The personal papers of Jean Van Lierde

Jean Van Lierde’s documents represent a veritable history of conscientious objection in Belgium, from the Hem Day and Léo Campion trials in 1933 to more recent times and delving with the official recognition of the status in 1964. The fund also contains important documents on the Internationale des Résistants à la Guerre, the War Resisters International and other European pacifist associations. Finally, there is also a significant collection of pacifist magazines from across the globe dating from the 1950s to the 1990s.

This fund represents 30 metres of documents. An inventory is currently in progress.

Born in a modest Charleroi family, Jean Van Lierde (1926-2006) was forced to stop school aged fifteen to work in a factory. He joined a resisters’ movement in 1942 and distributed clandestine newspapers and anti Nazi pamphlets. At the time, Jean Van Lierde is immersed in the catholic world and invested in the Christian democrat movement and scouting. However, his participation to various gatherings and meetings puts him in contact with communists, socialists and libertarians. In 1949, he is condemned to a 15-months prison sentence for refusing to enter his military service. Upon his release, he is forbidden to attend his church and is demoted in the Scouts. The military authorities decide, three years later, to replace his military service with a three-year sentence of forced labour and he is sent to the Marcinelle Bois du Cazier mines. His trade union activities will lead to a dismissal six months later and he is forbidden to enter any mine in Belgium. Jean Van Lierde will then fight actively for c, notably in the Internationale des Résistants de Guerre, for conscientious objection and pacifism in parallel to his combat against colonialisation. In 1958, he becomes one of the founding members of the Centre de recherche et d’information socio-politiques – CRISP (Centre for socio-political research and information), which he will head as Secretary General during 25 years.