Today at noon, two attentive visitors at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial noticed that the bronze statue "The Despair of Meensel-Kiezegem", which commemorates the victims of Meensel-Kiezegem in the memorial grove of the memorial site, had been knocked over.
The monument, created by artist May Claerhout, is dedicated to the murdered residents and their mothers and widows. It shows a grieving woman who has to bear the responsibility for her house and child alone after her husband's deportation. The SS deported all the male inhabitants of the two villages of Meensel and Kiezegem during two raids in August 1944. 71 men were transported to Neuengamme concentration camp on the last deportation trains from Belgium. Only eight survived the concentration camp imprisonment and returned.
Currently, the international "Forum for the Future of Remembrance" is being held at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. As the congress of the Amicale Internationale KZ Neuengamme, with delegations of relatives from many countries, are also meeting in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial on Friday, many relatives are currently on site. We will have the statue put up again as soon as possible.
Freddy Duerinckx, son of a Belgian deportee from Meensel-Kiezegem to Neuengamme and vice-president of NCPGR Meensel-Kiezegem '44 (Nationale Confederatie van Politieke Gevangenen & Rechthebbenden): "It is very emotional for me. I see my mother in the statue. We erected the statue here in 1998. Every year a delegation from Meensel-Kiezegem comes to honour the mothers and the victims. I cannot understand the act. Vandalism shows no respect for the victims."
Dr Oliver von Wrochem, Board of Directors of the Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Sites Commemorating the Victims of Nazi Crimes: "We condemn the intentional damage to the memorial for the victims from Meensel-Kiezegem. We are very concerned that our Belgian guests are confronted with such an act of destruction. The police are investigating whether this was a political act or vandalism."
Update 18.11.2022: We are happy to confirm, that the statue could be put up again.