This article focuses on the guilty landscape of the Belgian kidnapper, child rapist and child murderer, Marc Dutroux. Our aim is to explore which role the houses of Dutroux fulfill in the collective memory of this affaire. What has happened with the houses where Dutroux molested, murdered and buried his victims throughout the years? And how has the local community dealt with this physical memory of the kidnappings? In total, sixteen in-depth interviews have been carried out with spokesmen for the local governments, neighbouring residents of the different houses of Dutroux and local entrepreneurs in the tourist industry. Results show that the houses of Dutroux fulfill a problematic role within the collective memory of the Dutroux-affaire. On the one hand there is the need to retain the memory of this painful episode, often accompanied by placing tangible objects such as monuments at the locations of these crimes. In most cases, this process is initiated by the municipalities. On the other hand it appears that after a couple of years, the residents increasingly feel the need to forget. The houses of Dutroux serve as silent witnesses of the affaire, of which the ominous shadow reaches further than the homes of this criminal. We conclude that feelings of guilt and shame related to the Dutroux-case, seem to spill over to its spatial surroundings. In this tension between wanting to remember and wanting to forget, a local art project appears to play a remarkable role.
‘Het is een verschrikkelijke gebeurtenis die heeft plaatsgevonden, een zwarte pagina in de geschiedenis. Het is dan niet de bedoeling dat er een museum komt.’
– Marcel Basille (Burgemeester van Lobbes)
‘Elke dag word ik ermee geconfronteerd. Het markeert je dag met Marc Dutroux.’
– Buurtbewoner in Marcinelle