Issuu on Google+

Commemorate WWI on 3, 4 and 5 October 2014

ANTWERP BUILDS

BRIDGES


This is a publication issued by the Vredescentrum of the Province and the City of Antwerp, Lombardenvest 23, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium, tel 0032 (0) 292 36 56 - info@vredescentrum.be - www.antwerpen14-18.be

1914-2014: Antwerp builds a bridge to commemorate the ‘Great War’ Commemorate WWI on 3, 4 and 5 October 2014. The Vredescentrum of the Province and City of Antwerp is collaborating with more than 50 partners, Belgian and foreign, to launch a fascinating cultural program commemorating the First World War in the city. The programme includes exhibitions in Antwerp’s main museums, lectures, walks and an educational programme for children. The Magnus Opus is the reconstruction of a temporary footbridge across the River Scheldt, from Steen Castle to the Left bank (Linkeroever), by the Belgian and Dutch Engineer Corps on 3 October 2014. At that very location 100 years ago, at the outbreak of the First World War, the Belgian army built a pontoon bridge across the Scheldt. By using this bridge, the fortified city of Antwerp could be adequately supplied and also quickly evacuated.

The construction of a modern ‘Peace Bridge’ is a technical tour de force as well as a powerful example of Belgian-Dutch military cooperation. The realisation of a bridge across the River Scheldt in the city centre is also a beautiful symbol of connecting past, present and future, one that will undoubtedly inspire people. But above all, the bridge provides a unique experience for the many tens of thousands of visitors who will be able to walk across the River Scheldt from 3 to 5 October 2014 following in the footsteps of the Belgian army and more than 100 000 refugees who, in 1914, were leaving a burning and bombed out city behind them, in search of safer places. The Antwerp Port Authority believes that this exciting and ambitious project will be successful and wholeheartedly supports the construction of the footbridge in 2014. See you on the bridge! Marc Van Peel Alderman Port of Antwerp

3


This is a publication issued by the Vredescentrum of the Province and the City of Antwerp, Lombardenvest 23, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium, tel 0032 (0) 292 36 56 - info@vredescentrum.be - www.antwerpen14-18.be

1914-2014: Antwerp builds a bridge to commemorate the ‘Great War’ Commemorate WWI on 3, 4 and 5 October 2014. The Vredescentrum of the Province and City of Antwerp is collaborating with more than 50 partners, Belgian and foreign, to launch a fascinating cultural program commemorating the First World War in the city. The programme includes exhibitions in Antwerp’s main museums, lectures, walks and an educational programme for children. The Magnus Opus is the reconstruction of a temporary footbridge across the River Scheldt, from Steen Castle to the Left bank (Linkeroever), by the Belgian and Dutch Engineer Corps on 3 October 2014. At that very location 100 years ago, at the outbreak of the First World War, the Belgian army built a pontoon bridge across the Scheldt. By using this bridge, the fortified city of Antwerp could be adequately supplied and also quickly evacuated.

The construction of a modern ‘Peace Bridge’ is a technical tour de force as well as a powerful example of Belgian-Dutch military cooperation. The realisation of a bridge across the River Scheldt in the city centre is also a beautiful symbol of connecting past, present and future, one that will undoubtedly inspire people. But above all, the bridge provides a unique experience for the many tens of thousands of visitors who will be able to walk across the River Scheldt from 3 to 5 October 2014 following in the footsteps of the Belgian army and more than 100 000 refugees who, in 1914, were leaving a burning and bombed out city behind them, in search of safer places. The Antwerp Port Authority believes that this exciting and ambitious project will be successful and wholeheartedly supports the construction of the footbridge in 2014. See you on the bridge! Marc Van Peel Alderman Port of Antwerp

3


The

pontoon bridge 1914

Six bridges, as part of a broader military plan Antwerp was designated Nationaal Réduit in 1859, the last line of defence where King, government and military leadership were able to withdraw in case of a siege. Pending support from the allies, Antwerp was basically easy to defend and supply. The forts would be able to provide the fortified city with a lifeline, consisting of troops and food, as well as to ensure that the city would be able to withstand a possible attack via the Netherlands and the River Scheldt. In 1914, the last fixed bridge on the Scheldt was located at Temse. In Antwerp ferries leave from the Suikerrui. But none of it was sufficient to carry the size and weight of a quick evacuation of the city. Therefore, four bridges were built over the Scheldt: between Steen Castle and St Anna on the Left Bank, between Hoboken and Burcht, between Hemiksem and Basel, and in Rupelmonde. Two more bridges across the river Rupel were added: at the Tolhuis and the Hellegat. All the material had already been purchased before the war and was stored in the Vlaams Hoofd: the metal deck, the wooden floors and the ramps between the bridge and quay.

The bridge at the Steen is ready in a week The construction of the bridge starts on 2 August 1914, two days before the German invasion. The first task is to transport all the material from the Vlaams Hoofd redoubt to the location of the bridge, about 400 meters away. The pontoon engineers work long hours, from six o’clock in the morning until six o’clock in the evening. The only break they have involves a second meal. The work often 4

continues well into the evening and night. “Sometimes work lasted more than 15, 20, even 24 [hours], regardless of the weather conditions”, testifies Commander Pierard

After seven days, the bridge is ready. On 9 August, a delegation of military and civilian officials inspect the bridge, including the Mayor, General Dufour, the governor of the province and a few foreign consuls. According to the newspaper the Gazet van Antwerpen “the wonderful work of the pontoon workers was admired by all. Commander Pierard, the head of this fine corps of sappers, was warmly congratulated by General Dufour.”

The bridge floats on 25 riverboats. The ships are anchored so that they stay put and so that they do not drift apart, carried by the tide or current. To compensate for the movement of the tide, the bows of the ships are positioned alternately upstream and downstream. Beams are mounted on the ships and on them, the bridge deck and railings. The ramps between bridge and quay move with the tide. The bridge has to be able to open up for inland navigation on the River Scheldt. Near the Vlaams Hoofd two ‘portières’ or passages are made, each with a width of 42 meters. They are mounted each on two boats. To allow riverboats to pass through, the ‘doors’ are temporarily moved aside.

gust 1914

Thursday 13 Au

sh

ips at Antwerp

of s the en a bridge crosse ek nn A . St ite to “Oppos ed nd te e bridge is in ns River Scheldt. Th tra e th d an s e of troop y ensure the passag av he ammunition and port of materials, ries of se a on ilt bu is ge artillery. The brid been me of these have So s. ip sh t an ch remer en be ve ha ily; others donated voluntar .” ities e military author quisitioned by th A bridge made

Soldier Odon Van Pevenage was one of the soldiers. He was very impressed. “We hit the dike where we had to cross the river. I had never seen such a wide river. The bridge we had to cross was made of ships with planks on top of them. The bridge had been constructed by the engineer troops to facilitate the transport of armed forces. I believe the river was at least three hundred meters wide.”

The pontoon bridge is in permanent use In 1914, the author Josef Muls described everyday life in the besieged city. He witnessed the departing troops for instance. “From the pontoon bridge, at the foot of the old grey Steen Castle, a wooden bridge on barges went to the opposite river bank. On 5 September, we saw sizeable cavalry divisions cross the bridge with their artillery, aiming to recapture Dendermonde from the Germans and keep the connection open between Antwerp and the coast open.” (Jozef Muls)

er 1914.

ob Tuesday 13 Oct

t haste. from hell in grea “People withdrew fended de at th es med forc The part of the ar just in to cross the bridge the city were able , was ow (which, as we kn the nick of time lgian Be y an ents later). M set on fire mom d by pe ca es rs he ptured; ot soldiers were ca and ts into civilian outfi .” quickly changing at th e lik r way dressed continued on thei

The headquarters of the pontoon workers was located in the Vlaams Hoofd redoubt on the Left Bank. This military stronghold was located at what is currently known as Frederik van Eedenplein. Around the fort a lively area had formed, with many pubs and eateries. From its own train station, trains had been departing from the Vlaams Hoofd to Ghent since 1844.

5


The

pontoon bridge 1914

Six bridges, as part of a broader military plan Antwerp was designated Nationaal Réduit in 1859, the last line of defence where King, government and military leadership were able to withdraw in case of a siege. Pending support from the allies, Antwerp was basically easy to defend and supply. The forts would be able to provide the fortified city with a lifeline, consisting of troops and food, as well as to ensure that the city would be able to withstand a possible attack via the Netherlands and the River Scheldt. In 1914, the last fixed bridge on the Scheldt was located at Temse. In Antwerp ferries leave from the Suikerrui. But none of it was sufficient to carry the size and weight of a quick evacuation of the city. Therefore, four bridges were built over the Scheldt: between Steen Castle and St Anna on the Left Bank, between Hoboken and Burcht, between Hemiksem and Basel, and in Rupelmonde. Two more bridges across the river Rupel were added: at the Tolhuis and the Hellegat. All the material had already been purchased before the war and was stored in the Vlaams Hoofd: the metal deck, the wooden floors and the ramps between the bridge and quay.

The bridge at the Steen is ready in a week The construction of the bridge starts on 2 August 1914, two days before the German invasion. The first task is to transport all the material from the Vlaams Hoofd redoubt to the location of the bridge, about 400 meters away. The pontoon engineers work long hours, from six o’clock in the morning until six o’clock in the evening. The only break they have involves a second meal. The work often 4

continues well into the evening and night. “Sometimes work lasted more than 15, 20, even 24 [hours], regardless of the weather conditions”, testifies Commander Pierard

After seven days, the bridge is ready. On 9 August, a delegation of military and civilian officials inspect the bridge, including the Mayor, General Dufour, the governor of the province and a few foreign consuls. According to the newspaper the Gazet van Antwerpen “the wonderful work of the pontoon workers was admired by all. Commander Pierard, the head of this fine corps of sappers, was warmly congratulated by General Dufour.”

