5.06.2020 - 31.12.2020 History, News

Vergeten helden [Forgotten heroes]

We would like to invite you to discover the book “Forgotten Heroes” by Dirk Verbeke with poignant images of Johannes Vande Voorde, recently published by Lannoo.

“Between the landing in Normandy in the summer of 1944 and the German capitulation in May 1945, the 1st Polish Armored Division liberated large parts of northern France, Flanders, and the Netherlands.

Photographer Johannes Vande Voorde portrayed the last surviving veterans, listened to their gripping stories, and traveled after them, armed with his photo camera, in search of traces of their liberation journey. Dirk Verbeke, who has been interested in the Polish liberators for many years and knew many of them personally, provides historical photographs and interpretation.

A tribute to forgotten heroes and an impressive route, from the coasts of Arromanches, via Tielt, Sint-Niklaas, Hulst, and Breda, among others, to the former naval base of Wilhelmshaven.”

About the author 

Dirk VERBEKE (°1954)

Dirk Verbeke is the honorary city secretary (1992-2015) of the city of Tielt (B) which was liberated on September 8, 1944, by the First Polish Armoured Division.

Through the various patriotic ceremonies, he was introduced to the Polish veterans and their families and was struck by their tragic fate that they could not return to their homeland after the war. He made his personal mission of remembering these Polish soldiers.

He is one of the inspirers of the twinning of the city of Tielt with Szamotuly (PL) in 1998 and one of the initiators of the partnership between Ruiselede with Krasnik (PL) in 2004.

He traveled to Poland more than 65 times and built up an entire network and participated in numerous initiatives both in Belgium and Poland.

He organized 3 exhibitions about the liberation of Tielt and in 2018 he was the curator of the international exhibition “Armored Wings” that opened in 2018 in Warsaw and later traveled to Gdansk and in 2019 to Brussels and various liberated Flemish cities and municipalities.

In 2019 he was awarded the “Pole of the Year, in the category Polonia ” for his efforts to strengthen the friendship between Belgium and Poland.

He is the president of the association “First Polish Armoured Division Belgium vzw”, which aims to preserve and spread the memory of the Polish soldiers of General Maczek who liberated Flanders. Many sons and daughters of Polish veterans are a member of this flourishing association.

Dirk Verbeke & Johannes Vande Voorde. © Lannoo
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