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Title: Belgians Under the German Eagle

Author: Jean Massart

Translator: Bernard Miall

Release date: April 10, 2016 [eBook #51716]

Language: English

Credits: E-text prepared by Brian Coe, Moti Ben-Ari, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team ( from page images generously made available by Internet Archive/American Libraries (



E-text prepared by Brian Coe, Moti Ben-Ari,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/American Libraries


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See







Vice-Director of the Class of Sciences in the Royal Academy
of Belgium



First published June 1916

(All rights reserved)



These pages were written in Belgium between the 4th August, 1914, and the 15th August, 1915.

I employed in this work only those books and periodicals which entered the country, whether secretly or openly, and which every one, therefore, can procure.

But to drive conviction into the reader's mind I have observed a rule of selection in using these documents: I have used those exclusively which are of German origin, or which are censored by the Germans.

They are—

(A) German posters exposed in Belgium.

(B) Books and newspapers coming from Germany.

(C) Newspapers published in Belgium under the German censorship.

(D) The Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, the only foreign newspaper which has been authorized in Belgium since the beginning of the occupation. As for the Belgian Grey Books, the Reports of the Commission of Inquiry, and books published in Belgium, of these I used only those which were known to us in Belgium before the 15th August, 1915.


In short, since I crossed the frontier I have not inserted a single idea into this book: it therefore precisely reflects the state of mind of a Belgian who has lived a year under the German domination.

I have forced myself to remain as far as possible objective, in order to give my work the scientific rigour which characterizes the Reports of the Belgian Commission of Inquiry. I have simply transferred, to a domain which is new to me, the methods of my customary occupations.

Here is a list of my principal sources, with the abbreviations which denote them in the text:—

N.R.C.Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant. From this journal
 (with two exceptions) I have taken only those
 articles which were not stopped by the German
K.Z.Kölnische Zeitung.
K.Vz.Kölnische Volkszeitung.
D.G.A.Düsseldorfer General-Anzeiger.
F.Z.Frankfurter Zeitung.
N.A.Z.Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.
1st to 12th Report.    Reports of the Belgian Commission of Inquiry.
1st and 2nd Belgian. Grey Books.
Belg. All.Davignon, La Belgigue et l'Allemagne.

The English edition is not a complete translation of the French text. To save space, many facts, and above all, many quotations, have been suppressed.

J. M.

Antibes, Villa Thuret,
October, 1915.



Intellectual Life in Belgium12
Prohibition of Newspapers and Verbal Communication—The
German Censorship—Authorized German Newspapers—Authorized
Dutch Newspapers—Newspapers
introduced Surreptitiously—Secret Propagation of News—Secret
Newspapers—German Placards—Regulations as to
Correspondence—Railway Journeys.
The Violation of Neutrality27
A. The Preliminaries27
The Belgians' Distrust of Germany lulled—German
Duplicity on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of August, 1914—The
Ultimatum—The Speech of the Chancellor in the Reichstag.
B. Justification of the Entry into Belgium31
C. German Accusations against Belgium36
Necessity of influencing Neutrals—Absurdity of the First
Accusations—A Change of Tactics—The Revelations of the
[4]N.A.Z.—1. The Report of M. le Baron Griendl, some time
Belgian Minister in Berlin—2. The Reports of Generals
Ducarne and Jungbluth—The Attitude of the Belgians
toward the German Falsifications—Neutral Opinion—The
Falsification of M. de l'Escaille's Letter.
D. The Declaration of War and the first Hostilities50
The three successive Proposals of Wilhelm II to Belgium—Hostilities
preceding the Declaration of War—The
Pacific Character of Belgium—German Espionage in
Belgium—The Mentality of the German Soldiers at the
beginning of the Campaign—Letters from German
Prisoners of War—German Lies respecting the Occupation
of Liége—The sudden attack upon France is checked—The
Disinterested Behaviour of Belgium.
Violations of the Hague Convention63
A. The "Reprisals against Francs-tireurs"63
Murders Committed by the Germans from the Outset—Were
there any "Francs-tireurs?"—The Obsession of
the "Francs-tireurs" in the German Army—The Obsession
of the "Francs-tireurs" in the Literature of the
War—The Obsession of the "Francs-tireurs" in Literature
and Art—Responsibility of the Leaders—Animosity
toward the Clergy—Animosity toward Churches—Intentional
Insufficiency of Preliminary Inquiries—A
"Show" Inquiry—Mentality of an Officer charged with
the Repression of "Francs-tireurs"—Drunkenness in the
German Army—Cruelties necessary according to German
Theories—Terrorization: "Reprisals" as a "Preventive"
Incendiary Material—The two great Periods of Massacre—Protective
Inscriptions—Accusations against the Belgian
Government—Treatment of Civil Prisoners—The Return
of Civil Prisoners—German Admission of the Innocence
of the Civil Prisoners.
B. The "Belgian Atrocities"98
The Pretended Cruelty of Belgian Civilians toward the
[5]German Army—Some Accusations—The Pretended
Massacres of German Civilians—Preventive and Repressive
Measures taken by the Belgian Authorities.
C. Violations of the Hague Convention111
Military Employment of Belgians by the Germans—Measures
of Coercion taken by the Germans—Living
Shields—A German Admission—Belgians placed before the
Troops at Charleroi—Belgians placed before the Troops at
Lebbeke, Tirlemont, Mons—Belgian Women placed before
the Troops at Anseremme—Belgians forcibly detained at
Ostend and Middelkerke—Bombardment of the Cathedral
at Malines—The Pretended Observation-post on Notre-Dame
of Antwerp—German Observation-posts admitted
by the Germans—Pillage—Thefts of Stamps—Illegal
Taxation—Fines for Telegraphic Interruptions—Fines
for Attacks by "Francs-tireurs"—Hostages—Contributions
and Requisitions—Contributions demanded from the
Cities—Exactions of a Non-commissioned Officer—Requisitions
of Raw Materials and Machinery—Conclusions—The
Famine in Belgium—The Flight of the Belgians—The
Causes of the Famine—Creation of Temporary
Shelters—The National Relief Committee—Belgium's
Gratitude to America.
The German Mind, Self-depicted179
A. Pride179
Some Manifestations of Pride and the Spirit of Boasting—1.
Militarism—Might comes before Right—2. Disdain
of Others—Some Inept Proclamations, etc.—Lies Concerning
the Situation in Belgium—Lies concerning
"Francs-tireurs"—3. Cynicism—Photographs and Picture-postcards—Alfred
Heymel on the Battle of Charleroi—Surrender
of the Critical Spirit. Refusal to Examine the
Accusations of Cruelty—The Abolition of Free Discussion
in Germany—German Credulity—Voluntary Blindness of
the "Intellectuals"—The Manifesto of the "Ninety-three"—The
Manifesto of the 3,125 Professors—The
[6]Protestant Pastors—The Catholic Priests and Rabbis.
B. Untruthfulness217
1. A Few Lies—Written Lies—A French Dirigible
Captured by the Germans—The Transportation of the
German Dead—Some Lying Placards—M. Max's Denial—How
the Officers Lie to their Men—2. Perseverance in
Falsehood—The German treatment of Mgr. Merrier—3.
The Organization of Propaganda—(a) Propagandist
Bureaux Operating in Germany—(b) Propagandist Matter
issued by the Publishing Houses—(c) Propagandist
Bureaux operating Abroad—Sincerity of the Censored
Newspapers—Persecution of Uncensored Newspapers—(d)
Various Propaganda—4. The Violation of Engagements—The
Independence of Belgium—The Promise
to respect the Patriotism of the Belgians—The Forced
Striking of the Flag—The Belgian Colours forbidden
in the Provinces—Prohibition of the Belgian Colours
in Brussels—The "Te Deum" on the Patron Saints' Day
of the King—The Portraits of the Royal Family—Obligation
to Employ the German Language—The Belgian
Army is our Enemy!—The "Brabançonne" Prohibited—The
National Anniversary of July 21st—The Anniversary
of the 4th August—School Inspection by the Germans.
C. Incitements to Disunion282
Incitements to Disloyalty—The Walloons incited against
the Flemings—Inciting the People against the Belgian
Government—Inciting the Belgians against the English.
D. A Few Details of the Administration of Belgium295
(a) Present Prosperity in Belgium—Assertions of the
German Authorities—The Parasitical Exploitation of
Belgium admitted by Germany—The Tenfold Tax on
Absentees—Railway Traffic in Belgium—Trouble with the
Artisans of Luttre—Traffic suppressed at Malines—(b)
The Germans' Talent for Organization—Conflict between
Authorities—Supression of the Bureau of Free Assessment—The
Belgian Red Cross Committee Suppressed—(c)
The Belgian Attitude toward the Germans—(d) Behaviour
of the German Administration—The Appeal to
Informers—German Espionage—Agents-Provocateurs or
E. Ferocity333
1. Aggravations—Treatment inflicted upon Belgian Ladies—Filthy
Amusements—2. Physical Tortures—The Fate
of the Valkenaers Family—3. Moral Tortures—Moral
Torture before Execution.




Bismarck was given to quoting, with approval, a saying which has often been attributed to him, but which was, in reality, first made in his presence by a hero of the American Civil War—General Sheridan. It was, that the people of a country occupied by a conquering army should be left nothing—save eyes to weep with!

And we Belgians, truly, are weeping: weeping for our native country, invaded, in contempt of the most solemn conventions, by one of the signatories of those treaties; weeping for our villages, which are levelled to the ground, and our cities, which are burned; our monuments, which are broken by shell-fire, and our treasures of art and science, which are for ever destroyed. We mourn to think of those hundreds of thousands of our countrymen who have wandered without shelter along the highways of Europe; of Belgium, lately so proud of her prosperity, but now taxed and crushed and exhausted by war requisitions and contributions, and reduced to holding out her hand for public charity.

Who could help but weep when, in Flanders, our soldiers are defending the very last corner of our territory; when, in our villages, men, old folks, women, and children have been, and are yet, shot down without pity in reprisal for imaginary crimes; when thousands of civilians are imprisoned in Germany as[10] hostages; when the burgomaster of the capital, for daring to defend the rights of his constituents, is confined in a Silesian prison;[1] when our rural clergy is decimated, to such a point that divine service has necessarily been suspended in entire cantons; when a scholar like Van Gehuchten dies in exile, after seeing his manuscripts and his drawings, the fruit of ten years' labours, disappear in the flames of Louvain?

Our sobs are mingled with tears of gratitude for the compassionate intervention of Holland, America, Spain, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, and Italy ... not forgetting our Allies. It is this generosity that has prevented us from dying of hunger and want; a million of our refugees have found in Holland a fraternal succour which has never for a moment been relaxed; the United States, thanks to the influence and the incomparable activity of their Minister in Brussels, Mr. Brand Whitlock, supply us with our daily bread.

Belgium will never forget the exactions of those who have reduced to famine one of the richest and most fertile countries in the world, nor the unequalled charity of the nations which have enabled us to live to this day, and have saved us from death by starvation.


We are weeping! But we do not surrender ourselves to despair, for we have kept intact our faith in the future, and the firm resolve to leave no stone unturned that we may for ever be spared such another trial. Above all, we refuse to bow our heads beneath the yoke. In vain have the Germans afflicted us with increasingly unjust and unjustifiable and vexatious demands; they will never daunt us. Let them proscribe the Belgian flag as a seditious emblem; we have no need to unfurl it to remain faithful to it; they are welcome to forbid the Te Deum on the day of the King's patron saint; since the King and the Queen are valiantly sharing, on the Yser, in the efforts and the sufferings of our brothers and our sons, royalty has no firmer supporters among us than the leaders of Socialism. No, we assuredly are not ready to abandon ourselves to despair. And nothing can sustain us more than the international sympathies by which we feel ourselves surrounded in this our unmerited misfortune.

The time has not yet come to judge the events which have delivered Europe to fire and blood. Yet we hold that it is the duty of all those who believe themselves in a position usefully to intervene to make themselves heard. For Germany possesses so perfect an organization for the diffusion of her propaganda in foreign countries, that the public opinion of neutral States, hearing but one side of the question, would finally come to believe our enemies.

It would be useless and ineffectual to accumulate, as did the ninety-three German "intellectuals," among others, a number of denials and affirmations, without supporting them by a single definite fact. We do not wish to put forward anything which we cannot immediately support by easily verified proofs. This rule which we have compelled[12] ourselves to observe, has forced us narrowly to limit our field of investigation. We shall speak only of actions and intellectual manifestations which are immediately connected with the present war; and as the field would be too vast even when so circumscribed, we shall say nothing of military operations properly so-called, nor of all that has happened beyond the Belgian frontiers. We do not propose to write a history. We leave to those more competent the task of extricating the truth as to present events; we shall content ourselves with taking indisputable documents, which are nearly always cuttings from German books, or German newspapers, or German posters, and with analysing their mental significance; and, further, with showing how the Belgians react against the actions recorded.

In the following pages we shall first of all examine the violation of Belgian neutrality by Germany, then the infractions of the Hague Convention of 18th October, 1907. We shall be careful to invoke only precise and unquestionable facts; but for that matter the number of German infractions of the law of nations in Belgium is so enormous that we have been able provisionally to exclude all those which are not established in the most positive manner. At the same time we shall endeavour to derive from these facts a few indications as to our enemies' manner of thinking. This last will be studied in further detail in a third chapter: German Mentality Self-depicted.

Intellectual Life in Belgium.

A few words as to the documents utilized.

As the Germans occupied our country they took pains to isolate us from the rest of the world. They[13] immediately suppressed all our journals, as these naturally refused to submit to their censorship. At the same time the Germans forced certain journals to reappear; notably L'Ami de l'Ordre, at Namur, and Le Bien Public, at Gand. The first of these journals took care frankly to inform its readers that the military authorities were forcing it to continue publication.

As for foreign newspapers, their introduction was forbidden under heavy penalties.

Prohibition of Newspapers and Verbal Communications.[2]
Official Notice.

Although the District Commandant[3] is continually causing authentic news of the military operations to be published, the foreign newspapers are intentionally publishing false news.

It is brought to the knowledge of the public that it is therefore strictly forbidden to any one whomsoever to introduce into Spa and the surrounding district newspapers other than German, without the previous authorization of the District Commandant.

Offenders will be punished according to the laws of war.

The same penalties will be applied to those who have verbally spread false news.

The District Commandant,
Aske, Colonel.

Spa, 22nd September, 1914.
(Placard posted at Spa.)


I call the attention of the population of Belgium to the fact that the sale and distribution of newspapers and of all news reproduced by letterpress or in any other manner which is not expressly authorized by the German censorship is strictly prohibited. Every offender will be immediately arrested and punished by a long term of imprisonment.

The Governor-General in Belgium,
Baron von der Goltz,

Brussels, 4th November, 1914.
(Posted in Brussels.)


Military Court.

In pursuance of 18, 2 of the Imperial decree of 28th December 1899, the following persons have been punished:—

(a) The coal-merchant Jules Pousseur, of Jambes, with 2 months' imprisonment and a fine of 100 marks, or 20 days' additional imprisonment.

(b) His daughter, Camille Pousseur, with 2 months' imprisonment, because they frequently bought foreign newspapers and articles from newspapers whose sale is prohibited; and further because the daughter copied and collected, with the knowledge and permission of her father, poems and articles hostile to Germany, containing, for the most part, vulgar and obscene insults in respect of the Emperor, the Confederate Princes, and the German Army; and because she further, as one may fully realize from the careful manner in which the numerous copies were made, communicated the originals to others, and finally because Jules Pousseur admits that he has for some time been engaged in forwarding letters, which is forbidden.

The terms of imprisonment will run from the first day of detention. The copies and other writings will be retained.

L'Ami de l'Ordre, 4th April, 1915.

The German Censorship.

After the 20th August the eastern half of Belgium was thus deprived of all intellectual communication with the outside world. For a fortnight we were left[15] absolutely without news. Then, from the 5th September, the German Government permitted the publication of journals which were carefully expurgated, and falsified by a rigorous censorship:[4] Le Quotidien, Le Bruxellois, L'Écho de Bruxelles, Les Dernières Nouvelles; and later Le Belge, La Belgique, La Patrie, etc., in Brussels, L'Avenir in Antwerp, and many more. Although submitted to the censorship, the appearance of these newspapers was only provisional and uncertain. Le Bien Public reminds its readers of the fact in its issue for the 13th December, 1914. All these journals were on occasion suspended; for example, Le Quotidien, from the 9th to the 11th December, 1914, without any reason being given; L'Ami de l'Ordre, from the 2nd to the 7th September, 1914, for having printed an acrostic regarded as insulting; and Le Bien Public, during the whole of May, 1915.

The illustrated journals were as much subject to the censorship as the ordinary newspapers. Numbers 1 to 3 of 1914 Illustré, published before the arrival of the Germans, could no longer be exposed for sale: No. 1 containing portraits of King Albert, Nicholas II, M. Poincaré, and King George V; No. 2 the portrait of General Leman, and No. 3 that of M. Max. From November onwards the issues were severely edited, so that they contained, for example, scarcely any more photographs of towns burned by the German army. The other illustrated papers—Actualité Illustré, Le Temps Présent, etc., also had none but anodyne photographs, such as portraits of the new masters, military and civil.


In some degree to replace the newspapers, the printers conceived the idea of publishing little booklets relating to the war, but giving no direct news of the military operations. These publications were naturally subjected to the censorship, and many of those which were published before the decree of the 13th October, 1914, were prohibited; it was thus with the very interesting brochure, M. Adolphe Max, bourgmestre de Bruxelles, son administration du 20th août au 26th septembre, 1914, and the Nos. 1 to 10 of the booklets issued by Mr. Brian Hill. Illustrated postcards also were censored; the series in course of publication, representing the ruins of Louvain, Dinant, Charleroi, Liége, etc., had to be interrupted. Music even had to receive the official approbation (see the placard of 27th March, 1915, p. 274).

In short, it will be seen that our public life already very closely approached the German ideal: Alles ist verboten. To think that Belgium, so justly proud of her constitutional liberties, is now crushed, breathless, under the heavy Prussian jack-boot!

Authorized German Newspapers.

As a compensation for those which the German Administration felt obliged to suppress, it allowed us, about the 10th September, to receive some German newspapers—the Kölnische Zeitung, Kölnische Volkszeitung, Düsseldorfer Tageblatt, Düsseldorfer General-Anzieger, and also a few illustrated papers, notably the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Die Wochenschau, Du Kriegs-Echo. At a later date other newspapers were tolerated: Vossissche Zeitung, Berliner Tageblatt, Frankfurter Zeitung, Berliner Zeitung am Mittag, L'Ami du Peuple (a special edition, for Belgium, in French and[17] German, of Der Volksfreund, of Aix-la-Chapelle), and also some new illustrated papers, for example, Kriegsbilder, Zeit im Bild, and above all the Illustrierte Kriegs-Kurier, published in German, Flemish, French, and English,[5] whose sixteen pages, all covered with illustrations, cost only 15 centimes: evidently an instrument of propaganda, subsidized by the Central Administration. We shall have occasion later on to insist on its veracity, if one may call it that. For a long time none of these journals reached us regularly.

We had also access to two journals published by the Government itself: (1) the Deutsche Soldatenpost (Herausgegeben von der Zivil-Vorwaltung des General-Gouverneurs in Belgiën), originally reserved for soldiers, but which was also sold to civilians—in a very intermittent fashion, it is true—from September 1914 to the beginning of December 1914; (2) Le Réveil (Écho de la Presse, Journal officiel du Bureau allemand à Düsseldorf pour la publication de nouvelles authentiques à l'étranger), the latter being published simultaneously in French and German. Forty-nine numbers were published. It felt such an insurmountable disgust for untruth that having announced in the introductory article of its first number that Belgium was entirely in the hands of the Germans, it spoke, in a neighbouring column, of battles in Western Flanders between the Germans and the Allies. Let us say at once that from the point of view of sincerity and liberty of opinion all the newspapers of the Trans-Rhenian world are of equal worth: official or otherwise, they only publish that which is allowed, or rather, inspired, by the Government.


Authorized Dutch Newspapers.

One newspaper not subject to the Imperial censorship, one only, has found grace with the authorities—the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant. Its tendencies, clearly favourable to Germany, enable it to penetrate into Belgium; but not equally all over the country. At Gand one may subscribe to it; but its sale in single numbers is prohibited. In Antwerp it was proscribed for several months from the 7th December.

At Louvain and Brussels it may be sold in the street, and also supplied to subscribers. But it must not be supposed that the paper is anywhere regularly distributed; the edition of the morning of the 10th November, 1914, was forwarded on the 27th November to a few subscribers who were particularly persistent in their demands; it is true that this number contains the article on the letters of prisoners of war made by the Belgians (pp. 104-5), and that these letters annihilate not a few accusations made by the Germans, while they throw a singular light on their lies and acts of pillage. As for the issues for the 6th, 7th, and 8th December, 1914, they were never distributed; an official announcement, which appeared in L'Ami de l'Ordre of the 9th and 10th December states that these numbers contain "inadmissible communications as to the dislocation of troops." The issues of the 24th, 25th, and 26th December were also withheld. Since January 1915 some ten numbers have been prohibited each month.

From the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant we have copied only the articles by contributors and correspondents of the journal itself; it has seemed to us[19] that to reproduce articles extracted from Belgian newspapers was a proceeding which, while quite usual among the Germans, is not entirely honest.

Another Dutch journal, the Algemeen Handelsblad of Amsterdam, arrived in Brussels at the beginning of November; but its licence was withdrawn at the end of a week.

From February 1915 its sale was again authorized in Belgium. At the same time the introduction of a few other Dutch journals was permitted, their pro-German character being indubitable: such were Het Vaterland, De Maasbode, De Nieuwe Courant.

Newspapers introduced surreptitiously.

Let us say at once that despite all prohibitions and all the sentences pronounced, prohibited newspapers continue to trickle into the occupied portion of the country. These newspapers were at first those which were normally appearing in the towns not yet subject to German authority. Thus La Métropole and Le Matin of Antwerp, Le Bien Public and La Flandre Libérale of Gand were very soon carried as contraband and secretly sold in Brussels. Again, in the regions not yet invaded, some of the newspapers of the towns already occupied were printed: thus L'Indépendance Belge of Brussels appeared at Ostend until the arrival of the Germans in that town.

The agents who sold these newspapers had also foreign papers, especially French and English. Later, when all Belgium, save a corner of Flanders, was subjected to the Germans, a number of Belgian papers were printed abroad: La Métropole and L'Indépendance Belge in London and Le XXe Siècle at Havre.


We also used to receive from time to time occasional newspapers published by Belgian refugees abroad. Of these we may cite: L'Écho Belge, of Amsterdam, La Belgique, of Rotterdam, Les Nouvelles, and Le Courrier de la Meuse, of Maastricht.

It will be understood that prohibited journals are rare. On certain days, when the hunt for the vendors is particularly fruitful, people will offer fifty francs, or even two hundred, for a copy of the Times. As it is chiefly across the Dutch frontier that the smuggling of the English "dailies" is carried on, the authorities have enacted measures which grow more and more Draconian relating to the traffic across this frontier. By the end of 1914 it had become practically impossible to enter Belgium from Holland by the ordinary route (see the Düsseldorfer General-Anzeiger of the 20th December, 1915). The smugglers of journals are therefore obliged to insinuate themselves in secret, and their trade is not without danger; only in the suburbs of Putte (province of Antwerp) the German sentinels killed two of them in December 1914.

Since the spring of 1915 the frontier has been guarded with barbed wire and wires traversed by high-tension electric currents; the crossing has naturally become more difficult. But "difficult" is not "impossible."

Secret Propagation of News.

So that a greater number of readers may profit by the newspapers smuggled into the country, the important passages, especially those relating to military operations, are copied by means of the typewriter. These extracts are searched after as much as the[21] originals, but none the less there are those who continue to prepare and to distribute them in secret. In Brussels alone there are fifteen of these secret sheets, each of which has its public of subscribers; many of them are gratuitous. From time to time our oppressors scent out one of these typewriting establishments, but some other devoted person immediately continues the business.

In certain well-known establishments one could, for a time, obtain the use of a newspaper for ten minutes for one or two francs; but the secret was finally betrayed, thanks to one or other of the innumerable spies supported by the Government.

Secret Newspapers.

Finally, not a few persons, possessing a typewriting machine or other means of reproducing writing, copy and sell clandestinely, for the profit of some charitable undertaking, articles from foreign newspapers or reviews, which bear upon the current political situation. Many documents have reached us in this form.

Lastly, courageous Belgians have undertaken to print, in the midst of the occupied territory, and in spite of all the German prohibitions, newspapers which reach a circulation of many thousands. The two most important are La Libre Belgique and La Vérité. In vain have our persecutors promised the most enticing rewards to those who should denounce the authors of these sheets; they continue imperturbably to appear. Which proves, be it said in passing, that the Germans lie most horribly when they state that numbers of Belgians send them anonymous information.


German Placards.

Our intellectual pasture also includes placards. In the first place, the Notices, Orders, and Proclamations of all kinds. Then the News published by the German Government, placards usually written in three languages, in the principal towns. In Brussels, where they are known as Lustige Blätter, they are particularly numerous. At Louvain, Vilverde, and Mons they are in manuscript, and usually written in German only.

Two important sources of documentation are completely closed: photography and correspondence by post. The taking and reproduction of photographs is strictly prohibited, above all in the towns ruined by the Germans.


Whosoever produces, without authorization, representations of destruction caused by the war, or who displays, offers for sale, sells, or otherwise distributes, by means of postcards, illustrated reviews, daily newspapers, or other periodicals containing such representations, above all of buildings or localities burned or devastated by the war, will be punished by a fine not exceeding 5,000 marks or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year. The seizure of formes and plates which shall have served for the reproduction of these representations, as well as their destruction, may also be ordered.

The Imperial Governor,
Freiherr von Huene,
General of Infantry.

Antwerp, 1st December, 1914.
(Posted at Antwerp.)

Regulations as to Correspondence.

The sending of letters by carrier is prohibited. Until about the middle of December correspondence was carried from town to town by the carriers who undertake the goods traffic since the suspension of[23] the railways; one could still, therefore, easily enough obtain news. But, as a souvenir of his joyous entry, the Herr Baron von Bissing, who succeeded the Herr Baron von der Goltz as Governor-General in Belgium, suppressed this little supplementary vocation of the carriers. Thus Senator Speyer was condemned to pay a fine of 1,000 marks and to undergo 10 days' imprisonment for the conveyance of letters. We have no longer the resource of sending letters by carrier pigeons, as these are closely scrutinized by the Germans. Finally, two remaining methods of transmitting letters were taken from us: the use of a bow and arrow (N.R.C., 1st January, 1915), and enclosure in a loaf baked in Holland and sold in Belgium. So it is needless to say that we have neither telegraph nor telephone.

There is nothing to be done but to go in search of information oneself, after finding out the hours (highly variable) during which one is allowed to "circulate" in the localities through which one has to pass.

Since then it has become very difficult to obtain precise information as to an event which has occurred in another locality, for obviously one cannot trust a missive of this kind to the German post, which accepts only open letters, and passes them through a cabinet noir; moreover, it does not guarantee communication with all points.

By Order of the German Authority.

After 8 p.m. (7 p.m. Belgian) there must be no lights in the windows of the houses of the town of Herve.

The patrol has orders to fire into every window lit up, giving upon the street.

Ad. Cajot, Sheriff.
F. de Francquex, Judge.

(Posted at Herve.)


It must also be explained what administrative formalities one had to fulfil in order to obtain a lodging. Thus, from January 1915 no one could obtain a lodging in Gand, whether in an hotel, or a boarding-house, or apartments, without first obtaining the authorization of the Kommandantur.

Railway Journeys.

Once furnished with a proper passport, one has only to set out. By suitably arranging one's route, one can often take advantage of the local tramways. All other means of communication are extremely precarious. The automobile is forbidden. Horses have been requisitioned by the military authorities.

November 1914.
Official Railway Time-table

of railways at present operating in Belgium under the administration of the German Government. With details of journeys. Price, 0 fr. 10.

General Arrangements.

A certain number of trains have during the last few days been run over the Belgian railways by the German Government.

These are:—

1. Brussels—Aix-la-Chapelle.
2. Brussels—Lille.
3. Brussels—Namur.
4. Brussels—Charleroi.
5. Louvain—Charleroi.
6. Brussels—Antwerp.
7. Brussels—Courtrai.

Owing to the defective state of the lines and the telegraphic and signalling apparatus, these trains can as yet travel only at a moderate pace, and the duration of the journey is not guaranteed. For this reason it is prudent to provide oneself on departure with the necessary provisions for the journey.


The time-table of the railways is often made up in such a way that the Belgian cannot make use of the trains. Thus the only train leaving Brussels for Mons in November 1914 reached Mons at 9 p.m. But after 9 p.m. it is forbidden to walk through the streets of Mons. The only train leaving Mons for Brussels leaves at 12.14 a.m., but one may not "circulate" in the streets of Mons earlier than 4 a.m.

We see to what extremities the Belgian population is reduced. Well, well!—despite all these difficulties, we have procured documents of great importance. We cannot, unfortunately, publish them all at this juncture; for they would result in the identification of those who conveyed them to us, and expose them to reprisals; and we have learned, to our cost, all that this term signifies according to the ideas of our present rulers.

This work, then, will necessarily be incomplete. We publish it only because we think it useful to demonstrate that in spite of all the annoyances which they receive at the hands of the Germans, the Belgians do not allow themselves to be intimidated. Moreover, whatever may be the provisional lacunæ (mostly intentional) of our documentation, we cannot in any case be reproached with falsification. This, whatever our enemies may think, is a point of capital importance.


[1] Since this was written, M. Max is reported to have been released, and to be living in Switzerland.

[2] These documents are as far as possible translated literally, any inelegancies of diction may probably be attributed to the German authors, whose syntax is often peculiar.—(Trans.)

[3] Commandant de Place.—(Trans.)

[4] We give examples of this censorship later (pp. 256-60).

[5] The English text was soon discontinued.





A.—The Preliminaries.

We were too confiding.

With the exception of the military and a few statesmen, the Belgians were convinced that nations, just as individuals, were bound by their engagements, and that as long as we remained faithful to our international obligations, the signatories of the Treaty of London (19th April, 1839), which set forth the conditions of the neutrality, or rather of the neutralization, of Belgium (Belg. All., p. 3), would equally observe their obligations towards us.

However, in 1911, during the "Agadir crisis," our calm was a little shaken by a series of articles in Le Soir. According to this journal, all the German military writers held the invasion of Belgium to be inevitable in the event of a war between France and Germany.

The Belgians' Distrust of Germany lulled.

But our faith in international conventions—just a trifle ingenuous, it may be—very soon regained its comforting influence. Had not Wilhelm II, "the[28] Emperor of Peace," assured the Belgian mission, which was sent to greet him at Aix-la-Chapelle, that Belgium had nothing to fear on the part of Germany (see L'Étoile Belge, 19th October, 1911). In September 1912 the Emperor made a fresh reassuring statement. Being present at the Swiss manœuvres, he congratulated M. Forster, President of the Swiss Confederation, and told him how glad he was to find that the Swiss Army would effectually defend the integrity of her frontier against a French attack. "What a pity," he added, "that the Belgian Army is not as well prepared, and is incapable of resisting French aggression." This evidently meant that Belgium ran no risk from the side of Prussia.

It was not only the Emperor who assured us of his profound respect for international statutes. The German Ministers made similar declarations in the Reichstag (Belg. All., p. 7).

In Belgium itself the Germans profited by every occasion to celebrate their friendship for us and their respect for treaties. In 1905, at the time of the seventy-fifth anniversary of Belgian independence, Herr Graf von Wallwitz stated at an official reception: "And as for us Germans, the maintenance of the treaty of warranty concluded at the birth of modern Belgium is a sort of political axiom which, to our thinking, no one could violate without committing the gravest of faults" (see p. 185 of the Annales parlementaires belges, Senate, 1906).

In 1913, at the time of the joyous entry of the King and Queen into Liége, General von Emmich, the same who was entrusted with the bombardment of the city in August 1914, came to salute our sovereigns in the name of the Emperor. He spoke[29] incessantly of the German sympathies for the Belgians and their country.

In August 1913 Herr Erzberger gave his word of honour, as Catholic deputy to the Reichstag, that there had never been any question of invading Belgium, and that Belgium might always count on the party of the Centre to cause international engagements to be respected. This is the very party that is now heaping up manifest falsehoods in order to justify the aggression of Germany.

German Duplicity on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of August, 1914.

Let us consider the days immediately preceding the war. The German newspapers were announcing that the troops occupying, at normal times, the camps near the Belgian frontiers had been directed upon Alsace and Lorraine; and these articles, reproduced in Belgium, had succeeded in finally lulling our suspicions.

In the currents of thought which were then clashing in Belgium, it was confidence that carried the day. Many of us who were present on the 1st of August at a session of the Royal Academy of Belgium, were speaking, before the session was opened, of the serious events which were approaching, the war already declared between Austria and Serbia, and the conflict which appeared imminent between Germany, France, Russia, and England. Yet no one imagined that Belgium could be drawn into the conflagration. That very morning, it was related, France had officially renewed, through her Minister in Brussels, the assurance that she would faithfully abstain from violating the neutrality of Belgium (1st Grey Book, No. 15); and there was[30] no reason to doubt his words. A few days earlier the German Minister in Brussels had affirmed that his country had too much respect for international conventions to permit herself to transgress them; and we believed him too! Oh, simplicity! We still believed him, on the following day, when he repeated the same declaration (1st Grey Book, No. 19; Belg. All., p. 7). And on the evening of that Sunday, the 2nd of August, he presented to our Government the ultimatum of Germany (1st Grey Book, No. 20).

The Ultimatum.

The telegram of the 2nd of August, by which Herr von Jagow sent the ultimatum to the German Minister in Brussels, declared: "Please forward this Note to the Belgian Government, in a strictly official communication, at eight o'clock this evening, and demand therefrom a definite reply in the course of twelve hours, that is, at eight o'clock to-morrow morning" (Lüttich, p. 4). Never, since Belgium's birth, had a problem so breathless been placed before her Government. And Germany left her twelve hours to solve it: twelve hours of the night! She was not willing that our Government should have time to reflect at leisure; she hoped that in a crisis of distraction Belgium, taken at a disadvantage and forgetful of her dignity, would accept the inacceptable.

However, the German Minister in Brussels continued to offer us explanations which were as perfidious as they were confused and obscure, and to assure us up to the last of the friendly intentions[31] of his Government. The Germany fashioned by Bismarck has assuredly nothing about it to remind us of the Germany of Goethe and Fichte. We might have guessed as much, for that matter, when we saw the Germans glorifying the man who boasted of having falsified the famous Ems telegram in order to make the war of 1870 inevitable, and who succeeded in making his countrymen accept, as a guiding principle, that "might comes before right."

The Speech of the Chancellor in the Reichstag.

However, we may suppose that some slight scruples lingered in the recesses of the German conscience, since on the very day when the Chancellor of the Empire told the British Ambassador in Berlin that an international convention is merely "a scrap of paper,"[6] and that neutrality is only a word, he recognized, in his speech to the Reichstag, that the invasion of Belgium constituted an injustice; but he immediately excused this violation of the law of nations by strategic necessities.

B.—Justification of the Entry into Belgium.

"Strategic necessities!" said the German Chancellor. These necessities are expounded in the ultimatum, and may be summed up thus: "Germany knows that France is preparing to attack her through Belgium."


The first question which occurs to us is: Was France really preparing to cross our territory, and had she massed troops near our frontier? There is assuredly no one outside Germany who would admit this. Indeed, if important bodies of troops had been massed in the north of France they could effectually have opposed the advance of the Germans through Belgium. Now in all the battles which the French fought in our country their numbers were much too small to resist the Germans. Let us also remark that these attempts on the part of the French were made on the 15th August at Dinant, the 19th August at Perwez, and the 23rd August at Semois. How then can any one believe that the French were massed close to our frontier as early as 3rd August? Moreover, the map published in the N.R.C. of the 16th December, 1914, confirms the untruthfulness of the German allegations.

This "strategic reason" was again invoked by the Chancellor of the Empire on the 4th August. But owing to the irrefutable manner in which the tardiness of the French movements disproved this assertion the latter is no longer uttered, save in an evasive manner. The German no longer says: "France was ready to cross into Belgium," but "France would not have failed to enter Belgium, and we simply outstripped her." It is thus that Count Bernstoff, the German ambassador to Washington, expressed himself in the interview published by L'Indépendant in September 1914, while the same assertion is found in the manifesto of the ninety-three German "Intellectuals" and the letter addressed by Herr Max Bewer to M. Maeterlinck (in the D.G.A. of October 1914 and the Soldatenpost of the 14th October, 1914).


Let us now ask if Germany had such suspicions of France as amounted to a semi-certitude? In other words, was she sincere in declaring that she knew that France was on the point of invading Belgium? We do not hesitate to assert that she was lying: for if she had really believed that France was ready to violate our neutrality it would have been enormously to her advantage to wait until the violation was committed. For Belgium has always asserted that in case of war between France and Germany she would resist by arms the first invader and immediately join herself to the other Power. Now Germany, however profound her political perversity may be, had no reason to suspect the sincerity of Belgium; she knew then—and this time she did know—that by allowing the French to enter our country she would assure herself of the assistance of our army against her enemy. And scanty as was her esteem for the Belgian soldiers—perhaps she has since had occasion to change her mind!—it was none the less obviously to her interest to avoid having them as her adversaries.

For the rest, we may boldly assert that the very terms of the German ultimatum prove, without possible doubt, that she did not believe in the danger of a French irruption into Belgium. For if she had entertained this conviction she would have said to Belgium: "I warn you that if you do not take the necessary measures to resist the entrance of the French I shall be fully authorized to invade your territory in my turn, in order to defend myself." In acting thus she would have had the right on her side ... and the German diplomatists of the day are certainly capable of distinguishing justice from injustice in cases where the distinction is so easy.


We say, therefore, that the imminence of a French attack upon Belgium was only a pretext and a bugbear; a pretext to justify the violation of Belgium in the eyes of other nations; a bugbear to catch votes of credit in the Reichstag without previous discussion. "We were not able to wait for this session before commencing hostilities and invading Luxemburg, perhaps even Belgium," declared the Chancellor. Observe how clumsy is this "perhaps"; the German troops entered Belgium on the night of the 3rd of August (1st Grey Book, No. 35), and on the afternoon of the 4th, at the session of the Reichstag, the Chancellor had no knowledge of it! We thought the official telegraph service worked better than that in Germany!

What, then, were the real reasons for invading our country? They were strategic reasons, it is true, but not those which the Chancellor indicated in his speech! They had been known for a long time; the German staff had always regarded a sudden attack upon France as an unavoidable necessity, and for that it was necessary at all costs to cross Belgium. Moreover, on the very day when the Chancellor was still invoking the French preparations in the Reichstag, the Secretary of State, von Jagow, openly avowed the true motive for violating Belgium. The pamphlet of propaganda, Die Wahrheit über den Krieg, after invoking, without insisting on, the danger of a French attack, described at length the German plan of campaign; a sudden attack upon France, delivered by passing through Belgium; then, immediately after victory, a change of front, and the crushing of the Russian Army.[35] The same idea is expounded in an infinity of articles and pamphlets.

There can, therefore, be no remaining doubt as to the determining motives of Germany: she wished to pass through Belgium in order to fall upon France before the latter was ready. Germany had been preparing for war for several days, for she knew that she had made the war inevitable, while France, deceived by her adversary's peaceful professions of faith, and, moreover, anxious to preserve the peace, which she still believed to be possible, had hardly commenced her mobilization. Let us recall the comparison drawn by Mr. Lloyd George in his speech at the City Temple on the 11th November, 1914. "Imagine," he said, "that your right-hand neighbour came and made you the following proposal: 'See, my friend, I've got to cut the throat of your left-hand neighbour. Only as his door is barred I can't catch him unawares, and so I shall lose my advantage over him. So you will do me a little service; nothing that isn't entirely reasonable, as you will see. You will just let me come through your garden; if I trample down your borders a little I'll have them raked and put in good order again; and if by ill-luck I damage or kill one of your children I promise you a nice little indemnity.'"

And it is because we would not help Germany in this task that she has spattered us with insults. The Germans cannot understand how we could have rejected her "well-intentioned" proposal, as the Emperor calls it in his declaration of war. Evidently they have ideas of honour which differ from ours. We can regard this proposal only as an insult to the Belgian people.


C.—German Accusations against Belgium.

There is one circumstance which aggravates the evil deed which has soiled the German name. It is the insistence with which the Press and the politicians of Germany seek to cast the blame on Belgium herself. For if we are to believe them it was Belgium who began.

Necessity of influencing Neutrals.

When the German rulers discovered, to their utter stupefaction, real or feigned, that America and the other neutral States did not benevolently accept the strategical excuse for the violation of Belgian neutrality, their attitude underwent a sudden modification. Since the whole world, in a spontaneous impulse of indignation, branded the conduct of Germany, the traitor and perjurer, in assailing a nation which she was actually under an obligation to protect, the German Government adopted the classic procedure of evildoers, which consists in reversing the rôles, and posing as an innocent victim, driven into a corner by an adversary who does not abide by legitimate methods of defence. What was to be done in such a case? The German Government must seem to believe, and then claim to have proved, that Belgium had already violated her own neutrality before the German invasion; for then Germany could no longer be blamed for her attitude.

Absurdity of the first Accusations.

Immediately the German newspapers invented stories of French troops disentraining in Belgium from the 30th July, 1914, and of French officers teaching us how to handle Krupp guns!—of French[37] airmen flying over Belgium, of French and Belgian soldiers attacking the Landwehr at Aix-la-Chapelle on the 2nd August, 1914. These pitiful accusations were demolished by M. Waxweiler in La Belge Neutre et Loyale. We will content ourselves with remarking that all these infractions of neutrality are anterior to the 4th of August. If they had really been committed the innumerable spies scattered about Belgium would have warned the German Minister in Brussels, who would have telegraphed to the Chancellor, and the latter would have taken good care to make them the basis of a serious complaint against Belgium in his speech to the Reichstag. What weight would not these revelations have lent to his arguments? If he did not do thus it was because he was not informed, and if he was not informed it was because the facts were non-existent. They were invented—very clumsily, moreover—after the event.

If now we cast a glance at the tales which the Germans have imagined to extenuate their crime against justice, we shall say, with a certain professor of Utrecht (K.Z., 4th November, first morning edition), that one might with difficulty have pardoned the German rulers for violating Belgian neutrality if it had been proved that imperious strategic necessities compelled them to it, but that they should have stuck to their original declarations, "for," he adds, "we have been painfully impressed by all the offences which have been alleged after the event to demonstrate that Germany had the right to act as she did."

To insult and calumniate an innocent person in order to excuse oneself is an attitude little worthy of a self-respecting nation.


A Change of Tactics. The Revelations of the N.A.Z.

Week by week the German journals add an item to the indictment of Belgium. One would say that their method of reasoning must be as follows: "Since we cannot bring forward a single convincing proof, let us accumulate as many as possible of any degree of value; we shall end by crushing Belgium with the weight of evidence." In order that we might judge of the efficacy of this procedure, Germany ought, of course, to tell us how many bad arguments are to her thinking worth one good one.

