A picture of the author Hugo Claus

A sad story

About the German invasion of Belgium in May 1940, Hugo Claus has written ‘The Sorrow of Belgium':

"Even on the first day, when Guderian’s tanks rolled in, when the Belgian air force was reduced from 171 to 91 planes within hours, when Louis was at the radio, overwhelmed by a nonsensical, impatient, jubilating cold, already that first day the French (who had been waiting for their chance ever since Napoleon) jumped into our country. (..)

The French, their helmets topsy-turvy, garlic and Pernod on their breath, assaulted Flemish widows and orphans, forced their way into our houses without knocking, demanded liquor and women, yes, as if it were the dark ages. (..)

‘Staf, I’m telling you more than I should and should me boss get to know they’ll put me inside with all me bits ‘n pieces, but you haven’t got a minute to lose,’ said Theo van Paemel, gin in hand. ‘You have to leave town right now, Staf!’ (..)

Get out of here while you can. Or we´ll have to come and get you. ´Cos that new state security force, the Sicherheitsdienst, is going bonckers. Yesterday they rounded up a farmer because he was burning papers on his field, he is down in his cell without a tooth left in his mouth. (..) If we don´t take you in, the people from the Toontjesstraat might come and bother you. They stripped a minister of his cassock yesterday just to see whether he wasn´t wearing a German uniform underneath.

You’re on the list, Staf. Like all the ones that ordered the History of Flanders in four parts.


Hugo Claus






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