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    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, ...

    Wilson and the Politics of Neutrality

    The news of the German invasion of Belgium did not leave Americans indifferent. As early as 1914, they organised large-scale campaigns to provide ‘poor little Belgium’ with food and clothes. Actual participation in the war, however, was not on the cards yet. Having been in office for only a year and a half, President Woodrow Wilson ...

    Emile Verhaeren

    Before the war, Émile Verhaeren (1855-1916) was a celebrated symbolist author. The work of the French-speaking Flemish writer was highly acclaimed in the Francophone world, and Verhaeren became an urbane public figure with an extensive network of acquaintances in international cultural circles. He also made friends with King Albert I of Belgium ...

    The black market

    Even before the war, Belgium depended on imports for its food supply. When those dried up during the war, food shortage quickly became a serious issue. While initiatives such as the Nationaal Hulp- en Voedingscomité (National Relief and Food Committee) helped to alleviate the problem, they did not solve it completely. Food, as well as other ...

    Easels At the Frontline

    Ruined countryside near Nieuwpoort, a flooded air-raid shelter and a self portrait in army uniform; those are just a few of the scenes painted by artists of the Section Artistique between 1916 and 1918. La rue haute à Nieuport, by Léon Huygens (La patrie belge, 11/03/1917, p. 1) The war had already sparked plenty of creativity in the years ...

    Underwater claustrophobia

    In the face of Britain's powerful war fleet, the Germans decided to bring a new weapon into action: the submarine. Especially once the German army declared unrestricted submarine warfare on 1 February 1917, submarines started playing an important part. From a military point of view, the weapon was a success, with German submarines sinking ...

    The International Congress of Women

    The International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) was founded by leading feminists in 1904. The organisation was devoted to securing women's suffrage and held regular international conferences. In 1915, it was due to take place in Berlin but was cancelled because of the war. On a proposal by the Dutch feminist Dr. Aletta Jacobs, the ...

    The February Revolution in Russia

    On the eve of the First World War, Russia was in a state of turmoil. More and more Russians openly declared their dissatisfaction with Tsar Nicolas II and his authoritarian regime. With the outbreak of war, that dissatisfaction was temporarily washed away by a wave of patriotism. A strong anti-German sentiment fuelled a rapid and massive ...

    Mutilated and Vagrant

    The industrial nature of the First World War resulted in an unprecedented number of casualties, making effective medical organisation necessary. While a great many wounded soldiers died before reaching the field hospitals and others were sent back to the front after treatment, a third group of casualties proved no longer suited for military ...

    The Americans arrive

    At the outbreak of the First World War, the American president Woodrow Wilson decided that the United States should stay neutral. A series of diplomatic and military incidents gradually made this neutral stance untenable, and on 6 April 1917, Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. From that moment on, the US were officially at war, ...

    The Madonnas of Pervyse

    In the First World War, thousands of women played an active part at the front as paramedics and nurses, including the divorced English midwife Elsie Knocker and the wealthy Scotswoman Mairi Chisholm. The care and medical treatment of wounded soldiers at the front was a chaotic affair. The Belgian Red Cross could not cope with the stream of ...

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