A plaque on the wall of the Kombi Bar at Rue Haute 60 in Brussels celebrates a strange mock funeral procession that began on this spot on 10 June 1945. A local volunteer called Philippe Lemaître lay in a coffin dressed as Adolf Hitler, who had committed suicide ten days earlier.
Surrounded by a wild crowd, the coffin was carried on a cart through the streets of the Marolles neighbourhood accompanied by fake German troops forming a guard of honour.
The Marolles had a large Jewish population before the German army marched into the city in 1940. Estimated at about 4,000, the Jewish population was mainly made up of refugees who scraped a living doing odd jobs. The police rounded up 718 Jews on a single morning in 1942. Most did not survive.
A walk around the Marolles reveals a large number of small brass plaques set in the pavement. Known as Stolpersteine, or stumbling stones, they mark the last homes of murdered Jews.
Derek Blyth’s hidden secret of the day: Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling “The 500 Hidden Secrets of Belgium”. He picks out one of his favourite hidden secrets for The Brussels Times every day.