A Challenge to Thought Control:
The Historiography of Leon Degrelle
Robert J. Chapman
It has been often said that the first casualty of war is truth. Belligerents have always had their own versions of history, particularly with regard to responsibility for wars. And yet certain basic facts and events have not been totally suppressed, if only due to the lack of total media technology and control. Roman statesmen never hid their intense hostility toward Carthage, yet historians have been able to produce rather reliable accounts of the Punic wars. Rome was the absolute military victor, but does not appear completely blameless and righteous in history books. Although Carthage was utterly destroyed by Rome, the feats of Hannibal were duly recorded, his heroism and his integrity were not denied, his character was not assassinated, his genius was not called madness and his motives were understood and respected in the context of his duty to his country.
For four thousand years historians were rather able to keep track of human events. Despite the triumph of victorious nations, the vanquished were not eternally execrated. If the victor was particularly vindictive, honest historians might have to maintain discreet, low profile research for a time but they were eventually able to record the facts without fear of retribution. Defeated nations were not prevented from rendering their versions of history. Historians, like accountants, could gather facts and figures as well as give their own interpretations.
The phenomenon of distorting or suppressing facts from the historical ledger is relatively recent. In conjunction with forced military conscription and absolutist ideology, it first appeared with the advent of the French Revolution.
While the ancien regime tolerated even those who were determined to abolish it, and men such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu were feted in the royal salons, the French revolutionaries stamped out dissent with the guillotine. Suspected opponents of the revolutionary regime were simply put to death.
Historians were among the first victims of this democratic reign of terror. Millions were murdered and historical truth became a casualty. Fortunately for the world, Danton, Marat, and Robespierre did not prevail, but instead fell victim to their own terror.
It proved only a short respite. The virus was out of the bottle. During the nineteenth century, many tyrants and would-be tyrants became infected. Yet truth, or at least diversity of opinion, survived in countries not subjected to ideological tyranny.
Marat's ideological heirs, nurtured by the teachings of Marx and Engels, took control of Russia in 1917. Another major country fell under the absolutist rule of ideological fanatics. Once again historians became victims. Events were erased from memory, "facts" were invented, and whole classes of people were exterminated or classified as non-persons in the rewritten history books produced for the new Soviet man. Recalcitrant historians were quickly liquidated as counter revolutionaries or anti-Semites. (note 1) Nevertheless, the facts about this modern-age tyranny filtered out and Western historians were able to record them. (note 2)
Tyranny took a quantum leap between 1917 and the present. What the French and Marxist revolutions were not able to accomplish -- namely, control of history to perpetuate their own regimes -- has become the norm around the world. The wartime alliance of the Anglo-American Allies and Soviet Russia did not make the Kremlin's rulers more democratic. Instead, the "democratic" Allies accepted the practices of Soviet tyranny.
For the first time in history virtually the entire world found itself subjected to the same tyrannical ideology, including a common version of modern history. Gone were the sanctuaries of countries where dissident historians could take refuge to record history or wait until passions had abated. Even the freedom of historians of the defeated countries to write history from the perspective of the vanquished disappeared. The victorious Second World War alliance stopped the clock of history in 1945, unconditionally and universally.
It is certainly not without irony that the joint triumph of the Soviet Union and the Anglo-American democracies over Germany, all in the name of peace, freedom and democracy, should have ushered in a dark era of intellectual tyranny. An era dawned during which anyone daring to express dissident opinions did so at the risk of his life and livelihood. Never before has absolute dogma been so widely imposed around the globe.
It is this exclusivist historical perspective of Marxism, Capitalism, and Zionism which has kept the world in intellectual darkness during the last forty years. Revisionist historians are hounded around the world by the new grand inquisitors of this intolerant dogma.
More than any other country, Germany remains an occupied and divided land under illegitimate governments with legal prohibitions against even modest challenges to the official dogma.
Since 1945 laws have multiplied in many countries to punish recalcitrant historians. And if legal measures fail, inflammatory and lying propaganda produced by modern media technology are used.
