THE HISTORY OF THE NEWSPAPER "LE VINGTIEME SIECLE". By Jorge Arnanz.
Le Vingtième Siècle was a Belgian newspaper of conservative Catholicism born on June 6, 1895. Although it is inspired by the encyclical Rerum Novarum and social Catholicism, the newspaper cannot be considered the official of the Democratic League. One of its founders was Georges Augustin Helleputte, also known as Joris Helleputte, born in Ghent on August 31, 1852 and died in Leuven on February 22, 1925 (aged 72), architect, engineer, university professor and a Belgian politician member of the Catholic Party. After studying humanities at the Royal Athenaeum in Ghent and having trained at the Ghent State University from 1868 to 1873, from which he graduated as an engineer-architect of bridges and roads in 1874, he was appointed professor of the school and engineer of the Catholic University of Louvain.
First page of one of the papers of Le Vingtieme Siecle
He also developed a parallel career as an architect-builder from 1874 to 1896, as well as a political and cultural activity within Flemish associations such as the Davidsfonds, of which he was president, and the Boerenbond.
He carried out a constructed work that Eugène De Seyn describes as a work of remarkable architectural value. His work as an engineer was also of high quality and Helleputte was called to the presidency of the International Congresses of Inland and Maritime Navigation. It was a representative of the neo-Gothic style that he treated in an original way, mixing brick and wood. He was appointed Minister of State in 1912. He was the brother-in-law of François Schollaert, whose sister Louise Schollaert he had married.
Joseph d'Ursel was another of the founders. Second son of Léon, fifth Duke of Ursel (1805-1878), and his second wife, Henriette d'Harcourt, became, after the death of his older brother and that of his father, the sixth Duke of Ursel. He had married Antonine de Mun in 1872, sister of Count Albert de Mun.
He was Provincial Councilor of Antwerp (1878-1885), then Governor of Hainaut Province (1885-1889), and Mayor of Hingene (1878-1903). He was governor of Hainaut during the strikes of 1886. Impressed by these events, he became interested, like his brother-in-law Albert de Mun, in social questions. In this sense, in 1895 he wrote a pamphlet, Politique Sociale, in which he was inspired, in particular, by the ideas of Frédéric Le Play. Among other things, he defended the improvement of the social conditions of workers through the employment contract.
When he reached the required age, he entered the Senate in 1889 for the Mechelen district, replacing Arthur de Beughem de Houtem, who died. Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, then a member of the Industry and Labor Committee, he was elected president of the Senate in 1899, a position he held until his untimely death in 1903.
Lastly, Athanase de Broqueville was the brother of Belgian Prime Minister Charles de Broqueville. The latter, without being strictly one of the founders, is actively involved, as evidenced by the extensive correspondence with Helleputte on this subject.
Athanase and Charles de Broqueville
The newspaper sold poorly and its existence was always precarious. Only the voluntary help of Charles de Broqueville, also of his stepfather, Baron Alfred d'Huart. Born on April 30, 1839 in Achêne and died on April 10, 1927 in Brussels, Belgian lawyer and politician. He was the son of Édouard d'Huart, son-in-law of Jules Malou, father of Albert d'Huart and father-in-law of Charles de Broqueville and Camille de Briey, and a few great aristocrats or bourgeoisie they knew made it possible to rescue him at the end of the year. The editor-in-chief Fernand Neuray's relations with the Duke of Ursel were sometimes stormy.
Baron Alfred d´Huart and Fernand Neuray
Neuray was one of the great names in Belgian journalism in the first half of the 20th century; he frequented Georges Clemenceau. In 1914, he was editor-in-chief of this newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle and worked with Abbot Norbert Wallez and then, in the spring of 1915, Neuray launched in Le Havre a Dutch version of the Vingtième Siècle entitled Het Vaderland (The Fatherland). In March 1918 he founded and directed La Nation Belge. All his publishing projects were financed by Count Charles de Broqueville, former Prime Minister.
His artistic chronicles in La Nation Belge follow him as he works for the "good old Belgian Independence", "assumed and rejuvenated" by his nephew René Hislaire, who after him directed La Nation Belge, says Fernand Demany, in La Chasse aux Canards: memories of journalism. In 1934, his death during a trip to Greece was followed by a quasi-national funeral.
