We'd planned our sojourn into Europe hours in advance (!!?!) booked
the ferry and ironed our best trousers (they're pants for American
readers); so with our buckets and spades off we went to the port.
We stopped off en route at a seaside pub frequented by friendly Nationalists
stickers festooned the toilet from previous journeys
to Diksmuide). And what a bonus! They served the best beer money can
buy: Brains SA - just the sort of thing four Welshfolk (well, two
Welsh and two 'honorary Welsh') needed before a journey into the continent
where beer consists of lager, lager and more lager. After a swift
foaming ale (and a phone call by one of the party to check on his
little terrors) one of the local Nationalists turned up. We chuckled
over various stories of past adventures. We left in time to drive
to get our ferry.
After a few hugely expensive lagers (bring back the Brains SA!)
in a bar which played rap music, we headed off to find a cosy corridor
to grab three hours sleep.
We arrived early in Diksmuide after a short trip by car through Flanders
only to be told by local Comrades that many visitors from foreign
countries were being detained by the police. As we looked very 'normal'
(despite what others might say!) we were able to roam the town quite
freely though we were eyed suspiciously once or twice by the (pro-Belgian)
police. On one occasion whilst sat outside a cafe having a coffee
we witnessed about four trucks containing the horses for the mounted
police and a huge armoured water cannon truck go through the village.
Last year, after the police arrested Bert Errikson (see FC11 for
his details) there was a riot outside the police station, so the police
had powers to stop and arrest anyone with Nationalist symbols on them
or Nationalist propaganda in their vehicle.
THE IJZER TOWER
As most of us hadn't been to Diksmuide before we made the most of
the day and visited the Ijzer Tower. It's quite an impressive monument
which dominates the local flat landscape. When you enter the grounds
of the tower you first reach the
is indeed a very Christian country still. On our journey we saw crucifixes
and religious statues in many places. In the countryside we came across
tiny chapels with seating for 6 or 8 people, but with the most astounding
altars and statues. They were clearly well used too as many candles
were lit inside.
Inside the Ijzer Tower there's a museum which covers the history
of WW1, Flemish Nationalism and the Tower itself - but bear in mind
this is sanitised history sanctioned by the powers-that-be, so you
won't find anything too radical! Even so, the film footage of the
carnage of WW1 brought home the futility of needless war. One criticism
is that there's nothing in any foreign languages. Even the film show
was just in Flemish. A lot of tourists could be 'enlightened' about
Flanders etc. if there were more materials in English and other languages.
At the top of the Tower you could see for quite some distance and
this was far from a cloudless day - in fact it had just started to
pour down! We could see the police wagons driving around the town
and saw where the water cannon and other trucks were parked up too.
That night we learned that a few Comrades had been arrested on
reaching the town. We later heard that so many people were arrested
that they were herded into some sort of huge garage where police vehicles
were normally kept.
We attended the Voorpost party on the Saturday evening where we
were made most welcome. We met old Comrades from Flanders, the Netherlands
and Germany sitting inside and outside the bar and met some new friends
inside the hall when the 'party' began. The festival consisted of
huge long tables packed full of Nationalists from all over Europe
- but mostly of course from Flanders - with a stage from which Nationalist,
drinking and folk songs were sung, mostly by the compere, a bearded
There was an excellent atmosphere with songs from all over Europe
sung. There were a few songs in English - the 'Wild Rover' being the
most memorable - but we had a songbook which one Comrade had purchased
and so tried to join in with some of the Flemish songs. Frank Rennicke
the well known German Nationalist folk musician played quite a few
songs which went down very well and our Italian Comrades even got
up and sang a fascist ditty which had the whole hall chanting "Duce,
Duce, Duce!". Good stuff indeed!
At one point a little speech was made and everyone started
clapping and cheering, for at the back of the hall Frank Vanhecke
had appeared. He's the new 37 year old president of
Vlaams Blok. Everyone
was happy when he was appointed as there's always a fear when a new
leader is needed that the party in question might lose it's radical
edge. With Mr. Vanhecke there is no need to worry! As one Flemish
Comrade said - he's no Fini (Italian 'Nationalist' turned soft liberal)!