But in spite of murder, arson and persecution of every possible kind, the powerful forces of repression and obscurantism have not completely extinguished the spark of freedom. In fact, forty years of persecution have made its defenders stronger and more determined than ever that truth and freedom shall prevail. The annual revisionist conferences sponsored by the Institute for Historical Review are a manifestation of the indomitable spirit of human freedom.
It is ironic indeed that our persecutors behave in a worse fashion than the "Nazis" they execrate. In fact, they have imposed upon the world all the evils, and then some, that they accuse National Socialist Germany of perpetrating. The roles have been completely reversed: the allegedly persecuted are the real persecutors. The historical truth, of course, is that Germany has been viciously oppressed since the First World War onward, and that those historians who have attempted to set the record straight have likewise been persecuted.
Although historical revisionism is not at all limited to the Second World War era, it has been necessary to emphasize this critical period because the total falsification of modern history was imposed by the Soviets and their wartime democratic Allies. For the past forty years they have controlled historiography to perpetuate their rule through an absolutist worldwide ideology. They operate according to the Orwellian axiom: "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."
Today, however, defenders of First Amendment rights and general freedom of speech have joined with historians to battle for the basic right to express oneself without fear of sanctions.
As the falsifiers openly admit, their greatest fear is historical revisionism. They have thus also revealed their greatest weakness: the scrutiny of revisionist historians. It is a matter of constant amazement that the historical falsifiers do not rebut revisionism with facts but with abuse, threats or punishment. The normal exchange of scholarly information common to other intellectual disciplines has also been absent.
The challenge to the tyranny of worldwide thought control has been issued. After four decades of lies, we say: Enough. We can be grateful that the United States is still a bastion where freedom of expression has not been legally eradicated, but time is running out. If today historians are muzzled by denial of their First Amendment rights, who may be next? The freedom of us all is at stake.
The imperative of historians to tell the truth is inextricably linked to freedom of speech. It is a dual role and a dual burden which we cannot shirk. At the same time it is a unique and tremendous opportunity to unravel the falsifications that have held the world captive since 1945.
It would have been of benefit to history if the central figure of the Second World War, Adolf Hitler, had been retired like Napoleon, to write his memoirs and answer the questions of history. The contrast between the way Napoleon and Hitler were treated following their defeats is a measure of how far the world has fallen into totalitarian tyranny.
Defeat on the battlefield cost Napoleon his throne, but he kept his life and honor. To this day he is honored as a personality of prominence in the country he once ruled as well as in the world. In contrast, for Hitler military defeat meant annihilation in a war of total destruction. This pitiless hostility began during the First World War and was institutionalized by the Versailles Treaty. The time is gone when the ultimate price a leader had to pay for military defeat was the loss of his power and prestige.
The Soviets and their democratic allies, who introduced the concept of total war, unconditional surrender and unconditional hatred, have institutionalized bigotry and retribution on a macabre and perpetual basis. This fanatical stance has brought historical inquiry to a standstill.
The corrosive legacy of censorship and suppression will only end if there is free debate, inquiry, research, and scrutiny. The perspective of the vanquished must be given -- not by Nuremberg inquisitors -- but by those who actually made history on the other side. The academic world and the general public are entitled to examine both sides of the Hitler era.
More than 200,000 books have been written since 1945 about the Second World War, but have they let us know the authentic story?
For example, only a handful of those who had any personal knowledge of Hitler have written about the man. Unfortunately, their ability to tell the truth has been subordinate to their primary obligation for sheer survival.
The Institute for Historical Review believes that the time has now come to understand the man who was the central figure of the most momentous era of modern history: Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately for historians, Hitler and all his lieutenants can no longer be questioned. All, save one.
In its quest to produce a monumental record of this missing side of history, the Institute has commissioned the last wartime National Socialist leader who is still alive and free to fill the gap: Leon Degrelle, the Catholic leader of the Belgian Rexist movement and wartime leader of the Waffen SS volunteer legion "Wallonie."
Degrelle knew Hitler intimately and was one of his most trusted colleagues. One of the most decorated heroes of the Eastern Front, he may also be uniquely qualified to observe history objectively. He is not a German. Along with the people of Belgium and France, he was brought up in an officially anti-German atmosphere.