The bridge floats on 25 riverboats. The ships are anchored so that they stay put and so that they do not drift apart, carried by the tide or current. To compensate for the movement of the tide, the bows of the ships are positioned alternately upstream and downstream. Beams are mounted on the ships and on them, the bridge deck and railings. The ramps between bridge and quay move with the tide. The bridge has to be able to open up for inland navigation on the River Scheldt. Near the Vlaams Hoofd two ‘portières’ or passages are made, each with a width of 42 meters. They are mounted each on two boats. To allow riverboats to pass through, the ‘doors’ are temporarily moved aside.

gust 1914

Thursday 13 Au

sh

ips at Antwerp

of s the en a bridge crosse ek nn A . St ite to “Oppos ed nd te e bridge is in ns River Scheldt. Th tra e th d an s e of troop y ensure the passag av he ammunition and port of materials, ries of se a on ilt bu is ge artillery. The brid been me of these have So s. ip sh t an ch remer en be ve ha ily; others donated voluntar .” ities e military author quisitioned by th A bridge made

Soldier Odon Van Pevenage was one of the soldiers. He was very impressed. “We hit the dike where we had to cross the river. I had never seen such a wide river. The bridge we had to cross was made of ships with planks on top of them. The bridge had been constructed by the engineer troops to facilitate the transport of armed forces. I believe the river was at least three hundred meters wide.”

The pontoon bridge is in permanent use In 1914, the author Josef Muls described everyday life in the besieged city. He witnessed the departing troops for instance. “From the pontoon bridge, at the foot of the old grey Steen Castle, a wooden bridge on barges went to the opposite river bank. On 5 September, we saw sizeable cavalry divisions cross the bridge with their artillery, aiming to recapture Dendermonde from the Germans and keep the connection open between Antwerp and the coast open.” (Jozef Muls)

er 1914.

ob Tuesday 13 Oct

t haste. from hell in grea “People withdrew fended de at th es med forc The part of the ar just in to cross the bridge the city were able , was ow (which, as we kn the nick of time lgian Be y an ents later). M set on fire mom d by pe ca es rs he ptured; ot soldiers were ca and ts into civilian outfi .” quickly changing at th e lik r way dressed continued on thei

The headquarters of the pontoon workers was located in the Vlaams Hoofd redoubt on the Left Bank. This military stronghold was located at what is currently known as Frederik van Eedenplein. Around the fort a lively area had formed, with many pubs and eateries. From its own train station, trains had been departing from the Vlaams Hoofd to Ghent since 1844.

5


The pontoon bridge as a

supply line

The bridges across the River Scheldt have to ensure rapid troop movements, the transport of materials and supplies between the two river banks. The construction is done by specially trained pontoon workers of the Belgian army. They are engineer corps soldiers with combat training. They are responsible for the construction of bridges, for maintenance and repairs, for monitoring, for opening and closing of bridges, for the maintenance of the railway bridge in Temse and the few ships that cross the River Scheldt, for monitoring the Scheldt and should the need arise, for the destruction of the bridges.

The military control of the bridge and the River Scheldt The pontoon bridge is closely guarded. The military authorities are weary of sabotage and want to keep an eye on people entering or leaving the city. • The technical guard (two sergeants, two corporals and 35 to 40 soldiers) ensures the proper functioning and maintenance of the bridge. • The army guards the approaches to the bridge and runs call duties. The bridge at Steen Castle is guarded by infantry units and the other bridges by the pontoon soldiers themselves. • The river guard has two boats at anchor upstream and downstream. During the day they hoist the flag, lighting the lanterns at night. They monitor upstream traffic with a motor boat and downstream with a tug. • Along the river banks patrols walk up and down continuously. • To prevent the bridges from being blown up by the Germans using floating mines, armed motor boats guard the River Scheldt at all times. There are two fire brigade cars ready to extinguish fires at each bridge. 6

The bridge is narrow, the ramps steep The narrow bridge can be used in one direction only. It is three meters wide, has a carriageway of 1.80 meters, and an an adjacent path for pedestrians. To determine which direction is needed, the guards keep in touch with one another by telephone. Crossing the bridge is subject to strict rules. Vehicles that are too heavy have to be unloaded first. The load is then divided or remains on the quays. • Some vehicles are too wide and cannot cross. • Foot soldiers have to step out of cadence to reduce the thunder of their steps. • Soldiers and officers on horseback have to dismount and cross the bridge in pairs. • Artillery has to be rolled across at a walking pace. • Cars have to drive slowly, maintaining a safe distance from one another. • Soldiers are given priority, but citizens can also use the bridge. •

The slope of the entry and exit ramps of the bridge depends on the tide and the traffic on the bridge. At low tide the boats are much lower, making the ramps steeper. At times of heavy traffic, the weight makes the bridge even lower. Horses often have trouble in reaching the river bank. The ramps suffer from the weight of the vehicles and are repaired regularly. At night the bridge is lit up by electric lanterns. The wiring is done by a civilian company. However, after the first zeppelin bombings the city has to remain in darkness overnight. The lanterns on the pontoon bridge are extinguished or obscured. “After the zeppelin attack, the people of Antwerp lived in complete darkness at night. At eight o’clock, everything had to be closed and all tram traffic was suspended. If there were lights visible from the windows of the houses police officers or civilian guards would ring bells to notify the owners. In the dark, the city’s streets and squares were scarcely recognisable.” (Jozef Muls)

Antwerp bombed by a zeppelin

7


The pontoon bridge as a

supply line

The bridges across the River Scheldt have to ensure rapid troop movements, the transport of materials and supplies between the two river banks. The construction is done by specially trained pontoon workers of the Belgian army. They are engineer corps soldiers with combat training. They are responsible for the construction of bridges, for maintenance and repairs, for monitoring, for opening and closing of bridges, for the maintenance of the railway bridge in Temse and the few ships that cross the River Scheldt, for monitoring the Scheldt and should the need arise, for the destruction of the bridges.

The military control of the bridge and the River Scheldt The pontoon bridge is closely guarded. The military authorities are weary of sabotage and want to keep an eye on people entering or leaving the city. • The technical guard (two sergeants, two corporals and 35 to 40 soldiers) ensures the proper functioning and maintenance of the bridge. • The army guards the approaches to the bridge and runs call duties. The bridge at Steen Castle is guarded by infantry units and the other bridges by the pontoon soldiers themselves. • The river guard has two boats at anchor upstream and downstream. During the day they hoist the flag, lighting the lanterns at night. They monitor upstream traffic with a motor boat and downstream with a tug. • Along the river banks patrols walk up and down continuously. • To prevent the bridges from being blown up by the Germans using floating mines, armed motor boats guard the River Scheldt at all times. There are two fire brigade cars ready to extinguish fires at each bridge. 6

The bridge is narrow, the ramps steep The narrow bridge can be used in one direction only. It is three meters wide, has a carriageway of 1.80 meters, and an an adjacent path for pedestrians. To determine which direction is needed, the guards keep in touch with one another by telephone. Crossing the bridge is subject to strict rules. Vehicles that are too heavy have to be unloaded first. The load is then divided or remains on the quays. • Some vehicles are too wide and cannot cross. • Foot soldiers have to step out of cadence to reduce the thunder of their steps. • Soldiers and officers on horseback have to dismount and cross the bridge in pairs. • Artillery has to be rolled across at a walking pace. • Cars have to drive slowly, maintaining a safe distance from one another. • Soldiers are given priority, but citizens can also use the bridge. •

The slope of the entry and exit ramps of the bridge depends on the tide and the traffic on the bridge. At low tide the boats are much lower, making the ramps steeper. At times of heavy traffic, the weight makes the bridge even lower. Horses often have trouble in reaching the river bank. The ramps suffer from the weight of the vehicles and are repaired regularly. At night the bridge is lit up by electric lanterns. The wiring is done by a civilian company. However, after the first zeppelin bombings the city has to remain in darkness overnight. The lanterns on the pontoon bridge are extinguished or obscured. “After the zeppelin attack, the people of Antwerp lived in complete darkness at night. At eight o’clock, everything had to be closed and all tram traffic was suspended. If there were lights visible from the windows of the houses police officers or civilian guards would ring bells to notify the owners. In the dark, the city’s streets and squares were scarcely recognisable.” (Jozef Muls)

Antwerp bombed by a zeppelin

7


The pontoon bridge as an

“An old docker from the Schipperskwartier told me of the flight that he had witnessed along the Scheldt. Barges, mussel trawlers, rowing boats, sailing ships, anything that could float and move was used to escape the horror of the burning and besieged city. People jumped from the high quay into the vessels, often overloaded and on the point of sinking. The river was a swarm of black boats on its broad even surface, against the backdrop of the red glow of the burning petrol tanks coming from the direction of Hoboken.” (Jozef Muls)

escape route

The strategic retreat of the field army On 6 October, King Albert commands the field army to retreat to the other side of the River Scheldt. This happens at night to prevent the Germans from noticing the withdrawal. Josef Muls writes: “A rumble of thunder seemed suddenly to come out of the darkness as though out of nowhere. I stood still and listened attentively to the strange noise. It became very loud. It was as frightening as if I were stuck in a maze. Then I was clearly able to distinguish the sound of countless of horses’ hooves.”At the Central Station Muls notices a procession of “dark riders” who head for the town centre and who “rode through the streets with rattling guns and caissons” He follows the procession towards the Scheldt and in the faint light of the moon he sees “how the dark, lamentable flight pushes slowly towards the river bank opposite, across the long wooden bridge whose beams and planks clattered...” Back at home Muls hears the retreating cannons rolling through the city all night. On 7 October, he witnesses King Albert’s car leaving the city via the pontoon bridge at the Steen...

The population also flees The threat of German bombing hangs over the city. The soldiers are defeated, tired and afraid. Fear reigns everywhere and hundreds of thousands of civilians try to flee. The sheer mass of people forms “an unbridled crowd, which rolled on the spot, like a harvest in a storm, voicing its anger, complaining and cursing.” The roads to the quays are completely blocked, people have to queue for hours. The sea of people and carriages often 8

hinders the army. Yet people try to organise the exodus in an orderly manner. The citizens have to wait until the soldiers have crossed the bridge. A British newspaper reports how gendarmes, armed with bayonets, keep the surging crowd at bay for hours on end so as to ensure the army their passage. However, when the bridge becomes overwhelmed by people in blind panic, the guards can no longer keep things under control.

The retreat is chaotic Fleeing people are stuck for hours without being able to move either forwards or backwards. They have put on their best clothes; who knows where they might end up during their flight? Hurriedly they gather a few personal belongings, dragging them along in wheelbarrows, prams or trolleys, often pulled by oxen and donkeys. There is a feeling of panic; people are shouting, babies crying, dogs are barking and cows lowing. Cars, ambulances and buses are stuck in the crowd. 200 people are transferred to St Anna by ferry every fifteen minutes.

