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which took place was only in a very small minority of cases justified
by military necessity.

[Sidenote: 19]

_Louvain._ - Then the corps of incendiaries got to work. They had
broad belts with the words "Gott mit uns" ("God with us"), and their
equipment consisted of a hatchet, a syringe, a small shovel and a
revolver. Fires blazed up in the direction of the Law Courts and St.
Martin's Barracks.

[Sidenote: 19]

A witness: "When we got to the Place de la Station ... not a single
house in the place was standing."

[Sidenote: 20]

On the 26th (Wednesday), in the city of Louvain, massacre, fire, and
destruction went on. The University, with its Library, the Church of
St. Peter, and many houses were set on fire and burnt to the ground.

[Sidenote: 12]

_Tamines._ - A witness went there on August 27th and says: "It is
absolutely destroyed and a mass of ruins."

[Sidenote: 9]

_Liège._ - The Rue des Pitteurs and houses in the Place de l'Université
and the Quai des Pêcheurs were systematically fired with benzine.

[Sidenote: 16]

_Aerschot._ - The houses were set on fire with special apparatus.

[Sidenote: 12]

_Montigny-sur-Sambre._ - Incendiaries, with a distinctive badge on their
arm, went down the main street throwing handfuls of inflammatory and
explosive pastilles into the houses. These pastilles were carried by
them in bags, and in this way about 130 houses were destroyed in the
main street.

[Sidenote: 11]

_Namur._ - A witness of good standing ... describes how the town was
set on fire systematically in six different places.... Not less than
140 houses were burnt. On the 25th the hospital was set on fire with
inflammable pastilles, the pretext being that soldiers in the hospital
had fired upon the Germans.

[Sidenote: 13]

_Dinant._ - The town was systematically set on fire by hand grenades....
The houses and villages were pillaged and property wantonly destroyed.

[Sidenote: 12]

At _Morlanwelz_, about this time, the British Army, together with some
French cavalry, were compelled to retire before the German troops. The
latter took the burgomaster and his manservant prisoner and shot them
both in front of the Hotel de Ville at Péronne (Belgium), where the
bodies were left in the street for 48 hours. They burnt the Hotel de
Ville and 62 houses. The usual accusation of firing by civilians was
made. It is strenuously denied by the witness, who declares that three
or four days before the arrival of the Germans, circulars had been
distributed to every house and placards had been posted in the town
ordering the deposit of all firearms at the Hotel de Ville, and that
this order had been complied with.

[Sidenote: 24]

_Erpe._ - The village was deliberately burnt.

[Sidenote: 23]

_Termonde._ - The town was partially burnt. One witness was taken
prisoner in the street by some German soldiers, together with several
other civilians. At about 12 o'clock on the 5th some of the tallest
and strongest men amongst the prisoners were picked out to go round
the streets with paraffin. Three or four carts containing paraffin
tanks were brought up, and a syringe was used to put paraffin on to
the houses, which were then fired. The process of destruction began
with the houses of rich people, and afterwards the houses of the poorer
classes were treated in the same manner.

[Sidenote: 8]

_Herve._ - From the 8th to the 10th over 300 houses were burnt.

[Sidenote: 8]

_Visé._ - On or about the 14th and 15th the village was completely
destroyed. Officers directed the incendiaries, who worked methodically
with benzine.

[Sidenote: 9]

_Diary of Eitel Anders_, a German soldier. - "We crossed the Belgian
frontier on August 15th, 1914, at 11.50 in the forenoon, and then we
went steadily along the main road till we got into Belgium. Hardly were
we there when we had a horrible sight. Houses were burnt down.... Not
one of the hundreds of houses were spared. Everything was plundered and
burnt."

[Sidenote: 24]

_Diary of Matbern, of the 4th Company of Jägers_, states that at a
village between Birnal and Dinant, on Sunday, August 23rd, "about 220
inhabitants were shot, and the village was burnt.... All villages,
chateaux and houses are burnt down during the night. It is a beautiful
sight to see the fires all round us in the distance."


_Looting._

[Sidenote: 34]

The German troops, both in Belgium and France, are proved to have been
guilty of persistent looting. In the majority of cases the looting took
place from houses, but there is also evidence that German soldiers,
and even officers, robbed their prisoners, both civil and military,
of sums of money and other portable possessions. It was apparently
well known throughout the German Army that towns and villages would
be burned whenever it appeared that any civilians had fired upon the
German troops, and there is reason to suspect that this known intention
of the German military authorities in some cases explains the sequence
of events which led up to the burning and sacking of a town or village.
The soldiers, knowing that they would have an opportunity of plunder
if the place was condemned, had a motive for arranging some incident
which would provide the necessary excuse for condemnation. More than
one witness alleges that shots coming from the window of a house were
fired by German soldiers, who had forced their way into the house for
the purpose of thus creating an alarm.

