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pi<i;si;nti:o ijy I C( \ i^



Translated textually from the Note ad=
dressed by the French Government to
the Governments of Neutral Powers on
the conduct of the German Authorities
to-wards the population of the French
Departments in the occupation of the


NATIONAL LAW DURING 1914, 1915, 1916.




Circular covering the Note to the Diplomatic Agents
of France ...... q

Note of the Government of the French Eepublic ... 4

Annexes : —

A. Documents relating to the deportation and disper-
sion of women, girls and men from Lille,
Roubaix, Tourcoing (April, 1916) 9

I. German Documents : —

Proclamation of the Military Commandant at
Lille 10

Proclamation of the " Etappen-Komman-
dantur " ... ... ... _. _, iq

II. French Documents : —

Protests by the French Government 11

Reply of the German Government 14

Reply of the French Government 14

Various Documents : —

Protest^ by the Mayor and the Bishop of
Lille ... ... ... ... ... 15

Various Letters ... ... ... ... 16

B. Depositions concerning forced labour in the

Departments in German occupation 35

C. Official French and German Documents concerning

forced labour ... ... ... ... ... 75

(9288r.) A 2



Letter enclosing the Note to the Powers.

The President of the Council and Minis^r of Foreign Affairs to the
Diplomatic Representatives of the French Republic, Paris, 2bth
July, 1916.

I have requested you to call the attention of the government to which
you are accredited to the treatment to which the population of Lille,
Roubaix, and Tourcoing- have been subjected by the German authorities
(Ann. 5). I informed you that I was in receipt of a number of com-
munications on this subject.

In view of the facts which have been revealed to it, the French
Government cannot think it sufficient to cite the 3rd Article of the Con-
vention of the Hague relating to the laws and customs of land warfare,
or to anticipate the indemnity for which Germany will be held respon-
sible on the score of the breaches of the Regulations committed by persons
belonging to her armed forces; the Government would feel itself guilty
of a grave failure of duty if it did not endeavour to bring some remedial
measures to bear on these sufferings.

Until the fortune of war enables us to reconquer the occupied districts,
the only means of furthering this effort is to make an urgent appeal,
in the name of justice and of humanity, to the neutral Powers and to
the public opinion of all nations.

I therefore beg you to communicate the annexed Note to the Govern-
ment to which you are accredited, and to call its most serious attention
'to the docTiment.

This Note embodies the protest of the French Government against the
facts which it thereby brings to the knowledge of the civilised world;
the Note is supported by much documentary evidence which is annexed
to it.

If our compatriots in enemy countries have a means of defence m the
devoted zeal of the Governments charged with the protection of French
interests, the same is not the case with our fellow-citizens in the territory
for the administration of which Germany is temporarily responsible.

In the name of military necessities — which it has not allowed to stand
in the way of certain publicists being allowed access to its front — the
German Government has, up to the present, refused to allow representa-
tives of neutral Powers to be sent to the invaded Departments. Without
doubt it fears the impression which would be produced abroad by a
knowledge of the situation to which the unhappy resident population is
reduced. Time has been necessary to collect and arrange the evidence
establishing the guilt of the German authorities for the events of Holy
Week, 1916. To these documents we add all the others which attest the
varioiis abuses to which our compatriots of the occupied districts have
been subjected since the beginning of the war.

The German Government has paid no attention to the successive sug-
gestion . which have been made to it with a view to putting an end tc

a state of affairs wliicli violates all international engagements, and thus
leaves the population of these districts under the constant menace of
new severities. All our protests having- proved idle, we lay to-day our
proofs before the neutral Powers, confident of the judgment which the
conscience of the world will pronounce upon the facts.

