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Geregistreerd op: 27-4-2007
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Nov 2007 22:14    Onderwerp: Duitse wreedheden Reageer met quote

Alleged German Atrocities
Report of the Committee Appointed by the British Government
and Presided Over by

The Right Hon. Viscount Bryce

Formerly British Ambassador at Washington

Proofs of alleged atrocities committed by the German armies in Belgium—proofs collected by men trained in the law and presented with unemotional directness after a careful inquiry—are presented in the report of the "Committee on Alleged German Atrocities" headed by Viscount Bryce, the English historian and formerly British Ambassador at Washington. The document was made public simultaneously in London and the United States on May 12, 1915, four days after the sinking of the Lusitania. It was pointed out at the time that this was a coincidence, as the report had been prepared several weeks before and forwarded by mail from England for publication on May 12.

WARRANT OF APPOINTMENT.

I hereby appoint—

The Right Hon. Viscount Bryce, O.M.;

The Right Hon. Sir Frederick Pollock, Bt., K.C.;

The Right Hon. Sir Edward Clarke, K.C.;

Sir Alfred Hopkinson, K.C.;

Mr. H.A.L. Fisher, Vice Chancellor of the University of Sheffield; and

Mr. Harold Cox;

to be a committee to consider and advise on the evidence collected on behalf of his Majesty's Government as to outrages alleged to have been committed by German troops during the present war, cases of alleged maltreatment of civilians in the invaded territories, and breaches of the laws and established usages of war; and to prepare a report for his Majesty's Government showing the conclusion at which they arrive on the evidence now available.

And I appoint Viscount Bryce to be Chairman, and Mr. E. Grimwood Mears and Mr. W.J.H. Brodrick, barristers at law, to be Joint Secretaries to the committee.

(Signed) H.H. ASQUITH.

15th December, 1914.

Sir Kenelm E. Digby, K.C., G.C.B., was appointed an additional member of the committee on 22d January, 1915.

To the Right Hon. H.H. Asquith, &c., &c., First Lord of H.M. Treasury.

The committee have the honor to present and transmit to you a report upon the evidence which has been submitted to them regarding outrages alleged to have been committed by the German troops in the present war.

By the terms of their appointment the committee were directed

"to consider and advise on the evidence collected on behalf of his Majesty's Government as to outrages alleged to have been committed by German troops during the present war, cases of alleged maltreatment of civilians in the invaded territories, and breaches of the laws and established usages of war; and to prepare a report for his Majesty's Government showing the conclusion at which they arrive on the evidence now available."

It may be convenient that before proceeding to state how we have dealt with the materials, and what are the conclusions we have reached, we should set out the manner in which the evidence came into being, and its nature.

In the month of September, 1914, a minute was, at the instance of the Prime Minister, drawn up and signed by the Home Secretary and the Attorney General. It stated the need that had arisen for investigating the accusations of inhumanity and outrage that had been brought against the German soldiers, and indicated the precautions to be taken in collecting evidence that would be needed to insure its accuracy. Pursuant to this minute steps were taken under the direction of the Home Office to collect evidence, and a great many persons who could give it were seen and examined.

For some three or four months before the appointment of the committee, the Home Office had been collecting a large body of evidence. 3 More than 1,200 depositions made by these witnesses have been submitted to and considered by the committee. Nearly all of these were obtained under the supervision of Sir Charles Mathews, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and of Mr. E. Grimwood Mears, barrister of the Inner Temple, while in addition Professor J.H. Morgan has collected a number of statements mainly from British soldiers, which have also been submitted to the committee.

The labor involved in securing, in a comparatively short time, so large a number of statements from witnesses scattered all over the United Kingdom, made it necessary to employ a good many examiners. The depositions were in all cases taken down in this country by gentlemen of legal knowledge and experience, though, of course, they had no authority to administer an oath. They were instructed not to "lead" the witnesses or make any suggestions to them, and also to impress upon them the necessity for care and precision in giving their evidence.

They were also directed to treat the evidence critically, and as far as possible satisfy themselves, by putting questions which arose out of the evidence, that the witnesses were speaking the truth. They were, in fact, to cross-examine them, so far as the testimony given provided materials for cross-examination.

We have seen and conversed with many of these gentlemen, and have been greatly impressed by their ability and by what we have gathered as to the fairness of spirit which they brought to their task. We feel certain that the instructions given have been scrupulously observed.

In many cases those who took the evidence have added their comments upon the intelligence and demeanor of the witnesses stating the impression which each witness made, and indicating any cases in which the story told appeared to them open to doubt or suspicion. In coming to a conclusion upon the evidence the committee have been greatly assisted by these expressions of opinion, and have uniformly rejected every deposition on which an opinion adverse to the witness has been recorded.

This seems to be a fitting place at which to put on record the invaluable help which we have received from our secretaries, Mr. E. Grimwood Mears and Mr. W.J.H. Brodrick, whose careful diligence and minute knowledge of the evidence have been of the utmost service. Without their skill, judgment, and untiring industry the labor of examining and appraising each part of so large a mass of testimony would have occupied us for six months instead of three.

The marginal references in this report indicate the particular deposition or depositions on which the statements made in the text are based.4

The depositions printed in the appendix themselves show that the stories were tested in detail, and in none of these have we been able to detect the trace of any desire to "make a case" against the German Army. Care was taken to impress upon the witness that the giving of evidence was a grave and serious matter, and every deposition submitted to us was signed by the witness in the presence of the examiner.

A noteworthy feature of many of the depositions is that, though taken at different places and on different dates, and by different lawyers from different witnesses, they often corroborate each other in a striking manner.

The evidence is all couched in the very words which the witnesses used, and where they spoke, as the Belgian witnesses did, in Flemish or French, pains were taken to have competent translators, and to make certain that the translation was exact.

Seldom did these Belgian witnesses show a desire to describe what they had seen or suffered. The lawyers who took the depositions were surprised to find how little vindictiveness, or indeed passion they showed, and how generally free from emotional excitement their narratives were. Many hesitated to speak lest what they said, if it should ever be published, might involve their friends or relatives at home in danger, and it was found necessary to give an absolute promise that names should not be disclosed.

For this reason names have been omitted.

A large number of depositions, and extracts from depositions, will be found in Appendix A, and to these your attention is directed.

In all cases these are given as nearly as possible (for abbreviation was sometimes inevitable) in the exact words of the witness, and wherever a statement has been made by a witness tending to exculpate the German troops, it has been given in full. Excisions have been made only where it has been felt necessary to conceal the identity of the deponent or to omit what are merely hearsay statements, or are palpably irrelevant. In every case the name and description of the witnesses are given in the original depositions and in copies which have been furnished to us by H.M. Government. The originals remain in the custody of the Home Department, where they will be available, in case of need, for reference after the conclusion of the war.

The committee have also had before them a number of diaries taken from the German dead.

It appears to be the custom in the German Army for soldiers to be encouraged to keep diaries and to record in them the chief events of each day. A good many of these diaries were collected on the field when British troops were advancing over ground which had been held by the enemy, were sent to headquarters in France, and dispatched thence to the War Office in England. They passed into the possession of the Prisoners of War Information Bureau, and were handed by it to our secretaries. They have been translated with great care. We have inspected them and are absolutely satisfied of their authenticity. They have thrown important light upon the methods followed in the conduct of the war. In one respect, indeed, they are the most weighty part of the evidence, because they proceed from a hostile source and are not open to any such criticism on the ground of bias as might be applied to Belgian testimony. From time to time references to these diaries will be found in the text of the report. In Appendix B they are set out at greater length both in the German original and in an English translation, together with a few photographs of the more important entries.

In Appendix C are set out a number of German proclamations. Most of these are included in the Belgian Report No. VI., which has been furnished to us. Actual specimens of original proclamations issued by or at the bidding of the German military authorities, and posted in the Belgian and French towns mentioned, have been produced to us, and copies thereof are to be found in this appendix.

Appendix D contains the rules of The Hague Convention dealing with the conduct of war on land as adopted in 1907, Germany being one of the signatory powers.

In Appendix E will be found a selection of statements collected in France by Professor Morgan.

These five appendices are contained in a separate volume.

In dealing with the evidence we have recognized the importance of testing it severely, and so far as the conditions permit we have followed the principles which are recognized in the courts of England, the British overseas dominions, and the United States. We have also (as already noted) set aside the testimony of any witnesses who did not favorably impress the lawyers who took their depositions, and have rejected hearsay evidence except in cases where hearsay furnished an undersigned confirmation of facts with regard to which we already possessed direct testimony from some other source, or explained in a natural way facts imperfectly narrated or otherwise perplexing. 5

It is natural to ask whether much of the evidence given, especially by the Belgian witnesses, may not be due to excitement and overstrained emotions, and whether, apart from deliberate falsehood, persons who mean to speak the truth may not in a more or less hysterical condition have been imagining themselves to have seen the things which they say that they saw. Both the lawyers who took the depositions, and we when we came to examine them, fully recognized this possibility. The lawyers, as already observed, took pains to test each witness and either rejected, or appended a note of distrust to, the testimony of those who failed to impress them favorably. We have carried the sifting still further by also omitting from the depositions those in which we found something that seemed too exceptional to be accepted on the faith of one witness only, or too little supported by other evidence pointing to like facts. Many depositions have thus been omitted on which, though they are probably true, we think it safer not to place reliance.

Notwithstanding these precautions, we began the inquiry with doubts whether a positive result would be attained. But the further we went and the more evidence we examined so much the more was our skepticism reduced. There might be some exaggeration in one witness, possible delusion in another, inaccuracies in a third. When, however, we found that things which had at first seemed improbable were testified to by many witnesses coming from different places, having had no communication with one another, and knowing nothing of one another's statements, the points in which they all agreed became more and more evidently true. And when this concurrence of testimony, this convergence upon what were substantially the same broad facts, showed itself in hundreds of depositions, the truth of those broad facts stood out beyond question. The force of the evidence is cumulative. Its worth can be estimated only by perusing the testimony as a whole. If any further confirmation had been needed, we found it in the diaries in which German officers and private soldiers have recorded incidents just such as those to which the Belgian witnesses depose.

The experienced lawyers who took the depositions tell us that they passed from the same stage of doubt into the same stage of conviction. They also began their work in a skeptical spirit, expecting to find much of the evidence colored by passion, or prompted by an excited fancy. But they were impressed by the general moderation and matter-of-fact level-headedness of the witnesses. We have interrogated them, particularly regarding some of the most startling and shocking incidents which appear in the evidence laid before us, and where they expressed a doubt we have excluded the evidence, admitting it as regards the cases in which they stated that the witnesses seemed to them to be speaking the truth, and that they themselves believed the incidents referred to have happened. It is for this reason that we have inserted among the depositions printed in the appendix several cases which we might otherwise have deemed scarcely credible.

The committee has conducted its investigations and come to its conclusions independently of the reports issued by the French and Belgian commissions, but it has no reason to doubt that those conclusions are in substantial accord with the conclusions that have been reached by these two commissions.

