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|De Geuzengroep (1940-1944)
Witte Brigade-Fidelio (1944)
|Participant in the Belgian Resistance (World War II)|
Insignia of the Witte Brigade-Fidelio, displaying both the group's initials, but also a V for Victory
|Area of operations||Focused on Antwerp region, Belgium|
|Opponents||German Occupying Forces|
The White Brigade (Dutch: Witte Brigade, French: Brigade blanche) was a Belgian resistance group, founded in the summer of 1940 in Antwerp by Marcel Louette, who was nicknamed "Fidelio". The group was originally known as "De Geuzengroep" but changed its name after liberation to its better-known title of Witte Brigade-Fidelio.
The name was chosen in opposition to the "Black Brigade", a collaborator group led by SS-Untersturmführer Reimond Tollenaere, who was responsible for the propaganda of pro-German Flemish National Union. The Witte Brigade was based in Antwerp but had smaller branches in Gent, Lier, Aalst, Brussels, Waasland, Wallonia and in the coastal region.
During the Second World War Belgium was occupied by Germany. While the facist group known as the Black Brigade were collaborators with the Germans, they were opposed by the underground Witte Brigade. Important activities of the Witte Brigade were distributing anti-German propaganda, the creation of lists of collaborators and organizing patriotic demonstrations on key Belgian holidays, such as 21 July (National Day) and 11 November (Anniversary of the German surrender in the First World War). The resistance group published its own propaganda newspaper called "Always united" (French: Unis Toujours, Dutch: Steeds verenigd) with some 80 editions published. In addition, the group was concerned with obtaining military information about the Port of Antwerp where they obtained information on the possible German invasion of Britain and helping shot-down Allied pilots to return to England. The Witte Brigade had connections with various intelligence networks, code-named Luc, Bravery and Group Zero. It was also the only resistance group early in the war with contact with the Belgian government in exile along with the British.
Members and arrests
Many members of the Witte Brigade were policemen. Especially, the police of Deurne was strongly represented. From 1943, many members of the resistance were arrested. When a prominent member was captured in possession of list of other members, 58 members were arrested and sent to German camps. In Deurne in a raid in January 1944, 62 members were arrested and that same year, on May 9 the founder Marcel Louette was arrested and deported to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Louette would eventually return from Germany and died in Antwerp in 1978. In total, the Witte Brigade suffered 400 losses of the 3,750 recognized members.
Despite their heavy losses, the Witte Brigade, along with the Armée secrète, the Front de l'Indépendance, the Mouvement National Royaliste and Groupe G, helped allied forces capture the port of Antwerp intact in 1944. The influence of the Witte Brigade was considerable. The organization had been known popularly as the "White Brigade" so, after liberation, the group changed its name, adding the word "Fidelio", the pseudonym of Louette.
- "De Witte Brigade" (in Dutch). Retrieved 31 December 2012.