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SCIVIL AFFAIRS HANDBOOK

BELGIUM
SECTION 1: GEOGRAPHICAL
AND SOCIAL BACKGROUND

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WDissemination of restricted matter. - The information contained in restricted documents and the essential characteristics of restricted material may be given to any person known to be in the service of the United States and to persons of undoubted loyalty and discretion who are cooperating in Government work, but will not be communicated to the public or to the press except by authorized military public relations agencies. (See also par. 18b, AR 380-5, 28 Sep 1942.)

HEADQUARTERS,

ARMY SERVICE FORCES.

21

APRIL

1944

ARMY. SERVICE FORCES MANUAL
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CIVIL AFFAIRS HANDBOOK

BELGIUM:
SECTION1: GEOGRAPHICAL
AND SOCIA

BACKGROVND

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ARMY SERVICE

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21

APR IL

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characteristics the service

of restricted of the United

may be

given

to any

person

known to be

States and to persons of undoubted loyalty and discretion who are cooperating not be communicated to the public or to the press In Government work, but will (See also par. 18b, except by authorized military public relations agencies.

AR 380-59

28

Sep

1942.)

NUMBERING. SYSTEM OF

ARMY SERVICE JORCES MANUALS

The main subject matter of each Army Service Forces Manual is indicated by consecutive numbering within the following categories: Ml~
M4100 M4200
M4400
-

1M99
M4199 M4299

Basic and Advanced Training

Army Specialized

Training Program and

Pre-

Induction Training
M4300 -M399

14499
M4599

M4500

-

14600
M4700

M699
M4799

1i800 - M899 M900 up

Personnel and Morale Civil Affairs Supply and Transportation Fiscal Procurement and Production Admini stration Mi scellaneous Equipment, Materiel, Housing and Construction

HEADQJJARTERS, ARMY SERVI CE FOP.C3S,
Washington

25, D. C. 27 April 1944.

Army Service Forces Manual 14

-

361

-

1, Civil Affairs Handbook-

Belgium, Section 1, Geographical and Social Background., has been prepared under the supervision of The Provost Marshal General, and is published for the information and guidance of all concerned.

Espx

461 (21 Sep 43).J

By command of Lieutenant General S0MERVELLt

W.* D. STYER, Major General, General Staff Corps, Chief of Staffs

01F1 CIAL: J1. A. ULIO,

Major

General,

Adjutant General

urniii.
-

This

preliminary study on Geographical and Social Background in Belgium was prepared for the O7?ICE Of TRt PROVOST MARSHAL

MILITARY GOVERNM1ENT DIVISION,

GENERAL

by the

EUROPEAN UNIT, BUREAU OF

PORFI GN

AND DOM)ESTIC CO.MEROi,

UNI TID STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

OFFI CERS USING THI S MATERIAL ARE BMQUESTED TO MAK.E ST5GGESTI ONS AND CRITICISMS INDICATING THE REVISIONS OR

ADDITION.S

WH!ICH WOULD MAKE THIS

I4LTEhIAL MORE US:EFUJL FOR THE~IR PURPOSES.

THESE CRITICI SMS SHOULD BE

SENT TO THE CHIE~F OF DI VISION,PMGO,

THE1

LIAI SON AND STUDIES BRANCH, MILITARY GOE1INM NT

2807 MUNITIONS BUILDING, WASHINGTON 25, D. C.

iv

-

INTRODUCTION

Purhose

ofi the Civil Affair Handbook.

The basic purposes of civil affairs officers are (1) to assist the Commanding General by quickly establishing those orderly conditions "which will contribute most effectively to the conduct of military operations, (2) to reduce to a minimum the human suffering and the material damage disorder and (3) to create the conditions which will resulting from make it possible for civilian agencies to function effectively. The preparation of Civil Affairs Handbooks is a part of the effort to carry out these responsibilities as efficiently and humanely as is The Handbooks do not deal with plans or policies' (which will possible. It should be depend upon changing and unpredictable developments).' clearly understood that they do not i ply any given official program of

ac=in.
factual

They are rather ready reference
information needed for Final Publication.

source books containing the basic
making.

planning and policy

Revision for

was prepared by the EUROPIAN preliminary draft in this AND DOMESTIC COMMERCE, UNITED STATES DEPARTM NT Or OF FOREfIGN UNIT, BUREA be incorporated it will data becomes available If additional COMMERCE. in the final draft of the handbook on Belgium. The material

V.

C 1IIL

A FFA I RS TOPI CAL

H A ND B O.K S

OUYTLINE

1.

Geograrphical and

Social

Background

2. Government and Administration 3. Legal Affairs

4. Government

Finance

5, Money and Banking

6. Natural Resources
7. Agricultuxre

8. Industry and Commerce 9. Labor 10. 11. 12.
13. 14.

Public Works and Utilities Transportation Systems Communications
Public Health and Sanitation Public Safety

15. 16. 17.

Education Public Welfare Cultural Institutions

This preliminary stdy,on Geographical and Social Background in Belgium was prepared for the MILITARY GOVERITh NT DIVISION, OI'?IC1 07 THE PROVOST 1 D MARSHAL GPFN7RAL by the 1EURCPryAN IIIT, BUREFAU 0? FOREICGN AN DOMESTIC COMM9RC1, UNI TED STATES DEPART MEET OF COMMERCE.

-

i

-

TABLE OF COI7 ENS Page

I. II.

INTRODUCTION THE LAND A. Boundaries and Frontier Distric.

1
2. 3. 4. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Boundary Disputes Telephone and Telegraph Roads Railroads Automotive Transportation Airlines Ports of Entry Steamship Lines Cables

B,

Territorial Divisions 1.. Topography 2. Economy 3. Small Land Holdings 4. Administrative Divisions

III.

THE PEOPLE A.

Family and Sex
Church and Religion
1. Religious Holidays and Manner of Observance

B.

C,

Social Stratification

D, Education
1. E. Illiteracy Use of Alcohol and Tobacco Outstanding Qualities and Habits

1. F.
G.

National

Holidays and Festivals

Popular Sports and. 1ntertainment Fairs and Popular Events 1.

H.. General Living Conditions I. J. Attitude Toward the War Attitude Languages Racial Conflicts and Discriminations Toward the United States

-vii

TABLE OF

CONTENTS

(cont' d)

Page
IV,

TABLES 1. Population Movement

2. Population by Provinces
3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. V. Foreign Residents Populations of Cities and Towns Occupational Census Population According to Age Groups Percentage of Illiterates by Age Groups Languages According to Provinces Languages Spoken in Belgium

MAPS 1. Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg 2. The Railways of Belgium ~3. Albert Canal 4. Ethnographical Divisions of Belgium

OwNwr

I.

INTRODUCTION

A favorable geographical situation, a temperate climate,excellent
transportation facilities, a rich African colony, and a people with a remarkable aptitude for hard work have been among the principal factors influencing Belgium's economic destiny and making it one of the most financially sound and progressive countries of the world. Situated at the-crossroads of European commercial routes, with welldeveloped waterways, railroads, and highways, Belgian manufacturers have been in a position to culty, Belgium lies close to Germany; in the past participated in the life sell to and buy from other countries without diffi-

of the German Empire, and is still the nearest outlet for many of Germany's western industries. It lies close to France and has played its part in

French history, having been part of the French linked to France by a common tongue.

Empire

at

one time, and is

It once formed an integral part

of the Netherlands (then the United Netherlands) and in many ways their economies are similar especially commerce and shipping. From the early

Middle Ages it has been intimately bound to England by the closest economic
ties. The estuaries of the Thames and the Scheldt face each other, and can

be reached by boat in less than four hours,

U--

-2-

Although handicapped in many ways by a lack of essential raw materials, Belgium was able, because of the temperament of its people, to compete with the better equipped and more richly endowed neighboring producing countries. The traditions and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church have

molded a conservative people, willing to work for small wages in a market where living standards were comparatively low and local purchasing power was limited. Owing to the division of the land into small holdings,

particularly in Flanders, the overwhelming majority of the Flemings remained attached to the soil, and the attraction of the large towns was not nearly so strong as in other countries. The number of farm laborers was relatively

small, every farmer endeavoring to cultivate his plot with the help of his family. Being one of the most densely populated countries in the world and at the same time poor in natural resources, Belgium was traditionally an importer of raw materials and foodstuffs and an exporter of manufactured and semi-manufactured goods. It has been truthfully said that Belgium lived main-

ly by its manufacturing industries, and had it not been for the ability to sell its products in foreign lands, the Belgium people could not have existed under normal conditions. As the once workable mineral deposits of Belgium became exhausted, these of the Belgian Congo were explored, with the result that Belgium was able to establish new projects for the processing and refining of ore from the newly developed mines of the Belgian Congo. Thousands of tons of copper

ore, lead ore, and tin ore began to pour into Belgium, as well as smaller quantities of the rarer metals such as cadmium, tantalum, ana radium.

