Martin Roemers


Werner Vanneste (b. Belgium, 1933) was blinded and his brother killed when Belgian troops mortared his village that had been occupied by German troops at the beginning of WWII. 'In May 1940 hundreds of refugees passed through our village of Geluwe on foot or on a horse-drawn carriage. My mother gave them stew. Soon, the Germans arrived in our village. Things whizzed over my head and exploded down the road. The old neighbour who had bad legs and was taking care of me tried to grab me.
I pretended it was a game and kept running away from him. The Belgians were stationed five kilometres away and shot mortar shells at our village to chase the Germans out. At night, a mortar shell landed on our house. From the back room of our house we could see the sky. The next night we hid in the neighbour's basement. A Belgian mortar shell burst through the wall. My 8 year old brother Wilfried was dead and I was blind. I was supposed to give a speech at the annual war commemoration in May 2010. I was standing between Belgian war veterans for the first time. I thought, 'What am I doing here? These people were from the army that shot at us.' I ended up not giving the speech. Since then, I have come to realise that the Belgian army committed a war crime. They shot at our village without taking the presence of civilians into consideration. I would like to know if, legally speaking, this really is a war crime. But of course, it doesn't really change anything.'

Object Name
Martin Roemers
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