Belgio / Storia

The massacre of Bande



Indicazioni stradali

At the end of the occupation, members of the Armée secrète hid in the woods surrounding the village of Bande. On the day of liberation, 5 September 1944, three Wehrmacht soldiers lost their lives during a brief scuffle with the resistance movement. Bloody reprisals immediately followed, but the worst was yet to come.

The inhabitants of Bande thought they had got rid of the German troops. However, on 22 December they returned in force. The inhabitants of Bastogne, including eight pupils from the Petit Séminaire school, took refuge in the village, hoping to be safe there. An SD commando in charge of securing the rear followed the regular army group. Headed by Major Franz Lang, former head of the Feldgendarmerie of Marche, this unit also included French speaking people from both France and Switzerland. They were driven by a thirst for revenge. They were driven by a thirst for revenge. In search of the September maquisards, they intercepted 70 men from the village. None of them were among them. After tough interrogations at the Rulkin sawmill, the men aged over 35 were released. Only 33 young people between the ages of 17 and 32 remained. Stripped of everything they owned, they realised the fate that awaited them. Among them were three students from the Petit Séminaire. Taken to a nearby cellar, they were shot one by one in the back of the head on 24 December. The next day, the death toll increased with two more victims from Roy, a nearby village. Two days later, two more victims were killed in Hodister. Only the young Léon Praile (21 years old) rebelled, pushed his guard and managed to escape into the snowy thickets. He was the only survivor and remained hidden until the German troops left on 11 January.

The region was liberated by the soldiers of the Anglo-Canadian 9th Parachute Battalion on 12 January 1945. Assisted by Léon, they discovered the victims’ bodies in the fatal cellar, loosely hidden under a pile of boards. On 18 January 1945, a collective funeral was organised. Hodister's victims were not discovered until two months later.

On 6 June 1948, a memorial was inaugurated in the Cave des Fusillés de Bande (cellar of the shot men of Bande), next to the N4 road linking Marche-en-Famenne to the Barrière de Champlon.