-3-

The discovery of diamonds in the Congo enhanced the position of Antwerp as the center of the diamond cutting and polishing indtustry of the world

by

providing raw material from a national

sorce.

Yet with the wealth largely

of the Congo at

hand,

Belgium industry as A whole remained,

dependent upon foreign countires pensable raw materiels.

for the greater portion of its indis-

Being a large producer of coal, but with other mineral deposits becoming gradually depleted, Belgian industry, in order to maintain its position, became more and more a transforming industry. mineral wealth of the Congo aided this development. foster and maintain this position, As already noted, the Further, in order to

the Government, in the face of increascustoms policy.

ing protectionism in other countries, followed a liberal

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II.

THE LAND

A.

BOU1WDARILS AND

FRONTIR.DISTRICTS

Belgium has an area of 11,754 square miles, including 382 square
miles added by the Treaty of Versailles, and approximates the combined areas of the States of Maryland and Delaware, It lies slightly north of the Straits of Dover and along the southern

waters of the North Sa

in Continental Europe.

It is bounded on the North

and northeast by the Netherlands,

on the east and southeast by Germany and

the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, and. on the south by

France.
the Nethermiles.

Its land frontiers measure 793 miles divided as follows: lands 269 miles, Germany 60 miles, Ltemburg

80 miles, and France 384

In addition it has a sea coast of 42 miles along the North Sea.

England is

only about 65 miles across the Channel by direct water route, and between Dover and Ostend it usually takes a channel boat 3 hours,

In the north there is no natural boundary with the Netherlands, the revolt of the Belgic provinces in 1830,

Until

present-day Belgium was a part

of the United Netherlands with the Dutch house of Orange-Nassau as the sovereign head, The present boundary line has existed practically unchanged

since the Treaty of London dated April 19, 1839, which settled the irritating boundary disputes emanating from the 1831 treaty and protocols of separation.

By the 1839 treaty Belgium lost a considerable portion of the Province of
Limburg including the Maastricht enclave which was essentially Belgian by tradition and sentiment, The Meuse(Maas) miles on the

River divides Belgium and the Netherlands for about 23

East

until the arbitrary line is reached which forms the

extreme eastern boundary between Germany and the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg.

No natural boundary, likewise, exists for the southern

~

frontier with France

Y

-i~i~~ ,

4~'~

except. where the River Lvys separates the countries for about 12 miles.

At
IMoresnet,

the end of World War I,
three districts

Belgium was granted Eupen, Malmedy,

and

of strategic

importance acquired from Rhenish

Prussia in 1919, and,as already stated, added 382 square miles to the kingdom. The inhabitats were predominately German-speaking, but it was claim-

ed by the Belgians that they were originally Walloons who had been de-

liberately Germanized in the course of a century.
The cession of Malmedy took the frontier eastward to the watershed between the feeders the cession of the Meuse and those of the Moselle frontier from the vicinity and Rhine, while

of Eupen removed the

of Verviers to

that of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle).

By an oversight in the Treaty of Vienna

in 1815 Moreanet, a small district, was not assigned to either Belgium or
Prussia. As a consequence, it remained neutral territory between the two

countries but directly under German influence.

It

comprised little

over

3,000 inhabitants, according to the census of 1910.

While Germany acknow-

ledged the cessions, according to the treaties of that time, she always
maintained mental reservations and cherished the idea of re-uniting these

districts with the
capitulation of the

Reich at

the propitious moment, Germany claimed these

Immediately upon the districts as integral

Belgians,

parts of the Reich,

1.

Bounry

Disputes

There are no traditional boundary disputes between Belgium and her neighbors, though various treaties have been negotiated between Belgium and the surrounding countries regarding boundary adjustments since the

treaty of separation in 1831.

The fact that the Netherlands

controls the

" 7 -7-

"

mouth of the Scheldt which otherwise would have given the countries a natural boundary for considerable distance causes much dissatisfaction among the Belgians, yet the conflicts and grievances are over the use of a common waterway rather than a boundary line. The greater portion of the boundary line between the Netherlands and Belgium, especially that which involves the Scheldt, was the boundary established in 1789 between the Republic of the United Netherlands and the Austrian Netherlands (which embraced the greater portion of present-day Belgium) before Napoleon changed European borders. At the dissolution of

the United Netherlands into the present states of the Netherlands and Belgium the old traditional boundary was more or less accepted. The River Scheldt (Escaut) rises in France and flows for a considerable length of its navigable course through Belgium, but finally passe. through Dutch territory and enters the North Sea by two mouths - the Eastern Scheldt and the Western Scheldt or Hondt. of the port of Antwerp to the sea. The latter is the direct access

The estuary forms the home waters of

the Province of Zeeland, Netherlands, a province which had been connected with the adjoining Province of Holland from very early times by the closest bonds, and the inhabitants are essentially Dutch. The fact that the last 40 miles of the course of the Scheldt flows through Dutch territory has been the cause of much controversy between the Dutch and the Belgians and is popularly known as the "Question of the Scheldt". Disputes, negotiations, and agreements between Belgium and the

Netherlands regarding the various phases of this problem have recurred throughout the existence of Belgium as an independent nation.

4-.EI-- .

-8-

A few other minor boundary questions with the Netherlands have arisen and been settled from time to time, the latest being in 1912. Several

boundary accords have also had to be reached with France and Luxemburg, and with Germany (in addition to the Versailles Treaty award regarding Eupen,

Malmedy, and Moresnet).

2.

Telephone and Telegraphs prior to the At close

Belgium had a well-developed telephone system which,

German Invasion, connected with the important centers of Europe.

of the fiscal year ended February 1938, there were 1,954,677 miles of telephone wire as compared with 1,928,697 for the preceding year, and the number of telephoneswas 393,528 as compared with 361,685. There were 34,753 miles of telegraph wire at the close of the fiscal year ended February 1938, as compared with 34,675 a year earlier. The number

of messages sent during the year totaled 6,563,358 as compared with 6,487,024 in the preceding year. 3. Roads

The net-work of roads in Belgium, among the most numerous in Europe, connected with the most important commercial and industrial centers of the neighboring countries. of roads, At the end of 1938, there were about 19,000 miles

of which 5,592 miles were owned by the State, 979 by the provinces

and the remainder by the cities and communes. Hundreds of roads cross the international borders in all directions, but the most important radiate from the principal industrial centers. Antwerp a main highway extends northwardly until it From

reaches the border town

-9-

of Wernhout which connects with the principal centers of the Netherlands. From Hasselt extends a highway which joins the Dutch town of Maastricht, a

few miles on the other side of the border.
A number of roads radiates from Liege into Germany, the most important

of which passes through the town of Gemmenich in
la-Chapelle (Aachen).

Germany and thence to Aix-

On'August 15, 1903, Belgium signed an agreement with

Germany to improve the 'iacadamized roads which cross the two countries.

From Arlon in the Province of
extend into one extends city

Luxemburg several principal highways
but the most important the capital

France and the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg,

southwardly through the Luxemburg town of Capellen to

of the Grand Duchy. From Charleroi a main highway extends southward, which crosses the

international the

border a

few miles south of Bruly (Belgium) and connects with of Rheims. The main connection with Paris passes

important French city

through Mons and the Another road to of Hainaut, Paris

French town of Maubeuge a few miles inside leaves the main highway in

France. Province

in Belgium at Leize,

and unites

with Valenciennes

France,

thence to Paris. A main the French

Roads from Yores,

:rennin, and Tournai all Province

connect with Lille. at

highway passes through PRousbrugge,

of West Flanders,

border town of Qosteappel and joins Dunkirk and other French towns.

4. Ralroads
Belgium. was the first continental country to provide" itself with railways on a carefully thought-out fic between M~alines

system.

The first line was opened for traf-

and

Brussels in 1S35, and this was the beginning of the notable for its facilities

network of railways which has long made Belgium

SSCI I

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The railways

TIL1o

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°
ERCM °

of

Belgium

of transport

and communication. is the principal railroad center. Its lines connect with all Verviers, Arlon,

Brussels frontier Dinant, stations

through such important Mons, Courtrai, Ypres,

centers as Antwerp, and Fumes.

Charleroi,

At Ostend,

the prin-

cipal channel port.

connections

could be made with all

European capitals.

At Antwerp the main line crosses Hague, in

the border for Rotterdam and The Roermond southeastthence to

while another extends eastwardly through Moll (Belgium) to en route to Duesseldorf, while a third extends

the Netherlands

wardly to Cologne.

the Dutch border town of Maastricht to

Aix-la-Chapelle,

The principal

lines

to Paris either

pass through Courtrai via (France), St. Quentin,

Lille

and Douai or through Mons via Maubeuge or from Chimay (Belgium) Lan (France) to Paris. to

and Amiens,

the French border town of Hirson thence through to Rheims passes through Dinant

The main line

(Belgium)

to the French border town of Givet. to the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg are from Liege through

The main lines

Gouvy (Belgium) to.the border town of Trois-Vierges in Luxemburg or through Arlon and the border town of Sterpnich to the city of Luxemburg.

