Inheriting the past. Children of Flemish collaborators, a traumatized generation?

De erfenis van het verleden. Kinderen van Vlaamse collaborateurs, een getraumatiseerde generatie?
Start - End 
2011 - 2017 (ongoing)
Department of History
Research Focus 



The Second World War in Belgium still haunts the public and political debate. The failure of anyunifying patriotic memory is due to the Flemish collaborators who have succeeded in depicting thepostwar purge as a harsh and never-ending anti-Flemish operation. In order to investigate thetransmission of this discourse to their descendants this project combines the methodologies ofprosopography and oral history. Two interdependent levels of inquiry are proposed: 1. thedifferent ways in which children of collaborators deal with this legacy as a generation parented bythe same past; 2. the correlations between the significance of this burden with personal andfamilial backgrounds. Descendants who have taken public stands on this past have often broughtopposing narratives to the fore either as academic historians who demystify this memory on theone hand, or as Flemish-nationalist politicians who sustain a politically useful representation onthe other. How the silent majority of children of collaborators relate to either of these stories ofhistory and memory remains unknown. Compared to their Dutch counterparts they neverorganised to seek psychological help for coming to terms with the past. By linking the differentperceptions of the past to the prosopographic profile of the children of collaborators this researchdovetails with the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, questioning both the generationalexplanatory model and the possibility of trauma transmission.