Travel back one hundred years and discover what life was like for Belgians under German occupation.
The First World War Experience Centre is a small, modern and very well presented interactive exhibition. It’s located in the village of Tildonk, about 10 km north-west of Leuven. Its specific objective is to present what life was like for locals during the occupation of Belgium by the German Army in the Great War.
You can read personal diaries, and listen to testimonies and anecdotes from civilians. You learn how people tried to go about their daily business as much as possible, such as coping with food shortages and malnutrition. Photos, maps and artifacts are on display but are not overwhelming.
It also gives a broader picture, explaining the timeline of
the war, what was the aim of the German Army, the troop movements, and the violence
that led to hundreds of innocent citizens being killed.
The information panels in the Experience Centre are only
available in Dutch. However, audio and video clips can be listened to or viewed
in different languages. And you can request an excellent booklet in English, French
or German that explains everything on display.
A short photo summary of the centre
Much of Belgium’s resources – from potatoes to horses, coal to copper – was sent back to Germany. This led to four years of poverty and famine. So what do you eat if there is hardly anything to eat?