Yet it was extremely important that Germany should be able to bring forward proof of the crime of Belgium; for directly the neutrals, and in particular America, began to doubt our political honesty they would withdraw their sympathies and leave our executioners full liberty of action. At the same time Germany would be able to pretend that she knew of Belgium's intrigues, and that by invading our territory in spite of treaties she was not, properly speaking, committing a treacherous act.

There are reasons for supposing that Germany herself was conscious of the insufficiency of these accusations. Hence the change of tactics which we observe after the month of October 1914.

The Government itself entered into the lists. In its official organ, the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, it commented upon the documents discovered in the Ministries of Brussels.

To judge of the relevance of this collection of documents we must keep in mind the two following points: (1) That England played the part of protector of Belgian neutrality; (2) the probability of a German[39] invasion in case of war between France and Germany. Let us rapidly examine these.

1. England as the Guarantor of Belgian Neutrality.—Every one knows that for centuries England has been interested, more than any other nation, in ensuring that Belgium should not be annexed either to France or to Prussia.

As far back as 1677, says Sorel (L'Europe et la Révolution française, vol. i. p. 338), a French agent in London wrote to Louvois: "It has been voted unanimously by the Lower Chamber that the English will sell their very shirts (this is the phrase they use) to make war on France for the preservation of the Low Countries." During the French Revolution, and later, under the Empire, the struggle between England and France was largely provoked by the desire to turn France out of Belgium.

The Treaty of London (1839) makes no distinction between the five guarantors of our neutrality: Austria, France, Great Britain, Prussia, and Russia; but it is none the less unanimously admitted that England has the most immediate interest in the preservation of our independence, as it matters greatly to England that Antwerp—that loaded pistol aimed at the heart of England, as Napoleon used to say—should become neither French nor German.

Therefore, as soon as Belgium was threatened by an armed invasion, the traditional policy of England was at once invoked.

It was in virtue of this policy that Great Britain, in 1870, demanded of France and Germany whether they engaged themselves to maintain the neutrality of Belgium. The two belligerents gave and kept their promise. France, driven up against the[40] Belgium frontier at Sedan, did not even then consider that she had the right to break her word; she preferred to allow herself to be crushed. If ever there were "strategic reasons" which would excuse the breaking of a promise, it was then!

All this being so, no one was surprised when in August 1914 the newspapers announced that England had put the usual question to France and Germany. This time again France made the reply inspired by her sense of honour; Germany refused to commit herself.

The historical facts which we have recalled suffice to show that the protective rôle of England was not invented for the needs of the moment, as Germany would have the world believe. The Chancellor cannot be ignorant of these facts; they are known to all. Why then does he persist in asserting that England would not have intervened had France been the country to violate our neutrality?

2. The danger of a German Invasion.—For several years German generals have been agreed in admitting the necessity of marching the German army across Belgium in case of war with France.[7] In military circles this was a secret de polichinelle, as the N.R.C. remarked on the 22nd December, 1914 (evening edition).

Moreover, the Germans themselves held that the Belgians could not have been ignorant of the threat of a German invasion; this idea is expounded, notably, in a booklet of official aspect, entitled La part de la culpabilité de l'Angleterre dans la guerre mondiale.


Belgium therefore had serious reasons for expecting a German attack. There was evidently only one thing for her to do: to demand assistance of the country which had constituted itself the protector of her neutrality, and on which she had always been accustomed to rely with unshakable confidence.

1. The Report of M. le Baron Greindl, sometime Belgian Minister in Berlin.

Falsification of the Greindl Report.

On the 14th October, 1914, the German Government posted on the walls of Brussels a placard entitled: England and Belgium (Documents found at the headquarters of the Belgian Staff). A reproduction of this placard was distributed gratuitously, thousands of copies being issued the same day. This document contains, first, a rapid summary of a report on the relations which existed in 1906 between the Belgian Chief of Staff and the British military attaché. Then the placard reproduces, "word for word," a portion of a report made by M. Greindl, dated the 23rd December, 1911. In this report M. Greindl warns the Belgian Government of the possibility of a French attack.

Whosoever will attentively read the exhibited portion of this report will at once remark that its phrases lack connection and logical sequence. Thus, there is certainly a hiatus between the opening phrases and those that begin with: "When it became evident that we should not allow ourselves to be alarmed by the pretended danger of closing the Scheldt, the plan was not abandoned, but[42] modified, in the sense that the English army of assistance would not be disembarked on the Belgian coast, but in the nearer French ports." Now what is meant by this "pretended danger"? Pretended by whom? And then "we should not allow ourselves to be alarmed." Who is "we?" Remark that a few lines farther on the report speaks of the eventuality of a battle between the Belgian army and the British army; Belgium, which was just now the ally of the British, is now their adversary, although nothing indicates how she passed from the first attitude to the second. In the same sentence the closing of the Scheldt is spoken of with an English landing on the Belgian coast; yet we cannot imagine M. Greindl placing Antwerp on the Belgian coast. Can we doubt after this that phrases have been suppressed in this portion of the document? Evidently not; for it is radically impossible to realize the bearing and the meaning of the report by reading the portion published. What, then, is the conclusion forced upon us? It is that the German Government has "cooked" the text; omitting to copy certain passages which would not tally with the deductions which it wished to draw from it, and that it has perhaps even twisted the meaning of certain phrases.

The publication of the complete report was demanded by the Belgian Government (see K.Z., 24th October, first morning edition). But Germany refused; the report was too long, it replied, by the medium of the N.A.Z. (25th November, 1914). All that could be obtained was the publication in facsimile, in the same issue of the N.A.Z., of the heading and the two first lines. Since the German Government did not publish the rest, we have the[43] right to conclude that this was because it had subjected the document to falsifications such as were introduced in that we are now about to consider. In any case, the report as it was published means nothing. One feels that it was intentionally made confusing. By whom?

2. The Reports of Generals Ducarne and Jungbluth.

The falsifications inserted in these documents by the German diplomatists have already been lucidly exposed (for example, by E. Brunets, Calomnies Allemandes); so there would be no need to return to the subject, had not the German Government thought fit to attempt to use these documents in order to demoralize the Belgians.

At the end of December 1914, and in January 1915, Germany distributed hundreds of thousands of copies of a pamphlet containing several documents, among which were translations (into Flemish and French) and facsimiles of the Ducarne and Jungbluth reports. The famous words of the "reference" are replaced in their natural position in the middle of the fourth paragraph,[8] but—and this was a wholly unexpected discovery—they were also found in the commentary. According to the copy in the text, one reads: "The document bears on the margin: 'The entrance of the English into Belgium would take place only after the violation of our neutrality by Germany.'"


Disconcerting fecundity of Kultur! The Germans have reason to be proud of their chemical industry. Thanks to a special fertilizer prepared in the offices of Wilhelmstrasse, the famous phrase, which occurs only once in the original document, is promptly multiplied and is able to appear twice over.

The Attitude of the Belgians toward the German Falsifications.

Note that to give more weight to their explanations the Germans were careful to have them printed in Flemish and in French, on the paper and with the type habitually employed by the Moniteur belge. It is then, in the last resort, the Belgian public which has paid the cost of printing this falsification of a public document. Well, well! they have mistaken our psychology, for despite these "revelations" our conviction is unshaken. Not a Belgian has criticized the actions of his Government in respect of the defensive agreement with England. It would be like blaming a man whose house was destroyed by fire for having insured it with a reliable insurance company.

Confronted by the failure of their endeavours to discourage the Belgians and to embroil them with their legitimate Government, Germany returned to the charge. A placard dated 10th March, 1915, posted in Brussels, stated that the Belgian statesmen replied to the publication of the Ducarne and Jungbluth reports only after the lapse of three months. The placard evidently alludes to the Belgian Note of the 13th January, 1915 (see the 2nd Grey Book, No. 101). Now the first sentence of this Note states that the Belgians had already replied on the 4th December, 1914. Germany could not have been unaware of this reply; let us add[45] that we ourselves knew of it on the 10th December, thanks to the issue for the 7th of L'Indépendance Belge (appearing in London), which was smuggled into Brussels.

The third document contained in the pamphlet of the German Government related to the military geographical manuals.[9] It shows that a final collaboration (after the violation of her engagements by Germany) was carefully devised by the British and Belgian staffs. Truly it ill becomes the Germans, so proud of the introduction of their scientific method into the art of war, which leaves nothing unthought of, to reproach others for acting in the same way, and for making meticulous preparations at an opportune time! In two places the article insists on the fact that the preparations of these manuals was effected in "time of peace." But come! should the Belgians and the British have waited until the Germans were in Belgium before thinking of measures of defence?

Finally, the pamphlet contains Fresh and Serious Proofs demonstrating the complicity of Belgium and England. Documents were found on the escritoire of the British Legation in Brussels relating to the Belgian mobilization, the defence of Antwerp, and the French mobilization. The accusation is this: these documents were found in the British Legation, a proof that the Belgian Government had no military secrets from the British Government, and that they had a close military understanding.


Once again: was Belgium, aware of the Germanic peril, to deliver herself bound hand and foot to the invader, who, not content with forgetting his international obligations, was about to run precisely counter to them? It would evidently have been more agreeable to Germany to have found in Belgium a lamb all ready to allow itself to be sacrificed on the altar of Kultur. Unhappily for Kultur, Belgium behaved like an enraged ram, determined to sell its life dearly.

Whatever aspect of the question of Belgian neutrality we may consider, we always come back to this fact: Germany violated this neutrality on the 4th August, although Belgium had given her no plausible excuse for doing so. Since then the Germans have undertaken a campaign for the purpose of justifying their "injustice," as their Chancellor termed it. But none of the accusations invented after the event can in the slightest degree extenuate this injustice; their only effect has been to render still more execrable the treachery of the perjured protector.

Neutral Opinion.

It is pleasant, in this connection, to cite here the opinion of four writers belonging to countries which have not taken part in the war.

A Dutch writer published in De Amsterdammer an interesting article which was translated into French, but of which the sale in Belgium was immediately prohibited by the Germans.

In a lecture which has achieved a very great celebrity, Herr Karl Spitteler, a well-known literary man of German-speaking Switzerland, also took the[47] part of Belgium. We know of this lecture only by the slashing which it received in the K.Z. on the 30th December, in the first morning edition.

Here is a passage which particularly infuriated the German paper:—

"I consider that to take the documents from the pockets of the gasping victim (Belgium) is, as to the spirit which inspired the act, a gross fault of taste. It would have been quite enough to throttle the victim; to blacken him afterwards is too much. As for Switzerland, if it associated itself with these calumnies against Belgium, it would commit not merely an infamy, but a mistake; for on the day when another Power grudges us our national existence, the same accusations might be employed against us: do not let us forget that malice is now counted among the munitions of war."

Another Swiss writer, M. Philippe Godet, expresses his opinions with no less energy in the Journal de Genève (8th September, 1914).

The Falsification of M. de l'Escaille's Letter.

In the preceding pages we have dealt only with matters relating to Belgium. Do not let our attitude be misunderstood. We have not the presumption to suppose that Belgium has ever occupied the foreground in the negotiations described; on the contrary, we are perfectly well aware of the diplomatic insignificance of our country in the discordant "Concert of Europe" which has ended in the present war. Our sole object is to show that Belgium has not played the unavowable rôle which the Germans attributed to her. As to the origin of this war, and the responsibility which the German rulers seek to foist upon Great Britain, in order that[48] their own country, and, above all, their ally, Austria, may evade it, this is a discussion into which we do not wish to enter, for it lies outside the programme which we have set ourselves. We ought, however, to speak a word as to the placards which the German authorities had posted up in Belgium during the month of September 1914. The first is dated the 16th September; it gives the résumé of a letter written by M. B. de l'Escaille to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Ten days later a new placard appeared: this time the complete text of the letter was given, and it was explained how it came to fall into the hands of the Germans.

Let us leave this last point: it concerns the criminal law, not diplomacy. Let us examine only the summary which was published and the conclusions which the Germans drew from it.

Was the summary honest? To discover this let us take the essential sentence, printed in heavier type: "They possess even the definite assurance that England will come to the assistance of France"; and let us compare this with the corresponding passage of the text: "To-day they are strongly convinced in St. Petersburg, they even have the assurance, that England will support France." The term "assistance" (secouer) in the summary can apply only to military assistance, while the text speaks only of "support" (soutien), which means diplomatic action. So the second conclusion also is false—"that England did not intervene in the war on account of Belgium, but because she had promised France to give her assistance."

Let us now look at the first conclusion. It is "that Germany was actuated by pacific intentions,[49] and sought by all means to avoid war." In reality the text, like the summary, states only that Germany sought to avoid a general conflict, which means that she wished to localize the war between Austria and Serbia; in other words, Germany wished Europe to give Austria a free hand to crush Serbia. Nowhere does the text say that Germany did anything to avoid "the war": the only war which was declared on the 30th July, that of Austria against Serbia. In short, this conclusion is falsified.

There remains the phrase which introduces the two conclusions: "By this report of the diplomatic representative of Belgium at the Court of St. Petersburg it is proved".... Was M. de l'Escaille really the diplomatic representative of Belgium in St. Petersburg? Open an administrative almanack, and you will see that the representative was M. le Comte Conrad de Buisseret-Steenbecque de Blarenghien. As for M. de l'Escaille, he was Secretary of Legation.

The conclusions concluding here, there is no room for further falsifications.

It is not our intention to make an exhaustive examination of the diplomatic documents relating to the war; the more so as this examination has been conducted in masterly fashion by MM. Dürckheim and Denis, by M. Waxweiler, and by the author of J'Accuse. It is enough for us to prove that Germany has intentionally falsified documents, since this simple proof disposes of all her attempts to befoul Belgium; for he who has a good argument at his disposal is not so foolish as to spoil it and deprive it of all real value by means of falsifications.


D.—The Declaration of War and the first Hostilities.

The three Successive Proposals of Wilhelm II to Belgium.

Under its dry, cold, diplomatic phrasing the reply to the ultimatum (1st Grey Book, No. 22) scarcely conceals the indignation which thrilled the heart of Belgium when Wilhelm II offered her the chance of associating herself with his crime against loyalty. But the German Government did not understand this indignation, neither was it conscious of its own infamy. Otherwise how could it have repeated the same offer a few days later—an offer at once contemptible and full of contempt, as was so well said by M. Jules Destrée before the meeting of the Federation of Advocates, on the 3rd August, 1914. Two remarks on the subject of this fresh proposal (1st Grey Book, No. 60). In the first place the United States Minister in Belgium, who was entrusted with the German interests, refused to transmit it; as for the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, he accepted the mission "without enthusiasm." In the second place, when the Emperor affirmed, on the 9th August, that the fortress of Liége had been taken by assault, he must have known that the fortress was still resisting; for although the city of Liége was occupied by the Germans from the 7th, the forts were intact. Let us remember that the first fort which fell was that of Barchon, on the 8th August, 1914; that of Évegnée fell on the 11th, that of Fléron on the 14th, that of Loncin, commanded by General Leman, fell only at 5 p.m. on the 15th: and several forts were at that time still holding out.


German diplomacy naturally received a fresh indignant refusal (1st Grey Book, No. 23).

Even then official Germany, dazzled by the brilliance of its Kultur, had not yet grasped the full baseness of its crime, since on the 10th September it posted up in Brussels its new proposal and Belgium's reply.

Could candour in perfidy go any farther? Yes! for the German Government, during the siege of Antwerp, made proposals of peace for the third time. This offer was secret. The terms have not been published; even the Germanic Press sought to deny that it had been made; but the avowal appeared in a Viennese newspaper, the Neue Freie Presse, and was reproduced by order of the German authorities in La Belgique (Brussels, 13th January, 1915).

Hostilities preceding the Declaration of War.

So the Emperor Wilhelm II did not succeed in making us his accomplices. Needless to say, we did not tremble before the two bogies which are given so large a place in his harangues: his store of dry powder and his newly-whetted sabre.

And so the sovereign of the formidable German Empire declared war upon tiny Belgium. "He would find himself, to his keenest regret, obliged to execute, if need be by force of arms, the measures of security set forth as indispensable," as the declaration of war expressed it (1st Grey Book, No. 27). This declaration reached Brussels at 7 a.m. on the 4th of August. But, apparently unknown to the Emperor, the German troops, before the telegram had reached Belgium, had crossed the frontier during the night of the 3rd.


We have just seen that the declaration of war reached Brussels on the 4th August, at seven o'clock in the morning. This, at least, is what we learn from the official documents published by Belgium. What does official Germany say upon this point? Nothing. Nowhere is any mention made of the declaration of war, and it is this intentional vagueness which allows the Germans to declare, without blushing, that the German troops entered Belgium on the night of the 3rd August. They let it be supposed that the state of war existed from the moment when Belgium, on the 3rd, refused the German ultimatum. Thus the Chronik des Deutschen Krieges (p. 33) gives the text of the ultimatum; then, in two lines, a summary of the reply. The first document which follows relating to Belgium is the proclamation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of the Meuse (6th Report, I).

This is very vague as to the political relations between the two countries: are they at war, or are they not? No one could say. Of the declaration of war, which should have found a place here, not a word; there is no further question of Belgium before the telegrams of the 7th August (p. 84).

When we say that the declaration of war is not mentioned in any German publication, we are going too far. Die Wahrheit über den Krieg ("die Wahrheit!") speaks of the declaration of war; but only to say that Belgium declared war (p. 40): Belgiën antwortete darauf mit der Kriegserklärung.[10]


The same publication appends some documents; No. 41 (p. 160) is a reproduction of the ultimatum. One would naturally expect that No. 42 would be either Belgium's reply or the declaration of war. By no means; these two documents are not given. Any one who reads the text and hopes thereby to learn "die Wahrheit" concerning the war will be no better informed by the documents. Let us in passing remark that the German Government, in the White Book published for the session of the Reichstag of the 4th August, had also, by its own admission, made a selection among the documents which it submitted to the members of Parliament. This procedure is no doubt a logical consequence of Kultur.

The Pacific Character of Belgium.

Nearly all the nations of Europe cherish national animosities, racial hatreds handed down from century to century, the heritage of conflicts never pacified, which a mere nothing suffices to renew; or the survival of oppressions and spoliations suffered of old by men's forbears, whose abhorred memory is transmitted like a sacred trust from generation to generation. And in all these countries, moreover, there is a chauvinist, a jingo party, which urges a "war of revenge against the hereditary enemy." In Belgium, as Mr. Asquith stated in his speech in Dublin, there was nothing of the kind. We had no spite against any one, and our people, laborious and peaceful, only asked to be allowed to live in friendship with its neighbours. Never had there been in Belgium any manifestation against a foreign country; never had a political party inscribed in its programme any sort of hostility towards another people. Who, then, will be persuaded that "the Belgian Government had for a long time been carefully preparing for this war,"[11] as the Emperor Wilhelm II asserted in his telegram to the President of the United States (in which he also stated that his heart was bleeding!)? No, there is no possible doubt on this point: Belgium brought into the conflict no racial enmity,[12] and if she has found herself thrown into the furnace, despite her constant love of peace, it is solely because her haughty neighbour confronted her with this dilemma: either peace with dishonour, or honour with war. The choice was not in doubt.


German Espionage in Belgium.

It is idle to insist on the accusation of premeditation, for it is unhappily too certain that Belgium was is no way ready for war. But it is also incontestable that Germany had "for a long time carefully prepared for" the invasion of Belgium. We cannot as yet reveal in detail the facts as to German espionage, with its often odious methods, for in most cases these revelations would expose those who have informed us to reprisals. We must for the present be intentionally vague, reserving preciser details for a later date.

When the occupation comes to an end we shall report in detail the case of a German engineer, who, in returning to us with the rank of officer, presided over the systematic destruction by fire of the workshop which he had managed; and the case of another engineer, who commanded the gang ordered to set fire to the quarter adjoining the factory in which he had been employed. Thanks to his knowledge of the locality, he was able in a few seconds to [55]set fire to the richest streets of the neighbourhood. We shall be able to mark on a map the foundations of reinforced concrete for the great German guns, constructed long in advance, in the localities most favourable to bombardment; we shall also point to the store of timber intended to serve for the construction of a bridge over the Scheldt, which was found in a factory established by Germans on the banks of the river. As for the store of Mauser rifles discovered at Liége, our newspapers spoke of that at the time.

Here is a fact which can be related without danger. A German officer dropped from his pocket—we shall state later on in what locality—a detailed plan of the town of Soignies, in which his troops had lodged a few days earlier. This plan gives, besides the details of streets, and even houses, information concerning the occupants of certain buildings: pharmacies, breweries, tanneries, the Communal treasury, the bank, and other establishments where the army might need to make requisitions. The large buildings are coloured blue. It was there that the troops were lodged. This plan, drawn in Chinese ink and coloured, dates from fifteen years back according to the indications which it contains. But it has quite recently been revised and completed, for the latest alterations in the town have been added in pencil; improvement of the Senne, creation of a public square, etc.

The case related by the N.R.C. of 19th August (evening) is particularly instructive. When the Germans occupied Liége and Seraing the Cockerill workshops naturally refused to work for them, since the Germans wished them to make munitions for them. The German Colonel Keppel then assumed[56] the direction of the works, promising the workers an increased salary of 50 per cent. And this officer did not blush to sign his proclamation: "Attaché of the German Government at the Liége Exposition." He had consequently profited by his privileged situation in Belgium in order to make himself familiar with the organization of the Cockerill works. But it must be supposed that matters were too difficult for him, for Herren Koester and Noske (Kriegsfahrten, p. 21) assert that he had to abandon the position.

The Mentality of the German Soldiers at the beginning of the Campaign.

Until the very last moment our enemies deluded themselves as to the loyalty of the Belgians: they still hoped that the latter would only resist as a matter of form. This idea is openly expressed in the Chancellor's speech of the 2nd December; it is also implicitly contained in the proclamation of General von Emmich (see 6th Report, I). The officers and soldiers who crossed the frontier at the beginning of the war were quite bewildered by the unforeseen resistance of the Belgian Army; this is what the German prisoners interned at Bruges tell their relatives; they even go so far as to deplore having to fight a neutral country.

Letters from German Prisoners of War.

We hear from Belgium:—

The correspondence of the German prisoners of war (to the number of about two thousand) who, at the beginning of the war, were interned in the barracks of the Bruges Lancers, has passed almost entirely through our hands.

All say they are well treated. Some even hope[57] that the Belgian prisoners in Germany will be as well treated as they. One wounded soldier in a Bruges hospital relates that the Belgians treat the German wounded like brothers; another speaks only of his "Belgian comrades"! The good food served to them seems to make a great impression. Most of them say, "We have enough to eat"; or even, "We have food in abundance." Only one complains of "beer without flavour and bad wine"; but another says with much simplicity: "The people here are very kind to us, for we have enough to eat and drink." The word for is amusing....

The letters of the officers are quite different. No more joy because their lives are safe. The war absorbs them entirely. They are warriors at heart and the struggle interests them passionately. They know nothing of what is happening, or rather they are not told what is happening, and they want to know ... to know, and it is painful to hear in each letter the same question: what news? The forced inactivity becomes a torture. Boredom presses on them: they are discouraged and greatly disillusioned; they had hoped to pass very rapidly across Belgium (it must be remembered that at this time the war was only beginning, that Brussels was not yet occupied, and that the letters date from this period).

The attack upon Belgium does not seem to please a great many of them. "We have attacked a neutral country," says a medical officer, "and we shall now have to suffer the eventual consequences."

"When we got out of the train," says another, "we received the order to fight against Belgium, a thing which is to me and to all highly antipathetic. But what is commanded has to be executed."


"The attack on Belgium was from the first a shameful thing."

"We violated Belgium before any declaration of war had been made"!

All the letters show how little the resistance of Liége was expected. Many say: "Of all our company, of our battalion, of our regiment, there are left only so many or so many men." One relates how in a few minutes his colonel, his major, the captains, and nearly all the lieutenants were mown down by the balls. "We are all mightily deluded," admits another; "we were too confident; we thought the Belgians were disheartened"! "The Belgians fight like lions," says another.

German Lies respecting the Occupation of Liége.

It is the truth, although the news is partly from a German source, that the Germans entered Belgium on the night of the 3rd of August; they crossed the frontier near Gemmenich at two o'clock in the morning, and the following night (of the 4th of August) they were already attempting an attack upon Liége. But the official telegrams from Berlin have never mentioned this date. To make it believed that the capture of Liége was extremely rapid and that the German army had met with no serious resistance, the staff pruned the siege of Liége at both ends; it made the operation commence on the 5th August instead of the 4th, and declared that it was already completed by the 7th August.

We could not give a more precise idea of the manner in which the Government and its "reptile Press" deceives public opinion than by reproducing two telegrams relating to the fall of Liége. On the 7th of August, having reported the entrance of the[59] troops into Belgium on the previous day, the telegrams announced the capture of the fortress of Liége.[13] Note this: the capture of the fortress (Festung). Now the Germans had merely occupied the town of Liége, a town absolutely open, without ramparts or defences of any kind. They themselves were forced to own, on the 10th, that the forts had not been captured; but they added that the guns were no longer firing, which was false (p. 50).

Berlin, 7th August.—Our advance guard entered Belgium the day before yesterday, along the whole frontier. A small division attempted, with great valour, a surprise attack upon Liége. A few cavalrymen pushed on into the city, and attempted to seize the commandant, who was only able to escape by flight. The surprise attack against the fortress, constructed according to modern principles, did not succeed. Our troops are before the fortress, in contact with the enemy. Naturally the whole enemy Press will describe this enterprise as a defeat; but it has no influence on the great operations; for us it is only an isolated fact in the history of the war, and a proof of the aggressive courage of our troops.

(Kr. D. des K. Z., p. 9.)

Berlin, 7th August. Official. (Wolff Agency.)—The fortress of Liége is taken. After the divisions, which had attempted a surprise attack upon Liége, had been reinforced, the attack was pushed to a successful termination. This morning at 8 o'clock the fortress was in the power of Germany.

(Kr. D. des K. Z., p. 11.)

However, it was necessary to prevent the bad effect which would be produced on the population by foreign communiqués announcing that the German army was continuing to besiege Liége after taking it. After the complete success announced on the 7th the task was, in fact, rather difficult. How was it to be effected?


(a) Discredit might be thrown on news coming from abroad, for example, by "demonstrating" its untruthfulness. Der Lügenfeldzug gives on p. 19 the announcement of the taking of Liége, and on the following page the Havas telegram stating that Liége is not taken. What will the superficial reader conclude if he does not take the trouble to dissect the telegrams? That the Allies are shameless liars, going to the length of denying the obvious. But examine the dates: Liége was taken, according to the Germans, on the 7th August, at 8 a.m., while the Allies declare that Liége is not taken—on the 6th! And to think that the book which perpetrates this trickery is entitled Der Lügenfeldzug unserer Feinde ("Our Enemies' Campaign of Lies")! and that it undertakes the mission of calling attention to the lies and calumnies of the enemy in order to correct them!

(b) To establish confusion between the city and the fortress. As early as the 7th August the false newsmongers were rejoicing over the taking of the fortress, intentionally confusing the city and the fortified place, so that the reader of these communiqués no longer knows what to think, and naturally accepts the official news of his own country.

The sudden Attack upon France is checked.

To understand how completely it was in Germany's interest to create the belief that Liége was taken in two days by a small body of troops, we must remember that the object of the Germans was[61] to traverse Belgium as rapidly as possible, in order to crush the French and capture Paris. The author of J'accuse reports the remark of old Marshal von Haeseler, who proposed to celebrate in Paris the anniversary of Sedan—on the 2nd September, 1914. We ourselves copied a charcoal inscription written on the front of a house burned down at Battice, making an appointment in Paris for the 2nd September with a certain regiment of artillery.

Now this sudden march was completely spoiled and the German plan of campaign undone by the unexpected resistance of the Belgians, first at Liége, then at Hesbays. This loss of a few days was fatal to Germany, and Germany bears us malice on that account.

The Disinterested Behaviour of Belgium.

One last point as to the violation of our neutrality.

The Germans now pretend to pity the poor Belgians, who allowed themselves to be fooled by England as much as by their King and Government, and who, by their credulity, brought the war upon themselves. But what am I saying?—the German Government assures the world that we ourselves desired the war. Official Germany has become incapable of conceiving that a people should remain faithful to its international obligations, and if need be sacrifice itself for them.

"Why," our adversaries ask us, "did you not accept the proposals of Germany? You would have profited by them." And indeed our eastern neighbours offered us £200,000 as the price of our complicity (F. Bettix, Der Krieg).

It would be very interesting to know on what data Germany calculates the value of a nation's[62] honour; in any case, we may assure her that no one in the world would be so simple as to offer so great a sum for hers.

For the rest, as far as we Belgians are concerned our interest has never entered into our calculations. It was not in order to profit by it that we resisted Germany; it was because we judged that such was our obligation as an honest nation. And yet, as the Minister, M. Carton de Wiart, remarked, at the Hotel de Ville in Paris, on the 20th December, 1914, we had, even then, the vision of our country ravaged by the Prussian hordes; but even to-day, after suffering such terrible atrocities, there is not a Belgian "who would change his poverty for the profits of a bandit."


[6] The Germans do not like one to quote these words of Herr Bethmann-Hollweg. A series of pamphlets, Histoire de la guerre de 1914, which has appeared in Brussels during the occupation, reports the last conversation of the Chancellor with the British Ambassador on the 4th of August, 1914 (p. 206), but the "scrap of paper" does not figure therein: the censorship suppressed this too compromising passage.

[7] See, for example, Bernhardi's How Germany makes War, pp. 190, 191, 192. On the 4th of March, 1882, the Nord. Allg. Zeit. declared: "Germany has no political motive for violating Belgian neutrality, but the military advantage which might result forces her thereto." Emile Bauning, La Belgique au point de vue Militaire et International, Brussels, 1906, p. 58.

[8] Apparently such unusual honesty cannot long survive in the mind of a German diplomatist. The phrase is in its proper place in the French text, but it is lacking in the Flemish text, which is printed facing it.

[9] K.Z., 2nd December, 1st edition, morning, published the same revelations. This article is more complete than that printed in Brussels. We hasten to correct a numerical error which renders the opening of the second paragraph incomprehensible: it states that five years had elapsed between 1905 and 1914. According to the K.Z. one should read 1909 instead of 1905.

[10] The same lie figures in Lüttich, p. 5.

[11] The French text here quoted is that which was posted up. The German text, also posted, states that Belgium had long ago carefully armed the civil population (see p. 208).

[12] An article on "Flemings and Walloons" in K.Z. for 13th March (noon edition), declares that Belgium knew nothing of chauvinism, nor even, adds the writer, of nationalism.

[13] These lies die hard. Herren Koester and Noske, in the introduction of their book, Kreigsfahrten durch Belgiën und Nordfrankreich, literally state: "The German troops entered Belgium on the 6th of August; on the following day the fortress of Liége had been taken by assault."



A.—The "Reprisals against Francs-tireurs."

Under the pretext that France was making ready to attack her, Germany hastened to invade Belgium and Luxemburg. But France was not preparing to invade the Rhine provinces of Prussia, and this pretended threat of aggression was merely a trick, intended to frighten Parliament, and to obtain a vote approving the actions of the Ministry and giving it carte blanche. The manœuvre completely succeeded; the Government received a unanimous vote, in spite of the Chancellor's admission: "We are committing an injustice, and we are violating the law of nations; but when one is driven into a corner as we are, all means are good."

We discovered immediately, alas! what these words meant. Hardly had the German soldiers crossed the frontier, when they began to burn and massacre.

Murders committed by the Germans from the outset.

On the very day of the invasion—the 4th August—a motor-car carrying four German officers arrived at Herve, and then pulled up. One of the officers demanded information of a youth of sixteen, one Dechêne; the latter did not understand, or perhaps[64] refused to reply (which was his right, and even his duty towards his country); we do not know, but in any case the officer shot him with his revolver.

On the 4th of August, too, the Germans shot peaceful citizens at Visé, when the 2nd battalion of the 12th regiment of the line, under Major Collyns, had the audacity to resist them. Of course they pretended that the civilians took part in the fighting. A few days later they burned the church and the greater part of the town.

One sees plainly from these, and too many other examples, what was the object of our enemies: (a) They wished to terrorize the population, in order to make them more amenable to requisitions and demands of all kinds; (b) they wished to make their own troops believe that in fighting the Belgians—which they at first did with great unwillingness—they were merely defending themselves against treacherous attacks; (c) they wished to multiply opportunities of pillage; (d) finally, perhaps, they reckoned that by displaying to the Belgian Government the horrors to which its first refusal had exposed the country, they would induce it to reconsider its position and could obtain from it a free passage.

Were there any "Francs-tireurs"?

It would be impossible at this moment to state that the Belgians never, at any point of the frontier, fired upon the invaders. Let us remark, moreover, that if they did they would have been, from the purely human point of view, perfectly excusable.[14] [65]What! here is Germany, who, pretending to be in a state of legitimate defence, falls unawares upon an inoffensive third party! And this third party had no right to oppose force to violence! In all logic, was it not Belgium that was in a state of legitimate defence; was it not for Belgium that all means were good? And notice, please, that it was not against an imagined and imaginary menace that we were defending ourselves: the Germans had most undeniably invaded Belgium. Would it have been astonishing if the Belgians, exasperated by this unspeakable aggression, had seized their rifles? In sane justice, one could not regard such action as a grievance; on the contrary. Does this mean that we believe in the story of civilians attacking the German army? Most certainly not; because we know from reliable sources that in every case where it has been possible to hold an inquiry, this inquiry has shown that the "francs-tireurs" were merely the pretext; the real motive for all the devastation and massacre was the desire to terrorize the population. It is, therefore, in a fashion entirely theoretical, and with the most express reserves, that we admit, in default of opportunity to investigate, in each case, the affirmations of our enemies, that in some cases, certainly extremely rare, isolated civilians, or small groups of civilians, may have been taken with arms in their hands. But our enemies will please admit also that the attitude of these civilians would have been amply excused by the more than brutal fashion in which the Germans behaved from the very first moments of the war. Let us add that when one erects terror into a system, as the Germans do, one should understand the defensive reflexes of the victims.


What were the rights of our enemies in these exceptional cases? They could, as they themselves proclaim, have shot the individual offenders, and, for once in a way, have burned their houses. But nothing in the world could justify the executions en masse and the wholesale burnings to which the Germans surrendered themselves.

The Obsession of the "Franc-tireur" in the German Army.

One point at first remained obscure to us in the German "reprisals": how did the German officers induce their men to commit this horrible carnage? Very simply: their minds were worked upon beforehand; they were crammed with legends of francs-tireurs dating from the war of 1870-71, and were made to believe that the Belgian population was revoltingly brutal. So as soon as they set foot on our territory they expected to be attacked by civilians, and, very naturally, prepared to sell their lives dearly.

Nothing is more typical in this respect than the collection of soldiers' letters published for the edification of the German nation in Der Deutsche Krieg in Feldpostbriefen.—I. Lüttich, Namur, Antwerpen. In more than half is there mention of "francs-tireurs"; but scarcely ever does the writer speak of having himself seen them. Read, for example, the first letter (that is No. 2 in the volume, for Letter No. 1 is not a soldier's letter). The writer, an officer, asserts that during the attack on the forts[67] of Liége, on the night of the 6th of August, the night was so dark that it was impossible to distinguish friends from enemies, and that the Germans were firing on one another. Nevertheless, as they were fired on, and as they saw three men running, they immediately shot them as "francs-tireurs." During this same night their baggage-column having been surprised (he does not say by whom), a village was burned and the inhabitants were shot.

The whole mentality of the German soldier in respect of civilians is reflected in this letter; it is so dark that the Germans fire on one another, but that does not prevent them from recognizing that those attacking them are "francs-tireurs," even though their men are "falling en masse," which excludes all idea of francs-tireurs.

Francs-tireurs! From the very first days of the war it is a fixed idea, an obsession, engendered by previous reading and conversation, and carefully nourished by the leaders.

The Obsession of the "Franc-tireur" in the Literature of the War.

Francs-tireurs! This idea invades the whole of their contemporary literature. All the books on the campaign in Belgium and France swarm with tales of this kind. Let us add that the authors do not assert that they themselves have seen the attacks of the "francs-tireurs." But they have been told of them, and they hasten to repeat the story without the slightest means of verification.

Thus, in Kriegsfahrten, by Herren Koester and Noske, there is mention of "francs-tireurs" on pages 10, 12, 13, 20, and 22; and they return to the subject in the last chapter (p. 113).


Herr Fedor von Zobeltitz, in Kriegsfahrten eines Johanniters, also constantly heard mention of attacks by Belgian civilians: at Tirlemont (p. 39), at Louvain (pp. 39, 53, 54, 91), at Malines (p. 49), at Eppeghem (p. 86), and in Antwerp (p. 154).

The volume entitled Die Eroberung Belgiëns is full of stories of the same sort. Thus, of thirty-eight illustrations, which are neither maps nor portraits, ten are devoted to the attacks of Belgian civilians.

It is interesting to compare the tales of people who have not been present in the battles fought in Belgium, and who speak only from hearsay, with the narrative of Herr Otto von Gottberg, Als Adjutant durch Frankreich und Belgiën. He took part in September in the battles which accompanied the siege of Antwerp. Nowhere did he see francs-tireurs. Yet he by no means loves the Belgian civilians, and he certainly would have been tremendously pleased to shoot down a few. Read, for example, what he says of the provocative attitude of the people of Brussels, and above all of the women of Brussels (p. 55), and of passing through the streets of Lebbeke (near Termonde), where his soldiers proposed to fall upon the inhabitants who scowled at them (p. 65). However, he says, he did not burn a single house (p. 67). We may remark that Herr Gottberg's companions showed themselves less amiable, or at least equitable, than he, for the "reprisals" against Lebbeke were particularly atrocious (see 9th Report). It is, however, highly improbable that the inhabitants would have deprived themselves of the pleasure of firing on the little patrol led by Herr Gottberg, afterwards to take up arms against troops which were much more numerous. However it may be, the legend of the "francs-tireurs" of Lebbeke was[69] willingly accepted by Herren Koester and Noske (Kriegsfahrten).

The Obsession of the "Franc-tireur" in Literature and Art.

The obsession of the "franc-tireur" is also found outside the limits of military literature properly so-called. Herr Bredt has just published a book on Le caractère du peuple belge révélé par l'art belge. The illegal attacks of the Belgian population upon the regular German troops, he says, were not in the least surprising to those who were acquainted with the productions of Belgian art.

It would be difficult to surpass, in this respect, an article which appeared in the January number of Kunst und Künstler. It gives the reproduction of an engraving by Callot: a camp in which musketeers are putting to death condemned men bound to stakes. "Execution of francs-tireurs," says the legend in German. That there should be a question of "francs-tireurs" in the time of Callot, who died in 1635, may in itself seem somewhat strange. But the engraver has taken care to inscribe, under his work, some lines describing the scene which it represents, which may be translated as follows:—

"Those who to give their evil nature sway,
Failing in duty, take the tyrant's way,
Infringing right, delighting but in ill,
Whose acts are full of treason and self-will,
Cause in the camp full many a bloody brawl,
So die this death, the end of traitors all."

It is enough to read this legend to realize that they are traitors who are being punished; but the German mind of to-day is so steeped in the idea of "francs-tireurs" that the artists no longer understand[70] what their predecessors wrote, and, like the soldiers, they see francs-tireurs everywhere.

Responsibility of the Leaders.

But it is above all the great massacres of Andenne, Tamines, Dinant, Termonde, Aerschot, Louvain, and Luxemburg, which are for ever inexcusable, and will remain, an eternal disgrace, as a stain upon the German flag. Their appetite whetted by the atrocities committed during the first days of the invasion, the soldiers themselves invented or simulated attacks of "francs-tireurs," in order to have the pleasure of afterwards repressing them, killing, pillaging, and burning entire cities. Let us say, to be just, that not the soldiers but their leaders will bear, before the bar of history, the responsibility of this revival of the monstrosities of barbarism. Is it not obvious that in an army as highly disciplined as the German, an army in which the officers drive their men into battle under the threat of their revolvers, and in which the soldiers obey such injunctions, such deliberately prepared tragedies as that of Louvain are possible only with the complicity of the officers, or rather by their orders? How else can we conceive that soldiers would post themselves in a garden and thence fire their rifles into the streets? (N.R.C., 10th September, 1914, evening edition). And it is not the subaltern officers that we have to call to account for these butcheries, but the generals, such as Baron von Bissing, since become Governor-General of Belgium, who counsels the soldiery to show themselves pitiless, and not to allow themselves to be swayed by any humanitarian consideration, for compassion would be an act of treason (compare p. 336). The soldiers are advised[71] that it is permissible for them "to make the innocent suffer with the guilty" (p. 84); that they may hang, without further ceremony, those who have committed the crime of being found present, for whatever reason, in a house where munitions or arms have been found (p. 335); and also those who have attempted to escape while they were being held as hostages (p. 151). The previous Governor-General of Belgium announced that soldiers need not be sure whether suspects are accessories or not, but that "if any hostility is displayed towards them they may raze a city to the ground." Such is the fate that General von Bülow promised the city of Brussels. The same general thought it incumbent upon him officially to inform the people of Brussels, Liége, and Namur that it was with his consent that the town of Andenne was burned, and about one hundred persons shot (6th Report, IV).

By these proclamations and others equally sanguinary the military authorities wished to influence both the Germans and the Belgians. The former were absolved beforehand of the horrors they committed, and were assured of impunity for all the "reprisals" they might be pleased to undertake. Moreover, they were kept in perpetual horror of "francs-tireurs." Are they assailed unexpectedly by soldiers of the enemy's army? They fall back without assuring themselves of what has really happened, and return with the main body of the army to expend their rage against the "francs-tireurs." This is what took place at Tamines where more than four hundred citizens were shot down by rifle or machine-gun fire, and also in a dozen villages of Bas-Luxembourg, which were razed to the ground, and in which a thousand inhabitants were shot.


Animosity toward the Clergy.

The military chiefs bear an especial grudge against the clergy. In the manifestoes against "francs-tireurs" the priests are specially mentioned, which amounts to recommending them quite specially to the savagery of the troops. The latter are convinced that the priests incite their flocks from the pulpit, and that they place machine-guns in the belfries. So, in the sack of a village, the worst treatment is always reserved for the priests and the churches.

The pastoral letter of His Excellency Cardinal Mercier gives a list of forty-three priests shot or executed.[15]

There is no ignominy the troops have not inflicted on the priests. A few examples among hundreds will suffice.

They forced members of the Louvain clergy to lie naked in the dung of a pig-sty.

The curé of Pont-Brûlé was beaten, by order of the German soldiery, by his own parishioners.

The January number of Kunst und Künstler gives a drawing representing a curé hanging from a tree.

At Cortemarck it was the priests who were punished because an inhabitant was in communication with the enemy (read, "the Belgians").

On the 30th August, 1914, the Germans arrested the dean and vicar of a village in Brabant, under the pretext that they had made luminous signals from the church tower. Now the priests had been prisoners since 2.0 o'clock of the afternoon; how then could they have ascended the tower at 5.30 p.m.? Despite their protestations they were taken to Louvain, whence a so-called Council of War sent them to Germany. Arriving in a prisoners' camp, they were accommodated in the latrines, which consisted of a trench and a plank perforated with holes. Each time a German soldier had to satisfy his need, he took the opportunity of insulting the priests in the most filthy manner. A German major sent for them and informed them that they were about to be shot. The vicar asked that he might confess. "No," he was told, "hell is good enough for you." They were led away to die ... but were sent to a seminary, where they remained prisoners until January 1915.


