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Tears over Mortsel

Seventy-five years on, the bombing of Mortsel is remembered more extensively than ever. Not only locally, but throughout Belgium and even in international literature, 5 April 1943 is given its place. Central to this is historian Pieter Serrien’s book Tranen over Mortsel, which has been republished for the third time. The book not only tells the history of the war disaster, but also compiles dozens of moving testimonies, recorded in a unique youth project.


Pieter Serrien (°1985) is a Belgian historian, specialized in the social history of Pieter Serrienboth world wars. In 2007 he graduated at the University of Leuven with his thesis on living under the bombs in Belgium during WWII.

His debut Tranen over Mortsel (Tears over Mortsel, Manteau, 2008) tells the story of the American bombing of the small city south of Antwerp on April 5th 1943. Pieter led a youth research project where more than 200 seventeen-eighteen years old interviewed the last witnesses of the bombing. Their interviews were used for the book, which tells the story of the victims of the heaviest bombing in Belgium and the Netherlands during WWII. 936 of which more than 250 children died. It was a greater loss than in the bombings of Coventry, Rotterdam or Guernica.