Archives of Jef Rens

  • Access and consultation: The fonds Jef Rens can be accessed during the opening hours of the reading room. Its content is freely accessible. Reservation.
  • Reproduction:  The content of the fonds can be reproduced freely in our reading room. For any information about requests for a document reproduction carried out by CegeSoma staff can be found here.
  • Research instruments: Inventory AA830

Archive fonds description:

Archives Jef Rens, mainly activities in London during the Second World War, 02/1941-08/1944.  

Jef Rens had a diversified and multifaceted career. He studied in Germany under Henri De Man and was the first Belgian author of a thesis about national socialism. He became a journalist and later collaborator of Spaak in 1938, and was assistant secretary-general of the worker’s union CGTB before the war broke out. He returned to Belgium in 1965 and was successively chairman of the Science Policy Council, of the Council for Development Cooperation and the National Work Council. The archives of Jef Rens reflect his constant social commitment and are organised according to his activities.

At the beginning of the war, Jef Rens was secretary-general of CGTB. In this function, he followed the rest of the bureau of the organisation to France and later fled to Portugal. He returned to Spain to speed up the liberation of Spaak and Pierlot, whom he eventually joined in London where he was appointed as government adviser and secretary-general of the Commission for the Study of Post-War Problems (CEPAG). Upon his arrival in the British capital, he joined a socialist workers’ union to defend the interests of Belgian workers and prepared a socialist project for post-war Belgium. This political sphere was actually well established and developed in London and Rens as very active in this section which had in its ranks eminent members such as Emile Vandervelde. He furthermore managed to keep in touch with Belgium thanks to the socialist network, through which he got in contact with a German residing in Switzerland who was also a socialist but who was able to move around quite freely. Having a perfect command of both French and English, Rens was a regular guest on BBC broadcasts about Belgium.

For more information :

  • Gotovitch, José. De Belgische socialisten in Londen, Antwerpen : Standaard, 1981. (Camille Huysmans Geschriften en Documenten, 8)
  • Rens, Joseph Laurent Rens. Rencontres avec le siècle : une vie au service de la justice sociale, Gembloux : Duculot, 1987.
  • Smets, Dore et Rens, Joseph Laurent. Historique du centre syndical belge à Londres,1941-1944, s.l. : FGTB, 1976.