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Shofar FTP Archive File: people/l/leysen.andre/press/reuter.032495b

Archive/File: fascism/belgium reuter.032495b
Last-Modified: 1995/04/02

 Former Belgian Nazi warns of extreme right threat
    BRUSSELS, March 24 (Reuter) - A top Belgian industrialist,
 who collaborated with the Nazis in World War Two, published his
 memoirs on Friday, warning of the danger of right-wing extremism
 just two months before Belgium's general election.
    ``I was naive in my youth, I followed a movement of which
 there is nothing to be proud of. Now I am warning young people,
 don't be taken in by the slogans of the extreme right,'' Andre
 Leysen, 67, said on Belgian RTBF radio.
    Far-right parties are expected to attract protest votes in
 the May 21 election following a corruption scandal that has
 rocked the centre-left government.
    The Flemish right-wing anti-immigrant party Vlaams Blok won
 12 percent of the votes in Belgium's northern Flanders region in
 the last general election in November 1991.
    Leysen, the chairman of Belgian holding company Gevaert NV
 and media group VUM, which publishes Belgium's leading Dutch-
 language newspaper De Standaard, was a young man in Flanders
 during the war.
    He says in his book ``Behind the Mirror'' that he joined
 German dictator Adolf Hitler's youth organisation while he was
 at a German school in Belgium and rose to head a group of 150
 Hitler Youth members.
    He was evacuated to Germany when Belgium was liberated in
 September 1944 and spent seven months working for a Flemish
 government in exile in Berlin.
    Belgium's wartime memories are clouded by the the fact that
 some Belgians collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation.
 About 400,000 collaboration cases were brought after the war but
 71 percent were dropped.
    Leysen said he realised he had made a mistake when he saw
 photographs of Hitler's concentration camps when the war ended.
 He was interned for four months in Belgium when he returned from
    He is married with four children and 10 grandchildren.

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