Wednesday, 27 June 2012

What Lies Beneath

I have some time to spare so, to distract myself from the nerves, here is something interesting:

You know I go on, and on, about the murdery cellar?  Well, I was googling my local area and it turns out that about fifteen minutes walk from here, on the Avenue Louise, is the building which was Brussels' Nazi HQ during the Second World War.  And they really did have quite a murdery cellar.  My grasp of history is so poor I didn't even realise Brussels was occupied during the war.

On 20 January 1943, Jean de Sélys Longchamps, a Belgian (born in Brussels) who had become a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force, mounted a solo attack on the headquarters at number 453.  Benefiting from the wide avenues, and the large height of the apartment block relative to the neighbouring buildings, he flew his Hawker Typhoon at a low altitude straight towards the building, firing the plane's 20mm cannons, before returning to England.

Following this attack, the Sicherheitsdienst moved their headquarters to number 347 Avenue Louise. The cellars at this address were used to detain and interrogate captured members of the Belgian resistance. The torture which took place here brought the name of Avenue Louise considerable infamy at the time.

The only evidence now of the Gestapo's presence on Avenue Louise is a monument to Baron de Selys Longchamps.  I suppose that is quite a normal response.  It probably isn't something in the tourist guides.


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