The 'Park of Honour of Those Who Were Shot'
Memorial and graves of resistance heroes and martyrs - brave Jews, brave Christians, dissidents, anti-fascists, socialists, rebels, samizdat journalists and organisers - those who dared to question and fight oppression, and the evil Powers That Be.
Here you see the faces of my brothers, my own dear family, my partners in fighting sheer political evil - resting in their graves here, in perhaps the most poignant place in all of Brussels, Belgium. Here lie those in Belgium who were shot fighting the Nazis of the 1940s - as I myself have nearly been killed fighting the more recent fascists, some of the 'new Nazis' of the 21st century.
Shortly after I arrived in Brussels as a political refugee from the US, under threat of murder by far-right political figures, this is one of the first places I visited. I came here to weep some tears amid the companionship of my anti-fascist comrades, who also looked death in the eye as they tried to speak and act for what is right.
The camera used here, and the chance to make these photos, are gifts of the brave dissident US Jewish physician, Dr Moshe 'Moss' David Posner, who risked and gambled his own life, to support me and help keep me alive in the face of threats by neo-Nazi assassins.
These are photos from the daily life of writer and political refugee from the US, Dr Les (Leslie) Sachs - photos documenting my new beloved home city of Brussels, Belgium, my life among the people and Kingdom who have given me safety in the face of the threats to destroy me. Brussels has a noble history of providing a safe haven to other dissident refugee writers, such as Victor Hugo, Karl Marx, Charles Baudelaire, and Alexandre Dumas, and I shall forever be grateful that Brussels and Belgium have helped to protect my own life as well.
(To read about the efforts to silence me and my journalism, the attacks on me, the smears and the threats, see the website by European journalists "About Les Sachs" linked in my Flickr profile, and press articles such as "Two EU Writers Under Threat of Murder: Roberto Saviano and Dr Les Sachs".)
This extremely moving memorial and gravesite, is known locally as the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusillerden (Brussels is bi-lingual French- and Dutch-speaking, so place names are given in both languages here.) - In English, the name is perhaps best rendered as the "Park of Honour of Those Who Were Shot".
The Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden includes many martyrs of the Belgian resistance of World War II, being both their gravesite and also the place where many of them were shot to death by a Nazi firing squad. - And it is also a memorial and the place of death, of other heroic figures who were shot to death in the previous German occupation of Belgium during World War I. One heroine from the First World War who was shot by the Germans and is now commemorated here, is the famous British nurse Edith Cavell.
The reason that this was a convenient place of execution by firing squad, is that it was originally part of a Belgian military training area and rifle range that existed here once upon a time, and you still see here the tall hillside that served as an earthen 'backstop' to safely absorb high-powered rifle bullets. The hillside was thus ready-made for the German commandants who occupied Brussels in both wars, to carry out their firing-squad executions.
Nowadays, the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden appears quite 'central' in urban Brussels, as it lies in the Schaerbeek - Schaarbeek commune, directly in the path from the EU institution area toward the roads that lead to the airport, and very near to the 90-metre high VRT-RTBF communications tower that has long been a major Brussels landmark.
The Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden is walking distance from the eastern Brussels 'prémétro', which is a grouping of tram lines that run underground for several stops on both the eastern and western sides of the Brussels city centre, supplementing the regular métro underground system with a similarly high frequency of service and also underground. If you continue along the prémétro lines south from the Diamant stop which is near the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden, you shortly arrive at the elaborate 19th-century military barracks buildings which once housed the soldiers who used the rifle range and parade grounds, which later become the place of martyrdom for members of the anti-Nazi resistance.
This is a place of great emotion for me personally, because the resistance martyrs who lie in these graves - a number of them socialists, journalists and with Jewish-heritage, critics of corruption just like myself - are my comrades in my own ordeal. I barely escaped alive out of the USA, nearly murdered by neo-Nazi-linked thugs, who themselves spoke favourably of Hitler as they moved toward killing me, as well as trying to ban my ability to write and speak.
It is sad that this place, Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden, is very little visited nowadays. Most of the time when I come here to contemplate and shed a few tears amid my comrades, and also to gain strength from their brave spirits, I am alone. Many of the family members and children of those who died or are buried here, have now themselves often passed away.
But on occasion there are people visiting, and on one day I was privileged to meet the daughter of one of the resistance martyrs who is buried here. She spoke to me of being a little girl, and seeing the Nazis arrest her father inside their home. She spoke about how they tied his hands behind his back, and yet how bravely he looked at her one last time. - She never saw her father alive again, and she is now in her seventies. - But when she spoke of her father, her voice grew energised and strong. She said she remembered the day of her father's arrest like if it was yesterday. And as she spoke, I could feel it and almost see it, as if I had been there myself.
