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Liberal storytelling evenings

CAVA - Centrum voor Academische en Vrijzinnige Archieven
Number of interviews: 10
Accessibility: public
Transcripts: yes
Period of interviews: 2013-2014

Op zoek … De evolutie van het vrijzinnig humanisme in Vlaanderen sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog

Gily Coene, Jimmy Koppen, Frank Scheelings (red.)

Uitgeverij ASP/VUBPRESS, 2018

ISBN: 978 90 5718 7094

(voorkant: linosnede Gerard Gaudaen)





What made someone a liberal humanist? Why did someone commit to a particular cause? What form did the commitment take? And how did family, social, professional and regional backgrounds play a significance in the life of the liberal humanist? As part of the project ‘A Liberal Humanist Cultural Heritage Forum for Flanders’, CAVA approached numerous committed liberal humanists with these questions. Because witnesses are also forgetting and/or disappearing. Moreover, there is a glaring lack of sources on this chapter in the history of Flanders and Brussels. These memories and stories therefore provide a wealth of information not readily available in written sources. They constitute important testimonies about the breakthrough of liberal humanist thought in Flanders and Brussels and are part of the oral heritage of liberal humanism.

CAVA therefore organised several storytelling evenings, during which a panel of liberal humanists from the region reminisced. The audience did not leave out either. An audio recording was made of each talk. At the bottom of this page you will find an overview of the various storytelling evenings.

Moreover, the stories and testimonies of the story evenings were supplemented by interviews of liberal figures.

The liberal storytelling evenings took place with the support of the Flemish Government,, Uitstraling Permanente Vorming (VUB) and the Humanistisch Vrijzinnige Vereniging.


  • Ronse: Een avond vol vrij zinnige verhalen (Tuesday 25 June 2013)
  • Hasselt: Jong en vrijzinnig (Sunday 15 September 2013))
  • Vilvoorde: Een avond vol vrij zinnige verhalen (Thursday 24 October 2013)
  • Antwerpen: Vrijzinnigheid en onderwijs (Tuesday, 26 November 2013)
  • Brugge: Een avond vol vrij zinnige verhalen (Wednesday 19 February 2014)
  • Tienen: Een avond vol vrij zinnige verhalen (Monday 24 March 2014))
  • Kortrijk: Vrijzinnigheid over de generaties heen (Tuesday 25 March 2014)
  • Mechelen: Een avond vol vrij zinnige verhalen (Thursday 3 April 2014)
  • Elsene: Studentikoos en vrijzinnig (Thursday 8 May 2014)
  • Aalst: Getuigenissen over vrijzinnig humanisme (Saturday 10 May 2014)

Pioneers of liberal-humanist care

CAVA - Centrum voor Academische en Vrijzinnige Archieven
Number of interviews: 4
Accessibility: public
Transcripts: ja
Period of interviews: 2016

Op zoek … De evolutie van het vrijzinnig humanisme in Vlaanderen sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog

Gily Coene, Jimmy Koppen, Frank Scheelings (red.)

Publisher ASP/VUBPRESS, 2018

ISBN: 978 90 5718 7094

(Front cover: linocut Gerard Gaudaen)





Following Heritage Day 2017, which was dedicated to “Care”, several interviews were conducted with volunteers and pioneers of liberal-humanist care. A number of excerpts were selected from each interview, which together form the audio bar ‘Pioneers of liberal-humanist care’. As the full interviews contain a wealth of information, we don’t want to withhold them from you. Via the links below, you can listen to or read the interviews and learn more about the pioneers of liberal-humanist care and the course they took.


  • Interview with Els Goderis (10 november 2016)
  • Interview with Conny Verkest (17 november 2016)
  • Interview with Tania Ramoudt (14 december 2016)
  • Interview with Jan Verlinden (15 december 2016)

Liberal advocates

CAVA - Centrum voor Academische en Vrijzinnige Archieven
Number of interviews: 4
Accessibility: public
Period of interviews: 2012-2015

Karel Poma


Op zoek … De evolutie van het vrijzinnig humanisme in Vlaanderen sinds de Tweede Wereldoorlog

Gily Coene, Jimmy Koppen, Frank Scheelings (red.)