ARRANGEMENT OF THE REPORT.

As respects the framework and arrangement of the report, it has been deemed desirable to present first of all what may be called a general historical account of the events which happened, and the conditions which prevailed in the parts of Belgium which lay along the line of the German march, and thereafter to set forth the evidence which bears upon particular classes of offenses against the usages of civilized warfare, evidence which shows to what extent the provisions of The Hague Convention have been disregarded.

This method, no doubt, involves a certain amount of overlapping, for some of the offenses belonging to the latter part of the report will have been already referred to in the earlier part which deals with the invasion of Belgium. But the importance of presenting a connected narrative of events seems to outweigh the disadvantage of occasional repetition. The report will therefore be found to consist of two parts, viz.:

(1) An analysis and summary of the evidence regarding the conduct of the German troops in Belgium toward the civilian population of that country during the first few weeks of the invasion.

(2) An examination of the evidence relating to breaches of the rules and usages of war and acts of inhumanity, committed by German soldiers or groups of soldiers, during the first four months of the war, whether in Belgium or in France.

This second part has again been subdivided into two sections:

a. Offenses committed against noncombatant civilians during the conduct of the war generally.

b. Offenses committed against combatants, whether in Belgium or in France.

Part I.—The Conduct Of The German Troops In Belgium.
Although the neutrality of Belgium had been guaranteed by a treaty signed in 1839 to which France, Prussia, and Great Britain were parties, and although, apart altogether from any duties imposed by treaty, no belligerent nation has any right to claim a passage for its army across the territory of a neutral State, the position which Belgium held between the German Empire and France had obliged her to consider the possibility that in the event of a war between these two powers her neutrality might not be respected. In 1911 the Belgian Minister at Berlin had requested an assurance from Germany that she would observe the Treaty of 1839; and the Chancellor of the empire had declared that Germany had no intention of violating Belgian neutrality. Again in 1913 the German Secretary of State at a meeting of a Budget Committee of the Reichstag had declared that "Belgian neutrality is provided for by international conventions and Germany is determined to respect those conventions." Finally, on July 31, 1914, when the danger of war between Germany and France seemed imminent, Herr von Below, the German Minister in Brussels, being interrogated by the Belgian Foreign Department, replied that he knew of the assurances given by the German Chancellor in 1911, and that he "was certain that the sentiments expressed at that time had not changed." Nevertheless on Aug. 2 the same Minister presented a note to the Belgian Government demanding a passage through Belgium for the German Army on pain of an instant declaration of war. Startled as they were by the suddenness with which this terrific war cloud had risen on the eastern horizon, the leaders of the nation rallied around the King in his resolution to refuse the demand and to prepare for resistance. They were aware of the danger which would confront the civilian population of the country if it were tempted to take part in the work of national defense. Orders were accordingly issued by the Civil Governors of provinces, and by the Burgomasters of towns, that the civilian inhabitants were to take no part in hostilities and to offer no provocation to the invaders. That no excuse might be furnished for severities, the populations of many important towns were instructed to surrender all firearms into the hands of the local officials.6

This happened on Aug. 2. On the evening of Aug. 3 the German troops crossed the frontier. The storm burst so suddenly that neither party had time to adjust its mind to the situation. The Germans seem to have expected an easy passage. The Belgian population, never dreaming of an attack, were startled and stupefied.

LIÈGE AND DISTRICT.
On Aug. 4 the roads converging upon Liège from northeast, east, and south were covered with German Death's Head Hussars and Uhlans pressing forward to seize the passage over the Meuse. From the very beginning of the operations the civilian population of the villages lying upon the line of the German advance were made to experience the extreme horrors of war. "On the 4th of August," says one witness, "at Herve," (a village not far from the frontier,) "I saw at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, near the station, five Uhlans; these were the first German troops I had seen. They were followed by a German officer and some soldiers in a motor car. The men in the car called out to a couple of young fellows who were standing about thirty yards away. The young men, being afraid, ran off and then the Germans fired and killed one of them named D." The murder of this innocent fugitive civilian was a prelude to the burning and pillage of Herve and of other villages in the neighborhood, to the indiscriminate shooting of civilians of both sexes, and to the organized military execution of batches of selected males. Thus at Herve some fifty men escaping from the burning houses were seized, taken outside the town and shot. At Melen, a hamlet west of Herve, forty men were shot. In one household alone the father and mother (names given) were shot, the daughter died after being repeatedly outraged, and the son was wounded. Nor were children exempt. "About Aug. 4," says one witness, "near Vottem, we were pursuing some Uhlans. I saw a man, woman, and a girl about nine, who had been killed. They were on the threshold of a house, one on the top of the other, as if they had been shot down, one after the other, as they tried to escape."

The burning of the villages in this neighborhood and the wholesale slaughter of civilians, such as occurred at Herve, Micheroux, and Soumagne, appear to be connected with the exasperation caused by the resistance of Fort Fléron, whose guns barred the main road from Aix la Chapelle to Liège. Enraged by the losses which they had sustained, suspicious of the temper of the civilian population, and probably thinking that by exceptional severities at the outset they could cow the spirit of the Belgian Nation, the German officers and men speedily accustomed themselves to the slaughter of civilians. How rapidly the process was effected is illustrated by an entry in the diary of Kurt Hoffman, a one-year's man in the First Jägers, who on Aug. 5 was in front of Fort Fléron. He illustrates his story by a sketch map. "The position," he says, "was dangerous. As suspicious civilians were hanging about—houses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, were cleared, the owners arrested, (and shot the following day.) Suddenly village A was fired at. Out of it bursts our baggage train, and the Fourth Company of the Twenty-seventh Regiment who had lost their way and been shelled by our own artillery. From the point D.P., (shown in diary,) I shoot a civilian with rifle at 400 meters slap through the head, as we afterward ascertained." Within a few hours, Hoffman, while in house 3, was himself under fire from his own comrades and narrowly escaped being killed. A German, ignorant that house 8 had been occupied, reported, as was the fact, that he had been fired upon from that house. He had been challenged by the field patrol, and failed to give the countersign. Hoffman continues:

"Ten minutes later, people approach who are talking excitedly—apparently Germans. I call out 'Halt, who's there?' Suddenly rapid fire is opened upon us, which I can only escape by quickly jumping on one side—with bullets and fragments of wall and pieces of glass flying around me. I call out 'Halt, here Field Patrol.' Then it stops, and there appears Lieutenant Römer with three platoons. A man has reported that he had been shot at out of our house; no wonder, if he does not give the countersign."

The entry, though dated Aug. 5, was evidently written on the 6th or later, because the writer refers to the suspicious civilians as having been shot on that day. Hoffman does not indicate of what offense these civilians were guilty, and there is no positive evidence to connect their slaughter with the report made by the German who had been fired on by his comrades. They were "suspicious" and that was enough.

The systematic execution of civilians, which in some cases, as the diary just cited shows, was founded on a genuine mistake, was given a wide extension through the Province of Liège. In Soumagne and Micheroux very many civilians were summarily shot. In a field belonging to a man named E. fifty-six or fifty-seven were put to death. A German officer said: "You have shot at us." One of the villagers asked to be allowed to speak, and said: "If you think these people fired kill me, but let them go." The answer was three volleys. The survivors were bayoneted. Their corpses were seen in the field that night by another witness. One at least had been mutilated. These were not the only victims in Soumagne. The eyewitness of the massacre saw, on his way home, twenty bodies, one that of a young girl of thirteen. Another witness saw nineteen corpses in a meadow.

At Blegny Trembleur, on the 6th, some civilians were captured by German soldiers, who took steps to put them to death forthwith, but were restrained by the arrival of an officer. The prisoners subsequently were taken off to Battice and five were shot in a field. No reason was assigned for their murder.

In the meantime house burners were at work. On the 6th, Battice was destroyed in part. From the 8th to the 10th over 300 houses were burned at Herve, while mounted men shot into doors and windows to prevent the escape of the inhabitants.

At Heure le Romain on or about the 15th of August all the male inhabitants, including some bedridden old men, were imprisoned in the church. The Burgomaster's brother and the priest were bayoneted.

On or about the 14th and 15th the village of Visé was completely destroyed. Officers directed the incendiaries, who worked methodically with benzine. Antiques and china were removed from the houses, before their destruction, by officers who guarded the plunder, revolver in hand. The house of a witness, which contained valuables of this kind, was protected for a time by a notice posted on the door by officers. This notice has been produced to the committee. After the removal of the valuables this house also was burned.

German soldiers had arrived on the 15th at Blegny Trembleur and seized a quantity of wine. On the 16th prisoners were taken; four, including the priest and the Burgomaster, were shot. On the same day 200 (so-called) hostages were seized at Flémalle and marched off. There they were told that unless Fort Flémalle surrendered by noon they would be shot. It did surrender and they were released.

Entries in a German diary show that on the 19th the German soldiers gave themselves up to debauchery in the streets of Liège, and on the night of the 20th (Thursday) a massacre took place in the streets, beginning near the Café Carpentier, at which there is said to have been a dinner attended by Russian and other students. A proclamation issued by General Kolewe on the following day gave the German version of the affair, which was that his troops had been fired on by Russian students. The diary states that in the night the inhabitants of Liège became mutinous and that fifty persons were shot. The Belgian witnesses vehemently deny that there had been any provocation given, some stating that many German soldiers were drunk, others giving evidence which indicates that the affair was planned beforehand. It is stated that at 5 o'clock in the evening, long before the shooting, a citizen was warned by a friendly German soldier not to go out that night.

Though the cause of the massacre is in dispute, the results are known with certainty. The Rue des Pitteurs and houses in the Place de l'Université and the Quai des Pêcheurs were systematically fired with benzine, and many inhabitants were burned alive in their houses, their efforts to escape being prevented by rifle fire. Twenty people were shot, while trying to escape, before the eyes of one of the witnesses. The Liège Fire Brigade turned out but was not allowed to extinguish the fire. Its carts, however, were usefully employed in removing heaps of civilian corpses to the Town Hall. The fire burned on through the night and the murders continued on the following day, the 21st. Thirty-two civilians were killed on that day in the Place de l'Université alone, and a witness states that this was followed by the rape in open day of fifteen or twenty women on tables in the square itself.

No depositions are before us which deal with events in the City of Liège after this date. Outrages, however, continued in various places in the province.

For example, on or about the 21st of August, at Pepinster two witnesses were seized as hostages and were threatened, together with five others, that, unless they could discover a civilian who was alleged to have shot a soldier in the leg, they would be shot themselves. They escaped their fate because one of the hostages convinced the officer that the alleged shooting, if it took place at all, took place in the Commune of Cornesse and not that of Pepinster, whereupon the Burgomaster of Cornesse, who was old and very deaf, was shot forthwith.

The outrages on the civilian population were not confined to the villages mentioned above, but appear to have been general throughout this district from the very outbreak of the war.

