Belgium Country Overview Between 1930 and 1935

By | December 21, 2021

Population. – The increase in population, according to the 1930 and 1935 censuses, is summarized in the following table:

The overall calculation for the beginning of 1937 would give approximately 8,330,000 residents. The natural movement of the population shows how the birth and death rates have continued to contract, but the former more than the latter; therefore also the demographic surplus has been decreasing, up to figures that are among the lowest among the European ones:

On the other hand, the surplus of immigration over emigration, which had marked an average of 5929 individuals per year in the period 1921-5 and of 17,111 in that of 1926-30, has been attenuating until the situation is reversed after the 1934 (surplus of 2492 emigrants in this year, of about 4000 in 1936), which is clearly related to the economic crisis that the country is going through.

As for the linguistic partition, the 1930 census found slight differences in relation to the previous ones:

The agricultural population represented, in 1930, 8.22% of the total (against 10.51% in 1910 and 8.25% in 1920); the industrial one 22.95% (against 23.04% in 1910); trade employees 6.98% (against 7.04% in 1910).

The number of Italians living in Belgium, which was 3543 in 1900, 4498 in 1910, 3723 in 1920, rose to 33,491 in 1930: of these just under half (14,335) in the province of Hainaut, with two strong contingents in those of Liège (7402) and Brabant (5944).

Economic conditions (p. 511). – From 1929 to 1934 the volume of trade decreased by 60.6% in value in imports, by 56.8% in exports. These always remain inferior to those; the percentage proportion compared to exports however rose from 84.1 to 98.4% between 1930 and 1934. The balance of trade therefore tends to decrease, as a consequence of the quota measures taken by the government. Belgium participated with 4.1% in world trade in the pre-war period (1913); the proportion, after falling to 2.506 in 1925, rose to 3.1% in 1935 (Italy: 2.7%).

Civil aviation (p. 515). – The Belgian network currently includes the following lines, all managed by “SABENA”: London-Brussels-Cologne, in collaboration with “Imperial Airways”; London-Paris-Brussels-Hamburg-Copenhagen-Malmö-Stockholm, in collaboration with “Air France”; Brussels-Düsseldorf-Essen-Berlin, in collaboration with “Luft-Hansa”; Brussels-Prague, in collaboration with Státní-Aerolinie; Brussels-Paris, in collaboration with “Air France” and the Dutch company “KLM”; Brussels-Frankfurt am Main, in conjunction with Luft-Hansa; Brussels-Antwerp-Ostend; Le Zoute-Ostend-London; Brussels-Belgian Congo, in collaboration with “Air Afrique”; Brussels-Antwerp.

The main industrial sites are: the Avions Farey (Gosselies), the Belgian aeronautical construction workshops (Brussels), the R. Renard aeronautical constructions (Evere), the Belgian limited company of aeronautical constructions (Brussels), the I. Stampe factories and M. Vertogen (Antwerp).

Main associations: Royal Aero Club of Belgium, Royal Aero Club of Antwerp, Aero Club of Flanders (Ghent), Section Gantoise de vol à voile, Federation of Belgian tourist aviation clubs in Brussels, National aviation club of Brussels, varî aero-clubs in various smaller cities, etc.

Merchant Navy (p. 515). – It consists of 200 units for a total of tons. gross 420,454; steamships in majority: 124 for 244,027 tons. gross; but for some time the national armament has been actively turning to the use of the diesel engine.

The shipping industry has suffered severely from the world crisis; in 1934 the traffic ship was reduced by 30% compared to 1929; the Treasury intervened by paying a shipping premium of francs or.50 per tonne for the ships in operation. 25 million francs a year were allocated for this purpose, and another 160 million to be disbursed in the three financial years 1935-37 to encourage shipbuilding. The aid was effective, and the shipbuilding industry actively resumed (the John Cockerill shipyard in Hoböken which had only 30 workers in January 1936, had 2100 in April 1937).