However, there was a lot of tension between Fernand Neuray, Baron Alfred d'Huart and Athanase de Broqueville.
Le Vingtieme Siécle was a newspaper influenced by Rerum Novarum, the inaugural text of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. Inspired by the reflections (especially the work of the Union of Freiburg) and the action of the "social Christians", the encyclical, written before the rise of the social question, condemns "the misery and poverty that weigh unjustly in the majority of the working class as well as “atheistic socialism.” It also denounces the excesses of capitalism and thereby encourages Christian unionism and social Catholicism. The newspaper was also founded on social Catholicism, a current of thought that has been at the origin of many creations. His birth in France is traditionally linked to the founding in 1871 of the "Circles of Catholic Workers" and the "Union of Catholic Workers" by Albert de Mun and Maurice Maignen. The expression "social Catholicism" was adopted later, around 1890, and since then it has covered very diverse realities. However, the definition given to the French Social Weeks of 1919 in Metz, by Eugène Duthoit, can be adopted: it is a movement that tends to direct all private initiatives, to orient laws, institutions, customs, and civic demands towards a fundamental reform of modern society according to Christian principles. Everything that has been grafted onto this current of thought cannot be enumerated and too many people can be described as “social Catholics”, but the stages of its history during the 19th and 20th centuries reveal an evolution in the approaches and a great fruitfulness in achievement. Its existence is before 1871.
In the years of Hergé in the newspaper, the headquarters of the newspaper was located at Boulevard Bischoffsheim number 11, originally called, until 1883, Boulevard de l'Observatoire, an important boulevard in Brussels. The boulevard connects Place Surlet de Chokier with Rue Royale. It is part of the little Brussels belt, created from 1824 by Jean-Baptiste Vifquain to replace the historic 14th century walls destroyed under Napoleon's rule. It owes its initial name to the first Brussels observatory on the other side of the boulevard and its current name to the banker and politician Jonathan-Raphaël Bischoffsheim.
The area of Boulevard Bisschoffheim where the headquarters of Le Vingtieme Siecle was located
The former Brussels observatory.
Boulevard Bisschoffheim, close to the newspaper's headquarters
The newspaper has been printed in France since August 1914 in Le Havre after the invasion of Belgium.
As of the following week, the XXème Siècle becomes a weekly paper published on Sundays and printed in Paris. The name of the director is no longer indicated.
In 1917, the director was already Fernand Neuray, as the diary shows under the title:
Fernand Neuray has appeared as a director since at least 1914.
On November 17, 1918, the war ended, it was still a weekly paper printed in France, but the return of the newspaper was announced:
... the next day, November 18, 1918, the newspaper is back in Brussels!
In 1924, an energetic Norbert Wallez, a diocesan priest, began to direct the newspaper. Born in Hacquegnies on October 19, 1882, he was a Belgian Catholic priest and journalist.
A student at the Catholic University of Louvain, ordained priest in 1906, he worked as a professor at the Higher Commercial and Consular School of Mons, Belgium. The First World War interrupted his career. He taught after the war at the Bonne-Espérance minor seminary and at the Mons Business School. In 1924, by order of Cardinal Mercier, he assumed the direction of the conservative Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, influenced by Charles Maurras with whom he maintained a constant correspondence, as with Léon Daudet.
Wallez and Hergé
1.90 meters high, 110 kilos of weight. An anti-Semite, a disciple of Marshal Foch and an admirer of Mussolini, whom he saw during a stay in Italy in 1923, he sympathizes with the ideas of Italian fascism and imagines, in a book published the same year, a federation between Belgium and the Rhineland, an idea that he defends before the Walloon Federation of Students of Louvain.
A scout named René Wevebergh tries to convince Wallez to hire an unknown Hergé for any position.
René Weverbergh (who was a bookseller under the banner of "La Librairie Coloniale") was the "Scout-Master" of Saint Boniface while accumulating the functions of District Commissioner of Colleges within the "Belgian Catholic Scouts" for the Brussels region and the director of the Boy Scout, the official magazine of Catholic scouts.
So it was, in a way, René Weverbergh who was the first person to believe enough in young Georges Remi's talent to give him a chance and "publish" it.
