Presentation copy of The Keystone of Europe: History of the Belgian Dynasty by Emile Cammaerts, to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, from the Belgian Ambassador to the Court of St. James, Baron de Cartier de Marchienne, on the eve of World War II.
Octavo, xvi, 393pp. Red cloth, title stamped in gilt on spine. “First Published 1939” statement on copyright page. Complete with four full-page portraits. Solid text block, free of notable wear or marks. In the publisher’s very good dust jacket, retail price on front flap, toning to spine. Includes laid-in letter from the Ambassador of Belgium, Baron de Cartier de Marchienne, three months before Great Britain would declare war on Germany. The letter implores Chamberlain to read the “…chapters on recent developments in the country’s [Belgium’s] internal and external politics. Believe me, dear Mr. Chamberlain.” Notes from Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in pencil on front free endpaper: “Rec. June 1939 / From Baron de Cartier / Belgian Ambassador / letter inside / Baron de Cartier was a great friend of ours.”
Following the heavy fighting of World War I, Belgium announced in 1936 that it would remain neutral if another war occurred in Europe. To honor this commitment, the Belgian military was reorganized strictly as a defensive force, while also investing in fortifications along the German border. When the United Kingdom declared war on Germany in September of 1939, Belgium began a rapid military buildup. They were conquered in the 18 Days’ Campaign in May of 1940, with a government operating in exile from Eaton Square, London until 1944.