Courtesy Reuters

Belgium Today

IF the objective study that I shall try to make of present conditions in my country has any interest at all, it is because Belgium is beyond question one of the states whose existence has been most profoundly troubled by the war, and in which the adjustment of the new conditions created by the catastrophe that burst upon Europe in 1914 has raised manifold and serious problems and has led to deep-seated changes in both the public and the private life of the people.

I have no intention of setting forth in detail what the war has meant to Belgium; and yet, to understand our present position, the difficulties through which we have passed and those we have still to overcome, the problems awaiting solution, and our hopes, it is essential to recollect what has been happening in Belgium during the last twelve years. Before the war the country was often compared to a hive in the full bustle of its activity, or to a great factory with a huge store annexed. No country presented -- or presents -- such density of population, such commercial and industrial activity, such a network of railways, roads, and canals. With a population twenty times as dense as that of the United States, and three and a half times as dense as that of France, Belgium before the war was wholly occupied with finding foreign markets for the products of her toil, in order to procure the funds indispensable for the purchase abroad of the food supplies which her limited territory could not provide.

Belgium's geographical location assured her a privileged position so far as transport was concerned. Unhappily, that very geographical situation placed her at the point where the military routes of the great European countries crossed, and so helped on the disaster. Belgium, a neutral country, was attacked and invaded by one of the guarantors of her neutrality. At the end of a few weeks, 99 percent of her soil was occupied by the enemy;

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