Having had the opportunity to appreciate Georges Remi's graphic qualities, he introduced him in 1922 to the team of illustrators who produced "Le Boy-Scout." He signed his first illustration in the May 1, 1922 issue of the "Boy-Scout", under the name G. Remi S.B (S.B. as Saint-Boniface).
Later, in July 1926, Hergé published his "first" comic strip in "Le Boy-Scout": "Totor, CP des Hannetons". The adventures of this ancestor of Tintin will be published until July 1929.
In the pages of the “Boy Scout”, René Weverbergh signed the section “The old scout”. Hence his nickname. In 1925, René Weverbergh became a journalist for the Catholic newspaper "Le Vingtième Siècle" and once again played the good geniuses of Hergé. It was on his recommendation that Wallez hired Georges Remi for the newspaper where he held various subordinate positions before beginning, after his military service in 1927, his real career as a cartoonist.
To some extent, we can say that it was thanks to exploration that Georges Remi became Hergé. In fact, it was the Scout publications that offered him the possibility, through the publication of his drawings, to show his talent as a draftsman and thus make him known. In 1927 Hergé illustrated with 5 panels a novel edited by René Weverbergh in the Editions de la Librairie Coloniale: “L'Ame de la Mer” by Pierre Dark (pseudonym of another Hergé's fellow scout)
Hergé, who had already published his first comics in Le Boy Scout Belge, draws the attention of the abbot, although first he will be in charge of the subscription service for a time (a boring job for Hergé) and later, when he returned from military service, as an assistant of photoengraver. But Wallez gives him a chance to publish the first illustrations in the newspaper and in the Votre Vingtieme Madame magazine.
In 1928, Hergé became director of a new youth supplement called Le Petit Vingtième.
First Issue of Le Petit Vingtieme
The shelves that line his office as editor of the Catholic newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle house religious (a little) and political (a lot) books. Norbert Wallez has a soft spot for Charles Maurras, a far-right thinker. On his desk, facing the visitor, a photo of Mussolini. With this dedication: "To Norbert Wallez, friend of Italy and fascism". Connoisseurs date the image to 1924, shortly after the "Duce" came to power.
It is in this armchair that the young Georges Rémi, better known by the name of Hergé, sits. He is only 20 years old. The abbot saw in the newspaper this employee of the subscription service who has a tremendous style ...
Hergé at Le Petit Vingtieme, at the end of the 1920s.
The first issue came out on Thursday, November 1, 1928. It consisted of 4 folded newspaper pages.
Hergé has no means to promote and produce "Le Petit Vingtième". He works in a very small office, located on the first floor, near a service staircase.
He has no one to help him, he has no budget, and he lacks a lot of time. In fact, he continues to produce numerous drawings to illustrate everyday life and his literary supplement “Le Vingtième Siècle artist et Littéraire” (illustrations of stories, historical portraits, architecture, decorative friezes, lamp holders, etc.). He also designs for "Le Boy Scout Belge" and continues to draw book covers.
On July 28, 1930, the "Petit Vingtième", in view of the success achieved, had grown from 8 to 16 pages with the arrival of 2 new characters (Quick and Flupke).
After 10 weeks of illustrating a story that bored him, written by a sports editor named Armand De Smet (The Extraordinary Adventure of Flup, Nénesse, Poussette et Cochonnet), Hergé created, on January 10, 1929, his own character: Tintin, and sent him, on the advice of Wallez (who did not have the "Bolsheviks" in his heart ... far from it), to the land of the Soviets. This is where the real adventure of the "Petit Vingtième" really begins, as well as that of Tintin!
THE PETIT VINGTIEME TEAM
Paul Jamin alias Jam was one of Hergé's first collaborators, at the time of the "Petit Vingtième" and the "Soir Jeunesse".
He was born on August 11, 1911 in Liege (Belgium). The son of an apothecary and a drawing teacher, he studied in France and Belgium. Boy Scout, designer and editor, hires Jamin or J. or Jam. He and Hergé met at the Institut Saint-Boniface. He draws his first complete comic in 1930/1931: "Belgium through the ages" in the "Belgian Boy Scout".