An entry in one of the diaries says:

"We crossed the Belgian frontier on 15th August, 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 burned down, the inhabitants chased away and some of them shot. Not one of the hundreds of houses were spared. Everything was plundered and burned. Hardly had we passed through this large village before the next village was burned, and so it went on continuously. On the 16th August, 1914, the large village of Barchon was burned down. On the same day we crossed the bridge over the Meuse at 11:50 in the morning. We then arrived at the town of Wandre. Here the houses were spared, but everything was examined. At last we were out of the town and everything went in ruins. In one house a whole collection of weapons was found. The inhabitants without exception were shot. This shooting was heart-breaking, as they all knelt down and prayed, but that was no ground for mercy. A few shots rang out and they fell back into the green grass and slept for ever." ["Die Einwohner wurden samt und sonders herausgeholt und erschossen: aber dieses Erschiessen war direkt herzzerreisend wie sie alle knieben und beteten, aber dies half kein Erbarmen. Ein paar Schüsse krackten und die fielen rücklings in das grüne Gras und erschliefen für immer."]

VALLEYS OF MEUSE AND SAMBRE.
While the First Army, under the command of General Alexander von Kluck, was mastering the passages of the Meuse between Visé and Namur, and carrying out the scheme of devastation which has already been described, detachments of the Second German Army, under General von Bülow, were proceeding up the Meuse valley toward Namur. On Wednesday, Aug. 12, the town of Huy, which stands half way between Namur and Liège, was seized. On Aug. 20 German guns opened fire on Namur itself. Three days later the city was evacuated by its defenders, and the Germans proceeded along the valley of the Sambre through Tamines and Charleroi to Mons. Meanwhile a force under General von Hausen had advanced upon Dinant, by Laroche, Marche, and Achène, and on Aug. 15 made an unsuccessful assault upon that town. A few days later the attack was renewed and with success, and, Dinant captured, von Hausen's army streamed into France by Bouvines and Rethel, firing and looting the villages and shooting the inhabitants as they passed through.

The evidence with regard to the Province of Namur is less voluminous than that relating to the north of Belgium. This is largely due to the fact that the testimony of soldiers is seldom available, as the towns and villages once occupied by the Germans were seldom reoccupied by the opposing troops, and the number of refugees who have reached England from the Namur district is comparatively small.

ANDENNE.
Andenne is a small town on the Meuse between Liège and Namur, lying opposite the village of Seilles, (with which it is connected by a bridge over the river,) and was one of the earlier places reached on the German advance up the Meuse. In order to understand the story of the massacre which occurred there on Thursday Aug. 20, the following facts should be borne in mind: The German advance was hotly contested by Belgian and French troops. From daybreak onward on the 19th of August the Eighth Belgian Regiment of the Line were fighting with the German troops on the left bank of the Meuse on the heights of Seilles. At 8 A.M. on the 19th the Belgians found further resistance impossible in the district, and retired under shelter of the forts of Namur. As they retired they blew up Andenne Bridge. The first Germans arrived at Andenne at about 10 A.M., when ten or twelve Uhlans rode into the town. They went to the bridge and found it was destroyed. They then retired, but returned about half an hour afterward. Soon after that several thousand Germans entered the town and made arrangements to spend the night there. Thus, on the evening of the 19th of August, a large body of German troops were in possession of the town, which they had entered without any resistance on the part of the allied armies or of the civilian population.

About 4:30 on the next afternoon shots were fired from the left bank of the Meuse and replied to by the Germans in Andenne. The village of Andenne had been isolated from the district on the left bank of the Meuse by the destruction of the bridge, and there is nothing to suggest that the firing on the left came from the inhabitants of Andenne. Almost immediately, however, the slaughter of these inhabitants began, and continued for over two hours and intermittently during the night. Machine guns were brought into play. The German troops were said to be for the most part drunk, and they certainly murdered and ravaged unchecked. A reference to the German diaries in the appendix will give some idea of the extent to which the army gave itself up to drink through the month of August.

When the fire slackened about 7 o'clock, many of the townspeople fled in the direction of the quarries; others remained in their houses. At this moment the whole of the district around the station was on fire and houses were flaming over a distance of two kilometers in the direction of the hamlet of Tramaka. The little farms which rise one above the other on the high ground of the right bank were also burning.

At 6 o'clock on the following morning, the 21st, the Germans began to drag the inhabitants from their houses. Men, women, and children were driven into the square, where the sexes were separated. Three men were then shot, and a fourth was bayoneted. A German Colonel was present whose intention in the first place appeared to be to shoot all the men. A young German girl who had been staying in the neighborhood interceded with him, and after some parleying, some of the prisoners were picked out, taken to the banks of the Meuse and there shot. The Colonel accused the population of firing on the soldiers, but there is no reason to think that any of them had done so, and no inquiry appears to have been made.

About 400 people lost their lives in this massacre, some on the banks of the Meuse, where they were shot according to orders given, and some in the cellars of the houses where they had taken refuge. Eight men belonging to one family were murdered. Another man was placed close to a machine gun which was fired through him. His wife brought his body home on a wheelbarrow. The Germans broke into her house and ransacked it, and piled up all the eatables in a heap on the floor and relieved themselves upon it.

A hairdresser was murdered in his kitchen where he was sitting with a child on each knee. A paralytic was murdered in his garden. After this came the general sack of the town. Many of the inhabitants who escaped the massacre were kept as prisoners and compelled to clear the houses of corpses and bury them in trenches. These prisoners were subsequently used as a shelter and protection for a pontoon bridge which the Germans had built across the river, and were so used to prevent the Belgian forts from firing upon it.

A few days later the Germans celebrated a Fête Nocturne in the square. Hot wine, looted in the town, was drunk, and the women were compelled to give three cheers for the Kaiser and to sing "Deutschland über Alles."

NAMUR DISTRICT.
The fight around Namur was accompanied by sporadic outrages. Near Marchovelette wounded men were murdered in a farm by German soldiers. The farm was set on fire. A German cavalryman rode away holding in front of him one of the farmer's daughters crying and disheveled.

At Temploux, on the 23d of August, a professor of modern languages at the College of Namur was shot at his front door by a German officer. Before he died he asked the officer the reason for this brutality, and the officer replied that he had lost his temper because some civilians had fired upon the Germans as they entered the village. This allegation was not proved. The Belgian Army was still operating in the district, and it may well be that it was from them that the shots in question proceeded. After the murder the house was burned.

On the 24th and 25th of August massacres were carried out at Surice, in which many persons belonging to the professional classes, as well as others, were killed.

Namur was entered on the 24th of August. The troops signalized their entry by firing on a crowd of 150 unarmed unresisting civilians, ten alone of whom escaped.

A witness of good standing who was in Namur describes how the town was set on fire systematically in six different places. As the inhabitants fled from the burning houses they were shot by the German troops. Not less than 140 houses were burned.

On the 25th the hospital at Namur was set on fire with inflammable pastilles, the pretext being that soldiers in the hospital had fired upon the Germans.

At Denée, on the 28th of August, a Belgian soldier who had been taken prisoner saw three civilian fellow-prisoners shot. One was a cripple and another an old man of eighty who was paralyzed. It was alleged by two German soldiers that these men had shot at them with rifles. Neither of them had a rifle, nor had they anything in their pockets. The witness actually saw the Germans search them and nothing was found.

CHARLEROI DISTRICT.
In Tamines, a large village on the Meuse between Namur and Charleroi, the advance guard of the German Army appeared in the first fortnight in August, and in this as well as in other villages in the district, it is proved that a large number of civilians, among them aged people, women, and children, were deliberately killed by the soldiers. One witness describes how she saw a Belgian boy of fifteen shot on the village green at Tamines, and a day or two later on the same green a little girl and her two brothers, (name given,) who were looking at the German soldiers, were killed before her eyes for no apparent reason.

The principal massacre at Tamines took place about Aug. 28. A witness describes how he saw the public square littered with corpses, and after a search found those of his wife and child, a little girl of seven.

Another witness, who lived near Tamines, went there on Aug. 27, and says: "It is absolutely destroyed and a mass of ruins."

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 man servant prisoner and shot them both in front of the Hôtel de Ville at Péronne, (Belgium,) where the bodies were left in the street for forty-eight hours. They burned the Hôtel de Ville and sixty-two 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 Hôtel de Ville and that this order had been complied with.

At Monceau-sur-Sambre, on the 21st of August, a young man of eighteen was shot in his garden. His father and brother were seized in their house and shot in the courtyard of a neighboring country house. The son was shot first. The father was compelled to stand close to the feet of his son's corpse and to fix his eyes upon him while he himself was shot. The corpse of the young man shot in the garden was carried into the house and put on a bed. The next morning the Germans asked where the corpse was. When they found it was in the house, they fetched straw, packed it around the bed on which the corpse was lying, and set fire to it and burned the house down. A great many houses were burned in Monceau.

A vivid picture of the events at Montigny-sur-Sambre has been given by a witness of high standing who had exceptional opportunities of observation. In the early morning of Saturday, Aug. 22, Uhlans reached Montigny. The French Army was about four kilometers away, but on a hill near the village were a detachment of French, about 150 to 200 strong, lying in ambush. At about 1:30 o'clock the main body of the German Army began to arrive. Marching with them were two groups of so-called hostages, about 400 in all. Of these, 300 were surrounded with a rope held by the front, rear, and outside men. The French troops in ambush opened fire, and immediately the Germans commenced to destroy the town. 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. By 10:30 P.M. some 200 more hostages had been collected. These were drawn from Montigny itself, and on that night about fifty men, women, and children were placed on the bridge over the Sambre and kept there all night. The bridge was similarly guarded for a day or two, apparently either from a fear that it was mined or in the belief that these men, women, and children would afford some protection to the Germans in the event of the French attempting to storm the bridge. At one period of the German occupation of Montigny, eight nuns of the Order of Ste. Marie were captives on the bridge. House burning was accompanied by murder, and on the Monday morning twenty-seven civilians from one parish alone were seen lying dead in the hospital.

Other outrages committed at Jumet, Bouffioulx, Charleroi, Marchiennes-au-Pont, Couillet, and Maubeuge are described in the depositions given in the appendix.

