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Anniversary issue of the RBHC on 75 years of the Second World War history

Journal of Belgian History

The new (double) issue of the Journal of Belgian History (JBH) was released to the public on December 10, 2019, during an anniversary conference in the Belgian Senate.
No less than three anniversaries coincide with this new publication : the 50th anniversary of the JBH, the 50th anniversary of the Centre for War and Contemporary Society (CegeSoma), and the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of Belgium. We therefore didn’t have to look far to find the central theme of this issue : 75 years of history of the Second World War in Belgium.

This publication contains sixteen contributions written by twenty-one authors (in Dutch, French and English), and it draws up a critical overview of the historiography of the Second World War in Belgium. How did this historiography establish itself, where are we today, and what are the future challenges?

Many colleagues from the State Archives authored contributions. Nico Wouters (CegeSoma) drafted the introductory article on 75 years of historiography. Dirk Luyten (CegeSoma) examined the historiography of economic collaboration (and its repression). Several contributions scrutinize the archives: Filip Strubbe (State Archives) discusses  the archives of the National Corporation for Agriculture and Food, Pierre-Alain Tallier (State Archives / ARA2) focuses on the archives on damages of the war, Michaël Amara (State Archives) deals with the archives on the administrative cleansing, and the trio composed of Gertjan Desmet (CegeSoma), Geertje Elaut (State Archives) and Johannes Van de Walle (ARA2) concentrate on the archives of military justice. Other colleagues took a critical look at other aspects of the story: Alain Colignon (CegeSoma) took stock of the institution's library collection, Florence Gillet (CegeSoma) examines the digitalization of the archives, Chantal Kesteloot (CegeSoma) reviews the commemorations of 1994-1995, and Fabrice Maerten (CegeSoma) focuses on oral history. Luis Angel Bernardo y Garcia (ARA2) and Benoît Majerus (University of Luxembourg) reflect on the links between the First World War and the Second World War.

The journal also focusses on the history of CegeSoma itself, through two remarkable contributions dedicated to two of its former directors. Peter Romijn (NIOD) and Bruno De Wever (UGent) interviewed Rudi Van Doorslaer. Martin Conway and Pieter Lagrou offer an overview of José Gotovitch's career. The issue further also includes several personal reflections of external academics, such as those of Marnix Beyen (UAntwerpen), Cécile Vast (The Museum of Resistance and Deportation in Besançon, France), Ismee Tames and Peter Romijn (both from NIOD, Amsterdam).

The core of this anniversary issue lies with the debate section and contributions in the form of reflective essays. Academics do not shy away from adopting sometimes provocative or self-critical personal positions. 75 years after the liberation, the history of the Second World War remains pertinent in Belgium. This issue will surely continue to serve as a basis for further debates in the forthcoming years.

This edition is available for € 25.00, and can be ordered by e-mail at hilde.keppens@arch.be. For additional information on the RBHC: www.journalbelgianhistory.be