Small as it is, the Belgian navy has a vast field of action; the most important company in the country, the “Compagnie Maritime Belge (Lloyd Royal)”, a fleet of 30 ships for 166 thousand tons. gross, operates lines on Congo, New York, South America, North Pacific; the “Deppe”, 28 ships for 88 thousand tons, has services for the western Mediterranean and the Levant. There is also an Ostend-Dover state line, which includes the two fastest motor ships in the world, Prince Baudouin andPrins Albert (3000 tons and 25 knots).

Armed Forces. – Army (p. 517). – The Belgian army units have been completed with the following departments: Luxembourg and Namur defense troops including 1 staff, the Ardennes Hunters division (out of 3 regiments) and the regiment of the fortress of Namur; the border cycling units (3 battalions and 1 company). For Belgium military, please check

The Belgian colonial troops consist of the garrison armed forces in the Belgian Congo. They are placed under the direct orders of the colony’s governor general and include field troops (3 battalions, 11 infantry companies, 2 artillery batteries, 3 engineering companies, 2 cycling companies and 1 liaison company), troops for territorial service (15 companies), an education center and a school for non-commissioned officers.

Military aviation (p. 518). – From the military aviation command (based in Brussels), depend: a) a reconnaissance aviation regiment (based in Bierset) on three groups; a fighter and combat avation regiment (based in Nivelles) on three groups; a mixed regiment (based in Evere) on two groups: one for bombing and the other for reconnaissance; an airport company in Evere; b) the Evere aviation school; c) the Wevelghem driving school; d) the aeronautical plants of Evere; e) the military airports of Evere (Brussels), Tirlemont, Diest, Nivelles, Bierset and Wevelghem.

Overall, the line strength is around 250, almost all of which are British built.

Finance. – The development of economic activity, after the stabilization of 1926, also acted favorably on finances; 1928 and 1929 yielded considerable leftovers. From 1930, however, following first the tax reliefs adopted, then the coming economic depression and the suspension of German reparations, budget revenues declined, reaching a minimum in 1932, while new military spending was imposed. With various measures the situation was faced in 1932 and 1933, but in 1934, mainly due to unemployment expenses, the deficit was very strong and it was necessary to resort to a large loan. However, this increase in domestic debt was partly offset by the decrease in foreign debt due to the devaluation of foreign currencies higher than that of the Belgian franc. On March 30, 1935, once convertibility was suspended and exchange control instituted, the government was authorized to devalue the franc to 75-70% of the 1926 parity. became definitive on March 31, 1936 and on that date convertibility was restored and the exchange stabilization fund was abolished. The capital gains from the gold reserve, 4.3 billion, were used not only to partially repay the Bank of advances to the Treasury, but also to finance the extraordinary budget and the expenses of the Office de Redressemment économique. On September 26, 1936, Belgium then joined the Anglo-Franco-American tripartite agreement.

The internal loan of February 1937 (the billion and a half) then consecrated the restoration of confidence.

As of December 31, 1936, the external debt was 20.6 billion and the internal debt was 34.1 billion (of which 32.4 was consolidated).

As of December 31, 1937, notes in circulation amounted to 22.1 milliards and the reserve to 17.6 milliards in gold and 4.5 milliards in foreign currencies.

With the laws of August 1934, June and July 1935, an important reform of the banking system was implemented, tending to clearly separate the deposit banks from the industrial credit banks (the Société générale de crédit was assigned the task of mobilizing credit banking to industry) and credit was subjected to various rules of discipline and control. The main banking institutions of Belgium, in addition to the Banque Nationale de Belgique (1850), which has the privilege of issuing and is subject to government control, are: the Société Générale de Belgique (1822), closely connected with the industrial development of country and which following the aforementioned reform has devolved its purely banking activity to a new important institution, the Banque de la Société Générale de Belgique,

Belgium Armed Forces