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Protestors Against Forced Labor During German Occupation of Belgium

From the collection of John Birks

This medal honors four men who protested forced labor during the German occupation of Belgium during WWI. Henri Pirenne was a Belgian scholar imprisoned by the Germans, and Cardinal Mercier used his influence to seek help from neutral countries. I would appreciate more information on the historical context of this medal.

Godefroid Devreese was born in Courtrai, Belgium in 1861. He first studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown. At the age of 15, Devreese produced his first sculptures in his father's studio, who was a well-known sculptor. Later he went on to study at the Academy in Brussels under Van der Strappen and Simonis. In 1885 Devreese competed for the Prix de Rome for which he received a second prize award. In 1889 he obtained the First Prize of the "Concours triennal" at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels and was awarded a gold medal at the Cologne Exposition. Devreese exhibited regularly at the Salon of the Nationale des Beaux-arts in Paris from 1895. The style of his medals was largely influenced by the French artists. Devreese is also famous for his sculptures, monuments and fountains in Belgium and France.

Devreese, Belgian General Life Insurance Co. Centenary Medal, 1924-obv.jpg s Flower) Plaqaue-obv.jpg Man with Hammer by Devreese, 1923-rev-small~0.jpg Devreese, Belgian General Life Insurance Co. Centenary Medal, 1924-combo.jpg SOM#006-combo.jpg