Hans Brusse

Hans Brusse


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Hans Brusse, the son of the publisher, W. L. Brusse, was born in Rotterdam in 1913. He developed left-wing political views and married Nora Jongert, the daughter of Jacob Jongert, a very successful comercial artist. Paul Wohl knew the couple very well and described them as both being "fanatical communists".

In July 1933 Walter Krivitsky was transferred to Rotterdam as director of intelligence with liaison responsibilities for other European countries. According to Krivitsky he was now "Chief of the Soviet Military Intelligence for Western Europe". This time he was able to travel and live with his wife, Antonina Porfirieva. By this stage the NKVD had realised that marriage makes a good cover for illicit activities. The couple moved to a townhouse at 32 Celebesstraat, The Hague. Krivitsky took the identity of Dr. Martin Lessner, who sold art books.

Krivitsky recruited Hans Brusse as part of his network. Officially he worked for Krivitsky as "chauffeur and aide, doing everything from carrying boxes and fixing appliances to taking photographs and driving a motorboat... covertly Brusse handled special assignments, especially those requiring criminal skills." Wohl claimed that he was also an "expert locksmith". It was claimed that while Brusse was on a mission in Nazi Germany, Krivitsky saved his life.

Krivitsky's old friend, Ignaz Reiss, was beginning to have great doubts about the truth of the Show Trials. His wife, Elsa Poretsky, had visited Moscow in early 1937. She noted that: "The Soviet citizen does not rejoice in the splendor, he does not marvel at the blood trials, he hunches down deeper, hoping only perhaps to escape ruin. Before every Party member the dread of the purge. Over every Party member and non-Party member the lash of Stalin. Lack of initiative it's called, then lack of vigilance - counter-revolution, sabotage, Trotskyism. Terrified to death, the Soviet man hastens to sign resolutions. He swallows everything, says yea to everything. He has become a clod. He knows no sympathy, no solidarity. He knows only fear."

Ignaz Reiss met with Krivitsky and suggested that they should both defect in protest as a united demonstration against the purge of leading Bolsheviks. Krivitsky rejected the idea. He suggested that the Spanish Civil War would probably revive the old revolutionary spirit, empower the Comintern and ultimately drive Stalin from power. Krivitsky also made the point that that there was no one to whom they could turn. Going over to Western intelligence services would betray their ideals, while approaching Leon Trotsky and his group would only confirm Soviet propaganda, and besides, the Trotskists would probably not trust them.

Krivitsky was recalled to Moscow. He later commented that he took the opportunity to "find out at firsthand what was going on in the Soviet Union". Krivitsky wrote that Joseph Stalin had lost the support of most of the Soviet Union: "Not only the immense mass of the peasants, but the majority of the army, including its best generals, a majority of the commissars, 90 percent of the directors of factories, 90 percent of the Party machine, were in more or less extreme degree opposed to Stalin's dictatorship."

Walter Krivitsky met up with Ignaz Reiss in Rotterdam on 29th May, 1937. He told Reiss that Moscow was a "madhouse" and that Nikolai Yezhov was "insane". Krivitsky agreed with Reiss that the Soviet Union had "devolved into a Fascist state" but refused to defect. Krivitsky later explained: "The Soviet Union is still the sole hope of the workers of the world. Stalin may be wrong. Stalins will come and go, but the Soviet Union will remain. It is our duty to stick to our post." Reiss disagreed with Krivitsky and said if that was his view he would go it alone. Elsa Poretsky also began to doubt the loyalty of Krivitsky. She began to wonder why he had been allowed to leave Moscow. She told her husband: "No one leaves the Soviet Union unless the NKVD can use him."

In July 1937 Ignaz Reiss was warned that if he did not go back to the Soviet Union at once he would be "treated as a traitor and punished accordingly". Reiss responded by sending a letter to the Soviet Embassy in Paris explaining his decision to break with the Soviet Union because he no longer supported the views of Stalin's counter-revolution and wanted to return to the freedom and teachings of Lenin. "Up to this moment I marched alongside you. Now I will not take another step. Our paths diverge! He who now keeps quiet becomes Stalin's accomplice, betrays the working class, betrays socialism. I have been fighting for socialism since my twentieth year. Now on the threshold of my fortieth I do not want to live off the favours of a Yezhov. I have sixteen years of illegal work behind me. That is not little, but I have enough strength left to begin everything all over again to save socialism. ... No, I cannot stand it any longer. I take my freedom of action. I return to Lenin, to his doctrine, to his acts." These letters were addressed to Joseph Stalin and Abram Slutsky.

Mikhail Shpiegelglass told Krivitsky that Ignaz Reiss had gone over to the Trotskyists and described him meeting Henricus Sneevliet in Amsterdam. Krivitsky assumed from this information that Stalin had a spy within Sneevliet's group. Krivitsky correctly guessed that this was Mark Zborowski. Krivitsky and another NKVD agent, Theodore Maly, tried to contact Reiss. Recently released NKVD files show that Shpiegelglass ordered Maly to take an iron and beat Reiss to death in his hotel room. Maly refused to carry out this order and criticised Shpiegelglass in his report to Moscow.

According to Edward P. Gazur, the author of Alexander Orlov: The FBI's KGB General (2001): "On learning that Reiss had disobeyed the order to return and intended to defect, an enraged Stalin ordered that an example be made of his case so as to warn other KGB officers against taking steps in the same direction. Stalin reasoned that any betrayal by KGB officers would not only expose the entire operation, but would succeed in placing the most dangerous secrets of the KGB's spy networks in the hands of the enemy's intelligence services. Stalin ordered Yezhov to dispatch a Mobile Group to find and assassinate Reiss and his family in a manner that would be sure to send an unmistakable message to any KGB officer considering Reiss's route."

Reiss was found hiding in a village near Lausanne, Switzerland. It was claimed by Alexander Orlov that a trusted Reiss family friend, Gertrude Schildback, went for supper outside of town. They left the restaurant and set off on foot. A car pulled up bearing two NKVD agents, Francois Rossi and Etienne Martignat. One was driving, the other - holding a machine-gun. Reiss was shot seven times in the head and five times in the body. The assassins fled, not bothering to check out of the hotel in Lausanne. They abandoned the car in Berne. The police found a box of chocolates, laced with strychnine, in the hotel room. It is believed these were intended for Elsa and her son Roman.

Abram Slutsky now grew very suspicious of Krivitsky and insisted that he turned over his spy-ring to Mikhail Shpiegelglass. This included his second in command, Hans Brusse. Soon afterwards, Brusse made contact with Krivitsky and told him that Shpiegelglass had ordered him to kill Elsa Poretsky and her son. Krivitsky advised him to accept the mission, but to sabotage the operation. Krivitsky also suggested that Brusse should gradually withdraw from working for the NKVD. According to Krivitsky's account in I Was Stalin's Agent (1939), Brusse agreed to this strategy.

After the assassination of Ignaz Reiss, Krivitsky discovered that Theodore Maly, who had refused to kill him, was recalled and executed. He now decided to defect to Canada. Once settled abroad he would collaborate with Paul Wohl on the literary projects they had so often discussed. In addition to writing about economic and historical subjects, he would be free to comment on developments in the Soviet Union. Wohl agreed to the proposal. He told Krivitsky that he was an exceptional man with rare intelligence and rare experience. He assured him that there was no doubt that together they could succeed.

Wohl agreed to help Walter Krivitsky defect. To help him disappear he rented a villa for him in Hyères, a small town in France on the Mediterranean Sea. On 6th October, 1937, Wohl arranged for a car to collect Krivitsky, Antonina Porfirieva and their son and to take them to Dijon. From there they took a train to their new hideout on the Côte d'Azur. As soon as he discovered that Krivitsky had fled, Mikhail Shpiegelglass told Nikolai Yezhov what had happened. After he received the report, Yezhov sent back the command to assassinate Krivitsky and his family.

Later that month Krivitsky wrote to Elsa Poretsky and told her what he had done and to express concerns that the NKVD had a spy close to her friend, Henricus Sneevliet. "Dear Elsa, I have broken with the Firm and am here with my family. After a while I will find the way to you, but right now I beg you not to tell anyone, not even your closest friends, who this letter is from... Listen well, Elsa, your life and that of your child are in danger. You must be very careful. Tell Sneevliet that in his immediate vicinity informers are at work, apparently also in Paris among the people with whom he has to deal. He should be very attentive to your and your child's welfare. We both are completely with you in your grief and embrace you." He gave the letter to Gerard Rosenthal, who took it to Sneevliet who passed it onto Poretsky.

On 7th November, 1937, Krivitsky returned to Paris where Paul Wohl arranged for him to meet Lev Sedov, the son of Leon Trotsky, and the leader of the Left Opposition in France an editor of the Bulletin of the Opposition. Sedov put him in touch with Fedor Dan, who had a good relationship with Leon Blum, the leader of the French Socialist Party and a member of the Popular Front government. Although it took several weeks, Krivitsky received French papers and if needed, a police guard.

Krivitsky also arranged a meeting with Hans Brusse who he hoped to persuade him to defect. Brusse refused declaring that he had come to the meeting "in the name of the organization". He then pulled out a copy of Krivitsky's letter to Elsa. Krivitsky was deeply shocked, but denied having written the letter. He suspected that he knew he was lying. Brusse pleaded with Krivitsky to return to his work as a Soviet spy.

Walter Krivitsky and Paul Wohl decided to try to move to the United States. Wohl who spoke English, would go ahead first, get settled and make arrangements for Krivitsky to follow. Wohl managed to become a foreign correspondent for a Czech newspaper. He obtained a U.S. visitor's visa valid for sixty days and traveled as a German refugee.

On 5th November 1938, Krivitsky, Antonina Porfirieva and their son, boarded the French liner Normandie, and set off for America. However, when they arrived at New York they were refused permission to enter the country. For the next few days they were kept on Ellis Island. With the help of David Shub, he was eventually allowed to stay at the apartment that Wohl had found for him at 600 West 140th Street. The two men immediately got to work writing articles on the Soviet Union. Shub also put the men in touch with journalist, Isaac Don Levine, who had good contacts with the American media.

Levine realised that this "slight, short and unimposing, though noteworthy for the striking contrast between his deep blue eyes, keen with intelligence" was a source of extraordinary material. He told Krivitsky that he could get him a lucrative deal for a series of articles. The first of these articles appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in April 1939. J. Edgar Hoover was very angry when he read the article. He was extremely annoyed that the American public had discovered in the article that Joseph Stalin was "sending NKVD agents into the United States as if the the FBI did not exist".

On 7th January, 1941, Paul Wohl contacted Suzanne La Follette and told her to inform Walter Krivitsky that he had seen Hans Brusse in New York City. He added the comment: "I want him (Krivitsky) to remain alive to envy the fate of Medusa for having been allowed to die at the sight of her own image." Wohl later told the FBI that he had seen the tall Dutchman was wearing a European overcoat, grayish-green with raglan sleeves, and carrying a dark brown leather briefcase. When he heard the news, Krivitsky became convinced that Brusse was in the country to organize his assassination. Krivitsky told his lawyer, Louis Waldman: "Mr. Waldman, it is now finished. I am a dead man. Hans never misses."

On Thursday 6th February, 1941, Krivitsky visited Eitel Wolf Dobert on his 90-acre farm in Barboursville, about 15 miles north of Charlottesville. The Doberts moved into a two-room log cabin and decided to raise chickens. Margarita later recalled: "My God, it was hard! We nearly starved. When we made $50 a month it was a great month." Krivitsky told Dobert he planned to buy a farm in Virginia.

Soon after arriving Krivitsky purchased a .38 caliber Colt automatic pistol and cartridges at the Charlottesville Hardware store. On his return to the farm he and Dobert began target practice. By 8th February he had run out of ammunition. Margarita Dobert later commented: "On Saturday he asked me to drive to town and buy 150 cartridges for the gun."

On Sunday 9th February, Walter Krivitsky checked into the Bellevue Hotel in Washington at 5:49 p.m. He paid $2.50 in advance for the room and signed his name in the register as Walter Poref. The desk clerk, Joseph Donnelly, described him afterwards as nervous and trembling. At 6:30, he called down for a bottle of Vichy sparkling water. The bellboy considered him a typical foreigner - "quiet and solemn".

The young maid, Thelma Jackson, knocked on Krivitsky's room at 9.30. When she did not receive an answer she assumed the room was free for cleaning and inserted her passkey. She opened the door and discovered a man lying on the bed the wrong way round, with his head toward the foot. She noticed he had "blood all over his head". The police were called and Sergeant Dewey Guest diagnosed the case as an obvious suicide. Coroner MacDonald issued a certificate of suicide that afternoon.

Krivitsky left behind three suicide notes, each one in a different language known to him (English, German and Russian). Police handwriting expert, Ira Gullickson, was shown the notes found with the body and declared that they were without any question written by the man who signed the hotel register. Gullickson argued that the notes were written on different times, because they showed an increase in nervous tension.

The first letter, in English, was addressed to Louis Waldman: "Dear Mr. Waldman: My wife and my boy will need your help. Please do for them what you can. I went to Virginia because that there I can get a gun. If my friends should have trouble please Mr. Waldman help them, they are good people and they didn't know why I bought the gun. Many thanks."

