The Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society is a public federal research institution which collects documentation and carries out research on the wars and conflicts of the twentieth century and their impact on Belgium.
Since 1969, the Centre collects archives, books, periodicals, newspapers, photographs, interviews, posters and leaflets. This documentation is accessible through the Pallas integrated information system and can be consulted in the reading room of the monumental buildings at the Square de l’Aviation in Brussels.”
“The Centre for Research and Studies on the History of the Second Word War was founded on 13 December 1967. Its task was “to take all necessary measures to collect, preserve and study documents or archives relating to the Second World War in Belgium, its antecedents, background and consequences” [Moniteur Belge (Belgian law gazette)], 10 February 1968, n° 29, p. 1259-1260). Originally, the Centre was attached to the General Archives and was placed under the direction of the Department of National Education.
José Gotovitch at the publication of “L’An 40″, in 1971.
In 1969, a team of six researchers commenced its activities laying down the essential milestones which were to pave the way for a number of pioneering studies on the Second World War. In 1971, in collaboration with Jules Gérard-Libois, José Gotovitch published the reference work L’An 40. From the onset, the Centre was a member of the International Committee for the History of the Second World War.
Parallel with its research activities, the Centre concerned itself with building archival collections from the period 1939-1945 and the constitution of a rich library which gradually expands its collections domain.
From the 1980s, to create a link with the academic circles, the Centre organises monthly seminars and from 1990 onwards it holds international symposia. Increasingly, the Centre carries out its own research projects.
On 10 January 1997, the Centre for Research and Studies on the History of the Second World War changed its name to Centre for Historical Research and Documentation on War and Contemporary Society. Its field of activities has extended to the history of the XXth century (see Mission).