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Josef Grohé

On 13 July 1944, the military administration which had been in place since 28 May 1940 and headed by General von Falkenhausen was replaced by a civilian administration under the authority of the SS. This change came about at the behest of the Führer, who considered the military administration too lax in its fight against the resistance.

Josef Grohé (1902-1987) was the new strong man of the occupation apparatus. He was a convinced Nazi who joined the NSDAP in 1921. His appointment as head of the civil administration in July 1944 was the high point of his career. Of course, this appointment came in a particular context, a little more than a month after the Normandy landings. During his induction, he spoke of the military evolution of the conflict while, of course, affirming his confidence in Germany’s final victory thanks to new weapons to come and the genius of the Führer: “We know that whatever happens Adolf Hitler will be able to overcome the most serious crises of this war”.

At the same time, the resistance was becoming increasingly reckless in occupied Belgium. Number of attacks  were on the rise and some regions were on the brink of civil war. In practice, Grohé had little time to implement a new policy even though 65 hostages were executed in less than two months (there had been 240 such executions under the military administration, which had been in power for four years).

In September 1944, Grohé fled the capital and took part in the defence of Aachen. In 1946, he was arrested by the British. Extradited to Belgium, he did not appear before any war crimes tribunal. Belgium sent him back to Germany where a court sentenced him to just four and a half years’ imprisonment for his major role in the Nazi party’s crimes. Grohé would remain faithful to his convictions until his death in 1987.

With the help of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and in partnership with CEGE-SOMA.

 

Josef Grohé

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