The second suicide note, in German, was addressed to Suzanne La Follette: "Dear Suzanne: I believe you that you are good, and I am dying with the hope that you will help Tonia and my poor boy. You were a good friend." This letter raised several issues. It is true that in the early days of their relationship he did write in German because his English was poor. However, in recent letters, he had used English.

The third letter was to his wife, Antonina Porfirieva: "Dear Tonia and dear Alek. Very difficult and very much want to live but I can't live any longer. I love you my only ones. It's difficult for me to write but think about me and you will understand that I have to go. Don't tell Alek yet where his father has gone. I believe that in time you will explain since it will be good for him. Forgive difficult to write. Take care of him and be a good mother - as always be strong and never get angry at him. He is after all such a such a good and such a poor boy. Good people will help you but not enemies of the Soviet people. Great are my sins I think. I see you Tonia and Alek and embrace you."

Gary Kern, the author of A Death in Washington: Walter G. Krivitsky and the Stalin Terror (2004) claims that two sentences in this letter cause certain problems: "Good people will help you but not enemies of the Soviet people. Great are my sins I think." He goes on to argue: "These two statements have the look of a political recantation and, as such, suggest either a mental breakdown or something dictated by the NKVD."

On hearing of Krivitsky's death, his lawyer, Louis Waldman, called a press conference and announced that he had been murdered by the NKVD and named the killer as Hans Brusse. (1) An NKVD agent (Hans Brusse) who had twice before tried to trap Krivitsky had appeared in New York City, where Krivitsky lived. (2) Krivitsky planned to buy a farm in Virginia, thus he intended to live. He had changed his name, applied for citizenship, bought a car. (3) The NKVD was expert in forgery and had samples of Krivitsky's hand in every language.

At the White House, Adolf Berle, President Roosevelt's advisor on national security wrote in his diary: "General Krivitsky was murdered in Washington today. This is an OGPU job. It means that the murder squad which operated so handily in Paris and in Berlin is now operating in New York and Washington." Joseph Brown Matthews, who was an investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, commented: "It's murder. I have no doubt of it." New York Times reported that Krivitsky had told them: "If they ever try to prove that I took my own life, don't believe them."

One of the most surprising aspects of the case was that rooms on both sides of Krivitsky had been occupied. So had the rooms across the hall. In the past, guests had often complained about noises in the room next to them because of the thinness of the walls. However, no one heard gunfire in the quiet early morning hours when the suicide had taken place. The gun found in Krivitsky's room did not have a silencer.

The Washington Post argued: "All in all, it would seem that the Washington police and coroner disposed of the case in rather summary fashion... The whole thing looks like a pretty careless piece of work." Frank Waldrop of The Washington Times-Herald ridiculed the police investigation: "Anybody'd rather be a second-guessing citizen than Chief of Police Ernest W. Brown, with such a staff of lunkheads to do the field work in homicide matters." However The Daily Worker disagreed: "The capitalist press is desperately trying to make a frame-up murder case out of what is clearly established in the suicide of General Walter Krivitsky."

Alexander Kerensky believed Hans Brusse had murdered Krivitsky: "Hans Brusse is the man. The most vicious murderer in all the Soviet. We know him. We know his methods. His favourite tactic is to drive a man to suicide by threatening to capture and torture his family. It has been done many times in many countries. I believe Krivitsky got a concrete warning recently that they would kill him or kidnap his family. That is their favourite plan of operation. Krivitsky had a burning mission to expose Stalin for what he is. And in my opinion he was not the type to commit suicide."

Whittaker Chambers definitely believed that he had been killed by the NKVD: "He had left a letter in which he gave his wife and children the unlikely advice that the Soviet Government and people were their best friends. Previously he had warned them that, if he were found dead, never under any circumstances to believe that he had committed suicide." Krivitsky once told Chambers: "Any fool can commit a murder, but it takes an artist to commit a good natural death." Martin Dies, Isaac Don Levine and Suzanne La Follette all believed Krivitsky was murdered.

However, Eitel Wolf Dobert, told reporters that Krivitsky seemed very worried and probably had committed suicide. He also thought that Krivitsky had written his suicide notes the last night that he stayed on his farm. Mark Zborowski, who was later exposed as a NKVD agent who had been involved in the death of Lev Sedov, also believed Krivitsky committed suicide. He told David Dallin: "He was a neurasthenic and a paranoiac, eternally in fear of assassination. He felt that he was a traitor. As a Communist, he did not have the right to do what he was doig. He had days of high spirits and days of dejection."

Paul Wohl also disagreed he had been murdered. He said: "When we lived together, he often talked of suicide." Wohl also dismissed the idea that Hans Brusse killed Krivitsky. He claimed that although he was a Soviet agent he was not the type "to be assigned to assassinations, but rather a technician". Gary Kern, the author of A Death in Washington: Walter G. Krivitsky and the Stalin Terror (2004) has pointed out: "If Hans were so innocuous, one has to wonder, then why had Wohl sent his letter of warning to Krivitsky in the first place... And if he were not an assassin, but a technician, then what was he doing in America on a political assignment? And how did Wohl, a private citizen, know about any of these things?"

Jan Valtin, a former NKVD agent also took the view that Krivitsky was murdered. He said the NKVD liquidated people on foreign soil for three main reasons: "(1) To silence someone with secrets who might talk, has talked or will go on talking. (2) To eliminate someone who could be an asset to foreign intelligence services. (3) To wreak vengeance on someone who tried to break away from the Soviet Secret Service and thus to demonstrate an ability to prosecute defectors anywhere in the world, with the consequent chilling effect on potential defectors still in the service."

Another former agent, Hede Gumperz, also explained how they would have arranged his death. "The only possible lever they could have tried to use against him was his family - threatening to kill his wife and son, and promising to spare their lives only if he took his. But Krivitsky would have known with absolute certainty that, even if the threats were serious, the promises were not. After all, he himself, as a senior officer in the same service, had seen so many promises of clemency which had been made in the name of Stalin cynically broken the moment their aim was achieved."

Krivitsky's wife, Antonina Porfirieva, believed it was a forced suicide. The main clue came from his letter: "Very difficult and very much want to live but I can't live any longer. It's difficult for me to write but think about me and you will understand that I have to go." Antonina, who had worked for the NKVD and knew about the methods they used: "I am convinced that my husband was forced to write the notes he left behind... Walter had utter contempt for suicide and would have never killed himself willingly. They forced him to write those notes and then they forced him to kill himself. He made a deal with them to save me and our boy."

Louis Waldman campaigned for the FBI to treat the case as murder. "The issue is much deeper than the discovery of whether the general's death was the result of murder or suicide... When one considers that General Krivitsky was a witness, giving valuable information as to foreign espionage in our own country to a legislative committee, to the State Department, and to the FBI itself, then in my opinion, there is the clear duty of the FBI to track down those malevolent forces which were responsible for his death."

Waldman told the FBI that he had evidence that Hans Brusse was the killer. When the FBI reopen the case he went to the press with his evidence. Recently released documents show that in March 1941 a certain Lee Y. Chertok, a Russian living in the United States, claimed to have information on the killers of Krivitsky. Edgar Hoover sent a memo telling the FBI not to follow up this evidence: "The Bureau is not interested in determining whether Krivitsky was murdered or whether he committed suicide."

Brusse went missing after the death of Walter Krivitsky. In 1948 Hans sent his mother a picture postcard without a post mark - it must have been carried by hand - stating that he was living in a "far-off land". He seems to be unaware that his mother had died in 1941.

Jan Jongert says he saw Brusse in Rotterdam in 1956. Another source told MI6 that Brusse was living in an East European country in the late 1950s. It was assumed that he was still working for the Soviet intelligence service.


Hans Küng

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Hans Küng, (born March 19, 1928, Sursee, Switzerland—died April 6, 2021, Tübingen, Germany), Swiss Roman Catholic theologian whose controversial liberal views led to his censorship by the Vatican in 1979.

Küng studied at Gregorian University in Rome and obtained a doctorate in theology from the Catholic Institute at the Sorbonne in 1957. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1954, and he taught at the University of Münster in West Germany (1959–60) and at the University of Tübingen (1960–96), where he also directed the Institute for Ecumenical Research from 1963. In 1962 he was named by Pope John XXIII a peritus (theological consultant) for the Second Vatican Council.

Küng’s prolific writings questioned the formulation of such traditional church doctrine as papal infallibility, the divinity of Christ, and teachings about the Virgin Mary. In 1979 a Vatican censure that banned his teaching as a Catholic theologian provoked international controversy, and in 1980 a settlement was reached at Tübingen that allowed him to teach under secular rather than Catholic auspices. His later research focused on interreligious cooperation and the creation of a global ethic. His publications included Rechtfertigung: Die Lehre Karl Barths und eine Katholische Besinnung (1957 Justification: The Doctrine of Karl Barth and a Catholic Reflection), Konzil und Wiedervereinigung (1960 The Council, Reform, and Reunion), Die Kirche (1967 The Church), Unfehlbar? (1970 Infallible?), Christ sein (1974 On Being a Christian), Existiert Gott? (1978 Does God Exist?), and Ewiges Leben? (1982 Eternal Life?). In the early 21st century Küng published a series of memoirs.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


Contents

Etymology Edit

The most common theory of the origin of the name Brussels is that it derives from the Old Dutch Bruocsella, Broekzele or Broeksel, meaning "marsh" (bruoc / broek) and "home" (sella / zele / sel) or "home in the marsh". [41] Saint Vindicianus, the Bishop of Cambrai, made the first recorded reference to the place Brosella in 695, [42] when it was still a hamlet. The names of all the municipalities in the Brussels-Capital Region are also of Dutch origin, except for Evere, which is Celtic.

Pronunciation Edit

In French, Bruxelles is pronounced [bʁysɛl] (the x is pronounced / s / , like in English, and the final s is silent) and in Dutch, Brussel is pronounced [ˈbrʏsəl] . Inhabitants of Brussels are known in French as Bruxellois (pronounced [bʁysɛlwa] ( listen ) ) and in Dutch as Brusselaars (pronounced [ˈbrʏsəlaːrs] ). In the Brabantian dialect of Brussels (known as Brussels, and also sometimes called Marols), [43] they are called Brusseleers [44] or Brusseleirs.

Originally, the written x noted the group / k s / . In the Belgian French pronunciation as well as in Dutch, the k eventually disappeared and z became s, as reflected in the current Dutch spelling, whereas in the more conservative French form, the spelling remained. [45] The pronunciation / k s / in French only dates from the 18th century, but this modification did not affect the traditional Brussels usage. In France, the pronunciations [bʁyksɛl] and [bʁyksɛlwa] (for bruxellois) are often heard, but are rather rare in Belgium. [46]

Early history Edit

The history of Brussels is closely linked to that of Western Europe. Traces of human settlement go back to the Stone Age, with vestiges and place-names related to the civilisation of megaliths, dolmens and standing stones (Plattesteen in the City of Brussels and Tomberg in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, for example). During late antiquity, the region was home to Roman occupation, as attested by archaeological evidence discovered on the current site of Tour & Taxis. [47] [48] Following the decline of the Western Roman Empire, it was incorporated into the Frankish Empire.

The origin of the settlement which was to become Brussels lies in Saint Gaugericus' construction of a chapel on an island in the river Senne around 580. [49] [ better source needed ] The official founding of Brussels is usually situated around 979, when Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel (located in today's province of East Flanders) to Saint Gaugericus' chapel. Charles would construct the first permanent fortification in the city, doing so on that same island.

Middle Ages Edit

Lambert I of Leuven, Count of Leuven, gained the County of Brussels around 1000, by marrying Charles' daughter. Because of its location on the shores of the Senne, on an important trade route between Bruges and Ghent, and Cologne, Brussels became a commercial centre specialised in the textile trade. The town grew quite rapidly and extended towards the upper town (Treurenberg, Coudenberg and Sablon/Zavel areas), where there was a smaller risk of floods. As it grew to a population of around 30,000, the surrounding marshes were drained to allow for further expansion. Around this time, work began on what is now the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula (1225), replacing an older Romanesque church. In 1183, the Counts of Leuven became Dukes of Brabant. Brabant, unlike the county of Flanders, was not fief of the king of France but was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire. In the early 13th century, the first Fortifications of Brussels were built, [50] and after this, the city grew significantly. To let the city expand, a second set of walls was erected between 1356 and 1383. Traces of these walls can still be seen, although the small ring, a series of roadways bounding the historic city centre, follows their former course.

Early modern Edit

In the 15th century, the marriage between heiress Margaret III of Flanders and Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, produced a new Duke of Brabant of the House of Valois (namely Antoine, their son). In 1477, the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold perished in the Battle of Nancy. Through the marriage of his daughter Mary of Burgundy (who was born in Brussels) to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, the Low Countries fell under Habsburg sovereignty. Brabant was integrated into this composite state, and Brussels flourished as the Princely Capital of the prosperous Burgundian Netherlands, also known as the Seventeen Provinces. After the death of Mary in 1482, her son Philip the Handsome succeeded as Duke of Burgundy and Brabant.

