War Newspapers

The Belgian press from World War I consists of a wide range of common newspaper types: national, regional and local newpapers, newspapers from various political backgrounds, cultural and sports newpapers, etc. But the large scale conflict Belgium found itself at the center of also resulted in new newspaper types and titles that were published for the duration of the war only.

La guerre illustrée, 1914-12-01 (In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres)

War Press

Newspapers that appeared in wartime, sometimes publishing specifically about the activities at the front or containing political and military information, both concerning the occupier and the resistance.

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Nieuwe Gentsche courant, 1917-10-09 (KU Leuven Libraries, Leuven)

Censored Press

Newspapers that were censored in wartime by the censors of the occupiers. They were forced to stick to strict guidelines and subjects, bringing about an end to the freedom of the press. Some went along with this, others tried to duck out of it.

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Het nachtlichtje, 1905-03-29 (State Archives of Belgium, Brussels)

Clandestine Press

Besides the censored press, there was also clandestine (illegal) press. Their goal was to fight the occupier. They were part of the resistance and were treated as such by the occupier. The clandestine press was very diverse.

It differs in many respects from the regular press during times of peace. A first difference is material: the clandestine papers often do not look like a classical newspaper but take the shape of typed or even handwritten sheets. Due to the often bad paper quality, these papers are currently in a bad state.

The second difference is periodicity: clandestine newspapers did not have the (daily) issue frequency of the regular daily papers in times of peace, but was printed when opportunity allowed. Circulation was much smaller.

A third difference are the production circumstances: although professional journalists were involved in a number of papers, the newspapers were usually produced in a non-professional context and contributors were unqualified or lacked practical experience.

A final difference is found in the distribution: it happened in a clandestine way. Newspapers were also simply passed along. Participation in the production or distribution of the clandestine press could lead to prosecution by the occupier.

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Door arbeid en volharding ter zege, 1917-06-01 (Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library, Antwerp)

Front Newspapers

Front newspapers (or trench newspapers) came into being during the First World War. They were destined for soldiers and had as goal to inform them about the situation in the trenches and in their own occupied region. They offered a form of relief to the soldiers (to keep moral high) and established contact amongst like-minded people.

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