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A Network of Tunnels

"Gentlemen, we may not make history tomorrow, but we shall certainly change the geography," General Plumer told his staff on the eve of the attack. After several days of intense Allied shelling, everything suddenly fell silent at the German front at Messines Ridge near Wijtschate in the early hours of 7 June 1917. The Germans were ...

Hollow Cheeks

From 1916 onwards, an estimated 180,000 Belgians were forced to do hard labour for the Germans. The deportation of Belgian civilians to Germany especially provoked a wave of protest. The Belgian government in exile called the forced labour slavery, and speaking for the Catholic Church, Cardinal Mercier took the Germans to task for the ...

Education

According to Belgian law, every child was required to attend school between the ages of six and twelve. In the first months of the school year 1914/1915, however, this proved very difficult. Mobilisation had thinned out the teaching staff and many school buildings were occupied by refugees or Allied or German soldiers. The best the pupils could ...

Mata Hari

A century after her death, Mata Hari is still a household name. She is mainly remembered as a femme fatale, a dangerous double agent who used her sensuality to extract military secrets. Starting 14 October, the Museum of Friesland looks at the woman behind the stereotype.It is no coincidence that a big exhibition on her life is about to open in ...

Knights of the Skies

In the early days of aviation in 1914, people already had soaring expectations of it. The airplane would allow humanity to go further, faster and higher. When the First World War broke out, both the Germans and the Allies immediately started exploring the military possibilities of aviation. Both sides set up their own air force, using the ...

Marie, Irène and Petite Curie

Marie Skłodowska Curie (1867-1934) was a Polish-French chemist and physicist. One of the most influential female scientist of all time, she and her husband Pierre Curie were pioneers in the field of radioactivity. She was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel prize, in 1903 for physics and in 1911 for chemistry. In 1906, she became the first ...

11.11.11: the Armistice

At the start of November 1918, an allied delegation and representatives of the new German government came together to prepare an armistice. The negotiations were conducted in a train carriage in the woods of Compiegne, on the allied side of the front. The Germans, however, did not have much room for negotiation. Their troops were demoralised, and ...

Cowardice or mental illness?

The hardship, continuous fear and the powerlessness of the individual made life in the trenches a physically, but above all psychologically, horrifying experience. Though not visibly injured, many soldiers suffered nervous breakdowns and were no longer able to function. The British army counted 80,000 cases of shell shock by the end of the ...

Le Traité de Versailles

Des représentants des 32 pays se rendirent en janvier 1919 à Paris pour redessiner la carte du monde d'après-guerre et discuter du sort des perdants. Chaque pays s'assit à la table avec son propre agenda. La Belgique et la Serbie espéraient des réparations de guerre, les nationalistes polonais et irlandais entendaient faire ...

Het verdrag van Versailles

Vertegenwoordigers van 32 landen zakten in januari 1919 af naar Parijs om de naoorlogse wereldkaart te hertekenen en te bespreken wat moest gebeuren met de verliezers van de oorlog. Elk land schoof aan tafel met zijn eigen agenda. België en Servië hoopten op herstelbetalingen, Poolse en Ierse nationalisten zochten erkenning voor hun land, Duitse ...

Feigheit oder psychische Erkrankung?

Die Entbehrungen, die fortwährende Angst und die Machtlosigkeit des Individuums ließen den Schützengrabenkrieg nicht nur physisch, sondern vor allem auch psychisch zur Tortur werden. Ein großer Teil der Soldaten erlitt einen Zusammenbruch und konnte auch ohne sichtbare Verwundungen nicht mehr funktionieren. Die britische Armee zählte bis zum ...

Der Völkerbund

Nach dem 11. November 1918 erklang der Schrei „Nie wieder Krieg“ lauter als je zuvor. Die Länder, die den Friedensvertrag verhandelten, waren sich darin einig, dass der Vertragstext ausreichende Schutzmechanismen beinhalten musste, um zukünftige Kriege zu vermeiden.  Einer dieser Schutzmechanismen war die Errichtung einer ...

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