At the beginning of “Petit Vingtième” the covers were made by Hergé and his first collaborator was Évany. When the latter had to leave for the army, Hergé recruited Paul Jamin in March 1930, who remained with him until 1936. For six years, his name is everywhere on the pages of the “Petit Vingtième”: he signed the section "What's Happening," he wrote "Uncle Jo's Word," and many articles like "The Tintin Mystery," not to mention dozens of storybook illustrations. He also did many covers (more than twenty).
He appeared in many photos and was occasionally caricatured by Hergé in Les Exploits of Quick and Flupke.
Paul Jamin's influence on "Le Petit Vingtième" should not be underestimated. Too many analysts of the time equated this insert aimed at young people with Hergé, but we must not forget that it was Jamin who sponsored the birth of Quick and Flupke and was the inspiration for their countless gags. There is more to say on this subject: at least one Hergé biographer points out, in conclusion, that it is thanks to Jamin that characters like the Thomson and Thompson did not disappear from Tintin's adventures. Hergé wanted to eliminate them, but Jamin was able to convince him not to.
In 1936, Jamin decided to leave Le Petit Vingtième to follow Léon Degrelle. He became an illustrator and cartoonist for the press organ of the Rexist party: "Le Pays Réel".
A good student of Abbé Wallez, Jamin was not immune to the charm of New Order ideas. No wonder, then, that in 1936 he left “Le Petit Vingtième” to join “Le Pays Réel”, the combat journal of Rex and its flamboyant leader, Léon Degrelle. Jamin and Degrelle became friends for life. Jamin published a series of cartoons in "Le Pays Réel" under the pseudonym "Jam".
Note that Rex, at that time, was a young political movement still very close to the right wing of the "Catholic pillar" and Catholic Action. It was only when Cardinal Van Roey felt it was a sin to vote for Rex's lists that the movement fell into the fringes ("He's trying to piss me off," Degrelle said).
But Jamin has always stayed true to Degrelle. Even when the latter approached the German occupier during WWII. Jamin belonged to New Order circles that were still "Belgian". Jamin believed, like King Leopold III and his entourage elsewhere, that salvation could come from a new Europe under German rule. In Jamin's eyes, it was necessary to try to make the most of this situation. "Jam" was not satisfied with "Real Country" alone, but also drew his scathing cartoons for "Le Soir" (then under German control), for "Le Nouveau Journal" (by Robert Poulet) and for "Brüsseler Zeitung". It cannot be emphasized enough that the contributors to Poulet's "New Journal" were convinced that they were advocating a "policy of accommodation" with the National Socialists, with the approval of the Laeken Palace.
It was in the newspaper Le Soir, then under the control of the German occupier, that he found Hergé in 1940 for the production of "Soir Jeunesse". Jamin wrote, among others, editorials under the name "Monsieur Triple Sec" and articles under the name Alfred Gérard.
During the occupation period he also produced numerous political cartoons on the cover of the daily "Le Soir".
After British troops entered Brussels in September 1944, Jamin was arrested and sentenced to death. He escaped from the firing squad but was not released until 1952. He resumed his career as a cartoonist under the pseudonym "Alidor" in the columns of the satirical newspaper "Pan". The political figures Achiel Van Acker, Paul-Henri Spaak, Théo Lefebvre and Gaston Eyskens were the main leaders of the Turks. "Alidor" also made designs for "Standaard", "De Vlaamse Linie" and "Trends".
EVANY was the other important collaborator of Hergé in these early days.
Real name Eugéne Van Nijverseel, he was Hergé's first assistant. He worked with the creator of Tintin between 1929 and 1931, inking the installments of 'Tintin in the Congo' and the gags 'Quick et Flupke' that appeared in Le Petit Vingtième. He also illustrated several covers for this supplement to Le Vingtiéme Siècle. He also took over the character of 'Totor' in Le Boy Scout Belge and created a new series of gags from February to July 1930.
While serving his military service in 1931, Evany created her own short-lived strip 'Zim et Boum' for the Catholic children's magazine Petits Belges and its Flemish part Zonneland. He continued to make classic picture story pages for magazines until 1937. Bonne Presse-Averbode published a book 'Zim et Boum' in 1937.
