The End of the Affair: The International Dispute over the Deportation of Degrelle from Spain to Belgium, 1945-1946

Pablo del Hierro*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this article is to study the evolution of the multilateral negotiations aimed at the expulsion of Leon Degrelle between 1945 and 1946, in an attempt to understand why Britain and the USA failed to obtain his repatriation. By following an international history approach, this article shows how legal concepts like extradition, repatriation or expulsion were, by the end of World War II, insufficiently developed to deal with the intricacies of prosecuting war criminals who had fled their countries of origins. Furthermore, this paper will underscore how those legal concepts became more about diplomacy than law, with the foreign-affairs branches of domestic governments interfering with matters that traditionally pertained to the judiciary power. The sensitivity of the Leon Degrelle case, the prominent position that he had had in Belgium, together with the need to readjust relations with the Francoist regime in the context of deteriorating relations between Western countries and the Soviet Union, forced the governments in London and Washington to tread very carefully in order to balance their national interests with the defence of justice and human rights. Ultimately, the pragmatic approach adopted by the Anglo-American authorities explains why Degrelle was not extradited to Belgium in 1945-1946.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-780
Number of pages20
JournalThe International History Review
Issue number4
Early online date6 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2021


  • Degrelle
  • war criminals
  • extradition
  • Britain
  • United States
  • WAR

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