Philip died in 1506, and he was succeeded by his son Charles V who then also became King of Spain (crowned in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula) and even Holy Roman Emperor at the death of his grandfather Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1519. Charles was now the ruler of a Habsburg Empire "on which the sun never sets" with Brussels serving as his main capital. [51] [52] It was in the Palace complex at Coudenberg that Charles V was declared of age in 1515, and it was there in 1555 that he abdicated all of his possessions and passed the Habsburg Netherlands to Philip II of Spain. This impressive palace, famous all over Europe, had greatly expanded since it had first become the seat of the Dukes of Brabant, but it was destroyed by fire in 1731.

In the 17th century, Brussels was a centre for the lace industry. In 1695, during the Nine Years' War, King Louis XIV of France sent troops to bombard Brussels with artillery. Together with the resulting fire, it was the most destructive event in the entire history of Brussels. The Grand Place was destroyed, along with 4,000 buildings—a third of all the buildings in the city. The reconstruction of the city centre, effected during subsequent years, profoundly changed its appearance and left numerous traces still visible today.

Following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Spanish sovereignty over the Southern Netherlands was transferred to the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg. This event started the era of the Austrian Netherlands. Brussels was captured by France in 1746, during the War of the Austrian Succession, but was handed back to Austria three years later. It remained with Austria until 1795, when the Southern Netherlands were captured and annexed by France, and the city became the capital of the department of the Dyle. The French rule ended in 1815, with the defeat of Napoleon on the battlefield of Waterloo, located south of today's Brussels-Capital Region. With the Congress of Vienna, the Southern Netherlands joined the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, under William I of Orange. The former Dyle department became the province of South Brabant, with Brussels as its capital.

Late modern Edit

In 1830, the Belgian revolution began in Brussels, after a performance of Auber's opera La Muette de Portici at the Royal Theatre of La Monnaie. [53] The city became the capital and seat of government of the new nation. South Brabant was renamed simply Brabant, with Brussels as its administrative centre. On 21 July 1831, Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, ascended the throne, undertaking the destruction of the city walls and the construction of many buildings.

Following independence, Brussels underwent many more changes. It became a financial centre, thanks to the dozens of companies launched by the Société Générale de Belgique. The Industrial Revolution and the building of the Brussels-Charleroi Canal brought prosperity to the city through commerce and manufacturing. The Free University of Brussels was established in 1834 and Saint-Louis University in 1858. In 1835, the first passenger railway built outside England linked the municipality of Molenbeek with Mechelen. [54] [55]

During the 19th century, the population of Brussels grew considerably from about 80,000 to more than 625,000 people for the city and its surroundings. The Senne had become a serious health hazard, and from 1867 to 1871, under the tenure of the city's then-mayor, Jules Anspach, its entire course through the urban area was completely covered over. This allowed urban renewal and the construction of modern buildings of hausmannien style along central boulevards, characteristic of downtown Brussels today. Buildings such as the Brussels Stock Exchange (1873), the Palace of Justice (1883) and Saint Mary's Royal Church (1885) date from this period. This development continued throughout the reign of King Leopold II. The International Exposition of 1897 contributed to the promotion of the infrastructure. Among other things, the Palace of the Colonies [fr] (today's Royal Museum for Central Africa), in the suburb of Tervuren, was connected to the capital by the construction of an 11-km long grand alley.

20th century Edit

During the 20th century, the city hosted various fairs and conferences, including the Solvay Conference on Physics and on Chemistry, and three world fairs: the Brussels International Exposition of 1910, the Brussels International Exposition of 1935 and the 1958 Brussels World's Fair (Expo '58). During World War I, Brussels was an occupied city, but German troops did not cause much damage. During World War II, it was again occupied by German forces, and spared major damage, before it was liberated by the British Guards Armoured Division on 3 September 1944. The Brussels Airport, in the suburb of Zaventem, dates from the occupation.

After the war, Brussels underwent extensive modernisation. The construction of the North–South connection, linking the main railway stations in the city, was completed in 1952, while the first premetro (underground tram) was finished in 1969, [56] and the first line of the metro was opened in 1976. [57] Starting from the early 1960s, Brussels became the de facto capital of what would become the European Union, and many modern offices were built. Development was allowed to proceed with little regard to the aesthetics of newer buildings, and numerous architectural landmarks were demolished to make way for newer buildings that often clashed with their surroundings, giving name to the process of Brusselisation.

Contemporary Edit

The Brussels-Capital Region was formed on 18 June 1989, after a constitutional reform in 1988. [58] It is one of the three federal regions of Belgium, along with Flanders and Wallonia, and has bilingual status. [7] [8] The yellow iris is the emblem of the region (referring to the presence of these flowers on the city's original site) and a stylised version is featured on its official flag. [59]

In recent years, Brussels has become an important venue for international events. In 2000, it and eight other European cities were named European Capital of Culture. [60] In 2014, the city hosted the 40th G7 summit. [61]

On 22 March 2016, three coordinated nail bombings were detonated by ISIL in Brussels—two at Brussels Airport in Zaventem and one at Maalbeek/Maelbeek metro station—resulting in 32 victims and three suicide bombers killed, and 330 people were injured. It was the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium.

Location and topography Edit

Brussels lies in the north-central part of Belgium, about 110 kilometres (68 mi) from the Belgian coast and about 180 km (110 mi) from Belgium's southern tip. It is located in the heartland of the Brabantian Plateau, about 45 km (28 mi) south of Antwerp (Flanders), and 50 km (31 mi) north of Charleroi (Wallonia). Its average elevation is 57 metres (187 ft) above sea level, varying from a low point in the valley of the almost completely covered Senne, which cuts the Brussels-Capital Region from east to west, up to high points in the Sonian Forest, on its southeastern side. In addition to the Senne, tributary streams such as the Maalbeek and the Woluwe, to the east of the region, account for significant elevation differences. Brussels' central boulevards are 15 metres (49 ft) above sea level. [62] Contrary to popular belief, the highest point (at 127.5 metres (418 ft)) is not near the Place de l'Altitude Cent / Hoogte Honderdplein in Forest, but at the Drève des Deux Montages / Tweebergendreef in the Sonian Forest. [63]

Climate Edit

Brussels experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb) with warm summers and cool winters. [64] Proximity to coastal areas influences the area's climate by sending marine air masses from the Atlantic Ocean. Nearby wetlands also ensure a maritime temperate climate. On average (based on measurements in the period 1981–2010), there are approximately 135 days of rain per year in the Brussels-Capital Region. Snowfall is infrequent, averaging 24 days per year. The city also often experiences violent thunderstorms in summer months.

Climate data for Brussels-Capital Region (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 5.9
(42.6)
6.8
(44.2)
10.5
(50.9)
14.2
(57.6)
18.3
(64.9)
20.9
(69.6)
23.3
(73.9)
23.0
(73.4)
19.5
(67.1)
15.1
(59.2)
9.8
(49.6)
6.3
(43.3)
14.5
(58.1)
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.2
(37.8)
3.5
(38.3)
6.5
(43.7)
9.5
(49.1)
13.5
(56.3)
16.1
(61.0)
18.4
(65.1)
18.0
(64.4)
14.9
(58.8)
11.1
(52.0)
6.8
(44.2)
3.8
(38.8)
10.4
(50.7)
Average low °C (°F) 0.7
(33.3)
0.6
(33.1)
2.9
(37.2)
4.9
(40.8)
8.7
(47.7)
11.5
(52.7)
13.6
(56.5)
13.0
(55.4)
10.5
(50.9)
7.5
(45.5)
4.5
(40.1)
1.5
(34.7)
6.7
(44.1)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 75.2
(2.96)
61.6
(2.43)
69.5
(2.74)
51.0
(2.01)
65.1
(2.56)
72.1
(2.84)
73.6
(2.90)
76.8
(3.02)
69.6
(2.74)
75.0
(2.95)
77.0
(3.03)
81.4
(3.20)
848.0
(33.39)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 12.8 11.1 12.7 9.9 11.3 10.5 10.1 10.1 10.4 11.2 12.6 13.0 135.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 58 75 119 168 199 193 205 194 143 117 65 47 1,583
Source: KMI/IRM [65]
Climate data for Uccle (Brussels-Capital Region) 1991–2020
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 15.3
(59.5)
20.0
(68.0)
24.2
(75.6)
28.7
(83.7)
34.1
(93.4)
38.8
(101.8)
39.7
(103.5)
36.5
(97.7)
34.9
(94.8)
27.8
(82.0)
20.6
(69.1)
16.7
(62.1)
39.7
(103.5)
Average high °C (°F) 6.1
(43.0)
7.1
(44.8)
10.9
(51.6)
15.0
(59.0)
18.4
(65.1)
21.2
(70.2)
23.2
(73.8)
23.0
(73.4)
19.5
(67.1)
14.9
(58.8)
9.9
(49.8)
6.6
(43.9)
14.7
(58.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.7
(38.7)
4.2
(39.6)
7.1
(44.8)
10.4
(50.7)
13.9
(57.0)
16.7
(62.1)
18.7
(65.7)
18.4
(65.1)
15.2
(59.4)
11.3
(52.3)
7.2
(45.0)
4.3
(39.7)
10.9
(51.7)
Average low °C (°F) 1.4
(34.5)
1.5
(34.7)
3.5
(38.3)
6.0
(42.8)
9.2
(48.6)
12.0
(53.6)
14.1
(57.4)
13.9
(57.0)
11.3
(52.3)
8.1
(46.6)
4.6
(40.3)
2.1
(35.8)
7.3
(45.2)
Record low °C (°F) −21.1
(−6.0)
−18.3
(−0.9)
−13.6
(7.5)
−5.7
(21.7)
−2.2
(28.0)
0.3
(32.5)
4.4
(39.9)
3.9
(39.0)
0.0
(32.0)
−6.8
(19.8)
−12.8
(9.0)
−17.7
(0.1)
−21.1
(−6.0)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 75.5
(2.97)
65.1
(2.56)
59.3
(2.33)
46.7
(1.84)
59.7
(2.35)
70.8
(2.79)
76.9
(3.03)
86.5
(3.41)
65.3
(2.57)
67.8
(2.67)
76.2
(3.00)
87.4
(3.44)
837.2
(32.96)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 18.9 16.9 15.7 13.1 14.7 14.1 14.3 14.3 14.1 16.1 18.3 19.4 189.9
Average snowy days 3.8 4.9 2.7 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.2 3.7 17
Average relative humidity (%) 84.1 80.6 74.8 69.2 70.2 71.3 71.5 72.4 76.8 81.5 85.1 86.6 77.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 59.1 72.9 125.8 171.3 198.3 199.3 203.2 192.4 154.4 112.6 65.8 48.6 1,603.7
Average ultraviolet index 1 1 3 4 6 7 6 6 4 2 1 1 4
Source 1: Royal Meteorological Institute [66] [67]
Source 2: Weather Atlas [68] 2019 July record high from VRT Nieuws [69]

Despite its name, the Brussels-Capital Region is not the capital of Belgium. Article 194 of the Belgian Constitution establishes that the capital of Belgium is the City of Brussels, the municipality in the region that is the city's core. [9]

The City of Brussels is the location of many national institutions. The Royal Palace, where the King of the Belgians exercises his prerogatives as head of state, is situated alongside Brussels' Park (not to be confused with the Royal Castle of Laeken, the official home of the Belgian Royal Family). The Palace of the Nation is located on the opposite side of this park, and is the seat of the Belgian Federal Parliament. The office of the Prime Minister of Belgium, colloquially called Law Street 16 (French: 16, rue de la Loi, Dutch: Wetstraat 16), is located adjacent to this building. It is also where the Council of Ministers holds its meetings. The Court of Cassation, Belgium's main court, has its seat in the Palace of Justice. Other important institutions in the City of Brussels are the Constitutional Court, the Council of State, the Court of Audit, the Royal Belgian Mint and the National Bank of Belgium.

The City of Brussels is also the capital of both the French Community of Belgium [10] and the Flemish Community. [12] The Flemish Parliament and Flemish Government have their seats in Brussels, [70] and so do the Parliament of the French Community and the Government of the French Community.

French name Dutch name
Anderlecht Anderlecht
Auderghem Oudergem
Berchem-Sainte-Agathe Sint-Agatha-Berchem
Bruxelles-Ville Stad Brussel
Etterbeek Etterbeek
Evere Evere
Forest Vorst
Ganshoren Ganshoren
Ixelles Elsene
Jette Jette
Koekelberg Koekelberg
Molenbeek-Saint-Jean Sint-Jans-Molenbeek
Saint-Gilles Sint-Gillis
Saint-Josse-ten-Noode Sint-Joost-ten-Node
Schaerbeek Schaarbeek
Uccle Ukkel
Watermael-Boitsfort Watermaal-Bosvoorde
Woluwe-Saint-Lambert Sint-Lambrechts-Woluwe
Woluwe-Saint-Pierre Sint-Pieters-Woluwe

The 19 municipalities (French: communes, Dutch: gemeenten) of the Brussels-Capital Region are political subdivisions with individual responsibilities for the handling of local level duties, such as law enforcement and the upkeep of schools and roads within its borders. [71] [72] Municipal administration is also conducted by a mayor, a council, and an executive. [72]

In 1831, Belgium was divided into 2,739 municipalities, including the 19 in the Brussels-Capital Region. [73] Unlike most of the municipalities in Belgium, the ones located in the Brussels-Capital Region were not merged with others during mergers occurring in 1964, 1970, and 1975. [73] However, several municipalities outside the Brussels-Capital Region have been merged with the City of Brussels throughout its history, including Laeken, Haren and Neder-Over-Heembeek in 1921. [74]

The largest municipality in area and population is the City of Brussels, covering 32.6 square kilometres (12.6 sq mi) and with 145,917 inhabitants the least populous is Koekelberg with 18,541 inhabitants. The smallest in area is Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, which is only 1.1 square kilometres (0.4 sq mi), but still has the highest population density in the region, with 20,822 inhabitants per square kilometre (53,930/sq mi). Watermael-Boitsfort has the lowest population density in the region, with 1,928 inhabitants per square kilometre (4,990/sq mi).