In the years before the outbreak of war, Degrelle was a young Belgian intellectual who published a daily newspaper and organized a national political party that won elections and sent representatives to the Belgian parliament. The popular enthusiasm he generated was reflected in the turnout of millions who applauded his message and supported his program.
When Degrelle returned to Brussels after fighting communism for four years on the Eastern Front, he was given the largest mass welcome in Belgian history. [Thousands of] Belgians lined the streets of Brussels to cheer the returning general only two months before the Allies invaded that country.
One of the outstanding writers in the French language, he has published more than forty books and essays ranging from poetry to economics, from architecture to history. He has been acknowledged as a passionate orator and a soldier of rare valor. He joined the ranks of the 600,000 foreign volunteers of the Waffen SS as a private and earned all his stripes at the front. After four continuous years in the inferno of battle, his legion was one of the last to retreat from Russia.
This titanic struggle is described in his famous epic, Campaign in Russia, which earned him renown in Europe as the "Homer of the Twentieth Century." (This book has been recently published in English by the Institute for Historical Review.)
During his final meeting with Adolf Hitler, as bombs rained across Germany, Degrelle recalled that Hitler was calm and composed. They shared a last supper together. Hitler served him, cutting his bread and pouring him a glass of wine. He gazed confidently into Degrelle's eyes: "We will all die, but you, Leon, must live. You must live to tell the world the truth."
In 1945, Degrelle escaped from Germany to Norway where he boarded a single-engine plane and flew over Allied-occupied Europe to crash land on the Spanish border as his craft ran out of fuel. He suffered multiple injuries in the landing including several broken bones. He spent a year in the hospital recuperating, most of it in a plaster cast, unable to move. Typically, as soon as his right arm became free he began writing his masterwork, Campaign in Russia ("The Lost Legion"). It has appeared in two French editions.
The Allies threatened to invade Spain unless Degrelle and wartime French premier Pierre Laval were not immediately turned over for execution. Franco compromised. He turned over Laval but kept Degrelle on the grounds that he could not be physically removed from the hospital.
A year later Degrelle was given refuge in a monastery. Members of his family and many friends and supporters were arrested and tortured to death by the "democratic liberators" of Belgium. His six children were forcibly shipped to detention centers in different parts of Europe after their names were changed. The authorities ordered that they were never to be permitted contact with one another or with their father.
The new Belgian government condemned him to death in absentia on three separate occasions. A special law was passed, the Lex Degrellana, which made it illegal to transfer, possess, or receive any book by or about Degrelle. The IHR's Campaign in Russia is automatically banned in Belgium.
Completely alone, Degrelle went on to rebuild his shattered life from nothing. With the energy and burning spirit that had never left him, he worked as a manual laborer in construction. And just as he had risen from private to general on the battlefield, Degrelle rose to build a major construction company with important contracts. The quality and efficiency of his company became so well known that the United States government commissioned him to build major defense projects, including military airfields, in Spain. Meanwhile his emissaries searched Europe for his kidnapped children. All were found in the most amazing circumstances and returned to their father.
On twelve separate occasions over the last forty years Degrelle has challenged the Belgian government to put him on public trial with a jury. His repeated demands to be tried in a legitimate court of law (as opposed to an inquisitional Nuremberg-style show trial) have been met with embarrassed and guilty silence.
The Institute has commissioned this giant historical figure and first-hand witness and participant to momentous events to write a definitive, fourteen volume revisionist historical account. Degrelle's first-hand experience, as well as his acquaintance with Churchill, Mussolini and every other major figure of the Second World War, makes this a project of tremendous historical significance.
Will these books be biased in favor of Hitler? General Degrelle has already provided the answer in his other published works. He writes without fear or favor. His facts have been cursed by his opponents, but never disproved. It is this approach combined with encyclopedic knowledge that assures a valuable end result.
