American citizen nearly executed, then knighted, during First World War

Louvain, Belgium, in ruins. Library of Congress.

Victor Bogaert was one of six American citizens knighted by the King of Belgium during the First World War. He was lucky to have received this honor, for months earlier German troops nearly executed him for being a French spy.

Born in Belgium on March 7, 1859, Bogaert spent much of his life serving others. In the 1870s, he went to the French…