DINANT.
A clear statement of the outrages at Dinant, which many travelers will recall as a singularly picturesque town on the Meuse, is given by one witness, who says that the Germans began burning houses in the Rue St. Jacques on the 21st of August, and that every house in the street was burned. On the following day an engagement took place between the French and the Germans, and the witness spent the whole day in the cellar of a bank with his wife and children. On the morning of the 23d, about 5 o'clock, firing ceased, and almost immediately afterward a party of Germans came to the house. They rang the bell and began to batter at the door and windows. The witness's wife went to the door and two or three Germans came in. The family were ordered out into the street. There they found another family, and the two families were driven with their hands above their heads along the Rue Grande. All the houses in the street were burning. The party was eventually put into a forge where there were a number of other prisoners, about a hundred in all, and were kept there from 11 A.M. till 2 P.M. They were then taken to the prison. There they were assembled in a courtyard and searched. No arms were found. They were then passed through into the prison itself and put into cells. The witness and his wife were separated from each other. During the next hour the witness heard rifle shots continually, and noticed in the corner of a courtyard leading off the row of cells the body of a young man with a mantle thrown over it. He recognized the mantle as having belonged to his wife. The witness's daughter was allowed to go out to see what had happened to her mother, and the witness himself was allowed to go across the courtyard half an hour afterward for the same purpose. He found his wife lying on the floor in a room. She had bullet wounds in four places, but was alive and told her husband to return to the children, and he did so. About 5 o'clock in the evening he saw the Germans bringing out all the young and middle-aged men from the cells, and ranging their prisoners, to the number of forty, in three rows in the middle of the courtyard. About twenty Germans were drawn up opposite, but before any thing was done there was a tremendous fusillade from some point near the prison and the civilians were hurried back to their cells. Half an hour later the same forty men were brought back into the courtyard. Almost immediately there was a second fusillade like the first and and they were driven back to the cells again. About 7 o'clock the witness and other prisoners were brought out of their cells and marched out of the prison. They went between two lines of troops to Roche Bayard, about a kilometer away. An hour later the women and children were separated and the prisoners were brought back to Dinant, passing the prison on their way. Just outside the prison the witness saw three lines of bodies which he recognized as being those of neighbors. They were nearly all dead, but he noticed movement in some of them. There were about 120 bodies. The prisoners were then taken up to the top of the hill outside Dinant and compelled to stay there till 8 o'clock in the morning. On the following day they were put into cattle trucks and taken thence to Coblenz. For three months they remained prisoners in Germany.

Unarmed civilians were killed in masses at other places near the prison. About ninety bodies were seen lying on the top of one another in a grass square opposite the convent. They included many relatives of a witness whose deposition will be found in the appendix. This witness asked a German officer why her husband had been shot, and he told her that it was because two of her sons had been in the civil guard and had shot at the Germans. As a matter of fact one of her sons was at that time in Liège and the other in Brussels. It is stated that, besides the ninety corpses referred to above, sixty corpses of civilians were recovered from a hole in the brewery yard and that forty-eight bodies of women and children were found in a garden. The town was systematically set on fire by hand grenades.

Another witness saw a little girl of seven, one of whose legs was broken and the other injured by a bayonet.

We have no reason to believe that the civilian population of Dinant gave any provocation, or that any other defense can be put forward to justify the treatment inflicted upon its citizens.

As regards this town and the advance of the German Army from Dinant to Rethel on the Aisne, a graphic account is given in the diary of a Saxon officer.7 This diary confirms what is clear from the evidence as a whole, both as regards these and other districts, that civilians were constantly taken as prisoners, often dragged from their homes, and shot under the direction of the authorities without any charge being made against them. An event of the kind is thus referred to in a diary entry:

"Apparently 200 men were shot. There must have been some innocent men among them. In future we shall have to hold an inquiry as to their guilt instead of shooting them."

The shooting of inhabitants, women and children as well as men, went on after the Germans had passed Dinant on their way into France. The houses and villages were pillaged and property wantonly destroyed.

AERSCHOT, MALINES, VILVORDE, AND LOUVAIN QUADRANGLE.
About Aug. 9 a powerful screen of cavalry masking the general advance of the First and Second German Armies was thrown forward into the provinces of Brabant and Limburg. The progress of the invaders was contested at several points, probably near Tirlemont on the Louvain road, and at Diest, Haelen, and Schaffen, on the Aerschot road, by detachments of the main Belgian Army, which was drawn up upon the line of the Dyle. In their preliminary skirmishes the Belgians more than once gained advantages, but after the fall on Aug. 15 of the last of the Liège forts the great line of railway which runs through Liège toward Brussels and Antwerp in one direction and toward Namur and the French frontier in another fell into the hands of the Germans. From this moment the advance of the main army was swift and irresistible. On Aug. 19 Louvain and Aerschot were occupied by the Germans, the former without resistance, the latter after a struggle which resulted early in the day in the retirement of the Belgian Army upon Antwerp. On Aug. 20 the invaders made their entry into Brussels.

The quadrangle of territory bounded by the towns of Aerschot, Malines, Vilvorde, and Louvain is a rich agricultural tract, studded with small villages and comprising two considerable cities, Louvain and Malines. This district on Aug. 19 passed into the hands of the Germans, and owing perhaps to its proximity to Antwerp, then the seat of the Belgian Government and headquarters of the Belgian Army, it became from that date a scene of chronic outrage, with respect to which the committee has received a great mass of evidence.

The witnesses to these occurrences are for the most part imperfectly educated persons who cannot give accurate dates, so it is impossible in some cases to fix the dates of particular crimes; and the total number of outrages is so great that we cannot refer to all of them in the body of the report or give all the depositions relating to them in the appendix. The main events, however, are abundantly clear, and group themselves naturally around three dates—Aug. 19, Aug. 25, and Sept. 11.

The arrival of the Germans in the district on Aug. 19 was marked by systematic massacres and other outrages at Aerschot itself, Gelrode, and some other villages.

On Aug. 25 the Belgians, sallying out of the defenses of Antwerp, attacked the German positions at Malines, drove the enemy from the town, and reoccupied many of the villages, such as Sempst, Hofstade, and Eppeghem, in the neighborhood. And, just as numerous outrages against the civilian population had been the immediate consequence of the temporary repulse of the German vanguard from Fort Fléron, so a large body of depositions testify to the fact that a sudden outburst of cruelty was the response of the German Army to the Belgian victory at Malines. The advance of the German Army to the Dyle had been accompanied by reprehensible, and, indeed, (in certain cases,) terrible outrages, but these had been, it would appear, isolated acts, some of which are attributed by witnesses to indignation at the check at Haelen, while others may have been the consequence of drunkenness. But the battle of Malines had results of a different order. In the first place, it was the occasion of numerous murders committed by the German Army in retreating through the villages of Sempst, Hofstade, Eppeghem, Elewyt, and elsewhere. In the second place, it led, as it will be shown later, to the massacres, plunderings, and burnings at Louvain, the signal for which was provided by shots exchanged between the German Army retreating after its repulse at Malines and some members of the German garrison of Louvain who mistook their fellow-countrymen for Belgians. Lastly, the encounter at Malines seems to have stung the Germans into establishing a reign of terror in so much of the district comprised in the quadrangle as remained in their power. Many houses were destroyed and their contents stolen. Hundreds of prisoners were locked up in various churches and were in some instances marched about from one village to another. Some of these were finally conducted to Louvain and linked up with the bands of prisoners taken in Louvain itself, and sent to Germany and elsewhere.

On Sept. 11, when the Germans were driven out of Aerschot across the River Demer by a successful sortie from Antwerp, murders of civilians were taking place in the villages which the Belgian Army then recaptured from the Germans. These crimes bear a strong resemblance to those committed in Hofstade and other villages after the battle of Malines.

AERSCHOT AND DISTRICT.
Period I., (Aug. 19 and following days.)

AERSCHOT.

The German Army entered Aerschot quite early in the morning. Workmen going to their work were seized and taken as hostages.

The Germans, apparently already irritated, proceeded to make a search for the priests and threatened to burn the convent if the priests should happen to be found there. One priest was accused of inciting the inhabitants to fire on the troops, and when he denied it the Burgomaster was blamed by the officer. The priest then showed the officer the notices on the walls, signed by the Burgomaster, warning the inhabitants not to intervene in hostilities.

It appears that they accused the priest of having fired at the Germans from the tower of the church. This is important because it is one of the not infrequent cases in which the Germans ascribed firing from a church to priests, whereas in fact this firing came from Belgian soldiers, and also because it seems to show that the Germans from the moment of their arrival in Aerschot were seeking to pick a quarrel with the inhabitants, and this goes far to explain their subsequent conduct. Hostages were collected until 200 men, some of whom were invalids, were gathered together.

M. Tielmans, the Burgomaster, was then ordered by some German officers to address the crowd and to tell them to hand in any weapons which they might have in their possession at the Town Hall, and to warn them that any one who was found with weapons would be killed. As a matter of fact, the arms in the possession of civilians had already been collected at the beginning of the war. The Burgomaster's speech resulted in the delivery of one gun, which had been used for pigeon shooting. The hostages were then released. Throughout the day the town was looted by the soldiers. Many shop windows were broken, and the contents of the shop fronts ransacked.

A shot was fired about 7 o'clock in the evening, by which time many of the soldiers were drunk. The Germans were not of one mind as to the direction from which the shot proceeded. Some said it came from a jeweler's shop, and some said it came from other houses. No one was hit by this shot, but thereafter German soldiers began to fire in various directions at people in the streets.

It is said that a German General or Colonel was killed at the Burgomaster's house. As far as the committee have been able to ascertain, the identity of the officer has never been revealed. The German version of the story is that he was killed by the 15-year-old son of the Burgomaster. The committee, however, is satisfied by the evidence of several independent witnesses that some German officers were standing at the window of the Burgomaster's house, that a large body of German troops was in the square, that some of these soldiers were drunk and let off their rifles, that in the volley one of the officers standing at the window of the Burgomaster's house fell, that at the time of the accident the wife and son of the Burgomaster had gone to take refuge in the cellar, and that neither the Burgomaster nor his son were in the least degree responsible for the occurrence which served as the pretext for their subsequent execution, and for the firing and sack of the town. 8

The houses were set on fire with special apparatus, while people were dragged from their houses, already burning, and some were shot in the streets.

Many civilians were marched to a field on the road to Louvain and kept there all night. Meanwhile many of the inhabitants were collected in the square. By this time very many of the troops were drunk.

On the following day a number of the civilians were shot under the orders of an officer, together with the Burgomaster, his brother, and his son. Of this incident, which is spoken to by many witnesses, a clear account is given:

"German soldiers came and took hold of me and every other man they could see, and eventually there were about sixty of us, including some of 80, (i.e., years of age,) and they made us accompany them ... all the prisoners had to walk with their hands above their heads. We were then stopped and made to stand in a line, and an officer, a big fat man who had a bluish uniform ... came along the line and picked out the Burgomaster, his brother, and his son, and some men who had been employed under the Red Cross. In all, ten men were picked out ... the remainder were made to turn their backs upon the ten. I then heard some shots fired, and I and the other men turned around and we saw all the ten men, including the Burgomaster, were lying on the ground."

This incident is spoken to by other witnesses also. Some of their depositions appear in the appendix.

GELRODE.
On the same day at Gelrode, a small village close to Aerschot, twenty-five civilians were imprisoned in the church. Seven were taken out by fifteen German soldiers in charge of an officer just outside. One of the seven tried to run away, whereupon all the six who remained behind alive were shot. This was on the night of Aug. 19. No provocation whatever had been given. The men in question had been searched, and no arms had been found upon them. Here, as at Aerschot, precautions had been taken previously to secure the delivery up of all arms in the hands of civilians.

