Remembering those who died on the Belgian-Franco border

Led by a duty to honour history and memory, Belgian and French communities have marked the centenary of a much forgotten battle that took place across the Franco-Belgian border in August 1914.

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Children partake in a remembrance ceremony at l'Orée de la Forêt – Rossignol cemetery in Belgium.  © P. Labranche Children partake in a remembrance ceremony at l'Orée de la Forêt – Rossignol cemetery in Belgium. © P. Labranche

" As well as creating a myriad of communications tools, the project team comprising 18 partners, created vital links between communities in the neighbouring villages in both the Belgian and French regions where these terrible chapters in history left their mark in so many different ways. "

Caroline Toussaint, Administration Communale de Virton

During the Battle of the Borders, German and French troops clashed in Southern Belgium and Lorraine in France. Tens of thousands of soldiers from both sides were killed or put out of action, hundreds of innocent civilians died, while many towns were destroyed.

The cross-border cooperation project: ‘Chemin de la Mémoire: sur les traces de la bataille des frontières d’août 1914’ (Memory paths: In the footsteps of the Battle of the Borders in August 1914) gives visitors the chance to discover the many aspects of the battle by walking around the area where the fighting actually took place.

Detailed walking trails

In order to prepare for the centenary, the project team renovated key military and rural heritage sites such as the Latour Museum. Ten walking trails were built, each with ample signage to guide the visitor. In-depth details on each trail were provided in both a brochure and a detailed map.
A dedicated website tells the tourists more about the origins and consequences of this conflict as well as the hardship suffered by those living in surrounding villages. A mobile phone application was developed to help visitors prepare their trip in advance and guide them along the trails. An educational book was also published, giving students and children the chance to discover the cross-border region by revisiting the border wars.

Learning from history

Over the course of 2014, 56 commemorative events were held to mark the centenary in both regions. In addition, some 840 French and 720 Belgian students learned about the battle through associations in their respective countries.  Meanwhile, it is reported that 520 students visited the Latour museum.
Crucially, the project has managed to build much closer links between village communities in both countries, where these terrible events left so many negative traces.

The regional economies in both France and Belgium have benefited due to an increased tourist interest in the area. One temporary job was created over the course of the project

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the “Chemin de la Mémoire: Sur les traces de la bataille des frontières d’août 1914” project is EUR 2 008 865, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 1 004 433 from the Operational Programme INTERREG IVA “Grande Région” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date