|Succeeded by||None; Banned|
|Headquarters||Formerly Brussles, Belgium|
|Political position||Far right|
|Official colors||Red, Black|
|Politics of Belgium|
It was the ideology of the Rexist Party (Parti Rexiste), officially called Christus Rex, founded in 1930 by Léon Degrelle, a Walloon. The name was derived from the Roman Catholic social teachings concerning Christus Rex, and it was also the title of a conservative Catholic journal.
The ideology of Rexism, which was disseminated in the writings of Jean Denis, called for the moral renewal of Belgian society in conformity with the teachings of the Church, by forming a corporatist society, and abolishing democracy. The Rexist movement attracted support mostly among the Walloons; it had a counterpart on the Flemish side in the Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, or VNV. It also faced competition from the likes of Paul Hoornaert's National Legion.
In the Depression-era 1936 Belgian legislative election, the Rexists garnered over 30 per cent of the popular vote in the French-speaking province of Luxembourg, compared to 9 per cent in equally French-speaking Hainaut. Rexism soon began to ally itself with the interests of Nazi Germany and to incorporate Nazi-style antisemitism into its platform after Adolf Hitler's rise to power, and got financial support from German interests, while ties to the Roman Catholic Church were increasingly cut off one-sidedly by the Belgian bishops. Some former Rexists went into the underground resistance against Nazi Germany, after they had come to see the Nazis' somewhat anticlerical and very anti-Semitic policies enforced in occupied Belgium (although others, notably José Streel, simply withdrew from political activity as a result of this). Most Rexists however proudly supported the occupiers and assisted Nazi Germany in its endeavors wherever they could.
Closely affiliated with Rexism was the Légion Wallonie, a paramilitary organization along the lines of the SS. After Operation Barbarossa started, the Legion Wallonie and its Flemish VNV counterpart, the Legion Flandern sent respectively 25,000 and 15,000 volunteers to fight against the Soviet Union. Whilst Degrelle served with the SS nominal leadership of the movement passed to Victor Matthys.
With the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945, Degrelle took refuge in Francoist Spain. He was convicted of treason in Belgium and sentenced to death, but requests for Spain to extradite him were unavailing. Degrelle died in Málaga in 1994.
- ↑ In William Brustein's estimation (Brustein 1980, below), for J.M. Étienne (Le mouvement Rexiste jusqu'en 1940, Paris, 1968), Rexism was not essentially fascist, but an authoritarian and conservative Catholic nationalist movement that became fascist after 1937; but for J. Stengers ("Belgium: in The European Right Rogger and Weber, eds., Berkeley, 1965) and G. Carpinelli ("Les interprétations du rexisme," Cahiers Marxistes July-September, 1973), Rexism was fascist in form and content.
- ↑ William Brustein, "The Political Geography of Belgian Fascism: The Case of Rexism", American Sociological Review 53.1 (February 1988), pp. 69-80.
- Collaboration in Belgium: Leon Degrelle and the Rexist Movement 1940-1944 by Martin Conway (ISBN 0-300-05500-5)
- The Patriotic Traitors: A History of Collaboration in German-occupied Europe, 1940-45 by David Littlejohn (ISBN 0-434-42725-X)
- Wallonien: The History of the 5th SS-Sturmbrigade and 28th SS Volunteer Panzergrenadier Division by Richard Landwehr, Ray Merriam, and Jean-Louis Roba (ISBN 1-57638-088-2)