5.

Automotive

Transportation

Bus transportation was non-existent in Belgium before World War I with the exception of the short line between the Nord and Midi stations in

Brussels, which was operated with autobusses running on solid tires. Owing to the disorganization of railroad transportation immediately after War World I, a few bus lines were put into operation in 1918. The

lines developed with considerable rapidity, until it was found advisable to

S12

enact a

law in

1924, regulating public

transportation by autobusses.

In

June

1926,

there

were 45 authorized

bus

lines, nearly

all operating

in the Province of Antwerp. rapid, until

From that time on, development was extremely than 300 lines operated in all of

the German Invasion when more

Belgium.

6,

AirJ

is.
aviation in i elium, which comes under to -ne company,
3

Commercial Ministry of

the

control the

of

the

Transport,

was entrusted

known as

SABENA

(Societe Anonyme Belge d'Exploitation
organization maintained vices. First, were the

de la i avigation Aerienne).

This
ser-

prior to the German

occupation three distinct

lines directly connecting vrious Basel, Ctlogne, the

European centers and Prague. different

including London, Amsterdam, Second, points were in the :rvices

Hamburg, Malmos,

operating in Leopoidville.

Belgian Congo,

connecting

that

area-with

Third, was the the

service two

between Bel-

gium and the

Congo with Brussels and Elizabethville

extreme termini.

7.

Ports

Ent ry~1
system of waterways in Belgium has been adapted as an of transportation at moderate

The extensive

economic necessity to provide

adequate means

cost to supplement the railway systems.
most of the towns and cities.

Contacts are maintained between
of France

Eight connections with waterways

have been established, direct

service with the

canals and rivers of the for improving the con-

Netherlands is available, and plans were considered nections with the Rhino.

-13.

-

Antwerp on the Scheldt is not only the great commercial port of
giumn, but also one of the chief entrepts
western Europe. Its and distribution centers

Bel-

for

only rival was Rotterdamn which by nature has a more ocean-going vessels, Other principal Zeebrugge North Sea ports (the port for

favorable channel for

are Ostend (principal Channel port from England), Bruges), and the minor ports of La Panne,

Blankenberghe,

Heyst, Nieuport,

and Knocks. The port of Antwerp is narrowness in 55 miles from the sea, and because of the

of the winding Scheldt River most vessels must proceed to berths unloading, thereby, increasing the the

the inner basins of the port before stay in port.

length of their Scheldt passes ing Antwerp to

Below Antwerp,

as already mentioned,

through Dutch territory. the sea by means of a

The Government has proposed connectcanal passing entirely through Belgian a number of No warships

territory, but as the project has been under consideration for
years, it is not likely to materialize within the near future.

can go up or down the Scheldt without the consent of the Dutch authorities.

Antwerp as a free port was amply equipped to handle all demands upon its
port facilities, having modern docks, sheds, warehouses, and other installations as well as transportation connections with all points in Europe directly from the

quay.

The municipality spent large

sums annually in maintaining standards francs

and improving facilities, spending in for these purposes.

the peak year more than 95,000,000

All of Europe was the hinterland, but more especially Germany, rrance, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.
The principal goods which passed in transit

to the hinterland were grains, petroleum products, automobiles and accessories, unmanufactured copper, raw cotton and waste, tobacco, and many miscellaneous

-

1

-

perishable goods from overseas which could be shipped by fast freight direct from the port. Germany dominated the inward transit traffic and received annually through Antwerp large quantities of raw materials and semi-manufactures such as minerals, metals, and chemicals to supply the Ruhr area and other industrial concentrations in the west. In 1937 goods amounting to 6,333,700 metric tons

passed through Belgium into Germany, but the movement declined to 5,069,200 tons in 1938, partly owing to the fact that in that year the Norddeutscher Lloyd abandoned entirely the port of Antwerp for Rotterdam. further decline to 3,162,000 tons. France, second in importance as a destination, received 3,372,800 metric tons in 1937, 3,079,400 tons in 1938, and 2,336,900 in 1939. In the outgoing transit traffic, France sent goods through Antwerp in 1937 amounting to 7,089,700 tons, Germany 3,733,500 during the same year, and the Netherlands 1,054,000. outlet for exports. A few years prior to the invasion the importance of Antwerp was somewhat impaired by a reduction in the working day to seven hours, coupled with an increase in hourly wages. No similar measures were introduced at iotterdam Switzerland also made great use of Antwerp as an In 1939 there was a

and this circumstance was one of the reasons why Rotterdam exceeded Antwerp in the matter of total net tonnage shortly before the war. During 1938 the

movement of sea-going vessels at the port of Antwerp declined by 5 percent in number and 3.8 percent in tonnage as compared with 1937, while the movement of vessels at the port of Rotterdam increased by 7 percent in number and 5 percent in tonnage.

4;

Ostend, about midway along the Belgian seaboard, has been an important harbor for the cross-Channel passenger service from Harick, London, Dover, and Hull, and the starting point of express trains for all parts 'of Erope It has a large tidal harbor and is situated about two miles inland. A ship

canal, fourteen feet deep, connects Ostend with Bruages. Zeebrugge the foreport of industrial Bruges and the harbor for the is connected with Bruges

summer-crossing channel service from Harwick with a canal 3 miles long.

Zeebrugge also receives in normal times a great

many ocean-going vessels through the year. Bruges has a port containing docks which provide about one-.mile of accommodation for vessels drawing less than 14 feet of water. The impor

ance of Bruges as a port was greatly increased by the construction of the Zeebrugge-Ostend canal during the latter part of the nineteenth century.

At one time there was a direct steamship service from. Hull to Bruges =via the Zeebrugge canal. Blankenberghe is port with a tidal at high water. Nieuport -is The port is tidal. situated on the lY two miles west of Zeebruigge and is a small fishing

harbor of from 6 to 10 feet at low water and over 12 feet

abut

10 miles southwest of Ostend.

about two miles inlan4 froe the old mouth of the Yser, and is

10.

q

/

*q .ft.

*

*1 I

z

o4+Q
NovHt Ql7-'0 iar

AA'r

Wir74w

rsla

9

HarSr r/9

L.o u vio %,I

NMAP

of

the
J'cle

ALbE T CAN~AL.
4oc'. o0

(
4'197

I
LIE~t

444*"~4

Coe~

¢

31i

Cca Mirne Coal( Port

01w Coi ^
S P .

c
rt
, s

G-.

17

-

Until the completion in 1939 of the Albert Canal, Ghent was the most

important-inland port, receiving mostly freight from Great Britain and
-other countries through its situation is on the many canals. But Liege, with its favorable

Meuso River and as the eastern terminus of the Albert Canal,
receive from and dispatch goods to the Netherlands, canal at parts Antwerp

now not only able to

Germany,

and France, but through the western terminus of the products of its industries to all

can send the metallurgical world.

of the

The head of navigation on the Belgian inland port that name. Brussels a to canal it is not usually

Muse is

Verdun in France, and another

along its navigable length is Namur in the province of

known as a

seaport, nevertheless, was fairly

by means

of

has access to As early

the North Sea, and there

regular service

Great Britain.

as 1560, Brussels was connected by the Canal de

Willebrouck with the River Rupel, a tributary of the River Scheldt.
canal also connects Brussels with the coal fields in the south.

A

The present

canal between Brussels .and the River Rupel is and after the link with Rupel is
Antwerp or to Ghent,

known as the Brussels Canal

made,

boats can either proceed to either

Ghent thence to the sea. one-time second port of the kingdom, is connected with the es-

tuary of the Scheldt by the Terneuzen ship canal.

The length of the canal

is

2Oj miles of which 9

miles

are in Dutch territory.

8.

Steamshi

Lines
of all the sea-faring large nations docked at Antwerp, steamship lines

The merchant marine flag the strength of the port was in

number of regular

-rn

-

18

o

which made Antwerp a regular port of call.

In 1938,

of a total

tonnage of 24,144,705 which entered the port,

17,670,000 tons, or 73,18 percent belonged to regular lines, and 5,545,000
tons or 22.96 percent to tramp vessels, the remaining 3,8 percent being conposed of exceptional calls, During that year, follows-: the classification of flags

which entered the port of Antwerp was as Great Britain 23.7 percent, France

Germany 25.3 percent, Norway 7.6 percent, Nether-

8.8 percent,

lands 7.4 percent, Belgium 4,8 percent, Sweden 3,7 percent, Denmark 3,6 percent, United States 3.1 percent, Greece 2.1 percent, and Japan 2,1 percent.

Besides the trans-oceanic vessels which docked regularly in
ports, there were the channel crossings from Dover to

Belgian

Ostend, from. Harwick

to Antwerp, from London to Zeebrugge, from Hull to Zeebrugge, and from Hull to Antwerp. In addition there were periodic sailings from Goole, Grimsby,

and Newcastle to Antwerp.
The Black Diamond Line was the regular sailings to Antwerp prior to most notable American Line which made the war.

