The Soldier Pigeon

Not just strictly for the birds

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More quirky Belgian stuff – but this time with a serious purpose. Belgium has had a long-standing love of pigeons and pigeon racing, a fancy that continues to this day, although you’ll need to go out of town to catch any of the action.

The Soldier Pigeon (Au Pigeon Soldat or Aan de Oorlogs Duif) is a statue inaugurated in 1931 to pay tribute to the pigeons themselves and the pigeon fanciers who owned them who made the ultimate sacrifice during the conflict. The statue was sculpted by Anderlecht sculptor Victor Voets (1882 – 1950), a celebrated Belgian artist famous for his busts.

During the war, pigeons were used as GPS devices, for reconnaissance and for the more usual message-carrying. It’s estimated that at the time of German occupation, there were around a million such birds commandeered by the German army for their own use. This statue stands in memorial of those birds and of those who aided the war effort on the Belgian side. A strange, touching and sideways look into the psyche of the Belgian people.

At A Glance

rue Locquenghien
Brussels 1000

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