ThunderHawk3

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The Fate of Belgium, Part 2: Belgium's War​


Nicephore Maga would be re-elected for a second term in 1936, again outraging conservatives and bringing a second government under Maarten Loewen to power. The ongoing military rebuilding effort, combined with the renewed push for neutrality and stability from the Aerts foreign office, would lead Belgium to largely keep out of the growing turmoil in Europe. However, domestic politics could be ignored as international considerations could - growing political instability and unrest throughout Belgium, despite the recovering economy, were a persistent worry to the Maga/Loewen administration.

Belgium had spent much of its postwar existence worrying about France attempting to reconquer its lost territories of Picardie and Champagne. However, as the French fascists were voted out of office in 1936, and the Nazis pressed their territorial claims on Europe Belgium began to see Germany as the greater threat. As Austria, Czechoslovakia, Memel, and Denmark all went to Germany, politicians began to worry when Hitler would come for German-speaking Luxembourg. Belgium had always relied on Germany to protect it from its neighbors. Now, the alliances that Aerts had secured with Italy and Britain seemed to put Belgium on the other side of the fence, worrying about antagonizing an angry superpower.

The state of Belgium's military did not help matters. The Javanese war had wiped out most of the army, which the general staff raced to rebuild in time for a potential war. Belgium had also spent most of its time and effort fortifying the French border; the German border, by comparison, was only lightly fortified. To complicate matters, the finance ministry, the public, and the government all had a relatively mixed relationship with the military. All in all, military buildup sparked a public debate in Belgium. Wouldn't it be better, some asked, to break these alliances and remain neutral? Neutrality had, after all, brought prosperity in recent years. The large, if suppressed, Belgian fascist movement also fumed at the shift towards Britain, publicly and favoring closer ties with Germany for the sake of conquest and glory. Only a small minority of Belgians favored closer ties with the Soviet Union - a distant, historical enemy of the Belgian state - but in later years of the war some communists would argue that alliance with the international comintern would have protected Belgium from Germany better than any army.

Neutralist (and pro-Axis) sentiment would keep Belgium out of the war when it began in late 1939 and Germany marched into Poland. However, by mid-1940, with Poland defeated and Hitler rapidly pivoting troops to the Western Front, Belgium would officially shed its neutrality and declare for the Allies. Though this move enjoyed considerable popular support in the mainland, the Belgian Greater Congo essentially rebelled against the decision, surrendering their domestic administration to the neighboring German territories, which were quickly occupied by German troops. Belgian auxiliaries would invade German North Cameroon in retaliation.

The German blitz against the Allies began in May of 1940. Hitler's generals, scrutinizing the allied defensive lines, finally decided on a two-pronged attack against the Allies - striking the unprepared Dutch army and the shaky Italian north line simultaneously. The Dutch collapsed almost instantaneously, as did the Italians. The latter victory was down to subterfuge and infiltration on the part of the Germans more than tactics. Hitler had long been allying himself with sympathetic fascists in the Italian military elite; Italian failure to resist the German offensive would catch the allies off guard. Hitler quickly overran Italy, placing a puppet government under his ally (and supposed personal friend) Benito Mussolini in power.

On the northwestern front, the Germans had attacked through the Netherlands to avoid France's Maginot Line and Belgium's relatively well-defended right flank of the De Graaf line. The blitzkrieg instead came down through the relatively undefended north. Though the Germans could not be said to be technologically or organizationally superior to the Belgians, the relatively diminished state of the Belgian armed forces gave the Germans vast numerical superiority, allowing them to push the Belgian army back quickly. Fascist sympathizers also proved a chronic problem for the Belgian armed forces, which were still riddled with BNF infiltrators. Brussels fell in July, 1940, even though French army units and British expeditionary forces mobilized rapidly to reinforce Belgian defenders. The Maga government was forced to flee in exile to Paris (causing some conservatives to applaud the German invasion).

However, the German invasion stalled in August, where they came up against the French Alpine Line in the south, the Maginot Line on the Rhineland border, and the Picardie Line in the northwest. The last obstacle was most surprising for the Germans, who had largely assumed Belgian defenses on the French border would be impotent when attacked from the wrong direction; in actuality, Belgian engineers were able to rapidly adapt them and stop advancing German armored units just miles from Paris. The stalemate continued until January of 1941, when a winter German armored offensive, supplemented by specialized engineer units, pierced the Maginot Line. Paris fell in February and the Belgian government was again forced to evacuate, this time to London. This would mark the end of Belgium's involvement in the second World War.

