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    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 ...

    A deadly cloud: the first big gas attack in Belgium

    On 22 April 1915, French and British troops were surprised by a yellow cloud drifting towards their lines between Steenstrate and Langemark. When the cloud reached the soldiers, they suffered violent and painful coughing fits and burning eyes. This first large-scale gas attack using deadly gas sent a wave of panic through the soldiers. On that ...

    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 ...

    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 ...

    A tangle of regulations? – German ordinances in occupied territory

    The German occupier ruled in occupied territory by means of countless Verordnungen and Bekanntmachungen. Public life was regulated by thousands of big and small regulations that changed continually. Many of these regulations were felt to be harassment by the population, but from the standpoint of German, military logic they were mostly very ...

    Overstepping the mark: the border with the Netherlands

    From the beginning of the war, the border with the neutral Netherlands had bustled with activity. Almost immediately after the occupation, the German authorities sealed off the border to the Netherlands with barbed wire. The Germans wanted to prevent Belgian war volunteers from reaching the front via the Netherlands, and at the same time to call a ...

    The Belgian press landscape during the Great War

    On the eve of the war, the Belgian newspaper press was going through a heyday. Hundreds of national and local newspapers were being published, with a total print run of a million copies a day. It was an outspoken opinion press and many papers drew support from one of the political camps. In October 1914, the German advance brought an end to the ...

    The start of the final sprint: the liberation offensive

    The allied liberation offensive began in August 1918. The allies launched an offensive over the entire western front, in order to push the Germans back for good. It was now or never. The German troops were at the end of their tether after the failure of their spring offensive. Revolution threatened in Germany. On the allied side, two million fresh ...

    An army of the unemployed? Forced labour

    As the war lasted, the German economy grew short-handed. At the same time, the economy in occupied Belgium had all but ground to a standstill, as a result of which there was enormous unemployment. The German high command came to see the Belgian unemployed as a way of keeping the war economy running.   Initially, the Germans tried to tempt ...

    War enthusiasm

    For a long time, it was generally believed that the 1914 declarations of war were made in a spirit of enthusiasm, and that Europe went to war whistling. Today's historiography qualifies this view somewhat. It is true that on the eve of the First World War, a large part of the intelligentsia did think that a conflict could be beneficial: war ...

    The Treaty of Versailles

    In January 1919, representatives of 32 countries travelled to Paris to re-draw the map of the post-war world, and to discuss what was to happen to the losers of the war. Each country brought its own agenda to the negotiating table. Belgium and Serbia were hoping for reparations, Polish and Irish nationalists sought recognition for their countries, ...

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