The Civic Guard
A barricade blocking the road: the civic guard kept watch over the railroad line which connected Schaerbeek to the Quartier Leopold. Created in 1830 with the unification of the former bourgeois guards, this urban militia was also mobilised in August 1914. In Brussels, nearly 20,000 men wore its uniform. In the feverish hours which hit the capital, the Garde Civique was supposed to keep order, while at the same time try to organize the defence of Brussels. It would have but a minor role in the war, as would this feeble little barricade which was supposed to hold back the worlds’ most powerful army.
On 19 August 1914, even before the arrival of the Germans, the civic guards were disarmed. The enemy could have interpreted their presence as an attempt at defence, and thereby expose the population to violent reprisals. As the heritage of a bygone age, the civic guard would be definitely disbanded after the war.