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ThunderHawk3

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The Fate of Belgium, Part 3: Postbellum​


Belgium's remaining role in the war would be confined to the African theater, where fierce fighting and ever-changing lines of battle would be heavily aimed at keeping the Germans away from the Belgian-administered Suez canal. Belgium would never even confront Japan, Germany's powerful ally in the east, as it steadily overwhelmed a deeply divided and dysfunctional China. The War in the Pacific would make for strange bedfellows, however, as Japan declared war on the Batavian Republic in an attempt to secure the island's natural resources and strategic ports for its war machine. Java would repel a mass Japanese offensive as fiercely as it had fought back the Belgian attacks in the last decade, leading to conflicting feelings and sentiments in the Belgian public.

Belgian pilots would take part in the Battle of Britain, where the German Luftwaffe was defeated by the Royal Airforce, and Belgian advanced military technology would prove invaluable to the allied war effort throughout. However, Europe's smallest Great Power would ultimately serve little role for the remainder of the fighting. For the remaining great events of the war - the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the German Operation Barbarossa and the attempted invasion of Russia, the Liberation of France, followed by the liberation of the homeland itself, Belgium would remain little more than an observer.

The Belgian government would return to Brussels to find the world a much changed place. After Germany's defeat, the powers that be in Europe had divided the world into East and West, with a dividing line now running down Germany to separate them. The Balkans, Poland, the Baltic States, and Greece had fallen under Soviet influence, while Belgium, Britain, France, and Italy had formed a new coalition around the United States. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would declare, that "an Iron Curtain has descended over Europe." Europe had entered a new period of Cold War.

World War II and the Cold War would mark the end of Belgium as a great power and a mover and a shaker in its own right. In 1955, following the Egyptian nationalization of the Suez, Belgium would conspire with the British, French, and Israelis to retake the Suez (which they did), only to be rebuffed by the Soviets and the Americans. This and historical antagonism between Belgium and the United States would make the American-Belgian alliance a tenuous one.

In 1957, Belgium would finally be compelled to relinquish its hold on its French territories, with Picardie and Champagne voting heavily to rejoin France. The referendum (mandated in the original surrender of the territories as negotiated by Burke in 1907) proved to be a point of particular contention between France and Belgium, and Belgium had come to see the territories as its own, but a compromise was eventually struck that allowed a number of enclaves under Belgian governance to remain even after the end of Belgian rule. 1957 would also see a NATO-backed operation to restore order to Spain and wipe away the old battling nationalist and socialist factions, a move that would raise tensions in Europe to new, dizzying heights - though the Soviets, busy with their own suppression of anti-communist uprisings in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, would be unable to seriously contest the move.

Despite its reservations about alliance with the United States, Belgium would remain deeply opposed to the expansion of Soviet influence into Europe and would become a major diplomatic broker in the eventual denouement between the two powers in Europe. Early Belgian experiments with military technology and rocketry also vested it with technical expertise to rival the Germans, and contributed to the development of an independent European space program during the space race, which ultimately came to rival those of the Superpowers.

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ThunderHawk3

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The Fate of Belgium, Part 4: Belgium's Colonial Legacy​


Belgium's colonial legacy is one of the most contentious in the world. Belgium's African possessions are generally divided into two categories - the Northern ("Beninese" in the old Belgian terminology) division, which were acquired from the Sokot Caliphate and other early colonization and the Southern Greater Congo division, acquired during the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century and seized from the French in the aftermath of World War I. The two territories were administered very differently, particularly after the institution of Pierre d'Arenberg's concession and plantation system in the Congo during the rubber boom, a system that never existed in the north. The Belgian Civil War and subsequent fascist exodus deepened administrative and demographic divisions between the regions as 400,000 white Belgian fascists immigrated to Africa, virtually all to the southern territories and most of them to the Congo.

By 1936, roughly half of the lesser Congo's population was white. Native peoples, diminished by years of the plantation system, warfare, and the systematic genocide of their people (which continued through World War II) had been reduced to about 40% of the population. Roughly 10% of the population were nonwhite Ibo and Yoruban immigrants from further north. The white majority in the Congo would solidify in the 40s as the local fascist councils displaced additional natives. By the end of World War II, the Belgian Mandate for Africa had become a muddled mess, and the Belgian African territories had developed an obvious dichotomy. In the north, Greater Benin had a tiny white population and was instead dominated by a politically enfranchised and extremely well-educated native population (created by the progressive policies of successive radical governments) concentrated in a handful of urban population centers in Benin and the Yoruba States, surrounded by the sparsely populated and rebellious former Sokot states. In the south, a large minority of white landowners - generally amounting to between five and ten percent of the population, governed the greater Congo, with political power concentrated in the fascist-sympathetic white-majority lesser Congo. Fascist-era industrialization had created white cities, with the black population localized to outlying plantations, tribes, and villages.