De vluchtelingen (The Refugees), Eugeen Van Mieghem, 1914

The burning oil tanks form an apocalyptic spectacle, with flames “a hundred feet high.” The people waiting on the quays complain that they are almost choking “in the thick air dense with petrol fumes.” (Dirk Van Thuyne)

Number of refugees Tens of thousands of people flee the burning city over the pontoon bridge. The newspaper reports vary concerning the exact number of refugees, which is difficult to gauge amidst the chaos. The New York Times writes: “Besides the long exodus by the roads to Holland I saw a crowd estimated at 150 000 blocking the ferry and pontoon (at Antwerp) on their way to get trains to St. Nicholas and Ghent.” The newspaper Le Bruxellois mentions 200 000 refugees, other newspapers as many as 500 000. More than a hundred thousand people flee the city via the foot bridges or ships to the Left Bank, heading for Ghent, Bruges, the coast and Zeeland. They usually go on foot. The Vlaams Hoofd railway can only be used for military purposes. Many refugees also go to the Netherlands on foot or by train. Soldiers who have lost their unit and who flee to the neutral nation of the Netherlands are interned there, an international martial law prescription.

An endless crowd of people and convoy of vehicles head for the Left Bank. The low tide and the weight of the crowd tilt the ramps at the quay to such an extent that soldiers, civilians and even a pram end up in the river. A journalist from the New York Times writes: “The twenty-foot entrance to that pontoon bridge seemed to me like the mouth of a funnel through which poured the dense misery of an entire nation.”

ing , a chaotic mass consist There is a sea of people iveh und gro fair s, gon , wa of carriages, automobiles am ste imagine. Packed, the cles, anything you can rother side at regular inte the to r ferry crosses ove the hit to re we e if a grenad vals, I hold my breath ... “ ... vessel

9


The pontoon bridge as an

“An old docker from the Schipperskwartier told me of the flight that he had witnessed along the Scheldt. Barges, mussel trawlers, rowing boats, sailing ships, anything that could float and move was used to escape the horror of the burning and besieged city. People jumped from the high quay into the vessels, often overloaded and on the point of sinking. The river was a swarm of black boats on its broad even surface, against the backdrop of the red glow of the burning petrol tanks coming from the direction of Hoboken.” (Jozef Muls)

escape route

The strategic retreat of the field army On 6 October, King Albert commands the field army to retreat to the other side of the River Scheldt. This happens at night to prevent the Germans from noticing the withdrawal. Josef Muls writes: “A rumble of thunder seemed suddenly to come out of the darkness as though out of nowhere. I stood still and listened attentively to the strange noise. It became very loud. It was as frightening as if I were stuck in a maze. Then I was clearly able to distinguish the sound of countless of horses’ hooves.”At the Central Station Muls notices a procession of “dark riders” who head for the town centre and who “rode through the streets with rattling guns and caissons” He follows the procession towards the Scheldt and in the faint light of the moon he sees “how the dark, lamentable flight pushes slowly towards the river bank opposite, across the long wooden bridge whose beams and planks clattered...” Back at home Muls hears the retreating cannons rolling through the city all night. On 7 October, he witnesses King Albert’s car leaving the city via the pontoon bridge at the Steen...

The population also flees The threat of German bombing hangs over the city. The soldiers are defeated, tired and afraid. Fear reigns everywhere and hundreds of thousands of civilians try to flee. The sheer mass of people forms “an unbridled crowd, which rolled on the spot, like a harvest in a storm, voicing its anger, complaining and cursing.” The roads to the quays are completely blocked, people have to queue for hours. The sea of people and carriages often 8

hinders the army. Yet people try to organise the exodus in an orderly manner. The citizens have to wait until the soldiers have crossed the bridge. A British newspaper reports how gendarmes, armed with bayonets, keep the surging crowd at bay for hours on end so as to ensure the army their passage. However, when the bridge becomes overwhelmed by people in blind panic, the guards can no longer keep things under control.

The retreat is chaotic Fleeing people are stuck for hours without being able to move either forwards or backwards. They have put on their best clothes; who knows where they might end up during their flight? Hurriedly they gather a few personal belongings, dragging them along in wheelbarrows, prams or trolleys, often pulled by oxen and donkeys. There is a feeling of panic; people are shouting, babies crying, dogs are barking and cows lowing. Cars, ambulances and buses are stuck in the crowd. 200 people are transferred to St Anna by ferry every fifteen minutes.

De vluchtelingen (The Refugees), Eugeen Van Mieghem, 1914

The burning oil tanks form an apocalyptic spectacle, with flames “a hundred feet high.” The people waiting on the quays complain that they are almost choking “in the thick air dense with petrol fumes.” (Dirk Van Thuyne)

Number of refugees Tens of thousands of people flee the burning city over the pontoon bridge. The newspaper reports vary concerning the exact number of refugees, which is difficult to gauge amidst the chaos. The New York Times writes: “Besides the long exodus by the roads to Holland I saw a crowd estimated at 150 000 blocking the ferry and pontoon (at Antwerp) on their way to get trains to St. Nicholas and Ghent.” The newspaper Le Bruxellois mentions 200 000 refugees, other newspapers as many as 500 000. More than a hundred thousand people flee the city via the foot bridges or ships to the Left Bank, heading for Ghent, Bruges, the coast and Zeeland. They usually go on foot. The Vlaams Hoofd railway can only be used for military purposes. Many refugees also go to the Netherlands on foot or by train. Soldiers who have lost their unit and who flee to the neutral nation of the Netherlands are interned there, an international martial law prescription.

An endless crowd of people and convoy of vehicles head for the Left Bank. The low tide and the weight of the crowd tilt the ramps at the quay to such an extent that soldiers, civilians and even a pram end up in the river. A journalist from the New York Times writes: “The twenty-foot entrance to that pontoon bridge seemed to me like the mouth of a funnel through which poured the dense misery of an entire nation.”

ing , a chaotic mass consist There is a sea of people iveh und gro fair s, gon , wa of carriages, automobiles am ste imagine. Packed, the cles, anything you can rother side at regular inte the to r ferry crosses ove the hit to re we e if a grenad vals, I hold my breath ... “ ... vessel

9


Technical details Pontoon bridge 1914 units that built the bridge

commanding officer

Pontoon bridge 2014

Pontoon forces Forteresse de la Position Fortifiée d’Anvers, 1st Company Pontoon Engineers of the 1st Engineer Battalion

11th Belgian Engineerg Battalion from Burcht and the 105th Engineer Bridging Company from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which is part of the 101st Dutch Engineer Battalion from Wezep.

Captain-Commander Virgile Piérard

Coordination: Military Commander of the Province of Antwerp Command: Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Philipsen, Commander of the 11th Engineer Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Caelen, Commander of the 101st Engineer Battalion

number of troops

about 310 men, commanded by seven officers

+ / - 150 to construct and deconstruct, + / - 60 during the operation

headquarters

Vlaams Hoofd, fort located at the current Van Eedenplein (Left Bank)

Headquarters: Burcht, Wezep en ‘s-Hertogenbosch

length of the bridge

390 meters

370 meters

width of the bridge

3 meters

8.12 meters and 4.10 meters for the road

Type

Eiffel - The construction plan had already been conceived and built before the war.

Faltswimmbrücke (FSB) pontoon bridge, gangway, 20 feet Bailey Bridge

material

iron, wood, requisitioned ships

FSB: Aluminum gangway and Bailey Bridge: steel and wood

location

Suikerrui, Steen - Vlaams Hoofd

Between mooring pontoon at Steen Castle on the Right bank and the landing of the pilotage on the Left bank.

construction

from 2 to 9 August 1914

2 & 3 October 2014

destruction

by command: 8 October 1914 execution: 9 October 1914, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

6 October 2014 (disassemble the bridge)

Passage for ships

The destruction

The pontoon bridge has two passages for riverboats. They can only pass provided they have explicit permission. Commander Pierard issues a message including the following guidelines.

On the evening of 8 October 1914 Captain-Commander Piérard receives the order from Lieutenant-General Deguise to blow up the bridges at Steen Castle and Burcht. They must not fall into enemy hands. The morning of 9 October, the pontoon bridge in Burcht is destroyed at 5am, the pontoon bridge at the Steen at 8.30am. Along the Right bank, the side of the city, 25 ships are set alight by the pontoon engineers. The New York Times writes: “... there was a crash that shook the whole building, the sound of falling glass, and out into the river a geyser of water shot up, timbers and boards flew from the bridge, and there were dozens of narrower splashes as if from a shower of shot. It was the Belgians blowing up the bridge to cover their retreat.”

• •

From the southern tip of the quays along the Scheldt to the Royers locks, no vessel without authorisation given by the Commander of the pontoon engineers will be granted access. All ships without permisson, must move to the docks immediately or to the tiny port of the Left bank. The ships at anchor on the river or moored at the quayside, must reinforce their anchors and ropes. The fact that the bridge is closed is indicated by a black sphere on top of a mast. When the bridge is open, ships may sail through only against the current and at stagnant water. The bridge will never be opened after sunset and before sunrise.

On the Left bank torpedoes are used to detonate six ships, but the plan is only partially successful. A journalist writes: “The mines which were exploded beneath it did more damage to the buildings along the waterfront than to the bridge however, only the middle spans of which were destroyed.” Other ships are targeted, with the aim of sinking them. The pontoon engineers take the floating passageways to the shore. They also destroy the hangars and the equipment in the Vlaams Hoofd fort. The destruction takes about twenty minutes. At that time there are still soldiers present in the city. When they find out there is no longer an escape route, they panic. Witnesses see that they are still trying to get into boats and call for help. Some who have been left behind even shoot at the fleeing boats, demanding them to turn round and pick them up. Piérard and the pontoon engineers leave Antwerp in the direction of the Netherlands and are interned there on 10 October. After internment in Amersfoort and The Hague, Piérard is repatriated to Belgium after the war.

To cover their retreat Belgian troops destroyed the mooring platform on the Left bank 10

11


Technical details Pontoon bridge 1914 units that built the bridge

commanding officer

Pontoon bridge 2014

Pontoon forces Forteresse de la Position Fortifiée d’Anvers, 1st Company Pontoon Engineers of the 1st Engineer Battalion

11th Belgian Engineerg Battalion from Burcht and the 105th Engineer Bridging Company from ‘s-Hertogenbosch, which is part of the 101st Dutch Engineer Battalion from Wezep.

