On Sunday, precisely one century passed since the end of the war and a series of events throughout Leuven were coordinated to mark the day. Leuven and its citizens were deeply injured by the war and the events at the end of the week commemorated what was lost while also honoring reconciliation with former foes.
After the German forces occupied Leuven, they accused the local citizens of firing on German troops and acting as partisans. In what the Germans called retaliation, they burned over one thousand homes and executed hundreds of citizens including clergy, the elderly, women, and children. Infamously, the University Library was also burned along with much of its contents. Today memorial stones carved with swords, a torch, and the coat of arms of Leuven adorn the facades of many buildings throughout Leuven, indicating that they had been lost in the war and rebuilt thereafter. Martelarenplein, the square and monument outside the station is a memorial to all those lost to the war. The new library on Ladeuzeplein, built after the war, features extensive artistic allusions to the war and particularly those, like the United States, who helped to rebuild it. The face of Leuven today is heavily shaped by the destruction of the war and the desire to rebuild and remember.
The face of Leuven today is heavily shaped by the destruction of the war and the desire to rebuild and remember
On November the 11th, Leuven begin the day with the laying of flowers at the monument to martyrs on Martelarenplein beginning at 10am. At 11am Abdij van het Park had a carillon concert like many bell towers throughout Belgium. Furthermore, Abdij van het Park was open for free walking tours and featured more carillon concerts throughout the day at 2, 3 and 4 o’clock. Abdij van het Park also had stalls selling food and an exhibition titled “Religion, Healing, and Distributing.” Lastly, at Sint-Pieterskerk on the Grote Markt at 8pm there was a concert featuring a choir from Leuven and one from Germany.
For more information regarding these events, visit the city website.
For tickets to the concert, visit the Leuven Tourism Office, opening hours and more information click here.