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March 16 , 2010

Belgium in the Second World War


When the Nazis invaded neutral Belgium in May 1940, defeat and occupation were inevitable but Belgian armed forces held out against a vastly superior enemy for 18 days. The elected Government went into exile in London but King Leopold III controversially remained with his people as a prisoner.As described in this authoritative book, Belgians continued the fight both outside and inside their country. There were eventually two complete Belgian RAF squadrons. The Colonial Army defeated the Italians in East Africa and the Belgian Brigade fought from Normandy to Germany.The Belgian Resistance organized escape routes, sabotaged their occupiers' activities and spied for the Allies. 17,000 died or were executed and a further 27,000 survived detention. Meanwhile others collaborated and fought for the Nazis and large numbers were tried post-war for war crimes and treason.About half the Jews in Belgium in 1940 died in the Holocaust and there are many stirring stories of courage, as well as tragic ones.This is an overdue and honest account of one Nation's very varied experiences during five years of Nazi occupation and oppression.

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