Some of the survivors were compelled to dig graves for the seven. At a later date the corpses were disinterred and reburied in consecrated ground. The marks of the bullets in the brick wall against which the six were shot were then still plainly visible. On the same day a woman was shot by some German soldiers as she was walking home. This was done at a distance of 100 yards and for no apparent reason.

An account of a murder by an officer at Campenhout is given in a later part of this report, and depositions relating to Rotselaer, Tremeloo, and Wespelaer will be found in the appendix.

The committee is specially impressed by the character of the outrages committed in the smaller villages. Many of these are exceptionally shocking and cannot be regarded as contemplated or prescribed by the responsible commanders of the troops by whom they were committed. The inference, however, which we draw from these occurrences is that when once troops have been encouraged in a career of terrorism the more savage and brutal natures, of whom there are some in every large army, are liable to run to wild excess, more particularly in those regions where they are least subject to observation and control.

AERSCHOT AND DISTRICT.
Period II., (Aug. 25.)

Immediately after the battle of Malines, which resulted in the evacuation by the Germans of the district of Malines, Sempst, Hofstade, and Eppeghem, a long series of murders were committed either just before or during the retreat of the army. Many of the inhabitants who were unarmed, including women and young children, were killed—some of them under revolting circumstances.

Evidence given goes to show that the death of these villagers was due not to accident, but to deliberate purpose. The wounds were generally stabs or cuts, and for the most part appear to have been inflicted with the bayonet.

MALINES.
In Malines itself many bodies were seen. One witness saw a German soldier cut a woman's breasts after he had murdered her, and saw many other dead bodies of women in the streets.

HOFSTADE.
In Hofstade a number of houses had been set on fire and many corpses were seen, some in houses, some in back yards, and some in the streets.

Several examples are given below.

Two witnesses speak to having seen the body of a young man pierced by bayonet thrusts with the wrists cut also.

On a side road the corpse of a civilian was seen on his doorstep with a bayonet wound in his stomach, and by his side the dead body of a boy of 5 or 6 with his hands nearly severed.

The corpses of a woman and boy were seen at the blacksmith's. They had been killed with the bayonet.

In a café a young man, also killed with the bayonet, was holding his hands together as if in the attitude of supplication.

Two young women were lying in the back yard of the house. One had her breasts cut off, the other had been stabbed.

A young man had been hacked with the bayonet until his entrails protruded. He also had his hands joined in the attitude of prayer.

In the garden of a house in the main street bodies of two women were observed, and in another house the body of a boy of 16 with two bayonet wounds in the chest.

SEMPST.
In Sempst a similar condition of affairs existed. Houses were burning and in some of them were the charred remains of civilians.

In a bicycle shop a witness saw the burned corpse of a man. Other witnesses speak to this incident.

Another civilian, unarmed, was shot as he was running away. As will be remembered, all the arms had been given up some time before by order of the Burgomaster.

The corpse of a man with his legs cut off, who was partly bound, was seen by another witness, who also saw a girl of 17 dressed only in a chemise, and in great distress. She alleged that she herself and other girls had been dragged into a field, stripped naked, and violated, and that some of them had been killed with the bayonet.

WEERDE.—At Weerde four corpses of civilians were lying in the road. It was said that these men had fired upon the German soldiers; but this is denied. The arms had been given up long before.

Two children were killed in a village, apparently Weerde, quite wantonly as they were standing in the road with their mother. They were 3 or 4 years old and were killed with the bayonet.

A small farm burning close by formed a convenient means of getting rid of the bodies. They were thrown into the flames from the bayonets. It is right to add that no commissioned officer was present at the time.

EPPEGHEM.—At Eppeghem on Aug. 25 a pregnant woman who had been wounded with a bayonet was discovered in the convent. She was dying. On the road six dead bodies of laborers were seen.

ELEWYT.—At Elewyt a man's naked body was tied up to a ring in the wall in the back yard of a house. He was dead, and his corpse was mutilated in a manner too horrible to record. A woman's naked body was also found in a stable abutting on the same back yard.

VILVORDE.—At Vilvorde corpses of civilians were also found. These villages are all on the line from Malines to Brussels.

BOORT MEERBEEK.—At Boort Meerbeek a German soldier was seen to fire three times at a little girl 5 years old. Having failed to hit her, he subsequently bayoneted her. He was killed with the butt end of a rifle by a Belgian soldier who had seen him commit this murder from a distance.

HERENT.—At Herent the charred body of a civilian was found in a butcher's shop, and in a handcart twenty yards away was the dead body of a laborer.

Two eyewitnesses relate that a German soldier shot a civilian and stabbed him with a bayonet as he lay. He then made one of these witnesses, a civilian prisoner, smell the blood on the bayonet.

HAECHT.—At Haecht the bodies of ten civilians were seen lying in a row by a brewery wall.

In a laborer's house, which had been broken up, the mutilated corpse of a woman of 30 to 35 was discovered.

A child of 3 with its stomach cut open by a bayonet was lying near a house.

WERCHTER.—At Werchter the corpses of a man and woman and four younger persons were found in one house. It is stated that they had been murdered because one of the latter, a girl, would not allow the Germans to outrage her.

This catalogue of crimes does not by any means represent the sum total of the depositions relating to this district laid before the committee. The above are given merely as examples of acts which the evidence shows to have taken place in numbers that might have seemed scarcely credible.

In the rest of the district, that is to say, Aerschot and the other villages from which the Germans had not been driven, the effect of the battle was to cause a recrudescence of murder, arson, pillage, and cruelty, which had to some extent died down after Aug. 20 or 21.

In Aerschot itself fresh prisoners seem to have been taken and added to those who were already in the church, since it would appear that prisoners were kept to some extent in the church during the whole of the German occupation of Aerschot. The second occasion on which large numbers of prisoners were put there was shortly after the battle of Malines, and it was then that the priest of Gelrode was brought to Aerschot Church, treated abominably, and finally murdered.

One witness describes the scene graphically:

"The whole of the prisoners—men, women and children—were placed in the church. Nobody was allowed to go outside the church to obey the calls of nature; the church had to be used for that purpose. We were afterward allowed to go outside the church for this purpose, and then I saw the clergyman of Gelrode standing by the wall of the church with his hands above his head, being guarded by soldiers."

The actual details of the murder of the priest are as follows: The priest was struck several times
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BerichtGeplaatst: 21 Nov 2007 22:53    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?p=22429&highlight=bryce#22429
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Dragonder



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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 7:59    Onderwerp: uit mijn documentatie barbaarse wreedheden Reageer met quote

Het oorlogsdagboek 1914-1918 van Louis Lindemans
1914 - 25-27 september
N.v.d.r.
Zaterdag 26 en zondag 27 september 1914 waren ongetwijfeld de meest memorabele dagen van de oorlogsperiode voor Opwijk.
In het kader van de derde een laatste uitval van het Belgisch leger uit de vesting Antwerpen, werd de noordkant van Opwijk als het ware gevangen tussen het Belgisch (Lebbeke, Dendermonde, Buggenhout,...) en het Duitse leger (Opwijk, Merchtem, Asse,...).
Op 't Eeksken staken de Duitsers, onder het voorwendsel van "Man hat geschossen", 10 huizen met stallen en schuur in brand. De huisraad en de oogst ging mee in de vlammen op. De mannelijke inwoners werden gevangen genomen en weggeleid naar Droeshout-Mansteen om gefusilleerd te worden. Frans De Keersmaecker werd doodgeschoten. Door toeval, maar ook door de vastberaden tussenkomst van Opwijkse gezagsdragers en andere vooraanstaande burgers, bleven de andere inwoners gespaard. Maar door die barbaarse houding van de Duitsers en de wrede gebeurtenissen (o.a. in Lebbeke) indachtig, hadden de Opwijkenaren nu zelf ervaren wat hun onder een Duitse bezetting nog kon te wachten staan.
In zijn dagboek verhaalt Louis Lindemans ons uitvoerig de gebeurtenissen van die dagen in Opwijk. Zijn relaas van vrijdag 25 september tot zondag 27 september 1914 is opgenomen op deze pagina.
Louis Lindemans beschijft ook uitgebreid de verschrikkelijke oorlogsgebeurtenissen in Grembergen (waar zijn schoonfamilie de Waepenaert de Kerrebrouck woonde en waar zijn schoonbroer ook burgemeester was), de lotgevallen van zijn familie aldaar, alsmede het verblijf van de jongste kinderen Lindemans in Grembergen en vervolgens hun vlucht naar Holland. Wij beperken ons hier tot de gebeurtenissen die, naar onze mening, het belangrijkste zijn voor Opwijk en Mazenzele
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Reiné



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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 16:28    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Deze tekst behoort nij een in de IJzertoren hangend schilderij van de brand in Leuven.


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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 18:17    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

er zijn tijde"ns de duitse intocht mensen van mijn geboorteplaats gits door de duitsers als menselijk schild meegenomen tijdens hun optocht richting staden en daar werden ze buiten staden dorp gewoon neergeschoten er staat trouwens nog steeds een kruis als aandenken aan die laffe daad in 1914
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patrick vancoillie
laat ons de belgische gesneuvelde soldaten nooit vergeten wat er ook moge gebeuren...... diksmuide...merkem....nieuwpoort ..... de ijzer !!!
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 19:17    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

waar staat dat kruis ergens??
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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 19:46    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=6260
http://forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=4656
http://forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=4268
Die laatste met uitgebreide informatie van Patrick.
Smile
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Paddy



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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 19:47    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Heb ik niet gelezen in Barbara Tuchman's "Kanonnen van Augustus" dat het Schlieffenplan een "paniek onder de burgerbevolking" voorstelde om zodoende de vluchtende massa een schild te laten vormen tussen de vechtende legers? Of behoort dit tot de verzindsels?
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There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness".
"We're doomed, I tell ye!"
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Mario



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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 19:48    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/wiki/index.php/De_verwoesting_van_Leuven_%281914%29
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patten



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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 20:07    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

splendid @ 22 Nov 2007 19:17 schreef:
waar staat dat kruis ergens??

wel makker het kruis staat als je de weg van staden naar zarren neemt
het staat aan een cafe (naam vergeten) maar net buiten de dorpskern
zoek het maar eens op je kan niet missen
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patrick vancoillie
laat ons de belgische gesneuvelde soldaten nooit vergeten wat er ook moge gebeuren...... diksmuide...merkem....nieuwpoort ..... de ijzer !!!
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mrs Stan



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BerichtGeplaatst: 22 Nov 2007 21:07    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

De documentaire "the Crusified Soldier" die ik onlangs uit England kreeg verteld naast het verhaald rond deze soldaat ook over de Duitse wreedheden tegenover de inwoners van Aarschot en Dinant.

Margreet
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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Apr 2008 19:15    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

mrs Stan @ 22 Nov 2007 22:07 schreef:
De documentaire "the Crusified Soldier" die ik onlangs uit England kreeg verteld naast het verhaald rond deze soldaat ook over de Duitse wreedheden tegenover de inwoners van Aarschot en Dinant.

