Americans in Occupied Belgium, 1914–1918

Accounts of the War from Journalists, Tourists, Troops and Medical Staff


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About the Book

Belgium in the First World War—the first country invaded, the longest occupied, and when the war finally ended, the first forgotten. In 1914, Belgium was home to a large American colony which included representatives of American companies, artists, writers and diplomats with the American Legation. After the invasion, American journalists and adventurers flocked there to follow the action; military restrictions on travel were less stringent than in England or France.
As the most industrialized country in Europe, Belgium depended upon trade and food imports to support its economy. The war isolated Belgium and wholesale starvation was imminent by the fall of 1914. Herbert Hoover and his Commission for Relief in Belgium raised funds to purchase and import food to sustain Belgium and, eventually, Occupied France as well. Idealistic American volunteers (including some Rhodes scholars) supervised food distribution in the occupation zone. Along the Western Front in Belgium, hundreds of Americans served (illegally) in the British and Canadian armies. This book tells the story of the German invasion, occupation and retreat from the perspective of Americans who were there.

About the Author(s)

For years, Ed and Libby Klekowski have spent lengthy periods in a farmhouse in Lorraine, exploring the nearby villages and forests for the artifacts of war. Their discoveries were the basis of two hour-long documentaries on World War I on American Public Television. They live in Leverett, Massachusetts.

Bibliographic Details

Ed Klekowski and Libby Klekowski
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 296
Bibliographic Info: 51 photos, 10 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7255-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1487-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface  1
Introduction  5
1. The Attack  9
2. Book Burning  30
3. Murder and Mayhem on the Meuse  50
4. Besieged Antwerp  67
5. The Last Ditch in Belgium  91
6. Prussian Belgium  113
7. Is Food a Weapon?  131
8. Feeding the Etappen Zone and Social Darwinism  151
9. Battles Around Ypres  169
10. Medieval ­U-­Boat Nest  190
11. Americans Going and Coming  208
12. Final Acts  227
13. After the War  244
Chapter Notes  259
Bibliography  275
Index  279

Book Reviews & Awards

“vividly describes the human condition of Americans in Belgium and uncovers the horror brought against the Belgian people by the German Army. The authors captivate the reader by revealing the personal experience and individual perspective of the war and its effects…gripping accounts”—H-Net Reviews.