Captain-Commander Virgile Piérard

Coordination: Military Commander of the Province of Antwerp Command: Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Philipsen, Commander of the 11th Engineer Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Caelen, Commander of the 101st Engineer Battalion

number of troops

about 310 men, commanded by seven officers

+ / - 150 to construct and deconstruct, + / - 60 during the operation

headquarters

Vlaams Hoofd, fort located at the current Van Eedenplein (Left Bank)

Headquarters: Burcht, Wezep en ‘s-Hertogenbosch

length of the bridge

390 meters

370 meters

width of the bridge

3 meters

8.12 meters and 4.10 meters for the road

Type

Eiffel - The construction plan had already been conceived and built before the war.

Faltswimmbrücke (FSB) pontoon bridge, gangway, 20 feet Bailey Bridge

material

iron, wood, requisitioned ships

FSB: Aluminum gangway and Bailey Bridge: steel and wood

location

Suikerrui, Steen - Vlaams Hoofd

Between mooring pontoon at Steen Castle on the Right bank and the landing of the pilotage on the Left bank.

construction

from 2 to 9 August 1914

2 & 3 October 2014

destruction

by command: 8 October 1914 execution: 9 October 1914, 6:30 to 8:30 pm

6 October 2014 (disassemble the bridge)

Passage for ships

The destruction

The pontoon bridge has two passages for riverboats. They can only pass provided they have explicit permission. Commander Pierard issues a message including the following guidelines.

On the evening of 8 October 1914 Captain-Commander Piérard receives the order from Lieutenant-General Deguise to blow up the bridges at Steen Castle and Burcht. They must not fall into enemy hands. The morning of 9 October, the pontoon bridge in Burcht is destroyed at 5am, the pontoon bridge at the Steen at 8.30am. Along the Right bank, the side of the city, 25 ships are set alight by the pontoon engineers. The New York Times writes: “... there was a crash that shook the whole building, the sound of falling glass, and out into the river a geyser of water shot up, timbers and boards flew from the bridge, and there were dozens of narrower splashes as if from a shower of shot. It was the Belgians blowing up the bridge to cover their retreat.”

• •

From the southern tip of the quays along the Scheldt to the Royers locks, no vessel without authorisation given by the Commander of the pontoon engineers will be granted access. All ships without permisson, must move to the docks immediately or to the tiny port of the Left bank. The ships at anchor on the river or moored at the quayside, must reinforce their anchors and ropes. The fact that the bridge is closed is indicated by a black sphere on top of a mast. When the bridge is open, ships may sail through only against the current and at stagnant water. The bridge will never be opened after sunset and before sunrise.

On the Left bank torpedoes are used to detonate six ships, but the plan is only partially successful. A journalist writes: “The mines which were exploded beneath it did more damage to the buildings along the waterfront than to the bridge however, only the middle spans of which were destroyed.” Other ships are targeted, with the aim of sinking them. The pontoon engineers take the floating passageways to the shore. They also destroy the hangars and the equipment in the Vlaams Hoofd fort. The destruction takes about twenty minutes. At that time there are still soldiers present in the city. When they find out there is no longer an escape route, they panic. Witnesses see that they are still trying to get into boats and call for help. Some who have been left behind even shoot at the fleeing boats, demanding them to turn round and pick them up. Piérard and the pontoon engineers leave Antwerp in the direction of the Netherlands and are interned there on 10 October. After internment in Amersfoort and The Hague, Piérard is repatriated to Belgium after the war.

To cover their retreat Belgian troops destroyed the mooring platform on the Left bank 10

11


Pontoon bridge 100 years later Left bank

Colonel BEM Dirk Verhaegen, the military commander of the Province of Antwerp, retired in April 2014. He played a crucial role in the technical coordination and construction of the pontoon bridge at the start of our remembrance project. Dirk Verhaegen helped make the impossible possible. He is succeeded by Colonel Paul Haccuria.

Right bank ‘Anchored to the pier of the maritime police’

‘Folding bridge 340 meters’ “Gangway anchored 38 meters on shore ‘

The floating section is about 270 meters long and consists of 15 to 20 pontoon boats, each driving roughly three linked pontoon elements. The total weight of the aluminum frame is approximately 200 tons - which accounts for 40 trucks of equipment. The assembling and inspecting of the bridge is carried out by 150 sappers, half of them Dutch, half Belgian. Divers will also be on guard. Floating pontoons are held together using the screws of the pontoon boats. These will have to be monitored round the clock. For example, during the ‘slack’ period between high and low tide the river water almost comes to a standstill, but at its strongest it can flow at 9 kilometers per hour. This represents a tremendous force. In addition, the bridge should be able to open up regularly to let ships sail through. This is already monitored at Flushing, close to the estuary of the River Scheldt.

12

“Constructing such a bridge will not be easy, not least because the River Scheldt in Antwerp is about 370 m wide and the tidal currents are at times very strong. The sappers of the 11th Engineer Battalion from Burcht ensure the arrival at the bank and the organization. The 101th Engineer Battalion from Wezep in the Netherlands and their 105th Bridge Company from ‘s-Hertogenbosch will build the floating section. Because the entire operation won’t be easy, the bridge will be constructed for a first time, as a test, in September 2013. The whole event is like a large collection of Meccano, with pieces that do not always fit together properly. Additionally, the preparation represents a huge technical challenge. We are including a risk assessment as well, a prevention and safety plan, agreements with the port authorities, with civil and military authorities, and so on. Over thirty delegates are usually present at the meetings. But the cooperation works very well, everyone is excited. The construction of this bridge is a wonderful example of international defense cooperation at a European level, in this case between Belgium and the Netherlands and fully in line with the policy of our respective Secretaries of Defence. And it is wonderful to be able to build a ‘Bridge of Peace’ for all citizens across the River Scheldt in Antwerp in 2014!”

13


Pontoon bridge 100 years later Left bank

Colonel BEM Dirk Verhaegen, the military commander of the Province of Antwerp, retired in April 2014. He played a crucial role in the technical coordination and construction of the pontoon bridge at the start of our remembrance project. Dirk Verhaegen helped make the impossible possible. He is succeeded by Colonel Paul Haccuria.

Right bank ‘Anchored to the pier of the maritime police’

‘Folding bridge 340 meters’ “Gangway anchored 38 meters on shore ‘

The floating section is about 270 meters long and consists of 15 to 20 pontoon boats, each driving roughly three linked pontoon elements. The total weight of the aluminum frame is approximately 200 tons - which accounts for 40 trucks of equipment. The assembling and inspecting of the bridge is carried out by 150 sappers, half of them Dutch, half Belgian. Divers will also be on guard. Floating pontoons are held together using the screws of the pontoon boats. These will have to be monitored round the clock. For example, during the ‘slack’ period between high and low tide the river water almost comes to a standstill, but at its strongest it can flow at 9 kilometers per hour. This represents a tremendous force. In addition, the bridge should be able to open up regularly to let ships sail through. This is already monitored at Flushing, close to the estuary of the River Scheldt.

12

“Constructing such a bridge will not be easy, not least because the River Scheldt in Antwerp is about 370 m wide and the tidal currents are at times very strong. The sappers of the 11th Engineer Battalion from Burcht ensure the arrival at the bank and the organization. The 101th Engineer Battalion from Wezep in the Netherlands and their 105th Bridge Company from ‘s-Hertogenbosch will build the floating section. Because the entire operation won’t be easy, the bridge will be constructed for a first time, as a test, in September 2013. The whole event is like a large collection of Meccano, with pieces that do not always fit together properly. Additionally, the preparation represents a huge technical challenge. We are including a risk assessment as well, a prevention and safety plan, agreements with the port authorities, with civil and military authorities, and so on. Over thirty delegates are usually present at the meetings. But the cooperation works very well, everyone is excited. The construction of this bridge is a wonderful example of international defense cooperation at a European level, in this case between Belgium and the Netherlands and fully in line with the policy of our respective Secretaries of Defence. And it is wonderful to be able to build a ‘Bridge of Peace’ for all citizens across the River Scheldt in Antwerp in 2014!”

13


Historic bridges across the Scheldt in Antwerp 1584

During the Eighty Years War Antwerp is besieged in 1584. The Spanish army led by Alexander Farnese aims to enclose the city. To close the circle, he builds a floating bridge across the Scheldt

In 1795, Antwerp is ‘liberated’ from the Austrians by France. To commemorate that event, a floating bridge is laid across the Scheldt in 1895

1895

1914

The bridges built in 1584, 1914 and 1944 on the Scheldt were military bridges.

1565

14

Sometimes ice forms a natural bridge between the two banks. Images exist of a frozen River Scheldt in 1565, 1670, 1871 and 1891

During World War II, the German occupying force established another pontoon bridge across the Scheldt. When they withdrew in September 1944, they blew up that bridge

The new bridge in 2014 is intended to be a ‘Bridge of Peace’.

1944

A bridge that connects people, young and old, natives and foreigners. The pontoon bridge of 1914 was an important supply route for military equipment and an escape route for countless citizens. A few hours after the destruction of the bridge, the Germans entered the city. The German army aims to build a new pontoon bridge itself. This proves not too straightforward as each attempt is washed away by each high tide. Eventually a bridge is constructed across the Royerssluis, 2.6 kilometers downstream of Steen Castle.

A bridge that contributes to the collective memory of the city. A bridge that encourages dreams for the future.

15


Historic bridges across the Scheldt in Antwerp 1584

During the Eighty Years War Antwerp is besieged in 1584. The Spanish army led by Alexander Farnese aims to enclose the city. To close the circle, he builds a floating bridge across the Scheldt

In 1795, Antwerp is ‘liberated’ from the Austrians by France. To commemorate that event, a floating bridge is laid across the Scheldt in 1895

1895

1914

The bridges built in 1584, 1914 and 1944 on the Scheldt were military bridges.

1565

14

Sometimes ice forms a natural bridge between the two banks. Images exist of a frozen River Scheldt in 1565, 1670, 1871 and 1891

During World War II, the German occupying force established another pontoon bridge across the Scheldt. When they withdrew in September 1944, they blew up that bridge

The new bridge in 2014 is intended to be a ‘Bridge of Peace’.

1944

A bridge that connects people, young and old, natives and foreigners. The pontoon bridge of 1914 was an important supply route for military equipment and an escape route for countless citizens. A few hours after the destruction of the bridge, the Germans entered the city. The German army aims to build a new pontoon bridge itself. This proves not too straightforward as each attempt is washed away by each high tide. Eventually a bridge is constructed across the Royerssluis, 2.6 kilometers downstream of Steen Castle.

