Brussels, Belgium

Jazz Night

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Our first night in Brussels, we received a strong recommendation to go check out The Music Village. Here we had more Belgian beer, good food and heard some good Jazz music.

Grand Place

Grand Place is the centre of the city, with the Kings house on one side, city hall on the other, and of course the countries main brewery right beside it. Brussels is the capital of the European Union, being a central state and having many attempted take overs, this neutral country that is always ready to stand up for itself was a natural choice.

 Model of Brussels as a medieval, walled city

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The Comic Book Museum

Walking around Brussels, you can often find signs of the art work originating there.

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Belgium is the home to many great cartoonists and many great cartoons. The Comic Book Museum starts showing the hard work involved in creating such pieces and shows visitors many of the famous cartoons and their characters. From Tinitin, to the Smurfs to Asterix and Obelix and Bill et Boule this museum has everything! There is even mention of Canada in these Boerke Cartoons!

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Just as this example, these would often end gruesomely, here is one example.

Some of the other characters at the museum.

Manneken-Pis

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The first time we went by the little peeing boy, he was dressed in this fancy costume. We did go by once more, however it seemed rude to take pictures of him with nothing on. Manneken-Pis is the mascot of Brussels often dressed in costume, to some people it is the equivalent of The Statue of Liberty is to New York or Big Ben is to London! Here are some of the many outfits he has had over the years.

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The Brussels museum had a section remembering the war, in this section they had old news papers, cartoons and many fascinating stories highlighting the humour and bravery of the people of Belgium, of course, this included their favourite peeing boy.

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This cartoon shows Manneken-Pis relieving himself on the German soldiers and at the bottom says “Belgiums response to the ultimatum.” Obviously, they were not very happy about anyone coming in to try and sweep them away. The following cartoons follow this same idea.

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This one showing the Germans on their way towards Belgium, full speed ahead thinking there would not be much ahead, this small porcupine being an interesting form of foreshadowing for what would happen next.

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“Always watch out for the little ones.” Showing “Little Belgium” slicing through the giant “German” arm, reaching for the Eiffel tower.

These were the beginnings of the stories of Belgian bravery shown in World War one. The Germans were convinced the war was about to start and knew that they were surrounded by the French and the Russians. They thought that the Russians would be slow to get the troops to the front, and so if they sent most of their troops to France they could take the country in six weeks! They would then be able to turn around and take on Russia with their full force. One difficult part of this plan was that the Germans knew that most of the French troops would be on the border between those two countries. The solution to that was to go through Belgium (a neutral country) and outflank the French soldiers. The Germans never considered however that the Belgians would fight back. This would also cause the English to get involved. The Belgians held off the Germans for six weeks. This gave the French and the English time to get their armies in place. To this day, the Belgians are very proud of their Grandparents and Grandparents Grandparents who fought off the “invincible” German army and helped save so many countries from what could have been German dominance.

For a MUCH more detailed account of this story visit http://www.dancarlin.com/hardcore-history-53-blueprint-for-armageddon-iv/ where Dan Carlin recounts how small little Belgium held up the Great German army.

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This cartoon showing the important things during war times, comparing food to diamonds.

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During the war, Belgium was starting to run low on supplies. Americans would often send over potatoes and many other things. Here is an example of Belgian creativity and thankfulness! After the wars they thought a good use for all the potato sacs would be to send them back to give thanks to the Americans for all they did.

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Farm life, before, during and after the war. Food became in desperate demand by the end of the war. Anyone still farming by this point was already starting to enjoy the benefit of their hard work, but it was really after the war that some of these hard working farmers were able to enjoy the product of their labour.

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A very interesting interpretation of the war as each countries mascot is depicted “Killing that Eagle”, at this time, the eagle representing Germany.

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And of course, Manneken-Pis is back, peeing on the German soldiers, this time as they run home.

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This image is Manneken-Pis’ diploma of French knighthood. The small boy has had an adventurous life over the centuries having been stolen on several occasions but he always found his way home. In 1745, he was stolen by a French soldier, much to the annoyance of the local citizens. To make amends King Louis XV knighted Manneken Pis with the result that French soldiers had to salute the statue when they walked past it!

In an ironic twist, the oldest costume the boy owns is given to him by King Louis XV, he was also given English and French uniforms after the war to commemorate his efforts (and those of the Belgian people).

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This war truly was a World War. These posters show the expanse of the involvement of different countries in the world, many of which at the time were colonies to the few countries truly involved. The greens are the Allied Nations (England, France, Russia) the orange are sided with the Central powers (Germany, Austria).

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