Reconstruction or commemoration?

Following the war, a lot of Flemish cities were faced with the same question. Should their city rise from the ashes in full glory and look just as it had? Or did reconstruction offer opportunities for new urban visions? Should one honour the dead by leaving the rubble lie where it was? Or should one choose for big commemorative monuments?
Redactie 08 September 2017

Marie, Irène and Petite Curie

Marie Skłodowska Curie (1867-1934) was a Polish-French chemist and physicist. One of the most influential female scientist of all time, she and her husband Pierre Curie were pioneers in the field of radioactivity. In November 1914, Curie first went to the French and Belgian fronts.
Redactie 01 September 2017

Saved by the House of Orange: the Mayor-Spy of Hamont

Vanaf 1915 zetten de Duitsers de grens tussen België en het neutrale Nederland af met de ‘Dodendraad’. Deze elektrische versperring clandestien oversteken was levensgevaarlijk. Wie niet geëlektrocuteerd werd, kon door de Duitse wachtposten worden neergeschoten. Toch bleven vluchtelingen én spionnen proberen om Nederland te bereiken. Grensbewoners als Louis Keunen hielpen hen daarbij.
Redactie 22 August 2017

A Line of Bunkers Along the Dutch Border

In the First World War, the Dutch-Belgian border was not an ordinary national boundary. South of the border there was war, while to the north lay the peaceful, neutral Netherlands. The Germans army did not initially invest very heavily in the defence of this northern border, as an attack from the neutral Netherlands seemed unlikely. The Germans did have some concerns, however; what if the Allied forces should choose to invade Belgium from Zeelandic Flanders?
Redactie 17 July 2017

A Network of Tunnels

After several days of intense Allied shelling, everything suddenly fell silent at the German front at Messines Ridge near Wijtschate in the early hours of 7 June 1917. The Germans were surprised but opened fire regardless, until all of a sudden, huge explosions rang out, shaking the ground like an earthquake. Nineteen gigantic subterranean mines detonated beneath the German lines. The mine offensive at Messines had begun.
Redactie 09 June 2017

Jozef Simons. Writer, Soldier and Flemish Militant

Shortly after the armistice, the First World War became a rich source of inspiration for artists and writers. Flemish authors were fond of portraying the tragic front soldier, who struggled not only with enemy fire, parasites and the cold, but also with aloof officers who didn’t speak Dutch. One of the authors to write about the tough life at the front was Jozef Simons (1888-1948). He drew from his own experience as a soldier and interpreter at the Yser Front.
Redactie 22 May 2017

The Madonnas of Pervyse

In the First World War, thousands of women played an active part at the front as paramedics and nurses, including the divorced English midwife Elsie Knocker and the wealthy Scotswoman Mairi Chisholm.
Redactie 12 May 2017

Hollow Cheeks

From 1916 onwards, an estimated 180,000 Belgians were forced to do hard labour for the Germans. The deportation of Belgian civilians to Germany especially provoked a wave of protest. The Belgian government in exile called the forced labour slavery, and speaking for the Catholic Church, Cardinal Mercier took the Germans to task for the deportations. The Germans came under heavy criticism from the Allies, too.
Redactie 01 May 2017

Mutilated and Vagrant

The industrial nature of the First World War resulted in an unprecedented number of casualties, making effective medical organisation necessary. While a great many wounded soldiers died before reaching the field hospitals and others were sent back to the front after treatment, a third group of casualties proved no longer suited for military service, as they had lost one or several limbs or had been blinded by stray shrapnel.
Redactie 23 April 2017