the Belgian Resistance accomplished the most daring coup of the underground press?
With the release of the "Le Faux Soir" comic book, we relive the story of the production and distribution by the Resistance of a pastiche of the great Belgian daily newspaper, Le Soir, confiscated by the Propaganda Abteilung and under German control during the Occupation. It was a unique bloodless operation, full of Belgian surrealism, which elevated humour to a weapon of resistance. The comic book narrators are those shadowy heroes who describe their journey during the three weeks spent preparing this dangerous hoax, which is called zwanze in Brussels. Through them, we dive into the inner selves of these men and women who risked their lives.
Documented by Daniel Couvreur, scripted by Denis Lapière (Michel Vaillant, Tif et Tondu, Ludo and more) and drawn by Christian Durieux (Avel, Oscar, Les rêveurs du Louvre, Les Gens honnêtes, etc.), this graphic novel looks back at the exploit of "Le Faux Soir", two double-sided pages, of which 50,000 copies were distributed on 9 November 1943, to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1914-1918 armistice. It was a sublime manifestation of an instinct to resist the Occupier, whose positions were deteriorating inexorably.
One article, "From Retreat to Defensive Victory," discussed German misfortunes in the USSR and also prophetically states that "the objective of the German armies has always been to narrow its front to such an extent that the Wehrmacht would eventually be concentrated entirely in the outskirts of Berlin."* Elsewhere, there is an article describing an imaginary conference in Berlin of Axis leaders, not unlike certain scenes in Chaplin's "The Great Dictator". It was also an opportunity to mock Rexists (from the extreme right-wing Rexist party, allied to the Occupier) and other high-profile collaborators. The album retraces in detail, thoroughly and precisely, all the difficulties to be overcome in order to achieve this challenge, such as producing articles and drawings, finding a printing house, getting ink and paper at a time of scarcity, financing the operation, ensuring the storage and distribution of the copies, and outpacing the usual delivery people. "Le Faux Soir", which ridiculed Nazis and Rexists 75 years ago, is also the story of the great burst of laughter that travelled through occupied Belgium and could be heard in the Allied capitals of London and Washington. It would later be considered "the pinnacle of journalistic war humour". A film by Belgian director Gaston Schoukens, released in 1955, the dramatic comedy "Un soir de joie" (A 'Soir' Full of Joy), was inspired by this event.
*Excerpt from "Le Faux Soir" of 9 November 1943