Brussels and the First World War

Brussels and the First World War

During the First World War, Brussels was the sole European capital that was made to endure the 5 long years of the occupation. Unlike other parts of the country, Brussels did not suffer any major battles or ravages. But that did not make the impact of the war any less on the Brussels residents: the rationing and the goods and properties that were commandeered made their mark on people's everyday lives. Citizens got involved in the war effort, by tending to the wounded, but some also took up arms against the occupier by joining the resistance. As such, some of these men and women went down in history as heroes. With the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the capital of Brussels is the only location where national homage is paid to the victims of the First World War.

It is important that we keep alive the memory of what the war entailed: how was life in a town under military occupation and what kind of impact did the war have on society in the early part of the 20th century?

The commemorations of the First World War in the Brussels Capital Region are a good opportunity to draw attention to the timeless nature of values such as freedom, solidarity, social cohesion, fatherland, independence and democracy, which were central to this first worldwide conflict. This is why the Great War should forever remain a foundation of tomorrow's democracy. The idea is to collectively draw lessons from the First World War and to continue to build a democratic Europe for which Brussels is proud to serve as its Capital.

The Agenda section rounds up all the events set to take place in and around Brussels in remembrance of World War I.

The section ‘1914-18 in pictures’ provides the historical background of the events surrounding the First World War in Brussels: key dates, monuments, Brussels residents that played a major role during the war, ... All of which gives visitors the essential background information needed to have a better understanding of what life was like in times of occupation

There’s also an overview of the First World War guided tours available.

Want to go out and explore on your own? VisitBrussels has produced a themed mini map that provides a run-down of all the emblematic locations and monuments that commemorate the events that took place in Brussels during the First World War. The mini map is available in Dutch, French, English and German for just € 0.50 at all VISITBRUSSELS tourist offices as from the end of August 2014. This walk is also available as a mobile app.