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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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Introduction 1

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Introduction Historians and their books have a history too, and a life of their own, and it may be useful to sketch the background of this book for the reader. When I first set out on a study ofthe German occupation of the Netherlands in August 1947, the Second World War had been over for only two years. There was a question in the mind of this graduate student whether events of such recent vintage would be considered a suitable subject for a doctoral dissertation in History. Fortunately they were, and one of my mentors, the late Harold H. Fisher, after inquiring about my language repertoire, suggested the Dutch Resistance as a topic since he had sixteen crates stored in the basement of the Hoover Tower containing uncatalogued documents and books collected in Holland for the Hoover Library during the war. I soon discovered that it made little sense to write about the Dutch Resistance without taking first a good look at the context in which it arose. Therefore I widened the scope of my study and examined, first, German administration and policies during the occupation and, next, the Dutch reaction to them. When I began the present inquiry into the German occupa- tion of Belgium twenty years ago, the Second World War had receded into the past (and was to recede further during the more than two decades which this book has been in the making) and it had become a thoroughly accepted field of historical study with the...

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