Le Réfugié Belge
Project info

Le 10 mai 1940, la Belgique était envahie par les troupes nazies. Cette invasion des territoires belges, hollandais et luxembourgeois a lancé sur les routes des dizaines de milliers de malheureux, quittant leur maison, leur village, pour un effroyable exode. Une de ces familles, les Pirlot a connu l'hospitalité de Toulonjac à la ferme du famille Rossignol à La Borie-Basse où ils sont restés jusqu'à la fin de la guerre.
La Vierge de Banneux, la statue dite de Banneux à été offerte à la famille Rossignol à La Borie-Basse (Toulonjac) par les parents Pirlot, réfugiés, en guise de remerciement pour l'hébergement lors de la débâcle de mai 1940. Il faut savoir que le père Denis Rossignol, aux mains expertes, a érigé une petite chapelle au sein de sa ferme où trône la Vierge de Banneux.
Après avoir fait carrière en Belgique, ce couple Pirlot s'est installé à Saujac.
Saujac est une commune de l'ouest Aveyron et est en bordure de département. Elle est entourée par les communes de Salvagnac-Cajarc, Ols-et-Rinhodes, Ambeyrac et Montsalès. Le Bourg de Saujac se situe dans la vallée dans une boucle formée par un méandre du Lot qui fait office ici de frontière entre les départements de l'Aveyron et du Lot.
Lors de son installation définitive, il a amené une croix de pierre réalisée en Belgique. Cette «croix des Belges» a été implantée sur le rocher de Langle (causse de Saujac). à partir du croisement renseignant le Saut-de-la-Mounine.

In de vroege ochtend van vrijdag 10 mei staken de Duitse troepen massaal de grens met België, Nederland, Luxemburg en Frankrijk over. De Tweede Wereldoorlog was ook voor deze landen begonnen. Er waren hevige bombardementen op strategische plaatsen.

De Duitsers hadden slechts achttien dagen nodig om België op de knieën te dwingen. Naar schatting 12.000 Belgen overleefden de veldtocht niet, de helft onder hen waren burgers, die vaak onderweg of thuis slachtoffers werden van Duitse bombardementen. Op 28 mei bood koning Leopold III de capitulatie aan, terwijl een deel van de regering daarmee niet akkoord ging. Zij zouden de strijd verder zetten in ballingschap in Engeland.

Tijdens die meidagen vluchtten ook duizenden Belgische gezinnen naar Frankrijk. Naar schatting vier miljoen Belgen maakten de eerste oorlogsdagen als vluchteling mee. De helft daarvan kon de Franse grens oversteken.

Onder hen ook de famillie Pirlot uit Banneux, die na een lange niet ongevaarlijke trektocht uiteindelijk een onderdak vond in een boerderij te Toulonjac bij de familie Rossignol. Gedurende de oorlogsjaren leefden en werkten zij mee op de boerderij. De 7 jarige Renaud Pirlot en de evenoude Rossignol smeedden er hun vriendschap voor het leven.

Na het einde van de oorlog keerden de famillie Pirlot terug naar hun geboorteplaats Banneux vanwaar zij als dank een Heilige Maagd schonken aan de famillie Rossignol. De Maagd Maria kreeg haar onderkomen in een voor haar opgetrokken kapelletje op het erf van de boerderij te Toulonjac.

Eénmaal met pensioen keert het koppel Renaud Pirlot-Michel terug naar de streek en vestigt zich defintief te Saujac, een arduinen kruis gemaakt in Belgie wordt ter nagedachtenis van de exodus geplaatst op de Rocher de Langle te bereiken via het kruispunt komend van de Saut-de-la Mounine.

In the early morning of Friday 10 May, German troops crossed the border with Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France. The Second World War had also begun for these countries. There were heavy bombing in strategic places.

The Germans only needed eighteen days to force Belgium on their knees. An estimated 12,000 Belgians did not survive the campaign, half of them were civilians, who were often victims of German bombing on their way or home. On 28 May King Leopold III offered the capitulation, while a part of the government did not agree with it. They would continue the fight in exile in England.

During those days, thousands of Belgian families also fled to France. An estimated four million Belgians took part in the first war days as refugees. Half of them could cross the French border.

Among them also the Pirlot family from Banneux, who eventually found shelter in a farm in Toulonjac with the Rossignol family after a long, non-hazardous trek. During the war years they lived and worked on the farm. The 7 year old Renaud Pirlot and the old Rossignol created their friendship for life.

After the end of the war, the Pirlot family returned to their birthplace Banneux, from where they gave thanks to a Blessed Virgin to the Rossignol family. The Virgin Mary got her shelter in a chapel in front of her in the yard of the farm at Toulonjac.

Once retired, the couple Renaud Pirlot-Michel returns to the area and settles definitively to Saujac, a bluestone cross made in Belgium in memory of the exodus placed on the Rocher de Langle to reach via the crossroads of the Saut-de -la Mounine.

Dixit Lensculture :
It is a pleasure to review your images.

The quality of the photographs in this series is impressive. I think it works well in black and white, and you've made stylistic choices that fit the part of the story you are trying to tell. For instance, the visible movement in image 6 with the running deer suits the topic of refugees moving quickly to safety. The illustrative aspect of the images works well.

While the images are cohesive and follow the storyline, I wish there were more figures in the work. The portrait of Mr. Pirlot is compelling, and I recognize this as his story. While he may not be able to be portrayed in many of the images, I think finding a model or stand-in to serve as a unifying element, and also a reminder that this is the story of a real person and a survivor, would be powerful. I don't think every single image needs a human figure in it, but I think images 5, 7, or 8 would be good candidates. Choosing one or two of the images to reshoot with a figure, part of a figure, suggestion of a human, etc. would work well. It's just a thought. In general, I think this is a highly resolved series. I'm especially drawn to images 1-4 and image 6. They are beautifully rendered and have a bit of mystery to hold my interest.

From a technical perspective, your images tick all the boxes in terms of formal elements, composition, tonality, focus, etc.

I enjoy the thorough project statement you've included with the project. One part of the story was a little unclear in the English translation. I'm confused about the Virgin Mary section of the story, and I wonder if this is a result of the translation, or if that section of the story could be detailed or explained a little more clearly. That said, I want to compliment you on how well you tell the full story of this survivor's journey during World War 2. The detail of the story is impressive, given the amount of time that has passed, and again, the images do a great job of illustrating that journey. The titles and captions you've include are short, sweet, and descriptive. Nicely done.

If you cannot tell, I like your work very much. I think you should look for opportunities to exhibit and publish this work. I'll include some links below that are meant to help and inspire. Thank you again for your submission--the story is compelling and important.

http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/invited/7780397/b164196df5d01526f2f757831fdb75c222def6c2