Courcelles massacre

Courcelles massacre

Monument at the site of the massacre
Location near Courcelles, Belgium
Date 18 August 1944 (1944-08-18)
Attack type
Mass murder
Deaths 20 Belgian civilians
Perpetrators Rexist paramilitaries

The Courcelles massacre (French: Tuerie de Courcelles), also known as the Rognac Massacre (French: Tuerie du Rognac), was a massacre of 20 Belgian civilians by Rexists at the town of Courcelles in August 1944 during the Second World War.


After the German invasion of Belgium in 1940, some Belgian civilians made the decision to collaborate with the German occupying forces, joining pro-collaboration political groups. In Wallonia, the most prominent of these was the Rexist Movement which advocated a Fascist pro-Catholic, pro-Nazi agenda.[1] By 1944, the number of resistance attacks had increased as the Allied armies opened a second front in Normandy


On 17 August 1944, the Rexist bourgmestre of Greater Charleroi, Oswald Englebin, was attacked and killed along with his wife and son by members of the Belgian Resistance between Courcelles and Monceau-sur-Sambre in an area known as the "Bois du Rognac".

As news of the attack arrived in Rexist headquarters in Brussels and Charleroi, two civilians were shot in retaliation. Three members of the same family were shot on the evening of the 17, with another two on the night of the 17/18th.[2]

During the night, Rexist paramilitaries rounded up over 21 civilian dignitaries which were taken to Courcelles. 20 were shot at daybreak of 18 August.[3] Those murdered included policemen, doctors, architects, lawyers and various civil officials.[4] Those responsible for the killing "returned to Brussels, where they were offered a drink and congratulated...on their act of revolutionary vengeance."[3]


The case on behalf of the state against those responsible for the Courcelles Massacre, 1944.

Of the 150 participants of the massacre, 97 were identified, 80 arrested and tried of whom 27 were executed on 10 November 1947.[4] Amongst them was Victor Matthys who was accused of organizing the massacre.[5]


  1. Brustein, William. "The Political Geography of Belgian Fascism: The Case of Rexism", American Sociological Review 53.1 (February 1988)
  2. Fabrice Maerten, 'Tuerie de Courcelles' in Paul Aron and José Gotovitch (dir.), Dictionnaire de la Seconde Guerre mondiale en Belgique, Brussels, André Versaille ed, 2008, 560 p. (ISBN 978-2-87495-001-8), p. 119-120
  3. 1 2 Fox, C.J. (3 March 1994). "Old wounds reopened, guilty memories revived: Collaboration in Belgium". The Independent. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  4. 1 2 Plisnier, Flore (2009). "L'ordre nouveau et le rexisme dans la région de Charleroi". Société royale d’archéologie, d’histoire et de paléontologie de Charleroi. LXIV: 201–202.
  5. Philip Rees, Biographical Dictionary of the Extreme Right Since 1890, Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990, p. 330.

External links

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