Before the start of World War I in August 1914, the Belgian village of Virton, with its hilly streets, massive Catholic church, and remnants of medieval walls, was home to 3,500 Walloon, or French-speaking, residents. Located just south of the Ardennes region and less than five miles north of the French border, Virton was the principal town of the small Belgian region known as Gaume, which boasted a warmer microclimate than areas around it. Gently rolling green hills and lush pockets of forest were peaceful dividers between picturesque ancient towns and villages.
When war came, it did not pass lightly over Virton and the surrounding villages. During the invasion, more than 200 men, women, and children were dragged from their homes and executed in one of the worst massacres of the time. Many houses were partially or completely destroyed.
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