Niharika Shukla – New Delhi
A century ago, soldiers from more than 50 countries fought the World War I in Flanders. A seminar was organised by Visit Flanders and VISITBRUSSELS on World War I Rememberance 2014-2018 in New Delhi recently. Lead by Princess Astrid, the seminar was held as part of the official programme of the visiting Belgian Economic Mission. The seminar brought into light the plans for the four-year rememberance project called the Great War Centenry 2014-2018 which has been set up by the government of Flanders. A monument at the Menin Gate in Leper has been erected in honour of the 7000 soldiers who lost their lives during the war. Accompanying the princess were Didier Reynders, deputy prime minister and federal minister of foreign affairs, Foreign Trade; Kris Peeters, minister-president, Government of Flanders, flemish minister for economy, foreign policy, agriculture and rural policy. Alain Hutchinson, president, VISITBRUSSELS; Peter De Wilde, CEO, Visit Flanders and Patrick Bontinck, CEO, VISITBRUSSELS and others.
“Indian soldiers played a major role during the World War I and the centenary provides with an appropriate occassion to pay homage to the brave soldiers who lost their lives during the great war. We are looking forward to welcome a big amount of visitors from India to pay tribute to these soldiers and visit the sites and attend the cultural programmes and exhibitions which will be a part of the commemoration programme. We have been making all the efforts to make sure that an appropriate tribute is provided to the victims of the war and their descendants,” said Wilde.
At least two million additional visitors are being expected by Visit Flanders in the next four years. Visit Flanders has invested 15 million euros in a total of 44 museums, visitor centres and other World War I sites across Flanders. Some of the important sites in Flanders remembering the war include In flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery Visitor Center, Talbot House, The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917, the Goose Foot Complex in Nieuwpoort and Museum aan de Ijzer in Yser Tower. Other than these some of the unique exhibitions, musicial and cultural performances and artistic projects will also be held as part of the commemoration.
The Great War Centenary aspires to commemorate the victims of the war, contemplate peace and encourage understanding. The region’s landscape speaks the story of the war through hundreds of monuments and cemeteries of great historical significance.