|Kingdom of Belgium|
|National Language:||Dutch, French, German|
|Government:||Federal parliamentary constitutional moncarchy|
|Status in OTL:||Active|
The Kingdom of Belgium, formerly called Hapsburg Netherlands or Austrian Netherlands (16th through 18th centuries), is a country in northwest Europe. Straddling the cultural boundary between Germanic and Latin Europe, Belgium is home to two main linguistic groups - the Flemings and the French-speakers, mostly Walloons - plus a small group of German-speakers. Belgium's two largest regions are the Flemish-speaking region of Flanders in the north and the French-speaking southern region of Wallonia. The Brussels-Capital Region, officially bilingual, is a mostly French-speaking enclave within the Flemish Region. A small German-speaking community exists in eastern Wallonia. Belgium's linguistic diversity and related political and cultural conflicts are reflected in the political history and a complex system of government.
Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, which used to cover a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. From the end of the Middle Ages until the 17th century, it was a prosperous center of commerce and culture. From the 16th century on, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, earning Belgium the nickname "the battleground of Europe". After more than 200 years of Spanish and Austrian rule, both under the House of Hapsburg, Belgium spent brief periods as a French possession (1792-1815) and a Dutch province (1815-1830), before being recognized as an independent kingdom in 1830. This did not protect it from German invasion and occupation for the greater part of two world wars.
Belgium in "Before the Beginning"
Belgium in "Christmas Truce"
War-torn Belgium saw an informal truce between a few British and German units on Christmas, 1914. It also saw the instance of violence that day, when German Gefreiter Adolf Hitler shot and killed a British officer in an attempt to end the truce. Hitler was killed by British Lieutenant Bill Meadows, but the truce held.
Belgium in The Hot War
Belgium lost the city of Antwerp to a Soviet atomic bomb during World War III in September 1951. Belgian Prime Minister Joseph Pholien held American President Harry Truman as responsible for the loss.
Belgium in In the Presence of Mine Enemies
Belgium in Southern Victory
German General Alfred von Schlieffen's plan for invading France, the strategy Germany used in the Great War, called for the violation of Belgian neutrality. Belgium therefore became a member of the Entente, but it was overrun and occupied by Germany early in the war.
Belgium remained under German military occupation for the period between the wars much the way Canada remained occupied by the United States. In the opening moves of the Second Great War in Europe, Anglo-French forces drove the Germans out of Belgium in 1941 and were greeted as liberators by the population. The Germans began reconquering Belgium from the Entente in late 1943.
In 1944, a British bomber carrying a superbomb intended for a German city, was intercepted by German jet fighters and shot down in Belgian territory. The superbomb it carried detonated ineffectually between Ghent and Bruges, essentially ending Britain's hope of carrying on the war against Germany.
Belgium in The Two Georges
Belgium in "Uncle Alf"
Belgium fell to Germany late in 1914, and remained occupied for the next generation. Feldgendarmerie agent Adolf Hitler assumed the identity of Koppensteiner, a Flemish merchant from Antwerp, while undercover in Lille in May 1929.
Belgium in The War That Came Early
Belgium declared her neutrality when a second world war broke out in the fall of 1938. Despite great French and British pressure, King Leopold's government refused to let Allied units through her territory or to prepare for an eventual German invasion that came just as Germany was done dismantling Czechoslovakia a month later. French and British troops tried then to slow the German advance in Charleroi and later on the Dyle River, but Germany emerged victorious on both occasions. Belgium surrendered after just three weeks of fighting and was occupied by Germany.
In the aftermath of the so-called "big switch" of 1940, Britain and France ended their war with Germany, and attacked the Soviet Union. German forces withdrew from France, but remained in Belgium. When the big switch fell apart in 1941, Allied troops again began pushing into Belgium throughout 1942 and 1943.
However, it wasn't until 1944 when the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation overthrew the Nazi government that the fighting in Belgium ceased, and the new German government withdrew from Belgium altogether.
Belgium in Worldwar
Belgium was conquered by Germany and absorbed into the Greater German Reich at the beginning of World War II in 1940, two years before the arrival of the Race's Conquest Fleet. Under the terms of the Peace of Cairo in 1944, it was recognised as German territory.
- Asimov's Science Fiction, November/December, 2019, Vol. 43 Nos. 11 & 12, pgs. 50-51.
- Fallout, p. 187-188.
- In the Presence of Mine Enemies, pg. 26, HC.
- The Two Georges, frontispiece map. The print is small and the borders are imprecise, so there is room for debate.
- See e.g.: Atlantis and Other Places, pg. 351, HC.