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1. Belgium and World War I

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Chapter Summary

This chapter looks at the issues with which pre-war Belgian defense policymakers had to deal, which foreshadowed the issues that would bedevil interwar policymakers. It then goes into a discussion of the language issue. Due to its importance throughout Belgian history to this day, the chapter gives a brief history of the issue and attempts to deal with it in the military before the war. It also addresses the controversy among the military and civilian policymakers over where to deploy the army on the eve of World War I. The linguistic issue was exacerbated during the war as the Germans attempted to split off the Flemings from the Walloons and as many Flemish soldiers resented being given orders by Francophone officers. These Flemish soldiers formed the 'Frontist' movement that would be a nucleus of the Flemish movement in the interwar period.

Keywords: Belgian defense policymakers; Flemish soldiers; language issue; World War I

10.1163/9789004269736_003
/content/books/b9789004269736_003
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