Camille Huysmans

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Camille Huysmans
Huysmans-Camille.jpg
Prime Minister of Belgium
In office
3 August 1946 – 20 March 1947
Monarch Charles (Regent)
Preceded by Achille Van Acker
Succeeded by Paul-Henri Spaak
President of the Chamber of Representatives
In office
27 April 1954 – 11 November 1958
Preceded by Frans Van Cauwelaert
Succeeded by Paul Kronacker
In office
23 June 1936 – 21 April 1939
Preceded by Jules Poncelet
Succeeded by Frans Van Cauwelaert
Personal details
Born (1871-05-26)26 May 1871
Bilzen, Belgium
Died 23 February 1968(1968-02-23) (aged 96)
Antwerp, Belgium
Political party Socialist Party
Alma mater University of Liège

Jean Joseph Camille Huysmans (born as Camiel Hansen 26 May 1871 – 23 February 1968) was a Belgian politician.

Huymans studied German philology at the University of Liège. He was a teacher from 1893 until 1897. In between these years he studied for his doctorate in German philology.

Huysmans joined the Belgische Werkliedenpartij (BWP), the predecessor of the Belgische Socialistische Partij (BSP) at a young age. He became a journalist for many socialist periodicals until 1904 and was thereafter active in the labour unions.

Between 1905 and 1922 Huysmans was secretary of the Second International. In that function he had many contacts with Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the first Chinese revolution, in 1911. His main task was creating an active peace function. At the Socialist Conference in Stockholm in 1917 he pleaded against continuing the war.

He was a fighter for the Flemish movement and fought for using Dutch at the University of Ghent. As Minister of Arts and Education he could pave the way for the Dutch language. In 1911 he proposed a bill, drafted by Lodewijk De Raet, together with the Roman Catholic Frans Van Cauwelaert and the liberal Louis Franck for the usage of Dutch at the University of Ghent. However, due to World War I, the University of Ghent would become a Flemish university in 1930.

In World War II he fled to London. He regained the function as secretary between 1939 and 1944, also as acting chairman. After World War II (at age 75) he became the 34th Prime Minister and led a government of socialists, liberals and communists. With an insufficient majority, this government lasted not long. In the next government, he was Minister of Education.

He remained very popular until old age. The national tribute for his 80th birthday attracted 100,000 visitors. At the age of 83 he became chairman of the Chamber of Representatives (lower house). He was a freemason, and a member of the lodge Les Amis Philanthropes of the Grand Orient of Belgium in Brussels.

Huysmans is considered a friend of the Jewish people, mainly due to his friendly attitude towards Jewish immigrants in Antwerp in the years 1920–1940 and the Zionist movement. Some streets and neighbourhoods in Israel bear his name.

Functions[edit]

  • councillor in Brussels (1908–1921)
  • education Schepen of Antwerp (1921–1933)
  • mayor of Antwerp (1933–1940 and 1944–1946)
  • councillor in Antwerp (1946–1968)
  • member of the lower house (1910–1965)
  • chairman of the lower house (1936–1939 and 1954–1958)
  • Minister of Arts and Education (1925–1927)
  • Prime Minister (1946–1947)
  • Minister of Education (1947–1949)

Correspondence with Lenin[edit]

In his first term as secretary of the Second International he corresponded with Lenin between 1905 and 1914. The letters were published in 1963.

Political offices
Preceded by
Frans Van Cauwelaert
Mayor of Antwerp
1933–1940
Succeeded by
Leo Delwaide
Preceded by
Jules Poncelet
President of the Chamber of Representatives
1936–1939
Succeeded by
Frans Van Cauwelaert
Preceded by
Emile Van Put
Mayor of Antwerp
1944–1946
Succeeded by
Willem Eekelers
Preceded by
Achille Van Acker
Prime Minister of Belgium
1946–1947
Succeeded by
Paul-Henri Spaak
Preceded by
Frans Van Cauwelaert
President of the Chamber of Representatives
1954–1958
Succeeded by
Paul Kronacker