Final classification of the Gestapo cellars
One will recall the decision taken by the Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort, endorsed by the government of Brussels on 9 January 2014, to begin the process of registering the cellars of the buildings occupied by the Gestapo, during the Second World War, at 347 and 453 Avenue Louise in Brussels, as historical sites.
One of the effects of the provisional classification was to oblige each owner to open his cellar to the experts of the Monuments and Sites Department. A survey of the number of cellars with traces was carried out for both buildings. The report of the Royal Commission for Monuments and Sites that followed, confirming the interest of ensuring the conservation of the site, led to the definitive classification of the cellars of both buildings on 14 January 2016.
We can, of course, only rejoice at this very happy conclusion and continue our work of investigation, advice and preservation of places of memory.
Study day on 21 October 2011
The subject of the study day organized on 21 October 2011 by Remembrance of Auschwitz and the Auschwitz Foundation at the Royal Library of Belgium, Brussels was ‘The Brussels Gestapo Headquarters – Recognition and Conservation’ and the possibility of having the building’s cellars classified as a national monument.
During the Second World War, the German security services (the Sicherheitspolizei and Sicherheitsdienst, i.e. the Gestapo), requisitioned three buildings situated at 453, 347 and 510 Avenue Louise in Brussels. Nothing about these buildings now attracts the attention of passers-by, except for the memorial dedicated to Jean de Sélys Longchamps and a plaque on the facade of 453 Avenue Louise. (On 20 January 1943, Jean de Sélys Longchamps, a Belgian aviator who had joined the British RAF, machine-gunned the Gestapo buildings from the air, severely damaging them).
Yet they are among Belgium’s most important and most symbolic Second World War sites of evil memory, as they were the premises of those who carried out the arrests of so many resistance fighters and organized the deportation of the Jews of Belgium and the north of France. Indeed, many survivors have given testimony on the interrogations and tortures which took place in them.
The morning session dealt with the history of the Brussels Gestapo headquarters and some of its branches and offshoots in Belgium and northern France. The afternoon will be devoted to the possibilities for conserving the inscriptions carved on the cellar walls by the Nazis’ victims.
Publication of the proceedings of the conference
Daniel Weyssow (ed.), Les caves de la Gestapo. Reconnaissance et conservation , Paris, Kimé,‘Entre Histoire et Mémoire’, no. 6, 2013, 213 p. (€20.00) : Proceedings of the study day on 21 October 2011)
Building numbers 453, 347 and 510 of one of the most beautiful streets of Brussels, Avenue Louise, were requisitioned during the Second World War by the Gestapo. They became true torture centres, the walls of their cellars are still covered with inscriptions and drawings depicting the despair and the last will of the prisoners. However, until now, none of these buildings have received any recognition. This collection is composed of contributions from specialists as well as survivors and have two vocations:
Supplements to the published volume:
Additional photographs to those presented in the following contributions of the volume:
To obtain further information, contact Daniel Weyssow