Sunday, 26 April 2020
THE MEMOIRS OF PIERRE #DAYE: THE UNREPENTANT BELGIAN #COLLABORATOR
These are extracts from Pierre Daye’s unpublished memoirs. For a short biography of this Belgian collaborator see my blogpost of 10 April 2010.
Daye on the Allies retaking Brussels in 1940:
I never thought it would go so fast. The departure of the Germans, without a return to peace or immediate prosperity, thrust the Belgian people into a situation worse than it had been for some months. The euphoria over the deliverance has already evaporated, and the poor government, full of illusions about [help from] London and very surprised that the population did not give them a warmer welcome, seems subdued. If this troubled state existed only in Belgium one might hope that it would improve after a few months, but the chaos and the anarchy is slowly spreading to all of Europe. The Bolsheviks may well laugh…
Daye, who was in Madrid, expected to be called before a tribunal to account for his collaboration:
I will not refuse to account for my actions if they believe that I personally have acted wrongly. My conduct is such that I have nothing to hide. I have acted honestly. And I am prepared, if I am given certain guaranties, to go to Brussels and explain my actions…
But all my hopes of understanding our country’s conduct of rapprochement and internal pacification has evaporated. I have also heard that a judicial instruction is being prepared against me in Brussels, that there is a call to have my possessions sequestered… I also hear talk of capital punishment both in Brussels and in Paris… [while I find myself] miraculously sheltered [in Madrid], and with my conscience at peace -- an interesting idea with which I will familiarize myself very quickly and which I can examine with all the calm philosophy it demands.
Daye was condemned to death in absentia and his possessions confiscated and auctioned off:
In the end I, who has remained faithful to a line of conduct which I continue to believe is just, am now persecuted, banned, and crushed with outrage.
Do I regret my actions? Certainly I would have been happy not to take sides, not to say what I thought, going against the majority opinion of the public. That would have been the right thing. Then I would have been smart like so many others. In that sense, I am convinced, abandoned to my solitary hours, that I made a mistake. And without doubt, if I had to start over again, I would think twice about it. On the other hand, I was sincere and I believe that, in the end, to be so always has the moral advantage.
(Daye’s memoirs, pp. 1208, 1222, 1283-4, my translation)