Belgium's election of Nicephore Maga, a Yoruban-born African citizen had further convoluted loyalties in Africa. When decolonization swept through the world in the 1950s and Belgium began to move towards independence to its colonies (after years of bloody revolts against colonial rule), Belgium was faced with a unique situation - the black urban populations in Benin remained heavily unionist, while the southern white fascists, long autonomous from Brussels, favored independence. Ultimately, Belgian African was divided into two independent territories, the Confederation of West Africa, Yoruba, and Benin (generally called "West Africa") and the Congo. The Congo would be further subdivided into Congo-Brazzaville (the lesser Congo) and the North Congo by the government there, who sought to preserve the white majority in the lesser Congo.

Congo-Brazzaville and West Africa rapidly developed into Africa's two richest and most heavily industrialized states, for very different reasons. The well-educated black population in West Africa retained close ties with Belgium and received considerable development aid from the mainland, building one of the region's few stable governments. Though religious conflicts remained a point of contention in the territory, decolonization essentially ended West Africa's history of bloody revolts. International powers would continue to point to West Africa as an example of successful governance and development in Africa.

Congo-Brazzaville and the surrounding North Congo, on the other hand, would build deeply racially segregated and economically divided societies on top of fascist-era industry and infrastructure. Congo-Brazzaville continues a system of apartheid into the twenty-first century, with most property and wealth centralized in the hands of a deeply right-wing population, and has a history of repeated military interventions in surrounding countries to prop up friendly governments. Embargos and travel bans by other Africa countries proved ineffective in swaying the solid white majority in Congo-Brazzaville, which - as one of the richest countries on the continent - appeared little swayed by the efforts. It remains an example for neo-fascists and proponents of the so-called Mission to Civilize, who claim that white rulership had brought the region wealth and stability. The lesser Congo's only allies on the continent are the Boer Republics, which have adopted and maintain similar systems of apartheid rule.

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ThunderHawk3

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The Fate of Belgium, Part 5: Belgium Today​


After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Belgium became an important crossroads for Europe. As the continent moved towards diplomatic - rather than military - reconciliation of national differences, leaders from all around the world chose Belgium as their meeting place. The continent moved towards unification in Belgium, even as Belgium itself moved further apart. The Flemish nationalist movement, which so nearly shattered Belgium on more than one occasion, remains active and vibrant today. Its diverse partisan politics have threatened to create hung parliaments and crises on more than one occasion, though the office of the presidency has done much to mitigate these crises.

Belgium today consists of Flanders and Wallonia (including Luxembourg). Brussels is the capital of the European Union, which now includes most of the continent. Some have gone so far as to call Belgium, "the center of Europe." I, however, disagree. Belgium has never been the center of Europe. It has always been the outsider, the black horse, dealing in the unexpected and pushing the envelope. Belgium had Europe's first universal suffrage, its female leader, its first black President, its first fascist movement, its first tanks, its first aircraft, its warships, and its first pacifist movement. Its experiments in constitutional design, colonial enfranchisement, and democratic abolition of the monarchy remain unique and unequaled. Belgium has always been on the forefront of what is possible and what is likely, from Maximiliaan Van Brabant to Nicephore Maga. Belgium is, and will remain, on the Edge of Europe.

-------------------------


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Until PttP :)
 

Belgiumruler

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Wonderful epilogue... And Congratz on running and finishing this iAAR. See you in PttP for sure!
 

sealy300

The Definition of Strife
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Well, TH3, thank you for this game, it was a blast, many dynasties were made, many people fought over the various roles in government, some to the level of Tywin Lannister himself. I have meet many new people, some new friends, your writing style is one that has engaged me from start to finish, And I thank you for this opportunity. Now, Here comes Sardinia-Piedmont/Italy/Nova Roma!

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Last edited:

LatinKaiser

Je me souviens des jours anciens et je pleure
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Well done (although the Second World War seems completely improbable :mad:)! Cannot wait for PttP! :)
 

Noco19

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Great ending. I'm sure the van Buskirks are having the times of their life in Congo-Brazzaville.
 