Animosity toward Churches.

Against the churches their rage was unloosed with even greater fury. In the part of Brabant that lies north of Vilvorde there is hardly a belfry left erect: Beyghem, Capelle-au-Bois, Haecht, Humbeek, Pont-Brûlé, Sempst, Eppeghem, Houtem, Weerde, Hofstade, Elewijt, Werchter, Boortmeerbeek, etc., are all burned.

At Termonde all the churches have been either burned or profaned. But in the midst of this city, where twelve hundred houses were burned out of fourteen hundred, the Béguinage remained intact, an oasis of calm isolated amid the calcined ruins. On the grassy plain that surrounds the bright little houses of the béguines stood the chapel. This did not find favour with the Germans, and its blackened walls attest that Kultur has passed that way. Were the béguines perhaps "francs-tireurs"?

We have already stated that the peculiar irritation of the Germans against the clergy and their sanctuaries was due to the fact that they regarded the[74] curés as the leaders of the "francs-tireurs." The falsity of this allegation was recognized by Dr. Julius Bachem, the editor of the Kölnische Volkszeitung, one of the most prominent Catholic newspapers in Germany. Dr. Bachem published, in the issue for April 1915 of the Süddeutsche Monatshefte, which was principally devoted to Belgium, an article on the religious problem in Belgium. He based his proofs on the authority of Baron von Bissing, Commandant of the 7th Army Corps, at present Governor-General in Belgium, and also on the special inquiry undertaken by the Union of the Catholic Priests of the Rhine, Pax. This inquiry, mostly conducted with the aid of the present military authorities in Belgium, proved that the clergy was absolutely innocent, and that all the accusations brought against it were purely imaginary.[16]

The Emperor did not wait for the confirmation of the crimes attributed to the priests before making violent accusations against them in his telegram to the President of the United States. He has not retracted these.

Intentional Insufficiency of Preliminary Inquiries.

Never was there the least justification for reprisals. Read the Reports of the Commission of Inquiry, and the narratives of ocular witnesses, and you will find that the most horrible things are continually done without any pains being taken to verify the facts. Soldiers greedy for pillage say, without justification, Die Civilisten haben geschossen; and that is enough. The order is given to kill the men and reduce the neighbourhood to ashes. Or shots have really been fired on the Germans; the civilians are suddenly accused, and without listening to the unhappy prisoners, who offer to prove that the shots were fired by Belgian or Allied soldiers, the Germans proceed to execution.


A very typical case is that of Charleroi. We knew that French troops were still occupying the town when the Germans entered. But these last immediately accused the civilians, since, they said, shots were fired from the interior of the houses, as though their adversaries had not the right, quite as much as they, to take cover in the buildings. Moreover, when they later were confronted with the proof that the French were there, they merely remarked that the latter's mission was to organize and to discipline the civic guards and "francs-tireurs"[17] (see Heymel's article, p. 196). Could one imagine a finer example of preconceived opinion?

M. Waxwieler insists emphatically on the unspeakable frivolity with which the Germans carry out "reprisals." He cites notably the case of Linsmeau (p. 256) and that of Francorchamps (p. 270). As this is an essential point, I may perhaps be permitted to relate a few more cases.

On entering Wépion on the 23rd August the Germans pretended that the citizens had fired on them, and they shot, then and there, six of them, among whom were the two younger Bouchats. Now those who had fired were Belgian soldiers armed with machine-guns, who were covering the retreat of the Belgian troops. A moment's reflection would have enabled the Germans to realize their error, since civilians obviously had no machine-guns at their disposal. While they were being led to their death, one of the Bouchats begged a glass of water of their mother. But the Germans refused to allow it to be given him: "It's not worth the trouble now," they said.


In August 1914 a French patrol and a German patrol came into collision at Sibret (Belgian Luxembourg) and exchanged shots; they then retired, leaving a wounded German on the ground. Two inhabitants of Sibret carried the wounded man toward an ambulance; the clerk to the Justice de Paix of Bouillon, M. Rozier, accompanied them. He was carrying the rifle slung over his shoulder and the soldier's knapsack in his hand. A German patrol came up and questioned M. Rozier, telling him, no doubt, to raise his hands or throw down his rifle. As neither M. Rozier nor any of his companions understood German, and were unable to comply with the order, the Germans fired on M. Rozier, killing him.

Every time it has been possible to obtain any kind of inquiry from the Germans it has resulted in their confusion; at Huy the bullets found in the bodies of Germans were German bullets; the General was forced to stop the burning of the village; he even admitted that a mistake had been made.

An example of another kind, also taken from the N.R.C., is equally characteristic. During the night a German soldier fired a rifle-shot, no one knew why, in a village of Western Flanders. Great alarm immediately. "The village is going to be burned!" But before they had time to get to work an important[77] piece of evidence, the empty cartridge-case, proved that it was really a German soldier who fired. However, if by chance this blessed cartridge-case had not come to hand the village would have burned. Too often, alas! the German army does not trouble to postpone the reprisals awhile ... and the houses are in ashes before the falsity of the accusations has been proved. It is to be remarked, indeed, that it is never the Germans who prove the truth of their allegations, but the Belgians who have to prove the Germans in error. It is justice reversed.

It is easy to understand that a non-lieu does not please the German authorities. In fact, their object is not to render justice but to terrorize the population; and if it were necessary to examine the bona-fides of their accusations they would not be able to exercise "reprisals," which would not suit them at all!

If the accusations had really been justified by the attacks of "francs-tireurs" the Germans would have taken care to establish their existence irrefutably. For we must not forget that according to Article 3 of the Hague Convention they ought to indemnify us for all the burnings and massacres commanded by them.

A "Show" Inquiry.

They know, however, how contrary these summary executions are to the spirit of justice, and they sometimes attempt to lay a false trail. Read, for example, the chapter devoted by Dr. Sven Hedin to the "francs-tireurs." The great Swedish geographer, of whose wonderful Asiatic journeys every one has heard, made a tour along the Western front. He therefore visited the occupied portion of France[78] and Belgium, and wrote an enthusiastic book on the German Army, Ein Volk in Waffen. In the course of this work, he describes the manner in which an inquiry is held into the circumstances of an attack by "francs-tireurs." Everything is done as regularly as possible, and the affair ends in an acquittal. Was the tribunal authentic, or was it merely a parody?[18] It matters little; the essential thing for us is that it was desired to prove to Dr. Hedin that the Germans are not barbarians, and that they observe the forms of justice even while on campaign.


Mentality of an Officer charged with the Repression of "Francs-tireurs."

Let us now compare with the account of Dr. Hedin that of a German officer entrusted with the repression of "francs-tireurs." Captain Paul Oskar Höcker gives a few curious details in his interesting book, An der Spitze meiner Kompagnie. He had to clear of "francs-tireurs" a portion of the territory comprised between the German frontier and the Meuse. His mission consisted in this: to present himself at houses, to ask if there were arms, and in case of a reply in the negative, to search the house; if arms were discovered the householder was shot on the spot; in case of resistance the house was burned (p. 83). The first farm he visits is Jungbush, near Moresnet; the inhabitants assure him they have no arms. They are told that if they are hiding one rifle they will be punished with death; they repeat that they have none. And now the soldiers bring up a boy of fifteen who was hiding under the straw with a Belgian rifle and five cartridges. He is shot without further inquiry (p. 26). It is permissible to ask whether it would not have been juster and more humane to have looked into the matter a little more closely. The remainder of the book instructs us as to the psychology of Captain Höcker. At the house of the vicar of Thimister, where he passed the first night in Belgium, his bedroom door did not lock, and this was enough to make him shake with fear (p. 29). On the following morning he had a pigeon shot, which he suspected of being a carrier of despatches to "francs-tireurs"; "and in truth," he says, "the pigeon bore a stamp on the left wing" (p. 30). This proof is perhaps somewhat slender in a country where all pigeons which take part in matches have a mark of this kind. He confiscates all the small-arms and parts of arms in the establishments of the innumerable armourers of the district, and smashes everything in their workshops. On one such occasion he burns a house whose owner does not consent with good grace to the destruction of his plant (p. 30). On the same day he finds that all the houses from which shots were fired have been burned; in his satisfaction he does not even ask himself whether those who fired were soldiers or civilians (p. 31). Neither has he a word of reprobation for the fury which the Germans display against Belgium: Belgium, forced to take the side of the Allies when her territory was violated by Germany. He reaches Visé at the moment of its burning; he accepts immediately the legend according to which the bridge has been destroyed by "francs-tireurs"[80] (p. 34). According to him, the Belgians of good society do not become soldiers; he is convinced that substitution is still in force with us, and that for 1,600 francs (£64) one can escape from one's military obligations (p. 39). To him, therefore, all civilians appear cowards, and he is not surprised to see them become "sneaking francs-tireurs." When he passes through the streets of Louvain he listens to the story that Germans have that very day been fired upon (p. 47). Further on he admits without hesitation that the German soldiers taken prisoners before Liége must have expected to be shot by the Belgians (p. 71).

We do not question the sincerity of Captain Höcker. But why was so credulous and so suggestible a person selected to search out and punish "francs-tireurs"? Assuredly because it was desired that "reprisals" should be carried out without previous discussion, and by some one whose conscience should, nevertheless, be at rest.

Drunkenness in the German Army.

We have just seen that massacres very frequently took place without any pretext having been brought forward to excuse them. In nearly all cases alcoholism was the cause of these, for the German soldiers, and above all the officers, are scandalously addicted to drink.

The first thing requisitioned by the officers is always wine, by hundreds of bottles at a time.

Turn over a collection of German illustrated papers: every time a meeting of officers is photographed there are bottles and glasses on the table. At the ambulance installed in the Palais de Justice of Brussels the military surgeons have not been[81] ashamed to steal the wine of the wounded men, wine offered by the citizens of Brussels. The general and his staff who installed themselves on the 21st August, 1914, in the Palais Royal of Laeken levied such vast contributions on the cellars of the Palais that on the following morning an officer was found, in the costume of Adam, dead-drunk in front of a bath which he had not had the strength to enter. When they left the Palais they took with them many hampers of wine, and a few days later they had a search made for further hampers of the vintages which were their preference. The cellars were soon empty.

They were drunken soldiers who provoked the burning of Huy, the assassinations at Canne (N.R.C., 23rd August, 1914, morning edition), and in part at least the massacres of Louvain. When they occupied Gand the police had to collect them, dead-drunk, on the very first morning; they had already begun to fire revolver-shots.

It was after a tavern brawl between drunken soldiers that the burning of a portion of Tongres was decreed (N.R.C., 22nd August, 1914, morning edition). In Brussels, on the 28th September, 1914, some drunken soldiers in a German cabaret situated in the Rue de la Grande Ile, were firing rifle-shots to amuse themselves; bullets lodged in the house-fronts opposite. The officer whom some one went to fetch that he might witness this misbehaviour believed that an attack was being delivered by "francs-tireurs," and, trembling like a leaf, refused to go thither. The N.R.C., 28th January, 1915 (morning edition) states that a young girl of Eelen was arrested as a "franc-tireur" because rifle-shots had been fired by drunken soldiers.


Let us add that drunkenness might have had harmless consequences if the authorities had not exerted themselves to make the troops believe that every unexpected shot is necessarily fired by a "franc-tireur," and that so black a crime can only be paid for by a general massacre accompanied by the burning of the village concerned.

There is only one fashion of explaining the horrors committed by the Germans: it is to admit that they are modelled beforehand according to a carefully devised system of intimidation: the systematic inhumanity of their treatment of the enemy population being intended to facilitate other military operations.

Cruelties necessary according to German Theories.

Compare, for example, the laws of war according to the German Great General Staff[19] with the stipulations of the Hague Convention. As the last is based on humanitarian considerations and seeks to lighten the scourge of war for non-combatants, so the Germans systematically refuse to make war less cruel; on the contrary, they start with the principle that the more terrible the war the more swiftly and surely will its object be attained. Read the chapter, "The Object of War," and you will be edified. Even jurists like Baer, blinded by warlike passions, dare to maintain that all must yield to military necessities, including—what blasphemy!—the law of nations. The characteristic theory that war should be "absolute" and barbarous is the idea underlying the manifesto of von Bissing which has already been cited (p. 70). In fewer words Hindenburg says the same thing[20] (p. 206). So that Belgium might realize the fate that awaited her the German authorities made haste to advertise their opinion. It is true that they have since then posted up reassuring phrases as to the humanitarian sentiments of the German Army for the moment. Had our butchers renounced their attempts at terrorization?


Terrorization: "Reprisals" as a "Preventive."

According to this hypothesis, that the great "reprisals" undertaken at the outset of the war would serve as examples, the Germans wished to instil terror into the very marrow of our bones, so that they might then be able to rule us with a small garrison of Landsturm. Reflect, for example, that Brussels, an agglomeration of 700,000 souls, has never had a garrison of more than 5,000 men, and has often had only 1,000.

Such a calculation is so abominable, so fundamentally inhuman, that we shrank from the harshness of this supposition, and accepted it with all manner of reservations.[21] Well, our hesitation was futile. In an article whose frankness is calculated to make one's hair stand on end, Captain Walter Blöm, adjutant to the Governor-General, published in the officially-inspired Kölnische Zeitung of the 10th February, 1915, the confirmation of that which we hardly dared to imagine. Here are his exact words:—


"The principle according to which the whole community must be punished for the fault of a single individual is justified by the theory of terrorization. The innocent must suffer with the guilty; if the latter are unknown the innocent must even be punished in their place; and note that the punishment is applied not because a misdeed has been committed, but in order that no more shall be committed. To burn a neighbourhood, shoot hostages, decimate a population which has taken up arms against the army—all this is far less a reprisal than the sounding of a note of warning for the territory not yet occupied. Do not doubt it: it was as a note of warning that Battice, Herve, Louvain, and Dinant were burned. The burnings and bloodshed of the opening of the war showed the great cities of Belgium how perilous it was for them to attack the small garrisons which we were able to leave there. No one will believe that Brussels, where we are to-day as though in our own home, would have allowed us to do as we liked if the inhabitants had not trembled before our vengeance, and if they did not continue to tremble. War is not a social diversion."

Any commentary would weaken the force of these declarations.

Incendiary Material.

We are not in the confidence of the German Staff, and we can only form hypotheses as to its mentality.[85] But here are two facts, easy to verify and interpret, which show that the atrocities were committed with premeditation.

Firstly, the existence of various incendiary materials. When a town is condemned to be burned the execution of the command is confided to a special company of the engineers. (The carnet of an officer of an "incendiary company" was picked up in a commune of Hainaut.) Generally a first squad breaks the windows and shutters; a second pours naphtha into the houses by means of special pumps, "incendiary pumps"; then comes the third squad, which throws the "incendiary bombs." These last are of many different kinds. Those most commonly employed in Brabant and Hainaut include discs of gelatinous nitro-cellulose, which jump in all directions. Thanks to the inflammable vapours which fill the houses, the latter catch fire on all their floors simultaneously. It took only half an hour to set fire to the Boulevard Audent at Charleroi.

No one can suppose that so perfect an organization was improvised during the campaign. Moreover, where and how could the discs of fulminating cotton have been procured?

At Termonde the Germans probably employed cylinders of naphtha. At all events one can still see, in houses which did not catch fire, holes made in the ceilings and floors, into which holes long strips of linen are introduced to serve as wicks. The Germans sprinkled them with naphtha, and it was enough to put a match to such a wick in order to set fire to the joists of the floor overhead. At Termonde 1,200 houses were burned in a single day.


The Two Great Periods of Massacre.

We discover, then, that the great destructive operations were conducted according to a general plan. Let us place in chronological order the most important of the massacres and the conflagrations, that is, those which could not have been carried out except by order of the officers, omitting, therefore, the killings in detail and the burning of farms and isolated houses, attributable, no doubt, to soldiers acting on their own initiative, or to small bands greedy for pillage. What do we see? That apart from the atrocities which marked the outset of the campaign, the majority of the great killings and burnings, in France as well as in Belgium, were ordered during two periods: one from the 19th to the 27th August, and one from the 2nd to the 12th September, 1914. Now it is quite certain that in a country already occupied, and deprived of means of communication, the "francs-tireurs" could not possibly have agreed among themselves as to the moment of their attacks. The only people who could transmit an order were the Germans; and the legitimate conclusion which one forms from this lamentable list is that the pretended attacks of francs-tireurs were elaborated in Berlin, whence they were ordered by telegraph to break out on a given date.

Another interesting fact revealed by a chronological list is that the so-called attacks of "francs-tireurs" very often do not coincide with the entrance of the Germans into a given locality, but break out a few days later. One might at a pinch understand that poachers, or impulsive individuals, might fire a rifle at a patrol; but it is wholly improbable that they[87] would make their attempt at a moment when they were already impressed by the formidable warlike equipment of our enemies. This is so contrary to common sense that the Germans try to get out of it by lying. Let us cite a case. They assert that on Tuesday the 25th August, 1914, there was in Louvain only a weak garrison of Landsturm, and that the civil population profited by this circumstance to attempt an attack, which could only be repressed by incendiarism and massacre. Now the people of Louvain had been warned that very morning that 10,000 men were to arrive during the day, and that many houses which had not yet billeted soldiers would do so the following night. And, indeed, that afternoon several fresh regiments were seen to enter, notably the 53rd, 72nd, and 7th Hussars.

When, by exception, the Germans assert that the "francs-tireurs" have attacked a column on the march, one almost always remarks the three following points: (1) the attack takes place while a village is being traversed; (2) it happens when a great part of the column has already passed, so that the "francs-tireurs" are caught between two fires; (3) the "francs-tireurs" are concealed in the houses. A moment's reflection suffices to show that these are precisely the most unfavourable circumstances which civilians could choose for their attack.

Protective Inscriptions.

All this shows that we have not to deal with acts of indiscipline, which are, God knows, the inevitable accompaniment of any war, yet which are almost excusable. We have here a maturely considered system, prepared at the Great General Headquarters, and then frigidly applied. In other words, the[88] "reprisals against francs-tireurs" form part of the plan of campaign of the German army. If additional proof were needed that they are disciplined cruelties, as the Minister of State, M. Emile Vandervelde, remarks, it would be found in the inscriptions and placards placed upon property which is to be respected.

Besides the inscription which says simply that the house must not be burned save with the authorization of the Kommandantur (at Louvain, after the great fires of the 25th and 27th August, nearly all the houses which were spared received one of these placards), there are others giving the reasons for the protection accorded to the building. Here are some of these reasons: the inhabitants are respectable (gute) people; they have German sympathies; they have already given the troops all they possessed; they are protected by the Legation; an officer knows them personally. The fact that with very few exceptions these houses escaped disaster well demonstrates the strength of German discipline. It is by no means astonishing, therefore, that in the localities which are still intact the inhabitants should have taken precautions; thus, there have been houses in Brussels which were provided with a protective inscription. Other buildings have been marked on a plan (N.R.C., 14th September, 1914, evening edition). This reminds one of the tenth plague of Egypt and the sign which the Jews had to place upon the lintel of their dwelling, that the Lord might recognize it. When the Lord passed, He spared the marked houses (Exodus xii. 7, 22). In the German plague which has settled upon our poor country, the Destroying Angel has the aspect of an officer with a single eye-glass.


Accusations against the Belgian Government.

What makes the German accusations against the "francs-tireurs" particularly serious is, firstly, the terrifying, infernal nature of the punishments which follow these accusations; and secondly, the fact that they involve our constituted authorities.[22] "The Belgian Government has openly[23] encouraged the civil population to take part in this war," says one whose word has weight in Germany, for he is none other than the Emperor in person. And he did not content himself with telegraphing this to America; he spread this impudent assertion over the walls of our cities (p. 208). Had he at least the excuse of believing what he said? Most certainly not; for years he had been informed by his spies of the details of our military organization; he knew, then, perfectly, what Belgium was or was not doing.

At the time the first accusations of this kind were made the Belgian authorities had informed Germany that, conformably with the laws of war, they were fighting only with their regular troops (2nd Grey Book, Nos. 68, 69, 71). And they posted everywhere proclamations recommending the people to keep calm, forbidding civilians to take part in the fighting, and counselling the citizens to deliver their arms to the communal administrations (2nd Grey Book, No. 71). At the same time the principal daily papers repeated, day by day, on the first page and in large type, the text of these placards.


These appeals were heard, and our compatriots, if they owned rifles, immediately took their arms to the maisons communales. Would you believe it, this measure of precaution was exploited against us! For later, when the Germans occupied our hôtels de ville, and discovered the presence of rifles, each ticketed with its owner's name, they pretended to have brought to light a proof of premeditation (N.R.C., 4th September, 1914, evening edition): "Look!—say the officers—with what care the Belgian authorities have prepared for the guerilla war! Each citizen has his rifle ready to hand at the hôtel de ville!" The soldiers must indeed have been ridden by the "fixed idea" of the "franc-tireur," or they must have realized the poltroonery of such suggestions!

But the Germans made assertions much more extravagant than this. In Belgium repairs to buildings are effected with the assistance of scaffoldings suspended against the outer walls; and at the time of building the house openings are left immediately under the cornice, in which the cross-beams supporting the scaffolding are fixed when required. These openings are closed outwardly by some sort of decorative motive. Now, a German captain gives a detailed description of these arrangements, and arrives at the conclusion that these are loopholes for francs-tireurs!

What a mentality for an officer! So fantastic an explanation evidently will not bear a moment's reflection;[91] but that matters nothing; it is none the less reprinted by the work Die Wahrheit über den Krieg, to be served to the Germans remaining in the country. The authors of the statement know that their compatriots have lost the critical sense and that they are ready to accept, their eyes closed, and their minds also, anything that is told them.

This example shows that while inciting the soldiers in order to bring them to the required pitch of irritation, the rulers of Germany are equally concerned to create a violent current of hatred in their own country. It was necessary, in fact, since there was nothing with which the Belgian nation could be reproached, and since nevertheless they were making war upon it, to invent a few serious motives of animosity.

In a preceding chapter we examined the wretched diplomatic accusations which the Germans have forged in an attempt to compromise our political circles. We shall presently deal with the abominable accusations of cruelty brought against the Belgians. Here we will content ourselves with citing yet one more fact relating to the "francs-tireurs."

When the civil population of a locality was accused—or convicted, as the butchers said—of having borne arms against the German troops, the procedure was generally as follows: The houses were fired, and the inhabitants driven towards a public square, or into the church. They were divided into two groups: one of men, the others of women, children, and old folk. Then a certain number of men were shot; often, too, a few of the women, children, and old people. After the execution, which took place in the presence of the whole village, the women, children, and old people were set free to wander amid the[92] smoking ruins. The officers used to make it their duty to be present at these operations, as much to encourage and, at need, to assist the executioners, as to enjoy the spectacle. At Tamines they sat at table in the open, drinking champagne, while the victims were being buried. The Germans themselves realized what disgust such behaviour excited; they tried to deny the facts, but these were proved.

Treatment of Civil Prisoners.

What was done with the men not killed? They were sent into Germany in order to show the "francs-tireurs" to the people. One can easily imagine what the journey was like: in cattle-trucks, where they remained packed together for several days, without even having room to sit down; tortured by hunger and thirst to the point of losing their reason—which meant being shot there and then. The stoppages in the railway stations, when the population came to insult them, making gestures of cutting their throats ... one can picture it all. Then the life in camp, where they are even less well treated than the soldiers, for at least these latter are regarded as prisoners of war, and, in that quality, as being protected, up to a certain point, by the Hague Convention; while the "francs-tireurs" are criminals in common law, who are given, for food, scarcely anything but soup made of beet, fish-heads, and slaughter-house offal.

It is extremely difficult to obtain information as to their sojourn in Germany from those who have returned. Before leaving, it seems, they were forced to make a promise to reveal nothing, under penalty of being sent back to Germany. We know, however, that certain of these prisoners, coming from an agricultural[93] district, were forced to go down the coal-pits of Essen (N.R.C., 10th October, 1914, evening edition), while others were made to gather in the harvest in Westphalia. When they refused to go to work they were beaten with sticks; a young man on the outskirts of Brussels still bears the marks of such treatment.

This is a revival of the deeds of antiquity. The ancients also reduced the able-bodied inhabitants to slavery, employing them in agriculture or the mines. It only remains for the Germans to sell us at auction, as Julius Cæsar did in the case of the 53,000 Belgians captured at Atuatuca (De Bello Gallico, ii. 33).

They sent not only "francs-tireurs" into Germany. They made prisoners also in localities where nothing had happened. Thus they took all the inhabitants of the non-active civic guard of Tervueren. The list bore 135 names; as many of the men had left the commune, the Germans completed the number by taking the first civilians who came to hand; for they had to have 135 prisoners from Tervueren to exhibit in Germany.

On several occasions it happened, during the period of the great massacres, from the 20th to the 27th August, that bands of prisoners taken into Germany were not accepted and were sent back to Belgium. Such was the case with numerous prisoners from Louvain, who were taken back to Brussels, then taken to near Malines, and there left in the open country; the same was done with several hundreds of men, women, children, and old folk from Rotselaer, Wesemael, and Gelrode. Here, in a few words, is their Odyssey. To begin with, they were expelled from their houses, that these might be burned, on the 25th and 26th August. Then they were driven[94] by the troops as far as Louvain, and there crammed by force into cattle-trucks, which in two days conveyed them to Germany. There they were witnesses of a violent dispute of which they were the object, and finally, after they had been given a little food in the railway station, they were put back into their trucks. They reached Brussels on the 31st August, where they were restored to liberty; that is, they were told: "Get out of here, and be off with you." And there were these unhappy folk, turned out of the railway station, dejected, bewildered, their glances vacant, almost dead with drowsiness and fatigue, the men supporting the old people, the women carrying the children. The people of Brussels who saw this lamentable procession go by will never as long as they live forget the impression of misery which they received. Assistance was organized immediately, and our poor compatriots were given shelter in the various public establishments of Saint-Josse-ten-Noode. They remained there several weeks before daring to return "home."

How many civil prisoners were there in the various camps of Germany: Celle, Gutersloh, Magdeburg, Münster, Salzwedel, Cassel, Senne, Soltau, etc.? The lists which have been published in Le Bruxellois are very incomplete. On the other hand, persons who were believed to be prisoners in Germany have in reality been shot. Thus, in the little garden facing the railway station of Louvain a trench was opened on the 14th and 15th January, 1915, in which were found a Belgian soldier of the 6th line regiment and twenty-six civilians of Louvain, who were believed for the most part to be in Germany; among them were two women and the curé of Herent.

Many of the people of Tintigny, Rossignol, and[95] other localities, who had been taken away as civil prisoners, were shot by the roadside. Those of Musson escaped only because the order had come from Germany not to kill any more prisoners: by July 1915 they were not as yet repatriated.

The Return of Civil Prisoners.

In November and December there returned to their "homes" (we mean to their native towns, not to their houses, which were burned) about 450 inhabitants of Dinant, more than 400 of Aerschot, and several hundred people of Louvain, of the 1,200 which had been taken away.

Many of them bore, painted in white oil paint on the back of their waistcoats the words: Kriegsgefangene-Münsterlager. Until March 1915 those living at Dinant had to present themselves regularly before the military authorities.

On the occasion of their return the communal administration of Dinant was compelled publicly to thank the Germans.

City of Dinant.

On the occasion of the return of a portion of our civil prisoners, I believe it my duty to invite the whole population to observe the most absolute calm. Any demonstration might be severely repressed.

The return of a portion of our fellow-citizens, held in captivity for nearly three months, constitutes an act of benevolence, an act of generous humanity on the part of the military authorities, to whom we offer the thanks of the administration and those of the people of Dinant. By its tranquillity the latter will endeavour to manifest its gratitude.

I also beg the returning prisoners immediately to resume their labours. This measure is necessary, as much in the interest of their families as in the interest of society.

For the Burgomaster, absent,
E. Taziaux,
Communal Councillor.
Dinant, the 18th November, 1914.


At the end of January 1915 about 2,500 inhabitants of Brabant were sent back in a body. They had left the camps on Sunday, the 24th January, and they reached Louvain on Friday the 29th, and Brussels and Vilvorde on Saturday the 30th. During this five days' journey they had not been allowed to leave the trucks into which they were crammed; for all nourishment they received some black bread and water, and on occasion a turnip or a beet. The Louvain prisoners had the greatest trouble in the world to walk as far as the ruins of their houses. Those from beyond Assche were set down at the Gare du Nord in Brussels; they had to be carried as far as the tram for Berchem; their swollen feet refused all service. These unhappy people were still wearing the light clothes which they were wearing in August, when they were dragged from their villages, and since then they had never had a fire. Those from Tervueren were taken from the trucks at Schaerbeek; they were driven home in carts.

German Admission of the Innocence of the Civil Prisoners.

What crime had these unhappy folk committed to be treated in so terrible a fashion? None. The Germans themselves admit it; none (2nd Grey Book, No. 87). The German authorities communicated the following note to the Belgian newspapers—we copy it from the Écho de la presse internationale of the 30th January, 1915:—

The Commander-in-Chief of the German Army has authorized the return to Belgium of the Belgian civilian prisoners: (1) against whom no inquiry of any military tribunal is in progress; (2) who have not to undergo any penalty of any kind. Consequently all the women (17) and 2,577 men will be able to re-enter the country.


The Commander-in-Chief of the German Army is the Emperor. It was he, then, who recognized the innocence of the civil prisoners.

No charge, therefore, could be brought against them; these prisoners were recognized as being completely innocent; the authorities admitted that it was without any motive that they were kept five months in Germany, without care, without fire, almost without food, herded together like beasts, in perpetual fear of being shot, knowing nothing of their families—for they were unable for many weeks either to write or receive news. Some of them succumbed under their privations; others were shot; many have become insane; all were so aged and enfeebled by ill-treatment, methodically applied, that their neighbours hesitated to recognize them. Will they ever recover from such an experience?

No doubt the German authorities knew long ago that the deportation of these civilians was a judicial error; or rather that they were sent into Germany to give the people there the occasion to torment and insult the "francs-tireurs captured alive." And yet they were not repatriated until the moment when the fear of famine forced Germany to organize the seizure of foodstuffs and to ration her population. It was not at all because of a spirit of justice that the civil prisoners from Belgium were sent home (and also part of those from France); it was only a measure of economy; the authorities merely wished to prevent their eating German bread, which had become too precious; they preferred to place them in the care of the American charities.

And when they were at last sent home, how were they treated? Did the Germans at least show the consideration which the slave-dealers used to show[98] for their black cargo? No; for the slave-dealers had a pecuniary interest in preserving the market value of their flock, while for German militarism the Belgian civilians do not count: Es ist Krieg.

B.—The "Belgian Atrocities."

The Pretended Cruelty of Belgian Civilians toward the German Army.

In order to organize the massacres by means of which it expected to terrorize our country, the Great General Staff had to have at its disposal troops on which it could count without reserve, which would not shrink before the bloodiest task, and to which no repressive measures would seem excessive. The Staff had to be certain it would be obeyed without hesitation when it ordered, as at Dinant, the death of seven hundred men, women, and children. To obtain soldiers who would undertake such barbarous operations, and operations so contrary to the military spirit, the obsession of the "franc-tireur" would perhaps be insufficient; for there are soldiers even among such troops who are brave and who do not tremble at bogy-stories; there might be honest men among them to whom theft would be repugnant by whatever name one adorned it, and who would not be tempted by the bait of pillage; all were not so imbued with Kultur as that officer who proposed not to kill the "francs-tireurs" outright, but to wound them mortally, afterwards to leave them to die slowly, in agony, untended (p. 342).

But these soldiers, even the more gentle, would regard it as a sacred duty to avenge crimes committed against innocent persons. Let them be led to believe that the Belgians have tortured peaceable[99] tradesmen, or have mutilated wounded soldiers incapable of defending themselves, or that they employ dum-dum bullets, producing frightful wounds from which recovery is almost impossible ... and immediately these soldiers will have only one thought: to make the first Belgian encountered expiate the crime of which his fellow-countrymen have been guilty. Before their thirst for vengeance all distinctions disappear: children, old people, men and women, all equally deserve to be punished. From that moment it will be needless to order reprisals, for the army will be only too ready to show itself pitiless, and to call for an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, in order to make all the Belgians indifferently pay for the offences committed upon inoffensive Germans.

Some Accusations.

It is precisely this psychology which the rulers of Germany have exploited. Immediately after the opening of the campaign their newspapers began to publish articles describing the horrors committed by the Belgians; articles which make one's flesh creep. Belgian women pour petrol over the wounded and set fire to it; they throw out of the windows the wounded confided to their care in the hospitals; they pour boiling oil over the troops, and thereby put two thousand out of action; they handle the rifle and revolver as well as the men; they cut the throats of soldiers and stone them; they cut off their ears and gouge out their eyes; they offer them cigarettes containing powder, whose explosion blinds them. Even the little girls ten years of age indulge in these horrors. The men are no better; to begin with, they are all "francs-tireurs," even when they[100] assume the appearance of respectable schoolmasters; besides which they crawl under motor-cars to kill the chauffeurs; they kill peaceable drinkers with a stab in the belly; they foully shoot an officer who is reading them a proclamation; they saw off the legs of soldiers; they finish off the wounded on the field of battle; they cut off their fingers to steal their rings; they fill letters with narcotics in order to poison those who open them; they set traps for soldiers in order to torture them at leisure; even the humanitarian symbol of the Red Cross does not stay their homicidal hands; they fire on doctors, on ambulance men, on motor-cars removing the wounded.

That the soldiers leaving for Belgium were made to believe that their adversaries were horrible barbarians, and that the troops were inspired with an ardent desire to avenge the innocent victims of the Belgians, is amply proved by all the tales dating from the beginning of the war. See, for instance, in the story of La journée de Charleroi (p. 195) the impatience with which the author awaits the moment of entering Belgium to take part in the reprisals, and his delight when he at last sees houses burned to ashes and a curé hung from a tree.

Let us note in passing that the Austrians also, desirous of declaring war upon us, resorted to the invention of "Belgian atrocities." In its reply to the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war, our Government protested against this defamation (1st Grey Book, Nos. 77, 78).

All these stories appeared, in the first place, in the newspapers. We must not be surprised if in time of[101] war, when men's minds are over-excited, the journalists willingly publish articles containing statements of the kind we have cited, without troubling to verify their authenticity. But it is unpardonable that they should have been reprinted in cold blood, when their falsity had become so obvious that it must have struck even the most prejudiced. We know of two pamphlets devoted entirely to atrocities committed by the Belgians: Die Belgischen Greueltaten and Belgische Kriegsgreuel. The work already cited, Die Wahrheit über den Krieg, also deals at length with these atrocities. Finally, there is no lack of information concerning them in the pamphlets Lüttich and Die Eroberung Belgiëns.

One remark occurs to us immediately. The narratives are based on details given by witnesses "worthy of credence." Now all verification is impossible, for we are never given a hint as to the date; moreover, the locality is very rarely mentioned; in Die Wahrheit there are only three place-names: Gemmenich, Tavigny, and Demenis.

Demenis does not exist, and we have in vain sought to discover what locality is meant. And what did really happen in the other two communes mentioned? At Tavigny the Germans never had occasion to commit any reprisals; not a man was killed, not a house burned; the troops merely proceeded systematically to loot the place. Nor did anything more happen in any neighbouring commune which the narrator might have confused with Tavigny. Nor was there any confusion of names with Tintigny; in the latter village the Germans behaved in the most atrocious fashion, but the mode of operation was quite different. As for Gemmenich, we have no information as to what passed there,[102] But we can assert that not a single house was burned there. Now it is very certain that if the Belgians had committed the atrocities of which the Germans tell, the latter would have set fire to the village; it is therefore highly probable that nothing happened there. In short, of the only three place-names given all three are incorrect.

We cannot be expected to refute all these allegations. Many are utterly ridiculous: for example, the story of the narcotics at the Liége Post Office; that of the fingers cut off the dead and wounded and then carefully preserved in a bag (one may well ask why); that of the boiling oil is no better: try to imagine the incredible store of oil that must have been possessed by the women who killed and wounded therewith 2,000 Germans; moreover, either the German army does not march down the middle of the street, or else the women had special apparatus to throw jets of boiling liquid to a distance without danger to themselves.

Let us confine ourselves to examining the legend of the gouged-out eyes. It is that which crops up most frequently under the pens of the German publicists, so well calculated is it to arouse horror and indignation in the readers. Well! its falsity appears from an inquiry made by the Germans themselves. Not only have their newspapers—notably the Kölnische Volkszeitung and Vorwärts—on several occasions done justice upon this lie, but an official commission, instituted by the German Government, has also admitted that there is not a single case in which a wounded German soldier has been intentionally blinded (see Belgian Grey Books, Nos. 107, 108).

The Germans themselves admit that the accusation[103] is unfounded. Has their Press for that reason ceased to make use of it? We little know the Germans if we imagine that it has. The entire Press continues imperturbably to spread these abominable calumnies. The Kölnische Zeitung of the 15th February (four o'clock edition), referring to an article by Étienne Girau, pastor of the Walloon community of Amsterdam, once more declares that the Belgians have ill-treated the German wounded. It is enough to make one ask whether the Belgians have not morally blinded all the "intellectuals" of Germany.

Another example. In February 1915—that is, when no honest German could any longer believe in the legend of the gouged-out eyes—Vorwärts protested against a little work by a Pastor Conrad, of which 150,000 examples were printed and sold at 8 pfennigs per copy to school-children, in which the Belgians were still accused of having blinded their prisoners (N.R.C., 12th February, morning edition).

The Berlin Government also acts as though it was ignorant of the conclusions of its own commissions of inquiry. Wishing to refuse General Leman, a prisoner in Germany, the privilege of receiving a visit from his daughter, it based its refusal on the atrocities of which German soldiers have been the victims in Belgium, and on the inhuman fashion in which the Belgians have treated the wounded and prisoners in their hands. The second accusation is as ill-founded as the first. The German soldiers taken prisoner by the Belgians were interned in Bruges; they made no complaints, far from it (pp. 56-8); as for the wounded in our hospitals, here are precise facts.

Let us quote, first of all, from the correspondence published in the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant,[104] giving a few details from letters written by the German wounded under treatment in Antwerp.

How the Belgians treat their German Prisoners.

A private correspondent writes to us from Antwerp:—

The fact of knowing that the prisoners of war of the belligerent States are treated as well as possible should also touch the hearts of the Dutch.... I give you here some extracts from the letters of wounded Germans under treatment in the hospitals of Antwerp.

I am in a very good Belgian hospital and they treat me very well.

Karl Hintzman, Military Hospital, Antwerp.

I am very well looked after and have very good food.

Georg Storck.

They treat us very well in Belgium. What the German papers said in the summer about the Belgians is utterly untrue. The Germans could not look after us better. Moreover, the nation is highly developed.

Franz Crauwerski.

A number of comrades are here. We are extraordinarily well looked after. Everybody is very kind to us.

Richard Kustermann.

Several comrades of my company are here. I am very well looked after. One could not look after us better in Germany.


We could not hope for better care.

Walter Schumann.

The medical treatment is very good. We are sounded every day, and our wounds are dressed daily. The doctors are very capable here. We have food in abundance; all is excellent.

Sölliger (Braunschweig).


It must not be forgotten that the majority of these prisoners fell into the hands of the Belgians at Aerschot, where the Germans had imprisoned several hundreds of civilians in the church, at the time of the investment of the town. I can speak from experience. The German prisoners are treated with fully as much kindness in other parts of the country. At the house of the commandant of the service de garde in Bruges I saw an assortment of German books and card games which had been sent by Mme. E. Vandervelde, who had visited the prisoners a few days earlier in the company of her husband, Minister of State and the Socialist leader of Belgium. The latter wished to make sure that the prisoners lacked for nothing.

We can say that Belgium does not seek to avenge her unheard-of sufferings by maltreating the German victims of the war. Suffering evokes pity in a sane mind. I can only express the hope that these proofs may fall into the hands of German readers.

(N.R.C., 8th October, 1914, morning edition.)

But we have something better than these documents of a private nature. The German authorities exhibited, at Spa, a statement that the German wounded there were perfectly well cared for. At the moment when the Germans dispensed with the collaboration of the clinical staff of the Red Cross in Brussels, they did homage to its devotion and competence.

Spa, 18th August, 1914.
To the Burgomaster of Spa.

The Commander-General of the 10th Army Corps thanks the Burgomaster of Spa for the good reception accorded to his troops by the city of Spa on the 11th and 12th August, 1914. Thanks to his care and efforts, he recognizes that the wounded in the hospitals of Spa are particularly well cared for.


Grand Duke of Oldenburg.

(Les Nouvelles, published under control of the German military authority, 22nd September, 1914.)


German Government,
Headquarters, Medical Service.

Brussels, 31st August, 1914.
To MM. the President and Members of the Red Cross of Belgium, Rue de l'Association, 24.


The German Government assures you of the expression of its grateful sentiments for the devoted care which you have given to all the wounded collected in the capital.

Ambulances have been organized in great numbers, and the necessity of a concentration henceforth indispensable compels us immediately to take the following measures....

In bringing these measures to your knowledge and in begging you to assist us to realize them promptly, we again express to you the thanks which we address to all the members of your association and especially to the ladies of the Red Cross, whose complete devotion we have appreciated.

I beg you to accept, Gentlemen, the assurance of my high consideration.

Prof. Dr. Stuertz,

It is useful to observe that these declarations have been made spontaneously, since it is obvious that we were powerless to exert any pressure on the Germans. They have, therefore, nothing in common with those which the Germans have forced the Belgian wounded or prisoners to sign.

The Pretended Massacres of German Civilians.

There remain the famous massacres of Germans in Brussels, Antwerp, Liége, etc. According to witnesses "worthy of credence," inoffensive Germans, even women and children, were killed and martyred in various Belgian cities. At Liége alone more than 150 persons, of whom three-fourths were women and children, were said to have lost their lives.

As to Liége, we have inquired of inhabitants of the city, several of whom are closely connected with[107] the administration of justice; no one had any knowledge of any such occurrences. They have therefore been invented, lock, stock, and barrel, by the "witnesses worthy of credence," and we defy the Germans to mention the name of a single one of these 150 "victims."

At Antwerp we can oppose, to the testimony of those who were "present" on the occasion of murders and serious assaults upon German women, the official report, which admits that shops were broken into by the populace, but which at the same time attests that no German was wounded. Let us add that the German Weber was not assassinated, but is quietly living in Antwerp.

Let us proceed to the doings in Brussels; and let us quote, from Greueltaten, the most serious occurrences there mentioned. We have a story, based on hearsay, which tells, of course, of gouged-out eyes, as well as three reports of ocular witnesses. The first is that of a witness "worthy of credence" who saw a child thrown from a window and a woman dragged by the hair until she was insensible; he also witnessed the murder of a German druggist, one Frankenberg, who was betrayed by his own wife, a Belgian. The second witness is the correspondent of the Wolff Agency. He saw only what the people of Brussels themselves witnessed: that is, that the populace pillaged the German shops and cafés on the 4th and 5th August. But he had not been able to discover any acts of violence against the person; those he mentions, in a couple of words, without insisting on them, had been related to him; but he does not even add that the witnesses were "worthy of credence."