Uitgeverij ASP/VUBPRESS, 2018

ISBN: 978 90 5718 7094

(voorkant: linosnede Gerard Gaudaen)





Liberal humanism has always been able to count on champions. Sometimes these were personalities who fought from the proverbial barricades, and who were known by the general public. But often they were men and women behind the scenes, who from their commitment and conviction as humanists, created and helped shape the liberal associations, the non-confessional ethics course or the liberal ceremonies.


As part of the project A liberal-humanist cultural heritage forum for Flanders (2012-2015), CAVA went in search of these people and their stories and testimonies. Some of them came to the fore through the storytelling evenings. But others were active in several fields and deserve an in-depth interview. These interviews can be seen



  • Interview with Karel Poma (10 July 2014)
  • Interview with Hugo Dufour (28 January 2015)
  • Interview with Luc Devuyst (28 April 2015)
  • Interview with Sonja Eggerickx (19 January 2015)


For the men

Productiehuis De Chinezen / Xavier Taveirne
Time period: 1940-1995
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2018

Xavier Taveirne talks to the first generations of men who dared to come out as gay in Flanders. It is a moving and often disconcerting series with stories of love, struggle and pain, and the taboo of being gay in less tolerant times.


In three episodes, older gay men tell their stories uncensored. Important stories and often conversations in which they do not shy away from thorny current issues.

Three-part documentary “Voor de mannen”


Episode 1: 1940-1970
The first episode features gay men growing up in post-war Catholic Flanders. Sex was taboo for everyone, and if homosexuality was mentioned at all, people talked about ‘jeanets’. The church was also very repressive.

Xavier sought out Paul Rademaekers, now 98, who still gets angry when he thinks back to those times: “I have always said: homosexuality is not a sexual problem, but a social problem. I started with difficult cards. But even with difficult cards, you have to try to make as many assets as possible. My assets were that I always stood up for others, especially gay people.”

The first turning point came only in 1970, when Will Ferdy became the first well-known Fleming to speak on television about his “being different”. It was a shock for Flanders. Will received many negative reactions, but his courageous testimony did mark the very beginning of gay emancipation.


Episode 2: 1970-1980
The wild 1970s were also the years of sexual liberation and social change for the gay community.

Although gays – especially in rural areas – still often continued to lead a hidden life, thriving subcultures emerged in the cities with gay bars and nightclubs where anything was possible. A debauched life that everyone today thinks back to with nostalgia.

Xavier also talks to Chille De Man and Guido Totté. Guido first took to the streets with the Trotskyist Rooie Vlinder to enforce equal rights for gays and straights. An early precursor to Pride, which Chille later organised for the first time in Brussels.


Episode 3: 1980-1995
For the gay community, the 1980s were overshadowed by the rise of a new, deadly disease: AIDS.

In this episode, gay men recount the havoc wreaked by the AIDS virus. It took years before the first medication was available, and in that time many gay men became infected. Only a few of them are still alive today. One of them is Patrick Reyntiens. Xavier talks to him about those black years, when all gay people were once again fingered. “AIDS was God’s punishment for the homosexuals’ rampant behaviour”, and AIDS patients were the new plague sufferers.

Xavier also talks to Rob Scheers, who was active in the first prevention campaigns, yet later became infected himself through risky behaviour.

Interviews WWII – Maurice De Wilde

Time period: 1940-1945
Number of interviews: 300
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 80's

In 1982, the then BRT (now VRT) broadcast Maurice De Wilde’s legendary documentary series De Nieuwe Orde. About collaboration with the German occupiers during World War II.

This was followed by other series: about the resistance, the Eastern Front, punishment… For these documentaries, Maurice De Wilde and his collaborators interviewed more than 300 people. Among them well-known collaborators such as Jef Vande Wiele, leader of DeVlag, and Rex leader Léon Degrelle. People from the resistance, ministers, lawyers and professors were also interviewed by Maurice De Wilde in his characteristic style.


