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The First World War in the Journal of Belgian History (JBH)

Over the past few decades, dozens of articles on the First World War have appeared in the Journal of Belgian History, with a distinct peak around the 100-year commemorations (2014-2018). Together, these articles constitute a wealth of innovative research findings on the First World War. These have not always reached the general public, despite being available digitally. Here is a brief overview :

First, two thematic issues deserve special attention

In the first commemorative year 2014, we published a thematic issue on fields of social tension and the First World War in Belgium, led by guest editors Antoon Vrints and Axel Tixhon, with seven articles on socio-historical history and no fewer than six debate contributions on the representation and commemoration of World War I. In 2018 (no. 1-2), we published the English-language issue "Congo during the First World War," supervised by guest editors Enika Ngongo, Bérengère Piret and Nathalie Tousignant with six articles. The introductions to these thematic issues, serve as important histiographical overviews : Antoon Vrints with ‘Eenheid in verdeeldheid. Tegenstellingen in België tijdens de 1ste WO’ (2014) and Enika Ngongo, Bérengère Piret and Nathalie Tousignant with 'Introduction : Congo at War’ (2018).

The journal als published ample critical reflections on commemorations and historiography:

The centenary (2014-2018) instigated important contributions in this regard. Bruno Benvindo, Benoît Majerus and Antoon Vrints gave a first general overview of historiography in Belgium in the article 'La Grande Guerre des historiens belges, 1914-2014' (double thematic issue, 2014). In 2016, Jan Naert, Florent Verfaillie, and Karla Vanraepenbusch provided an overview of ongoing (doctoral) research on WWI related to Belgium. Sophie De Schaepdrijver gave a critical reflection on the research in the same issue ('New Research on First World War Belgium', 2016). Luis Angel Bernardo y Garcia & Benoît Majerus compared research on World War I and World War II (no. 3-4; 2019). Winfried Dolderer discussed the myths of the Belgian francs-tireurs in 2016 and on the same topic Christoph Brüll & Geneviève Warland discussed Ulrich Keller's controversial German book 'Schuldfragen' in 2020.

In 2006, Antoon Vrints wrote an essay on the motivation of Belgian soldiers at the front. In the 2012 double issue, Chantal Kesteloot, Nico Wouters, Sophie De Schaepdrijver, and Laurence van Ypersele provided separate reflections on the Flemish and Francophone politics of remembrance in 2014-2018.

The double themed issue in 2014 also published a unique `debate file' on how WWI is represented in Belgium via television, with the following contributions : André Dartevelle on 'Les Murs de Dinant et les Villages contre l'oubli', Anne Roekens with 'Les "trois journées d'août 1914" ou la mémoire à vif', Bruno De Wever with 'Clio op het scherm', Mark De Geest with 'Based on true facts - inspired by true facts' and Willem Erauw with 'Het debat over "In Vlaamse Velden" Over publiekgeschiedenis en historische fictie op televisie'.

Finally there are also the numerous individual articles published throughout the years : by Bram De Maeyer on the Council of Flanders (2019), Gertjan Leenders on informers (2017), Lode Wils on activism (2015), Jan Naert on mayors (2020), Karen Van Hoorick on activism in Mechelen (1993), Mieke Sertyn on socialist activism during WWI (1976), Ulrich Tiedau on German cultural politics in Belgium (2003), Mélanie Bost on internal cleansing in the magistracy after WWI (2011), Tom Simoens on military discipline in the Belgian army (2011), Aurore François and Frédéric Vesentini on the massacres in Tamines and Dinant (2000), Guillaume Baclin on ‘traitors’ court-martialed in Mons after WWI (2008) and Jacques Maes on the executions of Belgian soldiers (2005).