Foreword by José Gotovitch ix
Foreword Werner Warmbrunn has studied the history of the German occupation of Belgium during the Second World War over a period of twenty years. Therefore he cannot be charged with the criticism so often leveled by European historians against their American colleagues: the speed and superficiality of their research. It is true that since the work of Robert Paxton on Vichy France, European scholarship has been obliged to respect those American works which have dared to provide a synthesis of European society during the war. Warmbrunn's present study represents a significant step toward such a synthesis, following the patterns of his 1963 The Dutch under German Occupation 1940-194 5 which was the first scholarly attempt at an integration of the occupation experience of our neighbor to the north. His familiarity with German occupa- tion policies in the Nether lands provides him with a perspec- tive which enables him to analyze the similarities and the differences of German policies in Belgium as compared to those applied in Holland, differences which were based on German awareness of the distinctive historical background, and of the immense complexity of Belgian society. The awareness of these complexities enables Warmbrunn to portray the interacting forces of the occupation regime: on the one side the occupying power with the conflicts between the military and the SS, between local and central Reich authorities; on the other, the Belgian establishment, including the king, the church, the civil service and Big Business. He reminds us of the crucial factor unique...
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