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  • Writer's pictureAnny Slegten

The Spanish Flu in 1918

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

As we are confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic, I was asked to tell a true story about what happened in Belgium at the end of World War I in 1918.

My husband’s paternal grandfather was a multimillionaire and used to help the city where he was residing.

Toward the end of WWI,The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence, and most commonly known as Spanish Flu, broke up in his area.

Although known as the Spanish Flu, from what I read, this deadly flu who wiped out about 50 % of the population in a huge part of Europe did not start in Spain.

As the Spanish Flu started to spread in his town, my husband’s grandfather immediately decided to help, paying all the medication needed for his small town and instructing two of his sons to go into the houses signaling someone sick or dead to give them the medication.

There was a strict rule:

Before entering the house, he instructed my father in law (in his early 20’s) and another son just 2 year older to light up a cigar before entering a house and smoke it as long as they were in the house and once out of the house, extinguish it and throw it away and start this all over again before entering the next house, light up a new cigar and smoke it as long as they were in the house and once out of the house, extinguish it and throw it away - and do this over and over again, day after day.

I do not know what were the rules for his family still living in his impressive house, his numerous house staff (he was a widower and had 6 children – 3 boys and 3 girls) as well as all the employees. It was reported that everyone in his direct environment stayed healthy, including himself.

How come?

The focus was staying healthy. Had the focus been ‘to not catch the plague’, they would all have caught it.

And what is the message I was so many times requested to explain?

Follow the rules.

Please follow the official health recommendations in your area, keeping your focus on be healthy, stay healthy.

Thank you for reading me, take care and be well.

Anny Slegten


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