Naturally, it has been impossible for the French Government itself
to check every detail of the information contained in the documentary
evidence laid before it, inasmuch as it relates to matters which occurred
in territory still occupied by the enemy. But the evidence collected
comes from so many sources, is so much to the same effect, and is given
by persons of such great respectability, character, and trustworthiness,
that it will carry a conviction of its general truth. The mistakes, if any,
will not invalidate the general conclusion ; they can be of only secondary

It remains to observe that if the German Government's intention is to
impugn our information, the course incumbent upon it is to agree to an
impartial investigation, and, in pursuance of this object, to authorise
the neutral Powers to institute an enquiry, especially upon the events
which occurred at Lille, Eoubaix, Tourcoing, and the adjacent com-
munes between the 22nd and the 29th April, 1916. A refusal on its part
would involve an acknowledgment of the truth of the facts alleged.

(Signed) A. BRIAND.

Note of the Government of the French Republic on the Conduct of
THE German Authorities towards the Population of the French
Departments occupied by the Enemy.

On several occasions^ the Government of the Republic has had occasion
to bring to the notice of neutral Powers the action of the German
military authorities towards the population of the French territory tem-
porarily occupied by them as being in conflict with treaty rights.

The Government of the Republic finds itself to-day obliged to lay
before foreign governments documents which will establish that our
enemies have put in force measures still more inconsistent with humanity.

By order of General von Graevenitz, and with the support of Infantry
Regiment No. 64, detailed for the purpose by the German General Head-
quarters, about 25,000 French — consisting of girls between 16 and 20
years of age, young women, and men up to the age of 55 — without regard
to social position,^ were torn from their homes at Roubaix, Tourcoingj
and Lille, separated ruthlessly from their families, and compelled to do
agricultural work in the Departments of the Aisne and the Ardennes.

Better than any comment which we can make, the official notices of
the German authorities, the despairing protests of the Mayor and the

(^) Notably, in August last, a French Note denounced the behaviour of the Germans
who at Lille, at Roubaix, and in the neighbouring villages, compelled women and girls to
make sandbags, work directly connected with military operations. (Ann. 243.)

(-) The removals were made without regard to social position. It appears, however,
that some discrimination was effected later on, after an examination of such hands as
appeared incapable of agricultural labour. This measure — in which humanity bore no
part — does nothing to lessen the odium of removals, which, none the less, involved keen
distress to families. If the G-ermans hoped by these means to create a class antagonism
in a population united against the invader, the examples of devotion, quoted in Annexes 13
and 19, prove their failure.

Bishop of Lille, and extracts from the letters received from these locali-
ties which follow {An7i. A) will throw light upon this new outrage com-
mitted by the Imperial German Government.

The Minister of War, under date of the 30th June, 1916, gives us the
following accounts of these occurrences : —

Not content with subjecting our people in the North to every kind of oppres-
sion, the Germans have recently treated them in the most iniquitous way.

In contempt of rules universally recognised and of their own express promises
not to molest the civil population, they have taijen women and girls away from
their families ; they have sent them off, mixed up with men, to destinations
unknown, to work unknown.

In the early days of April, official notices offered to families needing work a
settlement in the country — in the Department of the Nord — with work in the
fields or at tree-felling (A tut. 28).

Finding this overture unsuccessful, the Germans decided to have recourse to
compulsion. From the 9th April onwards they resorted to raids — in the
streets, in the houses — carrying off men and girls indiscriminately, and sending
them Heaven knows where (A7in. 12-32).

A wider scope and a more methodical application were soon given to the
measure. A General and a large force arrived at Lille (An7i. 1.^, 21, 22),
among others the 64th Regiment from Yerdun {Ann. 13, 19, 24).

On the 29th and 30th April, the public were warned by proclamation to be
prepared for a compulsory evacuation (An)t. 21).

The Mayor entered an immediate protest, the Bishop tried to gain access to the
local Commandant, local worthies wrote letters of protest (Ann. 10, 11, 16, 22,
23, 28).

No effect ! On Holy Saturday, at three in the morning, methodical raids
began at Lille in the Fives quarter, in the Marliere quarter of Tourcoing, and at
Roubaix. After a suspension on Easter Sunday, the work went on all the week,
ending up in the Saint Maurice quarter of Lille (Ann. 22).

