Flemish Movement  

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The Flemish Movement (Vlaamse Beweging) is the political movement for emancipation and greater autonomy of the Belgian region of Flanders, for protection of the Dutch language, and for the over-all protection of Flemish culture and history.

The Flemish Movement's moderate wing was for a long time dominated by the Volksunie ("People's Union") – a party that from its onset in 1954 until its collapse in 2002 greatly advanced the Flemish cause, though severely criticised by hardliners for being too accommodating. After the Volksunie's collapse, the party's representatives were absorbed by other Flemish parties. Today nearly every Flemish party (except for the far right Vlaams Belang) can be considered part of the moderate wing of the Flemish Movement. This wing has many ties with union and industry organisations, especially with the VOKA (network of the Vlaams Economisch Verbond (VEV, Flemish Economic Union).

The Flemish Movement's right wing is dominated by radical right-winged organizations such as Vlaams Belang, Voorpost, Nationalistische Studentenvereniging (Nationalist Students Union), and several others. The most radical group on the left side is the socialist and Flemish independentist Flemish-Socialist Movement. The militant wing also still comprises several moderate groups such as the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA, Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie), and several extra-parliamentary organisations, many of which are represented in the Overlegcentrum van Vlaamse Verenigingen (OVV, Consultation Centre of Flemish Associations). The most important of these is the Vlaamse Volksbeweging (VVB, Flemish People's Movement).

World War II

During World War II, Belgium was once again occupied by Germany. The Third Reich enacted laws to protect and encourage the Dutch language in Belgium and, generally, to propagate ill-feelings between Flemings and Francophones, e.g. by setting free only Flemish prisoners-of-war (see Flamenpolitik). The Nazis had no intentions of allowing the creation of an independent Flemish state or of a Greater Netherlands, and instead desired the complete annexation of not only Flanders (which they did de jure during the war through the establishment of a "Reichsgau Flandern" in late 1944), but all of the Low Countries as "racially Germanic" components of a Greater Germanic Reich. Most Flemish nationalists embraced collaboration as a means to more autonomy. Because of this collaboration by a few, after the war being part of the Flemish movement was associated with having collaborated with the enemy.

See also

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