Belgium maintained a merchant marine of some importance, the most outstanding line being 1Compagnie Nationale Belge de Transports Maritimes", It was subsidized

better known in the United States as the Belgian Line. by the State. with direct fgu

ai
to

sailings were made to the principal world centers, the Congo. For a number of years, however, it was

sailings

well known that the Belgian merchant marine was antiquated and inadequate
for the potentialities of the country. were: Agence Maritime Walford, Antwerp;

Other Belgian steanship companies Antwerp; Oceane,

Societe Anonyme Belge d'Armement Societe

et de Navigation,

Compagnie Royale Belgo--argentine, Antwerp;

Anonyme Ghent-Lloyd,

$woo~

m
19
Ghent; Compagnie darrner ent et de Transports,
John Cockerill (Ostend-Tilbury Line).

Antwerp; and Societ6 Anonyine

9

Cables
Government-owned cables which connected the country that, is, one from Middelkerke, Belgium, to Dumnpton Gap,

There were six with Great Britain,

Great Britain; three from La Panne, Belgium, to St. Margaret t s Bay, Great
Britain; and two from La Panne to

Dumpton Bay.

An Italian-owned

cable line

extends from La Panne to S. Amaro,
Soc. Anon, Beige de Cabe Dumpton Gap, The other is

Portugal, and there are two

owned by
de1kr

the
with

Tele rphiquea. with one Utki outside of the territorial limits

of Europe and

extends from Banana, Belgian Congo, to S. Thorne-Loanda, Angola.

Be

TMITORIAL~e~ DIVIfSIONS
Unofficially, Belgiun with its nine provinces is divided into two
Flanders, con-

parts along ethnographical lines

- Flanders and Wallonie.

sisting of the Flemish-speaking population, embraces the five provinces of
East and

test

Flanders, Antwerp,

Liburg, and Brabant, while

Walloonie

comprises the French-speaking provinces of Hainaut, Namur, Luxemnburg, and Liege. Inasmuch as the country is nearly 100 percent Roman Catholic, no

demarcations are apparent along religious lines. The heavy line in the accompanying map indicates the ethnographical divisions of Belgium, the upper portion being Flemish and the lower Walloon.

smm

4

w
'5

1 Irncl Elucui,

2o Mile,.

-21-

Until Flanders for

modern times both Flanders and Walloonie

had separate

histories,

a long

tieL

was an independent

sovereignty

under the rule of

a hereditary line of counts, while some of the provinces of so-called

Walloonie have enjoyed independence from time to time or under a succession
of foreign rulers.

1,

Topography

The short coast is washed by a sea so shallow that the depth does not

exceed 5 fathoms until at least 5 miles from the shore.
is entirely composed of sand, very low and uniform, but

'The
suitable

shore itself
for the

establishment of sea-side watering places.

For some . distance from the sea

the land is flat, being little above the level of the sea,
near Fumnes it is 7 feet below, to the northeast, but in

At

one point

The same description applies more or lees part of Brabant

the south of Hainaut and the greater

the general level of the country is about 300 feet above the sea, with altitudes rising to more than 600 feet. known as the Sambre-ieuse plateau, South of the reuse, is still and in the district and the whole

the level

greater,

Province of Luxemburg is
the southeastern part

about 500 feet, with altitudes up to 1,650 feet.
there are several points the

In

of the Prov-ince of Liege,

exceeding 2,000 feet. to the
Fraiture,

The highest of these is

;araque de Michel close The Baraque de
part

German

frontier, with an altitude of 2,3>20 feet.
of La Roche, is over 4:,000 feet.

northeast

While the greater

of western and northern Belgium is devoid of the picturesque, the Adrennes and the Fagnes districts (between the Saibre and the reuse) and Liege contain

much pleasant and romantic scenery. derived from its fine

The principal charm of this region is of

and extensive woods,

which

that

known as St. Hubert

is the best known,

-

22.

-

There are no lakes in Belgium, but otherwise it is exceedingly well watered, being traversed by theMeuse for the greater part of its course,

as well as by the Scheldt and the Sainore.

The numerous affluents of these

rivers such as the Lys, Dyle, Dender, Ourthe, Ambleve,
Semnois provide a system of waterways almost unique in

Vesdre, Lese, and

Europe.

The canals of Belgium are scarcely less numerous or important than
those of the Netherlands, tive where especially in Flanders, where, they give a distinc-

character to the countryside. so much is modern, is found in

But the most striking feature in Belgium, the older cities with their These, Ghent, relics of

medieval of interest,

greatness and their

record of ancient fame. Brussels,

in their order Ypres, Courtrai,

are Bruges, Antwerp, Louvain,

Tournai, Fumes, Oudenarde, and Liege. Belgium lies between 49(
Fast,

30'

and 510 31' North, and 20 32'

and 60 71

The climate is
hotter

temperate and approximates that of southern &igland,
in sunmner and a littler colder in winter.
49.30,

though somewhat

At Ostend

the mean annual temperature is above sea level) the figure

while at Baraque

Michel

(2,19$ feet

is 43.20.

The average number the Ardennes.

of days with The Campine

frost is 50 on the coast, as against 134 in

(that district in the Province of Limburg noted for its minerals) despite

its low-lying position has 94 days with frost,
the sea. coast is est The rainfall increases towards 27.5 inches, at Baraque Michel it in

owing to its distance from
the average on the The great-

the interior; rises to

59.9 inches.

amount of snow falls

the Ardennes where depths of 27 inches have been

recorded.

-23

Belgium is essentially a manufacturing country. the

The econoxmy prior to

German. invasion

was approximately 65 percent industrial and 35 percent

agricultural. Manufacturing is found in all nine provinces as well as agricultural pursuits, but

farming

is more prevalent in Filanders

than

in

"Walloonie.
Liege

The cen~ter of the great incdustrial activity was the Province

of

which comprised the heart of the metallurgical, industry.

The coal deposits The

there are practically underneath the iron and steel plants in operation.

Flesnish provinces were noted for textiles and many of the handicrafts which made Flanders famous during the Middle

Ages.

3,

S

1a2 Land Hli
a country of

Blelgium is essentially (1

small farm

holdings.

According to

the 1930 census of~ agriculture, the total area of farm lands was hectares hectare 2,471 acres), with 1,131,146

1,997,-578

holdings,

averaging 1.766

hectares each.

The larger estates are

in the

French-speaking provinces owned

by the ;7alloon landlords, while the smaller farms are in Flanders as the tradition al heritage of the Flemish peasant. The following table shows, the sezes census : Area More than 100 hectares 50 to 100 30 to 50 20 to 30 10 to 20 5 to 10 1 to 5 less than 1
0f

the farm3Saccording to the 1930

Number of Farms
464 2,026 3,656 7,010

27,8832
56,311 194,914

838,883
1,131,146

4, The

A nistr.a' nine

8e

Di , ion

provxinces of the

kingdom

are subdiv~ided into

342 cantons and

2,623 communes,
the

The

provinces

are administered by 'a governor nominated by

kig*

The canton is a juidicial division for marking the

limt

'of the

j sdp oc issin g i sse n o

self-go vernme p in ,alla d thca l mo a h j ent 'X lo atters. s Fo re each comm unei of mn t a t a e1nit,

5, (X) 5.nhabtants or over, a burgomaster is appointed by the commiunal1 councl A§twih i chose: by the electors of the coxe~

The following table shows the 9 provinces and their capitals:
East

F ih.nder

9wa!m
..

"n

.

..

!"

b

. uges B
Q'

West

Zianders~

"ommm'ob®m® ..

hent

Brabant

.

b.9'

"6OO6U

....... 0 0m

Brussels

Luxemg

0

....

Arlon

25 -

III. Belgium is

THE PEOPLE with an es-

the most densely populated country of Euroe,

timated population in 1938 of 8,386,553 on an area of 11,754 square miles, as compared with 8,092,004 at the last official census of 1930. The density

in 1938 was placed at 713 per square mile, an increase of 25 persons per square mile over the 1930 census. Each year the population has shown a gain,

with a good margin of births over deaths, and with the exception of 1934 an excess of immigration over emigration. The natural increase in the population, however, down in recent years. has tended to slow

The annual birth rate dropped from an average of 20.5

per mille in the 5-year period 1921-25 to a low of 15.2 per mille in 1936, with slightly higher rates in the three years following. Since the German

occupation the birth rate is reported to have declined materially being below 13 per mille in both 1941 and 1942. The death rate, on the other hand, dropped

to only a slight extent, from an average of 13.4 per mille in the 1921-25 period to about 13 per mille in the period immediately preceding the present war. In 1940, 1941, and 1942 the death rate rose appreciably (16.1, 14.6,and

14.6, respectively, per mille), with a resultant decline in the total population, in addition to that caused by migration of workers to Germany. Both the birth rate and the death rate in the period preceding the present war were well below the European average. The following table shows the movement of the population for each year from 1930 to 1937:

VON. - 26 ?able No. 1.
P T3LATION MOMVE~NT

Population

Increase

Excess of
births

Excess
i)
or

of immigration

of emigration-)

1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935

8,092,004

8,159,185
8,213,449

8,247,950

8,275,552

8,299,940
8,330,959 8,361,220

1936
1937

67,181 54,264 34,501 27,602 24,388 31,019 30,261

46,874 43,716
39,603 30,114

+24,842 +12,794 + 7,926 is 3,096

34,885
24,172 23,916 21,332

do2,492

+ 157 + 4,145 + 7,986

The area of the 9 provinces and the population by sexes with the density
for each province are shown in the following table for 1937 (latest available

prior to the invasion) in comparison with the 1930 census:

T'able No. 1,

P PLTIOI ACCORDING To PROTINOM'
Total 1,173,363 1,680,065

1930 (Census)
Provinces Antwerp Brabant WRest Flanders

Area sq.
mile
1,104 1,268 1,249 1,147

Men 582,718 811, 268 444,334 568,952
641,045

Women 590,645 868,797 457,254 580,247 629,186 489,450 178,518 110,126 180,363
08 86

Inhabitants
per sq. mi.

