Made with supply stamps issued until 1948, this piece of art represents a Croix du Feu or Cross of Fire. This Belgian military decoration was awarded to veterans, combatants, or civilians- all First World War survivors.
On the other side of the cross appear symbols. A Belgian helmet is placed on a bayonet, while a howitzer stands on a hill at the back. At the top of the medal, the sun breaks through the clouds. Laurel branches surround the representation. Above the picture, a skull and crossbones evoke the sacrifice of the Belgian soldiers who fell during the First World War. Later, the dates “1940-1945” were added to commemorate the new victims of the second conflict. Finally, the motto “SALUS PATRIAE SUPREMA LEX” (The salvation of the nation is the supreme law) reinforces the idea of self-sacrifice by the soldiers to defend their country.
This painting, which includes strong symbolic value, was created using the stamps used from the beginning of the Occupation. Food was quickly in short supply, and basic necessities were rationed. The population received slips from the Ministry of Agriculture to fill in with supply tickets. These tickets or stamps could then be exchanged in stores for basic foodstuffs such as bread, meat, sugar, dairy products, or tobacco. After the war, the supply tickets continued to be used for some time. The stamps ensured that the needs of all citizens were met. However, the circulation of foodstuffs was still very strictly controlled, as the country was still under reconstruction. Here, the stamps labeled “Mechelen” were collected in the Mechelen area.
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