60 years ago

3 January 2005, 17:12 genre:    by mickael

December 1944

Victor my grandfather is a young gendarme quartered in Malmedy and Saint Vith, in Belgium near the German border. On the 16th December 1944 at 5:30 am the Battle of the Bulge begins, ‘They’ are coming back.

From then on nobody will hear from him for weeks as he is caught in the lines of fire. On X-mas Day Saint Vith is wiped in just 14 minutes under allied bombs, he will then set to cross the battlefield by foot to rejoin his family some 100 kms away.

It is only by the 20th of January that my grand mother eventually recovered him alive. What he went through and had seen he never told. 60 years later I’m looking for his footsteps.

qtvr size    [FULLSCREEN]    [SMALL]    in a popup window Bastogne Bois Jacques

This picture was taken at Bois Jacques, North of Bastogne in the hamlet of Foy for my submission to the Sanctuary project of the WWP This place has become a famous sanctuary for Easy company of the 101st US airborne division defending Bastogne.

As a child, every year around new year’s day I visited my father’s family in the Ardennes. It was often a time of tears and sorrow as my great aunts and uncles silently remembered the winter of 44.

This 17th December 2004 I spent it in the woods around Bastogne trying to remember something I have hardly been told and never lived through. The weather conditions are similar to what they were 60 years ago: foggy, cold and humid, it is hard to believe that in 1944 people buried themselves here for days, weeks even by -20°C.

I wander through the woods occasionally coming across foxholes of 101st airborne and young US cadets roaming in noisy search of trophies: pieces of shrapnel, rounds or instant coffee sachets that can still be found here. I wish them no war.

Civilians are always expandable in times of war. History will account for the winners against the loosers but for civilians things are really different in the fields of war. This panorama is dedicated to all the Victors caught in wars and their anonymous accomplishments.


To die for a historically unjust cause, without even a name on your tomb seems a terrible thing to me. The winners are celebrated for their courage, here’s a pano in remembrance of the loosers, most often just soldiers caught in history.

qtvr size    [FULLSCREEN]Bastogne Recogne German cemetery Bastogne-Recogne German cemetery, 6807 graves


  1. Mickael, thank you.
    Great pano again!
    I’m your fan :)
    — 1drey    Jan 4, 03:01 PM    #

  2. Incredibly moving and thank you for this rare perspective on the ‘Other Side’.

    I always remind myself that combatants from both sides claimed primacy in their entiltement to an audience with God, whether it be the ‘Gott mit Uns’ on the Wehrmacht’s insignia, ‘Dieu et mon Droit’ from the magnificent British or ‘One Nation under God’ from those wonderful, selfless Americans.

    The reality, as your fine photo shows, is that there are always evil men leading many who are, fundamentally, honorable and decent. Your picture rises above the mundane and is truly courageous in spirit.

    That’s not easy to write for one whose parents were Polish refugees from the Nazis.

    Thank you.
    Thomas Pindelski    Jan 4, 07:57 PM    #

  3. Mickael

    Brilliant. Sensitive. Wonderful.
    KevinG    Jan 9, 12:24 AM    #

  4. Dear Mickael,
    Thank you kindly for your work and sharing the power of the forest. Also for your story. I too am a grandchild of ww2 only because my grandfather managed to escape with his family from Latvija. He and the family ran from both the nazis and the soviet. The boat to Sweden was confiscated, and the only way out was to Germany itself to a dp camp.

    From the dp camp they were taken in by a German farmer’s wife who hid them in a secret room in her barn, where she kept them at risk of her own life. Food was scarce, and when the nazi troops came by almost every other day, she would say “The chickens did not lay so many eggs today”. My mother and her brother (in their teens at the time) would sneak out to the woods to pick rose hips. That and potato skin soup kept them alive (and the occasional egg or so). Since you are European, you know these stories better than most Americans.

    I recently met an Iwo Jima veteran (and vet of Korea and other places) at the grocery store, shortly after the newest war broke out. After a brief exchange of conversation, (he was wearing his vet hat and other things to show what and who he was), he looked me straight in the eye and said.. War never solves or fixes anything. Blessings to you and your family and Peace and Freedom to All.

    The forest and nature always bring me peace and healing; I remain in wonder and awe. Thank you most kindly again

    (Edison, New Jersey, USA)
    — Aya Zvaigzne    Jan 16, 03:12 PM    #

  5. Mickael, I am completely blown away! I found your site from photoblogs.org. I had no idea people were using QTVR creatively like this. Well done!
    robin@notasif    Jan 19, 10:09 AM    #

  6. Great Work.
    Brian    Jan 21, 01:34 PM    #

  7. Mickael, I saw the movie “Battle of the Bulge” 40 years ago, as a seven year old boy and it left quite an impression on me. This is an amazing document of this historical setting! I like many of your other works as well, but I will show “60 years ago” to alot of my friends and family! Really brilliant!
    matt    Mar 1, 11:28 AM    #

  8. Mickael, your panos are great.
    You are a wonderful person having great-broad vision for making for panos.
    — Sanjiv Nadkarni    Mar 12, 12:28 AM    #

  9. It is the first time anyone talks about my grand father this way…Quite moving

    Thank you
    — Pascale    Mar 18, 12:09 PM    #

  10. I always enjoy reading what motivated a photographer to take a particular image.
    Peter    Aug 17, 06:27 AM    #

  11. J’aime particulièrement celui ci… J’aurais aimé voir une version en noir et blanc de la premiere, je suis sur que l’ambiance serait différente mais toute aussi magique !
    Vincent    Sep 29, 04:36 PM    #

  12. Hi there

    I live in Belgium, and have visited Bastogne last year. I’ve also seen the german cemetery in Foy (a week before you did :-) ). It really makes you stand still for a while. God bless all who fought for the freedom of our country. Thank you all!
    — wouter    Oct 16, 06:12 AM    #

  13. i been to bastogne last summer was so cool!!
    i v been at bois jacues, foy,noville,recogne,bastogne historical centre,maradson monument,recogne,.....
    and if seen very much foxholes at bois jacues!!very cool time!!
    thijs    Nov 16, 04:57 AM    #

  14. (Above)
    What Thomas Pindelski said…..
    I cannot add to that.
    — Denny Hullihen    Nov 22, 08:44 PM    #

  15. Good story.
    I live in the Netherlands and I’m a member of an re-enactmentgroup.
    I’ve been on this places and it makes me sad.
    I’ve been there with some old soldiers of the 101st.
    They told me some stories among the fights they have been to.
    John van Meijgaarden
    — john van meijgaarden    Dec 23, 12:15 PM    #

  16. All gave some some gave all!
    When you go home tell of us and say for your´s tomorrow we gave ours today.

    God bless.
    — Bjornsson    Jan 30, 02:05 PM    #

  17. Great story.
    I havd been to Foy and the forest quite often.
    Hard to imgine what all the soldiers went throu.

    Military History My Hobby And Profession    Feb 4, 07:03 AM    #

  18. i would like to know what schonfelder name are on the memorial listings for world war 2 if possible and there birth dates.

    — kristy wade    May 27, 09:50 PM    #

  19. Kristy and others if you are looking for German soldiers, look up the VDK

    mickael    May 30, 07:46 AM    #

  20. hello mickael. as i have seen band of brothers, i realised that the “bois jacques” is only 20-25 km from me. tomorrow is the first time that i go visit the “bois jacques”. you have a great site

    — Serge from Luxembourg    Jul 2, 07:06 PM    #

  21. The first pano is amazing! Like in my dream :) Thank you!

    • 360gu.RU    Feb 3, 04:25 PM    #