This year the Brugmann Hospital celebrates its centennial. The French Hospital-Queen Elisabeth in Sint-Agatha-Berchem is nearly as old; inaugurated in 1930. The same goes for the George Eastman and Jules Bordet Institutes, opened in 1935 and 1939, respectively. There is the same major gap in the history of these health centers: what happened during World War II?
The German occupiers claimed all four. The Wehrmacht moved into the Brugmann Hospital and the George Eastman Institute. The Luftwaffe preferred the French Hospital-Queen Elisabeth. The management of the Jules Bordet Institute was in German hands, which wanted to transform it, together with the Wehrmacht health service, into a military institution specializing in war surgery.
The exhibition at Dielegem Abbot's Residence in Jette looks at the evacuation of hospitals, and how the Public Assistance Commission of Brussels moved patients and staff elsewhere and tried to protect them, as well as its opposition and resistance to National Socialist measures. Furthermore, it reveals how German doctors and nurses from the German Red Cross not only provided medical assistance and organized parties, but also did not shy away from experimenting on civilian patients and covering up traces of torture left by their colleagues from other Nazi services.
This exhibition is the work of Gerlinda Swillen, PhD in history and associate researcher at CegeSoma/State Archives, with the help of the following local history circles : De Geschied- en Heemkundige Kring 'Sint-Achtenberg'; le Cercle d'Histoire, d'Archéologie et de Folklore du Comté de Jette et de la Région (asbl) - De Geschied- en Heemkundige Kring van het Graafschap Jette en Omgeving (asbl) and De Laca - Geschied- en Heemkundige Kring Laken. It has received the support of the Public Assistance Commission of Brussels, CegeSoma/State Archives and the French-speaking Community Commission (Commission communautaire française - COCOF).
The difficult relations in those hospitals with the German occupiers will be discussed in more detail in a later publication. We will of course keep you informed about it.