Men

Womnen

Total

Inhabitants
per sq. mi. 1,128 1,392 769 1,036

1,063
1,325

617,811
849,983 474,907 589,444 622,942

627,240 1,245,051 914,501 1,764,484 485,775 960,682

901,588
1,149,199

723
1,002

East

Flanders

599,202 1,188,646

Hainaut Li ge

1,437
1,525 930

1,270,231 973,031 367,642
220, 920 355,965 8,092,004

884 638 395
129 252
687

620,847 1,243,789866 492,191
199,311

483,581
189,124 110,794 175,602

479,563
210,669 110,604

971,754

637
441
129

409,980
220,441
356,393

Luxemburg Namnur TOTAL

1,706

109,387
181,391

1941.3
11

175 002

252 692

8V "4007,418

J 0 9 25 & 20029

81361,220

~/includes certain natural bodies not calculated in area of 11,754 square miles as given elsewhere in text,

The

aLl i

r

id

ng in Belgium

in

1.930 numnbered

31"),,230, of

whoim the

greator porticn czs1 prised Dutch subjects and French aand. Polish following table shows the residents tioci
to

citizens.

The

by country, of

nationality and the propor-

each 1!,000 in habitants Tab No O

ROILGS
Couintry of 1910 France
The

Ait

f

Proj2prtto rs La 1000 irbi tants 19202 67.009 -L930 72,163 1910 19202/ 1930
9.TL7

80,765
70,950

10.88 9®56

9.("9

Netherlands

39 ,051
5 ,329
3,723 7,960 6,246 71.2

6~,2

Poland Italy Germany Great Britain Czechoslovakia Others Total. 4,490 572010

0®72
o06o
12 ,070 11,99 10 ,866 ?.68 G.).

6,26

1.08
0.8)

1,49

6,974

L,43
1.34 7,56 39®45

0110
4.)63 34.29 2.63 20.21

34,93
254,547

19,347 1.x.9 677

6 1,2 -L
319,~230

~/Territory accqired by Treaty of Ve.rsailles not'

incLucdd,

_

29

-

Belgium has only four cities of over 100,000 population, but, considering the small area of the country, has a large number of towns of moderate size. The

34 cities with more than 25,000 inhabitants, according to the
are tabul-atr d below.

December 31, 1938 official estimate,

Table No. 4. PCPULATIN .07 CITIIS
Brussels and suburbs 912,774 Antwerp (Anvers) Ghent (Gand) Liege Mechlin '(Me chln-Maline s) Deurne Borgerhout Bruges (Brugge) Ostend Berchem Seraing Verviers St. Nicolas Alost Courtrai Louvain (Leuven) Mouscron 273,317 162,858 162,229 Tournai (Doornik) Namur Hoboken 35,463 32,831 32,592

Roulers (Roesclare)30,334 M~erkser 29,870 29,305 28,919 28,631 27,274 27,021 26,885 26,828 26,17 26,110 25,752 25,398 25,261

62,311
Turnhout 56,664 Jumet 54,626 Lierre (Lier) 51,884. Charleroi 50,263 Genk

45,576
Herstal

42,981 Hasselt 42,931 Mons 41,933 Vilvoorde 41,131 Wibiyk 40,979 Lokeren 37,141 Ronse (Renaix) 35,722 the Belgian

The marked predominance of industry over agriculture in economy has often been pointed out.

The following table showing the distri-

bution by occupations of the active population indicates the extent of this predominance as well as the relative importance of other branches of the economic life of Belgium:

'table

lb.

5.

OCCUPATIOKAL C3NSUS -BELGIM
1920

1930 Total Percent 19.3 0.1 54,0 10.7 Men 494,507 Women Total Percent

Active Agriculture and forestry Fishery Industry Commerce Liberal professions Public service Domestic service Professions unclassified sub-total Non-Active Capitalists, pensioners, unemployed Dependents Sub-total.

Men

Women

489,517 2,894 1,412,016 215,599 66,898 152,622
40,076

133,555 66 332, 682 129,936 49,683 21,355
121,594 21,669

623,072 2,960 1,744,698 345,535
116,581

140,525 7 377,724 228,458 66,638 25,577 145,775
7,626

635,032 2,572 2, 047,905 543,757 140,336
168,661

16.9
0,1

2, 565 1,670,181 315,299 73,698
143,084 38,021 20,600

54.6 14.5 3,7 4.5 4,9
0.8

3.6 5.4 5.0
1.9 100,0

173,977
161,670

183,796
28,226

41,639
2,421,261

63,308
3.231,801

810a L

~2

2955 229AMQ
212,881 194,080

3750,285 100.0

57,840
1,194,642 62, 8

50,591

108,431

-

406,961

-

2,930,9408 4,125,550 9 4,233.981
3.792,0 7~6 62 82

-

1,036,582 2,898,176

3,934,758-

TOTAL

8022,00

-

31

-

The composition of the population according to

age groups

is shown

below.

POPULTIO1N ACCORDING ~0AGG
Age Group

GROTJPS

Males

1920 Females

1930
Total Males Females Total

Less than 5 years From 5 to less than 10
"

260,066 320,465 349,295
364,161

253,799 318,461
347,464 363,494 344,733

513,865" 638,926
696,759 727,655 686,587

335,872

331,615 342,637
247,960 323,427 346,499

667,487 601,309
500,387 649,012 703,638

348,672
252,427 326,485 357,159

10 to
15 20
"

'
'

"

15
'

i

20 25

"

"

"'
i

341,854 292,053
271,507 267,439 250,498 227,612 194,748 160,322

" 25 " 30

I o
i

30
'

308,511 282,100
271,148 2549414 232,217 201,175 169,988 142,948 107,382 76,787 50,936 23,398

600,564
553,607 558,587 504,912 459,829 395,923 330,310 271,349 197,768 138,487 90,019 39,451

366,363
335,918

354,023
335,633 301,114 273,346 261,293 240,620 213,297 175,858 137,786 99,578 58,422 28,339

720,386
671,551 587,522 536,177 516,722 474,440 417,610 340,572 260,764 182,922 102,375

i

35 40

It35
It40
i

i

i

"

286,408
262,831 255,429 233,820 204,313 164,714 122,978 83,344 43,953

"

5
"

45

toIt
" "

50 55 60

It50
i

"

55

It

i
a t

60 .I

65 70

128,401
90,386 61,700 39,083 16,053

it

65

i

W
'

" 70 " 75 " 80
"

"

t

75 80 85 90

a
i

'

" "

i

19,348 6,159 1,081

47,687 16,678

85

I t
'"

o

4,744 785 126
4

7,318 1,469
229

12,062 2,254

10,519 2,298

"

90
i

t
i if

95

3,379
390

it95

100

355
18

-14
7

276
16

More

than 100

14

23

~/

It is evident that the smallness of this age group is primarily a result of conditions during aorld

-var

i

-

32

-

A.

FAMILY AND SAX The general characteristics prevalent Belgium. on the Continent regarding domesthe head of the household

tic

life

apply in far

general to more authority

The man is

and exercises

than the average American father.

The career woman in Belgium is

a rare exception.

In the

best

social

circles, the employed woman is considered declasse.

Employment

of women.

among the bourgeois and lower classes in industry and business, however, is quite common. In the small enterprises characteristic of Belgium, the wife

and husband work daily side by side in their small shop or at a handicraft, and install their progeny early in the same endeavor. labors in the fields with the man, and it working under ground in the coal regions. The man attains his majority at twenty-one years. voting is The privilege of The peasant woman

is not uncommon, to see a woman

granted to all subjects over twenty-one without distinction of sex,

The Belgians are strictly a monogamous nation, though among the affluent the keeping of mistresses is not uncommon. is recognized and accepted by the women. necessary evil and is legalized. The continental double standard Prostitution is looked upon as a

The conservatism of the Catholic Church

and its opposition to divorces maintain legal separations and divorces at a minimum, yet the State does not prevent the dissolution of marriages by the courts. B. CHURCH AND L1 GI ON but the country

No religious census has been taken recently in Belgium, is more than 95 percent Catholic.

