The murder of Leon Trotsky in Mexico on 21 August 1940 had a tremendous impact. In Belgium, shocked and angry sympathizers gathered at the home of Henri Mandel. Lode Polk, one of the founders of the Belgian Communist Party, had known Trotsky personally and lodged him when the Russian revolutionary was in Antwerp on his way to Norway. Polk, Mandel and the others came to the conclusion that the language of resistance had been bridled too long. During the next few days, the `independent patriotic' resistance group Vrank en Vrij (Frank and Free) was born.
Initially, Vrank en Vrij aimed at distributing hand-outs, but soon this ambition was considered too modest and it was decided to issue a monthly. At the end of September the first issue of Het Vrije Woord (The Free Word) appeared, the very first clandestine bulletin in occupied Flanders.