Margreet


Chapter XIII

THE CRUCIFIED CANADIAN


Like so many other stories, this one underwent considerable changes and variations. The crucified person was at one time a girl, at another an American, but most often a Canadian.

"Last week a large number of Canadian soldiers, wounded in the fighting round Ypres, arrived at the base hospital at Versculles. They all told a story of how one of their officers had been crucified by the Germans. He had been pinned to a wall by bayonets thrust through his hands and feet, another bayonet had then been driven through his throat, and, finally, he was riddled with bullets. The wounded Canadians said that the Dublin Fusiliers had seen this done with their own eyes, and they had heard the Officers of the Dublin Fusiliers talking about it." ("The Times," May 10, 1915. Paris Correspondent.)

"There is, unhappily, good reason to believe that the story related by your Paris Correspondent of the crucifixion of a Canadian officer during the fighting at Ypres on April 22, 1923, is in substance true. The story was current here at the time, but, in the absence of direct evidence and absolute proof, men were unwilling to believe that a civilized foe be guilty of an act so cruel and savage.

"Now, I have reason to believe, written depositions testifying to the fact of the discovery of the body are in possession of British Headquarters Staff. The unfortunate victim was a sergeant. As the story was told to me, he was found transfixed to the wooden fence of a farm building. Bayonets were thrust through the palms of his hands and his feet, pinning him to the fence. He had been repeatedly stabbed with bayonets, and there were many punctured wounds in his body. I have not heard that any of our men actually saw the crime committed. There is room for the supposition that the man was dead before he was pinned to the fence and that the enemy, in his insensate rage and hate of the English, wreaked his vengeance on the lifeless body of his foe.

"That is the most charitable complexion that can be put on the deed, ghastly as it is.

"There is not a man in the ranks of the Canadians who fought at Ypres who is not firmly convinced that this vile thing has been done. They know, too, that the enemy bayoneted their wounded and helpless comrades in the trenches." (The Times, May15, 1915. Correspondent, North France).

MR. HOUSTON asked the UnderSecretary of State for War whether he has any information regarding the crucifixion of three Canadian soldiers recently captured by the Germans, who nailed them with bayonets to the side of a wooden structure.

MR. TENNANT: "No, sir; no information of such an atrocity having been perpetrated has yet reached the War Office."

MR. HOUSTON: "Is the Right Hon. Gentleman aware that Canadian officers and Canadian soldiers who were eyewitnesses of these fiendish outrages have made affidavits? Has the officer in command at the base at Boulogne not called the attention of the War Office to them?"

MR. HARCOURT: "No, sir; we have no record of it." (House of Commons, May 12, 1915.)

Mr. HOUSTON asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he has any official information showing that during the recent fighting, when the Canadians were temporarily driven back, they were compelled to leave about forty of their wounded comrades in a barn, and that on recapturing the position they found the Germans had bayoneted all the wounded with the exception of a sergeant. and that the Germans had removed the figure of Christ from the large village crucifix and fastened the sergeant, while alive, to the cross; and whether he is aware that the crucifixion of our soldiers is becoming a practice of Germans.

MR. TENNANT : The military authorities in France have standing instructions to send particulars of any authenticated cases of atrocities committed against our troops by the Germans. No official information in the sense of the Hon. Member's question has been received, but, owing to the information conveyed by the Hon. Member's previous question, inquiry is being made and is not yet complete. (House of Commons, May 19, 1925).

The story went the round of the Press here and in Canada, and was used by Members of Parliament on the platform. Its authenticity, however, was eventually denied by General March at Washington.

It cropped up again in 1919, when a letter was published by the Nation (April 12th) from Private E. Loader, 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment, who declared he had seen the crucified Canadian. The 'Nation' was informed in a subsequent letter from Captain E. N. Bennett that there was no such private on the rolls of the Royal West Kents, and that the 2nd Battalion was in India during the whole war.

http://www.vlib.us/wwi/resources/archives/texts/t050824i/ponsonby.html#6
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Tandorini



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BerichtGeplaatst: 23 Sep 2008 21:14    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

The Trail Of The Beast In Belgium
GERMANY'S on rush into heroic Belgium speedily resolved itself into a saturnalia that drenched the land with blood and roused the civilized world into resentful horror. As the tide of barbarity swept forward into Northern France, stories of the horrors filtered through the close web of German censorship. There were denials at first by German propagandists. In the face of truth furnished by thousands of witnesses, the denials faded away.

What caused these atrocities? Were they the spontaneous expression of dormant brutishness in German soldiers? Were they a sudden reversion of an entire nation to bestiality?

The answer is that the private soldier as an individual was not responsible. The carnage, the rapine, the wholesale desolation was an integral part of the German policy of schrecklichkeit or frightfulness. This policy was laid down by Germany as part of its imperial war code. In 1902 Germany issued a new war manual entitled "Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege." In it is written this cold-blooded declaration:

All measures which conduce to the attainment of the object of war are permissible and these may be summarized in the two ideas of violence and cunning. What is permissible includes every means of war without which the object of the war cannot be attained. All means which modern invention affords, including the fullest, most dangerous, and most massive means of destruction, may be utilized.

Brand Whitlock, United States Minister to Belgium, in a formal report to the State Department, made this statement concerning Germany's policy in permitting these outrages:

"All these deliberate organized massacres of civilians, all these murders and outrages, the violation of women, the killing of children, wanton destruction, burning, looting and pillage, and whole towns destroyed, were acts for which no possible military necessity can be pleaded. They were wilfully committed as part of a deliberately prepared and scientific-ally organized policy of terrorism."

And now, having considered these outrages as part of the German policy of terrorism, let us turn to the facts presented by those who made investigations at first hand in devastated Belgium and Northern France.

Let us first return, to the tragic story of the destruction of Louvain. The first document comes in the form of a cable sent from the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs under date of August 8, 1914:

"On Tuesday evening a body of German troops who had been driven back retired in disorder upon the town of Louvain. Germans who were guarding the town thought that the retiring troops were Belgians and fired upon them. In order to excuse this mistake the Germans, in spite of the most energetic denials on the part of the authorities, pretended that Belgians had fired on the Germans, although all the inhabitants, including policemen, had been disarmed for more than a week. Without any examination and without listening to any protest the commanding officer announced that the town would be immediately destroyed. All inhabitants had to leave their homes at once; some were made prisoners; women and children were put into a train of which the destination was unknown; soldiers with fire bombs set fire to the different quarters of the town; the splendid Church of St. Pierre, the markets, the university and its scientific establishments, were given to the flames, and it is probable that the Hotel de Ville, this celebrated jewel of Gothic art, will also have disappeared in the disaster. Several notabilities were shot at sight. Thus a town of 40,000 inhabitants, which, since the fifteenth century, has been the intellectual and scientific capital of the Low Countries, is a heap of ashes. Americans, many of whom have followed the course at this illustrious alma mater and have there received such cordial hospitality, cannot remain insensible to this outrage on the rights of humanity and civilization which is unprecedented in history."

Minister Whitlock made the following report on the same outrage:

"A violent fusillade broke out simultaneously at various points in the city (Louvain), notably at the Porte de Bruxelles, Porte de Tirlemont, Rue Leopold, Rue Marie-Thérèse, Rue des Joyeuses Entrées. German soldiers were firing at random in every street and in every direction. Later fires broke out every-where, notably in the University building, the Library, in the old Church of St. Peter, in the Place du Peuple, in the Rue de la Station, in the Boulevard de Tirlemont, and in the Chaussée de Tirlemont. On the orders of their chiefs, the German soldiers would break open the houses and set fire to them, shooting on the inhabitants who tried to leave their dwellings. Many persons who took refuge in their cellars were burned to death. The German soldiers were equipped with apparatus for the purpose of firing dwellings, incendiary pastils, machines for spraying petroleum, etc.

"Major von Manteuffel (of the German forces) sent for Alderman Schmidt. Upon the latter's arrival, the major declared that hostages were to be held, as sedition had just broken out. He asked Father Parijs, Mr. Schmidt, and Mgr. Coenraedts, First Vice-Rector of the University, who was being held as a hostage, to make proclamations to the inhabitants exhorting them to be calm and menacing them with a fine of twenty million francs, the destruction of the city and the banging of the hostages, if they created disturbance. Surrounded by about thirty soldiers and a few officers, Ma j or Manteuffel, Father Pari j s, Mr. Schmidt and Mgr. Coenraedts left in the direction of the station, and the alderman, in French, and the priest, in Flemish, made proclamations at the street corners.

"Near the statue of Juste-Lipse, a Dr. Berghausen, a German surgeon, in a highly ex-cited condition, ran to meet the delegation. He shouted that a German soldier had just been killed by a shot fired from the house of Mr. David Fishbach. Addressing the soldiers, Dr. Berghausen said: `The blood of the entire population of Louvain is not worth a drop of the blood of a German soldier!' Then one of the soldiers threw into the interior of the house of Mr. Fishbach one of the pastils which the German soldiers carried and immediately the house flared up. It contained paintings of a high value. The old coachman, Joseph Vandermosten, who had re-entered the house to try to save the life of his master, did not re-turn. His body was found the next day amidst the ruins.

"The. Germans made the usual claim that the civil population had fired upon them and that it was necessary to take these measures, i. e., burn the churches, the library and other public monuments, burn and pillage houses, driving out and murdering the inhabitants, sacking the city in order to punish and to spread terror among the people, and General von Luttwitz had told me that it was reported that the son of the burgomaster had shot one of their generals.

"But the burgomaster of Louvain had no son, and no officer was shot at Louvain. The story of a general shot by the son of a burgomaster was a repetition of a tragedy that had occurred at Aerschot, on the 19th, where the fifteen-yearold son of the burgomaster had been killed by a firing squad, not because he had shot a general, but because an officer had been shot, probably by Belgian soldiers retreating through the town. The story of this tragedy is told by the boy's mother, under oath, before the Belgian Commission, and is so simple, so touching, so convincing in its verisimilitude, that I attach a copy of it in extenso to this report. It seems to afford an altogether typical example of what went on all over the stricken land during those days of terror. (In other places it was the daughter of the burgomaster who was said to have shot a general.)

"The following facts may be noted: From the avowal of Prussian officers themselves, there was not one single victim, among their men at the barracks of St. Martin, Louvain, where it was claimed that the first shot had been fired from a house situated in front of the Caserne. This would appear to be impossible had the civilians fired upon them point blank from across the street. It was said that when certain houses near the barracks were burning, numerous explosions occurred, revealing the presence of cartridges; but these houses were drinking houses much frequented by German soldiers. It was said that Spanish students shot from the schools in the Rue de la Station, but Father Catala, rector of the school, affirms that the schools were empty.