A bridge that contributes to the collective memory of the city. A bridge that encourages dreams for the future.

15


The Antwerp ‘14-’18 project is the outcome of a collaboration with: • • • • • • •

The City of Antwerp The Province of Antwerp Tourism of Flanders Impulse Fund 100 years Great War The Government of Flanders The Federal authority The Scientific Committee Antwerp ’14-‘18 Support from our sponsors

The reconstruction of the bridge in October 2014 is realised in collaboration with: • Ministry of Defence Belgium • The Antwerp Fire Brigade • Antwerp Maritime Academy • Eandis • Honorary mayor of Antwerp Bob Cools • Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport - DG Maritime Transport Antwerp • Port Authority • Military Engineer Corps Burcht • Engineer Corps Netherlands – Den Bosch • Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History • Military Command Province of Antwerp • Dutch Ministry of Defence • Police Antwerp • Waterways police Antwerp • The City of Antwerp • Flemish Department of Mobility and Public Works - Maritime Access Division • Flemish Agency for Maritime and Coastal Pilotage • Waterways and Sea Canal Flanders • Zanzibar

The Scientific Committee Antwerp ‘14 - ‘18 is responsible for the content quality of the project: • Marnix Beyen, professor University of Antwerp • Christophe Declercq, PhD student University College London and lecturer at AP Hogeschool 16

• Piet Lombaerde, Simon Stevin Foundation and AP Hogeschool • Dirk Martin, Study and Documentation Centre “Oorlog en Hedendaagse Maatschappij” (War and contemporary society) • Koen Palinckx, former director Vredescentrum and author of ‘V-bommen op Antwerpen’ (V bombs on Antwerp) • Inge Schoups, executive coordinator and city archivist Felix Archives Antwerp • Maarten van Alstein, researcher Flemish Peace Institute • Luc Vandeweyer, Record keeper national archives • Alex Vanneste, Professor at the University of Antwerp • Antoon Vrints, Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Ghent • Marleen Van Ouytsel, director Peace Centre Antwerp (in memoriam) • Lotte Dodion, project coordinator Peace Centre Antwerp • Margot De Deken, project coordinator Peace Centre Antwerp

References General histories • SOPHIE DE SCHAEPDRIJVER, De Groote Oorlog, Amsterdam / Antwerp, Atlas,1979. • ANTOON VRINTS, De Klippen Des Nationalismus, De eerste Wereldoorlog en de ondergang van de Duitse kolonie in Antwerpen, 2002. • SAM VAN CLEMEN, Den Oorlog Verklaard, De Grote Oorlog in de provincie Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Provinciebestuur, 2003. • GEHEUGEN COLLECTIEF, Onderzoeksrapport ‘De pontonbrug aan het Steen’, 2012.

Pictures ‘Antwerp in the Great War’ • • • • • • • • • • •

Image archives Cegesoma (p. 4) Churchill Archives Centre (p.10) Collection Hugo Buyle (p.8, 9) Collection Alex Elaut, picture Peter Maes (p.13) DANIEL JAMES, My First World War, Franklin Watts, London, 2009 (p.7) German propaganda booklet, Hugo Resseler (p.7) Photo Collection city archive Lier (p.8) Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History (p.1, 11, 12, 17) Phil Douglis, The Douglis Visual Workshops (p.6) Antwerp City Archives (p. 5, 8, 9, 10, 11) The War Illustrated (p.12) ‘Antwerp builds bridges’

• • • • • • • • •

BRABO archives (p.14) Collection Hugo Buyle (p.7) Museum Eugeen Van Mieghem (p.8) The Virtual Skating Museum (p.14) Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History (p.2, 6-7, 9) Letterenhuis Antwerpen (p.17) Private Collection (p.5) Antwerp City Archives(p.1, 11, 14, 15) Technical drawing, 105th Hydraulic Company NL (p.12-13)

Colophon Composition: Historical research Author: Editor: Design Translation

Vredescentrum, Scientific Committee Antwerp’14 -’18 Geheugen Collectief Stefaan Vermeulen Lotte Dodion and Ann Govaert Het Geel Punt bvba Christophe Declercq

‘Antwerp in the Great War’ • De Tijd, 9 October 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p.12) • Het Volk, 9 October 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p.13) • JOZEF MULS, De val van Antwerpen, Ons Vlaanderen, Ghent, 1918 (p.13)

‘Antwerp builds bridges’

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the young lawyer Joseph Mulch (° 1882) joined the Antwerp civilian guards. Only a week into the conflict he became the German translator for the military government and clerk at the court martial. By the end of September, he was appointed civil lawyer of the war governor and oversaw the ware houses whose German owners or trade managers had been expelled or taken into custody’ .

• ALEXANDER POWELL, Fighting in Flanders, London, Heinemann, 1914 (p.8, 11) • DIRK VAN THUYNE, 1914, De Duitsers komen: de moordende begindagen van de Eerste Wereldoorlog, Lannoo, Tielt, 2010 (p.8, 9) • Gazet van Antwerpen, 10-11-12 August 1914 (p.5, 11) • HORACE GREEN, The Log of a noncombatant, www.greatwardifferent.com (p.9) • IVAN ADRIAESSENS, Odon, dagboek van een IJzerfrontsoldaat, Lannoo, Tielt, • 2009 (p.5) • JOZEF MULS, De val van Antwerpen, Ons Vlaanderen, Ghent, 1918 (p.5, 7, 8, 9) • Rapport kapitein-commandant Piérard, collection Royal Museum the Armed Forces • and of Military History, Moskou, Compagnie de Pontonniers, rapport établi • le 26 juin 1916, par le Cpt - Cdt Piérard, emploi du temps, nature et importance des travaux executés (p.11) • Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 13 August 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p.4) • The New York Times, 11-12 October 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p. 8, 11)

Josef Muls was a first hand witness of events in the city. His chronicle ‘De Val van Antwerpen’ (The Fall of Antwerp) paints a lively picture of everyday life in the besieged city. On 7 October, he fled from the city himself. He stayed in London first, but then moved to Paris. After the armistice he returned to Antwerp, where he became a professor of art history.

The publisher has sought to settle the rights of the published pictures according to the legal stipulations. Those who nevertheless feel to assert certain rights should contact the publisher.

Writer Thomas Maes incorporates diary excerpts from ‘De Val van Antwerpen’ by Josef Muls in his book ‘Antwerpen 1914’. The book ‘Antwerpen 1914’ was launched in cooperation with publishing company Linkeroever during Cultuurmarkt 2013.

17


The Antwerp ‘14-’18 project is the outcome of a collaboration with: • • • • • • •

The City of Antwerp The Province of Antwerp Tourism of Flanders Impulse Fund 100 years Great War The Government of Flanders The Federal authority The Scientific Committee Antwerp ’14-‘18 Support from our sponsors

The reconstruction of the bridge in October 2014 is realised in collaboration with: • Ministry of Defence Belgium • The Antwerp Fire Brigade • Antwerp Maritime Academy • Eandis • Honorary mayor of Antwerp Bob Cools • Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport - DG Maritime Transport Antwerp • Port Authority • Military Engineer Corps Burcht • Engineer Corps Netherlands – Den Bosch • Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History • Military Command Province of Antwerp • Dutch Ministry of Defence • Police Antwerp • Waterways police Antwerp • The City of Antwerp • Flemish Department of Mobility and Public Works - Maritime Access Division • Flemish Agency for Maritime and Coastal Pilotage • Waterways and Sea Canal Flanders • Zanzibar

The Scientific Committee Antwerp ‘14 - ‘18 is responsible for the content quality of the project: • Marnix Beyen, professor University of Antwerp • Christophe Declercq, PhD student University College London and lecturer at AP Hogeschool 16

• Piet Lombaerde, Simon Stevin Foundation and AP Hogeschool • Dirk Martin, Study and Documentation Centre “Oorlog en Hedendaagse Maatschappij” (War and contemporary society) • Koen Palinckx, former director Vredescentrum and author of ‘V-bommen op Antwerpen’ (V bombs on Antwerp) • Inge Schoups, executive coordinator and city archivist Felix Archives Antwerp • Maarten van Alstein, researcher Flemish Peace Institute • Luc Vandeweyer, Record keeper national archives • Alex Vanneste, Professor at the University of Antwerp • Antoon Vrints, Post-doctoral researcher at the University of Ghent • Marleen Van Ouytsel, director Peace Centre Antwerp (in memoriam) • Lotte Dodion, project coordinator Peace Centre Antwerp • Margot De Deken, project coordinator Peace Centre Antwerp

References General histories • SOPHIE DE SCHAEPDRIJVER, De Groote Oorlog, Amsterdam / Antwerp, Atlas,1979. • ANTOON VRINTS, De Klippen Des Nationalismus, De eerste Wereldoorlog en de ondergang van de Duitse kolonie in Antwerpen, 2002. • SAM VAN CLEMEN, Den Oorlog Verklaard, De Grote Oorlog in de provincie Antwerpen, Antwerpen, Provinciebestuur, 2003. • GEHEUGEN COLLECTIEF, Onderzoeksrapport ‘De pontonbrug aan het Steen’, 2012.

Pictures ‘Antwerp in the Great War’ • • • • • • • • • • •

Image archives Cegesoma (p. 4) Churchill Archives Centre (p.10) Collection Hugo Buyle (p.8, 9) Collection Alex Elaut, picture Peter Maes (p.13) DANIEL JAMES, My First World War, Franklin Watts, London, 2009 (p.7) German propaganda booklet, Hugo Resseler (p.7) Photo Collection city archive Lier (p.8) Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History (p.1, 11, 12, 17) Phil Douglis, The Douglis Visual Workshops (p.6) Antwerp City Archives (p. 5, 8, 9, 10, 11) The War Illustrated (p.12) ‘Antwerp builds bridges’

• • • • • • • • •

BRABO archives (p.14) Collection Hugo Buyle (p.7) Museum Eugeen Van Mieghem (p.8) The Virtual Skating Museum (p.14) Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History (p.2, 6-7, 9) Letterenhuis Antwerpen (p.17) Private Collection (p.5) Antwerp City Archives(p.1, 11, 14, 15) Technical drawing, 105th Hydraulic Company NL (p.12-13)

Colophon Composition: Historical research Author: Editor: Design Translation

Vredescentrum, Scientific Committee Antwerp’14 -’18 Geheugen Collectief Stefaan Vermeulen Lotte Dodion and Ann Govaert Het Geel Punt bvba Christophe Declercq

‘Antwerp in the Great War’ • De Tijd, 9 October 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p.12) • Het Volk, 9 October 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p.13) • JOZEF MULS, De val van Antwerpen, Ons Vlaanderen, Ghent, 1918 (p.13)

‘Antwerp builds bridges’

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the young lawyer Joseph Mulch (° 1882) joined the Antwerp civilian guards. Only a week into the conflict he became the German translator for the military government and clerk at the court martial. By the end of September, he was appointed civil lawyer of the war governor and oversaw the ware houses whose German owners or trade managers had been expelled or taken into custody’ .

