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    Rendez-vous at Monument to the executed of Lille - Lille

    On the left, looking upwards, stands shopkeeper Georges Maertens; next to him, with arms folded and a steady gaze, is Armentières salesman Ernest Deceuninck (or Deconninck); to his right, looking down with his arms hanging by his side, stands Belgian worker Sylvère Verhulst; and finally, wine seller and local secretary of the Human Rights League, Eugène Jacquet waits calmly for his fate with hands in pockets and a defiant look in his eyes. Further to the right, lying face down on the ground, is the young student Léon Trulin who seems to be already dead although he was executed a month and a half later than the others, on 8th November 1915.

    The sculptor Félix Desruelles decided to add Trulin to the monument because he wanted to pay tribute to all the men of the Lille Resistance who paid the ultimate price for their bravery during the Great War. Lille's position in the occupied territory, just a few kilometres behind the Western Front, made contact with the Allies easier for the Resistance however the German Army was always vigilant. It was in this context that pacifist Eugène Jacquet rallied the people of Lille (including the prefect, business people and even petty criminals) to create a Resistance network for passing information to the Allies and helping soldiers evade capture.

    In March 1915 mechanical failure forced a British plane to land in a suburb of Lille. The Resistance managed to conceal the pilot and return him to Great Britain. A few months later the pilot, Robert Mapplebeck, flew over Lille to thank those that helped him escape and to drop leaflets mocking Governor Von Heinrich. A few months later 200 members of the network were betrayed and arrested. Jacquet and his comrades were shot on 22nd September 1915 in the dungeons of the citadel, and the others were either sent to prison or deported.

    Destroyed in 1940 during the Occupation, the monument was rebuilt using the sculptor's original plans.

     

 
 

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