Philosophising in a Neutral Country

Christoph van den Belt

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The Netherlands remained neutral during the First World War. For this reason, the impact of the war on this country was neglected for a long time. However, in the last decades, the way the war affected the Netherlands has been studied in more detail. Still, the cultural impact of the war has received only little attention. Therefore, this article studies the way in which a group of Catholic intellectuals, involved with the cultural journal De Beiaard, reflected on this war and its outcome. It shows that the First World War was only of limited importance to them. Those authors who did underscore the significance of the conflict did not necessarily do so wholeheartedly. They did so because of a sense of duty. With respect to the reflections on the outcome of war, two elements come to the fore. First, in almost all of the reflections, their connection with Flanders played a role. Several authors pleaded for the equal treatment of the Flemish language. The second element in their reflections is that the outcome of the conflict was predominantly seen from a specifically Dutch Catholic perspective. The Catholic intellectuals involved in De Beiaard either expressed their trust in God or triumphantly and self-consciously claimed that the future was theirs. Their reflections embodied the phase of emancipation that the Dutch Catholics had entered, and the accelerating role of the war within this emancipatory process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-70
Number of pages26
JournalTrajecta : Religion, Culture and Society in the Low Countries
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • De Beiaard
  • Dutch Catholics
  • First World War
  • Intellectuals
  • neutral country


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