District of Brussels

District of Brussels
Distrikt Brüssel
Gau of Nazi Germany

Flag Coat of arms
Map of Nazi Germany showing all annexed territory in light green
Capital Brussels
  1944–1945 Joseph Grohé
  Established 1944
  Disestablished 1945
Today part of  Belgium

The District of Brussels (German: Distrikt Brüssel; Dutch: Distrikt Brussel, French: District Bruxelles) was a short-lived de jure administrative polity created by Nazi Germany in 1944. Theoretically, it encompassed the present-day Brussels Capital Region but because the region had been liberated by the Allies in September 1944, it never existed de facto.


After its invasion by Germany in June 1940, Belgium was initially placed under a "temporary" military government. This was in spite of more radical factions within the German government such as the SS urging for the installation of another Nazi civil government, as had been done in Norway and the Netherlands.[1] It was joined together with the two French départements of Nord and Pas-de-Calais (included on the grounds that part of this territory belonged to Germanic Flanders, as well as the fact that the entire region formed an integral economic unit[2]) as the Military Administration in Belgium and North France (Militärverwaltung in Belgien und Nordfrankreich).

In spite of this uncompromising attitude at the time, it was decided that the entire area should someday be assimilated into the Third Reich[3] and divided into three new Reichsgaue of a Greater Germanic Reich: Flandern and Brabant for the Flemish territories and Wallonien for the Walloon parts.[4] On 12 July 1944, a Reichskommissariat Belgien-Nordfrankreich was established to accomplish precisely this goal, derived from the previous military administration.[5] This step was only taken at the very end of World War II, when Germany's armies were already in full retreat. The new government was ousted by the Allied advances in Western Europe in September 1944 and the authority of the Belgian government-in-exile was restored. The actual incorporation into the Nazi state of these new provinces therefore only occurred de jure and with its leaders already in exile in Germany. The only place where any notable gain was made in re-establishing Reich authority occurred in parts of southern Wallonia during the Ardennes Campaign. The collaborators merely achieved a Pyrrhic victory since when the Allied tanks had rolled into Belgium several months before this already signalled the end of their personal domains in the Reich. Many of their supporters fled to Germany, where they were conscripted into the Waffen-SS to participate in the final military campaigns of the Third Reich.

In December 1944, Belgium (and, theoretically, the two French departments) was split up into a Reichsgau Flandern, a Reichsgau Wallonien, and the Distrikt Brüssel, all of which were nominally annexed by the Greater German Reich (therefore excluding the proposed Brabant province).[6] In Flanders, the DeVlag party under the leadership of Jef van de Wiele became the sole political party; in Wallonia, the Rexist Party under the leadership of Léon Degrelle. The bi-cultural capital of Brussels remained under the direct authority of Reichskommissar Joseph Grohé who served as its effective Gauleiter without actually holding the title. It was proclaimed a "Free City of the Reich", therefore according it the same status as Hamburg, Berlin, and Vienna, cities within Nazi Germany which also had their own Gaus.

See also


  1. Rich, Norman: Hitler's War Aims: The Establishment of the New Order, page 173. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1974.
  2. Rich, Norman, page 172.
  3. Rich, Norman, pp. 171, 196.
  4. Bernhard Kroener, Rolf-Dieter Müller, Hans Umbreit (2003). Germany and the Second World War: Volume V/II. Oxford University Press, p. 26
  5. Rich, Norman, p. 195.
  6. Lipgens, Walter: Documents on the History of European integration: Volume 1 – Continental Plans for European Integration 1939–1945, page 45. Walter de Gruyter & Co., 1974.

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