Ons Vaderland was a free newspaper that appeared in Calais, France. During the war, three types of newspapers appeared in Belgium:Censored newspapers. These were official newspapers, edited in Belgium, but which could not escape censorship by the German authorities. These publications had more resources, and could therefore deliver a better quality of print than some smaller ones. An example of an official newspaper is Le Bruxellois.
Clandestine. Unofficial newspapers also printed in Belgium. An example is La Libre Belgique.
Free newspapers. Some, like this one, were edited abroad, in neutral or allied countries. These publications were not censored by German authorities. Nevertheless, parts of the text are blank. This was done to avoid diplomatic conflicts.
The Life of a People - Georges Verstappen
In order for a people to be great and remain great, the life of this people has to reflect a continuous ascent. This is clear, for if a people—like the French—stalls but one moment on the road of progress, it is immediately overtaken by more prominent peoples, like the Germans. What then to say about a people that retraces its steps? Does it not resemble a boulder that starts by slowly rolling down a mountain, to later blindly hurl itself into the abyss?
The strong interrelation between the benefit of the individual and that of the community should be considered as the foundation for this continuous progress. Everyone needs to be convinced of the solemn truth contained within this notion and live their life accordingly. Thus, the condition for life is the individual’s ability to sacrifice his own benefit to the common good. Alas, how few are capable of this! For one is, at times, forced to sacrifice an advantage or to forgo a pleasure, yes even to toil away the prime years of one’s life!
Nevertheless, I have great confidence in our Flemish people, and I am convinced that the crowd of individuals will unreluctantly shake off its innate self-interest to make our dearly beloved Flanders—our cherished paternal soil—uniquely great and beautiful. Oh yes, Flanders will live a nobler, fuller life than any other people! Indeed, this great work of love, of charity and patriotism, will come to fruition, for we cry out: “Flanders for Christ” and God shows us our eternal reward!
With regard to Flanders’ life, the following rule of life could be prescribed: “Flemings, be yourselves and maintain the law of the Lord your God!”
The Flemish people have such a remarkably great love and veneration for their country that all those who meet true Flemings are struck with admiration. It is therefore a given that this love should be propagated through new generations. If the Flemish want their country to be unequalled in its perfection, they will have to consider it their first and foremost duty to provide Flanders with a very numerous and healthy offspring.
A numerous offspring! How numerous the deprivations and duties this requires of us, how many cower in the face of it! But halt! Do not recoil, Flanders and Christ compel you! Turn your wide, glistening eyes toward heaven and proclaim: “Your will is my command!”
A numerous offspring is a paramount necessity for Flanders’ life, but that is not the end of it. The Fleming will teach himself and his children that there is more.
In Flanders, too, there will always be moral and physical suffering; it is therefore necessary that each Fleming participates to his ability in order to alleviate this suffering through kindness and science.
Moreover, every person needs solace and encouragement, and this is why some are called upon to express, ennoble and console the soul of the people through their genius and art. Blessed is he who accomplishes this!
Some are called upon to perform altruistic, self-abnegating work: to show the people the way to truth and light.
Thus, each has his own purpose in the great life of our people, and if everyone carries out his task honourably the soul of the people will flourish!
Oh, look, Flemish comrades, how moving this scene is, how millions of people—in a continuous surge of self-sacrifice—yearningly send up their actions, their hearts, their minds toward God’s throne, and how God reaches out to them in blessing!
Rise up! A free Flanders!
- Full title:
- Our Homeland. Belgian journal appearing every day of the week
- 01 February, 1918
- © Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België (Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique)
- Held by
- Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België (Bibliotheque Royale de Belgique)
- Article by:
- Stephen Badsey
Professor Stephen Badsey reflects on how letters, parcels, and newspapers – although subject to censorship – kept family and friends in touch with soldiers serving in World War One.
- Article by:
- Julian Walker
- Representation and memory
Considering trauma, censorship and social convention, Julian Walker asks why many soldiers were unwilling or unable to talk about their experience of World War One.