Some years ago, when I began investigations about the Belgian – born in Paris - violinist Georges Krins, I quickly found information about a memorial to be unveiled in Liege (Belgium) some months after the Titanic disaster.
The fact that Georges Krins studied music at the 'Conservatoire Royal de Liege' is well known in Belgium but I found no traces of any ‘Krins Monument' in Liege.
Thanks to much perseverance and the support of another Belgian Titanic enthusiast called Olivier Cesaretti, we finally found some press articles and the plan of the ‘Georges Krins Memorial' that unfortunately was never erected!
‘Le Cri de Liege' – an artistic newspaper – relates Georges Krins' death for the first time on 26th October 1912 under the rubric ‘Pour nos heros' (For our heroes).
Alfred Lance,the newspaper's manager, expressed the heroism of the musicians in general and suggested that the City of Liege would honour the memory of Georges Alexander Kris who also gave his life:
… those musicians were heroes and the City of Liege must be proud that one of them was a son of Walloon …
Mr Lance also mentioned Julius Caesar' statement:
‘Nature must say to the whole World: that one was a man'
The next articles, published 23d and 30 th November 1912, expressed satisfaction that it had received encouragement. A Committee of support had been created and the Mayor of Spa – Baron J. de Crawhez - agreed to join it. It also mentioned for the first time that funding of the future memorial had been started.
From April to September 1913, the ‘Cri de Liege' related the evolution of the fundraising. It is interesting to notice of the identity of some of contributors:
- Collections in bars, cinemas and theaters
- Fritz Toussaint (Member of the Board of the Belgian Museum Gallery),
- Oscar Dossin : G. Krins' violin teacher,
- Revenue from the sale of a poem (written by Miss Maud Stoutenburgh) in the streets of New-York : see below,
- Linkinhorne Choral Society (UK) through the Lord Mayor of London
Articles also mentioned the Committee Members' names:
- Lady de Waha , chairperson of the ‘Union des Femmes Wallones' (Union of the Walloon Women)
- Mr. N. Goblet and Mr. L. Troclet , Deputies in Liege
- Lord A. de Crawhez , Mayor of Spa
- J. Delaite , Provincial Advisor
- J. Roger , Provincial Advisor
- S. Dupuis , Director of the ‘Conservatoire Royal de Liege' (Royal Academy of music of Liege)
- Lord M. de Their , Director of the newspaper ‘La Meuse'
- A. Thuillier , Director of the newspaper ‘Journal de Liege'
- J. Demarteau , Director of the newspaper ‘La Gazette de Liege'
- O. Colson , Director of the newspaper ‘La Wallonie'
- Dr. A de Damseaux , former Mayor of Spa
- Lord de Lafontaine , Senior Priest of Spa
- Lord H. de Selys-Longchamps , Chairman of the ‘Garde Wallone de Liege'
- Mr. Samuel , Teacher at the ‘Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles' (Brussels' Royal Academy of music)
- N. Desart and L. Jihel , Writers
The Committee collected about 2,000 Belgian Francs (more than actual 4,600 Eur/ £ 3,100)
On 13th September 1913 the ‘Cri de Liege' launched the official campaign for the Krins' Memorial. Some artists expressed their interest and they were asked to send their project before 24 th September 1913 as the Committee expressed the wish to unveil the memorial in April 1914.
The Committee also gave their recommendations about the design of the monument: -
The monument will be the free inspiration of the artist but:
It must honor the memory of a young musician, dead at his post, in a shipwreck,
The monument will have the effigy of Georges Krins,
The Committee will give its preference to a project composed of a block of rock, a medallion, with some ornaments.
Le Cri de Liege 13/09/1913
On 1st November 1913, the Cri de Liege published an article expressing the fact that the Committee had chosen one of the 7 projects ‘in competition'. The winning project is named ‘Labor'.
The future memorial is described as follows:
A 3 meters high block of stone, crowned with foliage and the effigy of Georges Krins. At the bottom, the waves are rolling over the body of a musician. He still has his violin in his hands.
The architect Fritz Hallen, living rue d'Angleur in Liege, was awarded the project.
After nearly a year of research, we finally found the original plans of the winning project. It is in the ‘Bibliothèque des Chiroux' in Liège.
The last article we found in dated 20th June 1914. In fact it is more a prier than the full accomplishment of the project:
‘… May the memorial for that modest hero of the Titanic glorify Liege, his birthplace, …'
40 days later, the Belgian Army was fully mobilized and German soldiers invaded Belgium on 4 th August 1914.
The Krins Memorial stayed a ‘Ghost Memorial'!
The newspaper ‘La Meuse' published an article on 26th September 1925 called ‘It was a great ship, it was a little citizen of Liege – Those which one forgets'.
It seems that some Members of the Liege City Council tried to proceed with the project. But the existing stones disappeared, no one knew anything about the money collected … the project ‘capsized' for good.
I would like to thank Olivier Cesaretti, Mrs. Mawez and Kathleen Neill for their help and support.