We did get a chance to tour the Citadel, however, since it was open to the public for Heritage Days -- although all groups were under close watch by the French army of course. It was an impressive space indeed, dating back to the late 17th century and yet still in remarkable shape.
On the way back home we passed two inspiring and moving monuments. The first was to the carrier pigeons that had once been the mainstay of communication for the French army, particularly during the First World War. In fact, when the Germans occupied Lille in 1914 they ordered all pigeons destroyed -- failure to do so would result in immediate execution. These birds were deemed a serious threat indeed. This memorial was dedicated in 1936 to the more than 20,000 pigeons who died during the war and to those pigeon fanciers who were caught raising and tending them.
The snake represents the enemy writhing in agony while the statue depicts peace surrounded by her pigeons (not doves, though). The two reliefs represent French soldiers relying on the pigeons for communication.
And speaking of that so-called Great War and executions, the other monument, just a few meters away was dedicated to five members of the local resistance committee who were shot by the Germans in 1915.
|the men standing are George Maertens, Ernest Deconynck, Sylvère Verhulst, and Eugène Jacquet, shot together on 22 September; the young man who has fallen is Leon Trulin, shot on 18 November|