There is much controversy on the division of 19 municipalities for a highly urbanised region, which is considered as (half of) one city by most people. Some politicians mock the "19 baronies" and want to merge the municipalities under one city council and one mayor. [75] [76] That would lower the number of politicians needed to govern Brussels, and centralise the power over the city to make decisions easier, thus reduce the overall running costs. The current municipalities could be transformed into districts with limited responsibilities, similar to the current structure of Antwerp or to structures of other capitals like the boroughs in London or arrondissements in Paris, to keep politics close enough to the citizen. [77]

In early 2016, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek held a reputation as a safe haven for jihadists in relation to the support shown by some residents towards the bombers who carried out the Paris and Brussels attacks. [78] [79] [80] [81] [82]

Political status Edit

The Brussels-Capital Region is one of the three federated regions of Belgium, alongside the Walloon Region and the Flemish Region. Geographically and linguistically, it is a bilingual enclave in the monolingual Flemish Region. Regions are one component of Belgium's institutions the three communities being the other component. Brussels' inhabitants deal with either the French Community or the Flemish Community for matters such as culture and education, as well as a Common Community for competencies which do not belong exclusively to either Community, such as healthcare and social welfare.

Since the split of Brabant in 1995, the Brussels Region does not belong to any of the provinces of Belgium, nor is it subdivided into provinces itself. Within the Region, 99% of the areas of provincial jurisdiction are assumed by the Brussels regional institutions and community commissions. Remaining is only the governor of Brussels-Capital and some aides, analogously to provinces. Its status is roughly akin to that of a federal district.

Institutions Edit

The Brussels-Capital Region is governed by a parliament of 89 members (72 French-speaking, 17 Dutch-speaking—parties are organised on a linguistic basis) and an eight-member regional cabinet consisting of a minister-president, four ministers and three state secretaries. By law, the cabinet must comprise two French-speaking and two Dutch-speaking ministers, one Dutch-speaking secretary of state and two French-speaking secretaries of state. The minister-president does not count against the language quota, but in practice every minister-president has been a bilingual francophone. The regional parliament can enact ordinances (French: ordonnances, Dutch: ordonnanties), which have equal status as a national legislative act.

19 of the 72 French-speaking members of the Brussels Parliament are also members of the Parliament of the French Community of Belgium, and, until 2004, this was also the case for six Dutch-speaking members, who were at the same time members of the Flemish Parliament. Now, people voting for a Flemish party have to vote separately for 6 directly elected members of the Flemish Parliament.

Agglomeration of Brussels Edit

Before the creation of the Brussels-Capital Region, regional competences in the 19 municipalities were performed by the Brussels Agglomeration. The Brussels Agglomeration was an administrative division established in 1971. This decentralised administrative public body also assumed jurisdiction over areas which, elsewhere in Belgium, were exercised by municipalities or provinces. [83]

The Brussels Agglomeration had a separate legislative council, but the by-laws enacted by it did not have the status of a legislative act. The only election of the council took place on 21 November 1971. The working of the council was subject to many difficulties caused by the linguistic and socio-economic tensions between the two communities.

After the creation of the Brussels-Capital Region, the Brussels Agglomeration was never formally abolished, although it no longer has a purpose.

The French Community and the Flemish Community exercise their powers in Brussels through two community-specific public authorities: the French Community Commission (French: Commission communautaire française or COCOF) and the Flemish Community Commission (Dutch: Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie or VGC). These two bodies each have an assembly composed of the members of each linguistic group of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region. They also have a board composed of the ministers and secretaries of state of each linguistic group in the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region.

The French Community Commission has also another capacity: some legislative powers of the French Community have been devolved to the Walloon Region (for the French language area of Belgium) and to the French Community Commission (for the bilingual language area). [84] The Flemish Community, however, did the opposite it merged the Flemish Region into the Flemish Community. [85] This is related to different conceptions in the two communities, one focusing more on the Communities and the other more on the Regions, causing an asymmetrical federalism. Because of this devolution, the French Community Commission can enact decrees, which are legislative acts.

Common Community Commission Edit

A bi-communitarian public authority, the Common Community Commission (French: Commission communautaire commune, COCOM, Dutch: Gemeenschappelijke Gemeenschapscommissie, GGC) also exists. Its assembly is composed of the members of the regional parliament, and its board are the ministers—not the secretaries of state—of the region, with the minister-president not having the right to vote. This commission has two capacities: it is a decentralised administrative public body, responsible for implementing cultural policies of common interest. It can give subsidies and enact by-laws. In another capacity, it can also enact ordinances, which have equal status as a national legislative act, in the field of the welfare powers of the communities: in the Brussels-Capital Region, both the French Community and the Flemish Community can exercise powers in the field of welfare, but only in regard to institutions that are unilingual (for example, a private French-speaking retirement home or the Dutch-speaking hospital of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). The Common Community Commission is responsible for policies aiming directly at private persons or at bilingual institutions (for example, the centres for social welfare of the 19 municipalities). Its ordinances have to be enacted with a majority in both linguistic groups. Failing such a majority, a new vote can be held, where a majority of at least one third in each linguistic group is sufficient.

Brussels has, since World War II, become the administrative centre of many international organisations. The European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have their main institutions in the city, along with many other international organisations such as the World Customs Organization and EUROCONTROL, as well as international corporations. Brussels is third in the number of international conferences it hosts, [86] also becoming one of the largest convention centres in the world. [87] The presence of the EU and the other international bodies has, for example, led to there being more ambassadors and journalists in Brussels than in Washington D.C. [88] International schools have also been established to serve this presence. [87] The "international community" in Brussels numbers at least 70,000 people. [89] In 2009, there were an estimated 286 lobbying consultancies known to work in Brussels. [90]

European Union Edit

Brussels serves as de facto capital of the European Union, hosting the major political institutions of the Union. [21] The EU has not declared a capital formally, though the Treaty of Amsterdam formally gives Brussels the seat of the European Commission (the executive branch of government) and the Council of the European Union (a legislative institution made up from executives of member states). [91] [ full citation needed ] [92] [ full citation needed ] It locates the formal seat of European Parliament in Strasbourg, where votes take place, with the council, on the proposals made by the commission. However, meetings of political groups and committee groups are formally given to Brussels, along with a set number of plenary sessions. Three quarters of Parliament sessions now take place at its Brussels hemicycle. [93] Between 2002 and 2004, the European Council also fixed its seat in the city. [94] In 2014, the Union hosted a G7 summit in the city. [61]

Brussels, along with Luxembourg and Strasbourg, began to host European institutions in 1957, soon becoming the centre of activities, as the Commission and Council based their activities in what has become the European Quarter, in the east of the city. [91] Early building in Brussels was sporadic and uncontrolled, with little planning. The current major buildings are the Berlaymont building of the commission, symbolic of the quarter as a whole, the Justus Lipsius building of the Council and the Espace Léopold of the Parliament. [92] Today, the presence has increased considerably, with the Commission alone occupying 865,000 m 2 (9,310,000 sq ft) within the European Quarter (a quarter of the total office space in Brussels [21] ). The concentration and density has caused concern that the presence of the institutions has created a ghetto effect in that part of the city. [95] However, the European presence has contributed significantly to the importance of Brussels as an international centre. [88]

Eurocontrol Edit

The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, commonly known as Eurocontrol, is an international organisation which coordinates and plans air traffic control across European airspace. The corporation was founded in 1960 and has 41 member states. Its headquarters are located in Haren, on the northeast perimeter of the City of Brussels.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Edit

The Treaty of Brussels, which was signed on 17 March 1948 between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, was a prelude to the establishment of the intergovernmental military alliance which later became the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). [96] Today, the alliance consists of 29 independent member countries across North America and Europe. Several countries also have diplomatic missions to NATO through embassies in Belgium. Since 1949, a number of NATO Summits have been held in Brussels, [97] the most recent taking place in May 2017. [98] The organisation's political and administrative headquarters are located on Boulevard Léopold III / Leopold III-laan in Haren, Brussels. [99] A new €750 million headquarters building begun in 2010 and was completed in 2017. [100]

Population Edit

Brussels is located in one of the most urbanised regions of Europe, between Paris, London, the Rhine-Ruhr (Germany), and the Randstad (Netherlands). The Brussels-Capital Region has a population of around 1.2 million and has witnessed, in recent years, a remarkable increase in its population. In general, the population of Brussels is younger than the national average, and the gap between rich and poor is wider. [101]

Brussels is the core of a built-up area that extends well beyond the region's limits. Sometimes referred to as the urban area of Brussels (French: aire urbaine de Bruxelles, Dutch: stedelijk gebied van Brussel) or Greater Brussels (French: Grand-Bruxelles, Dutch: Groot-Brussel), this area extends over a large part of the two Brabant provinces, including much of the surrounding arrondissement of Halle-Vilvoorde and some small parts of the arrondissement of Leuven in Flemish Brabant, as well as the northern part of Walloon Brabant.

The metropolitan area of Brussels is divided into three levels. Firstly, the central agglomeration (within the regional borders), with a population of 1,218,255 inhabitants. [15] Adding the closest suburbs (French: banlieues, Dutch: buitenwijken) gives a total population of 1,831,496. Including the outer commuter zone (Brussels Regional Express Network (RER/GEN) area), the population is 2,676,701. [17] [18] Brussels is also part of a wider diamond-shaped conurbation, with Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven, which has about 4.4 million inhabitants (a little more than 40% of the Belgium's total population). [19] [102]

[ verification needed ] 01-07-2004 [103] 01-07-2005 [103] 01-07-2006 [103] 01-01-2008 [103] 01-01-2015 [103] 01-01-2019 [103] 01-01-2020 [103]
Brussels-Capital Region [103] [ verification needed ] 1.004.239 1.012.258 1.024.492 1.048.491 1.181.272 1.208.542 1.218.255
-- of which legal immigrants [103] [ verification needed ] 262.943 268.009 277.682 295.043 385.381 450.000 ?

Nationalities Edit

Brussels is home to a large number of immigrants and people of immigrant background. At the last Belgian census in 1991, 63.7% of inhabitants in Brussels-Capital Region answered that they were Belgian citizens, born as such in Belgium. [105] [106] However, there have been numerous individual or familial migrations towards Brussels since the end of the 18th century, including political refugees (Karl Marx, Victor Hugo, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Léon Daudet, for example), from neighbouring or more distant countries, as well as labour migrants, former foreign students or expatriates, and many Belgian families in Brussels can claim at least one foreign grandparent.

This large concentration of immigrants and their descendance includes many of Moroccan (mainly Riffian and Berber) and Turkish ancestry, together with French-speaking black Africans from former Belgian colonies, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. People of foreign origin make up nearly 70% [105] [107] of the population of Brussels, most of whom have been naturalised following the great 1991 reform of the naturalisation process. About 32% of city residents are of non-Belgian European origin (mainly expatriates from France, Romania, Italy, Spain, Poland, and Portugal) and 36% are of another background, mostly from Morocco, Turkey and Sub-Saharan Africa. Among all major migrant groups from outside the EU, a majority of the permanent residents have acquired Belgian nationality. [108]

According to Statbel, the Belgian statistical office, in 2020, taking into account the nationality of birth of the parents, 74.3% of the population of the Brussels-Capital region was of foreign origin and 41.8% was of non-European origin (including 28.7% of African origin). Among those aged under 18, 88% were of foreign origin and 57% of non-European origin (including 42.4% of African origin). [109]

Languages Edit

Historically a Dutch-speaking city (Brabantian dialect to be exact), [111] [112] [113] over the two past centuries [111] [114] French (specifically Belgian French) has become the majority language and lingua franca in Brussels. [115] The main cause of this transition was the rapid assimilation of the local Flemish population, [116] [111] [117] [118] [113] amplified by immigration from France and Wallonia. [111] [119] The rise of French in public life gradually began by the end of the 18th century, [120] [121] quickly accelerating after Belgian independence. [122] [123] Dutch — of which standardisation in Belgium was still very weak [124] [125] [123] — could not compete with French, which was the exclusive language of the judiciary, the administration, the army, education, cultural life and the media, and thus necessary for social mobility. [126] [127] [112] [128] [114] The value and prestige of the French language was universally acknowledged [112] [129] [116] [123] [130] [131] to such an extent that after 1880, [132] [133] [124] and more particularly after the turn of the 20th century, [123] proficiency in French among Dutch-speakers in Brussels increased spectacularly. [134]

