Tollenaere, Raymond Pierre Jean Emma Marie “Reimond”.

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Tollenaere, Raymond Pierre Jean Emma Marie “Reimond”, born 29-06-1909, Oostakker, Vlaanderen , Belgium, the son of the contractor, Modest Joannes Marie Francies Tollenaere and his wife Bertha Helena, born Dick, here left with his mother and brother Leo and after his secondary education in the Sint-Lievenscollege in Ghent, in the college of Ypres and the Minor Seminary, he wanted to start priest studies in Roeselare. In the academic year 1927-28 he studied philosophy in Roeselare but was not admitted to the second year, it is said because of his Flemish nationalist actions. Tollenaere then studied law from 1928 to 1934 at the University of Ghent, where he was active in the Flemish Movement.  He was present at the government and country days of the Algemeen Katholiek Vlaams Studentenverbond (AKVS), a student association that focuses on national-conservative principles  and at the alliance meetings of the Catholic Vlaams Hoogstudentenverbond (KVHV). In 1931-32 he spent some time as a scholarship student in Germany and came into contact with the ideas of National Socialism, which he largely adopted. He was president of the KVHV Gent in 1932-33. He was also a board member of the Dietsche Bond and chief board member of the Dietsch student association. The Dietsche Bond was an association founded in 1917 in the Netherlands to support the ‘Flemish cause’. He also contributed to the weekly magazines Jong Dietschland and Vlaanderen.

Tollenaere married Hilda Saeys (1911-2010) from Roeselare in 1937 and they had three sons. He became the brother-in-law of Hendrik Jozef Demoen,  married to a sister of Hilda, who was with Tollenaere’s support was the VNV mayor of Roeselare during the war.

In 1933, still a student, Tollenaere became general propaganda leader of the newly founded Flemish National Association (VNV). It was a position in which he encountered opposition from more moderate tendencies than his own. This led to him having to resign as district leader in Mechelen. During his military service in 1934, Jérémie Gustave Théophile “Staf” De Clercq sidetracked him. Jérémie Gustave Théophile (Staf) Declercq (Everbeek, 16-09-1884 – Ghent, 22-10-1942) was a Belgian politician who evolved from Flemish nationalist to national socialist. He was a known collaborator with the German occupying forces during World War II. From 1933 until his sudden death, heart attack, in 1942 he was the leader of the extreme right-wing Flemish nationalist group VNV.

Raymond settled in Roeselare, where he became VNV district leader. In 1936, with the support of the political family De Lille, he was elected a member of the Chamber of Representatives for the Flemish National Association in the arrondissement of Roeselare-Tielt, which he remained until his death. In 1938 he was elected councilor of Roeselare, a position he also held until his death in 1942. After May 1940, both functions remained without concrete exercise.

Shortly after the German invasion of Belgium on 10-05-1940, Tollenaere was arrested along with other Flemish nationalists and deported to France, where he was held captive for weeks. He was liberated on 21 June and returned to Belgium, where he soon emerged as one of the driving forces behind the VNV’s collaboration policy.

As a convinced Great Dutchman, Tollenaere was against the Belgian state. He spoke out in favor of National Socialism, but – unlike Jef van de Wiele’s  competing collaboration movement DeVlag – he was not in favor of the affiliation of Flanders with Germany. Fredegardus Jacobus Josephus (Jef) Van de Wiele (Deurne, 20-07-1903 – Bruges, 04-09-1979) was a Belgian National Socialist activist, collaborator and former editor-in-chief of DeVlag, – De Deutsch-Vlämische Arbeitsgemeinschaft, Raymond became commander of the Black Brigade of the VNV and the first commander-general of the Dietsche Militia – Black Brigade, the militia of the merged Unity Movement-VNV. After the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Tollenaere was actively involved in recruiting Flemish volunteers for the Eastern Front. He himself left on 06-08-1941 as an SS-Untersturmführer or sub-lieutenant with the Flemish Legion (Waffen-SS).

Death and burial ground of Tollenaere, Raymond Pierre Jean Emma Marie “Reimond”.

Friendly artillery fire from the Spanish Division Azul , under command of General Muñoz Agustin Grandes

as an officer of the Wehrmacht, 1941–43, killed him, age 32, on 22-01-1942 in Kopcy, 24 km north of Veliky Novgorod, near the road to Chudovo.

Tollenaere is buried in the German soldier cemetery in Pankovka, 7 km from Novgorod. After Tollenaeres death, his younger brother Leo (1917-1984) also went to the Eastern Front with the Flemish Legion.

The death of Tollenaere was a heavy blow for VNV leader Staf de Clercq – who saw Tollenaere as his successor. De Clercq died that same year of a heart attack..

Although Tollenaere was not personally active in the deportations of the Jews or the extermination camps due to the time of his death, there can be no doubt about his anti-Semitism. Even before the war, he took strong anti-Semitic positions, including in his brochure Will there be a war?. During the occupation, his anti-Semitism became more virulent and at the same time less abstract. Tollenaere defended the German expulsion policy at a time when the first phase of that policy was taking shape in Belgium and the occupier issued the first anti-Jewish measures.

The VNV organizes a cult of martyrs. Departments and streets are named after him. On 12-07-1942, the Tollenaere commemoration march will take place in Brussels, attended by approximately 12,000 VNV members, mainly members of the DM-ZB. It is the largest manifestation of the VNV in wartime.

In a broadcast on Canvas in 2017 about the children of collaborators, his son Jan Tollenaere

stated the following about Jews: “I think it’s nasty people”. “I have known many of them as profiteers, as parasites too.” In that same interview about the holocaust, he also wondered whether that is “all true.” He also said that he cannot imagine that Adolf Hitler was a criminal.

 

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