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Independent Front
Front de l'Indépendance
Participant in the Second World War
Ecusson du Front de l'Indépendance.jpg
Insignia of the FI
Active March 1941-September 1944
Ideology Broadly Socialist-Communist[1]
Leaders Albert Marteaux
André Roland
Fernand Demany
Opponents Nazi Germany German Occupying Forces

The Independent Front or FI (French language: Front de l'Indépendance, Dutch language: Onafhankelijkheidsfront (OF) ) was a Belgian resistance movement during World War II, founded in March 1941 by Dr. Albert Marteaux of the Communist Party of Belgium, Father André Roland, and Fernand Demany, another communist. The aim of the organisation was to unite Belgian resistance groups of all opinions and political leanings; nonetheless the only political party that that was affiliated as such was the Communist Party. The FI operated a significant propaganda, social and paramilitary organization, in addition to its military and sabotage functions and operated in competition with the larger pro-government Armée secrète.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

Activities[edit | edit source]

The FI established sabotage operations, escape routes and a false document service, and distributed 250 different underground publications. This essential part of the war, in the area of information, found a culmination of sorts in the publication by the Front on 9 November 1943 of Faux Soir, a spoof version of the Le Soir newspaper circulated under the noses of the occupation authorities. The FI was highly active in preventing large numbers of Belgian men being forced to leave the country to work as forced labour in Germany. These 40,000 of these so-called "Réfractaires" were hidden by the FI's "Organisation Socrates".[2]

In February 1943, the FI sent the sociologist Victor Martin on a spying mission in Germany to search for reliable information about what happened to the Jews deported to Germany. He came back in May with the first reliable report on their fate, as well as with detailed information on the functioning of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Affiliated groups[edit | edit source]

By the end of the war, the Front de l'indépendance contained representatives from a large number of organisations, including:[3]

  • The Partisans Armés (PA, Armed Partisans),
  • The Milices Patriotiques (MP, Patriotic Milita),
  • Solidarité (Solidarity, founded in 1942 as the social service of the F.I. to help victims of the Nazi repression and their families, those who refused to go in Germany under the Service du travail obligatoire, foreign illegals etc.; the Belgian section of the Secours Rouge continued within this clandestine organization[4]),
  • The Comités de lutte syndicale (Committee for the Union Fight)
  • Wallonie Libre (Free Wallonia),
  • The Comité de Défense des Juifs (CDJ, Committee for Jewish Defence)
  • LOMO (Dutch language: Leraren Officieel Middelbaar Onderwijs

, Middle school teachers of the public network in Flanders), whose leader Aloïs Gerlo (1915–1998) was an activist of the Communist Party between 1940 and 1956[5]

  • Front, the underground newspaper
  • The Österreichische Freiheitsfront (Austrian Freedom Front), an antifascist organisation created in Brussels by communist emigrės from Austria and Germany.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Conway, Martin. The sorrows of Belgium : liberation and political reconstruction, 1944-1947. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 20. ISBN 9780199694341. 
  2. Moore, edited by Bob (2000). Resistance in Western Europe (1. publ. ed.). Oxford: Berg. pp. 51. ISBN 1859732798. 
  3. "Le CEGES acquiert les archives du Front de l’indépendance" (in French). Centre d'études et de documentation guerre et sociétés contemporaines. June 2008. http://www.cegesoma.be/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=201&Itemid=63. Retrieved 2009-10-30. 
  4. "1940-45 La section belge du SRI se fond dans 'Solidarité', la 'Croix-Rouge du Front de l'Indépendance'" (in French). Le Secours Rouge. http://www.secoursrouge.org/histoiresri.php. Retrieved 2009-10-30. [dead link]
  5. Van Minnebrugen, Hugo (Wednesday 3 March 2004). "Het OF/FI organiseert zich" (in Dutch). http://www.verzet.org/. http://www.verzet.org/content/view/358/37/1/1/. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 

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