well your Highness. I have not slept too well these last few nights I must admit.”
“My dear Hubert, you must act. It is no good pretending this issue will go away. In The Hague politicians are already tabling motions to discuss the Plan in greater depth and vote upon it. There is a headwind behind it.”
“But you’ve heard de Clercq’s vocal calls to accept the plan. His strident opinions seek to inflame the moderate opinion. Those of us who are moderate but wish to go ahead with these political plans are at the mercy of the Walloon anti-Confederationalist view.”
“Your job as Prime Minister is to be a leader, the people are looking to you to lead them. Tell them the truth, tell them how de Clercq stoking their fears is nonsense. You must bring de Clercq out in the Chamber of Deputies and smother him with moderate supporters. You must get the Walloon supporters to vote in favour. Only then will the people follow. You are the man to do this. I know this in my heart.”

“Good afternoon Pierre. I want you schedule a Cabinet meeting tomorrow.”
“The entire Cabinet Sir?”
“Yes, everyone. We must discuss this Confederation issue. Table a memorandum on the issue and a motion for the Chamber of Representatives to discuss this and to vote on the issue.


Saturday, August 2nd 2014, 2:23pm

7 April
Belgian discussions in Chamber of Representatives postponed as August de Schryver, leader of the Christian Social Party (Parti Social Chrétien-Christelijke Volkspartij, CVP-PSC) counter-attacks with a proposal to start a Walloon independence movement in an attempt to silence the Flemish campaign. Pierlot does not accept this point of view and the government nearly splits.

9 April
People joined several street protests across major towns in Walloon areas of Belgium today. They were marching against any “annexation” of Belgium into the “Dutch Empire”.


Saturday, August 9th 2014, 10:52am

20 April
The Christian Flemish People's Union (Christelijke Vlaamse Volksunie, CVV) after much discussion has issued a statement that it will not support the Confederation Plan.

23 April
Belgian discussions in Senate begin. After back-room dealing in smoke filled rooms across The Hague, finally Eduard Land announces his De Progressieve Eland-Stier Partij will back the Confederation Plan in a vote. Commentators feel that some dissenters are still likely to vote against.


Saturday, August 16th 2014, 9:47am

25 April
At the invitation of Princess Juliana, Queen Wilhelmina made an official visit to the city of Brussels today. This evening she spoke at an official reception which was broadcast on radio to the nation. Buoyed by yesterday’s vote in the Dutch lower chamber, her strident support for the ideals of a Confederation met a bad reception locally, although Flemish Royalist supporters did back her call for national support. Commentators noted yesterday’s vote was probably poor timing and a coincidence but it appeared that for some of the population, support for the Royals has waned.

26 April
The Frontist newspaper De Schelde prints a special edition with the Queen and Princess on the front page and the entire text of the speech inside. Staf de Clercq, leader of the Flemish National Union denies any involvement, although the paper is the party’s mouthpiece. In the city of Apeldoorn, an irate Walloon newsagent publicly burns a stack of the edition in the strret. Police are forced to break up the crowd and take the man into custody. He is later released.


Thursday, August 21st 2014, 10:08pm

1 May
At the Cockerill Yard, the Navy’s new fishery protection vessel, Zinnia, was launched today. The ship was launched by the managing director’s daughter and the launch was attended by several local politicians and Naval Officers. The ship should be completed by the end of the year and will replace the current Zinnia in January 1946 in her official duties. A second sistership is still in the planning stages but financial approval has not yet been granted.

5 May
Belgium’s Chamber of Representatives finally begin discussing the Confederation Plan after weeks of discussion and lobbying.
Public polls are indicating two-thirds against the Plan, but generally apathy is noted.


Saturday, August 23rd 2014, 3:35pm

10 May
Princess Juliaana tours Antwerp today. The official route includes a visit to the city hospital to donate new medical equipment for Polio patients and open a new children’s ward.