Although the majority of the population remained bilingual until the second half of the 20th century, [134] [116] the original Brabantian dialect [135] was often no longer passed down from one generation to another, [136] leading to an increase of monolingual French-speakers from 1910 onwards. [129] [137] From the mid-20th century, the number of monolingual French-speakers surpassed the number of mostly bilingual Flemish inhabitants. [138] This process of assimilation weakened after the 1960s, [134] [139] as the language border was fixed, the status of Dutch as an official language of Belgium was reinforced, [140] and the economic centre of gravity shifted northward to Flanders. [124] [132] However, with the continuing arrival of immigrants and the post-war emergence of Brussels as a centre of international politics, the relative position of Dutch continued to decline. [141] [114] [142] [143] [134] [136] Furthermore, as Brussels' urban area expanded, [144] a further number of Dutch-speaking municipalities in the Brussels periphery also became predominantly French-speaking. [140] [145] This phenomenon of expanding Francisation — dubbed "oil slick" by its opponents [116] [146] [134] — is, together with the future of Brussels, [147] one of the most controversial topics in Belgian politics. [132] [127]

Today, the Brussels-Capital Region is officially bilingual in French and Dutch, [148] as is the administration of the 19 municipalities. [141] The creation of this bilingual, full-fledged region, with its own competencies and jurisdiction, had long been hampered by different visions of Belgian federalism. Nevertheless, some communitarian issues remain. [149] [150] Flemish political parties demanded, for decades, that the Flemish part of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV) arrondissement be separated from the Brussels Region (which made Halle-Vilvoorde a monolingual Flemish electoral and judicial district). BHV was divided mid-2012. The French-speaking population regards the language border as artificial [151] and demands the extension of the bilingual region to at least all six municipalities with language facilities in the surroundings of Brussels. [d] Flemish politicians have strongly rejected these proposals. [152] [153] [154]

Besides, owing to migration and to its international role, Brussels is home to a growing number of foreign language speakers. Currently, the first language of roughly half of the inhabitants is not an official one of the Capital Region. [155] In 2013, academic research showed that approximately 17% of families spoke none of the official languages in the home, while in a further 23% a foreign language was used alongside French. The share of unilingual French-speaking families had fallen to 38% and that of Dutch-speaking families to 5%, while the percentage of bilingual Dutch-French families reached 17%. In 2013, French was spoken "well to perfectly" by 88% of the population and Dutch by 23% (down from 33% in 2000), [141] while the other most commonly known languages were English at 30%, Arabic at 18%, Spanish at 9%, German at 7% and Italian and Turkish at around 5%. [110] Despite the rise of English as a second language in Brussels, including as an unofficial compromise language between French and Dutch, as well as the working language for some of its international businesses and institutions, French remains the lingua franca and all public services are conducted exclusively in French or Dutch. [141]

The original dialect of Brussels (known as Brussels, and also sometimes called Marols or Marollien), [43] a form of Brabantic (the variant of Dutch spoken in the ancient Duchy of Brabant) with a significant number of loanwords from French, still survives among a small minority of inhabitants called Brusseleers [44] (or Brusseleirs), many of them quite bi- and multilingual, or educated in French and not writing in Dutch. [156] [43] The ethnic and national self-identification of Brussels' inhabitants is nonetheless sometimes quite distinct from the French and Dutch-speaking communities. For the French-speakers, it can vary from Francophone Belgian, Bruxellois [46] (French demonym for an inhabitant of Brussels), Walloon (for people who migrated from the Walloon Region at an adult age) for Flemings living in Brussels, it is mainly either Dutch-speaking Belgian, Flemish or Brusselaar (Dutch demonym for an inhabitant), and often both. For the Brusseleers, many simply consider themselves as belonging to Brussels. [43]

Religions Edit

Historically, Brussels has been predominantly Roman Catholic, especially since the expulsion of Protestants in the 16th century. This is clear from the large number of historical churches in the region, particularly in the City of Brussels. The pre-eminent Catholic cathedral in Brussels is the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, serving as the co-cathedral of the Archdiocese of Mechelen–Brussels. On the northwestern side of the region, the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a Minor Basilica and parish church and the 14th largest church building in the world. The Church of Our Lady of Laeken holds the tombs of many members of the Belgian royal family, including all the former Belgian monarchs, within the Royal Crypt.

Religion in Brussels-Capital Region (2016) [157]

In reflection of its multicultural makeup, Brussels hosts a variety of religious communities, as well as large numbers of atheists and agnostics. Minority faiths include Islam, Anglicanism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, and Buddhism. According to a 2016 survey, approximately 40% of residents of Brussels declared themselves Catholics (12% were practising Catholics and 28% were non-practising Catholics), 30% were non-religious, 23% were Muslim (19% practising, 4% non-practising), 3% were Protestants and 4% were of another religion. [157]

Recognised religions and laicism enjoy public funding and school courses. It was once the case that every pupil in an official school from 6 years old to 18 had to choose 2 hours per week of compulsory religion—or laicist—inspired morals. However, in 2015, the Belgian Constitutional court ruled religious studies could no longer be required in the primary and secondary education system. [158]

Brussels has a large concentration of Muslims, mostly of Moroccan, Turkish, Syrian and Guinean ancestry. The Great Mosque of Brussels, located in the Parc du Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark, is the oldest mosque in Brussels. Belgium does not collect statistics by ethnic background, so exact figures are unknown. It was estimated that, in 2005, people of Muslim background living in the Brussels Region numbered 256,220 and accounted for 25.5% of the city's population, a much higher concentration than those of the other regions of Belgium. [159]

Regions of Belgium [159] (1 January 2016) Total population People of Muslim origin % of Muslims
Belgium 11,371,928 603,642 5.3%
Brussels-Capital Region 1,180,531 212,495 18%
Wallonia 3,395,942 149,421 4.4%
Flanders 6,043,161 241,726 4.0%

Architecture Edit

The architecture in Brussels is diverse, and spans from the clashing combination of Gothic, Baroque, and Louis XIV styles on the Grand Place to the postmodern buildings of the EU institutions. [160]

Very little medieval architecture is preserved in Brussels. Buildings from that period are mostly found in the historic centre (called Îlot Sacré), Saint Géry/Sint-Goriks and Sainte-Catherine/Sint Katelijne neighbourhoods. The Brabantine Gothic Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula remains a prominent feature in the skyline of downtown Brussels. Isolated portions of the first city walls were saved from destruction and can be seen to this day. One of the only remains of the second walls is the Halle Gate. The Grand Place is the main attraction in the city centre and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. [161] The square is dominated by the 15th century Flamboyant Town Hall, the neo-Gothic Breadhouse and the Baroque guildhalls of the former Guilds of Brussels. Manneken Pis, a fountain containing a small bronze sculpture of a urinating youth, is a tourist attraction and symbol of the city. [162]

The neoclassical style of the 18th and 19th centuries is represented in the Royal Quarter/Coudenberg area, around Brussels' Park and the Royal Square. Examples include the Royal Palace, the Church of St. James on Coudenberg, the Palace of the Nation (Parliament building), the Academy Palace, the Palace of Charles of Lorraine, the Palace of the Count of Flanders and the Egmont Palace. Other uniform neoclassical ensembles can be found around Martyrs' Square and Barricades' Square. Some additional landmarks in the centre are the Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries (1847), one of the oldest covered shopping arcades in Europe, the Congress Column (1859), the former Brussels Stock Exchange building (1873) and the Palace of Justice (1883), designed by Joseph Poelaert, in eclectic style, and reputed to be the largest building constructed in the 19th century. [163]

Located outside the centre, in a greener environment, are the Parc du Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark with its memorial arcade and nearby museums, and in Laeken, the Royal Castle of Laeken and the Royal Domain with its large greenhouses, as well as the Museums of the Far East.

Also particularly striking are the buildings in the Art Nouveau style, most famously by the Belgian architects Victor Horta, Paul Hankar and Henry Van de Velde. [164] [165] Some of Brussels' municipalities, such as Schaerbeek, Etterbeek, Ixelles, and Saint-Gilles, were developed during the heyday of Art Nouveau and have many buildings in that style. The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta—Hôtel Tassel (1893), Hôtel Solvay (1894), Hôtel van Eetvelde (1895) and the Horta Museum (1901)—have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. [166] Another example of Brussels' Art Nouveau is the Stoclet Palace (1911), by the Viennese architect Josef Hoffmann, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in June 2009. [167]

Hôtel Ciamberlani by Paul Hankar (1897)

Former Old England department store by Paul Saintenoy (1899)

Art Deco structures in Brussels include the Residence Palace (1927) (now part of the Europa building), the Centre for Fine Arts (1928), the Villa Empain (1934), the Town Hall of Forest (1938), and the Flagey Building (formerly known as the Maison de la Radio) on Eugène Flagey Square (1938) in Ixelles. Some religious buildings from the interwar era were also constructed in that style, such as the Church of St. John the Baptist (1932) in Molenbeek and the Church of St. Augustine (1935) in Forest. Completed only in 1969, and combining Art Deco with neo-Byzantine elements, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg is one of the largest Roman Catholic basilicas by area in the world, and its cupola provides a panoramic view of Brussels and its outskirts. Another example are the exhibition halls of the Centenary Palace, built for the 1935 World's Fair on the Heysel/Heizel Plateau in northern Brussels, and home to the Brussels Exhibition Centre (Brussels Expo). [168]

The Atomium is a symbolic 103-metre-tall (338 ft) modernist structure, located on the Heysel Plateau, which was originally built for the 1958 World's Fair (Expo '58). It consists of nine steel spheres connected by tubes, and forms a model of an iron crystal (specifically, a unit cell), magnified 165 billion times. The architect A. Waterkeyn devoted the building to science. It is now considered a landmark of Brussels. [169] [170] Next to the Atomium, is Mini-Europe miniature park, with 1:25 scale maquettes of famous buildings from across Europe.

Since the second half of the 20th century, modern office towers have been built in Brussels (Madou Tower, Rogier Tower, Proximus Towers, Finance Tower, the World Trade Center, among others). There are some thirty towers, mostly concentrated in the city's main business district: the Northern Quarter (also called Little Manhattan), near Brussels-North railway station. The South Tower, standing adjacent to Brussels-South railway station, is the tallest building in Belgium, at 148 m (486 ft). Along the North–South connection, is the State Administrative City, an administrative complex in the International Style. The postmodern buildings of the Espace Léopold complete the picture.

The city's embrace of modern architecture translated into an ambivalent approach towards historic preservation, leading to the destruction of notable architectural landmarks, most famously the Maison du Peuple/Volkshuis by Victor Horta, a process known as Brusselisation.

Arts Edit

Brussels contains over 80 museums. [171] The Royal Museums of Fine Arts has an extensive collection of various painters, such as Flemish old masters like Bruegel, Rogier van der Weyden, Robert Campin, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, and Peter Paul Rubens. The Magritte Museum houses the world's largest collection of the works of the surrealist René Magritte. Museums dedicated to the national history of Belgium include the BELvue Museum, the Royal Museums of Art and History, and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. The Musical Instruments Museum (MIM), housed in the Old England building, is part of the Royal Museums of Art and History, and is internationally renowned for its collection of over 8,000 instruments.

The Brussels Museums Council is an independent body for all the museums in the Brussels-Capital Region, covering around 100 federal, private, municipal, and community museums. [172] It promotes member museums through the Brussels Card (giving access to public transport and 30 of the 100 museums), the Brussels Museums Nocturnes (every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. from mid-September to mid-December) and the Museum Night Fever (an event for and by young people on a Saturday night in late February or early March). [173]

Brussels has had a distinguished artist scene for many years. The famous Belgian surrealists René Magritte and Paul Delvaux, for instance, studied and lived there, as did the avant-garde dramatist Michel de Ghelderode. The city was also home of the impressionist painter Anna Boch from the Artist Group Les XX, and includes other famous Belgian painters such as Léon Spilliaert. Brussels is also a capital of the comic strip [2] some treasured Belgian characters are Tintin, Lucky Luke, The Smurfs, Spirou, Gaston, Marsupilami, Blake and Mortimer, Boule et Bill and Cubitus (see Belgian comics). Throughout the city, walls are painted with large motifs of comic book characters these murals taken together are known as Brussels' Comic Book Route. [40] Also, the interiors of some metro stations are designed by artists. The Belgian Comic Strip Center combines two artistic leitmotifs of Brussels, being a museum devoted to Belgian comic strips, housed in the former Magasins Waucquez textile department store, designed by Victor Horta in the Art Nouveau style.

Brussels is well known for its performing arts scene, with the Royal Theatre of La Monnaie and the Kaaitheater among the most notable institutions. The Kunstenfestivaldesarts, an international performing arts festival, is organised every year in May in about twenty different cultural houses and theatres throughout the city. [174] The King Baudouin Stadium is a concert and competition facility with a 50,000 seat capacity, the largest in Belgium. The site was formerly occupied by the Heysel Stadium. Furthermore, the Center for Fine Arts (often referred to as BOZAR in French or PSK in Dutch), a multi-purpose centre for theatre, cinema, music, literature and art exhibitions, is home to the National Orchestra of Belgium and to the annual Queen Elisabeth Competition for classical singers and instrumentalists, one of the most challenging and prestigious competitions of the kind. Studio 4 in Le Flagey cultural centre hosts the Brussels Philharmonic. [175] [176] Other concert venues include Forest National/Vorst Nationaal, the Ancienne Belgique, the Cirque Royal/Koninklijk Circus, the Botanique and Palais 12/Paleis 12. The Jazz Station in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode is a museum and archive on jazz, and a venue for jazz concerts. [177]

Folklore Edit

Brussels' identity owes much to its rich folklore and traditions, among the liveliest in the country.

