Communication is key in war. And I don’t mean among the armed forces on both sides of the conflict. I refer to the soldiers and their families, between those behind enemy lines and those on the home front. Long before the days of email and text messages, there were letters and newspapers and the state sponsored postcard.
To keep the lines of communications open between families behind enemy lines and soldiers on the front lines in World War 1, to give hope to those in occupied Belgium and Northern France, brave men and women had to step forward. The Germans promised to deal with these couriers ‘severely.’ And records indicate that some were executed. But who were the leaders?
Legend has it that a priest set up a underground letter carrier service after one of his parishioners witnessed a courier trying to extort money from an old woman in exchange for a letter from her son. When the old woman couldn’t pay the outrageous fees, the letter was torn up in front of her eyes. When Father de Moor and Belgian businessman Van Doren set up their postal service letters were carried for free.
But that wasn’t the only lines of communications these two men opened.
Beginning in 1915, they along with an editor named Jourdain started an underground newspaper called La Libre Belgique (The Free Belgium). Despite offering a reward of 50,000 francs for their capture, the Germans remained ignorant of their identities. The paper ceased publication on the day King Alfred rode into Brussels in November, 1918.
More than news and ideas, these gentlemen and their cadre of workers delivered hope to a people in need of it. And hope is the most precious gift, especially in times of uncertainty.
Until next time.