Finally we have a priest, who complains that he[108] was arrested as a spy and beaten by the gendarmes. Perhaps he was a spy; in any case, not a few German spies disguised as priests have been discovered in Belgium.

If we confine ourselves to the really serious occurrences, to the cases in which Germans have been killed by the populace, we find that as against some 155 anonymous cases, which cannot be verified, there are only two in which names are mentioned. These names are Weber and Frankenberg. Now these two cases are apocryphal. Herr Weber has quietly reopened his hotel in Antwerp; Herr Frankenberg continues to breathe the air at Anderlecht, a suburb of Brussels. Compare with these two cases the three names of places mentioned in Die Wahrheit (p. 101).

Preventive and Repressive Measures taken by the Belgian Authorities.

The truth is that in the various cities of Belgium there was, quite at the beginning of hostilities, an intense popular effervescence, by which evildoers profited to pillage the German shops. These disturbances were so unexpected and assumed, with such rapidity, such large proportions, that the police were at first powerless to restrain them.

Moreover, it must be remembered that the police had just been reduced, a large proportion of the police agents and gendarmes having left for the front.

But measures were promptly taken, and by the 7th August there was no longer anywhere the least disorder of this kind. As for the "spy mania," it raged in Belgium as in all countries affected by the[109] war.[24] But the newspapers, and the official measures taken, got the better of this fresh cause of disturbance.

The newspapers of the neutral countries, for example the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, also reported material damage, but they do not relate more serious occurrences in any part of Belgium.

We can consequently assert, in the most categorical fashion, basing our statement on the official data furnished by the courts, that no serious offence against the person has been proved either in Brussels or elsewhere. Does this mean that we excuse the fishers in troubled waters who sacked the German shops? Obviously not; but it must be owned that there are bad elements in all agglomerations, and that the populace of Berlin behaved no better than that of Brussels: witness the remarks of the British Ambassador in Berlin, and the excuses put forward by the German authorities when his windows were broken as the result of an article in the Berliner Tageblatt. Here we immediately perceive a contrast of mentalities: the German newspapers incite their readers against foreigners, while ours, on the contrary, do their utmost to calm popular manifestations.


A detail which we regard as symptomatic, and particularly revolting, in the German publications, is the fact that in these cases, as in the matter of the "francs-tireurs," our enemies seek to involve the legal administration of our country. Now, not only did our authorities immediately intervene to repress the disturbances and to provide a military guard for the Deutsche Bank and the Deutscher Verein in Brussels, but they did more than their strict duty in protecting German families, and enabling them to return to their own country. Nothing is more characteristic in this respect than that which happened in Brussels on the nights of the 8th, 9th and 10th of August, at the time of the Germans' departure from the city. The latter assembled at night in a building belonging to the city; in the trams which took them thither every one hastened to render them every imaginable service; at the place of assembly the Civic Guards prepared hot drinks for them; then, during the short journey to the Gare du Nord, the same Civic Guards helped them to carry their children and their luggage. Mr. Brand Whitlock, United States Minister in Brussels, who was looking after the interests of Germany, was present in that quality at the departure of the German families, and he expressed his gratitude to the Belgians in a letter made public at the time.

The United States Minister does Honour to the Heroism and the Kindness of the Belgians.

The German Minister, before leaving Brussels, requested the United States Minister, Mr. Brand Whitlock, kindly to take over the interests of Germany in Belgium.

The United States Minister consented to protect the archives of the German Legation.

It was in this capacity that Mr. Brand Whitlock was the witness, two days ago, of the goodness of the people of Brussels, who, with Mme. Carton de Wiart, the wife of the Minister of Justice, and our brave Chasseurs of the mounted Civic Guard at their head, provided hot drinks and refreshments for the four thousand Germans leaving Belgium who were assembled at the Royal Circus.

The spectacle profoundly affected the eminent diplomatist.[111] Thanking the Belgian Government, His Excellency, Mr. Brand Whitlock, writes to the Minister of Justice:—

"The Belgians display a heroism in dying on the field of battle which is equalled by their humanity to non-combatants."

(Le Soir, 11th August, 1914.)

In Germany the United States Ambassador, Mr. Gerard, had also occasion to intervene; but there it was to protect the British Ambassador from the fury of the populace.

These examples will suffice, we think, to show that the Belgians were as thoughtful in their behaviour towards their non-combatant adversaries as the Germans were violent and brutal. And what was the result of our courtesy? Our enemies picked a groundless quarrel with us in order to inflame the minds of their soldiers against us.

C.—Violations of the Hague Convention.

Nothing would be easier than to show that our enemies have not respected a single one of the articles of the Hague Convention. But it is not our intention to draw up this inventory. We prefer to confine ourselves to a few facts which no one can dream of contesting, so patent are they and so well known to every one in Belgium. And we shall refer only to those which will enable us to compare the two mentalities: that of the German, crafty and tyrannical, and that of the Belgian population, refusing to bow the head to military despotism. We exclude from our list those data which have already been recorded in other publications: Belgian Grey Books, Reports of the Commission of Inquiry, La Belgique et L'Allemagne, etc. Lastly, we shall deal only with what has happened in Belgium itself,[112] so that we shall speak neither of prisoners of war nor of the wounded.

These eliminations lead us to omit the whole of Section I: The Belligerents. The three first articles apply to "francs-tireurs," Articles 4 to 21 relate to prisoners, the wounded, etc.

Article 22.

Belligerents have not an unlimited choice of means of injuring the enemy.

Article 23.

Besides the prohibitions established by special conventions, it is notably forbidden:—

(a) To employ poison or poisoned weapons;

(b) To kill or wound by treachery individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;

(c) To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or no longer having means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;

(d) To declare that no quarter will be given;

(e) To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering;

(f) To make improper use of a flag of truce, of the national flag, or of the military insignia or uniform of the enemy, as well as of the distinctive signs of the Geneva Convention;

(g) To destroy or seize enemy property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;

(h) To declare abolished, suspended, or inadmissible the right of the subjects of the hostile party to institute legal proceedings.

A belligerent is likewise forbidden to compel the subjects of the hostile party to take part in the operations of war directed against their own country, even if they were in the service of the belligerent before the commencement of the war.

The violations of this Article are numerous. The Germans themselves cannot deny that the employment of toxic gases, such as those which were used in the attack upon Ypres on the 22nd April, falls[113] under the condemnation of paragraph (a). We shall recur to this matter further on. Let us remark for the moment that we are not speaking of gas released by the bursting of shells, but of clouds of gas intentionally produced.

As to paragraph (e), the 7th Report speaks in a precise manner of the employment of dum-dum bullets. After the German occupation we shall be able to mention other irrefutable cases, of which it would now be too dangerous to speak.

The prescriptions of paragraph (f) have often been violated. At the fort of Boncelles, on the 7th August, and at Landelies, near Charleroi, on the 22nd, our enemies abused the white flag. At Ougrée and at Grez-Doiceau they wore Belgian uniforms to deceive their enemies. This action was repeated during the siege of Antwerp; but this time the Belgians were warned of the German mimicry, so that the "asses clad in lions' skins" were nearly all left on the battle-field.

We shall deal later on, when speaking of pillage, with the infractions of paragraph (g).

Military Employment of Belgians by the Germans.

The last paragraph of Article 23 forbids belligerents to compel their adversaries to take part in operations of war directed against their own country. Let us see how the Germans respect this principle where civilians are concerned. At Liége (N.R.C., 23rd August, evening), at Vilvorde (N.R.C., 27th August, morning), at Anderlecht (N.R.C., 28th August, evening), at Dilbeek (N.R.C., 31st August, evening), at Eppeghem (see photograph in 1914 Illustré, No. 5), at Soignies, and at Neder-Over-Heembeek, the inhabitants were compelled to dig trenches for the[114] Germans. A Dutchman (an extreme Germanophile, however), saw peasants from the outskirts of Spa compelled to perform the same task.

Spa, 15th August, 1914.

... The man, who had to return home (it was about noon), accompanied us, and, while conversing, he pointed to the road to Creppe, parallel to that which we were following, and at some ten minutes' distance from the latter. They were working hard at entrenchments there, about a quarter of an hour from the city. There were some 150 Belgian workmen there, excavating the soil under the threat of the rifles of German soldiers placed behind them.

(N.R.C., 22nd August, 1914, evening edition.)

At Bagimont, on the 24th August, 1914, the inhabitants were forced to prepare the ground for the landing of German aeroplanes. The same villagers were forced to build huts for their enemies.

We have the names (at the disposal of a commission of inquiry) of twenty-nine inhabitants of a village of Brabant, who were forced, with horses and carts, to follow the German troops for several weeks, transporting munitions and baggage. The Germans had the right to requisition horses and vehicles, but not to compel our countrymen to accompany their teams.

Let us remark, while dealing with these violations of Article 23 of the Hague Convention, that Germany signed this Convention. But on her part this was merely a comedy, for it is a rule with her rulers that they cease to follow its prescriptions as soon as they are in opposition to the Usages of War, according to the Great General Staff. Now among the duties which the occupier may impose on the inhabitants—according to Germany—is the supply of transport and the digging of trenches. In other words,[115] Germany, though she readily approved of the Hague Conference, makes war according to her own principles, which are far less humane; but she none the less demands that her adversaries should observe the rules of the Convention.

Measures of Coercion taken by the Germans.

On several occasions our enemies have sought to force the Belgian population to manufacture explosives and munitions for them. But the Belgians have always refused, even when their resistance inevitably condemned them to starvation. The workers of the explosives factory of Caulille, in the north of Limburg, resumed their tasks only under the most terrible threats (K.Z., 21st December, morning edition).

The case of Caulille, announced to its readers by a German newspaper, shows the cynicism with which our enemies violate the Hague Convention, which is in part their own work.

The same effrontery appears in the placard of the 19th November, 1914; this threatens severe penalties against Belgians who dissuade their compatriots from working for Germany. One could understand that the Germans might punish those who used force or threats to prevent any one from working for them; but to punish those who "attempt" to act by simple persuasion!

This was a mere timid beginning. On the 19th June, 1915, our enemies posted about Gand a placard stating that severe measures were about to be applied to factories which, "relying on the Hague Convention, had refused to work for the German Army."


The Communal Administration of Gand has supplied us with the following notice:—


By order of His Excellency the Inspector de l'Étape,[25] I call the attention of the commune to the following:—

"The attitude of certain factories which, under pretext of patriotism and relying on the Hague Convention, have refused to work for the German Army, proves that there are, in the midst of the population, tendencies whose object is to place difficulties in the way of the administration of the German Army.

"In this connection I make it known that I shall repress, by all the means at my disposal, such behaviour, which can only disturb the good understanding hitherto existing between the administration of the German Army and the population.

"In the first place I hold the Communal authorities responsible for the spread of such tendencies, and I call attention to the fact that the population will itself be responsible if the liberties hitherto accorded in the most ample measure are withdrawn and replaced by the restrictive measures necessitated by its own fault."

Lieutenant-General Graf von Westarp,
Commandant de l'Étape.

Gand, 10th June, 1913.

Here, then, they declare that they are on the point of intentionally violating the Hague Convention.

Certain articles which appeared in Het Volk, a Christian-Democratic journal of Gand, on the 15th, 17th, 19th, and 22nd June, 1915, tell us what these measures are.


The workers of the Bekaert factory at Sweveghem having refused to make barbed wire for the Germans, the latter began by arresting three notables, of whom two were promptly released. Then, to force the men to resume work, they decided that the commune should be placed under a ban; it was forbidden to ride a bicycle or to use a wheeled vehicle, and the introduction of foodstuffs was prohibited. The men still persisted in refusing to make the barbed wire on which their sons and brothers were to be caught in the battles of the Yser. Sixty-one men were sent to prison. The rest hastened to leave the village. What did the Germans do then? They seized the wives of the fugitives, shut them up in two great waggons, and took them to Courtrai; at the same time they posted up the names of those who had fled, and enjoined them to return. Before the threat of seeing their wives remain in prison until their children perished in their empty homes, the workers, with death in their hearts, had to resume their fratricidal task. Truly Kultur is a fine thing!

In Brabant they went a different way to work. They had requested M. Cousin to make barbed wire for them in his factory at Ruysbroeck (in the south of Brussels). He refused. They offered to buy his factory. He refused. They requisitioned his works. He was forced to submit. They installed themselves in the factory and tried to begin making barbed wire. But the machinery was worked by electricity, and the electricity was provided by a central station situated in Oisquercq. Naturally the Oisquercq works refused to supply current. The Germans arrested M. Lucien Beckers, the managing director of the company, and kept him several weeks in prison.

Living Shields.

It remains to examine a final violation of Article 23; a violation so revolting that neither those present[118] at the Hague Conference nor the Germans themselves in their Kriegsbrauch had been willing to consider it. We are referring to the use of "living shields" (7th Report).

A German Admission.

Belgians placed before the Troops at Charleroi.

Our enemies are aware of the abomination of which they are guilty in placing, in front of their troops, Belgians intended to serve as a shield. They are eager to deny such acts. Unfortunately for them one of their own officers has described a case of the kind (p. 196). His first care on reaching the suburbs of Charleroi was to capture civilians in order to force them to walk in front of and among the cavalry. He waxes indignant over the lamentations uttered by the wives of these unfortunates. "If nothing happens to us," he told them, "nothing will happen to the civilians either." Could one more cynically express the idea that the Germans made use of these hostages in order to prevent their adversaries from firing on their troops? At the first volley fired by the French, who were posted behind a barricade, some of the hostages were killed. The Germans promptly replaced them by others, notably by priests.

At Nimy and Mons, the same method was employed. The burgomaster of Mons, M. Lescart, was himself placed before the German troops.

At Tirlemont, on the 18th August, 1914, during their march on Louvain, they seized upon certain "notables," including the burgomaster, M. Donny, and pushed them before them in order to obtain[119] shelter from the Belgian bullets. They did not release them until the following day, at Cumptich.

Belgians placed before the Troops at Lebbeke, Tirlemont, Mons.

More significant still was their conduct at Lebbeke, near Termonde, on the 4th September, 1914. Scarcely had they entered the village, in the early morning, when they seized as many civilians as possible—about 300—and forced them to march before them. On passing through St. Gilles-lez-Termonde they requisitioned more men to serve as "living shields." When the Belgians attacked the German troops ten civilians were killed; many were wounded (9th and 10th Reports).

The same evening the survivors were sent into Germany as "francs-tireurs."

Belgian Women placed before the Troops at Anseremme.

At Anseremme it was behind women that the Germans took refuge. They had committed the blunder of sending all the men to Germany, as civil prisoners, on the 23rd and 24th August, so that only the women were left. They placed these in a line along the river-wall on the bank of the Meuse, and prudently hidden behind their skirts they rested their rifles on the women's shoulders in order to fire at the French on the opposite bank.

The French ceased fire as soon as they saw that they were firing on women. At night the Germans herded the unhappy women, with their children, in a field; but on the following morning they brought[120] them out again to serve as a protective screen along the river.

Such is German heroism! As we at present understand the real sense of the words Den Heldentod Gestorben (died a hero's death), which the Germans inscribe on the tombs of their soldiers, they mean that these soldiers were unable to avoid the bullets, although they heroically hid themselves behind Belgian women.

As far as we know one must go back to Cambyses, in the sixth century B.C., to find another example of the "living shield." At the time of his expedition into Egypt this prince, who was, the historians tell us, famed for his cruelty, conceived the idea of placing cats, which animals were worshipped by the Egyptians, in front of his troops. Thanks to his stratagem he prevented the Egyptians from attacking his soldiers. Neither Attila, nor Ghenghis Khan, nor Tamerlane made use of this method; it was left for the Germans of the twentieth century once more to put it into practice, with the increased ferocity suggested by Kultur.

Belgians forcibly detained at Ostend and Middelkerke.

There are other circumstances also under which the Germans have made a rampart of the Belgians. From the middle of October 1914 they occupied that portion of the Belgian coast comprised between Lombartzyde and the Zeeland frontier. From time to time the British ships and aeroplanes bombarded the coast; they would undoubtedly have continued to do so if the Germans had not taken pains forcibly to retain numbers of Belgians in these localities. According to the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant of[121] the 1st November they forbade the people of Middelkerke and Ostend to leave those towns. Obviously the British were as far as possible sparing Ostend and Middelkerke, and directing their fire by preference on the road joining these two places, and on that running from Middelkerke to Westende. The Germans were perfectly aware of this, and had precisely for this reason forbidden any Belgian to leave Ostend or Middelkerke. An officer at the Kommandantur, from whom our informant tried to obtain some favour for a couple of Belgians, replied as follows: "If we allowed the population to leave these places the English would hasten to bombard the two towns, and we should be the sufferers" (N.R.C., 1st November, 1914).

However, at the end of December they expelled all the men from Middelkerke, with the exception of four. But the means of transport placed at the disposal of the expelled inhabitants were insufficient to enable them to take their families with them, so that they had to leave many of their wives and children behind. Every time the British drop shells on the coast the Germans hasten to post up the news in Brussels, adding that the bombardment has resulted in fatalities among the Belgians.

News published by the General German Government.
Bombardment of Coast.

Berlin, 24th November (official, noon to-day).—British vessels arrived yesterday off the French coast and bombarded Lombartzyde and Zeebrugge. Among our troops they caused only very slight damage. A certain number of Belgian citizens, on the other hand, were killed and wounded.

The German Military Government.


Berlin, 28th December (official telegram, noon to-day).—Near Nieuport the enemy renewed his attempted attacks without success. In these he was supported by firing from the sea, which however did us no harm, but killed or wounded some inhabitants.

The German Military Government.

Berlin, 26th January (official telegram, noon to-day).—The enemy yesterday fired as usual on Middelkerke and Westende. A considerable number of inhabitants were killed or wounded by this fire, among them the burgomaster of Middelkerke. Our losses yesterday were very insignificant.

The German Military Government.

Berlin, 13th February (official telegram).—Along the coast enemy aviators yesterday again dropped bombs, which did very considerable damage among the civil population, while we suffered no appreciable damage from a military point of view.

The General Government in Belgium.

Berlin, 8th March (official telegram, noon to-day).—Enemy aviators dropped bombs on Ostend, which killed three Belgians.

The General Government in Belgium.

They therefore fully appreciate the advantage to be derived from retaining on the coast a population which serves as a living buckler.

Belgians imprisoned in the Lofts of the Ministries.

At Brussels they behaved in a similar fashion in order to prevent the Allied aviators from bombarding the premises which they occupy in the Ministries. Inhabitants of Brussels are sent to the Kommandantur on the most impossible pretexts. They first remain for several days shut up in the lofts of the Ministries. Then, after trial—and, obviously, sentence—they are again confined in the lofts until there is room for them in the ordinary prisons. Every one in Brussels knows this, and of course the Allied aviators are aware of it.


Article 25.

The attack or bombardment, by any means whatever, of undefended towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings is forbidden.

Bombardment of Open Towns.

Many violations of this Article have been discovered by the Commission of Inquiry (7th Report). Here again clearly appears the contradiction between the fashion in which the Germans make war and that which they require of their enemies. When their dirigibles drop bombs on open, undefended districts—as they did on the night of the 26th September, at Deynze, when they wounded an old man in the hospital of the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paule—their newspapers related this prowess exultingly (Düsseldorfer Tageblatt, 29th September; Düsseldorfer Zeitung, 29th September, 1914). They may do such things, but no one else. When the Allied aviators bombarded Freibourg in Brisgau on the 10th December, 1914, the Germans denounced them amid universal indignation. One can only agree with the writer in the Times who said: "If we want to know what conduct we should observe in this war it is useless to consult the laws; we must simply ask the Germans if our conduct is agreeable to them or not."

Article 26.

The officer in command of an attacking force must do all in his power to warn the authorities before commencing a bombardment, except in case of assault.

General von Beseler followed the prescription of this Article during the siege of Antwerp; he announced on the 8th October that the bombardment of the city would commence at midnight (K.Z., 9th October, first morning edition). Everywhere[124] else the Germans have thrown their shells without previous warning. This was notably so in the attack upon Antwerp by a dirigible on the night of 24th August; the bombs found twenty victims. It is true that Herr Bernstorff has declared that previous advice is not necessary. In this he is in agreement with the laws of warfare according to the Germans.

Article 27.

In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to public worship, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes.

Not content with setting fire to our monuments, as they did at Louvain, Dinant, Termonde, and a host of villages, the Germans never hesitate to bombard those they cannot otherwise reach.

The most characteristic example is that of the Cathedral of Reims.[26] On Tuesday, the 22nd September, we learned of the bombardment from a placard. The telegram, dated Monday, the 21st, asserted that the monument would as far as possible be spared. That was enough; we knew then that it was destroyed. And sure enough, the French newspapers smuggled through to us on the following day—Wednesday—stated that the cathedral had been burning since Saturday, the 19th.

Little by little the information received grew more precise. The French certified that they had not placed any military post of observation on the towers; neither were there batteries near the cathedral. Moreover, they declared that the cathedral should have been doubly respected, since an ambulance had found asylum there—which, be it said in passing, is denounced as an infamy by the German newspapers (K.Z., 4th January, morning edition; Niederrheinische Volkszeitung, 4th January).


The Wolff Agency reported the bombardment of Reims Cathedral as quite a natural thing, a commonplace operation. But before the indignation of the entire civilized world (N.R.C., 22nd September, 1914, evening edition) the Germans were forced to display a hypocritical regret and to justify their aggression.

Then official telegrams were posted up the same day; two reflected German opinion, the third professed to express the opinion of a Frenchman who had favoured the Times with his confidences (placard dated 23rd September, 1914).[27] The conclusion, naturally, was that the Germans had nothing to reproach themselves with: their conscience was clear as on the first day; they bombarded the Cathedral of Reims because they were forced to do so, despite their admiration for this marvel of Gothic architecture ... but the presence of a military observation-post on the towers had left them no alternative.

Three weeks later, a fresh bombardment (placard dated 15th October). Then, after two weeks' quiet, they once more began to throw shells on what still remained standing (placard of 30th October). On the following day they announced that they had protested to the Roman Curia. A few days later they applied themselves to the destruction of the Cathedral of Soissons, but once again because the French forced them to do so.


What respect for the Hague Convention! How touching the solicitude displayed toward monuments of art and religion! Only in the very last extremity do the Germans resolve to smash them to bits; still protesting, of course, against the violence done to their æsthetic feelings! Still more touching is their sincerity. On the 10th November they announce that the Vicar-General of Reims has admitted that the towers have been used for military operations, and that the Chancellor has communicated this avowal to the Vatican (Le Réveil, 11th November, 1914); on the 17th they are forced to note the Vicar-General's denial, but they maintain their accusations.

To estimate at their true value the German declarations concerning Reims Cathedral, it is enough to compare one of the three placards of the 23rd September with the "official communiqué" which they forced upon L'Ami de l'Ordre. Here are these two documents:

News published by the German General Government.

Berlin, 23rd September (official telegram, yesterday evening).—In spite of these facts we have been able to verify the presence on the tower of a post of observation, which explains the excellent effect of the fire of the enemy's infantry opposing our infantry....

The German Military Government.
Military Operations in France.
(Official Communiqué.)

Antwerp, 27th September (communicated by the French Legation).—The French Minister has received from M. Delcassé the following telegrams....


II. The German Government having officially declared to various Governments that the bombardment of the Cathedral of Reims was undertaken only because of the establishment of a post of observation on the basilica, General Joffre asserts, in a telegram communicated by the Ministry of War, that no French observation-post was placed on this building.

P.S.—The German Government did not invoke the presence of an observation-post on the cathedral, but the presence of pieces of artillery behind this church, so that it was impossible to reach these guns without firing in the direction of the cathedral and hitting the latter.

This was necessary to dislodge the French artillery.

(L'Ami de l'Ordre, 29th September, 1914.)

On the 23rd September they pretended that there was an observation-post on the tower. On the 27th they declared that they had never made any such statement. German sincerity!

On the 7th July they placarded Brussels with a document in which they made a display of their artistic feeling. We asked ourselves what fresh crime they were about to commit. Next day our curiosity was satisfied; the newspapers informed us that the German army had set fire to the cathedral at Arras.

Bombardment of the Cathedral at Malines.

Let us now consider how they behaved in Belgium. The commander of the army besieging Antwerp three times bombarded Malines without any strategical excuse, for the town was absolutely empty of Belgian troops. He had informed the Belgian authorities that his troops would not fire upon monuments so long as these latter were not serving any military purpose (N.R.C. 13th September, 1914, evening edition). Better still, he published, in the German newspapers, a statement that he could not bombard[128] Malines for fear of touching the Cathedral of Saint-Rombaut, but that the Belgians had not the same scruples. What truth was there in the last assertion? None, of course; if the Belgians dropped shells on the outskirts of the town it was while the German troops were there, a fact which our enemies themselves recognized. For the rest, it is easy to discover whether the damage done to the cathedral was the work of Germans or Belgians. The Belgians were to the north and west of the town; the Germans to the south and east. Now all the damage done to the cathedral is without exception on the south and east faces. The reader may draw his own conclusion. Here we have a reappearance of the usual German system, which consists in blaming others for their own misdeeds. At Dinant, too, they pretended that the collegiate church was destroyed not by them but by the French.

The Pretended Observation-post on Notre-Dame of Antwerp.

Of course they accused the Belgians of using their belfries as observation-posts. The accusation is false. We may cite Malines as an example (N.R.C., 25th November, evening edition), and Courcelles (Die Wochenschau, No. 46, 1914); but the most typical case is that of Antwerp. They reproduced in their illustrated journals (Die Wochenschau, No. 48, 1914; Kriegs-Kurier, No. 7) a photograph—or properly speaking, a drawing—published by an American newspaper (New York Tribune, 22nd October, 1914) representing a military observation-post on the tower of Notre-Dame.

Even if we grant the picture a documentary value[129] which it does not possess, it proves nothing, for according to the American journalist (N.R.C., 15th November, evening edition), the military post existed on the tower at a period when Antwerp was not besieged, nor even in danger of being so; the city had then to defend itself only against dirigibles, which on two occasions paid it nocturnal visits, with the accompaniment of bombs. It will be understood that the Wochenschau does not inform us of this; it pretends that the soldiers were on the tower to observe the German troops and their heavy artillery during the siege.

German Observation-posts admitted by the Germans.

Let us now see whether our enemies have abstained from employing monuments for military operations. The Algemeen Handelsblad (Amsterdam) of the 3rd January states that machine-guns are placed on the belfry of Bruges and on other towers of the city. This fact is confirmed by M. Domela Nieuwenhuys Nyegaard, a pastor of Gand, a convinced Germanophile, who witnessed an attack by British aviators, upon whom the machine-guns installed on the tower of the Halles opened a violent but ineffectual fire (Uit mijn Oorlogsdagboek, p. 319, in De Tijdspiegel, 1st April, 1915).

Perhaps the Germans will contest this statement. Here is another. Those who require of their adversaries so scrupulous a respect for Article 27 of the Hague Convention placed an observation-post on the tower of St. Rombaut, during the siege of Antwerp, in order to control their fire upon the Waelhem fort. And this at least is indisputable, for in their cynicism or lack of conscience (let them choose whichever they please) they published a[130] photograph of this infraction of the Hague Convention in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung (No. 44, 1914, p. 752).

This is not the only case admitted by them. Zeit im Bild (No. 43, 1914) reproduces on its cover a photograph of a "military post on the tower of an Hôtel de Ville." In this we see German soldiers armed with rifles, watching an imaginary enemy. This photograph was taken at the Palais de Justice in Brussels, as is proved, without possibility of error, by the church of La Chapelle, whose very characteristic tower rises in the distance. The Germans were so delighted with this violation of the Hague Convention that they reproduced the photograph in the illustrated supplement of the Hamburger Fremdensblatt. And what is most curious in this affair is that they boasted of an offence which they knew they had not committed. For, firstly, the soldiers were not posted "on an Hôtel de Ville"; secondly, they were not even posted on the Palais de Justice, but to one side of it, as may easily be determined on the spot; thirdly, German soldiers have never been placed there to overlook an enemy!

Since mid-October of 1914 it is in Western Flanders that the fighting has taken place. Did the Germans eventually, before the universal reprobation which greeted their exploits at Louvain, Reims, and so forth, determine to respect the international agreement to which they are parties? By no means. They are far too contemptuous of conventions, as is proved by the photographs of monuments bombarded in the region of the Yser, which are published in the illustrated newspapers, notably in Panorama, a Dutch illustrated paper which surreptitiously enters Belgium.


Ypres: Panorama, 23b, 25a.

Dixmude: Panorama, 23a, 23b; Berl. Ill. Zeit., Nos. 2 and 3, 1915; Kriegs-Echo, Nos. 22, 24; Zeit. im Bild, No. 3, 1915.

Pervyse: Panorama, 21a, 21b, 23a.

Nieuport: Panorama, 22a.

Ramscapelle: Panorama, 23b.

Among the monuments destroyed artists especially deplore the marvellous Halles of Ypres, and the churches of Nieuport, Ypres, and Dixmude. This last contained a very remarkable Gothic rood-screen, of which Herr Stübben, one of the most eminent architects of modern Germany, stated that its loss would be irreparable. It escaped the shells, but not the German soldiery, who destroyed it with the butts of their rifles, after the capture of the town. Always Kultur!


Article 28.

The giving over to pillage of a town or place, even when taken by assault, is forbidden.

Article 46.

Family honour and rights, individual life, and private property as well as religious convictions and worship, must be respected.

Article 47

Pillage is expressly forbidden.

"Family honour and rights!" The cases of rape prove the respect of the German army for these prescriptions!

"Individual life!" By the end of September 1914 the Germans had killed more civilians than soldiers. This simple statement says more than could a long exposition.

"Private property!" Theft and pillage are phenomena so commonplace that the inhabitants no longer insist upon them; if they mention the subject[132] it is to say: "The Germans behaved well here; they only took all we had." We shall therefore confine ourselves to citing a few cases particularly typical of the German mentality.

It is indisputable that the conflagrations started under the pretext of chastising "francs-tireurs" were in reality designed to conceal the pillage committed by the German army. This was certainly the case at Aerschot (4th Report) and at Louvain. The officers who gave orders to start these fires were therefore accomplices of the pillaging soldiery. For that matter, how could they have disavowed the thefts of their men, seeing that they themselves largely took part in the scramble? Whole trains left Brussels, Louvain, Malines, and Verviers for Germany, loaded with "war booty for officers." During their journey to Belgium, Herren Koester and Noske, on the 23rd September, at Hubesthal, saw numerous trains passing which were laden with war booty (Kriegsfahrten, p. 8); there were at that time no serious battles either in France or in Belgium, so that there was no capture of war booty in the Western sense of the term.[28] The trains observed by the Socialist authors could only have been carrying the fruits of pillage; they came probably from Malines, which the Germans at this time were scrupulously emptying, as well as the numerous châteaux of the neighbourhood.

Not a district has been visited by the Germans that has not been totally despoiled. Of course, the silver was taken first. One officer, after plundering the entire store of silver of a villa at Francorchamps, confided to a neighbour that he was going to have it melted down in Germany, with the exception of one spoon, which he would keep as a "souvenir." Is it not typical and delightful, this German cult of the "souvenir" as a veneer of sentimentality on a basis of rapacity? According to the definition given by the Kaiser, this officer displayed his civilization but not his Kultur.


Another "requisition" of plate. In the railway station of Mons, towards the middle of February 1915, a merchant unloading a truck-load of merchandise had his attention attracted by a coffin which was being removed from a neighbouring van; suddenly he heard a metallic clink: the bottom of the coffin had given way, and an avalanche of spoons, forks, napkin-rings, and other articles of silver tumbled out!

Nothing is sacred to the Huns. They smash the tabernacles, treasuries, and poor-boxes of the churches as readily as the coffers of the People's Banks (Maisons du Peuple). At Auvelois they seized upon 43,000 frs. in the Maison du Peuple, this being the entire capital of the Socialist Young Guard, the Freethinkers, the newspaper En Avant, the Miners' Union (syndicat), and other mutual aid societies.

At Beyghem, near Grimberghen, before setting fire to the church, they broke open the safe in the sacristy. Being unable to perforate it, they demolished the wall dividing the church from the sacristy, in which it was imbedded, so that they were able to attack it from behind.

In most of the churches which were burned in the north of Brabant (p. 73) the strong-box and the tabernacle were broken open. It was the same in the province of Namur.

As soon as the approach of the Germans was signalled, many people hastened to pack up their[134] furniture and valuables, in order more readily to transport them in case of evacuation. This foresight almost always failed in its object, owing to the impossibility of finding a horse and cart at the moment of departure. These packing-cases and hampers, all ready corded, presented an insurmountable temptation; the officers were never able to resist it, and the goods were sent straight to the railway station.

We are informed that at the beginning of the German occupation officers were frequently mistaken as to the actual value of the articles which they removed; so that they sent their families worthless rubbish "made in Germany." To avoid these unpleasant misconceptions, they made their inspections in the company of experts who directed their choice.

Need we add that the wine-cellars were always methodically exploited? The bottles which could not be drunk on the spot were packed for later consumption, or to be sent to Germany. In a château near Charleroi the officers had the doors—which were beautiful examples of joinery—taken off their hinges, and used to make packing-cases for the bottles.

We must not forget that drunkenness has played an important part in the atrocities committed by the German army.

The Germans were not content with making a clean sweep of the private houses and châteaux; they also stripped the Governmental offices which they occupied in Brussels of their furniture. In the Ministry of Public Works a portion of the maps of bridges, buildings, etc., was burned, and a portion sent to Germany.


Thefts of Stamps.

As to those who despoiled the Ministries, we will give them the credit of supposing that they acted by order and in the interest of their Government; but we cannot thus excuse the conduct of one officer who, having possessed himself, goodness knows how, of a number of Belgian stamps, attempted, in a stationer's shop, to pay for 80 frs.' worth of goods by means of these stamps. Meeting with a refusal from the shopkeeper, he had to content himself with paying for only a portion of his purchases in this manner. In a neighbouring watchmaker's he did better, for he was able to get rid of 100 frs. in stamps; at a discount, of course.[29] He informed the watchmaker that he possessed 4,000 frs.' worth of Belgian stamps. The latter was not so indiscreet as to ask how he obtained them.

Better still: the Germans do not conceal the fact that they are thieves. The Matin (Paris, 9th June, 1915) reproduced the photograph of an announcement published by a Swiss newspaper.

"It informs us that a thief of the German army, desiring to realize the 'war booty' which he collected in Antwerp, offers for sale unused stamps of values between 10 centimes and 10 frs. In his 'stock' of booty are 19 different stamps of a total value of 29 frs. 70 (oh, that 70 centimes of pillage!) which he offers for 3 frs. 50.—All Germany—philosophical, political, military, and commercial—is contained in this little advertisement."


At Tamines, having burned about 250 houses, on the 21st and 22nd August, 1914, and having forced the living to bury the 416 unhappy people shot on the evening of the 22nd, they sent all the survivors to Velaines-sur-Sambre. There they were given their liberty, and told that they might go to Namur or to Düsseldorf, but not to Tamines. Why not to Tamines? They understood a few days later, when they were bold enough to return despite the prohibition. The Germans had completely emptied all the shops and all the private houses in the place. It is evident that this operation can be effected in a more methodical and comfortable manner when there are no children running between your legs, or women begging you to leave them some souvenir for which they have a particular affection.

At Louvain they acted in the same manner; they proceeded to wholesale pillage only after the 27th, when they had sent all the inhabitants away.

Sometimes the love of pillage got the better of discipline. At Jumet, on the road from Brussels to Charleroi, on the 22nd August, 1914, the troops were ordered to burn all the houses, because the French of the 110th Infantry had dared to attack them with machine-guns. But some soldiers who had entered a tobacconist's amused themselves by stealing cigars and cigarettes, and were so absorbed that they forgot to set fire to the shop, so that it has remained intact in the midst of a long row of burned-out buildings.

What disgusts us most in all this pillage is not that the German troops should have marked our unhappy country for pillage; it is the indisputable complicity of the leaders of the army. Nothing more clearly proves the benevolent intervention of the military and civil authorities in the operations of brigandage than the regular transport of "war booty" into Germany. The officers make no secret[137] of sending to their homes such things as pianos, pictures, jewels, furniture, glass, etc. They do it openly, with the obvious complicity of the railway officials. The latter are entrusted with the organization of the rapid transportation to the Fatherland of mountains of cases, containing the results of the methodical exploration of our houses and châteaux and shops and warehouses. It is a vast organization of brigandage, hierarchically regulated, in which every one steals without hiding the fact from his fellows. Who knows whether the coffin full of silver-plate which burst in the Mons railway station did not belong to some officer who had swindled his accomplices? We in Belgium have witnessed the regular working of a system of "co-operative brigandage under the august protection of the authorities."

Let us note, finally, that theft and pillage are expressly forbidden by the German Usages of War. Articles 57, 58, 60, 61, and 62 prohibit all destruction of private property. But we must suppose that their Usages of War are applicable only in times of peace, since from the very first days of the war the German army began to pillage the regions which it occupied. This spoliation has been pursued with the systematic spirit which characterizes Kultur.

Illegal Taxation.

Article 43.

The authority of the power of the State having passed de facto into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall do all in his power to restore, and shall ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, respecting at the same time, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.

Article 48.

If, in the territory occupied, the occupant collects the taxes, dues,[138] and tolls payable to the State, he shall do so, as far as is possible, in accordance with the legal basis and assessment in force at the time and shall in consequence be bound to defray the expenses of the administration of the occupied territory to the same extent as the national Government had been so bound.

Article 49.

If, in addition to the taxes mentioned in the above Article, the occupant levies other money contributions in the occupied territory, they shall only be applied to the needs of the army or of the administration of the territory in question.

Two placards exhibited in Brussels on the evening of the 12th December (Saturday) attracted general attention.

They first convoked the Provincial Councils for the 19th December, and imposed upon them, not simply a general "order of the day," but an imperative mandate to vote a war-tax. The second gave details of this tax: 480,000,000 frs. was to be paid in monthly instalments of 40,000,000 (£19,200,000 in twelve payments of £1,600,000) (see Belg. Allem., p. 120).

Baron von Bissing thus advertised, seven days in advance, the decisions to be taken by the Provincial Councils. Doubtless he was made to understand that the proceeding was a little extreme, and contrary both to the law and to common sense; for on the following morning the second placard was covered with a blank sheet of paper. Better still, the "Official Bulletin of Laws and Decrees for the occupied Belgian Territory" gave in its issue of the 19th the text of the two decrees; but this number was suppressed, and in its place another placard, numbered 19, was distributed, which included only the first decree.

On the 19th December our nine Provincial[139] Councils assembled. They could not do otherwise than vote the crushing tax of 480 millions; but several of them protested eloquently against the illegality of this proceeding.

Speech delivered by M. François André at the meeting of the Provincial Council of Hainaut, on the 19th December, 1914, in the presence of the German Governor and Dr. Daniest, President.

... We have met by order of the German authorities to vote a war-tax; to make one word of many, we have met to furnish arms to the formidable invader of our country, to be used against our heroic little Belgian army....

We are thus assembled to vote, by order, a war-tax.

I wish to protest—against both the form and the substance of this tax.

As to the form, I regard this extraordinary session as absolutely illegal; the Provincial Councillors are not qualified to vote war-taxes affecting the whole country; moreover, the councillors of the various provinces, in concerting as to the measures to be taken in common, so to speak, which are matters beyond the scope of their jurisdiction, are committing an offence in Belgian law, which law no German decree has abrogated. As to the substance: Admitting that the German authorities have the right to levy taxes on the whole country, while our 120,000 soldiers are still in occupation of our territory, it is very certain that according to the terms of the Hague Convention no tax may be levied except for the needs of the army of occupation.

What is an army of occupation?

It is that which, finding itself in a conquered territory, undertakes the policing and safeguards the security of that territory.

This is why it may appear legitimate for the army to force the occupied territory to support it.

But our country—as Field-Marshal von der Goltz has declared, and as is perfectly obvious—our country has become the basis of military operations against the Allies. According to the spirit of the Hague Convention, there is no army of occupation, properly speaking, in our country, and in any case the 35,000 men concentrated in Namur and the artillery assembled at Liége cannot in any respects be regarded as making part of an army of occupation.


It is, therefore, contrary to law and contrary to reason that these 480,000,000 frs. are demanded from the country.

Are we then going to vote this formidable war-tax?

Assuredly if we listened only to our hearts we should reply: No, no; 480,000,000 times no.

For our hearts would tell us:

We were a small nation, happy to live by its labour; we were an honest little nation, having faith in treaties and believing in honour; we were a confident little nation, and unarmed, when suddenly, violently, Germany hurled two million men upon our frontier, the greatest army that the world has ever seen, and she told us: "Betray your given word; let our armies pass that I may crush France, and I will give you gold." But Belgium replied: "Keep your gold; I would rather die than live without honour."

History will one day reveal the greatness of the action which forever magnifies us in the eyes of the future. For nothing in the annals of the past equals the sacrifice of this people, which, having nothing to gain and all to lose, preferred to lose all in order that honour should be saved, and deliberately cast herself into an abyss of distress, but also of glory.

The German army thus invaded the country in violation of solemn treaties.

"It is an injustice," said the Chancellor of the Empire; "the destinies of the Empire forced us to commit it; but we shall repair the wrong done to Belgium by the passage of our armies...."

This, then, is how they mean to repair that wrong:

Germany will pay——

But no! Belgium will pay Germany 480,000,000 frs.! Vote this money!

As a matter of penal legislation, the Germans have systematically ignored Article 48, as is proved by the eloquent protest of the President of the Bar of Brussels.

Yet another typical instance of the manner in which Germany disregards our laws. At Aerschot the Germans provisionally invested a German, Herr Ronnewinkel, who had inhabited the district for several years, with the functions of Burgomaster.[141] On the 6th November, 1914, they proclaimed him permanently burgomaster.

Here was a German appointed burgomaster by the will of the district commander, although by the terms of the law only a Belgian appointed by the Government could be burgomaster. Moreover, they did the same at Andenne. The communal autonomy of which Belgium was so proud was thus trampled underfoot.

We see, then, that in despite of Articles 43 and 48 of the Hague Convention and Article 67 of their own Usages of War the Germans have shown no respect whatever for the legislation in force. We cite here only the most flagrant of these illegalities, those which any person of common sense can understand and judge.

Article 44.

A belligerent is forbidden to compel the inhabitants of territory occupied by it to furnish information about the army of the other belligerent, or about its means of defence.

This article was not accepted by Germany; she remains faithful to her Usages of War: Article 53, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraphs, and applies their principles with extreme severity.