  • The Ommegang, a folkloric costumed procession, commemorating the Joyous Entry of Emperor Charles V and his son Philip II in the city in 1549, takes place every year in July. The colourful parade includes floats, traditional processional giants, such as Saint Michael and Saint Gudula, and scores of folkloric groups, either on foot or on horseback, dressed in medieval garb. The parade ends in a pageant on the Grand Place. Since 2019, it is recognised as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. [178]
  • The Meyboom, an even-older folk tradition of Brussels (1308), celebrating the May tree—in fact, a bad translation of the Dutch tree of joy—takes place paradoxically on 9 August. After parading a young beech in the city, it is planted in a joyful spirit with lots of music, Brusseleir songs, and processional giants. It was also recognised as an expression of intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO, as part of the bi-national inscription "Processional giants and dragons in Belgium and France". [179][180] The celebration is reminiscent of the town's long-standing (folkloric) feud with Leuven, which dates back to the Middle Ages.
  • Another good introduction to the Brusseleirlocal dialect and way of life can be obtained at the Royal Theatre Toone, a folkloric theatre of marionettes, located a stone's throw away from the Grand Place. [181]
  • The Saint-Verhaegen (often shortened to St V), a folkloric student procession, celebrating the anniversary of the founding of the Université libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is held on 20 November.

Cultural events and festivals Edit

Many events are organised or hosted in Brussels throughout the year. In addition, many festivals animate the Brussels scene.

The Iris Festival is the official festival of the Brussels-Capital Region and is held annually in spring. [182] The International Fantastic Film Festival of Brussels (BIFFF) is organised during the Easter holidays [183] and the Magritte Awards in February. The Festival of Europe, an open day and activities in and around the institutions of the European Union, is held on 9 May. On Belgian National Day, on 21 July, a military parade and celebrations take place on the Place des Palais / Paleizenplein and in Brussels' Park, ending with a display of fireworks in the evening.

Some summer festivities include Couleur Café Festival, a festival of world and urban music, around the end of June or early July, the Brussels Summer Festival (BSF), a music festival in August, [184] the Brussels Fair, the most important yearly fair in Brussels, lasting more than a month, in July and August, [185] and Brussels Beach, when the banks of the canal are turned into a temporary urban beach. [186] Other biennial events are the Zinneke Parade, a colourful, multicultural parade through the city, which has been held since 2000 in May, as well as the popular Flower Carpet at the Grand Place in August. Heritage Days are organised on the third weekend of September (sometimes coinciding with the car-free day) and are a good opportunity to discover the wealth of buildings, institutions and real estate in Brussels. The "Winter Wonders" animate the heart of Brussels in December these winter activities were launched in Brussels in 2001. [187]

Cuisine Edit

Brussels is known for its local waffle, its chocolate, its French fries and its numerous types of beers. The Brussels sprout, which has long been popular in Brussels, and may have originated there, is also named after the city. [188]

The gastronomic offer includes approximately 1,800 restaurants (including three 2-starred and ten 1-starred Michelin restaurants), [189] and a number of bars. In addition to the traditional restaurants, there are many cafés, bistros and the usual range of international fast food chains. The cafés are similar to bars, and offer beer and light dishes coffee houses are called salons de thé. Also widespread are brasseries, which usually offer a variety of beers and typical national dishes.

Belgian cuisine is known among connoisseurs as one of the best in Europe. It is characterised by the combination of French cuisine with the more hearty Flemish fare. Notable specialities include Brussels waffles (gaufres) and mussels (usually as moules-frites, served with fries). The city is a stronghold of chocolate and pralines manufacturers with renowned companies like Côte d'Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas and Godiva. Pralines were first introduced in 1912, by Jean Neuhaus II, a Belgian chocolatier of Swiss origin, in the Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries. [190] Numerous friteries are spread throughout the city, and in tourist areas, fresh hot waffles are also sold on the street.

As well as other Belgian beers, the spontaneously fermented lambic style, brewed in and around Brussels, is widely available there and in the nearby Senne valley where the wild yeasts which ferment it have their origin. Kriek, a cherry lambic, is available in almost every bar or restaurant in Brussels.

Brussels is known as the birthplace of the Belgian endive. The technique for growing blanched endives was accidentally discovered in the 1850s at the Botanical Garden of Brussels in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. [191]

Shopping Edit

Famous shopping areas in Brussels include the pedestrian-only Rue Neuve/Nieuwstraat, the second busiest shopping street in Belgium (after the Meir, in Antwerp) with a weekly average of 230,000 visitors, [192] [193] home to popular international chains (H&M, C&A, Zara, Primark), as well as the City 2 and Anspach galleries. [194] The Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries hold a variety of luxury shops and some six million people stroll through them each year. [195] The neighbourhood around Rue Antoine Dansaert / Antoine Dansaertstraat has become, in recent years, a focal point for fashion and design [196] this main street and its side streets also feature Belgium's young and most happening artistic talent. [197]

In Ixelles, Avenue de la Toison d'Or / Gulden-Vlieslaan and Namur Gate area offer a blend of luxury shops, fast food restaurants and entertainment venues, and Chaussée d'Ixelles / Elsenesteenweg , in the mainly-Congolese Matongé district, offers a great taste of African fashion and lifestyle. The nearby Avenue Louise is lined with high-end fashion stores and boutiques, making it one of the most expensive streets in Belgium. [198]

There are shopping centres outside the inner ring: Basilix, Woluwe Shopping Center, Westland Shopping Center, and Docks Bruxsel, which opened in October 2017. [194] In addition, Brussels ranks as one of Europe's best capital cities for flea market shopping. The Old Market, on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein, in the Marolles/Marollen neighbourhood, is particularly renowned. [199] The nearby Sablon/Zavel area is home to many of Brussels' antique dealers. [200] The Midi Market around Brussels-South station and Boulevard du Midi / Zuidlaan is reputed to be one of the largest markets in Europe. [201]

Sport in Brussels is under the responsibility of the Communities. The Administration de l'Éducation Physique et du Sport (ADEPS) is responsible for recognising the various French-speaking sports federations and also runs three sports centres in the Brussels-Capital Region. [202] Its Dutch-speaking counterpart is Sport Vlaanderen (formerly called BLOSO). [203]

The King Baudouin Stadium (formerly Heysel Stadium) is the largest in the country and home to the national teams in football and rugby union. [204] It hosted the final of the 1972 UEFA European Football Championship, and the opening game of the 2000 edition. Several European club finals have been held at the ground, including the 1985 European Cup Final which saw 39 deaths due to hooliganism and structural collapse. [205] The King Baudouin Stadium is also home of the annual Memorial Van Damme athletics event, Belgium's foremost track and field competition, which is part of the Diamond League. Other important athletics events are the Brussels Marathon and the 20 km of Brussels.

Cycling Edit

Brussels is home to notable cycling races. The city is the arrival location of the Brussels Cycling Classic, formerly known as Paris–Brussels, which is one of the oldest semi classic bicycle races on the international calendar. From World War I until the early 1970s, the Six Days of Brussels was organised regularly. In the last decades of the 20th century, the Grand Prix Eddy Merckx was also held in Brussels.

Association football Edit

R.S.C. Anderlecht, based in the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Anderlecht, is the most successful Belgian football club in the Belgian Pro League, with 34 titles. [206] It has also won the most major European tournaments for a Belgian side, with 6 European titles.

Brussels is also home to Union Saint-Gilloise, the most successful Belgian club before World War II, with 11 titles [207] The club was founded in Saint-Gilles but is based in nearby Forest, and plays in the Second Division. White Star Bruxelles is another football club that plays in second division. Racing White Daring Molenbeek, based in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, and often referred to as RWDM, was a very popular football club until it was dissolved in 2002. Since 2015, its reincarnation RWDM47 is back playing in the second division.

Other Brussels clubs that played in the national series over the years were Ixelles SC, Crossing Club de Schaerbeek (born from a merger between RCS de Schaerbeek and Crossing Club Molenbeek), Scup Jette, RUS de Laeken, Racing Jet de Bruxelles, AS Auderghem, KV Wosjot Woluwe and FC Ganshoren.

Serving as the centre of administration for Belgium and Europe, Brussels' economy is largely service-oriented. It is dominated by regional and world headquarters of multinationals, by European institutions, by various local and federal administrations, and by related services companies, though it does have a number of notable craft industries, such as the Cantillon Brewery, a lambic brewery founded in 1900. [208]

Brussels has a robust economy. The region contributes to one fifth of Belgium's GDP, and its 550,000 jobs account for 17.7% of Belgium's employment. [209] Its GDP per capita is nearly double that of Belgium as a whole, [14] and it has the highest GDP per capita of any NUTS 1 region in the EU, at

$80,000 in 2016. [210] That being said, the GDP is boosted by a massive inflow of commuters from neighbouring regions over half of those who work in Brussels live in Flanders or Wallonia, with 230,000 and 130,000 commuters per day respectively. Conversely, only 16.0% of people from Brussels work outside Brussels (68,827 (68.5%) of them in Flanders and 21,035 (31.5%) in Wallonia). [211] Not all of the wealth generated in Brussels remains in Brussels itself, and as of December 2013 [update] , the unemployment among residents of Brussels is 20.4%. [212]

There are approximately 50,000 businesses in Brussels, of which around 2,200 are foreign. This number is constantly increasing and can well explain the role of Brussels in Europe. The city's infrastructure is very favourable in terms of starting up a new business. House prices have also increased in recent years, especially with the increase of young professionals settling down in Brussels, making it the most expensive city to live in Belgium. [213] In addition, Brussels holds more than 1,000 business conferences annually, making it the ninth most popular conference city in Europe. [214]

Brussels is rated as the 34th most important financial centre in the world as of 2020, according to the Global Financial Centres Index. The Brussels Stock Exchange, abbreviated to BSE, now called Euronext Brussels, is part of the European stock exchange Euronext N.V., along with Paris Bourse, Lisbon Stock Exchange and Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Its benchmark stock market index is the BEL20.

Brussels is a centre of both media and communications in Belgium, with many Belgian television stations, radio stations, newspapers and telephone companies having their headquarters in the region. The Belgian French-language public broadcaster RTBF, the Belgian Dutch-speaking public broadcaster VRT, the two regional channels BX1 (formerly Télé Bruxelles) [215] and Bruzz (formerly TV Brussel), [216] the encrypted BeTV channel and private channels RTL-TVI and VTM are headquartered in Brussels. Some national newspapers such as Le Soir, La Libre, De Morgen and the news agency Belga are based in or around Brussels. The Belgian postal company Bpost, as well as the telecommunication companies and mobile operators Proximus, Orange Belgium and Telenet are all located there.

As English is spoken widely, [35] [37] several English media organisations operate in Brussels. The most popular of these are the English-language daily news media platform and bi-monthly magazine The Brussels Times and the quarterly magazine and website The Bulletin. The multilingual pan-European news channel Euronews also maintains an office in Brussels.

Tertiary education Edit

There are several universities in Brussels. Except for the Royal Military Academy, a military college established in 1834, [217] all universities in Brussels are private/autonomous.

The Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), a French-speaking university, with about 20,000 students, has three campuses in the city, [218] and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), its Dutch-speaking sister university, has about 10,000 students. [219] Both universities originate from a single ancestor university, founded in 1834, namely the Free University of Brussels, which was split in 1970, at about the same time the Flemish and French Communities gained legislative power over the organisation of higher education. [220]

Saint-Louis University, Brussels (also known as UCLouvain Saint-Louis – Bruxelles) was founded in 1858 and is specialised in social and human sciences, with 4,000 students, and located on two campuses in the City of Brussels and Ixelles. [221]

Still other universities have campuses in Brussels, such as the French-speaking University of Louvain (UCLouvain), which has 10,000 students in the city with its medical faculties at UCLouvain Bruxelles Woluwe since 1973, [222] in addition to its Faculty of Architecture, Architectural Engineering and Urban Planning [223] and UCLouvain's Dutch-speaking sister Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) [224] (offering bachelor's and master's degrees in economics & business, law, arts, and architecture 4,400 students). In addition, the University of Kent's Brussels School of International Studies is a specialised postgraduate school offering advanced international studies.

Also a dozen of university colleges are located in Brussels, including two drama schools, founded in 1832: the French-speaking Conservatoire Royal and its Dutch-speaking equivalent, the Koninklijk Conservatorium. [225] [226]

Primary and secondary education Edit

Most of Brussels pupils between the ages of 3 and 18 go to schools organised by the French-speaking Community or the Flemish Community, with close to 80% going to French-speaking schools, and roughly 20% to Dutch-speaking schools. Due to the post-war international presence in the city, there are also a number of international schools, including the International School of Brussels, with 1,450 pupils, between the ages of 2 1 ⁄ 2 and 18, [227] the British School of Brussels, and the four European Schools, which provide free education for the children of those working in the EU institutions. The combined student population of the four European Schools in Brussels is around 10,000. [228]

Libraries Edit

Brussels has a number of public or private-owned libraries on its territory. [229]

Libraries in Brussels fall under the competence of the Communities and are usually separated between French-speaking and Dutch-speaking institutions, although some are mixed. [ verification needed ]

Science and technology Edit

Science and technology in Brussels is well developed with the presence of several universities and research institutes.

