Belgium in World War I: the shaping of twentieth century warfare

 Institute of European StudiesFlanders in the USABENELUX Studies ProgramDutch Studies

Between 1914 and 1918, Belgium was the de facto testing ground for large-scale industrial armed conflict. From the brutal German invasion in August 1914 to the armistice in November 1918, the neutral, small state was the scene of some of the bloodiest innovations in technological warfare such as the introduction of aerial attacks on civilians, chemical weapons, rapid innovation in artillery systems and tanks. With the country split between active frontline and occupied territory, it saw four years of close civil-military interactions, propaganda wars and civilian coping strategies under occupation. It was also the target of what has been called the American ‘humanitarian awakening’, an unseen mobilization of solidarity and support from both public and private sources.

This lecture explores a range of key evolutions in twentieth century war efforts and how these were first experienced by civilians and military personnel from all over the world who lived, worked and fought in occupied and non-occupied Belgium during the war.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we strongly recommend everyone in attendance to wear a mask at all times. Please arrive on-time to ensure you will have a seat. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Ray Savord at or (510) 642-4555 with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.


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 Ray Savord,,  510-642-4555