Though Two Men Die
From Our Own Correspondent
The National Bank affair, remains, in 1938, the grave feature of the hour in Belgium.
The investigation is pursuing its course. But death with dramatic suddenness has removed two of the chief figures in the affair : the Governor of the Bank, M. Louis Franck, and M. Barman, the financier, who died in prison.
The Governor of the Bank and M. Barmat
M. Louis Franck was to retire on December 31, under a newly arranged age limit, to soften the blow. But the previous day (last Thursday) he returned from Brussels to his Antwerp Château, and expired in the early hours of Friday morning.
None will deny that M. Franck was an eminent statesman and lawyer of international repute. He was a Jew, a Liberal in politics, an anti-clerical of conviction and great force, and an ardent Fleming. When Minister of the Colonies, he showed little tenderness to the Catholic missionaries in the Belgian Congo.
His last day in Brussels coincided with the return to Brussels, upon extradition granted by the Dutch Government, of M. Barman. a Russian Jew, who is alleged to have defrauded the bank of many millions, and enjoyed-so runs the public statement-the complacency of the Governor and Vice-Governor.
M. van Zeeland, as ex-Vice-Governor, remains now to face this troublesome bank investigation which every Belgian hopes will soon be ended and forgotten.
The Bloc Catholique Reviewing the Catholic Party for the year 1937, it must be said that it has achieved a spirited come-back. New men and earnest propagandists have come forward. A bloc with new statutes on a novel plan and with a stern will to act, has been born.
This Bloc Catholique organisation has not been organised without hard knocks, and there are some difficulties yet to be overcome.
It is a nation-wide organisation which showed its mettle during the recent ministerial crisis when it stoutly checkmated the outrageous arrogance of the Socialists. This is, however, just its debut.
To quote La Libre Belgique:
"More and more are men of thought of the Centre and of the Right now suggesting the re-grouping of all the anti Marxist forces for the one purpose of avoiding a catastrophe. . .
"Will 1938 witness this re-grouping?
" Will not the extremism of certain Flemish elements render this re-grouping, if not impossible, at least very laborious and very slow? "