Nothing better illustrates the severity with which the Germans act than the little manual of conversation which terminates the Tornisterwörterbuch, published by the Mentor publishing house in Schöneberg, Berlin. It is a small dictionary, costing 60 pfennigs, and intended, as the title indicates, to be carried in the soldier's knapsack. The French dictionary and the English are conceived according to the same method; after information concerning the country in question they give a summary of the rules of grammar; then comes the dictionary properly[142] so-called, with phonetic pronunciation; finally, a few common phrases, which to us are the most interesting part of the book, since their choice naturally reflects the requirements of those expected to employ them. Here are a few passages from paragraph 4: Service of Outposts and Patrols. In each passage we copy all the phrases without exception, so as to avoid misrepresenting the spirit of the work; and this spirit, as will be seen, is ferocious. The volume is not dated; but the 42nd edition, from which we quote, describes (p. 44) the French campaigning uniform of 1912. These phrases were therefore printed at least five years after the second Hague Conference (18th October, 1907). They show clearly that the acts of cruelty committed by the patrols against those who refused to betray their country were not improvised by the cavalry taking part in these reconnaissances, but were systematically premeditated.

P. 175—

Silence! Speak only when I question you!
You seem to me a suspicious person.
Where is your pocket-book?
I must search it.
Remain here for the moment.
At the first attempt at flight you will be shot.
Sir, where does this road lead?

P. 176—

Is this village occupied by the French?
When did the troops arrive there?
What is roughly their composition?
Roughly? Two or three companies?
How many officers, roughly speaking?
Have they any artillery?
How many guns?
Have you seen cavalry too?
Tell us the truth. The least lie might cost you your life!


P. 177—

Has the village been placed in a state of defence?
Are there no cross-roads leading to the windmill?
Remain by my horse.
On the first attempt at flight, or if you try to mislead me, I shall send a bullet after you.
Stop here! I will call the miller myself.
Hey! Miller!
Have any French troops passed this way?
You lie! Here are visible traces, and quite fresh ones.

A little manual of conversation costing 20 pfennigs—Deutsch-Französischer-Soldaten-Sprachführer, by Captain S. Th. Hoasmann, is conceived on the same lines. Here are a few examples. The soldier, making a reconnaissance, declares: "Speak the truth or you will be killed!" In the chapter on "Posts and Telegraphs" we find the phrase: "It is forbidden (on pain of death) to send telegrams." And the sentinel should be able to say: "If you lie you will be shot," etc.

Article 50.

No collective penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which it cannot be regarded as collectively responsible.

This article proclaims the principle that in no case must the innocent suffer with the guilty, nor in their place. We have already seen that our enemies oppose this idea; they maintain that the innocent should suffer with the guilty, and even that if one cannot lay hands on the guilty one may punish the innocent in their place (p. 84). It was by the application of this German principle of collective punishment that Louvain, Dinant, Termonde, and other towns were burned.

The placard of 1st October, 1914, clearly displays[144] the German mentality; it states that villages will be punished without mercy, whether guilty or not.


On the evening of the 25th September the railway and telegraph lines were destroyed between Lovenjoul and Vestryck. In consequence of which the two localities mentioned were, on the morning of the 30th September, called to account and forced to supply hostages.

In future the localities nearest the spot at which such acts have been committed—no matter whether they are guilty of complicity or not—will be punished without pity. To this end hostages have been taken from all localities adjacent to railway lines threatened by such attacks, and at the first attempt to destroy the railway lines, or telegraph or telephone wires, they will immediately be shot.

Moreover, all troops charged with the protection of railways have received orders to shoot any person approaching railway lines or telephone or telegraph wires in a suspicious manner.

The Governor-General in Belgium,
Baron von der Goltz
General Field-Marshal.

Brussels, 1st October, 1914.

Fully to appreciate the horrible nature of this placard we must recall the fact that during the siege of Antwerp (which terminated only on the 9th) Belgium patrols were penetrating into the midst of the German troops, venturing thirty-five miles and more from Antwerp, their mission being to harass the enemy's communications and to destroy the railways and the telegraph and telephone line. It was one of these bodies of Belgian cyclists which cut the railway and telegraph line between Louvain and Tirlemont on 25th September, 1914. Von der Goltz was evidently aware that this destruction was a perfectly legitimate military operation, so that his placard was intended simply to embarrass our military authorities by showing them that in defiance of all justice Germany intended to hold the Belgian civilians[145] responsible for the activity of our army. In short, instead of saying "no matter whether these localities are guilty of complicity or not," von der Goltz would have given a greater proof of sincerity had he said, "although I know that these localities are in no way guilty of complicity."

Here are two other placards, printed in Germany, which show plainly that it is according to a system that our oppressors hold the entire community responsible for the act committed by a single person; or rather, as we shall see, for the acts of the Belgian army.

Placard printed in German, French, Russian, and Polish, surrounded by a border of the German Colours.

Any person who shall have damaged a military telephone or telegraph will be shot.

Any person removing this notice will also receive the severest punishment. If the guilty person is not found, the severest measures will be taken against the commune in which the damage has been caused or the present notice removed.

The General Commanding the Army Corps.

(Posted at Bieghem, copy made 22nd October, 1914.)


All damage done to the Telegraph, Telephone, or Railway lines will be punished by the Military Court. According to the circumstances, the guilty person will be condemned to death.

If the guilty person is not seized the severest measures will be taken against the commune in which the damage has been done,

The General Government.

Printed by H. A. Heymann, Berlin, S.W.

(Posted at Tervueren, copy made 15th April, 1915.)

Very frequently the penalties with which the community is threatened are not specified in these placards. One may suppose that it would consist of a fine; this is indeed the punishment most frequently[146] applied, doubtless because it is the most productive. Here are some examples, for cutting the telegraph wires, various localities in Flanders were forced to pay fines in December 1914.

The military chest does not lack for money; for in a garrison command a fine may be inflicted more readily than elsewhere. Here is an example. An officer was choosing some music in a shop; and found, amidst a heap of pieces of music, a copy of the Marseillaise. Now it has never been stated that one must not possess the Marseillaise. Result: the shopkeeper was condemned to pay a fine of 500 marks or to twenty days' imprisonment. "I prefer the imprisonment," said the unfortunate man. "But, my good fellow, you can avoid going to prison! Pay the fine!" "I know, but I have not got 500 marks. I could only scrape together 150 frs. at most." "All right, give them to me!"

Fines for Telegraphic Interruptions.

The military chest is also replenished by the fines paid because the telegraph and telephone do not work properly. Now it has often happened during the last six weeks that communication has been obstructed in Flanders. The smallest communes have been forced to pay fines.

Here is a brief list of such fines:

Winckel Sainte-Croix3,000"
(N.R.C., 30th January, 1915, evening edition.)


Fines for "Attacks by Francs-tireurs."

We may observe, in passing, that in September 1914 the accusation—the accusation, we say, not the offence—of having allowed a telegraph wire to deteriorate was punished, in Brussels, by a stoppage of the telephone service; but in December the Germans preferred to fill their treasury. The same observation is true of Mons and Bilsen; the accusation of "francs-tireurs," which in September 1914 would have ended in a massacre of the inhabitants and the burning of the town, was in October the motive for a tax of 100,000 frs. At that time it no longer seemed essential to terrorize; the Germans no longer required blood, but money.

On behalf of the German Military Authorities.

The City of Mons has been forced to pay a tax of 100,000 frs. because a private person fired upon a German soldier.

(Posted at Louvain.)

And indeed it is money that is demanded everywhere—5,000 frs. from the commune of Grenbergen, near Termonde, because an inhabitant allowed his pigeons to fly. 5,000,000 frs. was required of Brussels because a police agent maltreated a German spy (p. 157). It was with a money fine that Mons was threatened should an Englishman be discovered on its soil (placard posted at Mons, 6th November, 1914), and the city of Mons and the province of Hainaut if any inhabitant retained for his own use any benzine or a motor-bicycle (placard posted at Mons, 6th October, 1914). At Seraing, in February 1915, it was again money that was demanded, because a bomb had burst within the[148] limits of the commune. The more surely to obtain the sum, a few hostages were imprisoned, with the promise that they would be sent to a fortress in Germany if the communal treasury did not pay their ransom; but the hostages themselves advised the commune to refuse. The Germans, fearing to be left in the lurch, reduced their demands by half; finally, having obtained nothing, they released the hostages. Singular justice, to regulate its penalties not by the gravity of the offence, but according to the temper of the victims! We are waiting for the German newspapers to publish a schedule of penalties as affected by the docility of the victims and the season.

Here is an amusing instance of a penalty which was inflicted upon Antwerp. When the Germans posted up a statement that they had captured 52,000 Russians and 400 guns in Eastern Prussia, a playful citizen replaced the first letter of Russians in the Flemish text by an M and concealed the two first letters of canonen. The new version announced that the Germans had captured 52,000 sparrows and 400 nuns. The Germans were annoyed and imposed a fine of 25,000 frs. on the city. At Tirlemont, where the same pleasantry was perpetrated, the Germans contented themselves with making vague threats.

The adventure of Eppeghem also deserves to be told in a few words.

In November 1914 a German soldier walking in the country fired at a hare or a pigeon. An officer turned up and questioned the soldier. As all sport is reserved for officers, the soldier, to avoid punishment, threw the blame on to the peasants. The matter was referred to Brussels, and on the following[149] day officers arrived with forty Uhlans. A fine of 10,000 frs. was inflicted on the commune.

Some women living in a house which had by chance remained standing, near the field in which the soldier had fired, asserted that no inhabitant had fired a shot, but that they had seen the soldier fire. No one listened to them. "We must have 10,000 frs., and at once." But in this village, ruined from end to end, where scarcely a house was habitable, from which all the men had been deported into Germany, there was no means of collecting such a sum of money. "Since that is so, hostages will be taken," said the officers. The Uhlans organized a hunt, and seized the curé and three laymen, the only ones they could find; and even of these one was an inhabitant of Vilverde, who had obligingly been acting as a citizen policeman at Eppeghem. They were taken to Brussels, but on passing through Vilverde the inhabitant of that place was released, owing to the protests of his fellow-citizens. After ten days' imprisonment Baron von der Goltz, finding that there was nothing to be extracted from the communal treasury of Eppeghem, and that the curé and his two parishioners were being kept and fed at a loss, set them at liberty.


The taking of hostages is also in flagrant opposition to the provisions of Article 50, but in conformity with the German Usages of War. The hostage guarantees with his own life that his fellow-citizens, with whom he has no influence, shall faithfully execute the orders of the German authorities.

The first care of enemy troops arriving in any locality is always to demand the provision of[150] hostages; these are usually the curé, the burgomaster, the notary, the schoolmaster, and a few other notables. We may recall Liége, where the bishop, Mgr. Rutten, was taken hostage; Spa, Louvain, Charleroi, Gand, and Mons. In Brussels they demanded the delivery of 100 hostages, but afterwards withdrew the demand.

As to the fate which awaits the hostages if the German army is attacked, it is plainly stipulated in the proclamations: they will be shot, "without previous judicial formalities." Thus, it would have been enough for a Belgian patrol to renew its usual activities near Forest, and two hostages would have immediately been shot "without previous judicial formalities."

General Government in Belgium.
To the People of Forest.

Despite my repeated warnings attacks have again been made during the last few days by the civil population of the neighbourhood against German troops, and also upon the railway between Brussels and Mons.

By the order of the Military Governor-General of Brussels each locality must consequently provide hostages.

Thus at Forest the following are arrested:

(1) M. Vanderkindere, Communal Councillor.
(2) M. le curé François.

I proclaim that these hostages will immediately be shot without previous judicial formalities if any attack occurs on the part of the population upon our troops or the railway lines occupied by us, and that moreover the most severe reprisals will be carried out against the commune of Forest.

I request the population to keep calm and to refrain from all violence; in this case it will not suffer the slightest harm.

The Commandant of the Landsturm,
Halberstadt Battalion,
von Lessel.

Forest, 26th September, 1914.


If hostages try to escape they will be hanged and their village burned.


As fresh attempts at assassination have been made upon persons forming part of the German army I have had persons from many localities arrested as hostages. These will guarantee with their lives that no inhabitant will again dare to commit a malevolent action against German soldiers or attempt to damage the railway, telegraph or telephone line, or other objects useful to the operations of our army.

Persons not belonging to the army surprised in committing such actions will be shot or hanged. The hostages of the surrounding localities will suffer the same fate. I shall then have the neighbourhood burned to the last house, even if important towns are in question. If the hostages attempt to escape the locality to which they belong will be burned, and if captured the hostages will be hanged.

All inhabitants who give proof of their goodwill toward our troops are assured of the safety of their lives and property.

The Commandant entrusted with the
Protection of the Railways,
Freiherr von Malzahn.

(Posted at Spa, Aywaille, Châtelineau.... 17th August, 1914.)

We do not know if hostages were shot or hanged in Belgium. But in the north of France, according to a military correspondent of the K.Z., at least one hostage was killed; this assassination was the more criminal in that it punished not a hostile act of the inhabitants, but a perfectly normal and regular operation of war: a bombardment.

A War Picture.

... A château stands beside the highway, at the back of a courtyard protected by a French spear-headed railing. It is intact, and shelters the staff of an infantry regiment. Facing it is the ruined façade of an incredibly pretentious building on whose pediment sprawls in letters of gold the one word, "Bank." Beside it is a wholesale corn-chandler's and a wholesale wine-merchant's. All this belonged to a single man. It was necessary[152] to shoot him as hostage, because the French were persisting, despite all warnings, in throwing shells into the neighbourhood. In the wine-cellars stores of unexpected importance were found; according to the estimates there are more than half a million litres of red and white wine of very good quality. A great part of the wine was pumped out of the tanks and received, like an old acquaintance, by the comrades far and near.

The rich man of this quarter of the town had a companion who was more lucky, who in due time sought safety in flight.

(K.Z., 21st February, 1915.)

A very curious case of the punishment of innocent people in the case of "guilty" ones is the following: On the 7th October, 1914, the Germans posted statements that the militia-men of the occupied regions could not rejoin the Belgian army, and that in case of disobedience the young men would expose themselves to the risk of being sent into Germany as prisoners of war. So far, nothing illegal. But the placard then declared that in case of the departure of any militia-man his family would be held responsible. Now, how are the parents guilty, if their son intends at all costs to fulfil his obligations to his native country? On the 30th December, 1914, there was an aggravation of this measure: the burgomasters also were to be punished. On the 28th January, 1915, a new notice appeared: all Belgians between the ages of sixteen and forty years were to be regarded as capable of military service. So when a man of forty goes to join the Belgian army the members of his family will be punished! Truly the notice might have stated whether children would be punished for not preventing their father's departure!

Have there been cases of repression? The N.R.C. states that at Hasselt the Germans actually arrested the fathers and mothers of the young men who escaped.


The Tijd learns from Ruremonde:

At Hasselt and in the neighbourhood the Germans have hunted down the fathers of those young men who, liable to be called to the colours, have been able, in spite of strict prohibition and active supervision, to enter Holland, there to pass through England and France with the intention of eventually joining the army.

But as soon as they heard that the fathers were being arrested, these latter also crossed the frontier, and the Germans found that a great many birds had flown.

They did not stop then: the mothers were arrested in their place.

At the same time the Germans made it known that all these people would be transferred to the well-known camp at Münster, and warned the women to provide themselves with as much body-linen as possible. The whole of the little town was in consternation. Later arrived a telegram from General von Bissing, announcing that the departure for Münster was postponed for a week, and the prisoners were taken to Tongres.

(N.R.C., 3rd February, 1915.)

A last example of punishment inflicted upon the innocent, when the "guilty" person had already suffered punishment. A Belgian, having made signals to the enemy (that is, to the Belgian army), was killed while being arrested. Immediately the curé and the vicar were sent to Germany as being responsible for the members of their parish.

Important Notice.

Alidor Vandamme, inhabitant of Cortemarck, committed espionage by making signals to the enemy. Resisting arrest, he was killed by a rifle-bullet.

The German authority has taken the following measures of coercion in consequence of the crime committed by Vandamme:

1. The curé Blancke and the vicar Barra, responsible for the members of their parish, will be deported as prisoners of war to Germany.

2. The commune of Cortemarck must pay a fine of five thousand marks (5,000 M.).

(Posted at Thielt, Termonde, etc.)


This iniquity was not enough for the German authorities: they advertised it all through Flanders (we copied it at Thielt and Termonde), and forced Le Bien Public to give it publicity. Through lack of conscience or insolence?

Contributions and Requisitions.

Article 51.

No contribution shall be collected except under a written order, and on the responsibility of a General in command.

The collection of the said contribution shall only be effected in accordance, as far as is possible, with the legal basis and assessment of taxes in force at the time.

For every contribution a receipt shall be given to the contributories.

Article 52.

Requisitions in kind and services shall not be demanded from local authorities or inhabitants except for the needs of the army of occupation. They shall be in proportion to the resources of the country, and of such a nature as not to involve the inhabitants in the obligation of taking part in military operations against their own country. Such requisitions and services shall only be demanded on the authority of the commander in the locality occupied.

Contributions in kind shall as far as possible be paid for in ready money: if not, a receipt shall be given and the payment of the amount due shall be made as soon as possible.

The last paragraph of Article 23, already cited, in reality presupposes that passage in Article 52 which forbids the occupant to force the inhabitants to do work which would assist operations directed against their country (p. 112).

Among the forms of contribution included in Article 49 we must give first place to that which[155] fixes the value of the mark. The Düsseldorfer Zeitung of the 4th September announces that the military commander of the occupied portion of Belgium and France fixed the value of 100 marks at 130 frs. And indeed placards posted at Charleroi, Saint-Trond, Namur, and Liége required the Belgians to accept German marks at this exaggerated tariff, which has caused certain of our merchants to lose considerable sums.


The circulation of German money having given rise to perplexities, the value of the German mark has been fixed at 130 centimes.

The attention of the public is called to the fact that all German paper money must be accepted in financial transactions at the same rate as German coin.

The Governor.
The 25th August, 1914.

(Posted at Liége.)

The fraudulent intention in this measure was only too evident. A month later Baron von der Goltz made it known that until further notice the mark was to be valued at the lowest at 1 fr. 25 (placard of the 3rd October, 1914). In reality the mark was worth only 1 fr. 08 to 1 fr. 15, so that the Belgians naturally endeavoured to refuse German notes; whereupon fresh placards were exhibited, compelling their acceptance (placards of the 4th and 15th November, 1914). We must mention an unhappy phrase in a placard posted at Mons; it states that the mark must be accepted at the actual value of the coin, and further on fixes this value at 1 fr. 25, which is obviously incorrect.


Contributions demanded from the Cities.

Let us now consider the pecuniary contributions demanded from the cities. The most important were: Liége, 20 million frs.; Namur, 32 millions; Antwerp, 40 millions; Brussels, 45 millions. The discussions excited by this last contribution are extremely instructive; they have been reported by the N.R.C. We learn how the Germans violated, successively, all the different agreements which they concluded with the city; finally they imposed a fine of 5 millions, which enabled them, in spite of everything, to complete the sum of 50 millions which they had promised themselves they would extort from the capital.

Contribution imposed upon Brussels.
From one of our War Correspondents

... In the course of this journey I once more heard people speaking of the reasons which resulted in the city of Brussels being fined the sum of fifty millions of francs, as every one knows. What I relate here I had from one of the most eminent members of the magistracy:—

At the time of their entry here, the Germans demanded fifty millions from the city, and—don't cry out at this—450 millions from the province of Brabant. The communal council of Brussels tried to demonstrate that the city could not pay this tax, and that the tax imposed on the province was utterly exorbitant, seeing that Brabant, which draws on the budget for an annual sum of five to six millions, employed this money before it was paid, and could not, therefore, pay a fine, since the province had first to provide for its expenditure.... Having discussed the matter at great length, the Germans finally released Brabant from this war-tax, and at the same time gave the communal council a week to find the fifty millions, during which period they would suspend all other requisitions.

Burgomaster Max then had posted the well-known placard announcing that for the coming week no requisitions whatever would be made by the German authorities.


But on the following day the burgomaster was called upon to justify his action, and although he produced the written convention before the new Governor of the city, the latter gave him to understand that his predecessor might possibly have granted such a delay, but that he, being of superior rank, did not recognize the clause at issue. Fresh negotiations were commenced, and it was at last arranged that twenty millions should be paid in five instalments of four millions each. Four of these instalments were punctually paid, and the fifth was about to be paid, when Max was summoned by the Governor, who asked him what his arrangements were concerning the remaining thirty millions.

Max did not conceal his extreme surprise, stating that he fully understood that the remainder of the tax had been remitted, and that the twenty millions constituted the whole amount.

The German Governor was by no means of this opinion, and demanded the remaining thirty millions. Thereupon Max immediately sent an order to the bank to suspend payment of the last four millions, which were ready for payment, until he was certain that the Germans would accept them as the final instalment. There was then on either side an equal degree of obstinacy. The Governor maintained that Max was breaking his engagements; Max, on the other hand, maintained that the Germans had failed to keep their word. The result was that the burgomaster was arrested, and he is at the present moment imprisoned in a fortress at Glatz in Silesia.

The communal council was then warned that it would be deprived of its functions, and that the Germans would take over the administration of the city if the war-tax was not paid.

There were again interminable negotiations, and it was arranged that in all forty-five millions should be paid.

The sum was paid. Still the Germans wanted to get hold of the five remaining millions, so a police agent who had shown lack of respect for an officer was condemned to five years' imprisonment, while Brussels was fined five million francs.

One might ask whether, if the Germans continue to act in this fashion, the city of Brussels will be forced to pay a fine each time one of its functionaries is guilty of offence: for it is impossible that the city can control all its employés.

In this case the German officer who was insulted was in civilian clothes. Now to a complaint of the communal council the Governor had replied, some time previously, that there were no secret agents at work in civilian clothing; so that the police agent could not have known that he was dealing with an officer, since the latter was not in uniform.


It may be imagined that lively protests were made, but once more the Germans threatened to assume the direction of the commune if the sum was not paid by the 10th November at latest; so, although the council presented a memorandum on the affair, it was nevertheless forced to pay in order to pursue its mission in peace.

(N.R.C., 9th November, 1914.)

Exactions of a Non-commissioned Officer.

Fines without rhyme and reason, and exorbitant war contributions have become so normal and so customary that the Germans have finally learned to exploit the situation. The N.R.C. for the 21st May, 1915, reported that the Council of War in Coblenz had condemned to eighteen months' imprisonment the non-commissioned officer Garternich, who had demanded from several occupied Belgian communes a war contribution of 3 frs. per head, and had thus acquired, for his own personal profit, a sum of 27,393 frs. Does not this simple fact reveal the habitual squeezing to which our poor country is subjected? Eighteen months' imprisonment for having emptied the communal treasuries already officially despoiled by the authorities—that truly is not much; especially when we compare this sentence with those pronounced upon the communes when a telegraph wire breaks down: the threat of burning a whole neighbourhood or a formidable fine.

Requisitions of Raw Materials and Machinery.

Requisitions may only be demanded, says Article 52, for the needs of the army of occupation. Now our enemies have removed from Belgium enormous quantities of raw material, and machinery which evidently cannot be of use to the army of occupation (see Belg. Allem., pp. 113, 116, 117). What can the[159] army do with raw cotton, wools, spun cotton, nickel, jute, etc.? It can be of use only to the industries of Germany, paralysed by the suppression of the mercantile marine. Among these requisitions are included machine-tools for the manufacture of shells (notably those removed from the national arsenal at Herstal and the royal cannon foundry at Liége), and metals, such as copper, which are indispensable to the manufacture of munitions; so that the articles which have been taken from us, contrary to Article 52 of the Hague Convention, subscribed to by Germany, are thus directly employed in fighting against us.

The Germans cannot pretend that these requisitions of machinery were made by over-zealous officers ignorant of the laws, for Baron von Bissing himself, in his quality of Governor-General, signed the proclamation of the 17th February ordering the despatch of our machine-tools to Germany. Moreover, in Berlin even people are perfectly aware of these requisitions, and of their destination (N.R.C., 22nd February, 1915, morning edition).

We must insist on the fact that all these raw materials of industry, all this machinery, etc., is not bought, but requisitioned. There is here no case of a commercial transaction, nor even an expropriation; for we have no redress against the decision arrived at in Berlin as to the prices which will be paid after the war. It is a theft, to express the matter in a word.

Requisitions in kind and in services ... shall be in proportion to the resources of the country, says Article 52; which evidently means that requisitions must not exhaust the country to the point of jeopardizing the lives of the inhabitants. If this[160] stipulation had been respected we should not have to deplore the famine which is ravaging our country, and to which we shall return later on.

We shall confine ourselves—in order to give some idea of the excessive and inhuman manner in which requisitions have been made—to referring the reader to certain articles written by eye-witnesses, particularly those who have seen what has happened near the frontier, and at Gand. It will at once be recognized that the requisitions made exceed that which the inhabitants can reasonably provide (see N.R.C., 10th January, 1915, morning; 23rd January, 1915, morning; 16th January, 1915, evening; 30th January, 1915, evening; 12th January, 1915, morning; 22nd December, 1914, evening).

The Germans have always taken good care to demand wine. They demanded enormous quantities in the little villages of the Campine of Limburg (N.R.C., 15th January, 1915). Elsewhere they took for their own use all the cellars of the wine-merchants and the inhabitants, without allowing the latter to make use of them (see Belg. Allem., p. 118).

A last point as to requisitions. They shall as far as possible be paid for in ready money; if not, a receipt shall be given.

Very often no receipt has been given to the owners of property taken. Elsewhere the receipts are fantastical and valueless.

It is the truth that those who do receive vouchers are requested to satisfy themselves of their accuracy, but this prescription is obviously a dead letter. Imagine, on the one hand, a peasant, Fleming or Walloon, terrorized into a condition of helplessness, and incapable of reading a voucher scrawled in[161] German; and on the other, soldiers whose customary arguments are shooting and burning.

Article 53.

An army of occupation shall only take possession of cash, funds, and realizable securities which are strictly the property of the State, depôts of arms, means of transport, stores and supplies, and, generally, all movable property belonging to the State which may be used for military operations....

From the very first days of the occupation the Germans, in defiance of law and justice, seized upon the communal treasuries and the funds deposited in the branch establishments of the National Bank, the post offices, etc. They were obliged to recognize the justice of the protests made by the Belgian Government; but their love of pillage is incorrigible; on entering Gand, on Monday, the 12th October, their first care was to lay hands on the 1,800,000 (£72,000) contained in the communal treasury.

According to Article 55 the Germans had no right to remove the furniture of the Ministries of Brussels (p. 134), since this property was not of a kind to be useful in military operations.

Article 55.

The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, landed property, forests, and agricultural undertakings belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of such properties and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct.

The German respect for legality did not restrain them from violating this Article. From the very first days of the war they employed the churches which they consented to leave standing as stables; on reaching Liége they took possession of the[162] Palais de Justice and made a barracks of it. Why did they expel Justice? Herren Koester and Noske tell us (p. 30), it was simply because the position is central and easy to defend (see a photograph facing p. 32). They did not take account of the fact that such employment of the building is doubly contrary to the Hague Convention, since they did not respect the nature of the monument, and exposed it to bombardment by Allied aviators on the look-out for the German garrison.

It was the same with the Palais de Justice of Brussels, which also serves as a German barracks. To adapt it to its novel use, the soldiers have destroyed a great part of the magnificent furnishings which adorned the halls; the immediate surroundings have been fortified, and the cupola serves by night as a station for signalling to dirigibles. In short, all preparations have been made with a view to the bombardment of Poelaert's masterpiece by the Allies.

It is obviously with the idea of preventing their adversaries from attacking them that they take up their quarters in our monuments; these are to serve them as artistic bucklers, just as our compatriots are employed as living bucklers.

The violations of Article 55 are past counting. We will confine ourselves to mentioning a few in Brussels; they will give us some idea of the diversity of the transformations which our property has suffered at German hands. The offices of the Ministries are transformed into bedrooms for officers. The Palais des Académies has become a military hospital; God knows in what condition we shall find its libraries. In the Parc Royal of Brussels, in the centre of the city, they have installed an automobile depôt, a[163] riding-track, and a rifle range; on the 28th October a shot fired from this range wounded a lady through the windows of the Schlobach magasin in the Rue Royale.

Article 56.

The property of local authorities, as well as that of institutions dedicated to public worship, charity, education, and to science and art, even when State property, shall be treated as private property.

Any seizure or destruction of, or wilful damage to, institutions of this character, historic monuments and works of science and art, is forbidden, and should be made the subject of legal proceedings.

The first paragraph of this Article has been scrupulously observed; the property of the communes, etc., has indeed been treated as private property has been treated: the latter has everywhere been sacked and looted, and the Germans have done the same to collective property.

As to the intentional character of these acts of vandalism, it is indubitable. How otherwise explain the fact that in numerous villages the church has been the prey of the flames, in many cases even when the surrounding houses have remained intact? A few examples will suffice. The village of Haecht was occupied on the 19th and 20th August. On the 24th the Belgians in Antwerp made a sortie which was repulsed. The Germans, infuriated, shot 17 civilians and pillaged all the houses, particularly remembering the wine in the cellars. Then the inhabitants were expelled. A fresh sortie of the Belgians took place from the 9th to the 13th September; at noon on the last day our troops fell back; in the afternoon the Germans set fire to the church and 41 houses. The strong-box of the church was broken open after the fire. The destruction of the monument did not strike them as sufficient, and they dynamited the whole on the 16th (or 17th)[164] September. In the neighbouring village of Werchter, after the battle of the 25th and 26th August, they shot 6 civilians and burned 267 houses out of the 513 which formed the village. After the second fight, on the 15th September, they burned the church. In both villages most of the houses round the churches were spared; it will therefore be difficult for the Germans to pretend, as at Louvain, that the burning of these churches was an accident (Brandunglück) due to burning fragments carried by the wind (p. 220). We have already (p. 73) noted another more significant case, that of the chapel of the Béguinage of Termonde, which was alone burned, in the centre of the Béguinage, not a dwelling of which was touched.

Conclusions—The Famine in Belgium.

Germany had need, in the conflict with France, of all the men who passed through Belgium; also she could leave in Belgium only weak garrisons of the Landsturm. To safeguard them against possible attack on the part of the Belgian population, it was necessary to terrorize the latter to such a point that it no longer dared to stir. Such was the object of the carnage and incendiarism which marked the beginning of the campaign, as was frankly admitted by Herr Walter Blöm, adjutant to the Governor-General in Belgium (p. 84). No doubt the massacres of Louvain, Andenne, Tamines, and Dinant, committed to order between the 19th and the 26th August, appeared insufficient, for a new series was organized between the 4th and 13th September.

At the news of this butchery a resounding cry of horror and indignation went up from all the nations[165] of the earth. That the Belgian Army, on the field of battle, should have paid large tribute to the war unloosed upon us by Germany—that was to be expected, but no one would have dared to suppose that Germany, after participating in the second Hague Conference, would display towards our civil population such an implacable cruelty, such exterminating fury, as history has never recorded since the Thirty Years' War. But facts are facts; one must needs submit to the evidence; the German Army has destroyed our treasures of art and science, has shot down in cold blood, often by machine-gun fire, hosts of men, women, even old people and children; it has ordered the burning of thousands of houses; it has turned whole districts into deserts.

Still, some semblance of motive was necessary; with a mathematical regularity the pretext of "francs-tireurs" was alleged. "Man hat geschossen"—that was enough; immediately the neighbourhood was given over to massacre, pillage, and fire. Never was any inquiry made, no matter how summary. Yet when it was desired to show a foreigner of note—for example, Dr. Sven Hedin—how they proceeded in the matter of punishing "francs-tireurs," a regular Council of War was constituted ... which brought in a verdict of non-lieu (p. 78). We defy the Germans to cite a single case in which a tribunal of this kind has sat before reprisals. In the few rare cases when witnesses, etc., have been questioned the examination has taken place after the firing of houses and the shooting of inhabitants. This is why we declare without the slightest reservation that not one single attack by civilians has been established by any kind of proof.


The Flight of the Belgians.

The inhabitants of our towns and our countryside soon realized to what they were exposing themselves if they awaited the arrival of the Germans in their own homes. So, as the Germans advanced, a void appeared before them. After the taking of Antwerp, the majority of the peasants of the "Campine" of Antwerp fled in all haste toward Holland. If to them we add the people of Antwerp, who had been driven out by the bombardment, and above all the innumerable villages of Brabant, Limburg, and the provinces of Liége and Antwerp, whose homes had been pillaged and reduced to ashes, we shall not be astonished to find that in October there were more than a million Belgian refugees in Holland.[30] To our northern neighbours we owe our profoundest gratitude for the fraternal manner in which they welcomed our unfortunate compatriots.

The Causes of the Famine.

The horror provoked by the butchery at Dinant, Aerschot, etc., relegated to the background the purely material crimes. But these—the pillage, methodically conducted, of our towns, villages, farms, and châteaux—the outrageous requisitions of provisions and of the raw material of industries—the formidable taxes which drain us of coin—the fines which rain upon the communal administrations and on private persons—and many other infractions of the Hague Convention—have exercised on our economical life an extremely depressing effect, but have produced no echo abroad: doubtless because only those can understand the whole extent of our misery who daily rub shoulders with the thousands of starving and unemployed people who drag themselves from one end of the town to the other in quest of work that is not to be found, or who mingle with the interminable files of women who go in search of rations of bread and soup for their families.


Let us briefly consider the principal causes of famine which prevails in Belgium.

1. Exaggerated requisitions, out of all proportion to the resources of the country. They are of two kinds:—

Firstly, those which have emptied the country of grain, cattle, forage, and other foodstuffs.

Then the requisitions of the raw materials intended for the factories, which have completely paralysed industry, especially in the Flanders. One example will suffice. All the workshops of Termonde were burned save one—the Escaut-Dendre establishment, which makes boots and shoes. But the Germans sent into Germany both the leather and the shoes which were in the warehouse. The factory is thus condemned to stand idle for lack of raw material, and also for lack of funds. Those industries of which the machinery has been removed are also, of course, doomed to paralysis. The German authorities threaten to despoil our factories of all the copper forming part of the machinery, which would reduce them one and all to impotence. It is an ironical fact that this measure was announced by a propagandist leaflet addressed to the Belgians.

2. Having made a clean sweep of the greater portion of all that was indispensable to us, the Germans have been careful to take our money from us. Under every imaginable pretext, and often without any pretext at all, they have imposed[168] crushing taxes upon us. The regular payment of these taxes showing that the public coffers were not yet quite empty, the Germans hastened to impose fines upon us, which vary from 5 frs. to 5 millions. The private banks, too, are threatened every moment with the removal of a portion of their funds.

3. It is needless to insist on a third cause, which reduces our working-class families to idleness and poverty: the destruction of an enormous number of factories—some bombarded, but most of them burned of set purpose.

4. We have already seen that many factories which remained intact are condemned to inactivity by the lack of raw material, or because they have been deprived of their machinery. The others are equally paralysed.

The stoppage of traffic on the railway lines, the impediments of all kinds placed in the way of inland navigation, the absence of maritime navigation, are causes more than sufficient to prevent the importation of raw materials and the exportation of manufactured products. Of all these obstacles the most important is assuredly the suppression of goods traffic on the railways. "Why," say the Germans, "do not Belgian employés return to their work, since our military trains would in any case be run by our own men?" Hypocrites! The slowness and irregularity of the trains is highly inconvenient to the German army, and it would much like to see them resume their normal speed; but for this it requires the assistance of the Belgian staff. Is it not obvious that if our railway-men resumed their labours they would at the same time facilitate the transport of German troops and munitions?


Let us again cite the prohibition of "circulation" between 8 or 9 o'clock and 6 o'clock, which is an obstacle to night work, which is quite indispensable to the large industries; and the suppression of the special trains by which the workers travelled.

5. Commerce has suffered no less than industry. There is no telegraph, no telephone, no posting of closed letters; that is, no means of sending or receiving orders. No railway, no horses, no motor-cars to deliver goods or to supply customers. And, to cap all, the slightest journey necessitates all sorts of exaggerated expenses: there is the acquisition of a passport, the train journey at the rate of 10 cm. per kilometre, hotel expenses, etc. The expenditure might be a minor matter, but what of the waste of time? Before 1st July, 1915, any one going from Liége to Brussels for business purposes had first of all to waste one or two days in procuring his passport; the journey occupied at least half a day; and after interviewing his client he would find that there was no train back to Liége on the same day. In short, he would have to allow four days for a journey which in normal times took half a day.

Other causes of famine are:

The scarcity and high cost of provisions.

The financial difficulties in which the public powers are involved.

The paralysis of industry and commerce, resulting in unemployment—that is, in suppression of wages.

In short, a diminution of resources, accompanied by an increase of expenditure; so that the public coffers are almost powerless to come to the aid of private distress.


That is how we stand in Belgium.

It is not our intention to depict the poignant distress which has overwhelmed our country. We shall merely explain briefly how we try to cope with it; this will suffice to give some idea of it.

Creation of Temporary Shelters.

Let us first of all consider the country districts. Even when a few houses only of a village have escaped incendiarism the inhabitants have returned thither and have resumed their customary labours. Must they not plough and sow, under penalty of preparing for themselves another year of wretchedness? Where houses exist no longer they live in a cellar, or an outhouse to which some kind of roof has been improvised; families passed the winter of 1914-15 in a potato-silo,[31] under the shelter of a few mats of straw. In the ruined villages the first anxiety of the public powers and the relief committees was therefore to provide provisional shelter.

In the towns and industrial districts the most urgent necessities are of another kind. What is lacking most particularly is employment. The administrations have therefore set themselves to provide the unemployed with paid occupations which do not demand apprenticeship—the clearing of ruins, the levelling of soil, the digging of reservoirs, etc. The communal coffers being empty, communal vouchers are issued. L'Événement Illustré, in its fourth issue, gives reproductions of some of these vouchers, of which, it states, there are more than 500. In the communes near Louvain, where the poverty is particularly poignant, it has been necessary to create vouchers for 2 centimes (at Wilsele) and 5 centimes (at Herent).


From the outset stringent measures were taken to make up for the insufficiency of provisions and to prevent speculators from obtaining possession of existing stocks. The most important of these regulations are the following:—

(a) Fixing of maximum prices.

(b) Prohibition of the exportation of provisions from the commune.

(c) It is forbidden to give animals provisions intended for human beings.

(d) Collective exploitation. Many communes have set up in business as bakers, butchers, restaurant-keepers, coal merchants, dealers in colonial produce, etc. They prepare bread and soup daily, and these are provided gratuitously to the poorest, or sold at a low price to those who still have a few savings. In the Brussels district there had been distributed by the 31st January, 1915, to adults, 30,060,608 rations, comprising soup and bread, and to the children 932,838 rations, consisting chiefly of milk, phosphatine, and powdered milk.

Certain communes also sell meat; others have installed communal stores for the sale of all kinds of provisions, especially preserved foods, dried vegetables, salt, potatoes, etc.; almost everywhere coal is sold retail; petroleum was sold as long as it could be obtained. Moreover, the collectivities are distributing enormous quantities of clothes; in the Brussels district alone by the end of January 660,865 frs. worth of clothing and footwear had been given to the necessitous. Abuses have as[172] far as possible been guarded against, (1) by the "household card," the Carte de ménage, which indicates the number of persons composing each family; and (2) by the limitation of the quantity of each kind of goods which the household can obtain during the week.

The basis of alimentation is bread. Therefore particularly Draconian rules have been elaborated for the bakeries.

The National Relief Committee.

Many problems presented themselves simultaneously, and with an extreme urgency. In all communes local committees have been set up, entrusted with the equitable distribution of provisions among all the inhabitants. We say "all the inhabitants," for the reader must not form any illusions as to our condition: there is not a single Belgian family which, if left to itself, could obtain its daily bread; the general rationing to which the whole population is subjected makes rich and poor equally dependent on the National Committee of Relief and Alimentation.

To organize the feeding of the public would have been a task above our strength if Belgium, in her present distress, had been abandoned to her own resources. But the misfortunes which have come upon us because we could not consent to comply with the orders of a tyrannical and perjured neighbour—the poverty which cripples us more completely day by day, as requisitions, pillage, taxes, and fines deprive us of our last resources—the massacres and the incendiarism which have turned into deserts the most fertile and most densely peopled provinces of Europe—the molestations and annoyances which[173] have reduced to unemployment a working population whose activity is proverbial—in short, the unmerited misfortune which Kultur has inflicted upon us—all this has awakened, in all the civilized nations, a current of sympathy and solidarity with poor Belgium.

By Germany our country was condemned to perish of starvation. The miracle which alone could save us has been effected by the charity of Spain, Scandinavia, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Argentine Republic, Brazil, and, above all, the United States. Since the month of November 1914 vessels laden with provisions have been regularly leaving the American ports for Rotterdam, whence the food is despatched, principally by means of barges, into Belgium, and distributed, in the smallest villages even, by the care of the National Committee of Relief and Alimentation. This Committee is an extension throughout the whole country of a commission which was formed early in September 1914 to succour the Brussels district; it is under the patronage of their Excellencies the Marquis of Villalobar, the Spanish Minister, and Mr. Brand Whitlock, the United States Minister. In January and February 1915 the Committee was induced to concern itself also with the country round Maubeuge, and the Givet—Furnay—Sedan district.

The mission of the National Committee is equitably to distribute relief and provisions. But it does not itself collect these resources; as they derive more particularly from the United States it is an American Committee, the "Commission for Relief in Belgium," which undertakes to collect and administer funds. It is the American Committee[174] which despatches to Rotterdam, from American ports, the steamers carrying food and clothing. In each province the American Commission has a delegate who supervises the distribution of provisions and relief; he assures himself that nothing is diverted to the use of the German army. The Commission for Relief in Belgium sits in London, its chairman being Mr. Herbert Hoover.

A serious difficulty cropped up immediately. Foreign beneficence was eager to aid the Belgians, but not, obviously, the butchers who occupy our country. It was therefore necessary at all costs to prevent the German army from seizing the provisions and subsidies despatched by America.

On the 16th October, 1914, the German authorities undertook to exempt from all requisitions the provisions imported by the National Committee. But this promise was promptly violated. The Germans, it is true, did not requisition the wheat, but they did requisition the bread made from that wheat. Moreover, they pretended that their engagement of the 16th October, 1914, general as it was, did not affect Flanders, a territoire d'étape not subject to the Governor-General. This is the effect of their letter of the 21st November, 1914. Up to the present it has been impossible to get them to keep the engagements to which they subscribed on the 16th October; for although they have extended to cattle-foods the promise that nothing should be requisitioned by the troops placed under the orders of the Governor-General—the territoire d'étape being thus excluded—they have, on the other hand, forced the communes of Flanders to open grain markets, in which[175] they make purchases, thus continuing to impoverish the food-stores of the country.

While they exclude Flanders from the region exempted from requisitions, they take care not to breathe a word of this exemption in their own newspapers. The K.Z., on the 4th January, and Der Volksfreund on the 5th declared that requisitions of foodstuffs were suspended throughout Belgium.

Despite the difficulties raised by the Germans, the National Committee of Relief and Alimentation has rendered our country inestimable services, which only those who have visited our towns and rural districts and have seen the work of the local Committees can form any conception.

We borrow from the report of the Executive Committee for the month of January 1915 (published in Brussels 15th February, 1915) a few figures (see table, p. 176) as to the distribution of relief during the month of January.

But the National Committee extends its beneficent action over many departments which are not mentioned in this table.

