Franchimont Castle and the Baugnez ’44 Historical Centre

 What an inspiring title that is, eh? Just kidding. Today was quite the day. It did rain (why do I always do sightseeing stuff on rainy days?), but I was prepared. The drive was not bad at all, only busy in a couple of places. It took me an hour to get to Theux which is where the Franchimont Castle is. I believe the dude who lived there was a Prince Bishop. Neat. So of course I’ve got a bunch of pictures that will explain most of my day. I will add other comments as I see fit or as I remember them. Unfortunately since I’m running out of space on WordPress for pictures, and because I can’t upgrade without a credit card, these pictures are courtesy of Flickr and as such are smaller. Near the end of this post is a link to get to my Flickr account if you want to see bigger versions of these images. Click on the green June 25, 2011, and that will take you there. I’d wait till you’re done reading because it doesn’t open a new window, and then you’d have to click back to finish and blah, blah, blah. Actually, by clicking on any of the pictures (minus mister snowman) you can get to my Flickr page. Again, I’d wait until you’re done reading ^_^. They will all have the same descriptions, so you can just glance at them here and go there after to check them out!
Franchimont Castle
Freddy and the gigantic hamster wheel.
This wheel was used like a crane lift. I believe the audio guide said it could lift 3 tonnes? Maybe more. Basically, like a treadmill or hamster wheel, two people side by side (usually women and children) could effortlessly lift lots of heavy stuff just by walking.
Lavatory Tower

Franchimont Castle (it’s 3 different stages built in the 12th, 13th, and 16th centuries) was not as primitive as we think a lot of Medieval castles were. It had a lavatory tower with a lavatory on each floor! I think there were 3 floors…it never actually said officially, I’m just guessing. I actually can’t remember which century this town belongs to, but hey, nice to know that some people had good hygiene back then!

 Stairs to bunker #2
 And here we have these crazy, dangerous stairs. The first section is actually more a ladder. Just behind me is the staircase to bunker #1, and it scared me even more. It only had a railing on one side and I’m pretty sure it didn’t go all the way down. And those steps are all uneven. I wish I wouldn’t have been so scared. Maybe if it would’ve been a dry day and I didn’t have wet shoes….or if I wasn’t alone….or if. No, I don’t think I would have gone down under any circumstance.
Also near the bakery and down in the lower section of the inner courtyard were a couple of interesting things. There was a great in the lower section that covered a spring that supplied water to the castle. Beside the bakery was a huge well that also supplied water when the spring couldn’t cut it. There’s an old legend about treasure and a guardian the bottom of the well. It was pretty interesting (basically 4 boys who wanted the treasure, but failed in retrieving it).
Stairs to bunker #3 (part 1)
Stairs to bunker #3 (part 2)
Stairs going down to the 3rd bunker in the tour, but the first one I went down into. The first two were way too freaky and steep to try to climb down. They were hard going down because the distance between each step was pretty big and it was so steep. Coming up was easier because I was able to grab on the rope with both hands and pull myself up.
 At the bottom of the stairs, just before going into the main room, I smacked my head against the stone archway. I actually had a mini goose-egg.

Inside bunker #4 (part 2)

Bunker #4 (the 2nd and last bunker I went into) was more interesting than #3 because it wasn’t just one big room. It had columns and made it look like it was broken into a few different rooms.
Old and New coming apart. This is an example of the original stone work and things that were added later and how they are coming apart.
A bunker from the outside.
Shown here is one of the bunkers from the outside. These bunkers were used to defend the castle. The wall it’s up against originally stood much taller than it does now.
Cool Coke glass I just like how this glass looks like a Coke can.
Car boat Hey look! It’s a propeller. This German automobile (in the Wolkswagen family) doubled as a water craft for passage in the many rivers they came across.
Peiper  Kampfgruppe Peiper; the man who was responsible for the ‘Malmedy Massacre’ December 16 (or 17) 1944 in Baugnez (Malmedy), Belgium
Snow camouflage

 An example of the winter camouflage gear given to American soldiers. Their winter uniforms were actually dual purpose; one side was white and the other camouflage greens and browns.

