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Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France

Militärverwaltung in Belgien und Nordfrankreich
Location of Nazi-occupied Belgium and Northern France
German and Italian occupation zones: the zone occupée, the zone libre,the zone interdites, annexed Alsace-Lorraine, Luxembourg and Eupen-Malmédy, and the Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France
German and Italian occupation zones: the zone occupée, the zone libre,the zone interdites, annexed Alsace-Lorraine, Luxembourg and Eupen-Malmédy, and the Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France
StatusTerritory under German military administration
Common languagesDutch
Military Commander 
• 1940
Gerd von Rundstedt
• 1940–1944
Alexander von Falkenhausen
• 1940–1944
Eggert Reeder
Historical eraWorld War II
• Established
• Disestablished
CurrencyBelgian franc
Preceded by
Succeeded by
French Third Republic
Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France
Today part of Belgium

The Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France (German: Militärverwaltung in Belgien und Nordfrankreich) was an interim occupation authority established during the Second World War by Nazi Germany that included present-day Belgium and the French departments of Nord and Pas-de-Calais.[1] The administration was also responsible for governing the zone interdite, a narrow strip of territory running along the French northern and eastern borders.[2] It remained in existence until July 1944. Plans to transfer Belgium from the military administration to a civilian administration were promoted by the SS, and Hitler had been ready to do so until Autumn 1942, when he put off the plans for the time being.[3] The SS had suggested either Josef Terboven or Ernst Kaltenbrunner as the Reich Commissioner of the civilian administration.[4]