Here, according to the same report, is the list of these departments:—

I. Department of Alimentation (Foodstuffs).
II. Agricultural Section of the National Committee.
III. Relief Department:

1. Subsidies to Provincial Committees.
2. Construction of Refuges (100,000 frs. for Luxemburg)
3. Organizations patronized:

A. Central Refugee Committee.
B. Assistance and support of families of officers and under-officers deprived of their means of sustenance by the war (first subvention 50,000 frs.).
C. Assistance and support of Belgian physicians and druggists ruined by the war (first subsidy of 10,000 frs.).
D. Assistance and support of artists (first subsidy 10,000 frs.).
E. Assistance and support of infantile charities.
F. Assistance and support of destitute persons.
G. Assistance and support of the homeless (Accommodation section).
H. Assistance and support of destitute churches (two subsidies of 5,000 frs. each).
I. Assistance and protection of the unemployed.
J. Assistance and protection of lace-makers (subsidy of 129,749 frs.).
K. Union of Belgian Towns and Communes.
L. Belgian Intelligence Agency for Prisoners of War and Persons Interned (monthly subvention of 3,000 frs.).

4. Co-operative Society for Loans and Advances.
5. Advances to Provinces and Communes.
6. Clothing.


Nature of Merchandise.
Quantities in Tons.

Despatched orWheatFlourRicePeasSaltPotatoesBaconMaizeSundry ClothingSubsidies
Remitted to   and     (valueto
    Beans     inProvincial
           (in France)
Province of
  Antwerp3,5251,247 126 2 713 100,880300,000
Brussels and
  District3,3711,329132476  9082 379,058300,000
Brabant2,9621,486 3111642454857101,916 
  Flanders542519594820   2341,059170,000
  Flanders4,4191,98237464 31,12014 300,000
Hainaut5,602 3,739258350 74 18129381,493550,000
Liége3,3561,242 5   200804,860280,000
Limburg1,5391,46611  22 2003541,477160,000
Luxemburg209853158     16,656160,000
Namur1,011346 60   1508995,307203,000
General Stock,
  Brussels446119 8 2,26838  239  
  Charities         9,687 
Totals27,476 14,338359979 2,414140273,202912822,3792,423,000


Since the month of January 1915 the National Committee has not ceased to extend its activities. But it is impossible to give more precise data. The German authorities no longer permit the Committee to publish its reports. In their dry, official manner they show us only too clearly what we are to think of the present "prosperity" of Belgium and the "normal state of the situation."

It will be seen that the activities of the National Committee are fruitful and extensive. But more and more money is required, as savings are exhausted and as the public coffers are emptied by the Germans.

In January 1915 the Sovereign Pontiff surrendered the Belgian contribution to Peter's Pence.

As 40 million frs. per month (£1,600,000) is being paid to the Germans, poverty is rapidly increasing. The number of Belgians deprived of all resources and obliged to live entirely on charity had[178] risen by February to 1,500,000. It was estimated that by June it would be 2,500,000, or more than one-third of the total population. In February the nourishment of this famishing host already demanded 10 million frs. (£400,000) per month; soon it will demand 12 to 13 millions. In this conjuncture Mr. Hoover, the President of the American Commission, went begging to the British Government, which promised £100,000 per month provided Germany would cease to make requisitions in Flanders and levy the tax of 40 millions. Germany refused. How will it end?

Belgium's Gratitude to America.

Belgium knows that she owes her relief to the United States. Without American charity our country would perish in the distress into which the German exactions have plunged her. No one in Belgium will ever forget this, and it is in the name of the whole nation that King Albert has publicly thanked America.

It was in sign of homage, and also of gratitude, that on the 22nd February, 1915, on the anniversary of American Independence, the Belgians wore in their buttonholes a medallion of the Stars and Stripes, while thousands of the citizens of Brussels left their cards at the hotel of His Excellency Mr. Brand H. Whitlock. Baron von Bissing spoke of this as childishness; at Liége German officers even snatched the American colours from women and young girls. Massacre and arson are more familiar to Kultur than gratitude.


[14] And also justified by the laws of warfare as affecting invasion. Moreover: "The rules which affect a levée en masse (a general rising of the people to repel invaders, without organization) should be generously interpreted. The first duty of a citizen is to defend his country, and provided he does so loyally he should not be treated as a marauder or criminal." The Germans could not at the outset know that there was no levée en masse.—(Trans.)

[15] The Germans have tried to persuade Rome that these priests were not assassinated but killed in battle.

[16] To give an idea of these accusations, it was said that in the cellars of a Louvain convent the corpses of fifty German soldiers were discovered, murdered by the monks.

[17] If organized and disciplined, the civic guards and francs-tireurs would have formed part of the Belgian forces, provided they wore a recognizable sign and bore arms openly.—(Trans.)

[18] We shall see later (p. 221) that at Louvain Dr. Hedin was shamefully deceived by the military authorities who were guiding him through the city. It is this which makes us fear that there may also have been deceit in the case of the villagers tried as "francs-tireurs."

[19] Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege. Professor J. H. Morgan has published a translation, with an introduction (John Murray). For a comparison between German, French, and English usages see Frightfulness in Theory and Practice, by Charles Andler, ed. Bernard Miall (T. Fisher Unwin).

[20] They are all, with a truly German lack of originality, with the genuine intellectual slavishness of the "blonde beast," simply repeating the words of Clausewitz, as all German military philosophers have done for the best part of a century.—(Trans.)

[21] A perusal of Clausewitz, von Hartmann, and the Kriegsbrauch would have dispelled all doubt. None of these theories is new: how often does a German develop a new theory? This peculiarly bloodless, mechanically ferocious barbarism is nearly a century old. The French had seen it in action before.—(Trans.)

[22] The Germans even accuse the Belgian Government of paying its "francs-tireurs" "by the piece"; that is, so much per German killed.

[23] If it had openly encouraged the civil population it would merely have ordered the levée en masse, which it had a perfect right to do: as Germany did in 1813. But it is interesting to note that in 1813 the German francs-tireurs were required not to wear distinctive uniforms or badges, and were allowed to use any weapons and any means of injuring the enemy. Germany invented the franc-tireur, and now expects Belgium to do what she would do in a like case. The bogy so feared by the German soldier is, indeed, his own shadow. Actually, of course, the Belgian Government called upon civilians to keep quiet and to surrender arms.—(Trans.)

[24] Thus Der Grosse Krieg, pp. 51 and 52, published a Wolff telegram on the 3rd August, 1914, saying that many spies had already been shot in Germany, but that the public should none the less be careful to report suspects, particularly those who spoke a foreign language.

[25] Étape (etappen, Germ.), stores, rations, or a halting-place.—(Trans.)

[26] If we mention Reims it is because the Germans have on eight occasions posted placards in Belgium bearing declarations relating to this crime against civilization.

[27] We have not been able to verify the authenticity of the quotation from the Times.

[28] In Germany the phrase has a meaning sui generis.

[29] Names will be published later.

[30] See photographs in Panorama, 9B (26th August, 1914), 17A (16th October, 1914), 18A (16th October, 1914).

[31] A pit for storing potatoes in good condition.



In those chapters in which we have dealt with the violations of international treaties, and of the Hague Convention, we have often been led to comment on the mode of thought displayed by those who committed these crimes. But hitherto we have touched upon the subject of German mentality only in an incidental fashion; it will doubtless be interesting to consider it more closely.

We shall utilize, by preference, documents of German origin. In cases where these are lacking, for example, in the case of the cruelties committed, we shall have recourse to observations which we ourselves have collected, and whose authenticity is indisputable.

In place of passing in review all the peculiarities of the modern German mind, which would occupy too much space, we shall confine ourselves to those from which Belgium has suffered most cruelly; but we shall not speak—it would be superfluous—of the obscene spirit of rape, and rapacity, and drunkenness. The three psychological elements which we shall consider are pride, duplicity, and spitefulness.


Some Manifestations of Pride and the Spirit of Boasting.

"The German nation is the Chosen People, and God is with us." That is the prevailing idea of the[180] speeches and proclamations of the Kaiser. In his Speech from the Throne on the 4th August, 1914, he declared: "It is not the spirit of conquest which urges us forward; but we are animated by the inflexible determination to retain the position in which God has set us, for ourselves and for all the generations to come."

In her pride Germany is unanimous. No German is permitted to doubt the indisputable superiority of his nation over all other nations. As soon as he learns to lisp his first words, his brain is steeped in the conviction that no people is comparable to his own, even remotely.

This longing to exalt his own country is accompanied by a corresponding desire to abase all others. Hardly is a discovery of any kind made in a neighbouring country than a German appropriates it in order to give it a new trade-mark. One example will suffice.

All the world knows that Louis Pasteur was the founder of the science of bacteriology, a science whose consequences, in the spheres of hygiene and medicine, are incalculable. Germany ignores Pasteur and has heard only of Koch. A Belgian, who attended the Berlin celebrations in honour of Koch, returned disgusted with the fact that the name of Pasteur was systematically suppressed throughout the ceremonies. In an obituary notice devoted to Koch a Belgian bacteriologist, M. Jules Bordet, remarked with great justice, in speaking of the German biographies of the scientist who had just died:—

"They made Koch the absolute creator of modern medicine: all other glory pales before his; he is the founder of bacteriology. Their obituary articles, emanating, for the most part, from disciples of the master, and which are, one feels, steeped in pious[181] gratitude, and also, perhaps, to a certain extent, in a somewhat exclusive patriotism, attribute to him the honour of having shown the organic origin of contagious diseases." "It would be," said Herr Pfeiffer, the distinguished Breslau bacteriologist, "a real act of justice were posterity to divide the history of medicine into two periods, one before Koch and the other after him."

Reading such notices it would almost seem as though Pasteur had never lived!

We think M. Bordet shows himself far too indulgent toward the German biographers when he says, in conclusion: "And one could not take it amiss of these disciples if, in their filial solicitude, they left on the tomb of their Master a few leaves from the laurels of Pasteur."

Here is another example of boasting, interesting principally by reason of the charlatanesque manner in which it was published. Every one has heard of the Cooper-Hewitt mercury-vapour lamp, with its strange blue-violet light, so rich in ultra-violet rays. The most summary treatises on physics explain that quartz will allow the ultra-violet rays to pass, and that the Cooper-Hewitt quartz lamp is in constant employment in the laboratories. But if you read the communication which the Germans imposed upon L'Ami de l'Ordre on the 27th December, 1914, you will see that the Germans invented the whole affair.

If you want to be initiated into the perfections of the German, Herr Momme Nissen, in Der Krieg und die Deutsche Kunst, will enumerate them for you. "The qualities of the German," he says, "integrity and courage, profundity of mind and fidelity, insight and the sense of inwardness, modesty and piety, are also the ornaments of our art."


The Germans compare themselves with their Allies.

Here is a last point to be considered. The Germans do not merely consider themselves to be superior to their adversaries; they are equally modest on behalf of their allies. To their minds, and in their writings, the present war is "the German war." The most complete chronological compilation which has appeared hitherto is entitled Chronik des Deutschen Krieges. The official publications deliberately ignore the Austrians, Hungarians, Czechs, Croats, Turks, etc. The first of the pamphlets of propaganda distributed by the Germans (Journal de la Guerre) begins thus: "The name this war will one day bear in history is already determined; it can only be the German War, for it is a war destined to establish the position of the German nation in the world." By what name shall we call the German's sense of superiority over all other nations: is it pride, presumption, or impudence?

Herr Paul Rohrbach, who is generally more moderate in his expressions, has written a pamphlet entitled Warum es der Deutsche Krieg ist ("Why this is the German War").

It would be useless to insist on the general aspects of the question. Let us consider only a few of the immediate consequences of this frame of mind: militarism, disdain for others, cynicism, and absence of the critical spirit.

1. Militarism.

Might comes before Right.

Bismarck has given us a precise formula of the cult of brute force, "Might comes before right!"[183] Nietzsche has gone further, "Might creates right." "You say that a good cause sanctifies even war? I tell you that a good war sanctifies any cause!" (Thus Spake Zarathustra).

Herr Maximilian Harden, the well-known polemical writer, expressed the same idea in a lecture delivered at Duisbourg and reproduced in K.Z. (8th December, 1914). It is expressed with equal lucidity in an article published in Zeit im Bild (19th November, 1914), and signed Vitus Bug; the author, after inquiring into the reasons which make Germany hated, adds: "Let us be victorious, and people will immediately discover that we were in the right!"

It is, consequently, towards the army that the essential aspirations of the German nation converge; everything must give way to the military interest; the moment this is in question there is no longer any room for morality, says Professor Rein, of the University of Jena (N.R.C., 22nd January, 1915, morning), nor for humanity, says Herr Erzberger (N.R.C., 6th February, 1915, evening), nor even for the law of nations, declares Professor Beer, of the University of Leipzig (Völkerrecht und Krieg). In other countries people have remained simple enough to believe that it is precisely in time of war that the prescriptions of international law should be most strictly respected. Nothing of the sort, say the Germans; the moment war breaks out everyday justice can only efface itself. On the slightest accusation, the least pretext, or even without any, they begin to shoot and to burn. If by accident those put to death are innocent, or if there was in truth no complaint to be made against the inhabitants of the houses burned to ashes, it is obviously regrettable;[184] but such commonplace considerations will not prevent the German army from inflicting on the nearest village a punishment any less exemplary. Es ist Krieg: in this phrase is contained the whole psychology of the German soldier in war-time. "Do you suppose," said a German at Louvain, "that we've got time to make inquiries?" (N.R.C., 9th September, 1914, morning). "You understand clearly," said an officer at Francorchamps, "that we cannot stop the German army to inquire if this man has really fired on us; he was accused of doing so; isn't that sufficient reason for shooting him?"

Before leaving the subject of militarism, we will cite one insignificant fact which, however trifling, clearly reveals the importance which the military idea has assumed in the conceptions of the German people. According to the N.R.C. of the 6th February, 1915 (evening), Vorwärts has protested against the following measure: The German wife whose husband is under arms cannot be expelled from her dwelling for non-payment of rent; but if her husband should be killed in the war the landlord immediately recovers the right to turn her out.

2. Disdain of Others.

We have seen that the Germans are seeking by all possible means to accentuate their superiority over their neighbours. An elementary procedure for increasing the vertical distance between them and their rivals consists in depreciating the latter. Germany has so often, in every tone of voice, proclaimed the irremediable inferiority of all the other peoples inhabiting our planet, that she has at last[185] come to believe it herself, and has begun to act in conformity with her belief.

Some Inept Proclamations, etc.

Thus, to speak only of our own experience, they assuredly under-estimated our national integrity when they believed us capable of becoming accomplices in the violation of an international treaty. They also greatly under-estimated our army's powers of resistance, or they would have taken good care not to lose a fortnight in Belgium, a delay which spoiled their sudden attack upon France. Finally, they show us every day, by their placards, that they do not think much of our intelligence. Some of those entitled "News published by the German General Government" are really inimitable.

Imagine our laughter when the authorities to whom we are forced to submit officially announced that a German squadron had captured fifteen fishing-boats; or that the Serbians had taken Semlin in order to obtain food; or that the star of Paschitsch was growing pale; or that the Austrians had evacuated Lemberg for strategic and humanitarian reasons; or that the British Army is so ill-equipped that the soldiers are without writing-paper and shoelaces; or that the river of the "gifts of love" continues to flow; or that General Joffre (in a French that could only have come from a German pen) informs his troops that "the moment is come to profit by the weakness which offers itself to us, after we have reinforced ourselves in men and material." In the last days of September 1914, when a citizen of Brussels met a fair-haired comrade, he hastened to measure him, to make sure that he was not Charles-Alice Yate, "being about 5 ft. 9 in. in height."


Here are some of these placards:—

News published by the German Government.

Berlin, 6th September, 1914.—The Austria-Hungarian Ambassador publishes the following dispatch which has been forwarded to him by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Vienna:—

"The Russian news on the subject of the battle of Lemberg and the triumphant capture of the city is a lie. The open town of Lemberg was evacuated by us without a battle for strategical and humanitarian reasons."

The General German Government.

London, 8th September, 1914 (Reuter's Agency).—A German squadron, composed of two cruisers and four torpedo-boats, has captured fifteen English fishing-boats in the North Sea, and has brought numerous prisoners to Wilhelmshaven.

The German General Government.

Berlin, 22nd September, 1914.—On the night of the 19th September Major Charles-Alice Yate, of the regiment of the Yorkshire Light Infantry, escaped from Torgau, where he was prisoner of war. Yate is that English officer of superior rank concerning whom it was announced the other day that he did not deny, upon inquiry, that the English troops have been supplied with dum-dum bullets; in the course of this interrogatory he declared that the soldier must obviously use the ammunition which is furnished to him by the Government.

The fugitive is about 5 ft. 9 in. in height; he is slender, fair-haired, and speaks German well.

The German General Government.

Vienna, 29th September, 1914.—The Reichspost announces from Sofia: The correspondent of the Volja, the organ of Ghenadjev, writes from Nish: The Austrian offensive has serious consequences for Serbia; rebellion is muttering in the country and the army, and every day may see the outbreak of the revolution. During the last few days several regiments of artillery have revolted. A certain number of guns have been demolished....

King Peter has returned; he is completely apathetic, and the Crown Prince Alexander does not know what to do. The star of Paschitsch is paling, and it is feared there may soon be victims in his entourage.

The German General Government.


London, 6th October, 1914.—The Daily Chronicle announces that at Aldershot, in round figures, 135,000 militia belonging to all arms should be prepared to depart for the army as soon as they are ready. However, the training, despite the most brilliant efforts, could not give satisfactory results, the troops being insufficiently equipped. The newspaper appeals for the assistance of the public, and remarks that, for example, no officer of Lord Kitchener's first army possesses field-glasses. They also lack socks, handkerchiefs, shoelaces, writing-paper and materials, and drums and fifes for the Scottish regiments.

The German General Government.

What is even more strange than their insistence in offering us their sophisticated views, is their virtuous indignation when they discover that we are not receptive of this kind of truth. Thus the people of Liége, who would not believe the German placards and preferred their secret newspapers, were warned by Lieut.-General von Kolewe that they were in danger of appearing ridiculous in the eyes of intelligent people.

To the Population of Liége and Neighbourhood.

Considering the continual successes of the German troops, it is impossible to understand why the people of Liége are still so credulous as to believe the absurd and frivolous news spread by the manufactories of falsehoods installed in Liége. Those who busy themselves in propagating such news are risking severe punishment. They are playing a dangerous game in abusing the credulity of their fellow-citizens and in inciting them to reckless actions. The reasonable population of Liége will resist all temptations of the kind.

Otherwise it is exposing itself not merely to the gravest disappointment, but also to appearing ridiculous in the eyes of intelligent people.

Lieut.-General and German Governor of the
Fortress of Liége

It is forbidden to tear down this placard or to paste another over it.


Lies concerning the Situation in Belgium.

Before other placards the shrugging of shoulders gave way to disgust. Baron von der Goltz, at Sofia, boasted of having rendered "the situation in Belgium entirely normal." What of it? We were so glad to be rid of him that we were ready to overlook any ineptitudes. But when his successor, Baron von Bissing, after levying a contribution of 480 million frs. (£19,200,000), had the audacity to declare that he hoped "to do much for the economic situation," and would especially apply himself "to doing everything to assist the weak in Belgium, and to encourage them," he passed the bounds of cynicism and presumption. However, two months later, on the 18th February, 1915, after having despoiled us of 120 million francs, he found occasion to go still farther, affirming his "solicitude for the welfare and prosperity of the population."

Lies concerning "Francs-tireurs."

What shall we say of the accusations made against Belgian civilians? From August, at the time of the first sortie of our troops from Antwerp, the Germans posted up statements in Brussels that the Belgian population was again taking part in the conflict.

Official Statement by the Commandant of the German Army.

Brussels, 28th August, 1914.—On the 26th and 27th August several Belgian divisions made a sortie from Antwerp in order to attack our lines of communication, but they were repulsed by those of our troops left behind to invest the city. Five Belgian guns fell into our hands....

The Belgian population almost everywhere took part in the fighting. It became necessary to take the most drastic measures to repress the bands of francs-tireurs....


Now certain of these battles took place at a distance of only six miles from Brussels; peasants were shot at Houtem (a hamlet of Vilvorde) and at Eppeghem: that is, in villages whence people went into the city every morning with vegetables, milk, etc., so that the inhabitants of the capital were perfectly informed as to the behaviour of the German troops toward the Belgian civilians. They knew, too, that these pretended attacks of "francs-tireurs" had been delivered by detachments of the Belgian army (see E. Waxweiler in La Belgique neutre et loyale, p. 219). The keen indignation against the German liars was still further aggravated when, three weeks later, the Kaiser repeated these calumnies. The fact of their having placarded the walls of Brussels with these obviously false accusations shows once more in what low esteem the Germans hold the mental faculties of their victims.

News published by the German Government.

Brussels, 7th October.—From the leader of a troop of cyclists near Hennuyères written instructions were taken, intended for the leaders of the so-called "destructive detachment," in which they are told, among other things: "Spread false news: landing of the English at Antwerp, Russians at Calais."

That the Germans should seek to deceive their own compatriots as to the situation is natural enough—they are quite content with official news. But in Belgium we still, in spite of all obstacles, continue to receive foreign newspapers, which keep us informed of the military operations. Why, then, did the Germans try to impose on us over the battle of the Marne, when nothing was easier than to learn the truth from the Times and the French Press?

A still more curious case was that of the battle of Ypres. During a whole fortnight the official placards[190] daily informed the Belgians of the latest German success ... and at the end of three weeks the army was still as far from Ypres. The whole of this Yser campaign is interesting as throwing a light upon the German mentality. From the outset the Germans tried to establish a confusion between the "canalized" Yser and the "canalized" Yperlée, that is, the canal running from Ypres to the Yser. What they call "the canal of the Yser" in their placard of the 22nd October is the canalized Yser between Dixmude and Nieuport. In the placard of the 2nd November they spoke of the "canal from the Yser to Ypres, near Nieuport," an absolutely fantastic description. Finally, on the 4th April, when they claimed to have crossed "the Yser canal" to occupy Driegrachten, it was really the Yperlée that was in question, and not the Yser at all. This is, as will be seen, on a par with the intentional confusion which they sought to create between the city of Liége and its forts (pp. 50, 58). Such confusions may deceive the Germans, but the Belgians, familiar with the geography of their country, naturally laugh at them.

Another point relating to this astonishing campaign on the Yser: On the 2nd November the Germans announced that operations were rendered difficult by the inundation. On the following day, having expressed their pity for the Belgians "whose fields were devastated for a long time to come," they added that the water was in parts deeper than a man's height, but that they had lost neither man, nor horse, nor gun. How can they impose such idle stuff on people who know the polders of the coast region, with their innumerable canals and ditches, and who know, moreover, than an inundation there renders all retreat impossible?


3. Cynicism.

They must require a good stock of effrontery to put before us such assertions as that of the Kaiser, whose falsity is obvious at sight. They cannot be ignorant of the fact that these impostures are instantly exposed. But this consideration does not give them pause; German superiority appears to them so indisputable that they have no need to trouble about the opinion of other people; if they occasionally indicate the reasons for their actions, it is to reassure their own conscience, not to justify themselves to their victims. They are, in short, in the situation of the sportsman who brings down the game passing within gunshot, but is not required to render an account of it to the rabbits and partridges. To the sportsman's way of thinking there is no cynicism in so acting: between the hunter and the game there is too great a difference to make such a justification necessary. Similarly, the Germans occupy, in the scale of Kultur, so exalted a position as compared with the Belgians, that they believe in good faith that all is permitted to them in dealing with this horde, and that they need not justify their actions. They behave toward us as the Conquistadores toward the Aztecs.

More, they actually advertise their contempt for the rules of justice. We have already mentioned the placard posted at Gand, according to which they openly placed themselves in conflict with the Hague Convention. They have gone yet farther in this direction. What are we to say, for example, of the placard posted at Menin, in July 1915, by order of Commandant Schmidt, in which it is ordained that the families of those "who do not work regularly[192] on the military works" shall be allowed to die of starvation?


From to-day the town can no longer grant relief—of whatever kind, even for families, women and children—save only to those workmen who are working regularly on the military works and on other works prescribed.

All other workmen and their families cannot henceforth be assisted in any way whatever.

And this is not the gem of the collection. At Roubaix and the vicinity (in French Flanders, close against the Belgian frontier) they advertised their decision to prevent all sales of comestibles if work were not resumed by the 7th July, and they even threatened completely to suppress "circulation," which would have resulted in the lingering death of the whole population.

And this is not the worst. In a neighbouring town, Halluin, Commandant Schranck caused a declaration to be read to the assembled notables which stated that he denied their right to invoke the Hague Convention, since the German military authorities had determined to enforce the fulfilment of all their demands, "even if a city of 15,000 inhabitants had to perish."

(Read at Halluin, on the 30th June, at 11.30 p.m., to the Municipal Council and notables of the Town of Halluin.)


What is happening is known to all these gentlemen. It is the conception and interpretation of Article 52 of the Hague Convention which has created difficulties between you and the German military authority. On which side is the right? It is not for us to discuss that, for we are not competent, and we shall never arrive at an understanding on this point. It will be the business of the diplomatists and the representatives of the various States after the war.


To-day it is exclusively the interpretation of German military authority which is valid, and for that reason we intend that all that we shall need for the maintenance of our troops shall be made by the workers of the territory occupied. I can assure you that the German authority will not under any circumstances desist from demanding its rights, even if a town of 15,000 inhabitants should have to perish. The measures introduced up to the present are only a beginning, and every day severe measures will be taken until our object is obtained.

This is the last word, and it is good advice I give you to-night. Return to reason, and arrange for the workers to resume work without delay; otherwise you will expose your town, your families, and your persons to the greatest misfortunes.

To-day, and perhaps for a long time yet, there is for Halluin neither a prefecture nor a French Government. There is only one will, and that is the will of German authority.

The Commandant of the Town,

Do you not agree that a cynicism so shameless is a sign of perplexity and an admission of impotence? The Germans realize that they are driven to the worst expedients!

A host of similar facts might be cited, but it would mean useless repetition. Let us rather examine some examples of graphic cynicisms.

Photographs and Picture Postcards.

The Germans have published, in their newspapers, photographs representing the population of a village, consisting principally of women, being driven away as prisoners (Berl. Ill. Zeit., No. 36, 6th September, 1914); a military observation-post installed by them on the tower of Malines Cathedral during the siege of Antwerp (Berl. Ill. Zeit., No. 44, 1st November, 1914); doctors detained as prisoners in Germany, contrary to the Geneva Convention (Berl. Ill. Zeit., No. 15, 11th April, 1915); soldiers taken prisoners, whom they are forcing, despite Article 6 of the[194] Hague Convention, to do work directed against their country (Die Wochenschau, No. 44, 1914).

We find the same effrontery in respect of the conflagrations started by their troops: Scharr and Dathe, of Trèves, have edited and placed on sale, in Belgium itself, a series of fifty picture postcards, representing localities which the German army has destroyed by fire. We may mention Dinant, Namur, Louvain, Aerschot, Termonde; and in Belgium, Luxemburg, Barranzy, Etalles, Èthe, Izel, Jamoigne, Musson, Eossignol, Tintigny. Let us add that these photographs commonly show German soldiers and officers striking triumphant attitudes amid the ruins. The most instructive card of this kind which we have seen is one representing General Beeger amid the ruins of Dinant. To understand the full significance of this card, one must remember that it was this officer who ordered 1,200 of the houses of Dinant to be burned and 700 of the inhabitants to be massacred. It is surprising that he did not have a few corpses of "francs-tireurs" arranged about him when the photograph was taken—preferably selected from the old men, women, and children at the breast.

After the torpedoing of the Lusitania they sold in Belgium a series of cards entitled Kriegs-Errinerungs-Karte, edited by Dr. Trenkler & Co., of Leipzig, which pictured the operations of submarines. Card No. 2, of Series XXXIII, represents—very inaccurately, by the way—a German submarine stopping the Lusitania. It is as well to recall the fact that in this disaster more than 1,500 non-combatants perished, among them Mme. Antoine Depage, the wife of the well-known Belgian surgeon.

Nothing ought to surprise us on the part of those[195] who prove that every means is good provided it is efficacious. Here is what a newspaper, much respected in Germany, the Hamburger Fremdenblatt, has to say in its weekly illustrated supplement for the 16th May, 1915:—

"In the situation in which Germany now finds herself, attacked on three sides at once with all the means that cruelty and perfidy can invent, we must not ask ourselves whether a means of defence is permitted or prohibited; but whether it is effectual. All that facilitates the defence must be employed; this is especially true of the submarine war, and consequently of the destruction of the Lusitania."

Alfred Heymel on the Battle of Charleroi.

We have already spoken of the articles of Alfred Heymel and Walter Blöm. Here are some extracts from an article by the former:—

The Battle of Charleroi.

One regiment of cavalry was detrained near the enemy frontier. For a little while it halted on a manœuvring ground where the division to which we were to be attached as scouts was to assemble.

Already many of us were impatient at having to wait longer before marching to the front; we heard the growling thunder of the howitzers of the great fortress near the frontier, around which there had been violent fighting these last few days; we were told of cruelties that made our hair stand on end, committed, in its fury, by a people which had for years been excited against us deeds of cruelty committed against our compatriots, soldiers, civilians, women and children, because of our violation of a neutrality which it had itself violated a thousand times over in advance. On our side we were boiling inwardly to avenge these infamies.... We breathed more freely only when, in our march beyond the frontier, we saw the first houses burned in reprisal; a curé, who had revolted, was hanging from a tree in a neighbouring thicket, swinging at the will of the wind, when at last the noise of battle grew plainer....

(They arrive near Charleroi.)

The head of one regiment, led by my friend Lieutenant S——, trotted forward again, and seized as hostages what civilians it could catch; some 12 to 16 persons, old and young, fat and thin,[196] had to march before or between the lancers; more, this portion of the regiment had received the order from its comrades not to ride too far ahead.

Something that alarmed me quite particularly, giving me a presentiment of misfortune, was the fact that the wives of these civilians burst into weeping: one red-headed woman, frantic, threw herself down in the road and gave vent to wild screams; others, behind us, their emaciated arms stretched in the air, threatened us, although they were several times assured that so long as nothing was done to us nothing would happen to their husbands, sons, friends, and lovers. All these significant scenes took place in the side streets....

(A volley is fired from a barricade—or a railway crossing the street; it is not clear which.)

I saw two or three cavalrymen fall back in front, and with them the hostages fell to the ground; my friend was standing, near his horse. A violent and rapid fire alternated with volleys; we could not escape on either side; naturally we immediately faced about and returned in the direction whence we had come; there was a furious pursuit along the uneven road, with the balls whistling at our backs. The horses fell, one after another....

Thus from the advance-guard we had become the rear-guard. We had to consider how we could regain the main body of the troop. In the first place hostages were taken, some curés among them; the cavalry and artillery were no longer marching alone and unprotected, but flanked by the infantry and pioneers; one soon learns when once one has been caught. With great difficulty we again penetrated the streets in the smoke and heat, in the midst of the flames we ourselves had lit; now we continually heard the popping of cartridges, bursting harmlessly, piled up in the houses, and betraying the friendly intention of the ex-inmates![32]...

We learned later, when we had found the uniforms, that two battalions of crack French infantry were distributed everywhere, in order to organize and discipline the fire of the Belgian civic guard and the francs-tireurs. The rumour (of marksmen on the neighbouring heights) spread.... I thought I perceived—this chilled my heart, and I still hope I was mistaken—that my cavalrymen, otherwise so brave, did not really feel inclined to go forward; their gait became slower and slower; they continually observed more minutiæ and took a longer time in seizing [197]civilians; in short, I saw the necessity of intervening, at need, against my own troops, the most heart-breaking thing that can happen to you in war. In any case I prepared myself, with a heart full of pain, to face even the abyss of this prospect....

Kunst und Künstler, January 1915 (Amm. xiii, part 4).

We must not overlook an article by Captain Walter Blöm, adjutant to General von Bissing. Herr Blöm, who is greatly admired in Germany, and whose novels may be seen at this moment on the shelves of the travellers' libraries installed in our railway stations, does not hesitate to declare that the conflagrations at Battice and Dinant were not intended to punish the population, but to terrorize them (p. 84). The article already mentioned, which incidentally describes the shooting of a French hostage, is highly typical. One sees that the death of this man—shot because the French army does not consent to cease its bombardment—does not in the least affect the writer, who finds the conduct of his countrymen quite natural.

Referring to the systematic pillage effected by the German army, we have already mentioned (p. 132) the fact that "war booty" was despatched openly. In this respect, effrontery and impudence have surely nowhere been carried to greater lengths than in the valley of the Meuse. All the villas were as a matter of course emptied by the officers; when they were situated close to the banks of the river the furniture, etc., was transported on a little steamer, one of those tourist boats which in summer run between Namur and Dinant. The boat would stop before each villa, and—without the least attempt to conceal the nature of the proceedings—the pianos, beautiful pieces of furniture, clocks, pictures, etc., were piled on the deck. To cite one case among hundreds, it[198] was thus that the villa of Mme. Wodon, at Davos, was emptied.

Cynicism and impudence often lend one another mutual support. Let us recall, for example, the question of asphyxiating gases. Article 23 of the Hague Convention forbids the employment of poisons. Even in the siege of Liége our enemies were making use of shells which discharged poisonous gases at the moment of explosion; it was one of them that all but poisoned General Leman. It might, however, be supposed that these toxic vapours were the inevitable result of the detonation of the explosives with which the shells were loaded. But in April 1915 the Germans suddenly began to accuse their adversaries of the use of asphyxiating shells (see the German official communiqués of the 9th, 12th, 14th, and 21st April). At the same time they made it known that their chemists, far abler than those of France or England, were about to combine substances whose detonation would liberate products far more toxic than those of the enemy's shells. And on the 22nd April they preceded their attack on the trenches to the north of Ypres by a cloud of smoke of a yellowish-green colour, which asphyxiated the French and Canadians (see N.R.C., 29th April, 1914, morning). Now the falsity of their bragging allegations is obvious. They will not persuade any one to believe that between the 8th of April and the 22nd May they had had time to invent the combination of substances capable of giving off toxic vapours, to manufacture them in sufficient quantities, and finally to forward the cylinders to the field of battle.

Let us add, moreover, that we knew before the end of March—that is, before the accusations made[199] against the French—that the Germans were making experiments on a large scale in the aviation camp at Kiewit, near Hasselt. They were asphyxiating dogs. It may be supposed that they presently realized that they had gone a little too far in their cynicism, for in its issue of the 3rd May, 1915, Die Wochenschau, commenting on the affair of the 22nd April, stated that the attack had been "ably seconded by technical means."

Still, the palm for cynicism goes to the high authorities. What are we to think of Baron von der Goltz, whose proclamations state that the innocent and guilty will be punished without distinction? (p. 144). Here we begin to see into the mentality of the Germans; swollen with pride, they consider that all things are permitted to them as against a people so uncivilized as the Belgians.

Well, incredible as it may seem, the Germans have surpassed themselves in this department. The same action, accordingly as it is performed by them or against them, is denounced as a crime or highly approved. We have already seen this in connection with the bombardment of towns by aeroplanes and dirigibles. What shall we say of the action of the German cavalryman, who, surprised by superior forces, surrendered; but, as he was giving up his arms thought better of it, broke the head of one of his adversaries, and fled. If a Belgian or a Frenchman had been guilty of such treachery the Germans could not have found sufficient terms of abuse to heap upon his head; but as he was a German his action became ein kühnes Reiterstückchen (a "Bold exploit of a Cavalryman"). More—this incident is reported in the first number of the pamphlets of propaganda distributed by order of the[200] German authorities—the Journal de la Guerre. Not only do they find no cause for blame in a soldier who has committed so vile an action; they are proud of him, and take pains to celebrate his glory in neutral countries.

Here are two other examples, bearing on matters of much greater importance. On the 4th August, 1914, the very day on which they were violating the neutrality of Belgium, and were commencing to punish us, at Visé, for having dared to resist them, they expressed their satisfaction in the fact that Switzerland was scrupulously remaining neutral. M. Waxweiler (p. 52) calls our attention to this contradiction in their attitude toward the two neutral countries—Belgium and Switzerland. Moreover, they had the impudence to placard their satisfaction in the neutrality of Switzerland about the streets of Brussels.

News published by the German General Government.

Berne, 7th February.—The representative of the Bund has been received in Berlin by Herr von Jagow, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, who spoke of Switzerland in the most friendly manner. Herr von Jagow says: The strictly neutral attitude of Switzerland has produced the most favourable impression in Germany. We take a very keen interest in a neutral, independent, and powerful Switzerland.

The General Government in Belgium.

While in Belgium they burn houses and torture civilians, on the pretext that the latter have fired on them, they congratulate the Hungarian peasants who took up arms to defend their country against the Russian invader. The contrast here is so obvious that it even struck one German—Herr Maximilian Harden. In an article in Jingoism, a Disease of the Mind, he reproaches his compatriots[201] with having two weights and two measures (published in Vorwärts, August 1914).

They push their effrontery to the point of photographing their own francs-tireurs, so that no doubt may be left in our minds. The Berl. Ill. Zeit. of the 16th March, 1915 (p. 261), gives a photograph "from the theatre of the war in the Carpathians"—"Ruthenian Peasant employed in the Austro-Hungarian Army to guard roads and telegraph-lines." The peasant, without uniform, carries a rifle.

Lastly, let us cite a case in which cynicism is allied to pedantry. On the calcined walls of the Hôtel de Ville of Dinant (burned on the 23rd and 24th August, 1914) is a chronogram. The letters are cut in a slab of marble let into the wall facing the Meuse. The fire had rendered the inscription illegible, but the commandant of the town, in March 1915, had the slab re-painted black and the letters re-gilt. This is the inscription:—

paX et saLVs
neVtra LItateM
serVant IBVs DetVr.

("May peace and security be granted to those who preserve neutrality.")

Herr Otto Eduard Schmidt, returning from the French front by way of Dinant, was struck by this inscription. "I could not learn for certain," he says, "by questioning passing soldiers of the Landsturm, whether the inscription had lately been placed there or had merely been re-gilt. But in any case, I should regard it an insult to German authority, and I am astonished that this insult should be tolerated" (O. E. Schmidt, Eine Fahrt zu den Sachsen an die Front, p. 131). What would Herr[202] Schmidt say if he knew that it was his own countrymen who, in a fit of shameless cynicism, caused this inscription to be renovated?

Surrender of the Critical Spirit. Refusal to Examine the Accusations of Cruelty.

Painfully moved by the horrors committed in Belgium, M. Charles Magnet, the National Grand Master of Belgian Freemasonry, wrote on the 9th September to nine German lodges, requesting them to institute, by common consent, an inquiry into the facts. Since the Germans denied the atrocities of which their troops were accused, and, on the other hand, were accusing the Belgians of maltreating the wounded, such an inquiry could only have a happy result. Two lodges only replied. "The request is superfluous; this inquiry would be an insult to our army," replied the Darmstadt lodge. "Our troops are not ill-conducted; it would even be dangerous to recommend them to display sensibility and kindness," replied the Bayreuth lodge.

The argument may be summarized thus: "We know, as Germans, that we possess the truth; it is useless, therefore, to go in search of it with the help of an impartial commission." In a second letter M. Magnet commented on these evasions, as contrary to the spirit of brotherhood as to the scientific spirit.

Let it not be supposed that the refusal to examine, objectively and impartially, the German and the Belgian accusations, is peculiar to Freemasonry. On the 24th January, 1915, Cardinal Mercier requested the German authorities in Belgium to set up a commission comprising both Germans and Belgians, under the presidency of a representative of a neutral country. His request was accorded no reply.


Thus the Germans refuse to allow any light to be thrown on their actions and those of the Belgians. Why this opposition to a faithful search for the truth? They fear, perhaps, that the truth will be unfavourable to them. That is undoubtedly one of their reasons; but we do not think it can be the only reason; and the principal reason for their refusal is without doubt the voluntary blindness to which they have one and all subjected themselves since the outbreak of the war.

They have decided, one would imagine, to accept, without any discussion, whatever is decreed by authority, which they invest with the absolute truth; every German calmly receives that portion of the truth which the Government thinks fit to dispense to its faithful, and no German permits himself to ask for more. Magister dixit: the Staff has spoken!

Since the month of August a strict censorship has been exercised over the Press. Vorwärts and other Socialist sheets have several times been suspended. The Kölnischer Volkszeitung was suspended on the 11th September, 1914, for having published articles disposing of at least a part of the so-called Belgian atrocities.... And then, apparently, it proceeded to take them for granted; for afterwards it even aggravated the accusations brought against the Belgians.

The Vossische Zeitung itself, official as it is, had its issue of the 1st December, 1914, seized on account of an article on a commission of the Reichstag (N.R.C., 3rd December, 1914, evening). At the same time the Government was careful to stop all foreign books and newspapers. This prohibition is so strict that Dutch working-men going to work in Germany are not allowed to wrap their sandwiches[204] in newspaper (N.R.C., 10th December, 1914, evening).

In Germany even people are beginning to find the censorship a little too strict. Before the Budget Commission of the Reichstag Herr Scheidemann, the Socialist deputy, complained that in the district of Rüstringen certain of the German official communiqués even were prohibited. The newspapers may not leave blank the spaces caused by the censorship, as the latter must not appear. At Strasburg the censorship prohibited the publication of articles dealing with the increased price of milk. At Dortmund the Socialist newspapers were subjected to a preventive censorship for having inserted an article by the sociologist Lujo Brentano, one of the "Ninety-three," professor at the University of Münich (N.R.C., 16th May, 1913, morning).

Does the German public, knowing that the newspapers publish none but articles inspired by authority, or at least controlled thereby, accept this sophisticated mental pabulum in good part? Or does it make an effort to procure foreign publications? One must believe that it does not, for in that case the "intellectuals," better informed, would cease to blindly accept the official declarations.

"But," it will perhaps be said, "since the Government forbids the introduction of foreign newspapers, it is radically impossible to obtain them." We do not know just how the Germans could obtain pamphlets and newspapers, but we do know that in Belgium we read prohibited literature every day—French, Dutch, and English. Any one who does not intend to resign himself to living in an oubliette will succeed, in spite of everything, in opening some chink that the light may shine[205] through; and this light, when we have received it, we hasten to share. It is forbidden, under the severest penalties, including the capital, to introduce newspapers into Belgium; it is forbidden, under the same penalties, to publish and distribute "false news," as our masters call it. It makes little difference to us; not an article or book of importance appears abroad but it reaches us, and two days later it is secretly distributed in thousands of copies. There will be a curious book for some one to write when the war is over, on the subject of the strange and ingenious means employed by the Belgians, prisoners in their own country since August 1914, to obtain and distribute prohibited letterpress.

There is accordingly no doubt that if the Germans really wished it they could without great difficulty obtain reliable "documentation." But they do not wish it. They, of late so proud of their critical spirit, who made it their rule, so they professed—and their glory, as was thought—to accept only that which their reason commanded them to believe! They have abdicated their critical faculty; they have sacrificed it to the militarist Moloch. And to-day, with eyes closed, they swallow all that the Government and its reptile Press presents to them.

The Abolition of Free Discussion in Germany.

What am I saying? Not only are they ready to swallow all the lies offered to them; they have even abolished liberty of speech among themselves. A striking example of this fact was given by the N.R.C. (of the 16th November, 1914, morning edition). Dr. Wekberg, one of the three editors of a German periodical, the Revue des Volksrechts,[206] retired from his editorship because his colleagues refused to insert an article in which he declared that Germany's attitude towards Belgium was perhaps disputable. It would be difficult to push intolerance of criticism much farther.

