Belgian National Youth Groups: Individual Groups

Figure 1.--These VNJ members are participating in the 1999 Zangfest celebration.

The non-Scout boy's youth groups as discussed below were different before and after World War II. There was a right wing-movement in Belgium as in other European countries. The horrors of Fascist rule and German occupation, however, destroyed the extre right wing. Groups after the War primarily focussed on nationalist separtist feeling. Some of the groups are the most active non-Scout uniformed groups in Europe. A Belgian reader writes about these groups, "Nationalism within the youth-movements is not an easy matter, it's even more difficult to be objective than in religion-related matter. I promptly mentioned someone your statement about Chiro being a little nationalistic, with response: 'of course'. On the other hand. I don't see why Chiro would be more nationalistic then VVKSM for example. They both only operate in Flanders, they both have strong Christian inspiring, they both have sister-movements in the French Community,… This is difficult to state, because during time (most strongly since World War II) the Flemish movement has gained an image, which makes it social difficult for us to state we're nationalist, separatist, just proud on our region, on Belgium,… That's one of the reasen why the Catholique scouts are named 'Scouts en Gidsen Vlaanderen' now, and not 'Flemish Scouts and Guides Association' for example. There was stated that 'Vlaams' sounds to nationalistic. 'Vlaanderen' on the other hand, is in this case mend to be nothing but a geographic region. So organisations officially stating they're Vlaams-nationalistisch' for example, are relatively extremistic. (a word not a single organisation will use, of course) If you would ask about VNJ, most people will, just by the sound of nationalistic, not approve that organisation." [De Lobel]

Before and during World War II

Only basic information is avaialble at this time. Belgium like other European had a wide variety of youth groups, including some sponsored by right-wing elements. The NAZIS after occuping Belgium in 1940, attempted to utilize these groups. Unfortunately HBC does not have details at this time. The subject is not well covered in the hisdtorical record as public sentiment has been generally to forget the extent to which Belgians collaborated with the Gernmans.



The only plitical part parmited in Flanders after the German occupation was the VNV. German occupation authorities on May 11, 1941, announced that all "authorized" poltical parties in Flanders be combined under the VNV. The VNV was similar to Dinaso, except that it was devoutly Catholic and included many priests in its membership. The most important part of the VNV was the uniformed militia--the Dietsche Militie (DM). The VNV youth movement was the DMS. Flemish youth leaders, to stress the goal of union with the Netherlands, had the Dutch colors as part of their cap badge. Flemish boys were exhorted to emulate the exploits of Dutch heroes. This included leaders like the Protestant Prince of Orange--a novel ideal for devoutly Catholic Flemish boys. Hitler was not to favorably disposed toward such a union (which ideally would include German Friesland. Dutch and Flemish NAZIs were forbidden to associate.

Flemish Hitler Youth

Hitler Youth units existed in Belgium even before the German occupation. They were for the children of German residents. These were augmented by 1943 by some families evacuated from Germany bcause of allied air raids. Hitler Youth officials in the summer of 1943 established a Hitler Youth Flanders which Flemish youth could join. Members appeared to have been mostly boys whose parents worked for or with the German Occuation authorities and those with extremely right-wing political affliliations.

Cadet Corps

The VNV (NAZI approved Flemish collaboranist party) was pressured by the Germans to play a more active role on the defense of Flanders as the Allied approached in 1944. The VNV decide to allow teenage boys to join the Vlaamsche Wacht. The Kadettenkorps (Cadet Corps) was created in April 1944, as the junior unit of the Vlaamsche Wacht. The Vlaamsche Wacht was a Flemish Guard unit, created by the Germans in May 1942 to help the Gendarmerie (police) keep internal order. The Kadettenkorps, also called the Jongerenkorps, consisted of Flemish youngsters 15-18 years of age.


Les Serments de la Jeunesse Rexiste

The Rexist Organization collaborated with the Germans and thus was supported by German occupation authorities. The NAZIs in May 1941 declared the waning Rexist Party to be the only authorized political party in Wallonie, just as at the same time they declared the VNV to be the only authorized political movement in Flanders. Les Serments de la Jeunesse Rexiste, (The Youth Branch) of the Rexist Party, was a voluntary movement for boys and girls 6-18 years of age. At age 18, boys were expected to join the Rexist Formations de Combat. The Rexists claimed that the Serments had 3,000 members, but their rallies never mustered more tham 1,000 boys and girls. The group were a green-shirted uniform.

Jeunesse Légionnaire

The Rexists disolved the Serments in March 1943 and replaced it with a more broadly based organization, the Jeunesse Légionnaire which embraced the youth movement of not only the Rex, but also of Agra and CWW. (These were fanatical pro-German factions that were created after the 1941 edict establishing the Rexist Party as the sole permitted party. Agra and the CWW kept up a fiction that they were cultural groups.) The children did not need to be connected to the Rexist Party, as had been the case of the Serments de la Jeunesse Rexiste. In theory the Jeunesse Légionnaire was non political. In practice it was purely Rexist.

Post World War II

The World War II fundamentally changed Belgium. The ideology of Fascism and the extreme right was descredited. Politicl groups and their youth movements that had expoused Fascist ideology and collaborated with the Germans were disbanded. It was not, however, the end of non-Scout national youth groups. Several groups are still active, generally associated with separtists movements or religious groups.

Figure 2.--Chrio is a Catholic youth group, one of the most imprtant in Flanders, the Flemish area of Belgium. Chiro uniforms were tan shirts worn with dark brown short pants.


Chiro is a youth organisation with branches all over Flanders, notionally for boys and girls alike, though some groups run their activities like camps with only one or the other at any given time, and some of them don't actually appear to have any girls in evidence. Chiro recruits exclusively on a parish level and though they will not refuse a boy who has entered a "college," in practice most of their membership are boys that either seek a job right after they finish compulsary education or move on to a "technische school" (vocational school) of a kind, preparing for jobs as a construction worker, an electrician, a cook, etc.


The Katholieke Studentenactie (KSA) wears a uniform thatvlooks very much like a Scout group. But it is not a Scout association. The KSA has nothing to do with Lord Baden-Powell and the Worls Scouting movement. I think it may best be described as a scion of the 'patronaat'-group of youth movements that have been fostered by the Roman Catholic Church. It is similar to Chiro. However both movements are recruiting their boys from different sections of society. KSA groups are always linked to a school. That school usually is a 'college' i.e. a priest-run form of secondary education that is meant to prepare boys for entering university--or indeed priesthood. A "college" in France and Belgium is a secondary school, not a under-graduate university as in the United States.)


The Flemish National Youth Movement (Vlaams Nationaal Jeugdverbond--VNJ) is today the most active nationalist youth group in Flanders. Flanders is a part of Belgium and the population is largely Dutch speaking. (Flemish is a dialect of Dutch.) Belgian history has seen a conflict between the French speaking Waloons, supported by their powerful French neighbor to the south and the Flemish Dutch-speaking population in Flanders. The VNJ was organized in 1961, replacing a diversity of small, traditional Flemish, scoutlike movements. The VNJ continues to be active in Flanders and the VNJ is today the largest and most traditional nationalist youth group in Europe. While the boys and girls who belong to the VNJ look like Scouts, the program has important differences from the Scout movement.


De Lobel, Frederik. E-mail message, January 9, 2008.


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Last updated: 10:58 PM 1/9/2008