The Belgian Massacres
"The Belgian Massacres. To the Workmen of Europe and the United States" was a political pamphlet written by Karl Marx in May 1869.
Socialism, as a political ideology, first emerged in Belgium in the second-half of the nineteenth century. The reign of Leopold II (1865-1909) saw the rise of organized socialist political groups and parties, most notably among the industrial workers in the southern region of Wallonia. Trade unions were legalized in 1866, opening the way to organized labor politics. The International Workingmen's Association held its first conference outside Switzerland in Brussels in 1868 as Belgian socialism, under figures such as César De Paepe, expanded dramatically. In April 1869, a strike broke out in the Walloon towns of Seraing and Frameries which was repressed with violence. At least nine strikers were killed by the civil militia, the Garde Civique. The Belgian socialist Eugène Hins provided a detailed report on the strike to the International.
Marx's pamphlet, prepared in French and English versions, was presented to the General Council of the International Workingmen's Association in London on 4 May 1869. It was later republished in a number of Belgian and European newspapers. In the text, Marx criticizes the Belgian capitalists and State (especially the Interior Minister Eudore Pirmez) for deliberately escalating the strike at the Cockerill steelworks into a full riot. He blames the State and the Catholic Church for the violence of the repression and calls for money to be collected by workers from Europe and the United States to compensate the families of the workers killed.
- Dumont, Georges-Henri (1996). La Vie Quotidienne en Belgique sous la Règne de Léopold II (1865–1909) (in French) (Rev. ed.). Brussels: Éd. Le Cri. ISBN 2-87106-173-4.