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Monday, August 4, 2014

World War One remembered in Liege

Exactly one hundred years ago, the German army crossed the border with Belgium. Our country was neutral, but the German Kaiser issued an ultimatum, demanding free passage of the country to attack France.

In Belgium, everyone thought the Germans wouldn't dare to threaten our country. After all, Kaiser Wilhelm and King Albert the First shared the same ancestor. Moreover, Albert was married to a German princess, Elizabeth of Bayern.

But the Germans did not care. On August 4th 1914, they entered Belgian soil with their big army. Our own army was raised as soon as it became clear the Germans would not respect our neutrality. Among those drafted into active servive most men of adult age. Also my great-grandfather and his 17-year-old son were sent to the front line. Granddad never spoke much about this war, only he had the command over a company of men who could be his father and who did not know left from right. (Remember, the officers in that time only spoke French, while most draften men spoke Flemish and did not know French.)

The city of Liege was the first to be attacked. Surrounding it was a rind of fortresses, and in those bombardments many of our countrymen died.

Today, this was remembered. Our king, Filip, and his spouse Mathilde were present. As were the German president, the president of France and representing England Prince William and Kate.

As from now, there will be ceremonies as long as this war lasted. In Ypres (in Flanders' Fields) a daily projection of the names of all victims to this war will be posted for all to see.

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