‘This House Belongs to a Belgian Family’
“Long live the Belgians”, “This house belongs to a Belgian family,” “Long live Belgium!”. These slogans were placed at the front of a hotel-restaurant a few days after the declaration of war. They not only express the patriotic fervour of the moment, but they reveal even more the threat which weighed on men and women if suspected of treason in regard with the national community. During the first days of August 1914, businesses, bookshops, and cafes belonging to German families were devastated. The patriotic explosion of the entry into war gave rise to one of the first xenophobic expressions in Belgium. It was to escape this outburst of violence that the owners of this restaurant posted their allegiance to the national cause in full sight, directly on the façade of the building.
Before the war, the Germans were the second largest group of foreigners in the city. Despite having settled in Brussels a long time ago, the community was violently singled out in August 1914. By order of the military governor of Brussels, all Reich citizens were expelled. Gathered at the Cirque royal on 7 August, more than 9,000 Germans were embarked on trains bound for the Netherlands.