An open-air exhibition in Antwerp will show off never before seen photos as part of a commemoration of the first V-bomb to hit the city, 77 years ago.
The free exhibition, held on Schildersstraat for the next 2 weeks, contains new visuals from the event and includes what is thought to be the first pictures taken after the impact.
“The photos that have now surfaced after all these years were probably taken by a Polish liberator,” explained Koen Palinckx, chairman of the War Heritage Institute. “He probably had the feeling that he was witnessing something historical, since he took fifteen photographs at once and the same spot, which was exceptional for that time. It is unique footage, because very few photos were taken in the middle of the action.”
A total of 32 people were killed and 46 wounded in the attack on 13 October 1944, which came just over a month after Antwerp was liberated from German occupiers on 4 September.
The first of these V bombs, a 14 metre long V2, landed on the corner of the Schildersstraat and the Karel Rogierstraat, near the KMSKA, on 13 October around a quarter to ten in the morning.
The attack also destroyed 15 houses and damaged 500 buildings.
“Today, we commemorated the victims of the first V-bomb attack in Antwerp, now 77 years ago,” Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever said. “We were able to invite one of the survivors, Louisa Rousselle. She survived the blast and still carries the scars. Her father died instantly. We also commemorate him, as one of the 19,000 deceased whose names we have already unlocked via the Antwerp Names Project on the website Antwerp Remembers.”
The website describes also the collaboration on local level with the Nazi-German occupation force, especially during 1942, “The year of silence”, when Belgian authorities kept silent about the Nazi persecutions of Jewish people.
The exhibition was set up in cooperation with the Remembrance Society 1st V-bomb Antwerp. Each photo is accompanied by an explanation of the people pictured and the services and professional groups involved in the relief effort.