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Belgium WWII – new content

Photo 32027: Camille Gutt, Belgian Minister of Finance (second from left) visits the Free Belgian Forces, 1942 (Gutt Fonds), copyright CegeSoma/State Archives.

Focus on underground press

For some years now, all underground journals that were found are available online on the site The Belgian War Press of CegeSoma. This site also contains information about war press in general and about specific journals. Now, the histories of a couple of them can also be read on the site www.Belgiumwwii.be. The latest additions are among others Le Coq victorieux, Steeds Verenigd/Unis toujours and Churchill Gazette. In order to quickly find them, please consult the section “La Belgique en guerre”, then select “Articles” and show all related articles using the “filtres” option (top right corner): select the topic “Résistance” and the keyword “Presse clandestine” ((do not forget to click on 'valider' at the top right of the page). Not all of the 675 archived items are discussed, but readers can already find a selection of papers that mattered. Some underground press organisations are already mentioned in articles of the section about the history of underground movements.

Summer raids 1942

On the occasion of the 80th anniversary date of the summer raids of 1942, it seemed opportune to us to revisit this event, city by city. A bit more than two months after the mandatory wearing of a yellow star was introduced by the occupying forces, they started to directly track down Jews and tried as much as possible to rely on help from locals. The Belgian population of Jewish origin mostly live in Brussels and Antwerp, and to a lesser extent in the Walloon cities of Liège and Charleroi. How did events unfold in these four cities? Discover the four articles that discuss the situation there.

Contributions from young researchers

In the course of the academic year 2020-2021, a inter-university workshop about “A social history of the Resistance in small Belgian municipalities" brought together students from the University of Antwerp and the Université catholique de Louvain under the direction of professors Marnix Beyen and Emmanuel De Bruyne. In spring 2022, they presented the results of their works on the occasion of the study day dedicated to the resistance organised by CegeSoma. Some students indeed have decided to translate their work during the workshop into a paper they presented on this day. They have thus subjected their work to external scrutiny and – where necessary – revised their paper for publication. Through their papers, less known and studied parts of the resistance at local level are brought to light, be it in Boom with police officer Gustaaf Rummens, in Mortsel with the Venckeleer family, in Kapellen with the underground journal Optimisme, or in Court-Saint-Etienne with women in the resistance, and Fontaine-l’Evêque with various units of resistance. Also worth mentioning is the paper about Groupe D of the sabotage service Hotton, which is the fruit of a master’s thesis and which was presented on the study day dedicated to young historians.

Further content to discover

A couple of months ago, we addressed the exile government in London and various key personalities in Belgium and London. This time, we delve into the participation of the military in the war effort through the creation of the Tenby rescue base. In the context of the occupation, it is also judicious to look into the legal dispositions in place at the time. What does the Hague Convention stipulate and to which extent did the precedent of the First World War impact the second occupation?

To make a long story short: A lot of new interesting papers to be discovered...