The First World War had a far-reaching impact on the civilian population of and in Ypres. When the city saw the arrival of fighting armies in the autumn of 1914, thousands of refugees had sought refuge within its walls. After the First Battle of Ypres, the city remained in allied hands, but was systematically shelled. From the spring of 1915, the situation became untenable for civilians: those who had not yet fled were compulsorily evacuated, and ended up in many different places. After the war, only part of the population would return, while another part saw no future in the completely destroyed city. New people settled in the vacant spaces. Who did and who did not return? What patterns can we see in the return of refugees and the reconstruction of life in Ypres? This contribution reconstructs the consequences of the war on the demographic composition and migration history of Ypres through a bottom-up analysis. The question of the return of Belgian refugees is a contribution to the general study of the Belgian diaspora during the First World War, a theme which is still not fully examined.
In Flanders Fields Museum : www.inflandersfields.be
Gateways to the First World War : www.gatewaysfww.org.uk
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