12 May
In an unthinkable alliance, the Belgian Labour Party (Belgische Werkliedenpartij, BWP/ Parti Ouvrier Belge, POB) and the Liberal Party (Liberale Partij/Parti liberal) and the Communist Party of Belgium have agreed to vote against the Confederation Plan. It is believed the three leaders, Achille Van Acker, Roger Motz and Julien Lahaut met in Charleroi to hammer out a deal.

13 May
“Did you get a transcript of yesterday’s meeting?” The voice was official and calm, but authoritative. “No, they did not meet in the usual place. They went to a small hotel.” The man in the telephone booth was aware of a young woman behind, waiting to use the kiosk.” “I assume you had someone there?” “Yes, our man trailed The Banker [Lahaut], but was unable to get in.” “This is not good news Jubert. No doubt the Belgian police had their inside man there. The boss will be displeased.” The voice on the other end of the telephone was cool and hard. “What could we do? The Banker is obviously suspicious. We will have to start Plan B.” There was a pause before the telephone crackled again, “Agreed. We will send you some money. Our courier will be in touch.”


Saturday, August 30th 2014, 10:08am

16 May
Belgium’s Economic Minister, Count Jean Charles Snoy et d’Oppuers, publishes a report today that looks into the economic benefits and impacts of joining the proposed Confederation. It argues that closer economic ties would offer further benefits despite PETA already providing an open market. In many ways the Dutch are reliant on Belgian steel and coal and further demand will be lucrative in the forthcoming years and of course the Dutch provide direct trading and investment opportunities in East Asia and Africa that no other European nation can provide.

18 May
Hugo Labiche, a Liberal Party Representative had taken his short lunch break during an interval from the discussions that been going on in the Chamber since ten o’clock that morning. Really he should have been catching up on his paperwork, but he had agreed to meet a business friend. As he stepped into the little bar, he noticed his friend in the corner. He ordered his usual sandwich and beer and joined his friend. “Good day Andre.” “How are you Hugo, I hear you politicians are kept pretty busy these days.” “Ha, all this confederation business, we were in until eleven last night.” The barmaid brought the sandwiches and beers to the table. “The papers say the Chamber will vote today.” Hugo bit into his sandwich and as he spoke crumbs flew out, “Perhaps. Who can tell? Someone will make a speech no doubt. What else is there to say, Roger made it clear last week we would vote no.” His friend put on a sympathetic face, “Would you vote no Hugo?” “Of course, the party expects so.” His friend placed his cards on the table, “Listen Hugo, we’ve done business before.” “Some time ago.” “But we’ve done business; we know how the world works. If this goes ahead it means a lot of money for the economy, for the business man.” Hugo slurped on his beer, “I suppose so Andre.” His friend leaned in and talked in hushed tones, “Listen Hugo, I represent a chamber of commerce, we feel the Confederation is good for business and good for us. We feel a man like you would vote the right way when it comes to it.” Hugo stopped eating, in his mind he was racking up a mental account, if Andre was to bribe him it would be illegal, but his mind was not convicted one way or the other on the issue. Politics is all well and good, but a man needs to eat and he was not averse to making something on the side. “Andre, I have principles.” “Do you Hugo? Like when you signed that deal to build that factory so your constituents had jobs and votes in your back pocket, or when you asked us to spike that grocer who tried to run against you last election? No Hugo, you are a man who knows how the world works and looks after number one. Just like us.” Hugo wasn’t sure if the matter would go the other way and turn into blackmail, but he felt his luck might hold if he fished for the gold well enough. “You raise some good points, enough to almost sway me, but…” “Would a thousand francs be enough to make up your mind?” “Two would be better for balancing the books Andre. You know how these bookmakers work.” Andre smiled and from inside his coat he drew out an envelope, Hugo’s eyes lit up and his fat greedy fingers soon spirited the envelope into his briefcase. “There is half there, you get the rest later. Can we meet tomorrow?” “Most certainly Andre, well I must be going. I will certainly represent your concerns as your representative. I look forward to our next meeting.”