Documentaries by Maurice De Wilde
The New Order – 19 episodes
The Suspects – 4 episodes
The Time of Retaliation – 8 episodes
The Eastern Frontiers – 7 episodes
The Repression – 5 episodes
The Collaboration – 10 episodes
The Youth Collaboration – 4 episodes



The very last witnesses

Time period: 1914-1918
Number of interviews: 100
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2009-2010

‘The Very Last Witnesses’ is an interview project in which 100 very elderly Flemings testify on camera about the First World War.

Together, their stories form the big story of the war in Flanders, in all its facets. The war was profound, not only for those who fought and lived at the front.

All these witnesses were children during the war. Some had to flee headlong to the Netherlands, England or France, others lived under the terror of the occupying forces. Some suffered hunger and missed their fathers who fought at the front or had been taken to Germany as prisoners of war….

De allerlaatste getuigen van WO I

Author: Philip Vanoutrive

Publisher:  Lannoo, 2018

ISBN: 9789401456210

Based on this, Philip Vanoutrive published the book “The very last witnesses of WW1”. The stories of 43 witnesses traverse 23 thematic chapters in which their war memories are each interwoven with historical background information. Vividly, they recount their experiences and adventures. Repulsive anecdotes about death and destruction but also touching or funny stories they can still vividly recall. For some, it was a ‘nice and fun’ time – something happened for once! For the other, childhood dreams exploded like an exploding grenade.

We, women

Time period: 1960-present
Number of interviews: 18
Accessibility: by appointment via
Period of interviews: 2022

The struggle for equal status and representation of women and men in Flanders is more than a century old. Great strides have been made, but we are not there yet. Using testimonies and archive footage, the four-part series ‘We, women’ outlines the evolution of the position of women in our society, both privately and in public life.


How have wrong expectations, upbringing, glass ceilings, discrimination, pressure, prejudice or other obstacles made it difficult for women to develop to their full potential in recent decades? For example, in the areas of upbringing, education, marriage, family, sexuality, work and politics. How have they dealt with this? What have action groups, politicians and individual women been able to change? And how do women experience all these obstacles today?


In ‘We, women’, women of all ages and walks of life tell their stories, together with politicians, figureheads of the women’s movement and former ‘Dolle Mina’s’. Their testimonies are illustrated with punishing archive footage. These are at times disconcerting and at other times funny stories about being brought up as a housekeeper, fighting to be allowed to study, the conquest of men’s professions, sexual taboos and men who still think they know better. The four episodes focus successively on sexuality, marriage and family, professional life and politics.


We, women’ uses the tried and tested formula of Children of…: the entire historical and current story is told by committed witnesses who look the viewer straight in the eye.

A surprising look behind the scenes of the struggle for women’s rights. Often stunning archive material that not least puts the sexism of our own public broadcaster on display. And eighteen women who draw you into their stories and leave you with deep respect.

The episodes

Videos can be viewed if you are logged in and have confirmed your Belgian residence or identity


S1 | Afl.1

In charge of your own body

Battle for sexual freedom, from taboo on monthlies to Metoo


S1 | Afl.2

Women must know their place

For decades, women have been brought up to be obedient to men.


S1 | Afl.3

Welcome to the world of men

For a long time, education prepared girls mainly for the household.



S1 | Afl.4

Women in power

Women organised, resisted and conquered their place

Below is an overview of the 18 witnesses – or participants in Canvas’ documentary We, Women – arranged by age.