• ALEXANDER POWELL, Fighting in Flanders, London, Heinemann, 1914 (p.8, 11) • DIRK VAN THUYNE, 1914, De Duitsers komen: de moordende begindagen van de Eerste Wereldoorlog, Lannoo, Tielt, 2010 (p.8, 9) • Gazet van Antwerpen, 10-11-12 August 1914 (p.5, 11) • HORACE GREEN, The Log of a noncombatant, www.greatwardifferent.com (p.9) • IVAN ADRIAESSENS, Odon, dagboek van een IJzerfrontsoldaat, Lannoo, Tielt, • 2009 (p.5) • JOZEF MULS, De val van Antwerpen, Ons Vlaanderen, Ghent, 1918 (p.5, 7, 8, 9) • Rapport kapitein-commandant Piérard, collection Royal Museum the Armed Forces • and of Military History, Moskou, Compagnie de Pontonniers, rapport établi • le 26 juin 1916, par le Cpt - Cdt Piérard, emploi du temps, nature et importance des travaux executés (p.11) • Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, 13 August 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p.4) • The New York Times, 11-12 October 1914, Genie Museum Jambes (p. 8, 11)

Josef Muls was a first hand witness of events in the city. His chronicle ‘De Val van Antwerpen’ (The Fall of Antwerp) paints a lively picture of everyday life in the besieged city. On 7 October, he fled from the city himself. He stayed in London first, but then moved to Paris. After the armistice he returned to Antwerp, where he became a professor of art history.

The publisher has sought to settle the rights of the published pictures according to the legal stipulations. Those who nevertheless feel to assert certain rights should contact the publisher.

Writer Thomas Maes incorporates diary excerpts from ‘De Val van Antwerpen’ by Josef Muls in his book ‘Antwerpen 1914’. The book ‘Antwerpen 1914’ was launched in cooperation with publishing company Linkeroever during Cultuurmarkt 2013.

17


eraonekv B htt

er

Riegch

See you on the bridge!

L ienf kt

n eBrao ekv

er

See you on the bridge! 18

19


ANTWERP IN THE GREAT WAR Historical Background


T

he Vredescentrum focuses on educational projects concerning peace and remembrance for youngsters as well as adults. In

2000 Antwerp, Belgium, telephone +32 (0)3 292 36 56 - info@vredescentrum.be - www.antwerpen14-18.be

This is a publication issued by the Vredescentrum (the Peace Centre) of the Province and City of Antwerp, Lombardenvest 23.

World War 1 centenary in Antwerp

2013 and 2014, it will celebrate the centenary of the First World War. As the coordinator of commemorative events in the city of Antwerp, the centre will collaborate with a multitude of partners on the international commemoration project Antwerp ‘14 -‘18. Vredescentrum of the City and Province of Antwerp Telephone 03 292 36 56 info@vredescentrum.be www.antwerpen14-18.be www.visitantwerp.be www.vredescentrum.be

2

Antwerp as the temporary capital in 1914 Historically, Antwerp has valid reasons to commemorate the start of the First World War in 2014. Shortly after Belgium became independent in 1830, the fortified city of Antwerp was proclaimed the Nationaal Réduit (National Safehaven) of Belgium: the last bastion of the Belgian army in case of an invasion by enemy troops and a safe haven from which to await help from the allies When the German troops invaded Belgium in early August 1914, it was widely believed that the fortified city of Antwerp, with its impressive double ring of forts, was invincible. Soon after the invasion in the east of Belgium and subsequent fall of Brussels, Antwerp became the temporary capital of Belgium. As a consequence it became the seat of government, parliament, the army, the royal family and the diplomatic services. The ‘impregnable’ fortress, however, proved no match for the German forces and Antwerp surrendered on 9 October 1914. The invasion had also created an unprecedented wave of refugees, who sought refuge in Antwerp first and who after the fall of that city, escaped to the Netherlands, France and Britain. In the end, one Belgian in five fled the country.

Antwerp in the European Union In the wider region round Antwerp, people have known peace for nearly seven decades. The European Union has emerged as a unique peace project and now unites 28 countries, among them many former enemies. Antwerp, a destination for refugees a century ago, now plays host to people from elsewhere. With one of the largest ports in Europe, a vibrant diamond trade, an internationally renowned art and fashion scene and internationally respected higher education, Antwerp remains a magnet for people both from within Belgium and from abroad. The commemoration of WWI in Antwerp is an excellent opportunity to build bridges between the past, present and future. Together with many partners, the Vredescentrum welcomes you to an ambitious programme of events. Gilbert Verstraelen, Chairman Vredescentrum Board of Trustees Marleen Van Ouytsel, Director Vredescentrum (in memoriam)

3


T

he Vredescentrum focuses on educational projects concerning peace and remembrance for youngsters as well as adults. In

2000 Antwerp, Belgium, telephone +32 (0)3 292 36 56 - info@vredescentrum.be - www.antwerpen14-18.be

This is a publication issued by the Vredescentrum (the Peace Centre) of the Province and City of Antwerp, Lombardenvest 23.

World War 1 centenary in Antwerp

2013 and 2014, it will celebrate the centenary of the First World War. As the coordinator of commemorative events in the city of Antwerp, the centre will collaborate with a multitude of partners on the international commemoration project Antwerp ‘14 -‘18. Vredescentrum of the City and Province of Antwerp Telephone 03 292 36 56 info@vredescentrum.be www.antwerpen14-18.be www.visitantwerp.be www.vredescentrum.be

2

Antwerp as the temporary capital in 1914 Historically, Antwerp has valid reasons to commemorate the start of the First World War in 2014. Shortly after Belgium became independent in 1830, the fortified city of Antwerp was proclaimed the Nationaal Réduit (National Safehaven) of Belgium: the last bastion of the Belgian army in case of an invasion by enemy troops and a safe haven from which to await help from the allies When the German troops invaded Belgium in early August 1914, it was widely believed that the fortified city of Antwerp, with its impressive double ring of forts, was invincible. Soon after the invasion in the east of Belgium and subsequent fall of Brussels, Antwerp became the temporary capital of Belgium. As a consequence it became the seat of government, parliament, the army, the royal family and the diplomatic services. The ‘impregnable’ fortress, however, proved no match for the German forces and Antwerp surrendered on 9 October 1914. The invasion had also created an unprecedented wave of refugees, who sought refuge in Antwerp first and who after the fall of that city, escaped to the Netherlands, France and Britain. In the end, one Belgian in five fled the country.

Antwerp in the European Union In the wider region round Antwerp, people have known peace for nearly seven decades. The European Union has emerged as a unique peace project and now unites 28 countries, among them many former enemies. Antwerp, a destination for refugees a century ago, now plays host to people from elsewhere. With one of the largest ports in Europe, a vibrant diamond trade, an internationally renowned art and fashion scene and internationally respected higher education, Antwerp remains a magnet for people both from within Belgium and from abroad. The commemoration of WWI in Antwerp is an excellent opportunity to build bridges between the past, present and future. Together with many partners, the Vredescentrum welcomes you to an ambitious programme of events. Gilbert Verstraelen, Chairman Vredescentrum Board of Trustees Marleen Van Ouytsel, Director Vredescentrum (in memoriam)

3


Belgium

before the war

The 19th century was characterised by substantial change. The Industrial Revolution and the exploitation of raw materials from the colonies led to a dramatic growth in the world economy. In the early 20th century this also led to international tensions between the superpowers. The world found itself in a state of “armed peace”.

Belgium becomes an economic powerhouse • • • •

• •

Belgium is the first industrialised country on the European continent. The first railway line on the European continent connects Brussels and Mechelen. Antwerp is the world’s largest port, after New York. Mining in Walloonia, the steel industry and the construction of railways, trams and heavy machinery form the three pillars on which the Belgian economy thrives. Belgium is the main hub of European trade and the fourth trading power in the world. The Belgian royal family is closely connected to both the German and the British royal families.

With 7.6 million inhabitants in 1914, Belgium was the world’s most highly populated country. It had more inhabitants even than the Netherlands. Despite the country’s strong economic position, the average standard of living in Belgium was lower than in neighbouring countries. The distribution of wealth was very unequal. Most people lived in villages, small cities and towns. Catholic Flanders was poor. Because they had to go to work in the fields, hundreds of thousands of Flemish children only went to school in the winter. In their search for work, farmers’ 4

sons and day labourers headed for industrial areas. Life in the factories was miserable. This led to a pronounced social struggle against poverty and universal suffrage; at that time for men only. The country had some major faults: the French-speaking, industrialised south was very different from the agricultural Catholic north where Dutch was spoken.

The Brabo Fountain on Antwerp’s main square, the Grote Markt, financed primarily by German merchants

Antwerp: a cosmopolitan city At the beginning of the 20th century, Antwerp was a vibrant city with great appeal. More than thirteen percent of the more than 300 000 inhabitants were of foreign origin. Most immigrants came from the Netherlands. The German community was very well organised and strong socioeconomically: one third of the members of the Chamber of Commerce was of German origin. At the outbreak of war the German citizens of Antwerp were stuck between two sides: were they Belgian or German?

The hotels Wagner and Weber near the opera 5


Belgium

before the war

The 19th century was characterised by substantial change. The Industrial Revolution and the exploitation of raw materials from the colonies led to a dramatic growth in the world economy. In the early 20th century this also led to international tensions between the superpowers. The world found itself in a state of “armed peace”.

Belgium becomes an economic powerhouse • • • •

• •

Belgium is the first industrialised country on the European continent. The first railway line on the European continent connects Brussels and Mechelen. Antwerp is the world’s largest port, after New York. Mining in Walloonia, the steel industry and the construction of railways, trams and heavy machinery form the three pillars on which the Belgian economy thrives. Belgium is the main hub of European trade and the fourth trading power in the world. The Belgian royal family is closely connected to both the German and the British royal families.

