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Soldiers of the Great War

De strijd om het Polygonebos (fase II). © Jade Huysentruyt

Accessibility: By appointment via

These programmes can be requested from VRT at


link to archive




In Soldiers of the Great War by Erik Pertz and André Van de Vijver from 1985, witnesses, the last survivors, of World War I recount everyday life during that terrible period. Soldiers who lived through the war and civilians from the occupied country or frontline area as direct witnesses were given the floor rather than politicians or commanders.
A total of three broadcasts were made:

  • ‘In de vuurlijn’ (1985) In it, Flemish veterans recount their experiences as soldiers in the Great War. The Flemish veterans recount the early days of the war and the withdrawal behind the Yser, life at the front, gas attacks and self-mutilations, pay, transport and care of the wounded, rats and lice, and friendship and solidarity among fellow-sufferers.
  • ‘Achter de linies’ (1985) with stories about wartime events in the immediate vicinity of the Allied front. Soldiers recount life behind the Allied lines in Flanders. They bring the gripping story of the victims of the gas attacks, the coexistence of civilians and soldiers, the distinction between soldiers and officers, the soldiers from ‘foreign countries’ and the children from Flemish-British relations. 
  • ‘Unser Vaterland muss grosser sein’ (1988). In it, Flemish eyewitnesses recount life under the German occupation. the story of the German invasion and the resulting panic among the population, the hospitalisation of German soldiers, the fourth German army in Tielt, air battles, working for the German occupiers and the birth of Flemish-German children.