The heroes in these graves are quite alive for me still. I am a religious man, a person of faith, and I believe in the life hereafter. - Many people have been afraid to help me, abandoning me to be murdered by the powerful forces of the American government - people too frightened to dare oppose the deadly US power of global assassination, the vicious US global media slandering of a dissident's reputation - Yet when I walk here at the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden, I feel myself amid a powerful throng of comrades, among brave people who understand me, people who know what it is like to be menaced with murder and to look death straight in the eye. - I feel the spirits in these graves support me and sustain me, that they welcome me as one among themselves.
It is my privilege now to honour these brave companions of mine, giving their memory some further renown and support. And I have wanted very much to do so, as the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden still is in need of expanded documentation on the Web, before some of what can be seen here fades away much further.
One of the most powerful aspects of visiting this tree-lined and grassy cemetery and memorial, is that you see on a number of the grave markers, not only names and comments from loved ones, but in some cases actual pictures of these brave people, pictures rendered into sepia-type photos on porcelain. Though efforts were made to make these photographs permanent, the elements and the years and decades have taken their toll. Many of the pictures are now faded, or cracked, or broken, or fallen on the ground from their mountings. In one case I held a cracked porcelain image together with one hand, while taking the photo with the other hand. The years are passing, and I have wanted to document the faces of these brave heroes before they disappear, before time takes a greater toll on this place of sacred honour.
You look into the eyes of these brave people, and you see and feel the spirit of true bravery, of genuine resistance of oppression, resistance to the point of death, their hope that sacrificing one's own life in the fight, will yet do some good for others in the world. Look into their eyes, and you see their faces, faces of real people, quite like anyone in some ways, but in other ways very special, with a light in them that carries far beyond their own death - people who yet had the fire of faith in that Greater than mere earthly existence.
In this hillside that you see in the photos - the hillside in front of which many of these heroes stood in the moment as they were shot to death - in that hillside is a large memorial marker to the heroes of World War I who died here. On that marker it says:
sous les balles allemandes
35 héros victimes de leur
attachement à la patrie
onder de duitse kogels
35 helden ten offer
aan hun liefde voor het vaderland
Here fell 35 heroes
who offered their lives
for their country
shot by the Germans
You'll notice that the 4th name down on the marker is that of Edith Louisa Cavell (1865-1915), with just her initial and last name and the date of her death here, on 12 October 1915:
Cavell E. 12-10-1915
The banners that you see here, in the colours of red, yellow, and black, are in the three colours of the national flag of Belgium
There are 17 rows of graves here at the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden, 12 on the upper level closer to the hillside, and then five on the lower level below. Between the upper and lower levels is an obelisk serving as a kind of centre for the memorial as a whole. On the obelisk it says, on one side in Dutch, on the other side in French:
Opgericht door de Verbroedering van de Vriendenkringen der
Erigé par le Fraternelle des Amicales de Camps et Prisons Nazis
In English this would be:
Constructed by the Association of Friends of Those in the Nazi Camps and Prisons
Around this obelisk lay some faded but still visibly grand wreaths, placed here by the highest figures of Belgian public life. One great wreath at the centre, placed here by the King of the Belgians, Albert II, and his wife Paola, whose royal household has very quietly but effectively supplied some of the protection for me in Belgium, that has so far prevented me from being murdered here by foreign powers. - You see the ribbon say simply 'Albert - Paola'.
And another large wreath has a ribbon saying 'la Gouvernement - de Regering', from the government of Belgium.
Though many of the resistance martyrs buried here, were shot by firing squad right on this spot, a number of these martyrs died in other places, most especially in the Belgian concentration camp at Breendonk (Breendonck), which due to its stone structure is one of the best-preserved Nazi concentration camps. Breendonk can be visited today, about 40 kilometres north of Brussels in the direction of Antwerp, very near the Willebroek train station.
Among the graves here, a number are of heroes of the anti-Nazi resistance whose names are unknown: 'Inconnu - Onbekend' say the grave markers in French and in Dutch. In one row, there are six unknowns side-by-side; and then the entire final last row of the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden, is all the resting place of unknown heroes, 21 altogether.
