Sursum Corda: The underground press in occupied Belgium, 1914-1918

Sophie De Schaepdrijver, Emmanuel Debruyne

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Sursum Corda studies the underground press in occupied Belgium during the First World War. No other European occupied territory, in 1914-1918, produced such an intensive underground discourse. The article links this exceptional proliferation to the circumstances of Belgium's entry into the war, viz. the violation of neutrality and the civilian massacres of 1914. These issues, which galvanized a sense of national identity, were stressed by the underground press to deny legitimacy to the German occupation regime. This underground press was sustained by ad hoc networks of people from the urban middle classes, most of them Catholic. The German occupation regime, in its quest for legitimacy, spent considerable effort dismantling these networks. Underground press activity, at its most intense in 1915, sank to a very low pitch in 1917-1918. This was not only due to hardened repression and material difficulties but also due to a sense, among the occupied population, of the diminished (though never completely expired) relevance of the message of the underground press.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalFirst World War Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History


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