Hergé in the company of the editor-in-chief André Fernez, his secretary Marcel Dehaye and his first assistant Eugène van Nijverseel alias Evany.
When Tintin magazine was launched in 1946, Evany became director of Studio Lombard, the art studio that provided the editorial illustrations. The artists who worked under his direction were Tibet, Craenhals, Funcken, and Macherot. He was also responsible for the designs. Van Nijverseel was also a painter.
Meanwhile, Wallez was informed of a drop in the newspaper's sales, with circulation plummeting. The man of the Church sees two remedies to recover the situation: turning the entire editorial line of the newspaper to the right and multiplying the supplements. Monday is feminine. On Sundays, arts and entertainment. And Thursday is Children's Day: Le Petit Vingtième is born.
After a year of testing within the youth supplement, Wallez summoned Hergé one night in December 1928. With precise specifications for the supplement to start with it, says Germaine Kieckens, who was then only the secretary in love with the abbot: "He pushed him to create a story about an adolescent and a dog, with a missionary, virtuous and catholic spirit, in which I did not need to insist so great was his influence on the cartoonist. In a way, the inventor of Tintin, in the sense of catalyst of creative energy is neither Benjamin Rabier (pioneer of European comics), nor Georges Remi, but Norbert Wallez.
When Jamin disappeared from his collaborations with Hergé, another cartoonist entered the scene, replacing him and collaborating with Remi: his name was Jean Vermeire, Belgian illustrator, war correspondent and Nazi collaborator during World War II. Despite his dubious track record during and after the war, he had a modest role in the upcoming Belgian comic book culture as the cartoonist behind the Jiv firm. He drew 'Les Aventures de Mr. Ding' (1936) for Le Petit Vingtième and 'Les Aventures de Mr. Bob' (1940-1941) for Le Pays Réel.
Born in 1918, he was one of the illustrators for Le Petit Vingtième. He became part of Hergé's editorial team after Paul Jamin (Jam) left in 1936. Jiv was responsible for a large number of illustrations, and also for a pantomime cartoon called 'Les Aventures de M. Ding' (1936 ). During this period, he became friends with Léon Degrelle, who was one of the journal's journalists and founder of the Rexist Catholic-Fascist Movement of Belgium in 1935.
During the Nazi occupation of Belgium (1940-1944), Vermeire worked as a journalist and war correspondent for the Rexist newspaper Le Pays Réel. He was responsible for militant articles and reports, and also oversaw the weekly youth supplement of the newspaper Le Magazine. Additionally, Jiv was responsible for one of the newspaper's two comic series. 'Les Adventures de Bob' (November 1940-March 1941) was about a detective who had to solve the murder of a certain Dr. Erskin. During their investigation, the two killers repeatedly tried to kill Bob as well. The other comic strip was 'Boulou et l'Aventure', which was signed by Tiboir and Badour. Vermeire later joined the collaborative Walloon Legion, which served on the Eastern Front. Vermeire rose through the ranks to captain. Upon his return to Belgium, he began an association with the SS. Degrelle sent him to Berlin as a Rexist ambassador during the last year of the war. Vermeire also oversaw the Deutsch-Wallonische Arbeitsgemeinschaft (German-Walloon Work Community) propaganda association. He was sentenced to death but was released in 1951, finally dying in 2009.
Drawing by Jiv.
Germaine at Le Vingtieme Siecle.
Who asked Hergé in 1928 to draw a character with a puppy in the newspaper? Abbot Wallez. Who asked you to create your own stories in Le Petit Vingtième and submit your character in 'Bolshevik'? And for all the documentation, he slips into the hands of his protégé the book "Moscow without Veils" by a former Belgian diplomat who returned from the land of the Soviets. "Based on it, I was sincerely convinced that I was on the right track," defended the cartoonist in the 1970s. It insists on the control exercised by the abbot over his young collaborator of 25 years old.
Conservative in his ideas, Wallez has all the cutting edge in marketing. It was him who organized in 1930 the triumphant return of a true-false Tintin, on the recommendation of Charles Lesne, who at that time was appearing as a member of the editorial staff, at the Gare du Nord in Brussels. A blond boy, red boots, a vaguely Russian suit, a Brussels-Cologne round trip (to pretend to arrive from Moscow) and voila. The great enthusiasm of the public - several thousand people gathered to see the impostor - reinforces the businessman in the cassock in his conviction that Tintin has a great future. Quite the opposite of Hergé, who sees it only as a pleasant fantasy that occupies him before his advertising agency gets started.