TJDS

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Awesome ending. I am sad that this IAAR has ended, but I am happy that you will continue with your IAARs.
 

jeeshadow

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It seems, that despite starting as small, weak nation, living eternally in fear of the Dutch, Belgium has left a lasting, and definite mark on Europe, and the world. I must wonder, if the Aerts still hold some power today :p
Thank you for the great game TH!
 

Terraferma

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Bravo!
 

Otto of england

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This was a great game, and definitely made an interesting alt history!
 

Jackbollda

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Bravo, monsieur. Bravo.
 

99KingHigh

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May New Beauffortism forever guide you.

Well done, TH3. EoE was a superb game and I am proud to have played it!
 

Scrapknight

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What else can I say but "bravo?" Excellent work, TH. It's been fantastic.

Belgian historians will surely note that the annexation of Luxembourg by Belgium in the Savarin administration was the only territorial acquisition that we retained into modern times. :D

I suppose now it's time to get epilogues for my own characters up...
 

naxhi24

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As once stated by a famous actor

"Here's to looking at you kid."

First IAAR I have seen the end of ever since FoE shut down. I am glad to have participated in this, and, as you can tell, I cant wait till Power to the People!



Epilogues:

The Fontaines
It is unknown about what happened to Quinten Fontaine after his ill-fated presidency. He fell off the face of the Earth after his resignation speech, for not even his brother knew what happened to him. One rumor is that Quinten joined the Belgian Army and died in Java. Another rumor says he left the country and moved to the United States. A third rumour says he stayed in the Belgian Countryside, away from the newspapers and journals, and became a professor at a local small-town university on the outskirts of Brussels. The rumors where shattered in 1968 when an obituary reported a man who matched the complete description of Quinten Fontiane in Luxembourg. He died in April of 1968 at the age of 78 due to tuberculosis. He is buried with the other presidents in Brussels.

As for his brother Felix, his story is a lot different. The oil company he helped founded would help fuel the Belgian Army throughout the Second World War. His large oil company eventually became organized and developed into the Belgian Oil Company Distrigas in 1937.

w3cT15H.png

Felix was never much of a politician, and he quietly served his role as Minister of Education under President Maga. After Maga's term was up, he decided to leave politics, and continue to work on his company, becoming a skilled capitalist. In 1937, he married Annabelle Stewart, a girl from Britain, and together they had a son and a daughter in 1939 and 1941 (respectfully). After the war, Felix Fontaine continued to expand his company. In the 1950s however, his company took some hits. During the era of Decolonization, Distrigas took a hit. In West Africa, his company continued to thrive due to that of the West African intention to allow Belgian Businesses to continue operating in the country. In Lesser Congo, his plants were nationalized by the Fascists, hurting the company stocks. While the African Market was drying up, a new market was opening. Distrigas began making plans to expand into the new Middle East Markets when Oil was being discovered in the Middle East. Felix Fontaine would not live to see these plans go through. In late 1963, Felix was diagnosed with Leukemia. On June 6th, 1964, Felix Fontaine would pass on, he was 72 years old. He is currently buried at the Fontaine family cemetery outside of Brussels. Distrigas would pass on to his son, Samuel Fontaine, who at the time of inheritance was 24. The young Samuel would continue his father's company's expansion into the Middle East.

Today, Distrigas is owned by Felix Fontaine II, the Grandson of the founder. In 2012, Felix II merged Distrigas with Nuon Belgium and created Eni Gas & Power NV/SA. Felix II is a high ranking member of the Eni Gas and Power NV/SA board of directors. In 2014, Felix II authorized the pulbication of his grandfather's notes. Unknown to the other fascist powers in Africa, Felix I kept a recorded account of fascist activity and fascist ways while in Africa. His notes denounced the fascists as barbaric slave holders, and vouched that regardless of political ideology, all men are created equal in the eyes of God, and that the fascists constantly brutalized the natives in Africa. The book, titled "The Interior Evil" became a best seller across Europe, and helped denounced the current fascists governments in Africa today.

Lex Laurent

Lex Laurent would continue his paper job as an editorial writer for The Simple Times. WWII allowed Lex to pursue a new kind of journalism, war journalism. Lex went out onto the front lines with Belgian and allied forces to photograph and write about the war. His articles are some of the best written record of the war in Belgium. Sadly, he would not live for long before the end of the war. In 1945, before the war ended, Felix was shot by a German Sniper on the front interviewing a general. The bullet was intended for the general, but missed and hit Lex. Lex died there by a gun-shot wound to the head. He was only 40 years old. He is currently buried at a Catholic Church Cemetery near Ghent.
 
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