  • Victoire Van Nuffel (1937): cycling champion and bar owner, openly lesbian at a time when that was anything but obvious.
  • Nelly Maes (1941): politician who fought against sexism in politics and campaigned for women’s rights.
  • Gerlinda Swillen (1942): Dutch teacher and VUB researcher, militant for equal pay for equal work.
  • Ida Dequeeker (1943): emancipation official at VDAB, co-founded the Dolle Mina movement in Flanders and participated in the influential Vrouwen Overleg Komitee.
  • Lieve Flour (1944): administrative assistant in the construction sector, grew up in a stifling traditional environment and overcame a humiliating marriage.
  • Josette Franckson (1946): worker FN Herstal, involved in the legendary women’s strike at that factory in 1966.
  • Margot Roggen (1948): administrative assistant in the insurance sector, often had to fight against male privilege and even overt discrimination as a child and later during her studies and at work.
  • Marie Jeanne Declerq (1950): police commissioner, made a career in the male bastion of the Judicial Police.
  • Liliane Versluys (1951): lawyer and visual artist, engaged in the Leuven refuge and published the controversial book Your Rights as a Woman (1987).
  • Moniek Darge (1952): composer, was active in Dolle Mina and founded Vrouwen Tegen Verkrachting.
  • Kati Couck (1954): ABVV staff member, active with Dolle Mina, founded abortion centre Kollektief Anticonceptie, started Vluchthuis Gent and organised self-defence courses for women.
  • Linda Van Crombruggen (1960): former complaints coordinator VRT, testifies about sexism and sexual harassment in her own home.
  • Khadija Zamouri (1967): politician, distanced herself from her conservative Moroccan Islamic milieu, became politically active with Open VLD, went to work on cabinets and became a Brussels MP.
  • Leyla Yüksel (1971): became a gynaecologist with the full support of her parents and, in her own words, was more bothered by sexism among white doctors than Turkish patriarchs.
  • Wendy Van den Heuvel (1978): administrative clerk and author, her mother was abused by her father. Recently, two male colleagues ambushed her on a dating site and shared her intimate photos. She left the company, but her experience inspired her to write a book.
  • Pinar Akbas (1980): has mixed feelings about her Turkish upbringing, went to college and temporarily entered politics, is currently a nurse and published her autobiography Niran and me this year.
  • Heleen Struyven (1988): worked as a lawyer at reputable firms, but noticed that sexism still exists there too. Yet she kept going for it… until she crashed.
  • Romy Schlimbach (1995): was bullied for her looks in childhood, experienced an eating disorder, an admission and severe depression, but today she is a plus-size model and influencer: body positivity is the alternative she promotes to the stifling beauty ideal.

Stynen 2018

Time period: 2018
Number of interviews: 5
Accessibility: Access through a request form on the website.

On the occasion of the Stynen 2018 project, the Flemish Architecture Institute (VAi) conducted five interviews with family members, colleagues and clients of Léon Stynen that give us a unique insight into the architect’s life and work.


You will find a brief summary of each interview below. If you would like to access the full interview, please complete the request form.


  • Herman Van der Wee
  • Anne Stynen
  • Lucien Jacques Baucher
  • Paul Meekels
  • Constantin Brodzki


Number of interviews: 7
Accessibility: Access through a request form on the website.

The cultural heritage of design consists not only of sketches, models, photographs or correspondence of designers. With design, there is also a strong interplay between explicit knowledge and unconscious knowledge, knowledge that may be passed on but which usually does not receive written expression. That is why the Flemish Architecture Institute conducted interviews with designers, policy-makers and craftspeople.


For each of the seven interviews, you will find a short summary and brief biographical information of the interviewee on the website. If you would like to consult the full interview, please fill in the request form.


  • Leonce Dekeijse
  • José Vanderlinden
  • Luc en Katrien Mestdagh
  • Achiel Pauwels
  • Moniek Bucquoye
  • Lieven Daenens
  • Johan Valcke

Fifty years of urban planning law

Number of interviews: 8
Accessibility: Access through a request form on the website.

The Flemish Architecture Institute (VAi), as part of the project Fifty years of urban planning law, conducted eight interviews with key witnesses of urban planning development and handling of landscape during the past half century.


For each of the eight interviews, you will find a short summary and brief biographical information of the interviewee on the site of the Flemish Architecture Institute.


  • Jef Van den Broeck
  • Herman Baeyens
  • Bob Cools
  • Georges Allaert
  • Herman Rosseau
  • Louis Albrechts
  • Evert Lagrou
  • Karel Debaere en Bert Vanbelle