In 1915 the Belgians tried to protect the petroleum storage tanks from the Germans to the north of Diksmuide. After two failed attacks the Belgians decided to dig a trench in the direction of the petroleum storage tanks. Despite this, the Germans captured a section of this trench and, in order to avert the German danger, the Belgian sappers reached the river IJzer at the end of 1915 so that a narrow strip of water would separate both parties for the rest of the war. The trench was extended and became an impregnable position named the 'Trench of Death' [Dodengang], referring to the dead buried there after the German attack.
The Trench of Death Interpretation Centre, part of the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History
The outbreak of the First World War, one hundredth years ago, was the reason for the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History [Koninklijk Legermuseum] to carry out a thorough refurbishment of the infamous Trench of Death visitor centre. On the basis of extensive historical research, the visitor route has been completely renewed. All kinds of interactive features are now available to visitors to tell them everything they would like to know about the Trench of Death and, in the process, a number of persistent historical myths about this valuable site are finally put to bed. The museum is no longer dark and dingy but, instead, a modern and interactive visitor centre with a focus on authenticity. With visitors are experts or not, the Trench of Death is now ready to be discovered.
It goes without saying that the renovated Trench of Death Interpretation Centre uses the most modern museum techniques available. It has fifteen interactive applications, texts, photos, film images and unique objects from the collections of the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History to guide visitors through the fascinating history of the Trench of Death.
Attention is also paid to the German side of the story
Not only does the Interpretation Centre explain how the Trench of Death came about and what exactly happened in this notorious trench, it is also placed in a new context. After all, there is a direct relationship between this trench and the German trenches close by. Original photos, objects and fragments from diaries are used to illustrate, for the first time, the German side of the story.