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The electrified frontier: the border fence between Belgium and the...

The border region between occupied Belgium and the neutral Netherlands soon became a smuggling paradise. Traffic in letters, military information and foodstuffs was rife. Young men who wanted to join the Belgian army also crossed the border. From the spring of 1915, the German troops decided to call a halt to this. They constructed a barbed wire ...

The dog at the front

Dogs, like other animals, played a role in the warfare that should not be underestimated. They too were 'called to arms' in 1914, and helped the soldiers in a variety of ways. Behind the front, they were hitched to small carts, and in this way they transported machine guns, ammunition cases and food. After artillery fire, or in no ...

Ludwig von Falkenhausen at the head of the occupation regime

On 26 August 1914, the German high command established a military administration in Belgium to run the occupation smoothly. This administration was called the General Governorate, and was led by a general governor. Moritz von Bissing occupied this position from December 1914 until his death in April 1917. After his death, the German military ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 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, ...

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 ...

Russia quits the War

In spring 1917, the Russian tsar was overthrown. The interim government that took power promised a freer, more democratic regime. When it came to the war, however, the new regime was categorical: Russia would continue the struggle together with the Allies until Germany surrendered unconditionally. A separate peace was not an option, though it was ...

Imagery in cartoons

Today, the many political cartoons from the First World War are an interesting source of information about the war years and the general perception of this period. However, it is important to remember that an effective interpretation of the cartoons takes some background knowledge, as they are based on their own unique imagery. The cartoonists ...

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