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The Land of brave Belgium is well known for its chocolates, beers and the famous comic franchises like Smurfs and adventures of Tintin. but the history of this country dates back to the 3rd century BC. In this episode of from years to minutes we will briefly look at the history of Belgium. If you are new to this channel hit the thumbs up button, subscribe and hit the bell icon, so you don’t miss another video on this channel. Gaul was a historical region of Western Europe during the Iron Age that was inhabited by Celtic tribes, encompassing present-day France, Luxembourg, Belgium, most of Switzerland, parts of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine. According to the testimony of Julius Caesar, Gaul was divided into three parts: Gallia Celtica, Belgica, and Aquitania. It is believed that Belgium derives its name from the Belgae tribes which lived in the northern part of what was then Gaul around the third century BC. But what does Belgae stand for and where did these tribes come from? According to linguistic experts, the name has its roots from the proto-Celtic words ‘belg’ and ‘bolg,’ which means to swell with anger. Of all the tribes in Gaul, they were described as the bravest of them all, and this belief was supported by the fact that they were the hardest to conquer. Caesar faced strong resistance and it took him four years until he finally conquered the Belgae tribes in 53 BC. Moreover, during Roman times, Belgaes could not accept the fact that their lands were part of the Empire and revolted. Their leader Ambiorix was in charge of a revolt, but was eventually defeated . After the fall of the Roman Empire and the beginning of the Middle Ages, the territories which presently form Belgium became part of the Holy Roman Empire and would remain as such until the 11th and 12th centuries. The influence and control of the Holy Roman Empire over these territories would gradually decrease over the centuries. As a result, these lands were left isolated and the lack of protection was a good opportunity for the English and French to take control of the region. In the 12th century, Belgium was partitioned into the duchies of Brabant and Luxembourg, The Bishopric of Liège, and the domain of the count of Hainaut, which included Flanders. In the 15th century, most of the Low Countries (currently the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg) passed to the duchy of Burgundy and were subsequently inherited by Emperor Charles V. When the latter abdicated in 1555, the territories went to his son Philippe II, king of Spain. While the northern part, now the Netherlands, gained its independence in the following decades, the southern part remained under Spanish control until 1713, when it was transferred to Austria. During the wars that followed the French Revolution, Belgium was occupied and later annexed to France. The year 1815 was without doubt of significant importance. Following Napoleon’s defeat in Waterloo, the victorious powers of Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia met in Vienna to redistribute influence and negotiate the jurisdiction of territories for years to come. One of the most significant decisions was the creation of the United Kingdom of Netherlands. The main idea was to create a state which would serve as a buffer territory against any future French intervention. During the Vienna Congress, the creation of a Belgian state was suggested, but this option did not get enough support. Instead, it was decided that territories which were once part of France should be now attached to the United Kingdom of Netherlands. On 25 August 1830, the Dutch king Willem I was celebrating the 15th year of his reign. As part of his celebrations, he attended the Auber’s opera La Muette de Portici at the Brussels opera house; interestingly, the same opera influenced nationalist movements during the revolution in France, which took place a month earlier with many patriotic disturbances. It was for this reason the opera was initially banned, but subsequently lifted for its premiere on the 25th of August. During the performance, there were many patriotic posters inside the opera that called for a revolution. From the moment when the second act began with the duet ‘Amour sacré de la Patrie,’ an uprising began among the attendees and the revolt quickly moved to the streets of Brussels. The inspiration for a revolution began to pick up pace in other cities; and the people’s demands were simple – independence and an end to the Dutch dominance. The Belgian Revolution was a moment which not only was of huge importance for Belgium, but it also shaped the rest of Europe, and created a new country. Following these events, the great powers from the Vienna Congress gathered once again in London on 20 December 1830. This time they had no choice but to recognize the success of the Belgian revolution and to guarantee its independence. However, the powers insisted that the future king should come from the Saxe-Coburg dynasty. Why was that” The reason is simple – avoid any French interests in the future Belgian territories. That is why Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg was invited to become the first King of Belgium and his inauguration was on 21 July 1831. The date of his inauguration became the national day of Belgium. Since then the Dutch and French-speaking communities have their own country and king and sealed the year 1831 as the true beginning for modern-day Belgium. Most of society was highly traditional, especially in the small villages and rural areas and the quality of education was low. Few people expected that Belgium – seemingly a “sluggish” and “culturally dormant” bastion of traditionalism – would leap to the forefront of the industrial revolution on the Continent. Nevertheless, Belgium was the second country, after Britain, in which the industrial revolution took place. It developed into an open economy focused on industrial exports with strong ties between the banking sector and the basic industry. Belgium set the pace for all of continental Europe while leaving the The Netherlands behind. As international tensions heightened during the summer of 1914, Germany made plans to besiege France by crossing Luxembourg and Belgium, despite their neutrality. The two countries refused free passage to the German troops and were invaded on August 2 and August 4, respectively. The Belgian army retired behind the Yser (IJzer) River in the west of Flanders and held this position until 1918. The Treaty of Versailles (1919), ending World War I, abolished Belgium’s obligatory neutrality and returned the cantons of Eupen and Malmédy to its territory. In 1920 a treaty of military assistance was signed with France. In 1921 an economic union was concluded with Luxembourg that tied the currencies of Belgium and Luxembourg together. Belgium’s eastern frontier was guaranteed by the Pact of Locarno (1925). The Belgian economy of the interwar period faced serious difficulties. The war had caused a loss of 16 to 20 percent of the national wealth; not only had parts of the country been seriously damaged by combat, but the Germans had largely dismantled the Walloon heavy industry. Moreover, many Belgian investors had lost their capital in Russia, which had been transformed by a revolution into the Soviet Union. Reconstruction proved difficult for other reasons as well. Germany was delinquent and inadequate in its payment of war reparations mandated by the Treaty of Versailles. German forces again invaded the country in May 1940, and 40,690 Belgians, over half of them Jews, were killed during the subsequent occupation and The Holocaust. From September 1944 to February 1945 the Allies liberated Belgium. After World War II, a general strike forced King Leopold III to abdicate in 1951, since many Belgians felt he had collaborated with Germany during the war. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 during the Congo Crisis; Ruanda-Urundi followed with its independence two years later. Belgium joined NATO as a founding member and formed the Benelux group of nations with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Because of the limited extent of its war damage, estimated at only 8 percent of the national wealth, and the implementation of vigorous government policy, Belgium experienced a remarkable economic resurgence in the early postwar years. Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957. The latter has now become the European Union, for which Belgium hosts major administrations and institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the extraordinary and committee sessions of the European Parliament. Linguistic and economic tensions intensified between Flemings and Walloons. Massive strikes in Wallonia in early 1961 resulted in parliament defining a linguistic border in 1962–1963, with a bilingual area around Brussels. The bilingual University of Louvain was divided into a Flemish-speaking campus on Flemish territory and a French-speaking campus on Walloon territory in 1969–1970. The parliament gave cultural autonomy to the Flemish and Walloon regions in 1971, and the constitution was revised in 1980 to create an independent administration within each region, extended in 1988–1989 to cover the economy and education. That revision made the bilingual metropolitan area of Brussels a third independent region with its own administration. Thus Belgium changed into a federal state. The St Michael’s Agreement, of September 1992, called for the division of Brabant into Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant. King Baudouin died on July 31, 1993, to be succeeded by his brother, Albert II. The country is ethnically split between its Fleming majority, 58 percent of the population, its Walloonian minority, 31 percent of the population, and about 73,000 Germans. The other 11 percent consists mostly of Europeans, Turks, Moroccans, and Algerians. Belgium operates a modern, private-enterprise economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. It is one of the world’s ten largest trading nations. The economy is characterized by a highly productive workforce, high GNP, and high exports per capita. The Belgian economy is heavily service-oriented. The people of Belgium enjoy a high standard of living. The Belgian Armed Forces have about 41,000 active troops. They are organized into one unified structure which consists of four main components: The Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Medical Component. Thank you for watching, If you are new to our channel give us a thumbs up, Subscribe to our channel and don’t forget to hit the bell icon. I will meet you again next Saturday in episode 2 of From years to minutes.



