Destitution in Belgium (11 February 1915)

Destitution in BelgiumWhen the Germans invaded Belgium, rumours spread of horrid acts being committed and the deplorable living conditions of the Belgian people. The reported atrocities were often used by the media to justify Britain joining the war. Germany had broken international law by invading a neutral country and this in addition to the reported atrocities enabled Britain to claim the war was a noble cause for they were defending the innocent and ensuring justice.

By 1915, the commission for the relief of the Belgian people claimed they were short about 76,000 tons of food, and if this was not remedied promptly, thousands of Belgian citizens would die. There were about 1,400,000 Belgians in need of this aid. However, this aid cost about $2,800,000 per month, which was making it harder and harder to continue this aid on a sustained basis.


“Destitute in Belgium,” Elmira Signet, February 11, 1915.

Leanna Green, “Advertising War: Picturing Belgium in First World War Publicity,” Media, War & Conflict 7, no. 3    (2014): 309-325.