In the same connection we may recall the sessions of the Reichstag of the 4th August, 1914, the 2nd December, 1914, and the 20th March, 1915. At the first session not a voice protested against the war. At the second, the Socialist deputy, Dr. Karl Liebknecht, asked leave to present some objections, which indeed were timid enough; he was at once disowned by his party. On the 20th March the deputy Ledebour permitted himself to criticize the proclamation of Marshal von Hindenburg, prescribing the burning of three Russian villages for any German village burned by the Russians. Both these deputies expressed the opinion that it is iniquitous to punish the innocent in the place of the guilty. Immediately the whole assembly, Socialists included, copiously abused and insulted the two speakers. We may remark that Herr Ledebour was discussing not a strategical measure, but a prescription that was merely inhuman (see K.Z., 20th March, 1915, evening).

These few examples are enough to show that the Socialists lend themselves to militarist domestication with the same docility as the "bourgeois" parties. As for the Catholic remnant in the Reichstag, its docility surpasses even that of the Socialists.

In short, all the political parties, without exception, have abdicated their liberty of thought, to accept, obsequiously and without the slightest attempt at discussion, the ready-made opinions provided by authority. Such, in Germany, is the power of[207] discipline, that all have submitted without protest—one might almost say wantonly—to the voluntary extirpation of the critical spirit. But the inevitable results of this servility were not long in showing themselves; having renounced the employment of reason, the Germans now accept the most extravagant lies.

German Credulity.

We have remarked that one day a curious book may be written as to the expedients invented by the Belgians to obtain news from abroad and to distribute it throughout the country. Equally interesting—but how discouraging, from the standpoint of the progressive evolution of the human mind—will be the book containing the amazing examples of credulity afforded by the Germans during this war. When speaking of the German accusations against the Belgians we cited the case of the rifles collected in the Hôtel de Ville, which were exhibited to the German soldiers as the irrefutable proof of the official premeditation of the "franc-tireur" campaign (p. 90 Not only were the soldiers thus deluded. A well-known novelist, Herr Fedor von Zobeltitz, visiting in Antwerp a museum of arms, which contained war weapons of the Middle Ages, cried: "See how Belgium made ready for the war!" Was he sincere? It is difficult to say, for artists often allow their sensibility to run away with them. One may say the same of the Kaiser, who also declared that Belgium had long been preparing for the "war of francs-tireurs"; and even, perhaps, of Herr Bethmann-Hollweg, who spoke, in his manifesto to the American newspapers, of gouged-out[208] eyes and other atrocities whose falsity he could very easily have ascertained.

News published by the German Government.

Berlin, 10th September.—The Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung publishes the following telegram addressed by the Emperor to President Wilson of the United States:—

"I consider it my duty, Mr. President, to inform you, in your quality of a most distinguished representative of humanitarian principles, of the fact that my troops discovered, after the capture of the French fortress of Longwy, in that fortress, thousands of dum-dum bullets made in special workshops by the Government. Bullets of the same kind have been found on dead soldiers, or wounded or prisoners, of English nationality. You know what horrible wounds and sufferings are caused by these balls, and that their employment is forbidden by the recognized principles of international law. I therefore raise a solemn protest against such a mode of making war, which has become, thanks to the methods of our adversaries, one of the most barbarous of history.

"Not only have they themselves employed this cruel weapon, but the Belgian Government has openly encouraged the civil population to take part in this war, which it had carefully for a long time prepared. The cruelties inflicted, in the course of this guerilla war, by women and even by priests, upon wounded soldiers, doctors, and hospital nurses (doctors have been killed and hospitals fired on) have been such that my generals have finally found themselves obliged to resort to the most rigorous means to chastise the guilty and to prevent the bloodthirsty population from continuing these abominable, criminal, and hateful acts. Many villages, and even the city of Louvain, have had to be demolished (except the very beautiful Hôtel de Ville) in the interest of our defence and the protection of our troops. My heart bleeds when I see that such measures have been rendered inevitable, and when I think of the innumerable innocent persons who have lost their homes and their belongings as a result of the deeds of the criminals in question.

"Wilhelm I.R."
The German Military Government.
Declaration of the Chancellor of the Empire to the Associated and United Press, New York.

... In this way England will tell your compatriots that the German troops have burned and sacked Belgian towns and[209] villages, but she will carefully conceal the fact that young Belgian girls have gouged out the eyes of wounded men stretched defenceless on the field of battle, that the functionaries of Belgian towns have invited German officers to dinner and have treacherously shot them dead at table. Contrary to international law, the whole civil population of Belgium has been called to arms[33] and has treacherously risen against our troops with concealed arms and a perfidy incredible after having first of all feigned a friendly welcome. Belgian women have cut the throats of German soldiers quartered on them while they slept....

Journal de la Guerre (an organ of German propaganda).

We will suppose, for the time being—to be extremely generous to the Kaiser and his Chancellor—that they accepted, in good faith, the accusations of cruelty brought against the Belgians, and that they carefully refrained from investigating them, so that they should not be forced to recognize their imbecility.

Voluntary Blindness of the "Intellectual."

Perhaps it will be objected that the examples hitherto cited emanate chiefly from politicians and literary men, who are not accustomed to exercise their judgment. But there are also the manifestoes of the professorial body, that is, those whose essential mission consists in passing facts and ideas through the sieve of criticism, to isolate the true from the false, and to extract from error the fragment of truth which may have fallen into it. For what is the effect of teaching, of whatever degree, if it is not the constant alertness of the critical spirit, which seeks, in all things and at every moment, to separate that which is true and which should therefore be communicated to the disciple from the medley of false and useless things which may with impunity be abandoned to oblivion? And when the teacher is also a seeker, has he not once more unceasingly to exercise his critical spirit, that he may recognize in the host of ideas which present themselves to him those which may lead him to the desired end—and, once this is attained, those which he may use as a touchstone to test experimentally the validity of these deductions? In short, for the professor and the scientific worker there is no intellectual faculty more indispensable than the critical spirit.


Now among those who have dashed into the lists to champion, with their pens, the rights of Germany, and to crush her adversaries, we must make a quite special mention of the professors and schoolmasters. Let us begin with the latter. Their principal argument in denial of the barbarous conduct of which the German troops have been accused, is that it would be incompatible with the flourishing condition of the educational institutions of Germany. As though elementary education was capable of eliminating from humanity the profound imprints of its intimate mentality! Instruction may hide them, as under a veneer, but it can never cause their disappearance.

The Germans, after Sadowa and the war of 1870-1, declared that the whole honour of their victories was due to their primary education. "The French campaign is the triumph of the German schoolmaster." Those who in Belgium have seen the villages devastated by fire and the graves of the civilians shot, and above all the pillaged homes, with furniture and crockery broken into small fragments, and the filthy beds, will carry away the impression[211] that "the Belgian campaign is the bankruptcy of the German schoolmaster."

The Manifesto of the "Ninety-three."

The famous manifesto of the "ninety-three Intellectuals" to the civilized world is only too well known, and has already been so universally execrated, that there is no need to discuss it at length. The reading of this document, which ought to be carefully preserved for the edification of future generations, might almost make us doubt the sanity of the signatories. How could they have imagined that "the civilized world" would accept their affirmations and their denials? Both are equally devoid of proof. To cite only one proposition—what are we to think of the amazing declaration that not a single Belgian citizen has lost his life or his property—except in the case of the bitterest necessity? Have they never seen the train-loads of "war-booty" entering Germany? It would certainly be interesting to hear them explain what is the "bitter necessity," under whose empire pianos and pictures have to be carried off from Belgium, or that which compels the Germans to force the collecting-boxes in the churches, or that which made them shoot Father Dupierreux for writing in his diary impressions unfavourable to the Germans!

It would be cruel to insist. The "Ninety-three" have already earned, as the first penalty of their evil action, the disgust of the whole world. Further dissection of their libel inevitably leads us to the conclusion that the signatories display therein either their lack of intelligence or their servility; and that their only plausible excuse is that they allowed[212] themselves to be carried away by their German pride, the most incommensurable, intolerant, and insupportable which the world has ever known. We will confine ourselves to referring the reader to the principal replies which were made to the manifesto of the "Ninety-three." They are those of M. Seippel, Mr. Church, the Portuguese Academy of Sciences, the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, the French Academy of Medicine, the French Universities, the Zoological Society of France, the English "intellectuals," M. Ruyssen, M. Vandervelde, and Simplicissimus.

There is yet one point to be mentioned. The declaration of the German "intellectuals" was first made known to us by an article in the Kriegs Echo of the 16th October, 1914, entitled Es ist Nicht Wahr, and giving the whole manifesto, excepting the signatures and the paragraph referring to Louvain. Well! when we had read this tissue of flagrant lies we attributed it to some journalist who dared not even sign his name to his lucubrations. And when, later, we were told that the authors—or more exactly the signatories—comprised some of the most celebrated writers in Germany, we believed the whole thing must be a hoax. But we had to admit the evidence. It was for many of us a very painful moment when our illusions as to the stability of science in Germany were thus dispelled.

The Manifesto of the 3,125 Professors.

Did the Government consider that the representatives of science and art were not yet sufficiently compromised, and that they had not yet sufficiently involved the fate of the Universities with that of[213] Militarism? In any case, only a few days after the publication of the manifesto of the "Ninety-three" a fresh declaration appeared, devoted entirely to the promotion of the solidarity of superior education with the army, and signed by 3,125 names, or those of almost all the professors of Germany.

The mentality of the masters pales before that of the disciples. The Brussels correspondent of the N.R.C. relates (N.R.C., 11th November, 1914, morning), that of the innumerable soldiers whom he has seen passing, the only ones whose attitude was insolent were young university students of Berlin. Moreover, the German Socialists who visited our Maison du Peuple avowed that the troops who burned Louvain were principally composed of "intellectuals"!

Besides the intellectuals of the teaching profession and the arts, those "barbarian scholars," as M. Emile Boutroux calls them, there is another category, which has likewise been mobilized to defend the militarist spirit and the Hohenzollern dynasty. This is the clergy: Protestant pastors, Catholic priests, Israelitish rabbis; all without distinction have been touched by the militarist grace and have entered the campaign for the good cause.

The Protestant Pastors.

Honour where honour is due! Herr O. Dryander, first preacher to the Court of Berlin, published a collective letter, drafted by himself, Herr Lahusen, and Herr Axenfeld, in reply to M. Babut's appeal for a declaration from the Christians of the belligerent countries, demanding that the war should be conducted conformably with Christian principles and[214] the laws of humanity.[34] Herr Dryander and his acolytes refuse to entertain the idea that "a step of this nature could be necessary in Germany in order that the war shall be conducted conformably with Christian ideas and the claims of the most elementary humanity." Without cross-examination, without any sort of discussion, they adopt the accusations made against the armies of the Allies, and they deny the actions of which the Germans are accused. This is, as will be seen, the same method as that of the German Freemasons in an analogous case. Then they naturally sing the old refrain: "The war has been forced upon Germany" (they do not say "by Belgium"). In short, there is no need to throw any light on the subject, as there is already light within their minds, and the German mind is of course the only mind one must take into account.

The same theologian has published several pamphlets of sermons; Evangelische Reden in Schwerer Zeit. The general theme remains the same. "We have been compelled to accept war" (1, p. 5); "We are fighting for our Kultur against the absence of Kultur—for German morality against barbarism—for the free German personality, attached to God, against the instincts of the disorderly masses" (1, p. 7). "If God be for us, who can be against us?"[35] "Now if ever there was a just cause assuredly it is ours" (1, p. 9). "War is a duty only when it is undertaken for legitimate defence.... Let us thank God that in the present war our state of legitimate defence is so secure and so evident, and that it is almost every day stayed up by fresh proofs; also we have unshakable confidence in our right and in the purity of our conscience" (2, pp. 38-9).


Here is a sermon of a somewhat peculiar kind. Herr Busch, having explained that Germany is like a peaceful stroller who suddenly finds himself attacked by two assassins, and then by a third (p. 5), declares that "in spite of all the German soldiers love their enemies." "God be thanked," he says, "we have already read of most touching examples in the newspapers. A German sergeant-major, who had been obliged to have a man and woman shot, in Belgium, after a council of war, adopted their only child, a little girl of two or three years; for he was himself without children; as his regiment soon afterwards left for Eastern Prussia, and was passing through his own town, he took the child to give it to his wife" (p. 9). Pray God—we might add, whose civilization is only Belgian—that there are not too many married men without children among the soldiers of the Kaiser, for they have a way of making orphans in order to adopt them which would cost our country dear.

Herr Correvon, pastor of the Reformed Church (French-speaking) in Frankfort-on-Main, preached a sermon on the 9th August, 1914, on the text: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" His arguments amount to this: Germany, having the right on her side, will have God on her side also. He naturally speaks of "the firm and admirable speech of the Chancellor, a man whom I can only compare with a Duplessis-Mornay, the minister of Henri IV" (p. 11). Then, having summarized the Emperor's speech, he cried: "To solve the alarming problem of these social questions ... it needed[216] only the potent gesture with which the God who is always the strong city, the 'feste Burg' of Germany, the God of Luther, the God of Paul Gerhard and Sebastian Bach, has pronounced the terrible and perhaps the liberating word: 'You wish for war, you shall have it'!"

We see that from the very first days of the war, before any one could have verified the statements of the Chancellor, the Protestant pastors of Germany, even those of foreign origin, unhesitatingly accepted the official assertions. Is it as pastors that they stand forth as the stern defenders of the rights of truth? Are they not rather spiritless courtiers, we might almost say like the sheep of Panurge?

The Catholic Priests and Rabbis.

The Catholic priests have given proofs of equal docility. Mgr. the Cardinal Felix von Hartmann, Archbishop of Cologne, says in The Divine Providence, a pastoral letter read on the 25th of January, 1915:—

"Our warriors have gone forth to the bloody conflict, with God, for King and Country! With God, in the conflict which has been forced upon us, the fight for the salvation and the liberty of our dear German land; with God, in the war for the sacred possessions of Christianity and its beneficent civilization. And what exploits have not our warriors accomplished, under the protection of God, under the leadership of their wonderful chiefs, the Emperor and the German Princes, exploits whose glory shall shine in times to come! And more, what precious treasures of devotion, of love for one's neighbour, and of nobility, has not this war revealed, in our country as on the field of battle!"

The curate August Ritzl, however, falls into the sin of pride.

"Kultur has received an unheard-of impulse in Germany; the human spirit has subjected the most diverse forces of[217] nature.... A glance at the map shows us the German Empire as the centre of Europe. On all sides, near and far, enemies are intent on the ruin of our country. To the east the giant empire of Russia threatens us—to the west, violent France, still strong despite her moral decay—allied with English perfidy and Belgian cruelty; Japan, Serbia, and Egypt have also declared war upon us" (pp. 26-27).

Well, reverend sir, before proclaiming the cruelty of the Belgians, before asserting, from the vantage of the pulpit of Truth, that Serbia and Egypt have declared war on Germany, a little circumspection and critical sense would not have been out of place!

Let us also cite the sermon preached on the 9th August, in the synagogue of Schwerin, by Dr. S. Silberstein, rabbi of the Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. "They have forced us to put our hand to the sword; we execrate the perfidy with which our enemies are fighting us; we wish to ward off the danger that threatens us in honourable combat." So the Jewish rabbis knew as early as the 9th August that it was Germany that had been attacked, and that the other nations were forgers!

Useless to prolong the series.... We should be only repeating ourselves; for all the preachers, of whatever confession, repeat the same lesson, almost in the same words: "The war which has been forced upon us ... our treacherous enemies ... our loyal allies ... the cruel Belgians ... our excellent soldiers, allying goodness to bravery ... our heroic leaders...."


To describe frankly and completely the attitude of the Germans in Belgium during the present war, without speaking of their duplicity, would be an impossible task; so that the reader must not be[218] surprised that on every page of our record we have pinned down at least one lie. We must not forget that modern Germany follows the examples of Bismarck, and that Bismarck himself proclaimed that he had caused the outbreak of the war of 1870 by a skilful falsification of a Government despatch. At the time of the centenary of the Iron Chancellor's birth—the 1st April, 1915—the German newspapers gave their lyric enthusiasm a loose rein; but none of the endless dithyrambics consecrated to the glorification of the Great Man contained a single word of blame for the forgery itself—abominable as it was—nor for the ostentatious impudence with which its author confessed it.

What honesty can we expect in a people which praises to the skies a forger because he was a forger, and a forger proud of his skill!

1. A Few Lies.

Number 50 of Die Wochenschau (1914, p. 1588) contains a photograph in which we see sailors loading a gun installed among sand-hills. The inscription underneath (translated from the German) reads: "Belgian gun, captured and served by German sailors on the coast of the Channel." The Channel! The Germans have never been there: they did set out, full of enthusiasm, for Calais, and then the shore of the Channel, and then London. But in that direction they never got farther than Lombartzyde, on the right bank of the Yser. But they prefer to let it be believed that they command the Channel, so they have chosen the Channel coast for the site of their gun—on paper. Then this "Belgian gun" is of a curious type for a piece of Belgian artillery; our[219] guns have a rectangular shield, while the shield of the German guns is round—just like that in the photograph! Finally, one may ask what the gunners are aiming at on this seashore, with their small gun? Certainly not one of the English vessels bombarding the Belgian coast, for these lie much too far out to sea; perhaps the Germans are amusing themselves by firing shells at the shrimpers, to repeat their memorable exploit of the 8th September, 1914? Well, that makes three flagrant lies to one single photograph!

Number 15 of Die Wochenschau (1915) gives on page 463 a view of the interior of the Palais de Justice in Brussels. Here is the description—a French translation is given: "German soldiers in the hall of the Assize Court in the Palais de Justice of Brussels. Brussels having become the seat of the German General Government for Belgium, has naturally a strong garrison and a very animated military life. The famous Palais de Justice on the Place Poelaert also houses a great number of soldiers. Nothing is more singular than the picture presented by this imposing and luxurious building with the new inmates in 'campaigning grey' who are installed there. A thousand precautions are taken so that nothing shall be spoiled; and while wherever the enemy has trodden on German soil it will be necessary to work for a long time rebuilding the buildings he has destroyed, no one will perceive, who sees the superb halls of the Palais de Justice in Brussels, that the German soldiers are billeted there."

To understand the full beauty of this pleasantry one has only to look at the picture. One sees there the linen which these soldiers are drying on clotheslines stretched across the "luxurious hall"; this,[220] apparently, is one of the "thousand precautions" taken in order that nothing may be spoiled.

It was desired to prove that England had already been forced to send marines into France. No. 27 of the Illustrierte Kriegs-Kurier, a semi-official, subsidized organ, represents "President Poincaré visiting the British forces in France. One sees him reviewing the artillery of the Royal Marines." And we do see President Poincaré passing in front of two ranks of British soldiers armed with rifles. But was it in France that this review took place, during the present war? Consult the July number of the French illustrated periodical, Lectures pour tous, for 1913. On page 1245 you will find a photograph entitled "The Consecration of the Entente Cordiale. M. Poincaré, accompanied by the Prince of Wales, reviewing his guard of honour on his arrival at Portsmouth (24th June, 1913)." Now the same personages and the same soldiers figure in the two photographs; and the surroundings are the same. The only difference is that one photograph was taken a moment later than the other.

It seems that trickery of this kind is believed not to be a German speciality. Our neighbours accuse the Russians and the English of the same fault. But a kind of lie of which Germany may boldly claim the paternity and the exclusive monopoly is that which consists in denying, or at least in considerably diminishing, the extent of their acts of vandalism. On the other hand, they try to deceive their readers as to the causes of the destruction of Belgian towns.

Thus they are now trying to make people believe that Louvain was not intentionally burned, but that the town suffered a bombardment. This is[221] the legend which they related to Dr. Sven Hedin, while calling his attention to the accuracy of their fire:—

"Eleven miles to Louvain. Once in the town one goes a good way before coming to the first ruins. By no means all Louvain has been destroyed by the bombardment, as is imagined. Hardly a fifth of the town is destroyed. It is true that this fifth included many precious buildings, which cannot be replaced; particularly regrettable is the loss of the library. In the midst of this destruction, however, like a rock in the midst of the sea, rises the Hôtel de Ville, the proud jewel of the period of 1450, with its six slender open towers. I went right round the Hôtel de Ville, and I could not with the best will in the world discover a scratch on these walls, with their prodigal richness of ornamentation. Perhaps there may somewhere be a scratch from a shell-splinter which escaped my eyes. Thanks to the excellence of the German fire not a single moulding of the six towers has been damaged. The reason for the bombardment of Louvain is known. The civil population fired from the windows on the German troops at the time of their entering the town, and as this crime could not be punished otherwise, the houses were burned by bombardment. When the German soldiers sought to extinguish the flames in the houses adjacent to the Hôtel de Ville the francs-tireurs again fired on them with their carbines. Any other army in the world would have done the same, and the Germans have themselves profoundly regretted that they were forced against their will to resort to such means."

(Sven Hedin, Ein Volk in Waffen, p. 149.)

They told the same story at Termonde to Herren Koester and Noske: "It is certain," say these gentlemen, "that Termonde was not intentionally burned."

On the other hand, the Germans try to dissemble the extent of the damage inflicted. In the October issue of the official and propagandist Journal de la Guerre they give a plan of Louvain on which the parts destroyed are shown by shading. Now this plan is falsified in two ways. In the first place,[222] no distinction is made between the portion built on and that occupied by market gardeners, which is considerable; so that the ratio of the part destroyed to the part left intact is distorted. Secondly, this portion is absolutely diminished; many quarters burned are shown as intact; to mention only one example, the Old Market, where only the College of the Josephites and a few adjacent houses have been left standing, is marked as untouched by fire.

There is yet another kind of graphic lie which is peculiar to the Germans. They are experts at displaying sentimentality to order; a sentimentality, by the way, which goes ill with their incontestable cruelty. Thus they have several times published photographs representing German soldiers sharing their bread or soup with French and Belgian women or children. One is particularly inclined to let oneself be touched by the kindliness of these German warriors, who, after having been so treacherously attacked by the terrible "francs-tireurs," now take the bread from their own mouths to feed the starving population.... What these public demonstrations of German generosity and magnanimity are worth one may judge from the photograph published in No. 16 of the Illustrierte Kriegs-Kurier. (It is interesting to note that it is always the Kurier, semi-official and subsidized, which bears the palm for sincerity.) The illustration shows that "the soldiers of the German Landsturm share their bread with French children." Now, this little scene, otherwise very convincing, is not laid in France but in Belgium, in the railway station at Buysinghen, near Hal. It is wholly "faked."

This is not the only instance in which the[223] Germans have built up scenes to be photographed or cinematographed. Here is another. On the 20th October, 1914, a military band had been playing on the terrace of the Botanical Gardens of Brussels, and some German officers were strolling round the musicians. At the same time a cinematographic camera was set up in the Rue Royale. It was naturally hoped that large numbers of the public would gather near the band, so that a nice film could be obtained, showing a crowd of Belgian citizens present at a military concert, and fraternizing with the German officers. Alas, the Germans had counted without the hatred which the people of Brussels entertain for anything which concerns our oppressors! At the first thumps of the big drum the promenaders rapidly melted away, and the disappointed officers were left alone. The scheme had failed! A fresh attempt was made on the 26th, on the Boulevard Anspach, near the Bourse; that is, at the busiest spot in Brussels. The number of passers-by there is always so great that it is easy to give the impression of a crowd. Yet those who had occasion to preside over the unwinding of the film discovered that not a few people were ostentatiously turning their backs upon the musicians. This, by the way, is the favourite attitude of the people of Brussels when, at about eleven o'clock each morning, the military band—a true barbarian orchestra—passes down the Rue Royale and along the Park.

No. 31 of this semi-official journal shows "the band of the German Marines which plays every Sunday at Zeebrugge." Now a street like that represented, with tall contiguous houses and large shops, does not exist in Zeebrugge.

No. 3 of the same paper (it must certainly justify[224] the Government subsidy) shows us, in these photographs, the entry of the German Marines into Antwerp. Only the photographs were taken in Brussels, at the corner of the Rue de la Loi and the Rue Ducale.

The same number contains two photographs of the Hôtel de Ville, Louvain: "Before and after the Bombardment"(!)

Naturally our Washingtonian enemies do not miss their opportunities of falsifying picture postcards. In January 1915 they were selling in Belgium a card entitled Kriegsoperationskarte als Feld-Postbrief (published by Forkel, Stuttgart), according to which they were occupying, in Flanders, a region considerably to the west of the Yser; their front reaching to Oost-Dunkerke and Poperinghe. Another card, showing the country round Verdun, is even more flagrantly untruthful.

Written Lies.

Let us pass on to the written lies.

The reader will remember the innumerable lies told by the German Press respecting the attitude of the Belgian population toward the German residents in our towns (p. 106), the German wounded (p. 99), and the German troops passing through or billeted in them. We shall not return to these again, save to refer to other inventions which the Germans employed to excite their troops against ours.

Not content with accusing us of the most unspeakable crimes against their army, the Germans have even accused us of odious crimes against our own countrymen. In this way they seek to prove the bestially ferocious character of the Belgians.


In the booklet entitled Sturmnacht in Loewen (A Night of Alarm in Louvain) Herr Robert Heymann, after reminding his readers of the cruelties of which the Belgians were guilty in Antwerp, Brussels, etc., adds that these savage deeds were by no means surprising on the part of a people which does not even respect its own fellow-citizens. Then (p. 8) he relates the "Brutalities committed against a Convent." This is too interesting an effort to suffer a word of suppression.

Brutal Attack on a Convent.

Let us hear one of those concerned relate his tribulations. The story constitutes an important document, testifying to the high level of Germany as regards morality and Kultur: Germany, who has something better to do in this war than to commit any bloodthirsty action.

A great mission has fallen to Germany, and the day is no longer distant when all the neutral nations will realize this.

This is the "story of the Brothers of Silence."

The convent of the Jesuits is situated quite close to Liége, on a hill about 600 yards from the southern fort (a). I had been a brother of the convent for two years. We brothers do not read the newspapers, and by reason of our vow of silence (b) we do not speak either, so that we knew nothing about the war.

On Tuesday, the 6th August, I, simultaneously with seven other brothers, took the watch from noon to midnight. In the night, at 11.15, I suddenly heard a sound completely unknown to me. I went out into the courtyard, whence, to one side, I could see Liége and its forts. I saw, at some distance, in the sky, a little light; this told me that the thing was in the air. I intended to pursue my rounds, but the snoring sound which was approaching, although the life of the world has no interest for me, made me halt. The light came nearer and nearer; the noise had ceased. The idea occurred to me that this might be a dirigible; but no, all of a sudden a blinding light illumined the earth. It is the star of the Magi, announcing something, I thought; I will follow it with my eyes. In the radiance down below I saw everything plainly—portions of the fortress and other things. Then, lit up by reflection from the illuminated earth, I saw that there really was a powerful dirigible there (c). I felt inclined to shout for[226] joy; I had never yet seen a dirigible. The light lasted only a few seconds, but to me it seemed a long time. My eyes were not yet accustomed to the darkness of the night, when I heard a crash. I looked up to the sky; I saw nothing; the little light was quietly moving away; but down below there was plenty to see—fire, and smoke! In the light I could easily see everything. I also heard the echo. I had not had time to recover from my great alarm when a second light appeared on the earth, rather close to me. This time I could see still more clearly that it was a dirigible. It seemed to me that at the end of a long cable was suspended, very low down, a metal car, in which stood a man. I saw him distinctly with his two hands throwing an object into the illumined part. Immediately afterwards the light on the ground disappeared. I continued, however, to gaze at the same spot. A mighty sheaf of fire gushed up, while great blocks were thrown into the air on every side. What a terrible crash! My ear-drums seemed broken; I was as though deaf. The earth trembled so violently underfoot that I staggered. Greatly alarmed, I still watched the same place. The blinding sheaf of fire had turned into a dense mass of smoke, which was rising slowly into the air. Little by little it grew lighter, like a white vapour. Finally the vicinity lit up as though on fire.

I tried to note whether the fire was spreading, when I was shaken by a fresh crash. This terrible spectacle repeated itself continually, but was gradually moving away. From 11.15 to midnight 12 bombs were thrown on the forts. In the interval of the explosions one heard the snoring of the motors. After the last explosion the dirigible rose, moved off, and disappeared. I remained with my eyes fixed in the same direction; the clock of the convent struck midnight.

The seven brothers who had been keeping the watch and I myself remained in the courtyard with those who came to relieve us. No one could think of sleep. The other brothers and the fathers (we were 500) remained indoors, watching the burning fortress from the windows.

As I was no longer on guard I went to seek a ladder, and in order to see better I climbed a wall situated a little farther down, and some 10 feet high. I remained there until four o'clock. About two o'clock there began, down below in the city, a sound of isolated rifle-shots, and shouts which soon grew louder and louder.

At last an infernal uproar reached my ears, and numerous fires broke out in that part of the city neighbouring on the convent.

At four o'clock the bell called us to the church. It was an extraordinary thing: despite our alarm we all remained obedient to[227] our vow of silence. We must not speak! But it became a real torment, for our devotions lasted for two long hours.

By the shock of the explosions the beautiful stained-glass windows were bent inwards like sails swollen by the wind. The walls of stone, nearly 3 feet in thickness, which surrounded the courtyard, showed long, deep fissures. When at 6 a.m. we left the church the shots and the shouting were still more terrible, and the fires more numerous and farther towards the interior of the town.

As usual, the porter opened the gate at six. How alarming! Hundreds of Belgians from the neighbourhood rushed into the courtyard. As we feared the convent might be sacked (f), the porter attempted at first to drive them back. A brother said: "Go! you shall have all you want!" The misguided populace immediately seized knives and killed 20 of our brothers and one father. I myself rushed to the bell in the courtyard and rang the alarm. Armed with pitchforks and manure-forks and spades (g), the brothers rushed into the courtyard and drove out the mob. Two brothers, who during the fight were carried away in the crowd, were discovered hacked to pieces, mangled as though by wild beasts. Their bodies were a dreadful sight. A Belgian brother, hearing the alarm, seized a fork, and so armed he rushed towards the gate, thinking to fight German soldiers. When he saw that his assailants were his compatriots he turned his arms against us, his brothers, shouting like a madman: "You are mad, you are mad!" After a brief struggle the fork was torn away from him. He was seized and thrown over the wall. He had turned his arms against his brothers; but above all he had broken his vow of silence.

The fight had lasted barely a quarter of an hour. After the gate was closed—at 6.15, our usual breakfast hour—we assembled in the refectory for our meal.

Despite these extraordinary events I was extremely hungry. We now felt safe. But when, after the twenty minutes which our meal lasted, we returned to the courtyard, we saw that the Belgian brutes had in two places set fire to the convent. They had dragged our corn and hay under the wood-shed which stood not far from the convent; they had also pushed carts loaded with corn in the shock against the buildings and outhouses (g), and had set fire to the whole. The flames were already reaching the gable. It was no use dreaming of saving anything, for all the buildings were connected with one another. This was a sore trial. But it could not break our vow of silence, and, doubly mute, we watched the flames. Our sorrow found vent in tears[228] when we saw our Superior burst into sobs. He came into our midst; as all the fathers may speak, he said aloud: "Go and save what you can!" and we carried out his orders.

Rapidly we telephoned to the Belgian authorities at Liége to obtain help and protection. But to our great alarm German soldiers appeared at this moment. As Germany does not allow us Jesuits within her frontiers, we were extremely anxious. On account of the presence of the German troops we wanted to carry back into the convent the precious treasures already brought into the court; but the leader of the German troops explained to our Superior that this portion of Liége was already in the hands of the Germans. We therefore placed ourselves under their protection. We had no reason to regret it. The German escort came with eight automobiles, which bore our inestimable treasures into Germany; paintings, which in our haste we cut from their frames and rolled like paper; our sacred golden vessels, and our fathers (h). In great haste we had dug a huge ditch, in which, without religious ceremony and without words, we buried our 20 assassinated brothers and the father who was killed. While the fire continued to burn the hundreds of brothers remaining ran hither and thither in unspeakable disorder, seeking their clothes and shoes. I had wooden shoes on and could not find shoes to fit me; but I saw, to my great amazement, four pairs of shoes in my box. Everything was stuffed into the boxes and forced down with the feet, in all haste.

So, on Saturday (i), at dawn, 350 brothers left the still smoking convent to cross the German frontier. For three hours each painfully dragged along what modest belongings he had saved. One old brother of eighty years remained behind; he declared, when abandoned: "I wish to die here." Although the German soldiers protected us as we proceeded, the Belgian people still attacked us frequently. I received violent kicks, blows on the legs, and all over my body. For two nights none of us slept, and in addition we were greatly perturbed and in terrible trouble.

When, after unheard-of exertions, we dragged ourselves across the frontier, we let ourselves fall exhausted in a meadow, where we slept, a leaden slumber, protected and watched by the Germans, from morning to sunset.

(Robert Heymann, Sturmnacht in Loewen, pp. 8-13.)

As will be seen, this is a story to make the flesh creep. Still, it seems to us to present certain difficulties.


(a) There is no convent of Jesuits near Liége about 600 yards from one of the southern forts (Boncelles, Embourg, and Chaudfontaine).

(b) The Jesuit brothers are not compelled to keep silence. No doubt the author chose the Jesuits because the order is excluded from Germany, so that he would expect his compatriots to know nothing of the rule of the Jesuit communities.

(c) How did these brothers, who read no newspapers and never spoke, know of the existence of dirigibles?

But apart from all this, the facts are incorrect. At no time did a dirigible fly over Liége during the siege.

The people of Liége saw a German dirigible for the first time on the 1st September, 1914, at 10 p.m. On the following day, at 6 p.m., they saw another.

(d) Therefore fires could not have been lit by the bombs from these dirigibles.

(e) Where have stained-glass windows ever been seen to bulge like sails under the shock of an explosion capable of cracking walls over 30 inches in thickness?

(f) Nothing had happened so far to give any one the idea that the convent was about to be pillaged.

(g) Since when have the Jesuit convents owned farms, etc., or been equipped with hay-forks, manure-forks, spades, hay-carts, etc.?

(h) It is delightful to note that in enumerating the precious possessions of the convent the Jesuit fathers occupy the very last place, after the pictures and the gold plate! But this impertinence is more apparent than real; for the narrator has just stated that the 150 Jesuit fathers were packed, together with the pictures and the sacred vessels, in eight[230] motor-cars! Evidently they were very tiny Jesuits. It must have been their minuteness that saved them; for the author has reminded us that Jesuits (of ordinary size) are not admitted into Germany; but these, happily, passed unperceived.

(i) It was not Saturday, but Friday.

It is by such inventions—presented as the narratives of eye-witnesses, and not as romances—that the Germans excite against us both their troops and their home population. The method has given excellent results; nothing gives better proof of its efficiency than the first paragraph of the story of The Battle of Charleroi, in which we read that at the beginning of August many trucks passed through Belgium which bore the inscription:—

Gegen Frankreich mit Mut,
Gegen Belgiën mit Wut.

(Against France with courage; against Belgium with rage.)

Which shows to what a pitch the minds of the German troops had been excited against us.

A "French Dirigible" Captured by the Germans.

Other inscriptions on the railway carriages and vans are not uninteresting to the student of Kultur.

On the 5th March, 1915, we learned from ocular witnesses that a German dirigible was lost, on the 4th, at Overhespen, near Tirlemont. La Belgique of the 6th March contained a few details.

Brussels, 5th March (Official).—The Zeppelin dirigible L8, returning yesterday from a fruitful voyage of exploration, came to earth in the darkness near Tirlemont, and, during the process of landing, struck against some trees. It was rather seriously damaged, so that it seemed preferable to dismantle it. The[231] operation was completed very rapidly by the soldiers of the aviation department of Brussels, who were despatched to the spot. The dismantled parts will be transported to Germany, there to be rebuilt.

In reality the "rather serious damage" meant that the balloon was completely destroyed, and that twenty of the twenty-eight occupants of the cars were killed. So far we would not describe the report as a lie, as it does not exceed the habitual limits of our enemies' official telegrams. But this goes a little too far: At Tirlemont the report was spread that the dirigible in question was French, and that it was skilfully captured by German troops; and on the trucks which bore the metallic remains of the Zeppelin to Germany was written, in large letters: Erobertes Französisches Luftschiff (Captured French Airship). This is no longer a manipulated truth, but a downright lie.

The Transportation of the German Dead.

Here is another fraud of the same kind. When the number of the German dead is too great for burial on the field of battle they evacuate the surplus into other districts. The bodies are usually transported in closed vans. But sometimes these are lacking, and the bodies have to be packed into goods wagons. Nothing outside indicates the contents of these wagons; it may be supposed that the authorities have no desire to publish the extent of their losses. For this reason the corpses are always hidden under something else; one sees passing, for example, what appears to be a trainload of sugar-beet, but in reality the bodies of soldiers are being transported. A biologist might call this an interesting case of protective mimicry.


Some Lying Placards.

The German authorities have no scruples about posting up false news. For several weeks one might read, on the walls of the Hôtel de Ville at Vilvorde, the following placard:—


Antwerp surrendered to-day with its army.

The District Commandant.
(Signature illegible.)

Vilvorde, 9th October, 1914.

With its army! When the Germans were all crestfallen at having laid hands on an empty nest!

This is merely grotesque; but here are three placards which belong to the system of intimidation à outrance.

We have already stated (p. 147) that placards exhibited in Louvain stated that the town of Mons was forced to pay a fine because a civilian had fired on the German army. Now the fact was wholly imaginary; never did any civilian of Mons fire on the Germans; never did they accuse one of having done so; so that they never had occasion to fine the town on that account. All is false here, from the first word to the last.

While at Louvain they were posting up the placard relating to Mons, they were exhibiting at Mons a notice according to which certain inhabitants of Soignies had fired on the German troops. This also was a sheer falsehood. No such action was imputed to any inhabitant of Soignies. At Charleroi they advertised the statement that they had inflicted a penalty on Anderlues for a similar offence. Here, once more, both accusation and penalty were pure inventions.


Here is an equally untruthful placard. It was posted up at Cugnon (Luxemburg) early in October, 1914, between the fall of the first forts at Antwerp and the taking of the city. It announces the destruction of the line of forts between Verdun and Toul, and the march on Paris (a month after the battle of the Marne!). Its principal interest lies in the signature: the burgomaster did not know of the placard until it was posted; the military authorities had simply forged his name. This did not prevent them from forcing the commune of Cugnon to pay for the printing of these lies.

M. Max's Denial.

The most interesting example of lying by placard is undoubtedly that which was revealed by the burgomaster of Brussels. On the 30th August one might read, on the walls of the capital, a notice in which M. Max gave the lie to a placard posted at Liége. This is it:—

City of Brussels.

The German governor of the city of Liége, Lieutenant-General von Kolewe, yesterday had the following notice exposed:—

To the Inhabitants of the City of Liége.

"The burgomaster of Brussels has informed the German commandant that the French Government has declared to the Belgian Government the impossibility of assisting it offensively in any way, as it is itself forced to assume the defensive."

To this assertion I oppose the most positive denial.

The Burgomaster,
Adolphe Max.

Brussels, 30th August, 1914.

Since their burgomaster declared the assertion to be false, no doubt could remain in the minds of the people of Brussels. But, curiously enough, beside[234] M. Max's placard there remained a German placard, which had been posted two days earlier, and in which it was stated:—

On the 25th inst. the official French newspapers published a communication from the French Government stating that the French armies being forced to assume the defensive would no longer be in a position to assist Belgium in the matter of a military offensive.

Brussels, 23rd August, 1914.

The only serious difference between the two texts was that at Liége the burgomaster of Brussels guaranteed the truth of the communiqué. So the impression was given that it was Herr von Kolewe who had the idea of bringing M. Max's name into this ridiculous statement, in the hope of giving it some weight. But no! Von Kolewe was innocent of the forgery; it was the work of the German General Staff, and was distributed by the Wolff Agency, as we learned a little later. The Liége communiqué is precisely the official German telegram as published everywhere—for example, in Les Nouvelles, "published by the authorization of the German Military Authority," at Spa, on the 30th August, 1914; by the N.R.C., on the 28th August; by the K.Z. (see Kriegs-Depeschen, p. 41); and by the Frankfurter Zeitung (see Der Grosse Krieg, p. 172).

What, then, is the meaning of the first telegram posted in Brussels—that of the 25th August, in which no mention of the burgomaster occurs? Simply this: the German Government was announcing to the whole world an item of "news" whose improbability required to be supported by the word of an honest man, such as the burgomaster of Brussels. A lie so gross and flagrant might be published[235] at Liége, but not in Brussels itself. Unfortunately the Germans had not succeeded in cutting off communication between Liége and Brussels; on the day after its appearance the Liége placard had reached M. Max, and he was able to issue his famous denial. The effect was tremendous. From that moment the people of Brussels no longer believed any "official news."[36] Did the Germans make any attempt to reply to the denial? None: why attempt the impossible? But they prohibited, with their usual heaviness, the publication of any placards, even by the municipality.

Important Notice.

The publication of placards, unless they have received my special permission, is strictly prohibited, those of the municipality of the city being included.

(Signed) von Lüttwitz, General.

Translated into the vulgar tongue this means: "When we Germans lie we do not wish attention called to the fact."

How the Officers Lie to their Men.

Hitherto we have considered only those German lies which were addressed to the Belgians. But there are better lies than these: they lie to their own troops. At the outset of the invasion of Belgium the German soldiers were led to believe that they were already in France, quite close to Paris, even in October and November 1914. Germans in cantonments near Roulers, in Flanders, believed that they were only eight miles from Paris, and they used to ask the correspondent of the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant to show them "a place they could see the Eiffel Tower from." This, it may be said, proves that in all armies there are soldiers of small intelligence, even in the German Army. No: it proves that in this latter army the officers lie with method. You may judge. The soldiers tended in the hospital of the Palais de Justice in Brussels used to date their letters "Paris"; and it was by order of their superior officers that they deceived their families. The official journal, Deutsche Soldatenpost, in its issue for the 16th October, 1914, contains a little poem entitled "Hindenburg," whose third stanza commences:


Vor Paris aber steht das deutsche Heer...
(But the German host stands before Paris.)

This, be it noted, on the 16th October, more than a month after the battle of the Marne. About the same time a soldier in Antwerp learned from his officers that if the German army had not yet entered Paris it was merely to avoid the plague, which was raging there (N.R.C., 20th October, 1914, morning).

After that, who can doubt that systematic lying forms part of the duties of an officer towards his men?

2. Perseverance in Falsehood.

Nothing is left to chance in the campaign of lies any more than in the military campaign proper. The Great General Staff organizes everything with the same care—the attacks of "francs-tireurs," the benzine syringes, the pastilles of fulminating cotton employed in the rapid starting of conflagrations—just as it organizes the manœuvres of the Press intended[237] to direct the mentality of the troops towards a policy of pitiless repression.

