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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Four years a refugee

The First World War created a gigantic stream of refugees. At least 500,000 Belgian citizens, more than 7% of the Belgian population, spent four long war years abroad.    Driven out by horror stories and the advancing German army, millions of Belgians fled their town or village. Many ultimately reached the borders with The ...

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 ...

Play during the occupation

Wartime was sometimes a difficult period for children but this did not discourage them from continuing to play. The war had a great appeal and offered them a great deal of inspiration for fantasy play. They marched along with passing troops, sang satirical songs and tore German ordinances from the walls. They collected souvenirs and began a trade ...

Antwerp: from National Redoubt to occupied city

An impregnable city   From the middle of the 19th century, Antwerp had occupied an exceptional position in the military defensive plans. The government and the army command had decided to transform the port into a National Redoubt; a fortified stronghold into which the army, the king and the government could withdraw when threatened by ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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