[Sidenote: 15]

_Aerschot._ - Throughout the day the town was looted by the soldiers.

[Sidenote: 8]

_Visé._ - Antiques and china were removed from the houses before their
destruction by officers who guarded the plunder, revolver in hand.

[Sidenote: A 171]

Translated extract from diary of Stephan Luther: "We live like God in
France."

[Sidenote: A 181]

Translated extracts from the field notebook of an officer in the 178th
Regiment, XIIth (Saxon) Corps: "August 17th. - In the afternoon I had a
look at the little chateau belonging to one of the King's Secretaries
(not at home). Our men had behaved like regular vandals. They had
looted the cellar first.... Everything was topsy-turvy - magnificent
furniture, silk, and even china.... I am sure they must have taken away
a heap of useless stuff simply for the pleasure of looting."

* * * * *

[Sidenote: A 182]

"September 3rd. - Still at Rethel, ... the houses are charming inside.
The middle class in France has magnificent furniture.... Every bit of
furniture broken, mirrors smashed. The Vandals themselves could not
have done more damage. This place is a disgrace to our army."

"I could not resist taking a little memento myself here and there."


Article 47 of the Second International Peace Conference (Convention
concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land), held at the Hague
in 1907, reads as follows: -

_Pillage is expressly forbidden._




FINDINGS OF THE COMMITTEE.


[Sidenote: 37]

"The Committee have come to a definite conclusion upon each of the
heads under which the evidence has been classified.

"=It is proved=: -

"(=i=) =That there were in many parts of Belgium deliberate
and systematically organised massacres of the civil population,
accompanied by many isolated murders and other outrages.=

"(=ii=) =That in the conduct of the war generally innocent
civilians, both men and women, were murdered in large numbers,
women violated, and children murdered.=

"(=iii=) =That looting, house burning, and the wanton
destruction of property were ordered and countenanced by the
officers of the German Army, that elaborate provision had been made
for systematic incendiarism at the very outbreak of the war, and
that the burnings and destruction were frequent where no military
necessity could be alleged, being indeed part of a system of
general terrorization.=

"(=iv=) =That the rules and usages of war were frequently
broken, particularly by the using of civilians, including women
and children, as a shield for advancing forces exposed to fire,
to a less degree by killing the wounded and prisoners, and in the
frequent abuse of the Red Cross and the White Flag.=

"Sensible as they are of the gravity of these conclusions, the
Committee conceive that they would be doing less than their duty if
they failed to record them as fully established by the evidence.
=Murder, lust, and pillage prevailed over many parts of Belgium
on a scale unparalleled in any war between civilised nations during
the last three centuries.=

"Our function is ended when we have stated what the evidence
establishes, but we may be permitted to express our belief that
these disclosures will not have been made in vain if they touch
and rouse the conscience of mankind, and we venture to hope that,
as soon as the present war is over, the nations of the world in
council will consider what means can be provided and sanctions
devised to prevent the recurrence of such horrors as our generation
is now witnessing."




Is YOUR conscience roused? Won't YOU take the most effective way of
showing it - if you are a man under 40 and fit? The only way to put a
stop to these and other crimes is to crush the German Army.

YOU can help either by joining the Army or by making munitions. Place
YOUR services at the disposal of the military authorities.

If YOU are a woman, cannot you help a man to decide?




[Illustration: Map of Belgium]




PARLIAMENTARY PUBLICATIONS.


REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON ALLEGED GERMAN OUTRAGES,

38 pages, F'cap. folio, with 2 maps. [Cd. 7894.] Price 6_d._


APPENDIX TO REPORT,

199 pages, F'cap. folio. Depositions, diaries and plates.
[Cd. 7895.] Price 1_s._ 9_d._


The above have been reprinted as Official Publications, in smaller
(octavo) size: -
REPORT, 64 pages, with 2 maps Price 3_d._
REPORT, 48 pages, without maps " 1_d._
DEPOSITIONS, 288 pages, with 8 plates " 6_d._

* * * * *

To be purchased, either directly or through any Bookseller, from

WYMAN AND SONS, LTD., 29, Breams Buildings, Fetter Lane, E.C.,
and 28, Abingdon Street, S.W., and 54, St. Mary Street, Cardiff; or

H.M. STATIONERY OFFICE (SCOTTISH BRANCH), 23, Forth Street,
Edinburgh; or

E. PONSONBY, LTD., 116, Grafton Street, Dublin;

or from the Agencies in the British Colonies and Dependencies, the
United States of America and other Foreign Countries of

T. FISHER UNWIN, London, W.C.




* * * * * *




Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors were corrected.

Inconsistent hyphenation was made consistent.

P. 17: Rotselaer and Wespelaer -> Rotselaar and Wespelaar.



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Online LibraryAnonymousThe Truth About German Atrocities → online text (page 3 of 3)