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The German Occupation of Belgium 1940-1944

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Werner Warmbrunn

The study of German occupation policies during the Second World War and of the relation of the people in the occupied territories to these policies provides valuable insight into the political dynamics of World War II. This book describes the structure and activities of the German military administration in Belgium 1940-1944 against the background of the previous occupation of the country during the Second World War, and in comparison with German policies in neighboring Holland. It provides the reader with a precise description and analysis of German policies, draws comparisons between military and civilian (party) occupation regimes, and examines the moral issues faced by German commanders without sympathy for Nazi ideology and actions based on that ideology.

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Foreword by José Gotovitch ix

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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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