Liberators: The Allies and Belgian Society, 1944-1945

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In the autumn of 1944, Belgium was liberated at lightning speed. Yet Allied troops continued to dominate much of Belgian society until late 1945. Peter Schrijvers' revisionist account reveals that, during that time, strong currents of discontent began to build beneath the waves of gratitude and admiration. Chronic shortages of food and coal, rampant venereal disease, and deteriorating discipline led the Belgian population to lament "from the liberators, oh Lord, liberate us." Despite all this, however, the countries and cultures that the Anglo-American troops represented still exerted substantial attraction and influence, causing them to have a lingering impact on Belgian society in ways that would set the tone for the remainder of the turbulent twentieth century. Using newly discovered material from the Belgian state security archives as well as testimonies of the liberated, this book vividly reconstructs the largely unknown history of Belgium's liberation era.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Stimulating. An excellent book." -Times Literary Supplement

"Recommended." -Choice

“A pioneering work.” -Vingtieme Siecle

"Highly recommended." -Military Review

"...highly recommended for general readers as an important and little understood aspect of the end of the war in Europe." -Hal Elliott Wert, Military Review

"This riveting and important book makes remarkable use of the rich collections..." -Sophie De Schaepdrijver, American Historical Review

"...this is a valuable, deeply researched study, one that students of the Second World War should welcome." -William I. Hitcock, The Journal of Modern History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter Schrijvers is Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He is the author of The Crash of Ruin: American Combat Soldiers in Europe during World War II (1998), The GI War against Japan: American Soldiers in Asia and the Pacific during World War II (2002) and The Unknown Dead: Civilians in the Battle of the Bulge (2005).

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Table of Contents

List of Plates vii

List of maps x

Acknowledgments xi

Note on Belgian place names xiii

List of abbreviations xiv

Introduction 1

Part I The big void 7

1 The sun sets 9

2 Shadow fighters 26

Part III Liberators 39

3 Embracing the new 42

4 Exorcizing the old 69

Part III Liberators 83

5 Waves of admiration 85

6 Currents of discontent 144

Epilogue: A tide of change 249

Bibliography 319

Index 335

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