19 May
The vote on the Confederation Plan in Chamber of Representatives went ahead today. This morning the press had widely assumed a ‘No’ vote and it was clear that prediction was accurate.
Yes: 75
No: 124
Abstain/ Spoiled: 3

20 May
Prime Minister Pierlot has formally written to the Dutch Prime Minister Herman Loeder to formally reject the Confederation Plan. Princess Juliaana telephoned the Prime Minister this morning in an attempt to delay his letter until the Senate have voted upon the issue. However, the morning’s newspapers were in favour of the decision and some have called on Pierlot to resign. The leader of the Christian Social Party, August de Schryver, has backed Pierlot but many believe an election will not be far off. Generally, the rumours of a general strike tomorrow have also unsettled the nation.
A Communist Party meeting in Namur has been afflicted with cancellation notices and the Party reports the theft of 50,000 leaflets from a warehouse in Antwerp. Others have been found to be doctored to provide a pro-confederation message.

“My dear Hubert, I have heard about the vote last night. It must be a bitter blow”
“Yes your Highness, we stood no chance against the Left, even with the support of the Flemish parties. I am writing to Herman to officially reject the offer.”
“But Hubert, surely you must wait until the Senate approves the Plan?”
“The Senate will never will approve it. If the Liberals and the Left do the same again, they have enough senators to win it. Even so, it’s the duty of the government to act now. If we don’t trouble will flare. The Unions have threatened a general strike unless we reject the Plan, it would be unconstitutional to ignore the vote.
“It would be unconstitutional to let these Communist thugs dictate what the government does. Get the Senate to vote this week. You have enough support there that if only a few back you, victory is assured.”
“Your Highness, even if that were so, there is no public support.”
“The De Schelde has printed polls clearly in favour of the scheme, even in Walloon provinces.”
“Yes, but VNV run that as a mouthpiece, everyone suspects their motives and we know they print a lot of rubbish. We need a sensible discussion, the voice of the people is clear. They are not ready.”
“You disappoint me Hubert, you used to be stronger and more decisive. Now you let a few Communists push you around and you hide behind the government. You know the Senate must vote on this too. I ask you to have courage and wait before you send any letter to the Dutch Prime Minister. You must act to stop these threats of strikes and take-overs, even now we are attempting to halt them, do not make all our efforts wasted.
“Your Highness, I’ve always served the country in its best interests, I only hope you have faith in me to act as I should for the good of everyone and I will repay the trust you have in me. I will see these threats off and talk to members of the Senate to sound out their opinions. We must be sure of every one of our allies in the Senate before we move.”

21 May
A General Strike has broken out across Wallonia. Many factories, mines and mills have been closed as the major unions walked out demanding the government reject the Confederation Plan immediately. Some disturbances were reported, some begun by men the unions claim were not members but outsiders. Flying pickets have also created mayhem in some areas. The Frontist newspaper De Schelde has decried the strikes and argued they are proof why the Flemish regions should join with Holland. Under pressure, Pierlot sends his letter to Herman Loeder.
The Communist Party of Belgium, with support from Communistische Partij Holland, has proposed their own “People’ Union”, which has been dubbed the Lahaut Plan.

“Pierre says he was attacked by six men. They came into Dinant by car and started picketing outside Pascelles bicycle factory. They had Union flags, but Pierre being the local representative did not recognise them. So, he and Charles went to ask who they were. They turned on him and started a fight, they broke his nose and beat him pretty badly, but Charles was able to get away. He swore they were not local men, nor our men.”
“Who the devil were they Jacques? Government informers or police?”
“Wait until you hear this. Charles spotted the same men this afternoon across town in an anti-Union march too. He is sure it was them.”
“This sounds like government men to me. The question is which one? This is the third group the union has had run-ins with today across the area. It could be the same lot, but there could be several bands of them. Someone is trying to discredit us.”


Thursday, September 11th 2014, 5:34pm

8 June
Parties of celebration were noted in some areas at the news the Dutch Higher Chamber has narrowly rejected the Confederation Plan.

17 June
Today saw the inaugural Omloop der Vlaamse Ardennen (Tour of the Flemish Ardennes) stage cycling race. It is hoped that this road event will be held annually. The winner was Belgian cyclist Marcel Kint riding for the Mercier-Hutchinson team. Kint won last year’s La Flèche Wallonne (The Walloon Arrow) race.