In any struggle against oppressive government, there are often unknown heroes. - And as I myself am a victim of brutal deceptive media smear campaigns, as well as the US regime ordering search engines to suppress my own websites, I can testify as to how hard the evil powers work, to try to see that those who fight the system, remain unknown, or else smeared and slandered with propaganda and lies.
There are perhaps yet other heroes of the World War II resistance, whose anonymous graves somewhere, may yet one day be found. One of the photos here is of a maintenance area by the side, where fresh grave markers are ready, some with crosses, some with a star of David, awaiting use for some other hero whose remains are yet to be discovered.
In addition to the photographs on the grave markers, which speak for themselves, a number of the graves are also marked with heartfelt statements by those who loved and honoured them. Most are in French, and with photos where there are such engraved statements, there are transcriptions of what you find, along with a translation.
Many of these resistance martyrs to the Nazis who lie here, are of course Jewish. The majority are Christians of Belgium, but a significant proportion of the heroes who lie here, are Jewish resistance martyrs of the Holocaust. And even more than one from the same family - the Livchitz brothers who lie here. Moreover, some of the Christians who are buried here, are of Jewish heritage as well - as I am myself, a unitarian Christian.
My own heritage on my mother's side is Jewish, and it was my commitment to honour the memory of relatives and other Jews who died in the Holocaust, that led to my being forced to become a political refugee from the United States. - Back when living in the US, I received a letter threatening the book-burning of the books of this Jewish-heritage writer, and I responded strongly. A few weeks later my freedom to speak and write was banned, and threats to extort and murder me were put in motion. This story has been told in other places (see link to press articles in my profile), but suffice it to say here, that it was my honouring the memory of murdered Jews, which led me to be a Jewish-heritage political refugee today in Brussels.
Though I am unitarian Christian by faith, the old Jewish sites of Brussels and Belgium strike deep chords within me, as I very much feel the spirit of the Jews who suffered and died under the kind of racist threats I have also suffered.
One of the things I am often-asked, as a Jewish-heritage political refugee, is why the Jewish groups and Jewish leaders, do not say or do more to defend me, against the threats to have me murdered, against the lies and hoaxes spread about me, against the blocking of my own journalism sites from the internet search engines. - For example, in my efforts to stay alive these last few years, I have received much more comfort and assistance and support from brave Muslims, than from the Jewish people who share my own heritage.
There are two main reasons for this kind of neglect of someone like myself by Jewish leaders. One is that I am not a political Zionist - I favour peace and justice for all the residents of the ancient holy lands of Palestine. - A second reason, is that there is a sad heritage among Jewish people, to stand by and do nothing while other Jews are attacked by the dominant power of the day. - It was that way in the old pogroms of Eastern Europe, it was that way under the Nazi-era exterminations, and it is that way today regarding the case of the United States. - Since it is the US regime which has been attacking me and forcing me to be a refugee here, Jewish 'leadership' simply does not want to confront the USA. Given that I am a non-Zionist, and a unitarian Christian in faith, well, that settles it as far as Jewish leaders are concerned, and they turn away and say nothing.
There are still some brave Jews, however, like one brave Orthodox Jewish physician in America, a friend who has helped me to be able to be here now, supplying these photographs of the Jewish and other martyrs of anti-Nazi resistance.
And the Jewish heritage is there in me, and I am glad I honoured the memory of the Holocaust dead, even though it led me into terrible sufferings at the hands of US political figures and the US regime.
There is a sense of profound spiritual achievement that I have, as I place on-line this historical record of the martyrs of the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden. It is perhaps only by the grace of God that I was able to escape the US alive, from the clutches of the people menacing to illegally jail me and murder me in a US jail cell. - My now being able to honour the memory of my fellow anti-fascist figures in Belgium, who were shot dead by the Nazis of an earlier era, feels to me to be one of the important purposes, for which I was kept alive by divine hands.
To visit the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden, you can walk about 600 metres from the Diamant 'prémétro' or underground tram stop which includes tram lines 23, 24, and 25. If you wish to get even closer by bus, you can take buses number 12, 21, or 79 the two stops from Diamant to the Colonel Bourg - Kolonel Bourg bus shelter sign. Alternatively, if you are in the EU area, you can take these same buses 12, 21 or 79 directly from the Schuman métro station by the EU's main Berlaymont building. Another route is that bus 80 from the Mérode metro station will also take you directly to the Colonel Bourg - Kolonel Bourg stop. A few tens of metres west of where the bus halts, along the rue Colonel Bourg - Kolonel Bourgstraat, you see the sign directing to the entrance of the Enclos des Fusillés - Ereperk der Gefusilleerden.