François Ferdinand Louis Craeybeckx, better known as Lode, was born in Antwerp in 1897. His father was a police man from Limburg, while his mother came from Liège. He studied at the Athenaeum of Antwerp before going to the new University of Ghent in 1917. For collaborating with the German occupiers during the First World War, he was sent to prison for five years, but he was released after two years.
In 1932, Craeybecks started to work as a lawyer and entered the world of politics. He became a councillor in Deurne for the Belgian Socialist Party. The same year, he entered the Belgian Parliament, where he would stay until 1968. He was the successor of Willem Eekelers as mayor of Antwerp in 1947, and remained in that position for nearly thirty years, a record for the city. Lode Craeybeckx dies in 1976.
During his run as mayor, Antwerp was massively changed. The RUCA university (1965) and the UIA university (1971) were founded (both were merged with the older UFSIA in the University of Antwerp in 2003). The Middelheim, an open air museum for modern sculptures, was created in 1951. The city got improved traffic infrastructure and the city and Port of Antwerp were massively expanded.
During this period, many of the older buildings of the city, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, was replaced by modern high rise buildings, of which many have been criticized for being bland or ugly.
The "Craeybeckx Incident"
In April 1964 had Craeybeckx a drunkyards row with a few Jews in a pub on the Grote Markt. He shouted in public "it's a pity that the German burning ovens dit not make disappear more of their sort". The upheaval was high, but he was nonetheless again at the top of the Socialist list at the next municipal elections, under the excuse that "can someone with so many services given to the movement just be put aside ?". According to his biographers he benefited from support during this serious controversy from the Antwerp Catholic press and of the conservative satirical weekly 't Pallieterke, which had an anti-resistance position and opposed the epuration after WWII.
- "De Antwerpse Burgemeesters" (in Dutch). Gazet van Antwerpen. Retrieved 2008-01-25.
- (Dutch) Walter Pauli, Waarom de sp.a nood heeft aan epo – De memoires van politicus Wim Geldolf tonen een proces van bloedarmoede, De Morgen January 30, 2007
- (Dutch) Lieven Saerens, Vreemdelingen in een wereldstad: een geschiedenis van Antwerpen en zijn joodse bevolking (1880–1944), Lannoo Uitgeverij, 2000 ISBN 978-90-209-4109-8, p.817 n.2105
- (Dutch) Gijs Garré, Lode Craeybeckx 1897–1976, Brussel, Grammens, 1986, pp.94–95
- Wim Geldof, Camille Huysmans en Lode Craeybeckx 1922–1968. Het verhaal van een politieke relatie in goede en in kwade dagen», Antwerpen, Facet, 1999, ISBN 90-5016-291-6 , pp.278–292
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