Is Netflix’s WILL based on a true story?

WILL is a World War II drama that depicts the dilemma of two police officers caught between collaborating with and resisting the Nazis. The film is streaming on Netflix.

WILL takes the audience to Nazi-occupied Antwerp. In 1942, two men, Wil and Lode, join the Antwerp police force.

Not long after becoming police officers, the two of them are asked to escort a Feldgendarm to a Jewish family’s house.

When Wil and Lode see the Feldgendarm hurting a child, they intervene. The ensuing scuffle results in the death of the Feldgendarm.

The two of them hide the body, but the shadow of their crime follows them everywhere. Wil then meets Lode’s family and joins the resistance group they are a part of.

Eventually, an officer of the German Secret Service Police finds out about Wil and Lode’s involvement with the group, forcing Wil to make a choice.

If Wil betrays the resistance group, he and his loved ones will be spared. In the choice between conscience and survival, Wil chooses survival, but the consequences of his choice are terrible.

Inspired by real-life events

WILL is based on a book of the same name written by a Flemish author named Jeroen Olyslaegers.

The events in the book, and thus in the film, are inspired by the experiences of Olyslaegers’ family in Nazi-occupied Belgium during the Second World War.

Similar to the protagonist, Olyslaegers’ grandfather collaborated with the Nazis, and the author’s aunt was the mistress of an SS officer, like the protagonist’s aunt.

Wil and Lode represent all the police officers who did not want to collaborate with the Nazis but were forced to do so for their survival.

The film also introduces the audience to the White Brigade, a Belgian resistance group that existed in real life.

Will Netflix
A White Brigade meeting is depicted in the film

Based in Antwerp, the White Brigade was founded on 23 July 1940 by Marcel Louette, who was nicknamed Fidelio. 

The group published and distributed anti-German propaganda, gathered and circulated intelligence, and helped Jews who were avoiding forced labor in Germany, among other things.

As depicted in the film, there were pro-German groups, such as the Black Brigade, that collaborated with the Nazis. 

Additionally, the Germans organized the round-ups of Jews, and the Antwerp police force, as shown in the film, participated in these actions.

It was when Olyslaegers came to know about a 1942 police report documenting one of these round-ups that he wrote his award-winning novel, Will.

Also Read: WILL summary and ending explained

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