chapter  5
Fine arts under fire: Life magazine and the display of architectural destruction
ByMelissa Renn
Pages 15

World War I was, without any doubt, one of the most traumatic episodes in the history of Belgium, one which left almost no town or village unaffected. At the time of the German invasion on 4 August 1914, Belgium was, thanks to an early and profound process of industrialization, the fifth-ranking economic power and the most densely populated country worldwide. The acts of destruction in Belgium received so much attention in the first place because they were extensive whereas the death toll was quite low in comparison with other countries such as France, even relatively speaking. Apart from winning international support, the propaganda with respect to the destruction of these monuments was also successful in increasing feelings of nationalism within Belgium. The focus on historical monuments can be explained first of all by the fact that, since the international conventions of The Hague these acts of destruction were for the first time in history legally contestable.