The Burning Souls: A Poetic Memoir

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A must-read addition to your personal library!

Leon Degrelle’s The Burning Souls is now being made available for the first time in English. Born to a Belgian family in the year 1906, Léon Joseph Marie Ignace Degrelle rose to prominence as a newspaper editor and head of the militant monarchist, Catholic and anti-Communist Parti Rexiste. Following the German occupation of Belgium, Degrelle and his party loyalists enlisted in the Wehrmacht-organized Walloon Legion to aid in the liberation of the peoples of the Soviet Republics. He raised approximately 6,000 volunteers over the course of the war, both for the Wehrmacht and, later, for the Waffen-SS. Barely a third of these volunteers would survive.

Degrelle and his men were noted for extreme bravery, brutal ferocity in close-quarters fighting and an in- domitable spirit of self-sacrifice, with Degrelle himself earning the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. After the fall of Berlin, Degrelle made a daring escape from the crumbling Third Reich. He managed to reach Spain, where he was safeguarded by Francisco Franco’s government. His native Belgium later sentenced him to death in absentia for collaboration with the Germans.

Degrelle expressed no regrets for joining the war on the side of the Axis Powers, defending both his own actions and those of his superiors and comrades. He lived in Spain until his death of natural causes in 1994, and remained active in anti-Communist and pan-European causes despite several attempts at his extradition, kidnapping and assassination. The Burning Souls is Degrelle’s reflection on his experiences and on the soul—part poetry, part memoir. In it, he traces his journey, from his idyllic childhood to the frozen steppes of Russia, not just as a physical journey but as a great spiritual trial. He instructs us that to give oneself completely, to be willing to weather all hardships in service of a transcendent ideal, is what is required to overcome the spiritual malaise of our day.

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Select quotes from Leon Degrelle’s The Burning Souls

“Fire, it has many forms. It rises, lowers, is reborn, starts anew. This book is fire, with the exaltations of fire, the excess of fire. May these pages, the last fleeting fire of what I was, burn for a moment, warm for a moment souls haunted by the passion of giving and believing, believing in spite of everything, in spite of the assurances of the corrupt and the cynics, despite the sad bitter taste that leaves us with the memory of our falls, the awareness of our misery and the immense field of moral ruins of a world that is certain to have no more of salvation, which prides itself on it and which nevertheless must be saved, must more than ever be saved.”

“Boredom is the disease of empty souls and brains.”

“It is often by doing, with maximum nobility, a thousand bothersome little things that you are great.”

“Yet nothing can reach the mind that is master over itself. If the body is humiliated, it is because the will has led him into these whistling snows, to the bottom of these sordid shelters. Yesterday it was lice. Today the cold claws at our skin. We willed it to be so. We do not care that we are scourged by this hostile, ferocious situation. One day, the cruel winds will die off with the return of the leaves to the trees. Our bodies—stretched out in the waters of the rivers, in the Sun and in the winds—will feel life beating more ardently than ever around their bones, strong as metal, under living flesh like the flesh of flowers, hard and clean like marble, but golden, full, vibrant! Having suffered and triumphed, we will open our arms to the Sun.”

“Each time I must say to myself: ‘Look, here you falter.’ I thus have the almost daily proof that I can resist a thousand temptations, lead my life with honor only to the extent that a renewed effort masters and restrains, every day, deep within myself, a wild horse, which can never be fully tamed, and which only the whip of the will, wielded unceasingly, can contain.”

“If the watch were relaxed, everything would come undone.”