Saturday, October 25th 2014, 2:26pm

5 July
Prime Minister Count Hubert Pierlot today confirmed that a group of eight senior civil servants, a leading economics academic and businessmen will join the United Economic Planning Committee.
Achille Van Acker, the Leader of the Belgian Labour Party criticised the move and several Walloon politicans made the point that the people had already spoken and that they would fight the Confederation via the back-door approach the Dutch were now attempting.

7 July
The Belgian contingent of the United Economic Planning Committee leaves Brussels tonight on an express train for Utrecht.


Saturday, November 15th 2014, 3:12pm

3 August
The Economic Minister, Count Jean Charles Snoy et d’Oppuers, publishes another report today that looks into the economic benefits and impacts of a closer economic policy with the Netherlands. It concludes favourably that such a unified economy would be better planned and would enjoy good access to raw materials and markets but there is a danger of forming an isolated market which may harm exports or sap vigorous trade with outside members. With the existence of PETA, the benefits must be clearer and all UKN nations should become members of PETA.


Wednesday, November 26th 2014, 9:15pm

20 August
There have been rumours of QIS expansion across all the United Kingdoms if the nations agree to any Economic Plans. This has sent the Walloon anti-Union campaign into overdrive with QIS demonised as an oppressive secret police which will crush Walloon life. It is not known where the rumours began and for many the QIS’s real role remains a mystery other than its connections to the Dutch Royal Family. Several union leaders have claimed that agents of the QIS had attempted to scupper the National Strike back in May.

29 August
The destroyer A.F. Dufour (DD-3) was seen off Zeebruges today on her post-refit trials. New oil-firing boilers and turbines have been fitted and a new battery of twin 120mm guns. All of the remaining destroyer fleet will be refitted to this standard. It is hoped that A.F. Dufour will rejoin the fleet within a couple of weeks.


Wednesday, November 26th 2014, 9:25pm

Hmm. Most interesting developments. ;)

The lack of parliamentary oversight of the QIS and some other institutions of the UKN monarchy would give many a liberal MP cause for concern methinks. The fears of the Walloon population may be well justified.


Saturday, December 20th 2014, 2:07pm

15 September
The Customs Union plan is being discussed in Chamber of Representatives. Overall there is less opposition but a common sentiment from the Flemish National Union and the Belgian Labour Party is that Belgium should have a greater input into the Central Treasury and have called on the new institution to be based in Belgium.

17 September
The Belgian socialists have agreed to back the Customs Plan but August de Schryver declared in a press statement today that the Bill of Rights must enshrine Walloon rights.

19 September
The government has formally submitted the Bill of Rights as a policy to the Chamber of Representatives.

23 September
The vote on the Customs Union in the Chamber of Representatives took place today.
Yes: 146
No: 51
Abstain/ Spoiled: 5
The Customs Union will now be considered for approval by the Senate.

29 September
Vote on Bill of Rights in the Chamber of Representatives took place today.
Yes: 192
No: 9
Abstain/ Spoiled: 1
The Bill of Rights will now be considered for approval by the Senate.


Sunday, January 11th 2015, 5:19pm

23 October
The government has issued a statement that at the present time it will not become involved in the events in Ubangi-Shari, but that it will lend assistance to the Dutch in other non-military ways. The Belgian Red Cross has begun an aid drive to send medical supplies to aid the likely refugee problem.

Belgium’s first penicillin factory was officially opened today in Genval today. The factory is owned by the new pharmaceutical company, Recherche et Industrie Thérapeutiques (R.I.T.) which was funded by industrialist Jacques Lannoy. The company’s Director is Dr Pieter De Somer. The company hopes to start a research department into new medicines and antibiotics by 1950.


Sunday, February 1st 2015, 12:04pm

18 November
The Technocrat Party has published a pamphlet on the proposed Economic Plan. Their counter-proposal is to consider adopting the Franc over the Guilder. The government has not issued any statements but it is unlikely that such a proposal would be taken seriously, although similar sentiments by Walloon officials and local politicians have been noted in the press in recent weeks.