The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences houses the world's largest hall completely dedicated to dinosaurs, with its collection of 30 fossilised Iguanodon skeletons. [230] The Planetarium of the Royal Observatory of Belgium is one of the largest in Europe. [231]

Healthcare Edit

Brussels is home to a thriving pharmaceutical and health care industry which includes pioneering biotechnology research. The health sector employs 70,000 employees in 30,000 companies. There are 3,000 life sciences researchers in the city and two large science parks: Da Vinci Research Park and Erasmus Research Park. There are five university hospitals, a military hospital and more than 40 general hospitals and specialist clinics. [232]

Due to its bilingual nature, hospitals in the Brussels-Capital Region can be either monolingual French, monolingual Dutch, or bilingual, depending on their nature. University hospitals belong to one of the two linguistic communities and are thus monolingual French or Dutch by law. Other hospitals managed by a public authority must be legally bilingual. Private hospitals are legally not bound to either language, but most cater to both. However, all hospital emergency services in the Capital Region (whether part of a public or private hospital) are required to be bilingual, since patients transported by emergency ambulance cannot chose the hospital they will be brought to. [233]

Air Edit

The Brussels-Capital Region is served by several airports, all of which are located outside of the administrative territory of the region. The most notable are:

    , located in the nearby Flemish municipality of Zaventem, 12 km (10 mi) east of the capital , located in Gosselies, a part of the city of Charleroi (Wallonia), some 50 km (30 mi) south-west of Brussels , located in Steenokkerzeel, is mainly a military airport and is used in a minority way for civilian travelers.

The first two are also the main airports of Belgium. [234]

Water Edit

Since the 16th century, Brussels has had its own harbour, the port of Brussels. It has been enlarged throughout the centuries to become the second Belgian inland port. Historically situated near the Place Sainte-Catherine / Sint-Katelijneplein , it lies today to the northwest of the region, on the Brussels–Scheldt Maritime Canal (commonly called Willebroek Canal), which connects Brussels to Antwerp via the Scheldt. Ships and large barges up to 4,500 tons can penetrate deep into the country, avoiding break-ups and load transfers between Antwerp and the centre of Brussels, hence reducing the cost for companies using the canal, and thus offering a competitive advantage.

Moreover, the connection of the Willebroek Canal with the Brussels–Charleroi Canal, in the very heart of the capital, creates a north–south link, by means of waterways, between the Netherlands, Flanders and the industrial zone of Hainaut (Wallonia). There, navigation can access the network of French canals, thanks to the important inclined plane of Ronquières and the lifts of Strépy-Bracquegnies.

The importance of river traffic in Brussels makes it possible to avoid the road equivalent of 740,000 trucks per year—almost 2,000 per day—which, in addition to easing traffic problems, represents an estimated carbon dioxide saving of 51,545 tonnes per year. [235]

Train Edit

The Brussels-Capital Region has three main train stations: Brussels-South, Brussels-Central and Brussels-North, which are also the busiest of the country. [30] Brussels-South is also served by direct high-speed rail links: to London by Eurostar trains via the Channel Tunnel (1hr 51min) to Amsterdam [236] by Thalys and InterCity connections to Amsterdam, Paris (1hr 50min and 1hr 25min respectively as of 6 April 2015 [update] ), and Cologne by Thalys and to Cologne (1hr 50min) and Frankfurt (2hr 57min) by the German ICE.

The train rails in Brussels go underground, near the centre, through the North–South connection, with Brussels Central Station also being largely underground. The tunnel itself is only six tracks wide at its narrowest point, which often causes congestion and delays due to heavy use of the route.

City public transport Edit

The Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (STIB/MIVB) is the local public transport operator in Brussels. It covers the 19 municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region and some surface routes extend to the near suburbs in the other two regions.

Metro Edit

The Brussels metro dates back to 1976, [237] but underground lines known as the premetro have been serviced by tramways since 1968. It is the only rapid transit system in Belgium (Antwerp and Charleroi both having light rail systems). The network consists of four conventional metro lines and three premetro lines. The metro-grade lines are M1, M2, M5, and M6, with some shared sections, covering a total of 40 km (25 mi). [238] As of 2017 [update] , the metro network within the region has a total of 69 metro and premetro stations. The metro is an important means of transport, connecting with six railway stations of the National Railway Company of Belgium (NMBS/SNCB), and many tram and bus stops operated by STIB/MIVB, and with Flemish De Lijn and Walloon TEC bus stops.

Trams and buses Edit

A comprehensive bus and tram network covers the region. As of 2017 [update] , the Brussels tram system consists of 17 tram lines (three of which – lines T3, T4 and T7 – qualify as premetro lines). The total route length is 139 km (86 mi), [238] making it one of the largest tram networks in Europe. The Brussels bus network is complementary to the rail network. It consists of 50 bus routes and 11 night routes, spanning 445 km (277 mi). [238] Since April 2007, STIB/MIVB has been operating a night bus network called Noctis. On Fridays and Saturdays, 11 bus routes operate from midnight until 3 a.m. They run from the centre of Brussels to the outer reaches of the Brussels-Capital Region. [239]

Ticketing Edit

An interticketing system means that a STIB/MIVB ticket holder can use the train or long-distance buses inside the region. A single journey can include multiple stages across the different modes of transport. The commuter services operated by De Lijn, TEC and NMBS/SNCB will, in the next few years, [ when? ] be augmented by the Brussels Regional Express Network (RER/GEN), which will connect the capital and surrounding towns. Since August 2016, paper tickets have been discontinued in favour of electronic MoBIB cards.

Other public transport Edit

Since 2003, Brussels has had a car-sharing service operated by the Bremen company Cambio, in partnership with the STIB/MIVB and local ridesharing company Taxi Stop. In 2006, a public bicycle-sharing programme was introduced. The scheme was subsequently taken over by Villo!. Since 2008, this night-time public transport service has been supplemented by Collecto, a shared taxi system, which operates on weekdays between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. In 2012, the Zen Car electric car-sharing scheme was launched in the university and European areas.

Road network Edit

In medieval times, Brussels stood at the intersection of routes running north–south (the modern Rue Haute / Hoogstraat ) and east–west ( Chaussée de Gand / Gentsesteenweg - Rue du Marché aux Herbes / Grasmarkt - Rue de Namur / Naamsestraat ). The ancient pattern of streets, radiating from the Grand Place, in large part remains, but has been overlaid by boulevards built over the River Senne, over the city walls and over the railway connection between the North and South Stations.

Today, Brussels has the most congested traffic in North America and Europe, according to US traffic information platform INRIX. [240]

Brussels is the hub of a range of old national roads, the main ones being clockwise: the N1 (N to Breda), N2 (E to Maastricht), N3 (E to Aachen), N4 (SE to Luxembourg) N5 (S to Rheims), N6 (S to Maubeuge), N7 (SW to Lille), N8 (W to Koksijde) and N9 (NW to Ostend). [241] Usually named chaussées/steenwegen, these highways normally run in a straight line, but sometimes lose themselves in a maze of narrow shopping streets.

The region is skirted by the European route E19 (N-S) and the E40 (E-W), while the E411 leads away to the SE. Brussels has an orbital motorway, numbered R0 (R-zero) and commonly referred to as the Ring. It is pear-shaped, as the southern side was never built as originally conceived, owing to residents' objections.

The city centre, sometimes known as the Pentagon, is surrounded by an inner ring road, the Small Ring (French: Petite Ceinture, Dutch: Kleine Ring), a sequence of boulevards formally numbered R20 or N0. These were built upon the site of the second set of city walls following their demolition. The metro line 2 runs under much of these. Since June 2015, a number of central boulevards inside the Pentagon have become car-free, limiting transit traffic through the old city. [242]

On the eastern side of the region, the R21 or Greater Ring (French: Grande Ceinture, Dutch: Grote Ring) is formed by a string of boulevards that curves round from Laeken to Uccle. Some premetro stations (see Brussels metro) were built on that route. A little further out, a stretch numbered R22 leads from Zaventem to Saint-Job.

Police Edit

The Brussels local police, supported by the federal police, is responsible for law enforcement in Brussels. The 19 municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region are divided into six police zones, [243] all bilingual (French and Dutch):

  • 5339 Brussels Capital Ixelles: the City of Brussels and Ixelles
  • 5340 Brussels West: Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Ganshoren, Jette, Koekelberg and Molenbeek-Saint-Jean
  • 5341 South: Anderlecht, Forest and Saint-Gilles
  • 5342 Uccle/Watermael-Boitsfort/Auderghem: Auderghem, Uccle and Watermael-Boitsfort
  • 5343 Montgomery: Etterbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Lambert et Woluwe-Saint-Pierre
  • 5344 Polbruno: Evere, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode et Schaerbeek

Fire department Edit

The Brussels Fire and Emergency Medical Care Service, commonly known by its acronym SIAMU (DBDMH), operates in the 19 municipalities of Brussels. [244] It is a class X fire department and the largest fire service in Belgium in terms of annual operations, equipment, and personnel. It has 9 fire stations, spread over the entire Brussels-Capital Region, and employs about 1,000 professional firefighters. As well as preventing and fighting fires, SIAMU also provides emergency medical care services in Brussels via its centralised 100 number (and the single 112 emergency number for the 27 countries of the European Union). It is bilingual (French–Dutch).

Brussels is one of the greenest capitals in Europe, with over 8,000 hectares of green spaces. [245] Vegetation cover and natural areas are higher in the outskirts, where they have limited the peri-urbanisation of the capital, but they decrease sharply towards the centre of Brussels 10% in the central Pentagon, 30% of the municipalities in the first ring, and 71% of the municipalities in the second ring are occupied by green spaces.

Many parks and gardens, both public and privately owned, are scattered throughout the city. In addition to this, the Sonian Forest is located in its southern part and stretches out over the three Belgian regions. As of 2017 [update] , it has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the only Belgian component to the multinational inscription 'Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe'.


William Wallace and Robert The Bruce

There are two men whose names were a clarion call to all Scots.

Robert the Bruce, who took up arms against both Edward I and Edward II of England and who united the Highlands and the Lowlands in a fierce battle for liberty: and a humble Lowland knight, Sir William Wallace.

Sir William Wallace 1272 – 1305

Wallace killed the English Sheriff of Lanark who had apparently murdered Wallace’s sweetheart.

A price was put on his head, so Wallace took the bold course and raised the Scottish Standard. Supported by a few of the Scots barons, he inflicted a resounding defeat on the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297. The jubilant Scots made him Guardian of Scotland but their joy was short-lived.

Wallace then made a fatal mistake he took on the English Army who greatly outnumbered his men, and in a pitched battle at Falkirk in 1298, Edward I of England annihilated the Scots battalions and Wallace became a fugitive for 7 years.

While in Glasgow in 1305 he was betrayed and taken to London where he was tried for treason in Westminster Hall. He was one of the first to suffer the fearsome penalty of hanging, drawing and quartering. His head was ‘spiked’ on London Bridge and fragments of his body distributed among several Scottish cities as a grim reminder of the price of revolt.

Robert the Bruce 1274 – 1329

Robert the Bruce, as every school-child knows, was inspired by a spider!

Bruce had paid homage to Edward I of England and it is not known why he changed his allegiance later. Maybe it was ambition or a genuine desire to see Scotland independent.

In 1306 in the Greyfriars Church at Dumfries he murdered his only possible rival for the throne, John Comyn, and was excommunicated for this sacrilege. Nevertheless he was crowned King of Scotland a few months later.

Robert the Bruce was defeated in his first two battles against the English, and became a fugitive, hunted by both Comyn’s friends and the English. Whilst hiding, despondent, in a room he is said to have watched a spider swing from one rafter to another, time after time, in an attempt to anchor it’s web. It failed six times, but at the seventh attempt, succeeded. Bruce took this to be an omen and resolved to struggle on.

His decisive victory over Edward II’s army at Bannockburn in 1314 finally won the freedom he had struggled for. Bruce was King of Scotland from 1306 – 1329.

Robert the Bruce is buried in Dunfermline Abbey and a cast taken of his skull can be seen in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.


The symbol of Brussels

The Manneken Pis has become of the most important landmarks in Brussels. Other representative attractions include the Atomium and the Grand Place. We believe that it is definitely worthwhile visiting, as well as taking a photo.

Very close to the Grand Place visitors can also find the Manneken Pis’s “sister”, Jeanneke Pis. A female version of the little boy urinating, which is a lot less famous but also curious to see.


Meet the Doctor Who Changed Our Understanding of Stress

T he release on Thursday of the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report represents nearly a decade of the organization tracking the extent and impact of stress in Americans’ lives. The report is clear evidence that medicine takes stress seriously&mdashas well it should&mdashbut, though human beings have always felt stress, it’s actually been less than a century since the subject got the attention it deserved.

As TIME explained in a 1983 cover story, it used to be thought that “stress” was just a vague feeling, not a precise medical term. There was no firm definition or way of measuring it. Even so, it was clear that there was something going on. As early as the Civil War, a condition known as “soldier’s heart” was noticed by doctors. “During World War I, the crippling anxiety called shell shock was at first attributed to the vibrations from heavy artillery, which was believed to damage blood vessels in the brain,” as TIME put it. “This theory was abandoned by the time World War II came along, and the problem was renamed battle fatigue.”

