Emmanuel Debruyne is Guest Lecturer in Contemporary History at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. His research focuses on military occupations in Western Europe during the two World Wars, through various phenomena such as resistance, repression, accommodation, persecution of Jews, sexual relations, the relationship to death, and memory. His doctoral dissertation covered Belgian intelligence networks during the Second World War, and was published as La guerre secrète des espions belges, 1940-1944 (Racine, 2008). Debruyne is notably the co-author of La Belgique docile. Les autorités belges et la persécution des Juifs en Belgique durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale (Luc Pire, 2007), Je serai fusillé demain. Les dernières lettres des patriotes belges et français fusillés par l'occupant. 1914-1918 (Racine, 2011) and Bruxelles, la mémoire et la guerre, 1914-2014 (La Renaissance du Livre, 2014).
The project intends to address the phenomenon of resistance that sprang up in occupied territories of Western Europe during the First World War. During this period, several thousand inhabitants of France and Belgium developed intelligence networks, evasion lines, and secret press or correspondence services, but no armed movements – unlike during the Second World War. An initial approach will focus on the modus operandi of secret organisations, and their relationships with other players in the secret war under way (Allied secret services, German police services, public opinion, etc.). The second focal point will look at the societal dimension of this resistance, analysing the social fabric of the secret war, the motivations and values of its players, and the impact that this commitment had on their own lives and on society itself. By combining the subjects of two fields of historical research (the Resistance and the Great War), this project is also characterised by its comparative and “genealogical” approaches, from the 19th century origins of the phenomenon to the Interwar period and the Second World War.