About three in the morning, troops, with fixed bayonets, barred the streets,
machine guns commanded the road, against unarmed people {Ann. 14, 15,
16, 22).

Soldiers made their way into the houses. The officer pointed out the people
who were to go, and, half an hour later, everybody was marched pell-mell
into an adjacent factory, and from there to the station, whence the departure
took place {Aim. 2, 13, 16, 23, 32).

Mothers with children under 14 were spared {Ann. 2, 13, 14, 16).

Gil Is under 20 were deported only when accompanied by one of their family.
This in no way relieves the barbarity of the proceeding. Soldiers of the Land-
sturm blushed to be employed on such work {Ann. 20).

The victims of this brutal act displayed the greatest courage. They were heard
crying " Vive la France," and singing the Marseillaise in the cattle-trucks in
which they were carried off {Ann. 14, 20, 32).

It is said that the men are employed in agriculture, road-mending, the making
of munitions and trench digging {Arm. 22).

The women are employed in cooking and laundry-work for the soldiers and as
substitutes for officers' servants {Ann. 19, 22).

For this severe work, housemaids, domestic servants and factory women have
been taken by preference {Ann. 20, 22).

No servants are left in the Rue Royale at Lille {Ann. 19).

But some brave girls of the upper middle-class have come forward and

refused to allow the working-class girls to go alone. The names of Miles B

and de B are mentioned as having insisted on accompanying the girls of

their district {Ann. 13, 19.)

The unfortunate people, thus requisitioned, have been scattered from Seclin
and Templeuve {Ami. 19, 22, 28), as far as the Ardennes {Ann. 19, 20, 28, 32).

Their number is estimated at about 25,000, from the towns of Lille, Roubaix,
and Tourcoing {Ayin. 19).

The Quartier de la Place at Lille, the communes of Loos, Haubourdin, la
Madeleine, and Lambersart are said to have been spared.
Unequalled emotion was felt by the population of the North of France,
without distinction of classes, during these days of Holy Week^^^

(•) See the letter of the 30th April, addressed to M. Jules Cambon, Secretary-General
to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, formerly French Ambassador at Berlm and an ex-
Prefect of Lille (Ann. 12, 13)


These measures surpass in inhuinanity those previously adopted. It is,
however, necessary to return to the latter.

It appears necessary to compare the documents annexed to this Note
with a reply given by the German Government (An?i. 244) to ii previous
complaint relating to work enforced, in violation of the Convention, on
the civil population of Landrecies and Hancourt (Ann. 242).

After declaring that at Landrecies the French who are liable to
military service have work suitable to their profession assigned to them,
the German Government asserts that at Landrecies, Hancourt, and every-
where else the population of the occupied French districts is treated with
justice and perfect humanity.

The documents annexed to the present Note will show the value of
this assertion. It is not a matter of men liable to military service having
been forced to work; women, and girls between 16 and 20, have been
taken into captivity and sent into exile.

Does the German Government, denying the principles, the sanctity of
which it accepted in the Hague Convention, maintain that a belligerent
has the right to compel enemy civilians to work ?

In a Note dated the 22nd March, 1916 (Ann. 245), it stated that it
felt compelled to " request the French Government to issue orders to all
commandants of internment camps on the subject of forced labour, and
to require a formal declaration with regard to the matter."

This declaration was made to the Imperial Government on several
occasions and in the most definite form. How can that Government
reconcile its claim in respect to interned German civilians — whom it
declares not to be liable to forced labour — with its admission that
French civilians, liable to military service, but at liberty, are constrained
to labour, or with the disgraceful measures taken at Roubaix and Lille
with regard to women and girls?

