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1943 in occupied Belgium: a turning point?

A dossier in La Revue Nouvelle (2023 - n°6) on the attitude of the Belgian population after three years of occupation.

The articles in this dossier, coordinated by Geneviève Warland (UCLouvain), are based on the Belgian population, its morale, expectations and reactions, as well as the constraints and repression it faced in 1943. Six contributions by seven authors lift the veil on themes that rarely covered in Belgian historiography. Among them, two are written by CegeSoma historians Fabrice Maerten and Dirk Luyten.

The first contribution, by Hugues Wenkin, analyzes the contrasting feelings of the Belgian population in 1943. A year of setbacks for the German army and acts of resistance on the one hand, and of increasingly harsh living and working conditions on the other.

An interview with Fabrice Maerten provides an insight into the various forms of Resistance set up in Belgium, and offers a sociographically informed reflection on the population's growing involvement from 1943 onwards.

Luc Michel takes a closer look at the Socrate network, set up by a young banker, Raymond Scheyven, to finance resistance fighters and the Resistance.

Louis Fortemps and Gabriel Vincent analyze the harsh repression carried out by the German army's secret police (Geheime Feldpolizei) against Resistance fighters and their networks. In this case, 1943 saw the radicalization of the police's actions and the introduction of enhanced interrogation techniques.

1943 was a black year for Belgian purchasing power, which fell sharply. Compulsory labor service in Germany reached its climax with the age-based draft system. On the other hand, 1943 was also a year of progress in the post-war preparations for the Social Pact. An analysis of these issues is presented in Dirk Luyten's contribution.

Finally, Marc Audrit gives a detailed account of the famous attack on Gestapo headquarters by aviator Jean de Sélys Longchamps on January 20, 1943. While this event had a major impact and undeniably raised the morale of the Belgian population, it has sometimes been the subject of fanciful accounts.

Interested in the contents of this issue of the Revue Nouvelle? Visit the journal's website for more information.