"Degrelle ......... started his right-wing activities in the 1930s, founding the Roman Catholic and monarchist Rexist movement which won 21 seats in the Belgian parliament in 1935. Hitler is credited with saying of Degrelle at the time that:
" If I had had a son, I would have liked him to be like you. ""
From ........... Reuters
April 1, 1994
Headline: FORMER BELGIAN FASCIST LEADER DEGRELLE DIES
MALAGA, Spain (Reuter) - Former Belgian Fascist Leon Degrelle, the man Adolf Hitler once praised as the ideal son, died in Malaga Thursday aged 87.
One of the last few top Nazis still alive, Degrelle died of heart failure brought on by a lung complication after entering a private clinic March 10.
He had lived in Spain since 1945, where he fled after having played a prominent role in the Nazi war effort by commanding the the German army's Walloon Legion which he founded in 1941.
Rising to the rank of an SS General, he fought on the Eastern Front and won the Iron Cross for his efforts. In 1944 he also won the coveted Knight's Cross, which Hitler awarded him in person by Hitler.
Hitler is credited with saying of Degrelle at the time that: "If I had had a son, I would have liked him to be like you."
Degrelle was born in Bouillon June 15, 1906, one of eight children. He started his right-wing activities in the 1930s, founding the Roman Catholic and monarchist Rexist movement which won 21 seats in the Belgian parliament in 1935.
After the Nazi capitulation in May 1945, Degrelle fled from Norway, which was still occupied by the remnants of the German army at the time, in Albert Speer's private plane.
The plane ran out of fuel over the Franco-Spanish border but the pilot managed to bring it down on a beach near the northern Spanish beach resort of San Sebastian.
Thanks to his good relations with General Francisco Franco, he was allowed to stay and became a naturalized Spaniard in 1954, changing his name to Leon Jose de Ramirez Reina.
Degrelle was condemned to death in his absence by a Belgian military court at the end of the war but the time limit for carrying out the sentence expired in 1974.
He published his memoires in 1970 and never renounced his Nazi principles, helping found neo-Nazi movements in Spain that are still active, especially on the anniversary of Franco's death.
In 1970, his writings led to Belgian pressure on the Franco regime and an arrest warrant was issued. But he disappeared from his Madrid home and after the crisis had died down he eventually appeared in southern Spain, settling in Torreblanca, near Fuengirola on Spain's Costa del Sol, where he spent the rest of his days.
He enjoyed undoubted protection from the Franco regime, but vehemently denied reports he had used his privileges to help spirit prominent Nazis such as Klaus Barbie, Joseph Mengele and Martin Bormann out of Europe and to safety in Latin America.
After Franco died in 1975, Degrelle was again spared from extradition by the transition government of Adolfo Suarez. He exploited his luck and he became friendly with Spanish rightists including Colonel Jaime Milans del Bosch, jailed for his role in the aborted coup of February 1981.
He won further notoriety in Spain by claiming in a magazine interview in 1985 that the gas chambers never existed, and that Mengele, the so-called "Angel of Death" for his wartime experiments on Jewish victims, was a normal doctor.
A former Auschwitz inmate, Violeta Friedman, filed a suit against Degrelle for his statements, winning on appeal. On Friday, she said in a radio interview that Degrelle had been an extremely damaging element for Spain.
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