Hergé among the crowd also awaited his meat and bone hero the arrival of the land of the Soviets. Year 1930.
Wallez immediately launched a subscription to his newspaper, promising autographed albums to the first entrants. The 10,000 copies, a considerable print run for the time, were sold out in a few days. Officially, the Vingtième Siècle editions printed the album. In reality, Wallez, who charges subscriptions on her personal bank account, has outsourced the business to a specialized printer, that of her newspaper calibrated only for newspapers in XXL format. Abusive? He proposed to Hergé a distribution at 50% of the copyright, and the young man did not move, even thanking the abbot in a dedication for having led the reporter to the puff "in the baptismal font."
"You may have taken into account that when an employee creates something, his creation belongs to his company," suggests Jean-Claude Jouret, a legal specialist in stuttering merchandise at the time. "Wallez had managed to reposition the series in newspapers in France, Portugal, etc. He had almost become their agent." When Tintin returns from the Congo, he lobbies to offer a Congolese art object to the first 500 buyers of the album at the Gare du Nord newsstand in Brussels, where Tintin makes his triumphant return for the second time.
However, screenwriting interventions are limited to the strict minimum. It is true that we have the direct trace of a comment on Tintin in the land of the Soviets, where Wallez lamented that Tintin wasted time in the face of adversity: "A hero never flees." We also feel their influence in the tribute to the Tintin missionaries in the Congo. And even in the more neutral American episode, the criticism of capitalism and mechanization also comes from the abbot while all Hergé wanted was to draw Indians.
"But he was not over Hergé's shoulder to remind him every other page of the benevolent presence of the Lord. He understood that what worked with children was the adventures, gags, this modern way of telling stories that we still did not call comics, if Tintin were only the reflection of the ideology of the 30s, it would not be read around the world today.
The man of the Church, Wallez, had decreed in the early 1930s that all newspaper contributors should be married, and that the last few celibates should behave better: either find a soul mate in the newspaper, or take the door.
For René Verhaegen, it will be the door (but a victory in the industrial court years later). For Hergé, it will be the ring on his finger ... after years of courtship, and the Abbot's order for his secretary to comply. "It was the abbot who suggested all this," confided Germaine Kieckens.
She was the secretary to the abbot, Hergé's first wife, whom he was married to from 1932 to 1977. They met while she was working as a secretary for Abbot Norbert Wallez.
At the time of her birth, Germaine's parents were relatively older, and having lost a child earlier they were particularly overprotective of her. A redhead described as "classy and popular", she got a job as a secretary from Norbert Wallez. Highly admiring her boss, with whom she rose up as a father figure, she embraced his fascist political beliefs. It was in the newspaper offices that Hergé, who was working there as an illustrator, met in 1928.
Wedding of Hergé and Germaine in 1932
Votre Vingtieme Madame, magazine managed by Germaine.
Kieckens was appointed director of Votre Vingtième Madame, a supplement for women for whom Hergé drew the cover many times. She also began writing articles for Le Petit Vingtième using the pseudonym Tantine.
In 1929, on the recommendation of Bishop Louis Picard, general chaplain of the Belgian Catholic youth action, Wallez hires the young Léon Degrelle. Following controversy through the newspaper, Wallez was fired in 1933 by Cardinal Van Roey, who served as Archbishop of Mechelen from 1926 until his death, and was elevated to cardinal in 1927. He was an important figure in the Catholic resistance to Nazism in Belgium. Due to his fascist convictions, Wallez was appointed professor of religion at Tournai Middle School. Then, at his request, he is in charge of the small parish of Aulne-Gozée.
In 1930, Hergé accompanied Germaine home almost every night, although he expressed little romantic interest in him at the time. Instead, he wanted an older or more mature man, like the abbot himself. Wallez nonetheless encourages the two to enter into a relationship, and one night at the Taverne du Palace indicated to Hergé that he would be interested in a relationship. Wallez encouraged his individual employees to marry, and one day he ordered them all to find a spouse. After the publication of the Soviets comic book, the first 500 copies were numbered and signed by Hergé through the signature of Tintin, Germaine signed as Snowy.
