Belgium, the homeland of the Flemings, was occupied by Germany during the Great War of 1914. So was France, in whose northern regions many Flemings lived. Feldgendarmerie Feldwebel Adolf Hitler was pleased by the presence of Flemings in Lille, as he considered them of excellent Germanic stock, close to his own kind and far superior to the "degraded" French. Jean-Marie Gantois, a local priest, had views on the subject to Hitler's liking. Much to Hitler's disappointment, most Flemings were content to assimilate as Frenchmen.
Hitler came to realize that his German accent could pass as Flemish. Thus, he assumed the persona of Koppensteiner, a Flemish merchant from Antwerp, when he went undercover in search of communist agitator Jacques Doriot.