On 26 August 1914, the German high command established a military administration in Belgium to run the occupation smoothly. This administration was called the General Governorate, and was led by a general governor. Moritz von Bissing occupied this position from December 1914 until his death in April 1917. After his death, the German military command had to go in search of a new governor general, and they were looking for someone hard-line. They soon appointed Ludwig von Falkenhausen.
While Von Bissing had gone about his work in a rather more prudent manner in order to maintain a tolerable modus vivendi, von Falkenhausen was less pragmatic: Belgium had to be completely put to the service of the German state and the German army. Everything that was usable was requisitioned, factories were dismantled and the unemployed given forced labour.
The fact that von Falkenhausen did not have a very high opinion of the country he governed is evident from his description of the Belgian people: ‘a people lacking in discipline and addicted to the pleasures of life, and entirely devoid of fighting spirit.’