Liberation Garden, a new museum dedicated to the Second World War, opened on Friday in Leopoldsburg in the province of Limburg.
Limburg, in Flanders, was an area that played an important role during the war and remains an important garrison of the Belgian Army today.
The museum is housed in the Chinese Pavilion, a completely renovated historic officers’ villa dating from 1869.
The opening was attended by the mayor of the municipality, Wouter Beke, and was accompanied by a flight of two F-16 fighter planes and a Spitfire, a British fighter plane from the Second World War.
The museum’s management, headed by historian Peter Schrijvers, hopes to attract 50,000 visitors a year.
After visiting the museum, tourists can walk or cycle through a green area rich in military heritage, the “Oosthoek” of the Second World War, which includes several military cemeteries where some 100,000 victims of the conflict are buried.
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Leopoldsburg has been known since 1835 as the site of the Beverloo camp, one of the largest in the Belgian Armed Forces.
The municipality played an important role during the Second World War. Tens of thousands of German soldiers were trained here before being sent all over Europe. Thousands of political prisoners and resistance fighters were also detained on the site.
During Operation Market Garden, many military hospitals were established there to treat thousands of American, British and Polish wounded. The airborne operation was one of the largest in history, carried out in 1944 by the Allies in the Netherlands to hasten the end of the war.