Belgien / Wahrzeichen

Prisoners of war at Bélian Abbey




Bélian Abbey was founded in the 13th century at Mesvin, along what would later become the main road from Maubeuge to Mons. Over the course of eight centuries, it has seen many armies pass through its doors. By 1944, the buildings had long since lost their conventual functions to rural and brewing activities

The vast enclosure enclosed by a high brick wall was used by the Big Red One to solve a problem that became a major one on September 4: rounding up the ever-growing number of prisoners and evacuating them to the rear. Captured Germans were herded into farms, factories and industrial buildings, of which there was no shortage. But the number of prisoners, unexpected and immeasurable since the Falaise pocket, caught the Americans unprepared. The battalions were unable to cope with the sheer numbers of captured men, to which could be added the isolated ones rounded up by the many groups of resistance fighters who handed them over to the Americans.

It is estimated that over 4,000 German prisoners passed through Mesvin between September 4 and 8, 1944. Ideally located beside the main road, the site made it easy to transport prisoners by truck to France. The Americans also assembled their prisoners in Ghlin (north-west of Mons), in Mons at the Avenue du Tir sports ground (5,000 prisoners) and at the Quévy sugar refinery (4,000 prisoners). In all, some 27,000 Germans were captured around Mons, including three generals: Hubertus von Aulock, Rüdiger von Heyking (commander of the 6th Parachute Division) and Karl Wahle (commander of the 47th Infantry Division).

Chaussée de Maubeuge 451, 7022 Mesvin