Latest news on the FED-tWIN BELCOWAR project

On October 1, 2023, the FED-tWIN BELCOWAR (Belgium and the Cold War) project will enter its second year. To date, research into the economic aspects of the Cold War has been undertaken on several fronts. Some of it, for example, has been carried out in the archives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, transferred to the General Archives and recently made accessible to the public. Thanks to the collaboration of Guy Coppieters (archivist at AGR), the Belgian archives of "CoCom" (Coordinating Committee) have resurfaced. CoCom was created as part of the Marshall Plan and imposed restrictions on European trade with Eastern Europe. Historians who studied the subject rightly suspected that Belgium had played a significant role in this informal organization, but considered the Belgian archives lost.

The contents of these archives will be the subject of a position paper to be published in a forthcoming special issue of JBH on "Belgium and the Cold War".

Several master's theses were also written last year at the KULeuven on the basis of this very rich collection. One of these was written as part of the English-language Master of History program, and will also give rise to a scientific article in due course.

A politico-economic approach to the geopolitical hotbeds of conflict in the 20th century was also presented to students of the Bachelor and Master of History and the Master of European Studies. To ensure that research in the archives was carried out in the best possible conditions, the students first attended a number of introductory sessions on the (inter)national historiography on trade relations and the origins and development of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). They then had the opportunity to share the results of their preliminary research in informal research seminars.

Bart Kerremans (KULeuven), for his part, also carried out in-depth research in the National Archives in Washington. Among other things, he was able to pinpoint documents testifying to tensions between Belgium and the USA over a bilateral treaty of friendship, trade and navigation in the 1950s.

We'll be bringing you regular updates on this exciting project, led by Widukind De Ridder (CegeSoma/KULeuven) under the supervision of Bart Kerremans (KULeuven) and Dirk Luyten (CegeSoma/State Archives).