On January 1, 1937, there were 87 higher

clergy of the Roman Catholic Church and 6,387 inferior clergy; 31 Protestant ministers; 9 Anglican (Church of England) clergy; and 17 Jewish

rabbis,

-33_-

Agnosticism is
seaport towns,

found only

in the highly industrial centers and in the
of which Belgium has its share.

as an outgrowth of coinunismn, the Senate

In 1939 three communists sat in

or Upper House

of the legislature,

and nine. in the Chamber or Lower House, The Church and State are two separate and distinct The State Constitution provides for not interfere in entities in Belgium. and does

absolute liberty of conscience, affairs of either

any way with the internal

Catholic or

Protestant churches.
the Protestants or economic

The 'country is so overwhelmingly Roman Catholic and in such a minority, that nonexistent. religious, racial, income

and other faiths are practically

conflicts

Part of the the national

of the

mirnis.tare

of all denominationl8

is

paid from

treasury. The hierarchy of the Church of Rome is and five bishops, in the six all composed of one archbishop heads of their respective 1.937, were

(Archbishop of Malines) dioceses,

The 6,474 clergy

dioceses,

as of January 1, 717; Ghent,

distributed as follows:

Malines, 1,635; Bruges,

899; Tournai,

910; Lige, 1,256; Namur, 1,057.
Besides the regular Catholic clergy there are the members of the

numerous monastic and conventual houses, engaged principally in educational
and charitable work.

The following table shows the number of monasteries their members in 1930 (latest available)

and convents and

as compared with 1920:

-

34

-

1920
Monasteries,,, .. Convents .,.,,,,, 320

Number .12930

Members 1920 ~
9, 58 4J, 653 t
1

30
082

436
1 81-7
2,303

1,443

47 R'!!®

Total.........

1,763

54 511

58,973

Belgian priests, irrespective of birth ard ancestry,

are on an equal

social level.

Belgian cler T as a rule is a cultured class, having simple On the whole the Flemings are more staunch
but

habits and a sane point of view,

supporters of the Church than the Vialloons,

in

all parts

of the country

the Catholic Church possesses nominal hold on the population, largely because

it

controls education and the children come under its influence from their

very early years. The Protestant (Evangelical) Church is under a synod. a Central Jewish There is also and

Consistory,
Church.

a Central Committee

of the Anglican Church,

a Free Protestant

1.

1

Out

H~id~s

d

er of Ob eance

Many of

the processions and. religious festivals, which at present play

an important part in the social life of the masses, have been

preserved

by

the Belgians since medieval times, are the annual
"pardons".

The

most popular of these festivals

ermesses" which have a great deal in

commo

with the

French
-e are

Two great religious processions c

at

ntes and at

Brugs

outstanding. finally the

Then there are curious pilgrimages Ik1~e that at

ftkendover,, and

"marches

militairq, " or processions of holy relics with armed

escorts which are distinctive features of the
mystery pigys are given at various places in the Ardennes.

Seobre

and Meuse regions. the country,

Old

throughout

particularly

I

C-

35

-

Each

town has its "kermesse", but in recent years it has been largely

robbed of the religious significance and at present is more in the nature of a Lair with the usual side shows, merry-go-rounds, and similar amusements. The

word comes from Hkerke misse", meaning high mass, and is celebrated on the
day of the local patron saint. In addition to the peculiar relgious festivals, the other feast days of the Catholic Church common to the Catholic World are celebrated, such as Christmas, Baster, Ascension, Whiteunday, C. SOCIAL STRATIFICATION The German House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha has been the ruling house of and All Saints Day.

Belgium since Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, the widower of Princess Charlotte of Bngland, was elected King by a national Congress on June 4, 1831. At that

time he was a Protestant, but his subsequent marriage to the Catholic dauxghter of the French King, Louis Philippe, vith the proviso that any issue of the marriage be raised in the Roman Catholic faith,has made the ruling house solidly Roman Catholic. In addition to the royal house, a few remaining old noble, hereditary

houses of both the Flemish and Walloon province maintain a prominent place in the social life of the country. Below the nobility there is a distinct

aristocrztic class which, with the nobility, constitutes the rank and fashion of the upper strata. There is also the moneyed bourgeois class of merchants,

bankers, doctors, lawyers, and other professional groups which formerly could not penetrate the houses of the nobility and aristocracy, but this has been changing.

- 36 -

The conservative continental code of society which does not admit the members of the learned professions to the upper circles still persisted in

Belgium, but prior to the German occupation some changes were gradually being made in this respect with the continued rise of certain social classes. Any one connected with official life in Belgium is regarded with great

respect and to be in a Government office is considered the height of respectability. The peasants and the industrial and mining laboring classes which have developed from the original peasantry constitute the largest group of the population. Intermarriage within the class has been common for generations,

producing a more or less stolid and in general, somewhat ignorant group. Occasionally members endowed with certain acumen have been able to improve their social position. The Walloons tend, with little justification, to regard themselves as superior to the Flemings. The latter are primarily of Dutch stock, while

the former, who speak a French dialect, are descended from a branch of the Celtic race.

D.

EDUCATION Schooling was free and compulsory for all ooys and girls under 14 years

of age, but in 1935 in order to reduce unemployment and to keep the younger generation off the streets, a decree was passed raising the age to 16 years. It was to continue for two years, when it was to be modified according to

circumstances. and it

The law, however, did not reach all corners of the kingdom was enforced to

was only in the cities and industrial centers that it

any extent.

-

37 -

At one time there were 20 Royal Athenees,

7 communal colleges, and 8

private colleges which more or less compared with the better American high school. Universities numbered four - Ghent, Liege, Brussels, and Louvain.

The latter had the largest student body and was first in the liberal arts. Liege was foremost in engineering and other technical subjects. It was only after World War I that elementary education was made compulsory, and at that time Belgium was the only country in Europe except the Soviet Union which had no compulsory system of education. In large towns

attendance was almost universal, but in the country districts, especially in Flanders, it was alleged that many children hardly attended at all. It

was certain that those who did attend did so with long intervals for helping at home and in the fields, and'that the average number of days' the year was well below 200. 1. Illiteracy attendance in

The number of inhabitants who were unable to read and write at the 1930 census was 1,270,578 or 15.7 percent of the total population pared with 16.9 percent in 1920. as com-

Illiteracy has always been considered more

serious in Flanders than Walloonie, with the highest percentages in the Provinces of East and West Flanders. Illiteracy among the soldiers from Flanders
/

in the World War I was found to be as high as 30 percent. The following table indicates the illiteracy by age-groups in the various provinces in 1930:

Table

No.
L

7.

PIRC iTA~GOF ILL! ..
Provi~nces

By

GOP
to le
3,o26 13,30

7 to less Anvers
Brabant
West

15 to less

21

Total 15,78

4,34 2,95 4,80
4,70

0.75
0095

4.06

13,88 24,15.
23897

13,66
19,60

Flanders

1,60 1,53 1,63 1.08 0.97

6,25
6,46 6,43

East Flanders Hainaut Liege Limburg Luxemburg Namur State

18.50
16,09 12.10 19,81 13,16

3,65 1,52
1.84

20,63

3,07 3,38
1.40 1,67

9,58
12.92 40

4.13 2,85 3,57

0, 63
0.63 1,17

5.50
16.58

11.95 15.70

4,57

-39-

TSTAGDINGT Q.UALIIS AND
The Belgians are

WABITS sociable than the French. Their out-

in general less

standing characteristics are sturdiness and insistence upon their rights often forgetting the rights or point of view of others. With this insistence

go a tenacity and independence of character which upon occasion becomes ag-

gressive.

They are penurious, with a very determined idea of obtaining the
their money and even the upper. classes live mostly in a modest

best value for

and economical manner.
your change in Belgium".

It

is

a well known axiom among tourists -

"always count

Antwerpians differ

in

many characteristics

from the Bruxellois. to

Gen-

erally speaking, Antwerpians are more affluent and are inclined more lavishly and enjoy themselves more freely. their life is marked by less is at

spend money

They are more hospitable and The principal town of the there

formality than the Iruellois. the financial Ghent, Liege,

stock exchange Kingdom. are certain Great less sociable In

Antwerp which is cities

and connercial Namur,

the other large

and Louvain -

groups of distinction and culture. contrasts are apparent between the races, and does not enjoy the same facility The Fleming is generally

of expression and the same

vivacity of mind.

