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Oudenaarde, a Town under fire : exhibition and town walk home


Oudenaarde, stad onder vuur

27 April till 30 November 2014

During the Great War (1914-1918) the trench war divided Belgium into two parts. While the soldiers at the Yser front fought for their country, people in the occupied areas fought for four long years to survive. Oudenaarde withered under the military presence of the German troops. For its inhabitants it was a daily search for ways and means to keep afloat. Some brave citizens tried to help the allies on the path to victory. With the help of the American Army the Belgian, British and French troops left their trenches in the autumn of 1918. On 1 November the allied troops reached the banks of the Scheldt near Oudenaarde. During the Battle of the Scheldt the Americans succeeded in establishing a bridgehead across the Scheldt. The German retaliation was furious. Oudenaarde and the surrounding area came under heavy fire. The guns fell silent just before the liberation on 11 November.

As part of the commemorations of the First World War 2014-2018 the MOU launches the project “Oudenaarde, a town under fire” on 27 April, focusing on the story of the town and its inhabitants.

The Exhibition

The exhibition “Oudenaarde, a town under fire” tells the story of Oudenaarde during World War I by means of human interest stories.
Four themes enable privileged witnesses of that period to tell their stories. Besides the commander of the German troops, the then mayor, Paul Raepsaet, describes everyday life in Oudenaarde.During World War I there were also brave citizens who spied and passed on information to the allied troops. Joseph Braet and Irma Pharazyn belonged to that group of spies. Finally the soldiers themselves tell us about the liberation during the ‘Battle of the Scheldt’ in November 1918. The stories of the American soldiers read like a thrilling war novel full of heroism.

The Town Walk

This fascinating walk tells you the story of the town during WW I. Old photographs show the devastation and the human suffering.