Belgium is one of several nations in Steel Division II.
Historical background[edit | edit source]
Although the history of Belgians dates back to Roman times - the Belgae were remarked by Julius Caesar to be the most powerful of all the major tribes in Gaul - the modern Belgian state is a much younger affair. Established in 1830 by breakaway provinces separating from the Netherlands, the fledgling Belgium was a modern state by the standards of the 19th century, as a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy, a tolerant constitution, and universal male suffrage in 1893 (women would have to wait until 1949). However, as modern as it was, Belgium was not perfect. As a colonizing power in the rush for Africa, its monarch, Leopold II, left his mark on Congo, killing between five and ten million Congolese to force them to produce rubber and ivory for export.
The slaughter was overshadowed in the West by the brutal German occupation of Belgium after its fall in the opening months of the Great War in 1914. Violating Belgian neutrality, the subsequent occupation resulted in the destruction of cities, nearly 27 thousand dead, 120 000 forced into labor, and 1.5 million refugees, on top of an economy in shambles (for example, Belgium lost over 97% of its locomotives and 90% of its steel mills). However, it recovered surprisingly quickly, forming a customs union with Luxembourg by 1921 and integrating areas of Germany ceded to it after the Versailles Treaty.
Although it once again attempted to pursue a policy of neutrality, Belgium was invaded by Germany for a second time in 1940, this time under Nazi leadership. Following the fall of the Low Countries and France, Belgium was placed under direct military rule by the Wehrmacht, with the full cooperation of Belgian fascists. Although they'd contribute over 7 000 soldiers total to the SS Legion Wallonie, Belgium would still suffer, with over 40 000 Belgians dead, half of them Jewish citizens, and material losses totaling eight percent of its GDP.
The end of the war would lead to decolonization and political upheaval, including the forced abdication of Leopold III after mass protests due to his ambiguous actions during the occupation. However, in the end, Belgium would become a pillar of the new Europe, as a founding member of both NATO and the European Coal and Steel Community.
Steel Division II[edit | edit source]
All units belong to Brigade Piron, an independent brigade formed just three days before Belgium's fall. Reformed in Great Britain later in 1940, the Belgian brigade would complete training and outfitting in mid-1942, and was finally deployed to aid in the liberation of Europe from fascism in 1944.