1. a.     An exceptional commemorative context: the centenery of the First World War

This documentary-fiction film was made in the exceptional context of the centenery of the First World War, without doubt the most important international, worldwide commemoration of our era, which has mobilised a diverse range of government remembrance resources.

  1. b.     What was special about Liège in a world at war?

The Great War began in the Province of Liège. The first casualty of the First World War was killed on its territory. Liège was the scene of the drama, the brutalisation of the twentieth century. The people of Liège were hit by the full force of the German assault, which struck both the recently mobilised Belgian soldiers as well as the civilians massacred in cold blood. However, Liège offered unexpected and heroic resistance to what was then the biggest army in the world, some 800,000 troops, who had violated Belgian neutrality without declaring war.

Loncin Fort became a symbol: it was beseiged and did not surrender.

In the wider context of the Great War, these events in August 1914 were short and densely packed and traumatised the population more than ever before. They were flashed around the world, which was shocked at what had happened to “Poor Little Belgium” and surprised by the fighting spirit of the Belgian army led by King Albert I.

The Liège region, like the other provinces of Belgium, then suffered under a brutal military occupation for four years, when daily life was difficult and the population experienced “total war”. The Belgian soldiers on the Western Front were cut off from their families in the rest of Belgium, behind the German front line. Liège was part of this “impossible rear” which was under enemy control. In these dark days, resistance was organised in the shadows, using networks and individuals in a clandestine conflict which went hand-in-hand with the interminable daily struggle to survive. In the wider context of the war, the occupation went on for a long time and, although most events were less dramatic than at the start, Liège is a good example of the specific problems encountered in Belgium during the First World War, which would inform memories of the war after the end of hostilities.