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6. ‘Independence’ and its Origins

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Chapter Summary

The Belgian policy of 'independence', followed between the end of 1936 and the German invasion in 1940, has been very controversial. This chapter looks at the increasing number of arguments in favor of a new policy to keep Belgium out of war by facilitating army reform and avoiding being dragged into somebody else's war. On October 14, King Leopold III made the seminal speech setting out the reasons for the new policy. Its adoption led to the passage of the military bill and to the Allied decision to grant Belgium the status of protected and not protector. One curious result of the new policy was that it required the Belgian army to prepare plans and defenses aimed against the French although none of the generals really expected to have to fight them. The Belgian army also focused its attention on defense against the new threats of tanks and airplanes.

Keywords: Belgian policy; German invasion; King Leopold III; military bill



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