The physical and mental processes of the Fleming are He

deliberate, and he never hurries either in his work or in his decisions. has a more taciturn and serious frame of mind than the Walloon. In

the matter

of food,
He is

the Fleming is
prefers

insistent upon quantity and the Walloon on quality.
broad humor to to peasant life the sparkling wit of the Walloon. than the

boisterous,

The Fleming is

closer

Walloon,

so therefore

possesses a greater capacity for patient labor, and applies himself with enduring energy to his undertakings. in his dress which often do not blend. He delights in gay and brilliant colors

-

40

-

The Walloon peasant has gone mostly into industry or int, the mines, thus has lost the traditional definition of a peasant, soil. It is difficult as the tiller

and

of the

et

first to overcome the reserve of a Flemish peasant He is devoted His religious

a reserve derived partly from shyness and partly from distrust. to the soil to which he is bound by tradition and long memories. fervor is tainted with superstition and fanaticism, but it hard toil.

lightens a life of

He is poor and usually works longer and harder than either the His pleasures lack refinement, but they are the

British or American farmer.

necessary outlet of a boisterous nature. Rationalism has made but little progress among the Flemish masses, even

in the large towns, and the attitude of tolerant scepticism often adopted in Walloonie is almost unknown in Flanders. Flemish birth, while most of her lawyers, from the Walloon provinces. The Walloon is alert, energetic, and of quicker intelligence than his He expresses himself more easily and is considerably 't Most of Belgium's p .are of

scientists, and organizers come

compatriot the Fleming.

more sociable and communicative. one is tion.

He can nearly always be induced to talk if

prepared to satisfy his inexhaustible curiosity and thirst for informaHe does not take life so seriously, and enjoys a joke more than anyHe laughs at you and at himself. In Walloonie one finds larger

thing else.

estates than in Flanders and the passion for the soil is not so prominent. of Alcohol and Tobacco generally served at the midday and evening

1.

Use

In the better homes, wine is meals. It is

said that nowhere on earth is there a sounder knowledge and A certain quantity of wines is put away when a child

appreciation of wines.

-

hl

-

is born, usually with something special to be served on a girl's wedding day or a son's coming of age. The stock is increased in each good wine-year, so

that a young man setting up housekeeping usually has a cellar such as is rarely to be found in other countries. After World War I the cocktail invaded Belgium, but its popularity was only short lived, and retreated with the return of the traditional sherry and Madeira. The laboring classes are heavy drinkers. The miners and factory workers

indulge in a variety of gin of a very potent nature called schnick or genievre. Drinking by children begins at a comparatively early age. Cigarettes and tobacco are used by all classes, but as a general rule indulgence is less prevalent than in the United States. Smoking by women of

the lower classes is less common than among the fashionable and bourgeois women of the cosmopolitan centers. The number of drug addicts is about the

same as in other civilized countries.

t.

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS AND TESTIVALS No country can boast of so many interesting traditional observances. The Belgians have a passion for dressing up for civil and religious processions to a stirring accompaniment of music and color display. Most of the

great pageants and carnivals have come down from ancient times and they play an important part in the social life of the masses. In addition to the religious festivals already discussed, there are a number of national holidays. The Fete Nationale on July 21, to celebrate

the national independence of the Belgians from the United Netherlands, and

ha

-

the F'ete Nationale and, Fete Patronale of the King on two main national festivals. Day,

Novemiber 11, are the

Other national public holidays are New Year's Whitmnonday, Assumption, and All Saints'

Faster

Monday,

Ascension Day,

Day.
The gayest carnival is the Gilles de Binche. It originated in 1549.

Mary of Hungary, Regent of the Low Countries,
celebrated the visit were allowed to of her nephew, the festivals Philip II

then in residence at Binche,
of Spain. The town folks has

join in

and since then the celebration

been renewed each year,
throughout the

Every one is

in

costume and street dancing continues

dayr and night. celebrations in, each town and village. giants, the clubs, marriage market at and others. Among them tcaussines-

There are also local are the processions Lalaing,

of the municipal of the

the competitions

archers'

The cafes, public parks, or gardens, as in France, are very important
features of the life of the populace, and almost every small town and even

many of the villages
on Sundays and fee Archery is ties the

have
days. typical

a band of some sort to entertain the inhabitants

national direct

sport of the descendants

Belgians.

Archery socie-

are numerous and are the

of the volunteer bands of

archers and swordsmen of the thirteenth century which were the sole defenders of the small towns and villages. But as a rule sports and pastimes in the than in the United States.
a limited extent,

country districts are much less indulged in
ing is only indulged in on the rivers

Boatalthough

and canals to

at Ghent there is

a very famous rowing club and rowing is

popular at Liege

143

-~

On the I

Meuse at Antwerp on the Scheldt. and in the Ardennes.

Shooting and hunting are a principal Bicycling is popular. days, the peasants and indus-

sport with the well-to-do On Sunday,

as well as on the various fete

trial workers don their better clothes and after a more or less substantial midday meal including a few extras not indulged in every day they sit at a cafe

or in a public garden or square of their town where a band may be playing.

1.

Fairs and Popular Events
important annual fair is the International Fair held at Brussels,

The most

formerly known as the "Brussels Commercial, Official, and International Fair",
held usually for two weeks each spring. stalls ance in in which foreign participation In 1937 there were more than 1,700 for

accounted

46 percent,

with an attend-

excess of 600,000. time various special fairs or exhibits are held, especially

From time to the International

Water

Exhibition held at

Liege during the summer of 1939 to

celebrate the inauguration of the Albert Canal connecting Liege with Antwerp. Attendance from May 20 to of the war in foreigners. August 20, when it was closed, owing to the outbreak

Europe, approximated 5,000,000 persons, of which 1,000,000 were

Each fashionable watering place along

the

North Sea, such as Ostend,

Nieuport-Bains, La Panne, Blankenberghe, Zeebrugge, Heyst, and Knocke-sur-Mer has its Kursaal where gambling and the other characteristic attractions of a

continental casino are featured.

.

IIERAL LIVING CONDITPIONS All types of housing and living conditions exist in Belgium from the

wealthy and highly cultured classes of Ccntinental society to the crude and

-.

4

-

rustic farm houses of the peasant farmers.

It

n be said, however, that the

laboring and farming classes live more simply than the corresponding classes in the United States. In Flanders where there are no quarries, bricks are in general use. The

walls are whitewashed, the doors and shutters painted green, and this scheme of color is completed by the red-tiled roofs. In Walloonie local stone of

a gray or brown color is is

used, and slate being plentiful, the blue-gray note instead of shining brilliant-

repeated in the roofs, so that the villages,

ly in the sunlight as in Flanders, appear like dark patches against the green background. One peculiar characteristic of Belgian domestic life is that in homes,

except those of people in the highest rank of society, almost invariably there is a show room filled with expensive furniture. is This room, in which the owner

takes great pride,

scarcely ever used by the family and is kept only for

the purpose of entertaining visitors. Around Mons and Charleroi and in the vicinity of Liege and in the Meuse Valley lie the great coal fields, known as the "Borinage" or the Belgian black country and here one finds the physical and moral standards of the people extremely low. while their homes, The mining population are stunted and ill-developed, and

in consequence of the drinking habits of men, women, Waomen actually work in the mines,

even children, are ill-kept. begin to work at an early age.

and children

In the country districts the work day begins very early and the first meal is far lighter than that of the average worker in the United States. usually coffee and bread, with a little butter if it can be af-

Breakfast is

-

45

-

forded.

About ten in the morning, a piece of bread and butter or bread and The midday meal consists of bread and a piece of cheese,

cheese is eaten. bacon, or herring. bread.

In the evening, the supper is often merely soup and

On Sundays and fete days, the midday meal consists of a meat, a few

vegetables, and occasionally a salad. Notwithstanding the frugality of such menus, as a general rule the coun.

try people in normal times appear to be adequately nourished.

Statistics

prove that ill health is comparatively rare among the Belgian peasants and longevity is by no means unusual. I. ATTITUDEI TOWARD THE WAR

Prior to the invasion of Belgium by the German troops on the morning of Friday May 10, 1940, Belgium maintained a rigid neutrality, although underneath the apparently placid work, surface, many subversive forceu were at

When the invasion occurred, the majority of Belgians were as un-

suspecting as the other victims of the Nazis.
Some military observers have said that the Belgian Army fought only half-heartedly. In any event, the invasion progressed at almost incredible

speed.

Within three days after crossing the frontier, German advance parties
Five days later both Brussels and followed.

had reached within 15 miles of Brussels.

Antwerp were occupied.

General disillusionment

Many could not

understand why the enormous military expenditures of recent years had failed to save their country. When,contrary to popular feeling, the King surrendered and became a

prisoner of the Germans instead of escaping to an allied nation to establish

an exiled Government, he was publicly acclaimed by many.

Messages were sent by

46

thousands of his subjects,

thanking hi

fo

his Vis
oin

ueiulation and

saving Belgi'om from becoming a battle field.

'y

hundreds p .rsce4
n

wreath after wreath of flowers at the entrance to is palc their loyalty and approval.

token of

Belgium~ was the first occupied country to

8~id labox'rr

to

Grmany.
the

A

foreign service officer who was in Belgium from the occupatio

ntil

closing of the United States consular and diplomatic offices stated that the general atmosphere was of passive resistance and the the resentment of the Norwegians and the Dutch, laxis did not display

J.