"If it was necessary, for whatever reason, to do what was done at Vise, at Dinant, at Aerschot, at Louvain, and in a hundred other towns that were sacked, pillaged and burned, where masses were shot down because civilians had fired on German troops, and if it was necessary to do this on a scale never before witnessed in history, one might not unreasonably assume that the alleged firing by civilians was done on a scale, if not so thoroughly organized, at least somewhat in proportion to the rage of destruction that punished it. And hence it would seem to be a simple matter to produce at least convincing evidence that civilians had fired on the soldiers ; but there is no testimony to that effect beyond that of the soldiers who merely assert it: Man hat geschossen. If there were no more firing on soldiers by civilians in Belgium than is proved by the German testimony, it was not enough to justify the burning of the smallest of the towns that was overtaken by that fate. And there is not a scintilla of evidence of organized bands of francs-tireurs, such as were found in the war of 1870."

Under date of September 12, 1917, Minister Whitlock, in a report to the State Department of the United States, made the following summary : "As one studies the evidence at hand, one is struck at the outset by the fact so general that it must exclude the hypothesis of coincidence, and that is that these wholesale massacres followed immediately upon some check, some reverse, that the German army had sustained. The German army was checked by the guns of the forts to the east of Liége, and the horrors of Vise, Verviers, Bligny, Battice, Hervy and twenty villages follow. When they entered Liége, they burned the houses along two streets and killed many persons, five or six Spaniards among them. Checked before Namur they sacked Andenne, Bauvignies, and Champignon, and when they took Namur they burned one hundred and fifty houses. Compelled to give battle to the French army in the Belgian Ardennes they ravaged the beautiful valley of the Semois; the complete destruction of the village of Rossignlo and the extermination of its en-tire male population took place there. Checked again by the French on the Meuse, the awful carnage of Dinant results. Held on the Sambre by the French, they burn one hundred houses at Charleroi and enact the appalling tragedy of Tamines. At Mons, the English hold them, and after that all over the Borinage there is a systematic destruction, pillage and murder. The Belgian army drive them back from Malines and Louvain is doomed. The Belgian army falling back and fighting in retreat took refuge in the forts of Antwerp, and the burning and sack of Hougaerde, Wavre, Ottignies, Grimde, Neerlinter, Weert, St. George, Shaffen and Aersehot follow.

"The Belgian troops inflicted serious losses on the Germans in the South of the Province of Limbourg and the towns of Lummen, Bilsen, and Lanaeken are partially destroyed. Antwerp held out for two months, and all about its outer line of fortifications there was blood and fire, numerous villages were sacked and burned and the whole town of Termonde was destroyed. During the battles of September the village of Boortmeerbeek near Malines, occupied by the Germans, was retaken by the Belgians, and when the Germans entered it again they burned forty houses. Three times occupied by the Belgians and retaken by the Germans Boortmeerbeek was three times punished in the same way. That is to say, every-where the German army met with a defeat it took it out, as we say in America, on the civil population. And that is the explanation of the German atrocities in Belgium."

A committee of the highest honor and responsibility was appointed by the British Government to investigate the whole subject of atrocities in Belgium and Northern France; Its chairman was the Rt. Hon. Viscount James Bryce, formerly British Ambassador to the United States. Its other members were the Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Pollock, the Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Clark, Sir Alfred Hopkinson, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Mr. Harold Cox and Sir Kenelm E. Digby.

The report of the commission bears upon its face the stamp of painstaking search for truth, substantiates every statement made by Minister Whitlock and makes known many horrible instances of cruelty and barbarity. It makes the following deductions as having been proved beyond question :

1. That there were in many parts of Belgium deliberate and systematically organized massacres of the civil population, accompanied by many isolated murders and other. outrages.

2. That in the conduct of the war generally innocent civilians, both men and. women, were murdered in large numbers, women violated, and children murdered.

3. 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 out-break 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.

4. 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.

The Bryce Commission's report on the destruction of Dinant is an example of testimony laid before them. It follows:

"A clear statement of the outrages at Dinant, which many travelers will recall as a singularly picturesque town on the Meuse, is given by one witness, who says that the Germans began burning houses in the Rue St. Jacques on the 21st of August, and that every house in the street was burned. On the following day an engagement took place between the French and the Germans, and the witness spent the whole day in the cellar of a bank with his wife and children. On the morning of the 23d, about 5 o'clock, firing ceased, and al-most immediately afterward a party of Germans came to the house. They rang the bell and began to batter at the door and windows. The witness' wife went to the door and two or three Germans came in. The family were ordered out into the street. There they found another family, and the two families were driven with their hands above their heads along the Rue Grande. All the houses in the street were burning.

"The party was eventually put into a forge where there were a number of other prisoners, about a hundred in all, and were kept there from 11 A. M. till 2 P. M. They were then taken to the prison. There they were assembled in a courtyard and searched. No arms _were found. They were then passed through into the prison itself and put into cells.. The witness and his wife were separated from each other. During the next hour the witness heard rifle shots continually and noticed in the corner of a court-yard leading off the row of cells the body of a young man with a mantle thrown over it. He recognized the mantle as having belonged to his wife. The witness' daughter was allowed to go out to see what had happened to her mother, and the witness himself was allowed to go across the courtyard half an hour afterward for the same purpose. He found his wife lying on the floor in a room. She had bullet wounds in four places but was alive and told her husband to return to the children and he did so.

"About 5 o'clock in the evening, he saw the Germans bringing out all the young and middle-aged men from the cells, and ranging their prisoners, to the number of forty, in three rows in 'the middle of the courtyard. About twenty Germans were drawn up opposite, but before anything was done there was a tremendous fusillade from some, point near the prison and the civilians were hurried back to their cells. Half an hour later the same forty men were brought back into the courtyard. Almost immediately there was a second fusillade like the first and they were driven back to the cells again.

"About 7 o'clock the witness and other prisoners were brought out of their cells and marched out of the prison. They went between two lines of troops to Roche Bayard, about a kilometer away. An hour later the women and children were separated and the prisoners were brought back to Dinant passing the prison on their way. Just outside the prison, the witness saw three lines of bodies which he recognized as being those of his neighbors. They were nearly all dead, but he noticed movement in some of them. There were about one hundred and twenty bodies. The prisoners were then taken up to the top of a hill outside Dinant and compelled to stay there till 8 o'clock in the morning. On the following day they were put into cattle trucks and taken thence to Coblenz. For three months they remained prisoners in Germany.

"Unarmed civilians were killed iii masses at ether places near the prison. About ninety bodies were seen lying on the top of one another in a grass square opposite the convent. A witness asked a German officer why her husband had been shot, and he told her that it was because two of her sons had been in the civil guard and had shot at the Germans. As a matter of fact, one of her sons was at that time in Liége and the other in Brussels. It is stated that besides the ninety corpses referred to above, sixty corpses of civilians were recovered from a hole in the brewery yard and that forty-eight bodies of women and children were found in a garden. The town was systematically set on fire by hand grenades. Another witness saw a little girl of seven, one of whose legs was broken and the other injured by a bayonet We have no reason to believe that the civilian population of Dinant gave any provocation, or that any other defense can be put forward to justify the treatment inflicted upon its citizens."

The Bryce Commission reports the outrages in a number of Belgian villages in this terse fashion:

"In Hofstade a number of houses had been set on fire and many corpses were seen, some in houses, some in back yards, and some in the streets. Two witnesses speak of having seen the body of a young man pierced by bayonet thrusts with the wrists cut also. On a side road the corpse of a civilian was seen on his door-step with a bayonet wound in his stomach and by his side the dead body of a boy of five or six with his hands nearly severed. The corpses of a woman and boy were seen at the blacksmith's. They had been killed with the bayonet. In a café, a young man, also killed with the bayonet, was holding his hands together as if in the attitude of supplication.

"In the garden of a house in the main street, bodies of two women were observed, and in an-other house, the body of a boy of sixteen with two bayonet wounds in the chest. In Sempst a similar condition of affairs existed. Houses were burning and in some of them were the charred remains of civilians. In a bicycle shop a witness saw the burned corpse of a man. Other witnesses speak of this incident. An-other civilian, unarmed, was shot as he was running away. As will be remembered, all the arms had been given up some time before by the order of the burgomaster.

"At Weerde four corpses of civilians were lying in the road. It was said that these men had fired upon the German soldiers; but this is denied. The arms had been given up long before. Two children were killed in the village of Weerde, quite wantonly as they were standing in the road with their mother. They were three or four years old and were killed with the bayonet. A small barn burning close by formed a convenient means of getting rid of the bodies. They were thrown into the flames from the bayonets. It is right to add that no commissioned officer was present at the time. At Eppeghem, on August 25th, a pregnant woman who had been wounded with a bayonet was discovered in the convent. She was dying. On the road six dead bodies of laborers were seen.

"At Boortmeerbeek a German soldier was seen to fire three times at a little girl five years old. Having failed to hit her, he subsequently bayoneted her. He was killed with the butt end of a rifle by a Belgian soldier who had seen him commit this murder from a distance. At Herent the charred body of a civilian was found in a butcher's shop, and in a handcart twenty yards away was the dead body of a laborer. Two eye witnesses relate that a German soldier shot a civilian and stabbed him with a bayonet as he lay. He then made one of these witnesses, a civilian prisoner, smell the blood on the bayonet. At Haecht the bodies of ten civilians were seen lying in a row by a brewery wall. In a laborer's house, which had been broken up, the mutilated corpse of a woman of thirty to thirty-five was discovered."

Concerning the treatment of women and children in general, the report continues : "The evidence shows that the German authorities, when carrying out a policy of systematic arson and plunder in selected districts, usually drew some distinction between the adult male population on the one hand and the women and children on the other. It was a frequent practice to set apart the adult males of the condemned district with a view to the execution of a suitable number—preferably of the younger and more vigorous—and to re-serve the women and children for milder treatment. The depositions, however, present many instances of calculated cruelty, often going the length of murder, toward the women and children of the condemned area.

"At Dinant sixty women and children were confined in the cellar of a convent from Sun-day morning till the following Friday, Au-gust 28th, sleeping on the ground, for there were no beds, with nothing to drink during the whole period, and given no food until Wednesday, when somebody threw into the cellar two sticks of macaroni and a carrot for each prisoner. In other cases the women and children were marched for long distances along roads, as, for instance, the march of the women from Louvain to Tirlemont, August 28th, the laggards pricked on by the attendant Uhlans. A lady complains of having been brutally kicked by privates. Others were struck at with the butt end of rifles. At Louvain, at Liége, at Aerschot, at Malines, at Montigny, at Andenne, and elsewhere, there is evidence that the troops were not restrained from drunkenness, and drunken soldiers cannot be trusted to observe the rules or decencies of war, least of all when they are called upon to execute a pre-ordained plan of arson and pillage. From the very first women were not safe. At Liége women and children were chased about the streets by soldiers.

"Witnesses recount how a great crowd of men, women and children from Aerschot were marched to Louvain, and then suddenly ex-posed to a fire from a mitrailleuse and rifles. `We were all placed,' recounts a sufferer, `in Station Street, Louvain, and the German soldiers fired on us. I saw the corpses of some women in the street. I fell down, and a woman who had been shot fell on top of me.' Women and children suddenly turned out into the streets, and, compelled to witness the destruction of their homes by fire, provided a sad spectacle to such as were sober enough to see.

