Foreword By Geert Bourgeois

The whole world, and Flanders in particular, is commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War. More than nine million soldiers from about fifty modern-day nations did not survive the ‘Great War’. 600,000 soldiers and civilians lost their lives in our country, among whom 550,000 in the Westhoek region, also known as Flanders Fields.

Flanders experienced all aspects of this first global conflict first-hand: the invasion, the occupation, the four-year trench war and, finally, the liberation. To this day, the Great War lives on in our collective memory.

The Government of Flanders is actively engaged in the Great War commemoration. In doing so, it builds on the efforts made during the past years. One century later, we wish to commemorate the victims of this war and condemn senseless war violence. The commemoration is an excellent opportunity to ensure the sustainable preservation of our war heritage for future generations.

As coordinator of ‘The Great War Centenary (2014-18)’, I have the pleasure of presenting to you the Government of Flanders’ project for the commemoration of the First World War centenary. This brochure* explains the project’s vision and provides an overview of the activities for each policy area: foreign policy, tourism, culture and media, heritage conservation, education, mobility, nature and forests, agriculture, etc. The remembrance project in all its facets is a unique spearhead in the Government of Flanders’ policy for the next few years.

In a serene manner we also want to acquaint young people with the horrific events that took place one century ago and their consequences, and to make them reflect on war and peace.

We want to show people what happened during the war and make them understand. In commemoration of those who died, so those who commemorate them may learn from it.

Geert Bourgeois

*Click here to download the full PDF of The Great War Centenary (2014-18).