In orders placarded at Lille the German military authority has
endeavoured to justify the wholesale deportations ordered at Lille and
Roubaix as a retaliation for the attitude of England in making
the provisioning of the population increasingly difficult (Ann. 1).
Nothing can justify such a barbarous measure. Seizure of contra-
band and interference with enemy commerce are acts of war; deporta-
tion of the population without military necessity is not an act of war.
Moreover, to dispose of this pretended justification, it is sufficient to
show that Germany has not only stripped — for her own profit — the
occupied districts of all the products which would have ensured the
subsistence of the inhabitants, but also, previously to any inter-
ference with enemy commerce, organised for her own benefit the
exploitation of the labour of French civilians.

To show this, extracts from the depositions of French citizens who
have been evacuated from the invaded Departments are annexed to the
present Note (Ann. B).

These depositions vv-ere made on oath before the magistrates of the
districts where the evacuated people found asylum in all parts of France,
by refugees from all points of the invaded Departments.

They were made in response to a form of enquiry in which the question
of forced labour was not in contemplation — it was too much at variance

with international law. They emanate from persons of all ages and
conditions, and their absolute agreement (more than two hundred have
been taken) proves that the civil population of the Departments occupied
by the German troops has been reduced to absolute servitude by the
army of occupation.

Article 52 of the regulations annexed to the Fourth Convention of
the Hague permits requisitions in kind and in services for the needs of
the army of occupation. In the recorded depositions there is no question
of any regular form of requisitions. Services, sometimes of a most
repulsive nature, have been forcibly imposed (Ann. B-i.) on the entire
civil population, without distinction of sex,(^) age, (2) or social position. (^)
These unhappy people had to present themselves for the work imposed
on them by night or by day (Ann. 88-91), at all sorts of places and at
great distances from their homes, (*) sometimes even under artillery
fire,(^) in most cases without any kind of remuneration, (^) in others for
a few crusts of bread (Ann. B-mii. and Ann. 122, 230).

The German military authority has never concerned itself with the
care of the population which the war has brought under its provisional
administration. The products of the forced labour of the population
has been transported to Germany in spite of the absolute destitution of
the workers. (^)

Finally, it can be established from these depositions that the German
authorities have not hesitated to compel the population to take part in
military operations against their own country (Ann. B-x.) ; they have even
obliged them to assist in pillaging their own countryside ! (Ann. 95,

They have employed them as direct auxiliaries of the combatant
forces, either by placing them in front of the German troops to serve
as shields (Ann. 73, 161, 164, 173, 183, 186, 210) or by compelling them
to do work in connection with military operations (Ann. B-xi. and Ann.
86, 100).

Where this working material — for there is no more a question of
human beings but of mere machines moved from place to place as
required — where this human material gives out in certain districts of
the occupied territory, the German authorities draw without limit
either on the internment camps where, contrary to all law, the
mobilisable men belonging to this territory have been confined (Ann.
B-vi.), or on the other invaded districts. The people are not sent back to
their former homes. These civilians are formed into regiments and,
although the Germans themselves acknowledge that they ought not to
be compelled to work, they are sent to any point of the districts occupied
by the German army and compelled to perform the most severe labour. (*)
And when France demands, in the name of some agonised family, infor-
mation as to the fate of an unhappy exile, the German Government
replies (Ann. 104) that the military authorities do not consider themselves

C) Ann. B-iii. and Ann. 35, 55, 126, 184, 185, 230.

(2) Ann. B-iii. and Ann. 55, 100, 152, 171, 174, 179, 184, 198, 207, 210.

(») Ann. B-ii. atid A?in. 90, 95, 118.

0) An7i. B-v. afid Ann. 200, 225.

0') A7in. 88-91.

(«) Ann. B-vii. and Ann. 35, 52, 73, 89, 100, 151.

O) Ann. B-ix. and Ann. 69, 86, 116, 159, 202, 217.

(«) Ann. 95, 96, 105, lOG, 114, 116-120, 202, 210, 226, 241.


under any obligation to explain their reasons for these transferences.
For entire niontlis it is impossible to find out what has become of the
unhappy people (Ann. B-^i.).