With 7.6 million inhabitants in 1914, Belgium was the world’s most highly populated country. It had more inhabitants even than the Netherlands. Despite the country’s strong economic position, the average standard of living in Belgium was lower than in neighbouring countries. The distribution of wealth was very unequal. Most people lived in villages, small cities and towns. Catholic Flanders was poor. Because they had to go to work in the fields, hundreds of thousands of Flemish children only went to school in the winter. In their search for work, farmers’ 4

sons and day labourers headed for industrial areas. Life in the factories was miserable. This led to a pronounced social struggle against poverty and universal suffrage; at that time for men only. The country had some major faults: the French-speaking, industrialised south was very different from the agricultural Catholic north where Dutch was spoken.

The Brabo Fountain on Antwerp’s main square, the Grote Markt, financed primarily by German merchants

Antwerp: a cosmopolitan city At the beginning of the 20th century, Antwerp was a vibrant city with great appeal. More than thirteen percent of the more than 300 000 inhabitants were of foreign origin. Most immigrants came from the Netherlands. The German community was very well organised and strong socioeconomically: one third of the members of the Chamber of Commerce was of German origin. At the outbreak of war the German citizens of Antwerp were stuck between two sides: were they Belgian or German?

The hotels Wagner and Weber near the opera 5


6

The First World War is one of the most dramatic conflicts in history.

• More than 50 countries are involved. • 1.5 billion people - more than 80 percent of the world’s population - are at war with one another. • 70 million military personnel are mobilised, including 60 million Europeans. • More than 9 million soldiers are killed. • The total cost of the war far exceeds $ 200 billion.

The Belgian weapon that unleashes World War I

1914

People move out of the capital, Brussels. The king, the government and the army top brass move to Antwerp.

17 august

Antwerp

The Great War comes to

With possible conflict looming, conscription is extended in August 1913 to one son per family. At the outbreak of the war, it soon becomes clear that the small, poorly armed and scarcely trained Belgian army is no match for the mighty German forces.

Antwerp is the Nationaal Réduit: protected by a double ring of fortifications around the city, it is considered the ultimate safe haven for the government and military. King Albert I moves into the Royal Palace on the Meir. The opera is used by the Belgian House of Commons, the Flemish Theatre becomes the Senate. The General Staff of the Belgian army stays in the Governor’s Palace on the Schoenmarkt.

The German army conquers Liège and for the first time in history, carries out an aerial bombardment on civilian targets.

7 august

Germany declares war on Belgium and crosses the German-Belgian border with several hundred thousand soldiers. Germany only wants to pass through Belgium to be able to attack France (the Schlieffen Plan).

4 august

Germany would like to attack France and advance with its army through neutral Belgium. Belgium refuses free passage.

2 august

Mobilisation of the Belgian army.

31 july

The world is ablaze

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

The ‘new world order’ of American President Wilson is only a distant memory.

In 1839, the Treaty of London recognises Belgium as an independent country. The Treaty includes “armed neutrality” as an obligation. In the case of conflict, Belgium is to maintain a back seat, although it is allowed to defend its borders. In 1909, King Leopold II signs the law on conscription. Initially, the Belgian army recruits its soldiers from volunteers and before 1909 even by drawing straws.

The First World War changes the face of the world. • The technological advances in weaponry and their destructive power are unprecedented. • Never before have so many citizens been mobilised for the war industry. • Never before have so many people sought refuge elsewhere; millions of families are torn apart. • All over the world, the war leads to major political changes and radical revolutions. • The post-war period sees the development of new democracies based on universal suffrage.

28 july

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary – an act committed with a Belgian FN weapon - is the spark that ignites Europe: 62 consecutive declarations of war set Europe ablaze. Even the neutral state of Belgium is dragged into the war. At that time hardly anyone realises that an utterly destructive World War had begun and that it would keep the world in its grip for four long years.

All certainty is blown to smithereens.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo.

28 june

In 1914, there are two opposing camps: the “Entente” with Britain, France and Russia and the Central Powers with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.

breaks out

the European powers

The Great War

The clash between

7


6

The First World War is one of the most dramatic conflicts in history.

• More than 50 countries are involved. • 1.5 billion people - more than 80 percent of the world’s population - are at war with one another. • 70 million military personnel are mobilised, including 60 million Europeans. • More than 9 million soldiers are killed. • The total cost of the war far exceeds $ 200 billion.

The Belgian weapon that unleashes World War I

1914

People move out of the capital, Brussels. The king, the government and the army top brass move to Antwerp.

17 august

Antwerp

The Great War comes to

With possible conflict looming, conscription is extended in August 1913 to one son per family. At the outbreak of the war, it soon becomes clear that the small, poorly armed and scarcely trained Belgian army is no match for the mighty German forces.

Antwerp is the Nationaal Réduit: protected by a double ring of fortifications around the city, it is considered the ultimate safe haven for the government and military. King Albert I moves into the Royal Palace on the Meir. The opera is used by the Belgian House of Commons, the Flemish Theatre becomes the Senate. The General Staff of the Belgian army stays in the Governor’s Palace on the Schoenmarkt.

The German army conquers Liège and for the first time in history, carries out an aerial bombardment on civilian targets.

7 august

Germany declares war on Belgium and crosses the German-Belgian border with several hundred thousand soldiers. Germany only wants to pass through Belgium to be able to attack France (the Schlieffen Plan).

4 august

Germany would like to attack France and advance with its army through neutral Belgium. Belgium refuses free passage.

2 august

Mobilisation of the Belgian army.

31 july

The world is ablaze

Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.

The ‘new world order’ of American President Wilson is only a distant memory.

In 1839, the Treaty of London recognises Belgium as an independent country. The Treaty includes “armed neutrality” as an obligation. In the case of conflict, Belgium is to maintain a back seat, although it is allowed to defend its borders. In 1909, King Leopold II signs the law on conscription. Initially, the Belgian army recruits its soldiers from volunteers and before 1909 even by drawing straws.

The First World War changes the face of the world. • The technological advances in weaponry and their destructive power are unprecedented. • Never before have so many citizens been mobilised for the war industry. • Never before have so many people sought refuge elsewhere; millions of families are torn apart. • All over the world, the war leads to major political changes and radical revolutions. • The post-war period sees the development of new democracies based on universal suffrage.

28 july

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary – an act committed with a Belgian FN weapon - is the spark that ignites Europe: 62 consecutive declarations of war set Europe ablaze. Even the neutral state of Belgium is dragged into the war. At that time hardly anyone realises that an utterly destructive World War had begun and that it would keep the world in its grip for four long years.

All certainty is blown to smithereens.

Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo.

28 june

In 1914, there are two opposing camps: the “Entente” with Britain, France and Russia and the Central Powers with Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.

breaks out

the European powers

The Great War

The clash between

7


1914 8

ren zullen geë erbiedigd worden,indien gij uw onthoudt van alle vijande-lijkheid. Iedere tegens tand zal ges traft wordenvolgens de wetten van den oorlog en kanals gev olg hebben de ver nieling van uwe sch one stad.

Antwerp is bom bed by zeppelin s

The zeppelin bombardments of Antwerp inspire the famous poet Paul Van Ostaijen to create visual poetry.

The Belgian army regroups on the other side the river IJzer.

12 october

Hundreds of thousands of Belgians flee across the Dutch border, including about 33 000 Belgian, German and British soldiers. These soldiers are interned in camps in neutral Netherlands.

10 october

• The

Antwerp refugees on the Dutch border

Den opperbelhebb er van het beleglege r

Antwerp falls into German hands. Belgian army withdraws. The pontoon bridges are blown up. The last Belgian armed forces realise they can no longer get away. Those who want to leave Antwerp The villa ‘Rest and be thankful’ in Kontich head for the Netherlands. • Former Minister Louis Franck and Mayor De Vos meet the German delegation in Kontich. At 5.40pm, the treaty of Kontich is signed: Antwerp surrenders. • German forces enter the abandoned city in the evening. They distribute a warrant Het duitsche leg er treedt uwe stad bin-nen alsover through the German Commander von winnaar. Aan gee n enkele vanuwe bur gers zal kwaad Beseler. ged aan en uwegoede

9 october

The Bombing of Antwerp. German shells fall on the city every three to four minutes for a period of 36 hours. The city is alight and more than a hundred thousand people flee.

8 october

announces more shelling should Antwerp fail to surrender. • At 1.30pm King Albert leaves the city by car and heads west for Sint-Niklaas.. • The field army withdraws over the temporary pontoon bridges at the Steen and in Hoboken / Burcht. The British troops follow the Belgian army. A number of troops also withdraw from the forts.

• Germany

7 october

troops break through the outer ring of fortifications. • After liaising with Churchill, Albert I and his officers decide to leave Antwerp.

• German

6 october

new wave of German soldiers is aiming for Antwerp. • WWinston Churchill arrives in Antwerp with a British Royal Navy Division brigade. He is greeted enthusiastically by the crowds, which in turn fosters hope. Churchill stays at the hotel St. Antoine, on the Groenplaats, where the supermarket Albert Heijn is currently located. • To represent the interests of the population, the civil government establishes an ‘advisory committee’ on 4 October, chaired by Louis Franck.

• A

3 october

The news of a possible surrender of Antwerp reaches London. The then 40-year-old Winston Churchill, First Lord of the The damaged Fo rt of Lier Admiralty, heads for Antwerp to encourage the Belgians to stand firm.

2 october

The fortified rings and the city of Antwerp are shelled. It soon becomes clear that the forts around Antwerp are not a match for the heavy German artillery. The Belgian Supreme Army Command leaves Lier and settles in Antwerp.

28 september

The French army halts the German advance on the Marne. Germany revises its plans and the fortified city of Antwerp becomes a target

9 september

A zeppelin drops bombs on Antwerp. This is the second aerial bombardment on civilian targets in history.

25 august

1914

9


1914 8

ren zullen geë erbiedigd worden,indien gij uw onthoudt van alle vijande-lijkheid. Iedere tegens tand zal ges traft wordenvolgens de wetten van den oorlog en kanals gev olg hebben de ver nieling van uwe sch one stad.

Antwerp is bom bed by zeppelin s

The zeppelin bombardments of Antwerp inspire the famous poet Paul Van Ostaijen to create visual poetry.

