On Monday, 26 June, the book ‘Provinciebestuur Limburg tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog’ was presented in the former provincial council hall in Hasselt. It is the result of research conducted by CegeSoma on behalf of the Limburgse Provinciaal Centrum voor Cultureel Erfgoed (PCCE).
This project, which started in the summer of 2020, is the work of historian Aline Thomas, supported by Dirk Luyten and Nico Wouters. First, an older inventory of the Limburg provincial archive from WWII was updated. Then new source research was conducted on the history of the provincial administration during WWII. The book not only outlines the political-institutional framework but focuses especially on the many new activities with which the provincial government was burdened during WWII that had a direct impact on the daily life of the population: food relief and protection against air raids.
In particular, food relief was an important new task for the provincial government, which acted as the implementing agency of the new central institutions in Brussels, such as the Nationale Landbouw- en Voedingscorporatie(NLVC/CNAA). The provincial government and especially the fourth directorate, which grew strongly during the occupation, had to help manage permanent shortages. It played a key role in surveying and monitoring livestock and crops and also tried to enforce the many regulations. The province tried to rationalize local rationing services by getting municipalities to cooperate, which was not always appreciated. Providing relief to miners proved to be a particular concern.
The persistent problem of food shortages and impoverished populations left more room for charity. In the semi-official Winter Aid, the province also played an active role. But the New Order also saw an opportunity here to increase its influence on the population.
A separate chapter is devoted to the labor camp for Jews in Overpelt and the role of the provincial government in this enterprise.
Although this book is an exploratory study, it is one of the few research studies devoted to the provincial administration during the Occupation. The book not only offers leads for further research at the local level, but is hopefully a stimulus for other provinces to ask similar questions.
The book is written for the general public and richly illustrated, especially with photographs from the provincial archives. Priced at 25 euros, the book can be ordered from the Provinciaal Centrum voor Cultureel Erfgoed (firstname.lastname@example.org), from the Museum Liberation Garden in Leopoldsburg (email@example.com) or from bookstores.
Aline Thomas, Dirk Luyten & Nico Wouters, Provinciebestuur Limburg tijdens WO II. Een verkennend onderzoek naar de rol van het provinciebestuur in het dagelijks leven van de Limburgse bevolking onder Duitse bezetting (1940-1944), Hasselt, 2023, 206 p.