Wartime Brussels found itself without work.

workMany factories were forced to close their doors due to the lack of raw materials or to prevent the dismantling of equipment coveted by the Germans. Compared with other cities abroad, most of the men in Brussels were not enlisted. Due to the lack of work, unemployment reached unprecedented levels, leaving the population very vulnerable.

To deal with the lack of activity and, more importantly, avoid deportation to Germany for forced labour, the city of Brussels organised evening courses for the unemployed. The Union patriotique des femmes belges (Belgian women's patriotic union), subsidised by the Comité National de Secours et d'Alimentation, offered paid work to textile workers to make clothes, particularly lace ordered from the USA, or to make 'Belgian' toys in competition with the German toy industry.