The indisputable result of the following declarations, read as a whole,
is that, without any immediate necessity, not in the excitement of
battle — moments which might excuse the violations of international
law committed by the German authorities — those authorities, in pur-
suance of a deliberate purpose and according to a predetermined method,
have reduced the unfortunate population of the invaded districts to a
condition which can be likened only to slavery.

In 1885, at the time of the African Conference of Berlin — with respect
to which Germany had taken the initiative — she engaged, so far as the
African territories subject to her sovereignty or her influence were con-
cerned, to preserve the native populations and to improve their material
and moral conditions of life.

After having collected the information, of necessity very restricted,
which reaches it from invaded France and which it submits to the
consideration of the Neutral Powers, the Government of the Eepublic
is entitled to doubt whether the German authorities are observing, with
regard to the populations of which it has for the moment the charge,
the engagements entered into by the Imperial Government in respect
to the black populations of Central Africa.


President of the Council.
Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Until a more complete code of the laws of war
can be issued, the High Contracting Parties think it
expedient to declare that in cases not included in the
Regulations adopted by them, the populations and
belligerents remain under the protection and the rule
of the principles of the Law of Nations, as they
result from the usages established between civilised
nations, from the laws of humanity, and the re-
quirements of the public conscience.

{Hague Convention^ ISth October, 1907 ; Laws
and Customs of War on Land — Preamble.)

All the Powers exercising the right of sovereignty
or exercising influence in the said territories engage
to preserve the native populations, to ameliorate
their moral and material conditions of life, and to
co-operate in the suppression of slavery and above all
of the slave-trade.

{General Act of the African Conference of
Berlin, 188 5, Article 6.)

Family honour and rights, the lives of individuals
and private property, as well as religious convictions
and liberty of worship, must be respected.

{Hague Convention, ISth October, 1907,
Article 46.)





(April, 1916.)


Annexe 1.

Proclamation of the German Military Commandant of Lille.

This document and the one following it, which were brought to the knowledge of
the French Government from numerous sources of information which confirmed one
another, were placarded at Lille during Holy Week {Ann. 13, 21, 23, 32).

The attitude of England makes the provisioning of the population
more and more difficult.

In order to relieve the distress, the German Government has recently
asked for volunteers to go to work in the country. This offer has not had
the success anticipated.

Consequently, the inhabitants will be evacuated by order and removed
to the country. The evacuated persons will be sent to the interior of the
occupied FrencTi territory, far behind the front, where they will be
employed m agriculture, and in no way on military works.

This measure will give them the opportunity of making better pro-
vision for their subsistence.

In case of necessity, it will be possible to obtain provisions from the
German depots.

Each evacuated person will be allowed 30 kilogrammes of luggage
(household utensils, clothes, &c.), which it would be well to prepare

I therefore order as follows : — Pending further orders, no person
shall change his residence. No person may be absent from his declared
legal residence between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a,m, (German time)
unless he is in possession of a permit.

Since this measure cannot be recalled, it is in the interest of the
population itself to remain calm and obedient,


Lille, April, 1916.

Annexe 2.

{Frovi the French Text.)

All the inhabitants of the house, with the exception of children under
fourteen and their mothers, and of the aged, must prepare themselves to
be transported within an hour and a-half .

An officer will decide definitively what persons are to be taken to the
concentration camps. Eor this purpose, all the inhabitants of the house
must assemble in front of the house; in case of bad weather they may
remain in the passage. The door of the house must remain open. No
protest will be listened to. No inhabitant of the house (even including
those who are not to be transported) may leave it before 8 a.m. (German
time) .

Each person will be entitled to 30 kilogrammes of luggage; if the
weight is excessive, the whole of the luggage of the person concerned
will be peremptorily refiised. The packages must be packed separately
for each person, and provided with an address legibly written and firmly


affixed. The address must bear the surname, first name, and the number
of the identity card.

It is absolutely necessary that each person should, in his own interest,

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