This picture apparently wasn’t added on WordPress (I think I’m missing one other as well), so you’ll have to check out Flickr! This pilot crashed and is working on getting his bearings. The coolest part is the map on his knee. It’s made of silk and doubles as a scarf. A) it won’t rip, and B) it keeps you warm at high altitudes! Awesome, eh? You can’t see it here, but it was extremely detailed.

So yeah, I’m not sure why it missed adding two pictures and also, on Flickr some are in the wrong order. Again, I don’t know why. I can probably change it, but I’m tired :P.

June 25, 2011, a set on Flickr.

Via Flickr: My journey to Theux and Malmedy, Belgium. To the Franchimont Castle and the Baugnez’ 44 Historical Centre which tells the story of the ‘Malmedy Massacre’, the killing of a group of surrendered American soldiers, in the Battle of the Bulge.

Here are some more noteworthy things:

There have been a few battles at Franchimont in recent times. Or at least more recent than the Middles Ages! There was a battle in which 600 Franchimont soldiers died (600 soldiers at Franchimont), I think it had something to do with Liège and someone there wanting to take control of the castle. Those audio guides throw a lot of information at you and I wasn’t about to have my notebook out with me. One, it was raining off and on, and two, that would have been annoying and taken even longer. There were also some soldiers defending Franchimont from the Germans in 1914.

There was a fire at one point and the castle had to be rebuilt. The three different version of the castle are quite different. At least the first and last anyway. They had models that I should have taken pictures of, but didn’t. The woman at the counter was very nice and patient with me as she didn’t speak English and I’m not quite fluent in French yet :P. I was glad I went when I did (I finished around 2 or so) because as I finished there was a group of kids (maybe 8-10yrs?) who were about to go in. They were loud and running all over the place and I’m sure that’s what it would have been like on their tour. Because you go by yourself you’re pretty much given free rein to go where you will. They do recommend staying on the marked paths for you safety though.

In the war museum there was also a 25 minute film with actual footage about the massacre. They were saying that the ‘Malmedy Massacre’ was the first war crime…something along those lines. I might have misheard that. I know they had footage of 3 survivors who talked about what it had been like. For one of them, they showed old footage of him giving an account of the events shortly after, and then they had him now talking about it. That was neat.

Apparently Hitler rounded up a group of Germans who could speak English with American accents, put them in American uniforms, and sent them behind enemy lines to create havoc. One of the things they did was switch around road signs to confuse the Allied forces. The German soldiers weren’t even supposed to be at the Baugnez crossroads. The group of tanks was part of a 5 army attack on the Ardennes to go up through Belgium and recapture the port of Antwerp. Peiper’s group was supposed to go to Ligneuville, but it was impassable with all the mud and things. So he chose a detour that took him to the Baugnez junction. I can’t remember how many soldiers were killed (the number 84 is sticking my head, but I can’t be 100% sure without researching it and I just don’t feel like it right now :S). The point is, they had all surrendered, were completely weaponless, and were murdered by machine gun right where they stood in the field. Afterwards, a few German SS went through bodies killing those who were wounded and moaning. The survivors played dead and escaped after nightfall.

I think one of the neatest things about this museum was the gift shop. I know, that’s weird, but they had some really neat period stuff there. Or at least it sure looked authentic from what I could tell. And considering a metal box smaller than my laptop (well, higher, but other than that smaller) cost around 80 Euros I would say they were authentic. There was even a toothbrush! Again, they may have scammed everybody by making them look like the real deal and putting big prices on them. I don’t know, I just know they were the most real thing I’ve ever seen in a gift shop.

And so ends a very long post with very little detail. I hope you enjoyed what you could see of the pictures!

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