Expatica news

Belgium celebrates liberation

2 September 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgium is set for extensive celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the country’s liberation from the Nazis.

The Belgian media reminded people on Thursday that on 2 September 1944 the first allied tanks rolled across the French-Belgium border into Tournai.

It marked the start of the campaign to free Belgium from occupation.

La Libre Belgique recalled the historic moments when Belgians greeted allied troops passing through villages and towns.

The soldiers handed out chocolate, chewing gum and cigarettes.

The paper quoted Winston Churchill in the House of Commons who said, “We have in Belgium a tumultuous welcome.”

Entry into Belgium came after a false start on September 2 when an American soldier on a motorbike accidentally crossed the Belgian border into Rongy, 15 kilometres from Tournai.

After the cheers of the villagers, he realised his mistake and returned to France.

The true Liberation started several hours later as the Allies headed to seize the port of Antwerp and progressively liberated towns and villages.

Brussels will turn back the clock on September 11 and 12 to that week in 1944 with the sounds and the sights of the era.

On Saturday, the commemorations will be launched at 8.15pm with a musical tattoo at the Grand Place, performed by Belgian, British, Russian, Belorussian and Dutch musicians.

Carine Bosane will sing the songs of wartime performer Vera Lynn.

On Sunday, an exhibition of Liberation vehicles will be held and a procession will leave at 10am from Place de la Liberte.

The day will finish with a dancing teacup and a chance for onlookers to dance to the music of Glenn Miller, Vera Lynn and other singers of the period.

September will also see two special exhibitions to mark the Liberation anniversary.

At the Hotel de Ville, from September 4 to 26, visitors can see ‘Our British Liberators’(every day except Tuesday, free entry) – an exhibition dedicated to British troops and other nations who served under their command in the Second World War.

La Galerie Bortier (55 Rue de la Madeleine) will host a look at the work of Wilchar – the artist Willem Pauwels who was part of the group Contact which tried to create social art for the working class during the war.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news