5 September. Just arrived: Benelux, with or without the Walloons?

1980 Opening of the St. Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland for road traffic. It is the longest tunnel in the world: 16 kilometers, from Altdorf to Bellinzona. A railway tunnel had already been opened in 1882.

1977 The West German Employers’ Chairman Hanns Martin Schleyer is kidnapped by the terrorist organization Rote Armee Fraktionalso named Baader-Meinhof Gang. He won’t survive.

Carice van Houten (1976)

1976 Birth in Leiderdorp (South Holland) of Carice van Houtenactress, singer and presenter, best known for her role ‘Melissandre’ in the series Game of thrones. She starred in the movies Black book, All is love, All is family, A woman comes to the doctor, Suzie Q, Black swans, Crackling, Spoon, Repo men, Intruders, Brimstone. she sang No surrender, fear not (with Michael Prince), emily, and so on. She is a daughter of writer and musicologist Theodore van Houten (1952-2016) and sister of actress Jelka van Houten.

1972 Palestinian terrorists from ‘black SeptemberIsraeli athletes hostage during the Munich Olympics. They enter the Olympic Village, kill an athlete and a coach, and take nine athletes, all Israelis, hostage. A failed rescue operation at the airport kills all nine hostages and four Palestinians. The Olympics will continue the next day.

1961 Against all odds, US President John F. Kennedy gives the green for underground nuclear tests.

1957 Publication of On the Road by Jack Kerouac. The book is very quickly regarded as the manifesto of the ‘beat Generation‘. Ultimately, this term was applied to a whole generation of young people who felt attracted to this writer or imitated the behavior of his admirers: the Beatniks.

1944 Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg sign – even during the war – the Benelux treaty. On January 1, 1948, the Benelux started in the form of a customs union, a partnership to be able to freely transport goods among themselves and to apply a uniform rate for goods coming from outside the Benelux. This first step was followed by the establishment of the Benelux Economic Union on November 1, 1960, a milestone in the history of the rapprochement of Belgium and the Netherlands after the dissolution of the United Kingdom in 1830.

The creation of the Benelux is welcomed by the Flemish Movement, of course most of all by those who are convinced Heel-Nederlanders. But before 1940, figures such as Herman Vos, Tony Herbert and Frans van Cauwelaert also called for more intensive collaboration.

In the early days of the Benelux, until the early 1970s, the French-speaking Belgians were supporters of the Benelux. The Belgian government in exile in London, for example, consisted almost entirely of French speakers. It was not until the 1970s that French-speaking Belgians became reluctant. They fear that the French speakers in a Benelux that would be more than an economic union will remain a non-dominant minority and that closer cooperation will strengthen the position of the Flemish in Belgium.

The strong orientation towards France and left-wing political positions on European and international cooperation also influence this attitude. The Walloon socialist leader Guy Spitaels is known to say that a further unified Benelux would reduce the French-speakers in Belgium to what the Italian-speakers in Switzerland are: a peripheral phenomenon.

1937 Creation of youth front, a political youth organization in Flanders, leaning towards the Catholic Flemish People’s Party (KVV). Youth Front was rooted in the idealism of Flemish young people, formed in the Catholic Action and influenced by the ‘revolution of the right’.

These young people were not satisfied with the existing party system and in particular with the Catholic party. The impetus for the foundation was the pursuit of ‘Flemish Concentration’ at the end of 1936, which was received enthusiastically, especially among the youth. This is not about the post-war party with that name, but about the rapprochement attempt between the Catholic party and Flemish nationalism.

Youth Front had its own Very Dutch approach: constitutionally regulated economic, military and cultural cooperation between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, not far from what will later become the Benelux. Youth Front accepted the Belgian political reality, but argued for cultural autonomy, administrative separation and cooperation with the Netherlands. After the Second World War, members of the Youth Front played a prominent role in the foundation in 1945 of the Christian People’s Party (CVP).

1920 First Iron Pilgrimage in Veurne-Steenkerke. Steenkerke was chosen to pay tribute to Joe English, designer of the well-known AVV-VVK heldenhuldezerkje.

Fons Rademakers (1920-2007)

1920 Birth in Roosendaal (North Brabant) of Fons Rademakers, film director and actor. He directed to Max Havelaar, Like two drops of water, The dance of the heron, Because of the cats, The rose garden, Village on the river (Oscar nomination)The knife, Mira, My friend. Oscar (‘Best Foreign Film’) for The attack. Started as an assistant to Vittorio de Sica and Jean Renoir. He died in Geneva in 2007 at the age of 86.

1915 Start of the Zimmerwald Conference, a meeting of socialists with far-reaching consequences: it sealed the end of cooperation between communists and social democrats.

38 delegates attended the conference, from countries such as Russia, Poland, Italy, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and France. From the Netherlands, among others, Anton Pannekoek and Henriette Roland Holst were present.

The main point of discussion was the struggle of the working class for peace during the First World War. Many of the socialist parties had abandoned anti-militarism by the beginning of the war, had supported their government and supported the war. This is how it came to be in Germany Burgfriedenspolitik where unions abstained from strikes and the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) voted for war credits. In France it came to the comparable Union sacree.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie (1867-1934) on a French postage stamp

1910 For the first time, the Polish-French physicist Marie Sklodowska-Curie (1867-1934) managed to isolate a few grams of radium in her laboratory in Paris.

Statue of King William I in Ghent, 2018

1877 The Sioux leader Tasunka Witko, better known as crazy horse, must surrender to US General George Crook. The year before, he and Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake) had taken the victory of Little Big Horn. The disrespectful Crook has him locked up in Fort Robinson and secretly murdered.

1877 Albrecht Rodenbachleader of the Flemish student movement (the Blauwvoeterie), organizes its first Landdag.

1815 King William II of the United Netherlands is triumphantly overtaken in Ghent. That bond with Ghent will remain. In 2018 a statue was erected for him in Ghent. The entire city council supported this initiative without exception.

1800 The island Maltaoccupied by the French, falls into the hands of the British.


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Tags: September arrived Benelux Walloons

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