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Dogs under the occupation

Because so many horses and donkeys were requisitioned in occupied Belgium, dogs had to provide even more pulling power than before the war. They were harnessed to dogcarts and pulled the milkman's milk, the baker's bread, and the farmer's children. However, the Germans, who were not familiar with the practice, rejected dogcarts as ...

A Christmas spirit with a dark side

The first Christmas at the front, in 1914, passed in a remarkable atmosphere. At the start of hostilities, the soldiers had hoped for a short war. They had expected to be home long before Christmas and were surprised to find themselves still in the trenches. This is why there was little will to fight amongst many of the soldiers. This attitude was ...

American help for the Belgians

On the eve of the war, Belgium was dependent for a great part of its food supply on imports. Because of the British maritime blockade, imports came to a standstill. As a result, food supplies quickly became problematic, particularly in the cities. In order to feed the population, a gigantic aid programme was set in motion undertaken by two ...

The League of Nations

After 11 November 1918, the cry of 'No war ever again’ sounded out louder than ever before. The countries that negotiated the peace accord were in agreement that the text of the treaty should contain sufficient guarantees to prevent future wars. One of these guarantees was the foundation of a League of Nations that would devote itself to ...

An assassination that set the world alight: the attack on Franz...

On 28 June 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo.   Sarajevo was the capital of the Austrian province of Bosnia. Austria-Hungary was a multi-ethnic state, which was under extreme pressure because of nationalistic tendencies. Part of the Bosnian population supported the neighbouring ...

To the Yser: the front stabilises

In August 1914, the Germans advanced in a southerly and westerly direction through Belgium. They soon reached the French-Belgian border, but they were halted at the Marne by French and British troops.    The German military command would subsequently change plans and attempt to break through to Paris by tracing an arc west. The ...

Through Belgium to Paris: the German invasion of Belgium

In the wake of the attack on the Austrian heir in June 1914, tensions between the European great powers escalated rapidly. However, the Belgians were not all that concerned: their country was neutral and so did not have to be afraid of becoming involved in a potential conflict. But this was without taking account of the German Schlieffen Plan, a ...

A new role for women?

In Great Britain, the army swallowed up an important part of the male workforce during The First World War. Women often took over their work in the factories, or in the fields, temporarily. However, the efforts of women had little impact on their post-war role. In Belgium, the scope of the employment of women in the war industry, and in the ...

Bronzed heroines

Although many spies from The First World War remained anonymous for good, some achieved heroic status. In this way, Edith Cavell was turned into a model of resistance immediately after her execution. This British citizen had been the head of the first Belgian nursing school since 1907. Following the German invasion, she became the central figure ...

Flemish policy and activism

During The First World War, Germany believed in the divide-and-rule principle. By sowing division, the German position would be strengthened. Flamenpolitik, or Flemish Policy, formed an integral part of this strategy.   The German occupier wished to drive back the French influence. To this end, their activities included the founding of a ...

The world at the front

The First World War was primarily fought in Europe, but soldiers and workers from all over the world came here to fight and work for the various armies.   Quite early in the war, the European great powers deployed their colonial troops to supplement their own armies. The British were able to call on Indian, Canadian, Australian and South ...

Reading historical newspapers critically

Newspapers are an accessible source for studying different aspects of The First World War. But just as with other historical sources, the information in newspapers has to be critically examined. This is true of both the texts and the photos and illustrations.   The critical examination of sources is known by historians as ...

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