History and mission of the association
The nonprofit organization « Historical Military Remember Association » was born from two distinct perspectives: the one of collecting and restoring military artifacts and the one of historical reenactment. In 2009, some friends passionate about history decided to join together to create an association aiming at two major missions:
- World War II military historical reenactment,
- Restoration of military vehicles of WWII era of various origins.
This synergy serves two main objective. Firstly, being able to provide with quality artifacts, exhibits and/or reconstitutions by the association. Indeed, it is not rare to see reenactment groups – we are not talking here about collecting groups from which few members portray reenactment characters – without any vehicles. Which may cause depending on the context, prejudice to an event. Secondly, portraying, the best from our abilities, all sides of the conflict during the period of 1939 to 1945, including the Germans.
In Belgium, still up to a few years ago, because of painful memories of World War II, occupying forces were excluded from historical reconstitution events of WWII, resulting in un-realistic reenactment. And this, despite the fact, that other commemorations of other periods such as the Middle Age, First Empire, castles, fortresses or famous battle fields allow more and more realistic reconstitutions.
A vision becoming a reality. Thanks to its un-common rolling vehicles and various sections - Americans, Germans, and also Belgians, civilians or partisans -, the H.M.R.A. develops a growing expertise in the domain of « military archeology » and in saving historical assets. The association has accumulated experience through numerous participation to events and commemorations honoring the memory of all patriots and all sides engaged in a bloody and useless conflict. However a landmark event would impact for a long time the H.M.R.A. and transform its vision.
Approaching the 66th anniversary of the « Battle of the Bulge », the association « Ardennes Memories », in charge of coordinating commemorations related to the battle, especially within Bastogne perimeter, was looking for quality reenactment groups to finalize a show in the villages of Recogne – Cobru. It was enough for the H.M.R.A. to become one the two pillars for this event, managing the organization of all German forces « reenactors ». The « American forces » being managed, by the association « Duty First ». The H.M.R.A. with this event, entered another era in its history.
Participating to shows, among other events, the H.M.R.A. became, on the perspective of reconstitution – though we are always interested in the restoration of vehicles of all sides -, an association oriented mainly on armored German troops of WWII; those being hardly portrayed during historical military reconstitutions. Concerning the other sections, they became sister associations with which we work alongside. It is not impossible that in the fore future, we would not develop allied armored troops as well.
The multi-section structure – approaching around 150 members – became too heavy to support by its volunteer members, pillars of the association. The new direction answers nowadays trends in the world of historical reenactment. Reenactment groups or associations portraying themselves all sides of the conflict are not any more answering the need of quality reenactment. Today’s « reenactors » prefer to commit in increasing the quality of their performance. This new trend of specialization in one particular aspect contributes in developing an expertise up to the smallest details for better more realistic quality historical events. Strong of this know-how, and combining it with other quality groups contributes to quality reconstitutions in a busy European agenda. The event of Recogne-Cobru is a perfect example of this new trend (www.ardennesmemories.com).
Along the years, the H.M.R.A. was attributed with a solid notoriety within memorial and historical assets circles. The acquisition of additional equipment, the continuous passion for perfection, ethic and rigor imposed to its members allow to satisfy an audience always more numerous and to receive the support of local authorities such as boroughs, institutions or other associations related to WWII conflict memory.
Since 2009, the concept evolves, the association gets more professional while more avenues of future development opens in order to add more vintage vehicles to display for a better quality show satisfying today’s audience expectations. Let’s hope that this new start meets the promises for many years to come.