Crocus flowers mark former route of Wire of Death


A First World War memorial is growing along the border between Flanders and the Netherlands in the form of white crocus flowers

1,000 casualties

Maasmechelen is seeing its work from last October paying off: a line of crocus flowers 17 kilometres long are blooming as a memorial in this final year of the centenary of the First World War.

The flowers were planted along part of the route of the Dodendraad, or the Wire of Death, the name given to the high-voltage wire fence placed along 350 kilometres of the border between Belgium and the Netherlands by the Germans in 1915.

The fence was meant to keep citizens from fleeing north into the Netherlands following the occupation of Belgium. It also prevented anyone wanting to join the war effort at the front from arriving from the Netherlands. More than 1,000 people died trying to cross the fenced border.

The Verhalis heritage organisation in the Netherlands launched the idea of planting white crocuses along the entire 350 kilometres of the Wire of Death. They are working with several border communities to make it a reality.

The flowers in Maasmechelen run between the Meeswijk and Uikhoven districts, roughly along the cycle path that runs next to the Maas river. Other Limburg towns plan to plant crocus along the route this autumn, including Bocholt, Neerpelt, Hamont-Achel and Kinrooi.

Kinrooi is home to a reconstruction of the fencing, with information about it posted for visitors.

First World War

Claiming the lives of more than nine million people and destroying entire cities and villages in Europe, the Great War was one of the most dramatic armed conflicts in human history. It lasted from 1914 to 1918.
Flanders Field - For four years, a tiny corner of Flanders known as the Westhoek became one of the war’s major battlefields.
Untouched - Poperinge, near Ypres, was one of the few towns in Flanders that remained unoccupied for most of the war.
Cemetery - The Tyne Cot graveyard in Passchendaele is the largest Commonwealth cemetery in the world.
550 000

lives lost in West Flanders

368 000

annual visitors to the Westhoek

1 914

First Battle of Ypres