A website by War Heritage Institute

The "Pilgrimage" ceremony

The "Pilgrimage" ceremony

The “Pilgrimage” Ceremony

What happened in Breendonk must not ever be forgotten. That is why the Memorial, in joint operation with the National Confederation of Political Prisoners and Entitled Persons of Belgium, organised an annual ceremony commemorating the end of Nazi occupation horror at Fort Breendonk. The first ceremony, called a Pilgrimage, took place on 24 September 1944. It brought together former prisoners and authorities, who all paid tribute to Second World War political and racial prisoners.

Since 2020 the War Heritage Institute organises the ceremony at Breendonk every 3 years. On other years, tributes are paid at the Monument for the Executed in Brussels and at the Resistance Monument in Liège. The next “pilgrimage” ceremony will thus take place on 20 September 2023.

 Today, the torch of remembrance is kept alight in the presence of the Minister of Defence, who also is the custodian of the Memorial, and in the company of representatives of various governments and military authorities.

In 2019, H.M. the King attended the ceremony. After viewing the Royal Military Academy troops, the flame of remembrance was lit and musical tributes were paid by the La Monnaie youth and young people’s choir of by the Royal Guides’ Band. With an impressive floral tribute by the authorities, the camp friends, the patriotic associations and 301 young people symbolizing the prisoners who died through deprivation, execution or hanging, we emphasise that we must not close our eyes to the barbarity and inhuman suffering that was rife at Breendonk, and that we must try and prevent war crimes and human rights violations at all costs.