"A humane German officer, witnessing the ruin of Aerschot, exclaimed in disgust: `I am a father myself, and I cannot bear this. It is not war but butchery.' Officers as well as men succumbed to the temptation of drink, with results which may be illustrated by an incident which occurred at Campenhout. In this village there was a certain well-to-do merchant (name given) who had a cellar of good champagne. On the afternoon of the 14th or 15th of August three German cavalry officers entered the house and demanded champagne. Having drunk ten bottles and invited five or six officers and three or four private soldiers to join them, they continued their carouse, and then called for the master and mistress of the house.

`Immediately my mistress came in,' says the valet de chambre, `one of the officers who was sitting on the floor got up, and, putting a revolver to my mistress' temple, shot her dead. The officer was obviously drunk. The other officers continued to drink and sing, and they did not pay any great attention to the killing of my mistress. The officer who shot my mistress then told my master to dig a grave and bury my mistress. My master and the officer went into the garden, the officer threatening my master with a pistol. My master was then forced to dig the grave and to bury my mistress in it. I cannot say for what reason they killed my mistress. The officer who did it was singing all the time.'

"In the evidence before us there are cases tending to show that aggravated crimes against women were sometimes severely punished. One witness reports that a young girl who was being pursued by a drunken soldier at Louvain appealed to a German officer, and that the of-fender was then and there shot. Another de-scribes how an officer of the Thirty-second Regiment of the Line was led out to execution for the violation of two young girls, but reprieved at the request or with the consent of the girls' mother. These instances are sufficient to show that the maltreatment of women was no part of the military scheme of the invaders, however much it may appear to have been the inevitable result of the system of terror deliberately adopted in certain regions. Indeed, so much is avowed. `I asked the commander why we had been spared,' says a lady in Louvain, who deposes to having suffered much brutal treatment during the sack. He said : `We will not hurt you any more. Stay in Louvain. All is finished.' It was Saturday, August 29th, and the reign of terror was over.

"The Germans used men, women and children of Belgium as screens for advancing infantry, as is shown in the following: Outside Fort Fleron, near Liége, men and children were marched in front of the Germans to pre-vent the Belgian soldiers from firing. The progress of the Germans through Mons was marked by many incidents of this character. Thus, on August 22d, half a dozen Belgian colliers returning from work were marching in front of some German troops who were pursuing the English, and in the opinion of the witnesses, they must have been placed there intentionally. An English officer describes how he caused a barricade to be erected in a main thoroughfare leading out of Mons, when the Germans, in order to reach a crossroad in the rear, fetched civilians out of the houses on each side of the main road and compelled them to hold up white flags and act as cover.

"Another British officer who saw this incident is convinced that the Germans were acting deliberately for the purpose of protecting themselves from the fire of the British troops. Apart from this protection, the Germans could not have advanced, as the street was straight and commanded by the British rifle fire at a range of 700 or 800 yards. Several British soldiers also speak of this incident, and their story is confirmed by a Flemish witness in a side street."

The French Government also appointed a commission, headed by M. Georges Payelle.

This body made an investigation of outrages committed by German officers and soldiers in Northern France. Its report showed conditions that outstripped in horror the war tactics of savages. It makes the following accusations:'

"In Rebais, two English cavalrymen who were surprised and wounded in this commune were finished off with gunshots by the Germans when they were dismounted and when one of them had thrown up his hands, showing thus that he was unarmed.

"In the department of the Marne, as every-where else, the German troops gave themselves up to general pillage, which was carried out always under similar conditions and with the complicity of their leaders. The Communes of Heiltz-le-Maurupt, Suippes, Marfaux, Fromentieres and Esternay suffered especially in this way. Everything which the invader could carry off from the houses was placed on motor lorries and vehicles. At Suippes, in particular, they carried off in this way a quantity of different objects, among these sewing machines and toys. A great many villages, as well as important country towns, were burned without any reason whatever. Without doubt,, these crimes were committed by order, as German detachments arrived in the neighborhood. with their torches, their grenades, and their° usual outfit for arson.

"At Marfaux nineteen private houses were burned. Of the Commune of Glannes practically nothing remains. At Somme-Tourbe the entire village has been destroyed, with the exception of the Mairie, the church and two private buildings. At Auve nearly the whole town has been destroyed. At Etrepy sixty-three families out of seventy are homeless. At Huiron all of the houses, with the exception of five had been burned. At Sermaize-les-Bains only about forty houses out of 900 remain. At Bignicourt-sur-Saultz thirty houses out of thirty-three are in ruins.

"At Suippes, the big market town which has been practically burned out, German soldiers carrying straw and cans of petrol have been seen in the streets. While the mayor's house was burning, six sentinels with fixed bayonets were under orders to forbid any one to approach and to prevent any help being given.

"All this destruction by arson, which only represents a small proportion of the acts of the same kind in the Department of Seine-et-Marne, was accomplished without the least tendency to rebellion or the smallest act of resistance being recorded against the inhabitants of the localities which are today more or less completely destroyed. In some villages the Germans, before setting fire to them, made one of their soldiers fire a shot from his rifle so as to be able to pretend afterward that the civilian population had attacked them, an allegation which is all the more absurd since at the time when the enemy arrived, the only inhabitants left were old men, sick persons, or people absolutely without any means of aggression.

"Numerous crimes against the person have also been committed. In the majority of the communes hostages have been taken away; many of them have not returned. At Sermaize-les-Bains, the Germans carried off about one hundred and fifty people, some of whom were decked out with helmets and coats and compelled, thus equipped, to mount guard over the bridges.

"At Bignicourt-sur-Saultz thirty men and forty-five women and children were obliged to leave with a detachment. One of the men—a certain Emile Pierre—has not returned nor sent any news of himself. At Corfelix, M. Jacqet, who was carried off on the 7th of September with eleven of his fellow-citizens, was found five hundred meters from the village with a bullet in his head.

"At Champuis, the curé, his maid-servant, and four other inhabitants who were taken away on the same day as the hostages of Corfelix had not returned at the time of our visit to the place.

"At the same place an old man of seventy, named Jacquemin, was tied down in his bed by an officer and left in this state without food for three days. He died a little time after. At Vert-la-Gravelle a farm hand was killed. He was struck on the head with a bottle and his chest was run through with a lance. The garde champetre Brulefer of le Gault-la-Foret was murdered at Maclaunay, where he had been taken by the Germans. His body was found with his head shattered and a wound on his chest.

"At Champguyon, a commune which has been fired, a certain Verdier was killed in his father-in-law's house. The latter was not present at the execution, but he heard a shot and next day an officer said to him, `Son shot. He is under the ruins.' In spite of the search made the body has not been found among them. It must have been consumed in the fire.

"At Sermaize, the roadmaker, Brocard, was placed among a number of hostages. Just at the moment when he was being arrested with his son, his wife and his daughter-in-law in a state of panic rushed to throw themselves into the Saulx. The old man was able to free him-self for a moment and ran in all haste after them and made several attempts to save them, but the Germans dragged him away pitilessly, leaving the two wretched women struggling in the river. When Brocard and his son were restored to liberty, four days afterward, and found the bodies, they discovered that their wives had both received bullet wounds in the head.

"At Triaucourt the Germans gave them-selves up to the worst excesses. Angered doubtless by the remark which an officer had addressed to a soldier, against whom a young girl of nineteen, Mlle. Helene Proses, had made complaint on account of the indecent treatment to which she had been subjected, they burned the village and made a systematic massacre of the inhabitants. They began by setting fire to the house of an inoffensive house-holder, M. Jules Gand, and by shooting this unfortunate man as he was leaving his house to escape the flames. Then they dispersed among the houses in the streets, firing off their rifles on every side. A young man, seventeen years, Georges Lecourtier, who tried to escape was shot. M. Alfred Lallemand suffered the same fate. He was pursued into the kitchen of his fellow-citizen Tautelier, and murdered there, while Tautelier received three bullets in his hand.

"Fearing, not without reason, for their lives, Mlle. Proces, her mother and her grand-mother of seventy-one and her old aunt of eighty-one, tried to cross the trellis which separates their garden from a neighboring property with the help of a ladder. The young girl alone was able to reach the other side and to avoid death by hiding in the cabbages. As for the other women, they were struck down by rifle shots. The village curé collected the brains of the aunt on the ground on which they were strewn And had the bodies carried into Proces' house. During the following night, the Germans played the piano near the bodies.

"While the carnage raged, the fire rapidly spread and devoured thirty-five houses. An old man of seventy and a child of two months perished in the flames. M. Igier, who was trying to save his cattle, was pursued for 300 meters by soldiers, who fired at him ceaselessly. By a miracle this man had the good fortune not to be wounded, but five bullets went through his clothing."

This summary merely hints at the atrocities that were perpetrated. And these are the crimes that France and Belgium will remember after indemnities have been paid, after borders have been re-established and after generations shall have passed. The horrors of blazing villages, of violated womanhood, of mutilated childhood, of stark and senseless butcheries, will flash before the minds of French and Belgian men and women when Germany's name shall be mentioned long after the declaration of peace.

Schrecklichkeit had its day. It took its bloody toll of the fairest and bravest of two gallant nations. It ravaged Poland as well and wreaked its fiendish will on wounded soldiers on the battlefields.

But Schrecklichkeit is dead. Belgium and France have shown that murder and rape and arson can not destroy liberty nor check the indomitable ambitions of the free peoples of earth.

The lesson to Germany was taught at a terrible cost to humanity, but it was taught in a fashion that nations hereafter who shall dream of emulating the Hun will know in advance that frightfulness serves no end except to feed the lust for destruction that exists only in the most debased and brutish of men.


http://www.oldandsold.com/articles/index001.shtml
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Aurel Sercu



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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jul 2009 20:41    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ik weet het, deze Topic is al bijna een jaar oud.
Niets speciaals eraan toe te voegen.
Behalve dat ik op het Britse Forum zojuist een link ernaar (naar deze Topic hier dus) gelegd heb, in een Topic daar over Franctireurs in België in 1914 (en de German Atrocities).
Als het over dat onderwerp gaat daar (en het is niet de eerste keer), lopen de emoties soms wel eens hoger op dan anders. ;-)

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=127202&st=0

Aurel
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Patrick Mestdag
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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jul 2009 22:59    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Zie ook topic
Man hat geschossen!"
http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?p=81747#81747
en Aarschot
http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?p=149412#149412
@+
Patrick
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Percy Toplis



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BerichtGeplaatst: 01 Jul 2009 23:53    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Ik vond deze laatst:
http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=9386 Cool
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Pieter Serrien



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BerichtGeplaatst: 05 Nov 2012 20:40    Onderwerp: een overzicht Reageer met quote

Ik maakte een overzicht: via deze link.
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