The first manuscript of 1268 pages is divided into three parts and is entitled: Hitler: Born in Versailles. It is the foundation of the thirteen succeeding books which will average 400 pages each, complete with reproductions of previously unpublished documents and photographs of key personalities. Each volume will deal with a specific aspect of Hitler's legacy. They will be entitled: Hitler the Democrat, Hitler and the Church, Hitler and the Germans, Hitler and the United States, Hitler and Stalin, Hitler and England, Hitler and France, Hitler and the Banks, Hitler and the Communists, Hitler and the Jews, Hitler the Politician, Hitler the Military Strategist, and Hitler and the Third World.
"There would never have been a Hitler without the Versailles Treaty," Degrelle says. The vested interests joined to eviscerate Germany with unprecedented iniquity. Hitler emerged as an unlikely champion from the depths of his nation's misery and despair. He was a graphic artist with a passion for music. His battle uniform was his only worldly possession. He had never been involved in politics. From the abyss of hopelessness and against the combined forces of established power, Hitler created, directed, and lived his revolution from beginning to end. He broke through all prejudices and opposition to the German people, and they responded. He earned every vote he received by tirelessly addressing peoples in town after town and city after city. Hitler was democratically elected. When he proceeded to implement his mandate, the combined forces of Capitalism, Communism, and Zionism once again declared war against Germany.
Degrelle's comprehensive historical survey reviews all the facts in the chain of events that led to Hitler's election and the beginning of the Second World War. He also provides a rare look behind the scenes of the Versailles conference.
Degrelle maintains that Hitler's social reforms will ultimately be remembered even more than his military feats. He reviews Hitler's innovation of paid vacations and profit-sharing for work. The German leader introduced affordable and decent housing for all citizens. Hitler insisted that every German family was entitled to a home with a garden for flowers and vegetables. He required safe and pleasant working conditions. Every factory was to have a sports field, swimming pool, trees, flowers, and a pleasant architectural design. He insisted that working conditions must not impair the physical and spiritual wellbeing of the workers. He organized the mass production of the cheap "People's Car" or Volkswagen for every German family and offered them on low payments to every worker. Hitler constructed modern and beautiful freeways. He abolished usury on the principle that a nation's wealth is in its work force, not its hoard of gold. The state, Hitler emphasized, is the exclusive servant of the people and recognizes no other master. The list of Hitler's social innovations and achievements goes on and on.
In 1933 all this was unheard of. His dynamic social revolution of deed, not rhetoric, infuriated Germany's enemies and united them in hatred.
The Versailles mutilation of Germany and Austria-Hungary parceled out many millions of Germans (including German Austrians), Hungarians, and others like cattle to the hostile rule of alien neighboring countries. General Degrelle surveys the Franco-British intrigues in the affairs of Central Europe, the systematic betrayal of Wilson's Fourteen Points, the secret treaties that doomed Wilson's mission from the start, and the cynical Franco-British dividing up of vast territories without regard to the will of the millions of hapless inhabitants.
Degrelle points out that the history of Hitler and Germany can be understood only within the context of the Versailles Treaty and the harsh subjugation of Germany by implacable enemies. "Whenever I hear the Allied side of history," he adds, "I am often reminded of the reporter sent to report on a brawl. He scrupulously recorded all the blows delivered by one side and none from the other. His story would truthfully bear witness to the aggression of one side and the victimization of the other. But he would be lying by omission. I do not deny anything that Hitler did, but I also point out what the Communists and their Western allies did, and I let the public be the judge." I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to read the first volume of Degrelle's multi-volume survey. I can vouch for its momentous importance. With members of my family I have visited him at his home in Spain. This project will be a milestone of historical writing that will shatter the foundations of the great historical lies of our time. It will be a definitive survey for generations to come. I believe that its magnitude will change the course of human affairs.
- For example, the intrepid Roman Catholic scholar J.B. Pranaitis, a formidable Hebraist, was executed in 1917 by the Cheka (Soviet secret police) for "thought crimes."
- Cf. Robert Conquest, The Great Terror, Stefan Possony, Lenin The Compulsive Revolutionary; Raymond Arthur Davies, Odyssey Through Hell and Jean Fontenoy, Frontier Rouge-Frontier d'Enfer.
This article has been adapted from a paper presented to the Sixth International Revisionist Conference. From The Journal of Historical Review, Summer 1985 (Vol. 6, No. 2), pages 221-229.