King Philippe and Queen Mathilde paid an official visit to the German federal states of Thuringia and Saxony-Anhalt this week.
While in Saxony-Anhalt, they visited an ancestral castle where the head of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha once lived, Friedenstein Castle.
Accompanied by the Prime Minister of the German-speaking Community in Belgium, Oliver Paasch, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited the city of Gotha; the former concentration camp Buchenwald; the Neues Museum to view an exhibition by Belgian artist and architect Henry van de Velde; and the Bauhaus Museum for the 100th anniversary of Bauhaus in Germany.
During their visit to Buchenwald, the memorial site published on its Facebook page a history of the Belgian connection to the camp.
“More than 4,200 Belgian men and at least 130 Belgian women have been imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp or one of its satellite camps,” read the Facebook post. More than 500 died. The majority of them were political prisoners who were members of resistance groups.
In Weimar, the royal couple visited the Neues Museum. The city’s mayor said that “Weimar is looking forward to the Belgian royal couple. I wish the high guests many lasting impressions of our beautiful city.”
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited for the Bauhaus centenary as well, which was a prominent art school and style that promoted modernism. When the Nazis rose to power, the school was based in Berlin, and Hitler ordered it shut down because it had foreign influences.
In Saxony-Anhalt, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde visited Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the site of Protestant Reformation with Prime Minister Reiner Haseloff; the Bauhaus Institute in Dessau, and DOMO Caproleuna, which is the largest chemical site in Germany and where a Belgian business investment has been made.
“The royal visit to the Leuna chemical industrial complex makes us extremely proud,” said Dr Christof Günther, the company’s managing director.
“For InfraLeuna and all of its employees, it is a very special honour that the Belgian king and queen stopped by to find out about the positive development and the future outlook of our chemical complex.”
On the first night of their visit, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attended a dinner hosted by Bodo Ramelow, the Prime Minister of the Free State of Thuringia, where he spoke of the Belgian Royal Family’s ties to the area.
“It is a great pleasure for both of us to be here in Weimar, not least because of the many ties that my family and the Kingdom of Belgium connect with your country. The history of my family is naturally intimately intertwined with that of your country.”
King Philippe continued, “Not only the historical ties between our two countries are very strong. We are closely aligned on the economic level. In the political field, we have been working together for decades on the wonderful European project. And on the cultural level, we share the same language.”