On 18 July 1944, the Military Administration was replaced by a civil one, led by the Gauleiter, Josef Grohé, who was named the Reichskommissar of the Reichskommissariat of Belgium and Northern France (Reichskommissariat Belgien und Nordfrankreich)[1][5]

Role of collaborationist groups

The Nazi administration was assisted by fascist Flemish, Walloon, and French collaborationists. In binational Belgian territory, the predominantly French region of Wallonia, the collaborationist Rexists provided aide to the Nazis while in Flemish-populated Flanders, the Flemish National Union supported the Nazis. In Northern France, Flemish separatist tendencies were stirred by the pro-Nazi Vlaamsch Verbond van Frankrijk led by priest Jean-Marie Gantois.[6]

The attachment of the departments Nord and Pas-de-Calais to the military administration in Brussels was initially made on military considerations, and was supposedly done in preparation for the planned invasion of Britain.[7] Ultimately, the attachment was based on Hitler's intention to move the Reich's border westward, and was also used to maintain pressure on the Vichy regime - which protested the curtailment of its authority in what was still de jure national French territory - to ensure its good behavior.[8]

Command structure

The Military Administration formed the core of a wider command structure which allowed the governance of occupied Belgium. It could rely on both military and civilian components:


Military Administration in Belgium and Northern France
Militärverwaltung in Belgien und Nordfrankreich
Part of the Wehrmacht
Militärbefehlshaber: Alexander von Falkenhausen
Nazi Germany
Part of the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst
Independent of the Military Administration and directed from Berlin.

Military Administrative Staff
Militärverwaltungschef: Eggert Reeder

Command Staff
Chef der Kommandostab: Bodo von Harbou
Committee of Secretaries-General
Representatives of the Belgian civil administration

Economic Department

Feldgendarmerie and Geheime Feldpolizei
Nazi Germany
Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo)
Part of the SS
Belgian civil service:
Burgomasters and local government;
Belgian police and state security

Regional and district headquarters:
Oberfeld-, Feld- or

Belgian collaborationist groups
Principally the Vlaams Nationaal Verbond (VNV) or Rex;
Each with internal command structure.

Based on description in Van den Wijngaert, Mark; Dujardin, Vincent (2006). La Belgique sans Roi, 1940-1950. Nouvelle Historie de Belgique. 2: 1905-1950. Brussels: Éd. Complexe. pp. 19–20. ISBN 2-8048-0078-4.

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Vinen, Richard (2006). The Unfree French: Life under the Occupation (1st ed.). London: Allen Lane. pp. 105–6. ISBN 0-713-99496-7.
  3. ^ Kroener, Müller & Umbreit (2003) Germany and the Second World War V/II, p. 26
  4. ^ Kroener, Müller & Umbreit (2003) Germany and the Second World War V/II, p. 27
  5. ^ Kroener, Müller & Umbreit (2003) Germany and the Second World War V/II, p. 29
  6. ^ Kroener, Bernhard R.; Müller, Rolf-Dieter; Umbreit, Hans (2000). Germany and the Second World War:Organization and mobilization of the German sphere of power. Wartime administration, economy, and manpower resources 1939-1941. Oxford University Press. p. 84. ISBN 0198228872.
  7. ^ Jackson, Julian (2003). France: the dark years, 1940-1944. Oxford University Press. p. 169. ISBN 0199254575.
  8. ^ Kroener et al. (2000), p. 84

Further reading

  • Dejonghe, Etienne (January–March 1970). "Un mouvement séparatiste dans le Nord et le Pas-de-Calais sous l'occupation (1940-1944): le "Vlaamsch Verbond van Frankrijk"". Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine. 17 (1): 50–77. JSTOR 20527887.
  • Geller, Jay Howard (January 1999). "The Role of Military Administration in German-Occupied Belgium, 1940-1944". The Journal of Military History. 63 (1): 99–125. JSTOR 120335.
  • Wouters, Nico (2006). "Localisation in the Age of Centralisation : Local Government in Belgium and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (1940-1945)". In De Wever, Bruno; Van Goethem, Herman; Wouters, Nico (eds.). Local Government in Occupied Europe (1939-1945). Ghent: Academia Press. pp. 83–108. ISBN 9789038208923.
  • Sueur, Marc. "La Collaboration Politique dans le Département du Nord (1940-1944)". Revue d'histoire de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale et des conflits contemporains. 34 (135): 3–45. JSTOR 25729197.

External links

This page was last edited on 29 October 2019, at 23:13
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