The Belgian army regroups on the other side the river IJzer.

12 october

Hundreds of thousands of Belgians flee across the Dutch border, including about 33 000 Belgian, German and British soldiers. These soldiers are interned in camps in neutral Netherlands.

10 october

• The

Antwerp refugees on the Dutch border

Den opperbelhebb er van het beleglege r

Antwerp falls into German hands. Belgian army withdraws. The pontoon bridges are blown up. The last Belgian armed forces realise they can no longer get away. Those who want to leave Antwerp The villa ‘Rest and be thankful’ in Kontich head for the Netherlands. • Former Minister Louis Franck and Mayor De Vos meet the German delegation in Kontich. At 5.40pm, the treaty of Kontich is signed: Antwerp surrenders. • German forces enter the abandoned city in the evening. They distribute a warrant Het duitsche leg er treedt uwe stad bin-nen alsover through the German Commander von winnaar. Aan gee n enkele vanuwe bur gers zal kwaad Beseler. ged aan en uwegoede

9 october

The Bombing of Antwerp. German shells fall on the city every three to four minutes for a period of 36 hours. The city is alight and more than a hundred thousand people flee.

8 october

announces more shelling should Antwerp fail to surrender. • At 1.30pm King Albert leaves the city by car and heads west for Sint-Niklaas.. • The field army withdraws over the temporary pontoon bridges at the Steen and in Hoboken / Burcht. The British troops follow the Belgian army. A number of troops also withdraw from the forts.

• Germany

7 october

troops break through the outer ring of fortifications. • After liaising with Churchill, Albert I and his officers decide to leave Antwerp.

• German

6 october

new wave of German soldiers is aiming for Antwerp. • WWinston Churchill arrives in Antwerp with a British Royal Navy Division brigade. He is greeted enthusiastically by the crowds, which in turn fosters hope. Churchill stays at the hotel St. Antoine, on the Groenplaats, where the supermarket Albert Heijn is currently located. • To represent the interests of the population, the civil government establishes an ‘advisory committee’ on 4 October, chaired by Louis Franck.

• A

3 october

The news of a possible surrender of Antwerp reaches London. The then 40-year-old Winston Churchill, First Lord of the The damaged Fo rt of Lier Admiralty, heads for Antwerp to encourage the Belgians to stand firm.

2 october

The fortified rings and the city of Antwerp are shelled. It soon becomes clear that the forts around Antwerp are not a match for the heavy German artillery. The Belgian Supreme Army Command leaves Lier and settles in Antwerp.

28 september

The French army halts the German advance on the Marne. Germany revises its plans and the fortified city of Antwerp becomes a target

9 september

A zeppelin drops bombs on Antwerp. This is the second aerial bombardment on civilian targets in history.

25 august

1914

9


1914

The principal politicians in Antwerp

The advance of the German army

The first line of defence around Antwerp - the outer belt of fortifications - is 95 kilometres long and consists of 36 forts, with smaller hamlets in between and areas that can be flooded.

towards Antwerp

’s Gravenwezel

King Albert I

Kessel Oelegem

Broechem

Koningshooikt Flooded area St-Katelijne-Waver

Lieutenant-General Victor Deguise

LIER German Commander Hans von Beseler

Fort 1

zeppelin air raid

Fort 2 Fort 3

ANTWERP Flooded area

Fort 4

The second ring of forts around the city - the inner belt - is 29 kilometres long and numbers 29 forts, including the Brialmont forts. Fort 5

Fort 6

Air raid 8-9 October: Inner ring of forts no longer holds

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill

10

KONTICH 9 October: the treaty of Kontich is signed

At the outbreak of the war, the fortified rings are not quite ready. And yet everyone assumes that Antwerp is an impregnable fortress. The first ring is broken in a matter of days.

Mayor Jan De Vos Former Minister Louis Franck

After a siege of only 13 days Antwerp is in German hands.

Fort 7 Captain-Commander Virgile PiĂŠrard

Fort 8

7-9 October: withdrawal of the Belgian army Flooded area

Flooded area

Flooded area Kruibeke Zwijndrecht

11


1914

The principal politicians in Antwerp

The advance of the German army

The first line of defence around Antwerp - the outer belt of fortifications - is 95 kilometres long and consists of 36 forts, with smaller hamlets in between and areas that can be flooded.

towards Antwerp

’s Gravenwezel

King Albert I

Kessel Oelegem

Broechem

Koningshooikt Flooded area St-Katelijne-Waver

Lieutenant-General Victor Deguise

LIER German Commander Hans von Beseler

Fort 1

zeppelin air raid

Fort 2 Fort 3

ANTWERP Flooded area

Fort 4

The second ring of forts around the city - the inner belt - is 29 kilometres long and numbers 29 forts, including the Brialmont forts. Fort 5

Fort 6

Air raid 8-9 October: Inner ring of forts no longer holds

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill

10

KONTICH 9 October: the treaty of Kontich is signed

At the outbreak of the war, the fortified rings are not quite ready. And yet everyone assumes that Antwerp is an impregnable fortress. The first ring is broken in a matter of days.

Mayor Jan De Vos Former Minister Louis Franck

After a siege of only 13 days Antwerp is in German hands.

Fort 7 Captain-Commander Virgile PiĂŠrard

Fort 8

7-9 October: withdrawal of the Belgian army Flooded area

Flooded area

Flooded area Kruibeke Zwijndrecht

11


Panic in the city

Luggage left behind on the quays in Antwerp.

12

THE FLIGHT OF A HUNDRED THOUSAND

““The steam ferry worked all night to bring masses of terrified refugees to the other side of the Scheldt and the military pontoon bridge supported a seem ingly never-ending train packed with cars, carriages and munitions wagons. After the German Commander Von Beseler had sent a member of parl iament to the Commander of the fort ress for a second time, demanding surrend er, a demand which was rejected, the bom-

bardment resumed with unabate d fury. South of the city munitions stoc ks exploded, and in the harbour area of the city and close to the Palace of Justice, more fires broke out under the intense shelling. Still capable of greatnes s as well as tragedy, Antwerp was reso lutely defended.”

“I walked through the garden, onto the road and witnessed the continuous procession of refugees, the sheer misery of it! Horses and carts, handcarts and bicycles sped past, ushered by an approaching storm; flocks of slowly moving cattle and crowds of frightened men, mothers dragging crying children with both hands, sons transporting a lame or sick father in a wheelbarrow, hordes of people pulling and pushing carts, piled with a few chairs, a table, a mattress, a stove, a birdcage. Men with worn-out shoes or barefoot, women with crooked high heels and flowery summer hats on heads with loose hair, absurd. I stood watching, transfixed and started to cry. These were my people fleeing by the thousand, hastening, their faces ruddy with exertion. They hurried like hunted animals escaping certain, imminent death, as if the Germans were chasing them, hard on their heels. Their fixed, empty gaze, their heads bowed as if the sky was about to collapse under the weight of earthly events. The ongoing muffled rumble of German heavy artillery in the distance. I thought of the other thousands of refugees who at that very moment were struggling to find their way through Flanders, heading for the sea. Half a million people without any shelter amid the clamour of a retreating, exhausted army and slowly progressing war vehicles.” Diary excerpts Jozef Muls, 1914

‘Refugees’ H. Prat

hotels were ““All shops, pubs and landscape, te ola des closed. In this rlei and ize Ke the d I approache Whiiiiiz, I crossed the boulevard. ... a mere ere halted, terrified. Th a grename m fro 200 meters away of the dle mid the in ded de had lan I was As boulevard. I hurried away. te, Ver ce Pla about to turn into the

d behind there was another loud thu right bethe me. On the Meir, on where t, raa nst nde fore the Vierwi pped dro n bee had b bom a recently tile jec pro from a zeppelin, another woed, tter sha s fell. Shop window eascr ay, aw ran en men and childr ” ed. und wo re we n me few ming. A

13


Panic in the city

Luggage left behind on the quays in Antwerp.

12

THE FLIGHT OF A HUNDRED THOUSAND

““The steam ferry worked all night to bring masses of terrified refugees to the other side of the Scheldt and the military pontoon bridge supported a seem ingly never-ending train packed with cars, carriages and munitions wagons. After the German Commander Von Beseler had sent a member of parl iament to the Commander of the fort ress for a second time, demanding surrend er, a demand which was rejected, the bom-

bardment resumed with unabate d fury. South of the city munitions stoc ks exploded, and in the harbour area of the city and close to the Palace of Justice, more fires broke out under the intense shelling. Still capable of greatnes s as well as tragedy, Antwerp was reso lutely defended.”

“I walked through the garden, onto the road and witnessed the continuous procession of refugees, the sheer misery of it! Horses and carts, handcarts and bicycles sped past, ushered by an approaching storm; flocks of slowly moving cattle and crowds of frightened men, mothers dragging crying children with both hands, sons transporting a lame or sick father in a wheelbarrow, hordes of people pulling and pushing carts, piled with a few chairs, a table, a mattress, a stove, a birdcage. Men with worn-out shoes or barefoot, women with crooked high heels and flowery summer hats on heads with loose hair, absurd. I stood watching, transfixed and started to cry. These were my people fleeing by the thousand, hastening, their faces ruddy with exertion. They hurried like hunted animals escaping certain, imminent death, as if the Germans were chasing them, hard on their heels. Their fixed, empty gaze, their heads bowed as if the sky was about to collapse under the weight of earthly events. The ongoing muffled rumble of German heavy artillery in the distance. I thought of the other thousands of refugees who at that very moment were struggling to find their way through Flanders, heading for the sea. Half a million people without any shelter amid the clamour of a retreating, exhausted army and slowly progressing war vehicles.” Diary excerpts Jozef Muls, 1914

‘Refugees’ H. Prat

hotels were ““All shops, pubs and landscape, te ola des closed. In this rlei and ize Ke the d I approache Whiiiiiz, I crossed the boulevard. ... a mere ere halted, terrified. Th a grename m fro 200 meters away of the dle mid the in ded de had lan I was As boulevard. I hurried away. te, Ver ce Pla about to turn into the

d behind there was another loud thu right bethe me. On the Meir, on where t, raa nst nde fore the Vierwi pped dro n bee had b bom a recently tile jec pro from a zeppelin, another woed, tter sha s fell. Shop window eascr ay, aw ran en men and childr ” ed. und wo re we n me few ming. A

13


Antwerp builds bridges