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  #121  
Old 08-17-2022, 01:05 AM
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I have no particular dislike or like for Leopold, he is simply a historical character. I do not believe he was a villein and I am sure some politicians treated him badly. I also think it was a blessing for Belgium and the monarchy that he abdicated as he had difficulties in understanding the limitations of being a constitutional monarch. His own actions made him a polarizing figure, the last thing post-war Belgium needed.

Perhaps it is not surprising that in a royalty forum we tend to look at royals with rose-tainted glasses on. The idea of Leopold's victimhood is however absolutely not in line with the thinking of Belgian historians on this matter, as I have tried to show above by quoting Prof. Van Den Wijngaart.

I decided to post in this thread because I found it remarkable to see Leopold III glorified. In addition I was surprised to see Paul-Henri Spaak - Belgium's greatest statesman of the 20th century - painted as some sort of devious figure. But above all it still shocks me to see a confinement in a castle in Strobl -with justified fear for their lives or not- discussed on equal terms as life in the extermination camps.

This is the last thing I will say on this matter as I have no wish to get further entangled in this discussion than I already am as we will start going around in circles.
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  #122  
Old 11-28-2022, 08:05 PM
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Belgium, 1940: Was King Leopold III guilty?
Feeding the Crocodile, Belgium, 1940: Was King Leopold Guilty?
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  #123  
Old 11-28-2022, 08:37 PM
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https://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2...captivity.html

"bare rooms, dripping windows, moldy walls and collapsing ceilings. The insalubrious conditions, combined with poor nutrition, would seriously damage the health and endanger the lives of the King and his family. Ferociously guarded by the S.S. and the Gestapo, equipped with barbed-wire fences, police dogs and floodlights, the fortress had obviously already served as a prison, possibly for Russian captives."

What a pleasant, anodyne place to be imprisoned.
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  #124  
Old 11-28-2022, 11:02 PM
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Nobody claimed it was pleasant to be imprisoned.

The quote that you have posted of Col. Kiewitz has been written in 1948 - in the middle of the royal crisis while Kiewitz was a sympathiser of the King.

We can not trust the colonel blindly. In June 1944 the very same Col. Kiewitz wrote a letter to Hitler -suggested by Leopold and Lilian- where he mentioned 'the comfort and the decent taste of the interior decoration'. In December 1945 he mentioned 'A small Saxon castle that was a bit sombre'. Only in December 1948 in an interview with La Libre Belgique he gave the discription quoted above.

In 1950 Maj. Gierst mentioned a small fenced space while in 1946 Jacques Pirenne -secretary of Leopold III since 1945- said it was a park of 3 acres. Prof. Léon Massat visited the small castle in the 90-ties and spoke to local eyewitnesses, who claimed that the castle was in a decent state during the war.

What is clear is that Lilian and Leopold thought the castle was too small. Leopold had expected & hoped to go to the Alps while Lilian preferred to go to Sudentenland or Moravia, where a befriended couple owned some castles. The initial plan was to move the family -in case of need- to Schloss Schwarzburg in Thuringia. The castle was undergoing a luxery renovation to prepare for this eventuality. The works were abandoned in 1943 as the resources were needed elsewhere.

Later on the family moved to a villa in Strobl, a former hunting lodge of the Hohenzollern family. They also complained about lack of space there.

Source: Evrard Raskin's "Prinses Lilian".

Hirschstein castle was confiscated by the SS from Mrs. Louise Busse in October 1943. She had received it as a wedding gift from her father - a textile merchant. I have not been able to find any information on what the castle was used for the 8 months between October 1943 and June 1944. I have not seen the Russian prisoners mentioned anywhere. The castle was used as a Russian military hospital after the royal family had left.

https://www.schloss-hirschstein.de/s...s-schloss.html
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Old 11-28-2022, 11:23 PM
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"The interventions of Leopold III caused Himmler's hostility, which led to Kiewitz being downgrading to the rank of captain. After two months of detention, the SS released him for lack of evidence. Kiewitz, on a suspended sentence, was referred to the SS-Sonderregiment Dirlewanger as an officer for special tasks. Nothing is known about his release from the penal unit before October 1944, i.e., most likely, he served in the SS-Sdr.Rgt. Dirlewanger during the Warsaw Uprising. He conquered the capital of Poland for the second time. Kiewitz was wounded in 1945 and lost his right arm. He was taken prisoner by the Soviets, but was released as an invalid in March 1946."

I don't think this guy, a Nazi who went through further hell simply for sympathizing with Leopold during the war, is inclined to lie about how pleasant Nazi prisoner conditions were, somehow. And if this is what they did simply to someone who treated Leopold humanely and with dignity, why would they be inclined to treat Leopold noticeably better?

"The morning after this brief respite from misery, the journey to Strobl resumed its weary pace, traveling towards Salzburg, amidst bitterly cold weather. The royal family spent hours shivering in a tunnel during another bombardment. It was nearly midnight by the time the convoy finally reached the small village of Strobl, in the heart of the Salzkammergut. A wooden chalet, isolated from the rest of the local population, and surrounded with barbed wire fences, awaited the hostages. As at Hirschstein, they would live at close quarters, under cruel and humiliating conditions. Their diet remained poor, although it was fortunately supplemented by the dandelions growing plentifully in the garden. The prisoners' treatment, moreover, became harsher as the months passed, as their routine walks in the garden, initially allowed three times a week, were eventually forbidden.

As described by Roger Keyes in Échec au Roi, the Vicomte du Parc, governor of Prince Baudouin, when asked years later about the period at Strobl, could find no words to describe the horror of these final months in captivity. As the Allied armies approached Strobl, the prisoners feared that they would be massacred by their gaolers, as a desperate, fanatical act of vengeance. The tragic fate of the Romanovs haunted the Saxe-Coburgs... Indeed, at the beginning of May, shortly before their liberation by American troops under the command of General Alexander Patch, an S.S. officer gave Princess Lilian a box of blue pills, claiming that they were vitamin supplements, and advising her to distribute them to the whole family. Duly suspicious, she did not do so. The pills were later tested by the Americans and found to contain cyanide."

https://crossoflaeken.blogspot.com/2...y-part-iv.html

"Nevertheless, after the war, Leopold's leftist political opponents, including Prime Minister Achille van Acker, would accuse him of secretly conniving at his own deportation, in order to increase his popularity by posing as a heroic victim."

People tend not to make up stories of terrible treatment and deprivation for sympathy. They tend not to talk about awful things that happened in the war because they don't want to think about it.
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