The forgotten story of Belgians in forced labour

Researcher and amateur historian Donald Buyze has built quite some expertise on the phenomenon of forced labour in the First World War, after years of intense research. He estimates that 180,000 Belgian men were forced into labour by the German occupying forces, mainly in Belgium, northern France and Germany, with at least 7,650 of them dying.

According to Buyze's latest updated figures, at least 7,650 of them perished, from the hard work, maltreatment, bad circumstances and hunger and starvation among other things.

This large group of war victims was almost forgotten, but 11 November is a good day to remember them. For the occasion of Armistice Day, we want to highlight Donald Buyze's story again. He is also working on a book that should come out next year.

Flandersnews spoke with Donald Buyze 2 years ago. Click here to read our report and the story of Victor Perneel, Buyze's grandfather who was forced by the Germans to serve as a "Zivilarbeiter", helping to extend rail infrastructure for the German troops in northern France.