ATTITUDE TOWAR1D T911

TT

ITID STATES
yae the highest regard for the Uni te.

In general

the Belgians

States, than

yet

in trade and commerce there is

that feeling to

of resentment for aur fi ivn~ci.

and industrial resources, ability
selves,

accomplish

things

in less time

thow

and the general sensitiveness that a small nation would

have

aginst

a large

and powerful competitor in world markets.

Inasmuch as Belgium was the entrepot of much of the commerce enter western Europe, its relations with other countries were for amiable.

the main

part

Relations with Great Britain had always been friendly, for Great

Britain was not only one of the guarantors of its neutrality prior to Worl
War

I, but

was one of the principal makts for

Belgia maufactured
-

goods..

In recent years them4 was a slight orientation towards Gen fostered by clever German propaganda

perhaps

As most of the ships which

cleared

at Mntwerp were of the German flag, it was frequently said that "A prosperous Germany meant a' prosperous Antwerp".,

47

K.t

LANGULTAaOI
Belgium is a bilingual country. Until 1921 French was the only official

language,

but as a result of pressure from the nationalistic Flemish movement, The knowledge

Flemish was recognized by law as one of the official languages.

of both languages is compulsory in the Army, the law courts, and central ministration.

ad-

All official documents are now published in both languages.

The same law of 1921 made Flemish the administrative language of the

Flemish-speaking

districts, but French might be used as well as Flemish in all

communications. to the public whenever a request to this effect was made by onefifth of the municipal electors. Although Flemish is now recognized as an official tongue, French continues to be spoken by the educated and commercial groups, and is language used by the upper classes. Flemish is dialects. a Low-German language closely akin to Dutch and possesses many ditintlLy tJi*

Literary Flemish, since the spelling reform of 1864, differs but It has only been since Flemish has been

slightly from literary Dutch.

recognized as an official language that there has been a movement to standardize it, and even today two Flemings from different localities, or a country Fleming and a speaker of literary Flemish, may easily be compelled to fall back on French as the only language comprehensible to both.

Walloon is an independent but kindred language t. French - somewhat
analogous to that of Provencal spoken in the former Province of Provence and still used today by many in that section of France. The Walloon-speaking

population is, however, in one way more closely connected with the French than the Flemish-speaking population with the Dutch, for, whereas polite Dutch is

not spoken by most Flemings, Walloons almost always speak French in addition to their own language. Roughly speak ing, all the 4 upper and educated classes

-s

48

in

Flanders know French,

but in

WTalloonie

only a of the

small percentage

know Flemish.

At present approximately their mother tongue,

53

percent

population speaks Flemish as The predomiAntwerp,

46 percent French, and 1 percent German.
provinces are East and West Flanders,

nantly Flemish-speaking and Brabant, Hainaut, Liege Is

Limburg,

while the predominantly French-speaking provinces and Namur. in

are Liege,

Luxemburg,

The German-speaking area of the province of

concentrated

the portion recovered from Germany by the treaties A table in the Belgian Statistical Yearbook (in (Annuair e

following World War I. Statistique) bilingual for

1939 shows the distribution inhabitants) or German language (excluding

by language or

the case of

or triingual

preference of the persons speakpersons

ing French, Flemish,

children under 2 years old,

not speaking any of the 3 languages, and those not indicating a preference,
constituting

4.24 percent of the total population, apper

in

1930).

This distribution,

in

per-

centage of the total

in table No. 80 on the followi P

e

.Tabl1e No. 8. LANGUAIS ACCORDING TO PROVINCES (ExCUSI V LT OR PCA)
Percent of

Inhabitants

Percent of Inhabitants

Provinces Antwerp Brabant West Flanders Let Flanders
Hainauit

Speaking French 1910 1920

Speaking Flemish
1910 90.32

1/

1930
4,08

19201~/
91.08

1930

Percent of Inhabitants Speaking German 1910 1920 ~/1930 1.18 0,81 0.08 0.08 0,01 0,07 0.07 2.17 0.18 13.67 0.06 0,01 0.01 6.68 0.03 10.91 0,02 0.60 0.31 0,03 0.02 0.10 6.26 1,61
S

3.42 38.47 6.16 2.28

3.65
43.74 6.67

90.68 50,26 87.04

45.83 8.34 3.37 93.08
87.11 4.63 87.26

56.48
88,59 92.87 2.86

52.47
88.78
92.03 2.81

3.51
93.77 86.62

92.55
2,60 2.74

93.16 90,93 4,53 81.58
95086 42.8

z ge

3.30 89.33 0.23
0.40

2.91

mburg
Luxemburg Namur TOTAL

4,38
85014 96.47

90,3 2
0.20

86.35
0,17 0,40 51.10

8,65
0.02

96,05
k.2

0.38

43.92

I/ Includes

inhabitants of territory acquired by 'World War I treaties.

-"50

The following tablet from the same source

as

the foregoing, shows the

linguistic distribution of the population of Belgium as a whole on the basis of the three principal lanauaes and combinations Table No, 9,

thereof:

LANGUAGES SPOKEN
Absolute Figures 1920 1930
French only

IN

BE~LGI'UM
1910 Percent of Total 1920 1

13

2,850,825 3,185,100
16,863 967,813

3,039,3l15 3,473,291 69,033
1,045,601. 67,140

38,16

38,24 42,66
0,83 12,96 0.72 0.03 0,146 4.10 100.00

37.56

Flemish only lerman only
French

43.38
0,42
1l 1.

42,92
O,85 12,92 0,,83 0.12 0.67 4,13

and

Flemish

French and German

45,206
2,336 33,862

1.01 0.12 0.71

Flemish

and

German

933

Ml

3 national languages

54,086
334,206 8,092,004

.\one of 3 national languages 303,564 Total
7,05,69

4.46
100.00

100.00

LI

Includes territory acquired by ,world Oar I treaties, children less than 2 years of age as well as inhabitants who do not of the three languages,

VComprises speak any

Except

in

out-of-the-way districts the traveler who knows no language

but English will meet with no insuperable language generally understood in
country districts

difficulty.

English is

very

the towns,

especially at the hotels,

and even in

the
and

a knowledge of English has been spread by War 5World I

by the return of refugees from England. French dialects Belgium, essential eastern are spoken also by the where a slight Walloon population of southern knowledge of French is in a few districts almost of

including the Ardennes, for the traveler.

German dialects prevail

and southeastern Belgium and especially in

the Province

of Luxeunrg or those subjects.

among the Luxemburgers from the Grand Duchy who have migrated there ;,ho have settled there and have retained their privileges

as Luxemburg

L.

bACIAL CONFLICTS

AND DISCRIMINATIONS
casual observer

Although
knitted

the

Belgians to the

as a whole would seem to
but by a common exists

be

together not only by economic and political interest
a distinct social and political reality, under a

tradition and religion,

difference

be-

tdween

the

iiloons and the Fle'rin s m In living

they

are two distinct

groups with varying characteristics

sovereign head,

with

he

les

numerous one holding the upper hand socially and until a short time ago most of the political influence.
It was the religious sixteenth distinction which was the main reason in of the the

century for the cleavage and again in

Northern Netherlands between Holland
century religion

and Flanders, principal to

the nineteenth

was one of the
from 1815 under

conflicts

which caused political and social of the

differences

1830 when Flanders and Via±±oonie were a part

United Netherlands

the Protestant

House of Orange.

ToY

Ly

sm 3athcl:. ,ci is closely Ca

52_~

associated with the main characteristics

of the

Belgian temperament.

Racial types are more consistent in European people, and if larity

Belgium than among any other western ethnographic

no language distinction existed,

dissimi-

would certainly mark the differ'enc.s,

Intermarriages between the two ?lhen interare

races are frequent, but as a rule the two have remained apart,
marriages do occur, the characteristics and convictions

of the Flemings

more pronounced or are of a stronger strain, so almost invariably the offsprinig possess more Flemish traits The Flemings of the for generations a traditional and become Flemish rather than Walloon nourished and the

bourgeois and perhaps other classes have hatred for the organized authorities

superior position

of the WaLloons.

The so-called

Flemish question has been

a well-known issue within the kingdom since its
became more acute after the April 15, 1920. introduction

establishment in

l830, but

of universal suffrage by the law of

Although in 1921 Flemish was recognized as an official lanGa*t Of.

guage, that by no means settled the 4

Various agents of the national-

istic Flemings continued to cause distrust and misudert aldi lfwith the Walloons
and the official government. fruitful and active fifth Among this dissatisfied their group the Germans found to the invasion of

columnists for

work prior

May 1940 and thereafter, No discriminations, whether legal or extra-legal, occur in Belgium

among the Flemings and .Walloons in law-court,
categories, offices but the Walloons, in though in

business, school,

home,and

other

the minority,

frequently OccuPhigher

of trust

administrative

and executive positions.

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