World War 2
Here is the History of Belgium and Antwerp during World War II. We still honor the British, Canadian and Polish and the soldiers that lost their lives around Antwerp! A memorial can be visited next to the Steen Castle.
Germany attacked Belgium on the 10th of May. Within the first hours, the complete Belgium air force was destroyed and Belgium would be occupied by Germany until the 1st of October 1944.
225.000 Belgium soldiers were deported to Germany - 700.00 of them would stay in prison until after the World War.
The king was captured and could not leave the country. The ministers founded a temporary government and stayed in London.
In 1942, Germany forced 500.000 men between 18 and 50 years old to work in the war industry of Germany. Many refused and hid but most of the desperate starving citizens accepted to work.
Since 1942, the opposition against Germany in occupied Belgium grew and secret terroristic resistance groups (we call them heroes) made live for Germans in Belgium very difficult.
The resistance saved more then 50 percent of the Jewish population. A lot better more then in the surrounding countries.
In 1943, Antwerp suffered from friendly fire. The allies attacked Antwerp in order to cripple the war industry here. Mortsel and Antwerp North suffered a lot and counted many casualties. The bunker museum has an exposition dedicated to this event.
When Germany felt that it was losing the ‘krieg’, Antwerp was bombed with V1’s and V2’s. As most men were out of town working or deported, mainly woman were responsible for the protection of the city. V1’s were easy to bring down. They whistled when they were dropped and they could be seen with the naked eye and most of those were destroyed before they hit even target.
The V2’s were to fast though. When you heard them - that was probably the last thing you’d hear.
World War II: On 24 February 1944, the Germans flooded the area of Oosterweel to stop the allies. It would be very effective. It would take them eight months to capture the city. The 4th of September, Antwerp was liberated! The World War was over!
Or not... The next three months Germany would drop hundreds of V1 and V2 bombs over the city. Many streets were completely destroyed and never rebuilt. Squares as the ‘ Theater plein - in front of the theatre and de vrijdagmarkt are silent witnesses of the bombing.
Thousand of people lost their lives during those months.
On 27 November 1944, a V2 hits the ‘De Keyserlei” killing 157 people at once. The ugly tower is exactly the spot were it fell. The victims were mainly visitors of the cinema REX who just left the movies after the show.
The last bomb would fall the 30th of March 1945. In total more then 2.000 bombs were dropped on the city killing almost 4000 persons. 5.000 houses were completely destroyed and 60.000 damaged.
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