On 11 November 1918 the guns on the Western Front finally fell silent. Some of Belgium’s finest historians explain how their country struggled back to its feet after four long years of wartime misery. Many towns and villages had been razed to the ground and the Belgian coastal region had been transformed into a giant moonscape. Factories had been plundered and harbour installations destroyed. Unemployment was at unprecedented levels and sickness and disease weakened the population. To make matters worse, there was an acute shortage of food. The human cost of the First World War was also immense: society as a whole was in mourning. The dead were reburied and their names were engraved on war memorials. Thousands of veterans, their disabled and mutilated comrades, grieving parents, young widows and orphans carried the trauma of the war years with them for the rest of their lives.
Despite this, Belgium quickly made the transition to the Roaring Twenties: the colourful, frivolous, flamboyant and turbulent decade that was characterized by the rise of the avant-garde, jazz and flapper dresses and the emergence of modern media such as radio, film and photography. The contrast with the horrors of the war was huge.
In an exhaustive and surprising work of reference, leading military, political, social and cultural historians explain how Belgium slowly recovered from and, ultimately, was radically transformed by the First World War. The book is richly illustrated with a series of unique images: historical photographs and iconic objects that will forever be associated with the 1920s.
On sale at the museum.