On Saturday, the NCPGR Meensel-Kiezegem '44 paid a visit to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. The commemorative trips to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial have been taking place for 20 years.
Hundreds of citizens of Meensel, Kiezegem and surrounding places in the Tielt-Winge municipality and beyond have traveled to Hamburg to commemorate the 71 victims of the raids, who were deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp in August 1944. This shows that even more than 70 years later, the history lives on in these villages, where almost every family suffered a loss.
In two raids on August 1st and 11th, 1944, the SS, supported by Flemish SS units, deported all male inhabitants of the two villages of Meensel and Kiezegem aged between 18 and 65. This campaign was intended as an act of revenge and reprisal following the murder of a Belgian Nazi collaborator. Only eight of them survived their imprisonment in the concentration camp and returned home.
A commemorative ceremony took place at the memorial sculpture entitled Despair by May Claerhout and at the commemorative plaque at the site of the demolished crematorium. Vital Craenickx, Octaaf Duerinckx and Detlef Garbe addressed the audience. The monument is dedicated to the murdered villagers, their mothers and widows. It shows a mourning woman who, after the deportation of her husband, has to bear the responsibility for house and child alone.