1914-1918 : The occupation


The docks of Bruxelles-Maritime in 1916. Men, women and children stand watching as bags of flour are being discharged under the flags of the Commission for Relief in Belgium. Before the war, Belgium imported 80% of its cereals. With the German occupation, these importations ceased brutally. The country was caught in a stranglehold: Germany refused to provide invaded countries with food, whereas Great Britain imposed a maritime blockade against the enemy. The population’s survival was directly threatened. This brought about the establishment of a vast international campaign for “Poor little Belgium”, creating a provisioning system under the protection of neutral countries, thereby avoiding a catastrophe.