What earlier doctors studying soldiers had missed was that the long-term activation of the famed fight-or-flight response could cause problems that endured even in times of peace. That changed thanks to Hans Selye, “the father of stress research.”

Selye was a medical researcher in Montreal who studied hormonal changes in rats when, in the late 1930s, he realized that the rats he was studying were responding not merely to his injections of hormones and placebos, but also to the stress caused by the experiments. It was that stress that caused the rats to become ill and die. “His 1936 paper on stress, as the cause of death in his experimental rats, attracted no more attention than Alexander Fleming’s first report of penicillin&mdashand it may prove no less important to suffering mankind,” TIME would later note. Selye theorized that overexposing the body to stress would cause what he called “general adaptation syndrome,” which could lead to shock, alarm and eventually exhaustion. Far from being limited to soldiers, the range of potential sufferers included all of humanity.

By 1950, he was famous in his field, but his discoveries had yet to trickle down to patients. Still, Dr. Selye told TIME that he believed a “whole new branch of medicine is opening up” and that stress would get the specialized attention it deserved. Sure enough, as the decade progressed, stress diseases were increasingly the subject of concern and study.

But Selye’s research also uncovered something that may surprise&mdashor perhaps comfort&mdashthe stressed among us. Though we use the term almost exclusively in a negative sense, he knew that a little bit of stress keeps life exciting. Selye, who died in 1982, had these instructions for finding the right balance:

Fight always for the highest attainable aim

But never put up resistance in vain.

Read the stress cover story, here in the TIME Vault:Can We Cope?


Interior spaces (Roger Jardine via Artefacts website)

The Biermann House also reflected South American architectural influences as Biermann had spent time in Brazil as a young architect. In 1969 Biermann was in partnership with Danie Theron but this does not appear to have lasted long and Biermann though educated in Cape Town settled in Durban, built his home in 1962, and taught at the University of Natal where he rose to the position of Associate Professor.

By the mid-1980s the Biermann house had achieved landmark status. Barrie Biermann wrote about his home in an article featured in the UIA, International Architect Magazine, Issue 8, on contemporary Southern Africa architecture, published in 1985 on the occasion of the South African conference. The article is a double page spread that addressed the challenge of marrying what Biermann called “old fashioned modern design, economic necessity and regional vernacular”. He elaborated on planning, surfaces, space and mass, light, definition and materials. This article can be found on the artefacts website (click here to view).

By the second decade of the 21st century, House Biermann had become a Durban icon and featured in the SPOT MY DURBAN exhibit at the UIA congress held in Durban in August 2014. It was described as:

One of the finest pieces of domestic architecture in Durban, it has influenced a generation of architects. The house has been rebuilt on two existing buildings on the site over a number of years by Barrie Biermann, a prominent academic who taught at the School of Architecture, UKZN (University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, formerly UND University of Natal Durban). Its exemplary design solution lies in its response to climate, sloped terrain, existing vegetation, through the grouping of the residence's wings around a series of open courtyards and essentially the main courtyard, the opening of most of the internal spaces to enclosed gardens. The succession of the internal spaces, horizontally and vertically and the spatial progression (succession) through them, the views through and from them were elegantly and subtly addressed and yet enforced by B Biermann whether one circulates in the complex from the top of the property on Glenwood Road down to the bottom end on Essex Road or vice versa, always offering new visual if not emotional facets of the genial implementation of a design that is reminiscent in its spatial progression to cloisters and monasteries of the likes of Santes Creus in Spain.” (Poster for the 2014 exhibition).

Biermann’s book, Boukuns in Suid-Afrika published by A Balkema in 1955, was illustrated with his own drawings and has become a collectable classic. He integrated diverse strands of South African architecture - indigenous Zulu, British colonial, Cape Afrikaner and Indian temples. It is a short book and deserves to be better known, but written in Afrikaans it found only a limited market. It has been said “more than anyone else Biermann set the agenda for the study of building, particularly indigenous building, in South Africa”, and this was decades before transformed teaching agendas. That rare combination of architectural practice, reflection, teaching, building a dream house and influencing his students over four decades makes Biermann’s house particularly significant.


'NeuroTribes' Examines The History — And Myths — Of The Autism Spectrum

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder.

Kelvin Murray/Getty Images

In 1938, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger gave the first public talk on autism in history. Asperger was speaking to an audience of Nazis, and he feared that his patients — children who fell onto what we now call the autism spectrum — were in danger of being sent to Nazi extermination camps.

As Asperger spoke, he highlighted his "most promising" patients, a notion that would stick with the autistic spectrum for decades to come.

"That is where the idea of so-called high-functioning versus low-functioning autistic people comes from really — it comes from Asperger's attempt to save the lives of the children in his clinic," science writer Steve Silberman tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.

Silberman chronicles the history of autism and examines some of the myths surrounding our current understanding of the condition in his new book, NeuroTribes. Along the way, he revisits Asperger's calculated efforts to save his patients.

Steve Silberman's articles have been published in Wired, The New Yorker, Nature and Salon. Keith Karraker/Avery hide caption

Steve Silberman's articles have been published in Wired, The New Yorker, Nature and Salon.

Silberman shies away from using the terms high-functioning and low-functioning, because "both of those terms can be off base," he says. But he praises Asperger's courage in speaking to the Nazis. "I would literally weep while I was writing that chapter," he says.

NeuroTribes also explores how a 1987 expansion of the medical definition of autism (which was previously much narrower and led to less frequent diagnoses) contributed to the perception that there was an autism epidemic.

Looking ahead, Silberman says that while much of today's autism research focuses on finding a cause for the condition, society might be better served if some of the research funds were directed instead toward helping people live with autism. "I think that society really needs to do a bit of soul-searching about how we're dealing with autism," he says. "We need to get over our obsession with causes, because we've been researching the cause of schizophrenia for decades and we still don't know what causes schizophrenia exactly."

Interview Highlights

The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity

Buy Featured Book

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

On his problem with classifying people on the autism spectrum as high-functioning and low-functioning

I personally avoid using terms like high-functioning and low-functioning, which are used almost universally. The reason why I avoid it is because I've talked to a lot of autistic people over the years and I have autistic friends by now after working on this book for five years and what they've told me, which I earnestly believe is true, is that people who are classified as high-functioning are often struggling in ways that are not obvious whereas science has shown that people who are classified as low-functioning often have talents and skills that are not obvious.

On Hans Asperger's discovery

What [Hans] Asperger discovered was not what he is usually given credit for, which is this condition called Asperger syndrome — what Asperger and his colleagues at the University of Vienna in the 1930s really discovered is what we now call the autism spectrum and they called it the "autistic continuum." And what that is, is they discovered that autism was a lifelong condition lasting from birth to death that embraced a very wide variety of clinical presentations. So Asperger saw children, who for instance, could not speak and would probably never be able to live independently without constant care and might end up in institutions in Viennese society at the time. He also discovered chatty people who became professors of astronomy and who would talk at length about their special passions for numbers or chemistry, etc. So what he discovered was not just this so-called high-functioning end of the spectrum — he discovered the entire spectrum.

On Asperger's clinic after the Nazis invaded Vienna

The children in Asperger's clinic immediately became targets of the Nazi eugenic programs and, in fact, one of Asperger's former colleagues was actually the leader of a secret extermination program against disabled children that became the dry run for the Holocaust. So the Nazis actually developed methods of mass killing by practicing on disabled children and children with hereditary conditions like autism (even though it didn't have a name yet), epilepsy, schizophrenia. So immediately Asperger had to figure out ways of protecting the children in his clinic. . One of the ways he did that was to present to the Nazis in the very first public talk on autism in history his "most promising cases" and that is where the idea of so-called high functioning versus low-functioning autistic people comes from really — it comes from Asperger's attempt to save the lives of the children in his clinic. .

In fact, the Gestapo came to his clinic three times to arrest Asperger and to ship the children in his clinic off to concentration camps or kill them at a so-called children's killing ward. But [the Gestapo officer] had affection for Asperger, he thought he was very good at what he did, so he saved Asperger's life and so that's how Asperger survived the war.

On role the movie Rain Man played in increasing cultural awareness of autism

Related NPR Stories

Shots - Health News

Brain Changes Suggest Autism Starts In The Womb

Shots - Health News

Scientists Implicate More Than 100 Genes In Causing Autism

Shots - Health News

Some Doctors Still Dismiss Parents' Concerns About Autism

In 1988, most people in the world who had never seen an autistic adult saw one for the first time, and that person was Dustin Hoffman's character of Raymond Babbitt in the Academy Award-winning film Rain Man. It was an incredible success and for parents of autistic children it meant the end of having to explain to their neighbors, "No, no, no, our child isn't artistic, they're autistic." Virtually no one outside of the community of families and clinicians had heard of autism before Rain Man, and Rain Man introduced this incredibly beguiling, eccentric, instantly recognizable character. .

I had mothers tell me that when they were out in public with their kids, if their kids started having a difficult moment, that they would often get sour looks from other parents, but literally, within days of Rain Man's release, other parents would inquire, "Oh, is your child autistic? Like Rain Man?" So Rain Man created this wave of cultural awareness of autism more than any of the autism organizations had been able to accomplish in decades before that.

On the connection between vaccines and autism

I completely understand why parents would believe that their child had been rendered autistic by a vaccine for several reasons: one is that autism often doesn't become obvious to both clinicians and parents and teachers and everybody until a child is 2 or 3, which is exactly the age when many children are receiving their vaccinations. Also, the Internet was a new thing at the time, and so the word that there was a theory that vaccines cause autism was spreading rapidly through the same communities in which autism parents were finally able to talk to each other online. So while people tend to stereotype what are now call "anti-vaxxers" [as] these kind of low information people, et cetera, in fact, the people who believed that were often highly informed and read papers obsessively.

But the problem is that nobody had explained to them what had happened with the diagnosis.

On how society deals with autism

Autism is a highly complex and heterogeneous condition that is probably caused by a highly complex and heterogeneous series of interactions between genes and the environment. But one of the arguments that my book makes is that we think that our society is taking autism seriously and dealing with the challenges that it presents by pouring millions of dollars into it. [They'll say,] "Let's find more candidate genes." Well, we already have 1,000. "Let's find more potential environmental triggers." Well, everything from antidepressants in the water supply to air pollution has been identified as possibly contributing to autism. What I say is that at least some of that money should be redirected to things like helping autistic adults live more satisfying, healthier and safer lives, or helping families get the services they need or helping families get a quicker diagnosis for their kids.


Uncertain Past

With Danish control over Greenland established in 1815, Denmark has long had a significant presence in the High Arctic region. Following the purchase of Alaska by the United States, and the formation of Canada in 1867, British and American interest in the area increased. Anglo-American efforts to explore and chart the region often relied on Inuit and Danish peoples in Greenland.

Canadian sovereignty in the High Arctic came abruptly in 1880, when Britain transferred the British Arctic Territory (based on the claims of 16 th century explorer Martin Frobisher) to Canada. The point of this was to prevent American claims based on the Monroe Doctrine (no European ownership in North America) to the region. Given imperfect mapping techniques and the difficulties inherent in Arctic exploration, Hans Island was not explicitly included in this transfer.

In the 1920s, Danish explorers were finally able to accurately map Hans Island. The island is a mere 1.3 sq km, uninhabited, devoid of trees and with barely any soil. It is so remote that the closest inhabited location is Alert, Nunavut, Canada, 198 km to the north. Indeed, very little distinguishes Hans Island from the thousands of other barren islands in the area. Consequently, one rightly wonders what all the commotion is about.

The reason is that this piece of land is located in the middle of the 35 km wide Nares Strait, which separates Nunavut from Greenland. Under international law, states have control over territorial waters which extend 12 miles (22.2km) from shore. Consequently, Hans Island falls within both the Danish and Canadian 12-mile zone, with both claiming the island as a result.


Foundation of the British Museum

Among his many natural specimens and artificial curiosities, his collection included:

  • 32,000 coins and medals
  • 50,000 books, prints and manuscripts (now in the British Library)
  • a herbarium of 334 volumes of dried plants from around the world (now in the Natural History Museum)
  • 1,125 'things relating to the customs of ancient times'

In his will, Sloane bequeathed his entire collection to King George II for the nation in return for the payment of £20,000 to his heirs, and on condition that Parliament create a new and freely accessible public museum to house it.

Parliament accepted Sloane's terms, raising the money through a national lottery and on 7 June 1753, an Act of Parliament establishing the British Museum received royal assent.

Sloane's collections, together with several additional libraries and collections, became the foundation not only of the British Museum, but the Natural History Museum and the British Library as well.


Watch the video: fragment Hans van Zon, Deadline 1996


Comments:

  1. Lamorat

    There is something in that, too, it seems a good idea to me. I agree with you.

  2. Yul

    Of course. I agree with all of the above. Let's discuss this issue. Here or at PM.

  3. Kazrakazahn

    Bravo, this magnificent sentence just engraved

  4. Mazunris

    What words necessary ... great, the remarkable idea

  5. Doutilar

    It happens.



Write a message