Hubert Pierlot, born in Cugnon, Belgium, was Prime Minister of the Belgian government in exile in London from September 1940 to September 1944. During the war he played an important role in the negotiations between the Allied powers. After the liberation of Belgium Pierlot returned to Brussels, where he headed a government of national unity until February 1945.
The lawyer Hubert Pierlot joined the Catholic Party in the 1920’s. As senator for the Belgian Province of Luxembourg, he occupied important ministerial posts during the interbellum years. In February 1939 he became Prime Minister. In May 1940, Pierlot came in conflict with King Leopold III, who, without the consent of his ministers, decided to capitulate and stay in Belgium as prisoner of war. Pierlot chose otherwise. In September 1940 he fled to London, where he formed, with Ministers Paul-Henri Spaak, Camille Gutt and Albert de Vleeschauwer, the core of the Belgian government in exile for four years. During these years he was Prime Minister and Minister of Defence and in that capacity he played an important role in the war time negotiations between the Allies. His government set up the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade or so called Piron Brigade (Brigade Piron), that would play an important role in the liberation of Belgium and the Netherlands.
On 8 September 1944 Pierlot returned to Brussels, where he headed a government of national unity. This government was weakened by all the problems Belgium faced during the next winter, such as food supply problems, the fierce fighting during the German Ardennes Offensive (Battle of the Bulge) and Pierlot’s growing impopularity in royal circles because of his disagreement with King Leopold III during the war. His government fell in February 1945. Pierlot returned to his position as Senator. But in 1946, disappointed and abandoned by his own party in the Royal Question, he retired from politics.
Liberation of Brussels
On Sunday 3 September 1944, shortly before 20:00, the British Second Army entered Brussels by the Avenue de Tervuren. On the Boulevard de Waterloo, the liberators were welcomed by jubilant crowds of Belgians, celebrating the liberation of the capital city from the German occupation.
Jean-Baptiste Piron, born in Belgium in 1896, was a military officer who fled to England during the Second World War. He returned to Belgium as commander of the 1st Belgian Infantry Brigade, also known as Piron Brigade. At the end of the war he participated in the liberation of Belgium and the Netherlands.
Bastogne War Museum
The Bastogne War Museum represents a new way to remember the Second World War in Belgium. It offers a fresh perception in a modern and interactive framework of the causes, events and consequences of the Second World War, with a special focus on the Ardennes counteroffensive: the Battle of the Bulge.
The Bastogne Barracks Museum was opened in 2010. It is located in the barracks that accomodated the Allied Headquarters during the Ardennes Offensive in 1944. Restored parts of the barracks exhibit a collection of materials used in the fighting. The so called Nuts-basement shows the office where General McAuliffe spoke the famous word ‘Nuts’,that had a major influence on the outcome of the Offensive.
The small village of Foy, just four kilometers to the north of Bastogne on the road to Houffalize, was occupied by the Germans from 21 December 1944 to 13 January 1945. The American troops had installed in Jack’s wood in Foy, in their strive for the liberation of Bastogne.
Liberation of Belgium
On 2 September 1944 allied troops crossed the Belgian border at diverse places. The process of liberation went fast: in ten days a large majority of the country was liberated. But it did not put an end to the German occupation. Two months later Hitler surprised the Allies with his last offensive: the Battle of the Bulge.