The couple, who never had children, lived apparently happily until the early 1950s. Much has been speculated on the problems of coexistence, it has even been said (without much foundation, everything is said) that the characters of Peggy (wife of General Alcázar) or Castafiore herself evoke, in a certain way, Germaine's behaviors from Hergé's perspective.
The coexistence of the marriage deteriorated in such a way that, Hergé plagued by several episodes of nervous breakdowns, in which an excess of dedication to work is alleged as the cause, the marriage begins a final crisis from 1958 that ends in a definitive break in 1960. This break is caused by the secret affair that Georges had since 1956 with the attractive Fanny Vlamynck, a young colourist from Hergé Studios, who had been hired a few months earlier.
Her courtship with Germaine lasted four years and her divorce proceeding for seventeen, she obtained it in 1975. Although in this period of time they maintained a cordial coexistence. In fact, they continued to share their cottage in Céroux-Mousty during the weekends. Germaine passed away at the age of 89 in October 1995, without understanding how Tintin had become a comic book myth, despite recognizing Hergé's talent and that his support for his work was always unconditional (as a last curiosity, the idea of Haddock's name must be attributed to her).
The almighty abbot falls from his pedestal a year after the Rémis married. The Department of Public Works has him crucified for his crusade against the construction of a canal. Drowning in scandal, they sent the abbot in early retirement to undertake the repair of a ruin. One of only three Cistercian abbeys in Belgium.
Hergé immediately threatened to leave and demanded a pay increase in retaliation. The latter underscores Hergé's sense of appreciation, who was satisfied with a reduced salary for the role of star cartoonist at the newspaper for years. Despite this loyalty, the cord looses a bit between the apprentice and the teacher: Hergé manages to regain the rights to his albums. Not without the abbot having tried, like a good slug, to scrape 1,000 albums at a preferential rate from Casterman, the new publisher. The maneuver, not very Catholic, fails.
Although he is no longer an unofficial editor or screenwriter, Wallez does not lose interest in Tintin, who takes a humanistic turn with The Blue Lotus and the influence of Tchang, the young Chinese student, who sensitizes the author to the horrors of the Japanese occupation. For a time, he has the Rémis at his table every week. There is also another of his protégés, Léon Degrelle, who will be the champion of the "made in Belgium" collaboration. Georges and Germaine will continue to visit him at the Abbey of Aulne, during his holidays, even during the war, when the abbot embraces the collaboration without makeup. Hergé will meet a Nazi officer in charge of propaganda in Belgium there, who will leave an excellent impression on him. So much so that the persistent rumor of Mussolini's visit to the abbot in 1943 circulated in the region.
Sentenced to five years in prison for "propaganda crime" in Liberation, harassed, deprived of his civic rights, Norbert Wallez makes him flee. Except Rémi, who will come to house the rare abbot when he gets out of jail, sick. In one of his last letters, the man of the Church, broken, will sign "his old godfather" at the address of a couple that he formed and that will be destroyed a few years after his death, in 1952.
Arrested in September 1944 for collaboration, he was imprisoned in Charleroi, then, following a first instruction, sent under house arrest at the Abbey of Soleilmont. In June 1947, the Council of War sentenced him to four years in prison, a fine of 200,000 francs and the removal of his titles, ranks, functions and public offices. The sentence was even extended to five years, by a ruling of the Military Court of March 1948. Transfer to Namur prison, then Saint-Gilles, he was received by the Sisters of Charity of Ghent in one of their establishments located near Namur, where he died on September 24, 1952.
It was him who hired Georges Remi, who was not yet Hergé, then in 1927 he entrusted him with the direction of the youth supplement Le Petit Vingtième, and made him create the character of Tintin.
Following Wallez's dismissal, William Ugeux, who would become a major resistance figure during World War II, was put in charge of the newspaper. He remained its editor until 1940.
William Ugeux, director of the Vingtieme Siecle after Abbot Wallez.
That same year, the German invasion of Belgium buried this historic newspaper, the birthplace of one of the greatest characters in world comic.