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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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III. The Establishment of the New Administration 63

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Chapter Three The Establishment of the New Administration National-Socialist Government and German Designs on Belgium Scholarly analysis of National Socialist theory and practice has experienced (and continues to experience) significant changes since the end of the Second World War but some areas ofbasic consensus are emerging which have a direct impact on the study of German occupation policies in Belgium. The work of Fritz Fischer and his followers has demonstrated that a consid- erable degree of continuity existed between the imperialist aspirations of the Second Empire in the First World War and National Socialist foreign policy aims in World War 11. 1 These "traditional" aspirations of German imperialism were kept alive in the government bureaucracy, the military, in German business, and in the academic world. In time these traditional expansionist aspirations would both merge and clash with the designs put forth by advocates of the more extreme Nazi racist policy such as Himmler. More recent research has also continued to emphasize the impact on policy of the competition and conflict that existed within the Nazi power structure.2 To be sure, Hitler's commands were rarely opposed and never openly refused. But it is now recognized that Hitler deliberately encouraged the competition of a variety of individuals and organizations, in part because this system left him as the unquestioned arbitrator, in part because he simply was a poor administrator. These conflicts over areas of competence compounded by differences in perspectives on policy became more pronounced 64 The Establishment of the New Administration...

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