There were a group of Flemish students sitting next to and opposite
us and we quickly made friends, scribbled greetings in their song
books (apparently it's the done thing) and joined in the songs with
them (at this point I should mention that one of our number joined
in slightly more than the rest of us, though he claims the beer had
nothing to do with it!). All in all it was a superb night with no
trouble despite all the drinking songs and table stomping! There was
a family atmosphere and the stewards had little to worry them. There
was talk at one stage of Ranting Ron being near the bar, but if he
was, he certainly didn't get a round in!
The next morning we were up bright and breezy - well some of us
were a little brighter and breezier than others! And we set off for
the same hall where we were due to set up stall. It was all well laid
out with stalls there from Voorpost and Vlaams Blok from Flanders,
CP'86 from the Netherlands, the JN from Germany and other smaller
stalls selling CDs, T-Shirts etc.
Our stall looked good with The Voice of St. George around the front
and side of it. We had a leaflet produced with the Flemish text from
page 3 of FC10 along with some excellent artwork which went down very
well and we gave out a lot of propaganda and sold a lot of FCs, Gazeta
de Vests and booklets like Political Soldier and A Third Positionist
Reader. We also gave out materials from our Comrades in Italy (MSFT),
to various organisers and activists
from different countries.
Virtually everyone was wearing yellow neck scarves which were handed
out by Voorpost to show who were the 'radicals'. Accounts differ as
to how many people were wearing them. Out of the approx. 10,000 people
there some say half were wearing them, others more than half!
Printed on the scarves was:
De Bedevaart: Ja (Iron Pilgrimage - Yes)
Dit Comite: Neen (The Committee - No)
We were told by local Comrades that a dispute had arisen as the
committee who organise the 'Iron Pilgrimage' to the Ijzer Tower each
August was controlled by liberals who were trying to change the nature
of the rally. The radicals of Voorpost and Vlaams Blok had vowed to
get rid of the liberals, but the head of the committee had promised
to always be there!
He had reckoned without the resolve of the Flemish Nationalists though!
As well as the scarves, Voorpost also gave out whistles to hundreds
and hundreds of people. At the Tower whenever a liberal spoke they
were drowned out by ear-piercing whistles from everywhere! There was
nothing they could do as no law was being broken! It was ingenious
and must have had the liberals fuming.
After we had left the rally we learnt that there was bitter fighting
between the liberals and the radicals at the Tower after which the
head of the committee said he would never go to the 'Iron Pilgrimage'
again; so the radicals were very happy as they'd achieved their aim.
We meanwhile (after leaving stocks of FC, The Voice of St. George
and other literature with local Comrades to continue the stall and
to sell them at other events) had gone on to the German WW1 cemetery
at Langemarck where the Flemish SS veterans (St.-Maarten-Fonds) hold
a commemorative rally for their Comrades who fell in the Crusade against
Bolshevism on the Eastern Front. The site is a mass grave of 25,000
German students who tried to break through the front line at Langemarck.
The Flemish SS volunteer regiment in WW2 was named after the town.
There were many old warriors there (male and female) but because the
weather was dodgy, some of the less agile ex-servicemen couldn't get
out to the cemetery. Through local Comrades we were invited back for
a meal with the veterans, but sadly we had to depart there and then
or miss our ferry.
When we reached the town near the ferry port we went to grab something
to eat as we hadn't had anything substantial since 5.30 that morning.
To our disgust as we walked down the high street we noticed speakers
fixed to the lamposts which were blasting out 'pop' music - the sort
you hear from "young West Indians'" cars with a "boom boom boom" bass
sound to it. It was totally out of place in a by no means charming,
but certainly not Toxteth-type town.
We arrived in 'old blighty' in the early morning and still had
a long journey back to the right side of the Bristol Channel. At this
point I should say a big thank you to the drivers!
We all thoroughly enjoyed Diksmuide. If you haven't been - go!
It's good fun!