They even try to educate (which means, to pervert the minds of) the prisoners of war in their concentration camps. Thus in No. 5 of La Guerre, a journal especially intended for prisoners of war (published the 10th March, 1915), a passage is reproduced from the "Records of the War," by Houston Stewart Chamberlain. Here is an extract: "Finally, one should read the notices on the detestable attitude of the civil population of Belgium, of both sexes, in the present war: notices officially confirmed and attested in writing by several priests: according to which the populace, behaving a hundred times worse than ferocious beasts, have horribly mutilated and gouged out the eyes of poor wounded German soldiers, afterwards slowly stifling them by pouring sawdust into their nose and mouth."

It will perhaps be objected that those who write of such things are blinded by the militarist spirit; that they have, like everybody in Germany, abolished in themselves the critical faculty; and that they do not even dream of disputing the statements of the official journals; in short, that they do not, properly speaking, lie, because they are sincere. But can they really be sincere? Could they, on the 10th March, pretend that they still believed that the Belgians gouge out the eyes of wounded men and choke them to death with sawdust when Vorwärts had succeeded in getting at the truth, and had been protesting against these lies since the month of January? Besides, the Germans know their own "reptile" Press, and they ought to realize that their newspapers do not merit credence, least of all in time of war.


But even if we absolve these writers of the crime of lying, to accuse them of nothing worse than inconceivable credulity, we cannot on any pretext extend the same indulgence to those who are incontestably in a position to know the truth. To cite only one example—is it not shameful that Baron von Bissing the younger should publish in April 1915, in the Süddeutsche Monatshefte, an article on Belgium in which he repeats the accusations against the "francs-tireurs," and the tales of Belgians mutilating the German wounded? And what are we to say of the reply made by the German Minister of War to Mlle. Leman according to which the German troops have never ill-treated priests (p. 72), nor touched the property of the Church? A visit to Bueken (near Louvain) gives the reply to this twofold assertion. In May 1915 one could still see, in the sacristy, the muniment chest which had contained the sacred vessels; it had been broken open by the Germans with the aid of a bell-clapper. As for the curé, M. De Clerck, we know what he suffered; he was shot after his ears and nose were cut off. With the curé his assistant was killed: Father Vincentius Sombroek, a conventual, born at Zaandam, in Holland.[37]

The picture-postcard has, of course, not been forgotten. The Germans had on sale in Brussels, for their soldiers, a coloured card of The Uhlans before Paris. It shows groups of German cavalrymen contemplating Paris and the Eiffel Tower. This card is published by R. and K., and bears the number 500.


This same firm fabricated some remarkable cards relating to the military operations in Belgium. No. 507 represents the bombardment of Antwerp. It shows the city in flames, seen from the Tête de Flandre, and it also shows guns installed in the same locality. Now the Germans never had guns on the left bank of the Scheldt. No. 502 shows the bombardment of Namur by means of guns firing from Jambes, which again is incorrect. These cards, it should be noted, were still being sold in June 1915; that is, when every one knew that these pictures were "faked."

The Germans' Treatment of Mgr. Mercier.

There are other examples of continuity of falsehood than those relating to violations of the Hague Convention and the Treaty of London (1839). For example, a long series of lies was directed against one single individual—Mgr. Mercier, Cardinal-Archbishop of Malines, Primate of Belgium.

The facts are so well known that there is no need of lengthy comment.

1. Mgr. Mercier went to Rome for the Conclave. We learned in Belgium, by a placard dated the 8th September, that the Cardinal was returning to his country "with a safe-conduct, passing through the German lines."

A lie.—The Cardinal never had any German safe-conduct. He returned to Belgium by way of Lyons, Paris, Havre (where he delivered a speech), London, and Holland.


2. During his stay in Rome the Cardinal made declarations very unfavourable to the Germans. A placard of the 12th September, 1914, assured us that he protested against the interview in the Corriere della Sera.

A lie.—The Corriere della Sera is a neutral journal (in the sense that the Belgian Le Soir is neutral), and the Germans wished to produce the impression that the Cardinal had been interviewed by a correspondent of this newspaper. Now he was interviewed by the editor of the Catholic journal, the Corriere d'Italia. This is merely one of the "errors" of Cardinal von Hartmann's rectification. The whole is in keeping with this; but it is too long to consider in detail.

3. Baron von der Goltz, at the moment of leaving Belgium, of which he had been Governor-General, thought fit to assert that he had come to an agreement with Mgr. Mercier as to the reopening of the courses in the University of Louvain (Le Réveil, 1st December, 1914).

A lie.—There was never any question of resuming these courses.

4. The Cardinal published his famous Pastoral Letter, which was sent to all the churches of his diocese, to be read from the pulpit. It recalled the present sufferings of the country, and adjured Belgians to "remain faithful to their king and their laws."

Directly the Germans, informed by their spies, knew of the existence of this pastoral letter they withdrew Cardinal Mercier's authorization to visit the other bishops in his motor-car. At the same time they forbade the curés to make the letter known to their parishioners; they even proceeded to seize[241] the pamphlet in the presbyteries. Naturally the priests refused to obey the German injunctions, and the beginning of the mandamus was read from the pulpit on Sunday, the 3rd January, 1915. The Germans were furious, and forbade the curés to continue the reading of the letter; and, the more readily to obtain their submission, showed them a German declaration, signed by von Bissing, of which this is the translation:—

Brussels, 7th January, 1915.
To the Clergy of the Diocese of Malines.

As a result of my remarks, Cardinal Mercier of Malines has declared to me verbally and in writing that he had no intention of exciting or alarming the population by his pastoral letter, and he had not expected any such effect. That he had particularly insisted on the necessity of obedience on the part of the population towards the occupier, even if a patriot should inwardly feel in a state of opposition.

In case I should nevertheless fear an exciting effect, the Cardinal did not insist on requiring of his clergy the repeated reading of the pastoral letter on the succeeding Sundays, provided for in the conclusion of the letter, nor the distribution of the letter.

My hypothesis has proved correct.

I therefore repeat my prohibition of the 2nd January of this year, concerning the reading and the diffusion of the pastoral letter. I draw the attention of the clergy to this point—that they will be acting in contradiction to the written declaration of their Cardinal in disobeying his prohibition.

Baron von Bissing,
Governor-General in Belgium.

A lie.—This declaration is false. Mgr. Evrard, Dean of St. Gudule in Brussels, went to see Mgr. Mercier at Malines, and obtained proof of the falsehood. He at once warned all the curés of Brussels and the district of the manœuvre, and on Sunday, the 10th January, the reading of the letter was resumed.


Brussels, 9th January, 1915.

Monsieur le Curé,—

I have returned from Malines.

Despite the written prohibition received yesterday, His Eminence the Cardinal wishes his letter to be read. This written prohibition is cunning and spurious.

"Neither verbally, nor in writing, have I withdrawn anything, nor do I now withdraw anything of my previous instructions, and I protest against the violence done against the liberty of my pastoral ministry."

That is what the Cardinal dictated to me.

He added: "They have done everything to make me sign mitigations of my letter; I have not signed them. Now they seek to separate my clergy from me, by forbidding them to read it.

"I have done my duty; my clergy know if they will do theirs."

Accept, M. le Curé, the homage of all my respect.

(Signed) E. Evrard, Dean.

5. Baron von Bissing published in the newspapers a communiqué stating "that no hindrance of any kind had been put in the way of the exercise of the pastoral duties of the Cardinal-Archbishop."

A lie.—The Cardinal contradicted this assertion in a Latin letter addressed to his clergy.

Dominica infra Octavam Epiphaniae.

Reverendi admodum Domini et Cooperatores dilectissimi,—

Habuistis, ut puto, prae oculis nuntium a Gubernio Generali Bruxellensi publicis ephemeridibus propalatum, quo declarabatur "Cardinalem Archiepiscopum Mechliniensem a munere suo ecclesiastico libere adimplendo nullatenus fuisse impeditum." Quod quam a veritate alienum sit, e factis elucet.

Milites enim, vespere diei primae Januarii necnon per totam noctem insequentem, domus presbyterales invaserunt, Litteras Pastorales e manibus parochorum vel arripuerunt vel arripere conati sunt frustra, easque ne populo fideli praelegeratis, etiam sub poenis gravissimis, vobis metipsis aut parochiae vestrae infligendis, auctoritate episcopali despecta, prohibuerunt.

Nec dignitati nostrae pepercere, Die namque secunda Januarii orto nondum sole, hora scilicet sexta, jusserunt me, die eadem[243] matutina, coram Gubernatore Generali, epistolae meae ad clerum et populum rationem reddere; die autem postero, Laudibus Vespertinis in Ecclesia cathedrali Antverpiensi praeesse me vetuerunt; tandem, ne alios Belgii episcopos libere adeam, prohibent.

Jura vestra, Cooperatores dilectissimi, et mea, violata fuisse, civis, animarum pastor et Sacri Cardinalium Collegii sodalis, protestor.

Quidquid praedixerint alii, experientia nunc compertum est nullum ex epistola illa pastorali enatum esse seditionis periculum, sed eam potius animarum paci et publicae tranquillitati haud parum adjumento fuisse.

Vobis de officio fortiter et suaviter impleto gratulor, cui animo virili et pacifico, fideles estote memores verborum illorum quibus mentem meam plane et integre jam expressi: "Soyes à la fois et les meilleurs gardiens du patriotisme, et les soutiens de l'ordre public."

Caeterum, "Spiritu sitis ferventes, Domino servientes, spe gaudentes, in tribulatione patientes, orationi instantes, necessitatibus sanctorum communicantes."[38]

Ne mei, quaeso, obliviscamini in observationibus vestris, nec vestrum obliviscar; arcto fraternitatis vinculo conjuncti, unanimes Antistitem, clerum et populum fidelem commendemus Domino, "ut et quae agenda sunt, videant, et ad implenda quae viderint, convalescant."[39]

Vobis in Christo addictissimus,
D. J. Card. Mercier,
Archiepisc. Mechl.

Expostulatur à Rdo admodum Do Decano relatio de iis quae in parochiis decanatus evenerunt.

N.B.—Non desunt in dioecesi clerici qui vestibus laïcis ad tempus usi sunt. Jam nunc habitum clericalem resumant omnes.

(S.) D. J.


The Sunday of the Octave of the Epiphany.

Very Reverend Gentlemen and well-beloved Colleagues,—

You have, I think, had sight of the message from the General Government of Brussels, published in the newspapers, in which it is declared that "the Cardinal Archbishop of Malines has in no manner been prevented in the free performance of his ecclesiastical office."


The facts will show that this assertion is contrary to the truth. As a matter of fact, on the evening of the 1st January, and during the whole of the night, soldiers entered the presbyteries and took from the priests, or vainly endeavoured to take, the pastoral letter, and, in contempt of episcopal authority, forbade you to read it to the assembled faithful, under the threat of extremely severe punishment which would be inflicted on yourselves or on your parish.

Even our dignity was not respected. For on the 2nd of January, before sunrise even, that is, at six o'clock, I was ordered to present myself on the morning of that same day before the Governor-General, to justify my letter to the clergy and the people; on the following day I was forbidden to preside at Benediction in the Cathedral of Antwerp; lastly, I was forbidden to visit the other Belgian bishops.

As a citizen, a pastor of souls, and a member of the Sacred College of Cardinals I protest that your rights, well-beloved brothers, and my own, have been infringed.

Whatever has been pretended, experience has proved that no danger of sedition has resulted from this pastoral letter, but rather that it contributed greatly to the peace and tranquillity of the public.

I congratulate you with having accomplished your duty firmly and harmoniously. Remain devoted to it with a manly and peaceable heart, recalling those words in which I have already fully and entirely expressed my thought: "Be at once the best guardians of patriotism and the supporters of public order."

Moreover: "Be fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessities of the saints."[40]

Do not forget me, I beg you, in your supplications; neither will I forget you. All together, closely united by the bond of brotherhood, let us recommend the bishop, the clergy, and the faithful "that they may behold their duty and be strong to fulfil it."[41]

Yours very faithfully in Christ,
D. J. Cardinal Mercier,
Archbishop of Malines.

The Very Rev. the Deans are begged to report what has happened in the parishes of their Deanery.

N.B.—Members of the clergy have for a time worn civil clothing. Let all now resume their ecclesiastical clothing.


6. On Sunday, the 3rd January, 1915, the Cardinal did not go to Antwerp, as he had intended. The Germans announced in the newspapers—in L'Avenir (Antwerp), for example—that the Cardinal's absence was voluntary.

A lie.—They had forbidden Mgr. Mercier to leave Malines.

We have mentioned that while these things were happening the clergy continued to make the pastoral letter known in all the churches, except in those cases where the Germans had succeeded in subtracting the copies of the letter. But even there the reading of the letter was resumed after a brief interval, when fresh impressions of the letter had been printed and distributed all over the country. This propaganda was, of course, secret; an official communiqué published at Namur, on the 12th January, 1915, leaves no doubt as to that. It threatens the infliction of severe punishment on those who should distribute this document. To give some idea of the activity with which the pastoral letter was distributed throughout Belgium, we may mention that we know of twelve different editions in French and two in Flemish; there are, moreover, at least two typewritten editions. Each impression numbered thousands of copies; of one single edition the Germans seized 35,000 copies! We may add that a German translation also has appeared, but this is ad usum Germanorum. The interesting passages are suppressed.

The pastoral letter was not without results in Rome. The Belgian colony there organized a mass for the priests put to death in Belgium, a list of whom was given by the Cardinal. The organ of the[246] Vatican, the Osservatore Romano, translated "put to death" by caduti, "fallen." This vague term might allow it to be supposed that the priests had fallen on the field of battle, not that they were assassinated by the German troops. The German newspapers were jubilant. The Kölnische Volkszeitung, one of the leading Catholic organs in Germany, edited by Herr Julius Bachem, published an article to show that the Holy See had not been duped by the tricks of the Belgians, and refused to credit the tale of priests put to death by the Germans (see Het Vaderland, 31st March, 1915, 2nd sheet, evening). The Düsseldorfer Anzeiger also contained a long and far-fetched article in its issue of the 29th January.

3. The Organization of Propaganda.

With the methodical spirit which they boast of possessing, the Germans have from the outset of the war created bureaux for the propagation of the "German idea" throughout the world. Some of these organizations of propaganda have for their province the neutral countries, among which, in the first rank, are the United States, the Scandinavian countries, Italy, Holland, and Switzerland. Others deal with the occupied countries, or enemy countries, through the intermediary of prisoners of war and civil prisoners. Finally, there are those that deal with Germany and her allies. If we add to the bureaux of propaganda situated in Germany, and operating thence, those established and operating in foreign countries, we shall begin to understand the power of expansion and penetration possessed by such instruments in the hands of unscrupulous people.

Again, we must reckon not only with the official[247] or semi-official propaganda, devoid of the mercenary spirit, whose only object is the triumph of Germany. There are a number of publishing concerns which pursue the same objects.

Besides her printed propaganda, Germany makes use of other means, apparently accessory and occasional, but whose effects may become very appreciable; visits of German scholars and German politicians, especially socialist politicians; letters written by Germans to friends or relations abroad; inquiries addressed to the scholars of neutral countries; promises made to notable persons, in the hope of obtaining their co-operation.

One word before examining the working of these organizations. Should we really classify them under the heading of "falsehoods"? After what we have said of the methods of the German Press, and the mentality of the German rulers, no one will hesitate, we fancy, as to the place which falsehood must be accorded in this propaganda. But so that no doubt shall remain in the reader's mind, we will give a few quotations from the propagandist literature relating to Belgium.

(a) Propagandist Bureaux operating in Germany.

The most important of the propagandist pamphlets appearing in Germany is a monthly publication. It is known, in French, as the Journal de la Guerre. We know it also in German and in Dutch; probably it is translated into yet other languages. Each number consists of 40 to 72 pages, and contains general information, a chronicle of the war, photographs and drawings, tales of the battles, etc. ... in short, everything that can influence the public[248] opinion of neutral countries. In almost every number is an article tending to prove that Germany was forced, for reasons of self-defence, to invade Belgium; that Belgium, moreover, had violated her own neutrality in advance; that the Belgians amply deserve their fate, on account of their wicked treatment of wounded men (gouging out their eyes, etc.). We have already mentioned the Journal de la Guerre with reference to a "faked" map of Louvain.

The Journal de la Guerre published an article by Herr Helfferich on a journey through Belgium, undertaken in September 1914. It is teeming with inaccuracies, but it would be waste of time to refute them all. We will confine ourselves to the first sentence, which states that the burgomaster of Battice has been shot. Now, this is untrue: the burgomaster of Battice, M. Rosette, who has filled his office for many years, is in excellent health, and is still living in Battice.

Another publication—La Guerre—Journal périodique paraissant durant la guerre de 1914-15—is intended for prisoners of war.

The best method of impressing the prisoners is assuredly to show them that in their own country people are already beginning to realize the indisputable superiority of Germany. So La Guerre frequently publishes articles reprinted from La Gazette des Ardennes; only it forgets to mention that La Gazette des Ardennes is a newspaper established, edited, and printed exclusively by Germans, since the occupation. Shall we take another example of duplicity? For the Belgians, naturally, what their priests tell them has great[249] weight with them. No. 14 of La Guerre reproduces a passage from an article (which is mentioned on p. 129) originally published by "the priest Domela Nieuwenhuis, of Gand." Here is a falsehood: M. Domela Nieuwenhuis is not a priest; he is a Protestant pastor in Gand. In the quotation M. Nieuwenhuis says: "If we Flemings had been properly informed...." (La Guerre, No. 14, p. 217).

"We Flemings," M. Nieuwenhuis is supposed to have said ... and he is a Dutchman. This is curious. Let us compare this with the original text in De Tijdspiegel, p. 316, 1st April, 1915. There we find: "Indien wij hier in Vlaanderen ... zouden zign voorgelicht...." ("If we, here in Flanders, had been informed....") The German forgers have been at work, and by a little tinkering at the text, they have made a Dutch pastor pass for a Flemish priest! To what are they not reduced!

The pamphlet Die Wahrheit über den Krieg speaks on p. 93 of an international propagandist organisation established in Berlin: the Commission for the publication of impartial news abroad (we translate from the Dutch version). This Commission publishes Correspondence for Neutrals, which aims solely at "distributing positive news concerning the working of social, juridicial, economic, and moral institutions and general culture in Germany." Its articles are especially intended for use by the Press. It appears two or three times a week, in ten different languages, and will continue to do so during the war. It asserts that its expenses are covered entirely by private subscriptions.

At the Superior Technical College of Stuttgart is[250] established the Süddeutsche Nachrichtenstelle für die Neutralen (South German News Bureau for the Neutrals). It publishes propagandist leaflets at irregular intervals and of various dimensions, which are intended to furnish "the verifiable truth as to the origin, course, and results of the war."

The professors of the University of Leipzig sent abroad a special number of the Leipziger Neueste Nachrichte of the 25th August, 1914, which gave, in chronological order, "the truth about the causes of the war and the German successes." The truth! Its capital falsehoods are too numerous for examination here.

At Düsseldorf is the Büro zur Verbreitung deutscher Nachrichten im Auslande (the German Bureau for distributing German news abroad). The French version of this title is Bureau allemand pour la publication de nouvelles authentiques à l'Etranger. Observe, in passing, that Deutsche Nachrichten is translated as "authentic news," which will not fail to surprise the reader. This Bureau used to publish Le Réveil, a remarkable journal sold in Belgium and the occupied parts of France.

The Deutscher Überseedienst (German Overseas Service) busies itself particularly with the falsification of public opinion abroad. Its publications are usually distributed gratis.

For Americans living in Europe, Germany provides The Continental Times, Special War Edition and Journal for Americans in Europe, edited at the Hôtel Adon in Berlin. To judge of the veracity of this journal, it is enough to read, in the issue for the 8th February, the article by Herr J. E. Noegerath, devoted to his journey through Belgium. In this[251] we learn that "Malines was bombarded simultaneously by the Belgians and the Germans; the cathedral, somewhat seriously damaged, is about to be repaired by the Germans." St. Rombaut repaired by the Germans! This exceeds even the German limits! Well, the Americans in Europe have a chance of obtaining positive information.

The League of German Scientists and Artists for the Defence of Civilization (in French they make it La Ligue pour la défense de la civilisation—for the prevention—which is just what it is!) is installed in the Palace of the Academy of Science in Berlin, Unter den Linden, 38. It publishes pamphlets; for example, that of Herr Riesser, on The Success of the German War Loan. As far as we know it has published nothing about Belgium.

A very interesting method of propaganda is that which consists in attaching to business letters leaflets printed on very thin paper, giving "authentic" news in the language of the recipient. The Hamburger Fremdenblatt has published many of these, at 10 pfennigs for 10 copies. They include, notably, Appeals to Christians; An Appeal to the Catholic Missions, in German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian; An Appeal to the Protestant Missions, in German, English, and Portuguese.

Another series of leaflets to be inserted in letters is published by the Bureau des Deutschen Handelstages, Berlin (Bureau of the German Commercial Conference of Berlin). Nine different leaflets appeared. No. 10 and the succeeding leaflets are of different origin; these leaflets are now published by the Kriegs-Auschuss der Deutschen Industrie, Berlin (Military Commission of German Industry).[252] No. 10 reproduces a proclamation by Dr. Schroedter, threatening to strip the Belgians of all their copper, "down to the last door-handle."

In Germany also are published leaflets bearing no indication of their origin. One of these, entitled What is the Cause of the Severity of the War? is curious for more reasons than one.

(b) Propagandist Matter issued by the Publishing Houses.

There are, to begin with, the numerous low-priced pamphlets which carry the gospel to the soldiers in the trenches, and enlighten the home population. The most voluminous and the most perfidious of these books is that of Major Viktor von Strantz: Die Eroberung Belgiëns.

Several publishing houses issue series of booklets, under some general title. We may mention:—

Krieg und Sieg, 1914, nach Berichten der Zeitgenossen (War and Victory, 1914, according to the Accounts of Eye-witnesses).

Der Deutschen Volkes Kriegstagebuch (The German People's Diary of the War).

Der Weltkrieg, 1914 (The World-war of 1914), at 20 pfennigs.

Besides these works, which are intended rather for the masses, we must mention others, intended for a more intellectual public.

Such are:—

Reden aus der Kriegzeit; Deutsche Vortrage Hamburgischer Professoren; Zwischen Krieg und Frieden; Der Deutsche Krieg; Kriegsberichte aus den Grossen Hauptquartier.

To these we may add works appearing in small isolated volumes at a low price, containing more especially diplomatic documents:—


Deutschland in der Notwehr (Carl Schüsemann, Bremen); Das Volkerringen, 1914, F. M. Kireheisen (Universal Bibliothek, Leipzig).

Urkunden, Depeschen und Berichte der Frankfurter Zeitung. Der Grosse Krieg. Eine Chronich von Tag zu Tag (Frankfurt, 1914-15).

We must not overlook the numerous illustrated publications, among which we may mention the Album de la Grande Guerre, published by the Deutscher Überseedienst, with explanations in German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese. This collection contains a number of illustrations relating to Belgium: for example, in No. 2 we have "A Zeppelin bombarding Liége," which never happened (p. 229): and No. 3 gives us a view of the Place des Bailles at Malines, "a quarter where the houses were destroyed by Belgian artillery" (whereas the Belgian artillery destroyed nothing in Malines, and the Place des Bailles was not bombarded but burned).

(c) Propangandist Bureaux operating Abroad.

Not content with flooding neutrals with literature fabricated in Germany itself, to such an extent that the former complained of the German importunity, the Germans have also set up bureaux of propaganda in foreign countries. The most important of these, without doubt, is that which has been operating in the United States, under the direction of Herr Bernhard Dernburg, ex-Minister of the Empire. Herr Dernburg has neglected no means of action, and has not feared to mount into the breach himself in his efforts to ensure the triumph of his cause.

In Belgium the propaganda was of a multiple nature. In the first place, the Germans were careful[254] to inform us, daily, by means of placards, as to the "actual" results of the military operations, and they distributed tens of thousands of copies of circulars relating to the "Anglo-Belgian Conventions" (p. 43), the Griendl report (p. 41), the retirement of Italy from the Triple Alliance, etc. As these might not have enlightened us sufficiently, the German authorities took the Press in hand, the result being such journals as Le Réveil and the Deutsche Soldatenpost. They then censored the Belgian papers in various manners.

(1) The Germans wished to compel various papers to appear under their control. All those in the capital refused; but in the provinces certain newspapers, such as L'Ami de l'Ordre (at Namur) and Le Bien Public (at Gand), accepted the German conditions. L'Ami de l'Ordre was really and truly forced to appear; as it admitted, in a covert fashion, in its issues of the 20th and 27th August, and explicitly in those of the 7th October and the 6th November.

(2) The German authorities forced these journals, and others which have since been established, to publish propagandist articles, imposing penalties in case of failure. Thus L'Ami de l'Ordre (it was suggested that it might be called L'Ami de par Ordre!) was obliged to publish stories of "francs-tireurs" which it knew were inventions; and after the burning of the Grand' Place at Namur (concerning which it knew very well what to think) it published, in large letters, on the 28th August, 1914, a protest against francs-tireurs. On the 1st September followed an article describing the punishment of Louvain after an attack by civilians. On the following day was further mention of the[255] "leaders" who brought such terrible reprisals on their fellow-citizens. In order to make these flagrant lies "go down," the journal is compelled from time to time to repeat that it prints nothing but the truth (for example, on the 7th September).

Incontestably imposed, also, are the articles which basely flatter the Germans; notably its excuses after its suspension (7th and 8th December) and its thanks to the Military Government of Namur when the latter ceased to take hostages (on the 29th September). In this last issue is an equally characteristic article on the subject of the Cathedral of Reims; in this the German Government pretends that it did not allege the presence of an observation-post on the Cathedral. But one has only to read the official communiqués of the 23rd September in order to prove that L'Ami de l'Ordre has been forced to lie to its readers.

Of course the Germans deny that they demand the insertion of these articles (see Le Bien Public, 1st November, 1914); otherwise their readers would cease to give any credence to these "Belgian" papers.

(3) The principal mission of the censorship consists in suppressing all that displeases it and all that it regards as compromising. Thus, for two months L'Ami de l'Ordre did not publish a single communiqué from the armies of the Allies, although it pretended the contrary in its issue of the 7th October. It was only on the 26th that it began to publish them; but it then borrowed them from the German papers, which was not perhaps a guarantee of exactitude. At the same time Le Bruxellois stated that there were scarcely any French communiqués. As for Le Bien Public, it was suspended[256] during the whole of May 1915, because the censorship would no longer allow it to publish the communiqués of the Allies.

The censorship had promised the journals whose publication it permitted (or demanded) that it would not mutilate articles, but would suppress them entirely (Le Bien Public, 1st November, 1914). Of course, it did not keep its engagements; for what engagement did our enemies ever keep? To realize how the censorship mutilates, curtails, and falsifies one has only to compare the official telegrams contained in the French newspapers with those which are vouchsafed us by the expurgated journals. Here are a few examples; it will be seen that the censorship suppresses not only sentences and parts of sentences, but single words, and even parts of words. We will confess that this last procedure was totally unexpected, even on the part of Germany, although her scholars have certainly acquired a habit of splitting hairs.

The words in italics are those suppressed by the censorship:—

La Belgique, Tuesday, 26th January, 1913,—Petrograd, 23rd January. (Official telegram from the Great General Staff).... German attempts to pass to the offensive in various places have been easily defeated by our artillery.... On the 21st January enemy troops, in strength about a division of infantry, and supported by artillery, attacked our front in the Kirlibaba region, but they were repulsed. Up to the morning of the 21st January our troops had maintained themselves in their positions. We have made 200 prisoners.

La Belgique, Monday, 1st February, 1913.—Paris, 29th January. (Official, 3 p.m.)—In Belgium, in the Nieuport sector, our infantry has gained a footing on the great dune which was mentioned on the 27th. A German aeroplane was brought down by our guns. In the sectors of Ypres and Lens, as in the sector of Arras, there have been, intermittently, artillery duels of some violence, and some attacks of infantry were attempted but immediately[257] thrown back by our fire. Nothing fresh to report in the Soissons, Craonne, or Reims districts. It is confirmed that the attack repulsed by us at Fontaine-Madame on the night of the 27th cost the Germans dearly.... Paris, the 29th January (official, 11 p.m.).... This morning, the 29th, a German aeroplane was forced to the ground east of Gerbeviller. Its passengers, an officer and an under-officer, are prisoners.

La Belgique, Thursday, 4th February, 1915.—Paris, 1st February. (Official telegram, 3 p.m.).... To the south-east of Ypres the Germans have attempted an attack upon our trenches to the north of the canal, an attack which was immediately checked by our artillery fire.... In the Argonne, where the Germans appear to have suffered greatly in the recent fighting, the day has been comparatively quiet....

Paris, 1st February. (Official telegram, 11 p.m.).... On the morning of the 1st February the enemy violently attacked our trenches to the north, Béthune—La Bassée. He was thrown back and left numerous dead on the ground. At Beaumont-Hamel, to the north of Arras, the German infantry attempted to carry one of our trenches by surprise, but was forced to retreat, abandoning on the spot the explosives with which it was provided....

La Belgique, Friday, 12th February, 1915.—Paris, 9th February. (Official telegram, 3 p.m.).... Along the road from Béthune to La Bassée we have reoccupied a windmill in which the enemy had succeeded in establishing himself. Soissons was bombarded with incendiary shells.

La Belgique, Saturday, 13th February, 1915.—Paris, 10th February. (Official, 11 p.m.).... In Lorraine our outposts easily repulsed a German attack on the eastern edge and to the north of the Forest of Purvy.

La Patrie (Brussels).—Copenhagen, 2nd March.—According to a communication from London in the Berlingske Tidende the Swedish painter, Johnson, who was arrested as a spy, because he was making pretended luminous signals to German ships of war, is said to have been acquitted for lack of evidence.

To appreciate at its full value the mutilation of the official communiqués by the German censorship, it must be recalled (1) that it had undertaken to leave the official communiqués untouched, and (2) that the subservient portion of the press continued to call them "official telegrams."


Sincerity of the Censored Newspapers.

At the outset the censorship used to allow newspapers to leave a blank space in the place of an article, phrase, or words deleted. But this procedure was too frank for the Germans, and the readers were aware of it; so the German authorities forced the newspapers to fill up the blanks; and in order to facilitate their task they published a special typewritten journal, appearing in French and in Flemish, Le Courrier Belge, in which "all the articles had passed the censorship." Editors, therefore, had only to select an article of the desired length in order to fill the gaps left by the official scissors.

We may add that by the terms of a decision given in the Court of First Instance in Brussels, the journals at present appearing in Germany under the German censorship may not claim the title of Belgian newspapers.

It may readily be imagined what the censored journals have become under this delightful system. But a story which is told in Belgium will perhaps give the reader a better idea of their vicissitudes. The soul of a soldier presents itself at the gate of Paradise. "Who are you?" says St. Peter. After a long hesitating pause (for no one cares to make such a painful confession) the soul replies: "I am the soul of a German soldier." "You are an impudent liar!" cries St. Peter. "I read the Belgian newspapers with the greatest care, and they have not yet announced the death of a single German soldier!"

On the 7th June, 1915, the Germans had a unique opportunity of proving that the German journals in[259] Belgian clothes, such as L'Ami de l'Ordre, La Belgique, Le Bien Public, etc., were still capable on occasion of speaking the truth. But they allowed the opportunity to slip. However, here are the facts:—

On the night of Sunday, the 6th June, 1915, towards 2.30 a.m., we were awakened by a furious cannonade and the explosion of bombs: Allied aviators were bombarding the shed of the dirigible at Evere, to which they set fire, destroying both shed and balloon. On the same day we learned that a second German dirigible had just been destroyed at Mont St.-Amand, near Gand, by a British aviator. We awaited the next day's papers with curiosity. Would they report the two incidents, making as little of them as possible, or would they keep silence? They merely stated that the German air-fleet had raided the English coast on the night of the 7th. Of what happened on its return, not a word. In the Kölnische Zeitung, again, there was nothing said as to the disasters at Evere and Mont St.-Amand. So the muzzled Press of Belgium and Germany may speak of German successes (we are supposing, of course, that the bombardment of open towns is a success), but as to the failures they are dumb. These are two facts which are known to hundreds of thousands of persons, and are therefore impossible of concealment. To keep silence, therefore, could have only one result, namely, to prove that the German communiqués are "faked," and that the Belgian journals are muzzled: in short, that all news which comes from Germany is adulterated. If our oppressors had published a short paragraph dealing with these two "accidents," then a few Belgians, more credulous[260] than their fellows, might have continued to believe that the word "German" can still on occasion be spoken in the same breath as the word "sincerity." But in their incomparable stupidity the censors (who are doubtless diplomatists out of a job) failed to realize that by preserving silence as to the raids of the British aviators they were for ever destroying the value of their newspapers. They rendered us a similar service, on this occasion, to that which they rendered when they forbade M. Max to publish the statement that they were liars (p. 233). We were well aware that the German was a shocking psychologist, but we hardly realized how shocking!... The incident is, as will be seen, the pendant of the story of the Liége Zeppelin. This dirigible raided Liége on the night of the 6th August, and the raid was described in the German newspapers and even illustrated. Unfortunately the raid never took place!

A few days later the Germans plunged even deeper into the mire. On the night of the 16th June the people of Brussels once again heard the sound of guns, this time from Berchem; but no one saw an aeroplane. Next day the papers contained a paragraph stating that an attack by enemy aviators had been repulsed. Did the raid really take place? It is doubtful; and in any case it does not matter. The essential point is that on this occasion the newspapers were allowed to speak.

The Governor-General, who has a keen sense of the fitting opportunity, chose this moment to inform us that a mischievous Press was circulating in Belgium (see La Belgique, 14th January, 1915). Nothing could be truer, as the reader has just seen.


Persecution of Uncensored Newspapers.

Naturally, the desire to obtain foreign newspapers became keener than ever in Belgium as the untruthfulness of the censored journals became more apparent. To the notices published by the Germans forbidding the distribution of "false news" (p. 187) we may add an official communiqué which was reproduced in L'ami de l'Ordre on the 17th October:—

"Any person who shall spread similar false reports, or cause them to be distributed, will be shot without mercy."

(d) Various Propaganda.

Lastly, let us mention—without insistence, as they are already sufficiently familiar—various methods of propaganda which are individual, and apparently spontaneous, but from which the Germans expect very happy results.

All those Belgians who have friends or relations in Germany, and all those who are themselves of German origin, have incessantly been receiving, since correspondence between the two countries has been permitted, letters in which they are told that Germany is sure of victory, that the Belgians have been deceived by England and by their king, that the Germans do no harm to any one, etc. These assertions are repeated with such regularity and monotony that they produce the impression of a lesson that has been learned; so, to avoid this unfortunate impression, the correspondents are careful to declare that they are only expressing their personal opinion.

Next, we may mention the foreign visits of[262] German scholars; for example, that of Herr Ostwald (one of the Ninety-three) to Sweden, and that of Herr Lamprecht (another of the Ninety-three) to Belgium. Herr Ostwald's lectures have evoked a great sensation, but it was perhaps hardly the sensation Germany had hoped for; moreover, the University of Leipzig declared that it did not subscribe to the ideas of its sometime professor. The effort of Herr Lamprecht was more discreet; it was preceded by a written effort, but letter and visit had the same negative result.

More insidious are the visits made to Belgium by prominent German socialists: Wendel, Liebknecht, Noske, Koester, etc. They, too, hoped easily to convince us of the rights and, above all, of the superiority of Germany. They went back with an empty bag; one may even venture to assert that they were rather shaken, since Herr Liebknecht complains, in a conversation with an editor of the Social-Demokraten, a Norwegian organ, of the part which the Socialist missionaries were made to play (N.R.C., 28th December, 1914, evening).

The Vossische Zeitung has discovered another means of propaganda. This journal sent a paper of questions to Dutch and Scandinavian scholars, asking them what their science owes to Germany. A shallow trick, this; every nation has naturally produced men of mark, to whom science has cause for gratitude.

4. The Violation of Engagements.

The war began by the violation of a solemn treaty, to which Germany subscribed in 1839. The entire conduct of the war has been, as far as Germany is concerned, a long series of violations of the[263] Hague Convention of 1907. Germany alleges, in her own defence, that circumstances have altered since the period when these pacts were signed; that she was obliged to forestall France; that in case of absolute necessity, such as that in which she stood, she has the right to use all means of injuring the enemy, permitted or not (p. 83); and moreover, that the torpedoing of the Lusitania (p. 194), the employment of living shields (p. 117), the use of toxic gases (p. 198), and terrorization by fire and assassination (p. 164), having proved efficacious, it is in her interests not to neglect them out of mere humanity, or a simple and childish respect for her own signature.

It is hopeless to discuss the matter; it would be wasted pains, Germany having decided to let her conduct be shaped by the impulse of the moment, without hampering herself with any anterior promises. She is fighting for her life, her publicists and statesmen never cease repeating, and she is free to throw all her engagements to the wind. "Not kennt kein Gebot," declared the Chancellor, on the 9th August, and this convenient maxim has lost nothing of its popularity.

But there are other engagements, engagements which Germany has entered into with Belgium since the beginning of the war, and which she has broken with the same ease: a promise to restore Belgium's independence; a promise to respect our patriotism, a promise to pay cash for all requisitions once the tribute of 480 millions frs. was paid, etc. Our enemies can invoke no extenuating circumstances to mitigate these breaches of faith, for no change had occurred between the dates of making these engagements and their violation.


The Independence of Belgium.

On the 4th August, 1914, the very day on which our country was invaded, the Imperial Government made one last effort to extort from England a promise of neutrality. It gave an assurance that even in the case of an armed conflict with Belgium, Germany would not on any pretext annex her territory (Livre Bleu, No. 74). On that very day the Kaiser and the Chancellor made similar declarations: "We shall repair the injustice which we are committing towards Belgium," said the Chancellor. Directly they had a newspaper at their disposal in Belgium our invaders published an article assuring the Belgians of their respect for whatever engagements they had entered into (see L'Ami de l'Ordre, 29th and 30th August, 1914).

Words, idle words!

Hardly were the Germans, in boasting mood, able to style themselves conquerors, than they hastened to trample their promises underfoot. Are the engagements of the Berlin Government anything more than so many scraps of paper, which may with impunity be declared null and void? Such men as Erzberger, Losch, Dernburg, Maximilian Harden, etc., all partaking in the public life of their country, found nothing was more urgent than to disregard whatever the Emperor and the Chancellor might have said, no matter how solemn the circumstances, and to make plans for the future in which Belgium would remain wholly or in part annexed.

The Promise to respect the Patriotism of the Belgians.

"I ask no one to renounce his patriotic sentiments," said Baron von der Goltz in the first of[265] the somewhat extraordinary declarations with which he gratified us during his stay in our midst in his quality of Governor-General (placard of 2nd September, 1914).

The Forced Striking of the Flag.

Every one was anxiously asking himself what was really the thought at the back of the Baron's head; for we already knew the Germans sufficiently to realize that so honeyed a phrase concealed some peril. But what? Two weeks later the riddle was solved; it meant that the Belgian national flag was "regarded as a provocation by the German troops" (placard of 16th September, 1914). A provocation of what or whom? Of their national sentiment? Well, and what of ours, which the Governor-General was not asking us to renounce? It is true that after the appearance of this placard the Military Governor announced that he had "by no means the intention of wounding the dignity or the feelings of the inhabitants by this measure; its sole purpose is to preserve the citizens from any annoyance." In short, it was for our good that we were forced to haul down our flag. What was to be done? To resist would be to give the scoundrels who were oppressing us an occasion for exercising their murderous and incendiary talents on Brussels. By a very dignified and very moderate notice, M. Max, the burgomaster, counselled his fellow-citizens to yield. This placard, which was not subjected to the censorship, despite the order given by the Germans, displeased them to the point of having it immediately covered with blank sheets of paper. But these were torn away by the people of Brussels, or else they were rendered transparent by[266] means of petroleum: in a word, every one could read the burgomaster's protest. But as it was expected, with a good show of reason, that the Germans would soon cause it to disappear completely, many persons copied the placard, or even photographed it; and for a long time numbers of the inhabitants of Brussels carried upon their persons, like a precious relic, a copy or a photograph of M. Max's famous placard.

The Belgian Colours forbidden in the Provinces.

While the withdrawal of the Belgian flag was demanded, in the provinces a hunt was conducted for the Belgian colours used in the decoration of shop-windows. The German police would enter the shops and demand the immediate removal of all tricolour ribbons decorating the windows.

Military Court.

Henry Dargette, of Namur, Place Arthur Borlée, 32, was punished with a fine of 10 marks, or 2 days' subsidiary detention, in accordance with § 13 of the Imperial decree of the 28th December, 1893, for having disregarded the communiqué of the Imperial Government of Namur of the 22nd April, 1915. He had exposed in his shop-window boxes of tin-plate with the French, British, Russian, and Belgian colours.

(L'Ami de l'Ordre, 3-6 July, 1915.)

In Brussels it was a long time before they decided to take measures against the wearing of the tricolour rosettes which so many people carried in their buttonholes; in the streets, at least two persons in three displayed our colours. This persistence on the part of the Belgians in publicly displaying their patriotic sentiments is extremely annoying to the Germans. For proof we need only turn to the letter from Brussels published in the weekly illustrated supplement of the Hamburger Fremdenblatt for the[267] 18th April, 1915: "One does not see a schoolboy, not a schoolgirl, not a lady, not a gentleman, who does not wear, in an obvious fashion, the Belgian cockade." In certain towns—for example Lessines, Gand, and Dinant—this kind of manifestation is prohibited. At Namur the fine may amount to 500 frs.; the placard which threatens this penalty is conceived in the involved and nauseating style which we encounter every time the Germans inflict on us a particularly disgusting piece of hypocrisy. In particular it is stated that it is forbidden "publicly to display the Belgian colours." No doubt it is permissible to have them floating about in one's pocket, or to decorate the interior of one's chest of drawers with them. This is how the Teuton Tartuffe "asks no one to renounce his patriotic sentiments":—

Government Communiqués.

One may observe, of late, in a great proportion of the inhabitants of the town, as well as in the young school-children, a tendency to manifest their patriotic feelings by wearing, in an open manner, the Belgian colours, under different forms.

I am far from wishing to offend their feelings; on the contrary, I esteem and respect them.

But, on the other hand, I cannot but perceive, in this form [of display], that it is desired thereby Publicly to express a demonstration against the present state of affairs and against the German authority, which I expressly forbid.

I consequently direct:

It is strictly forbidden to place in view, publicly, the Belgian colours, either on oneself, or on any objects whatever, in no matter what circumstances.

Contraventions will be punished by a fine which may amount to 500 frs., unless, according to the gravity of the case, the contravention is punished by imprisonment.

This regulation does not at any time prevent the wearing of official decorations by those who have the right to do so.

Lieutenant-General Baron von Hirschberg,
Military Governor of the Fortified Position of Namur.
(L'Ami de l'Ordre, 15th November, 1914.)


Prohibition of the Belgian Colours in Brussels.

Suddenly, without any pretext, the sight of the little tricolour decorations worn by the people of Brussels began to offend the Germans, and the national emblem was prohibited from the 1st July, 1915. The prohibition was posted only on the 30th of June. It made a distinction between the Belgian colours, the wearing of which was tolerated if it was not provocative, and the colours of our Allies, the display of which, even if not provocative, was absolutely prohibited. How were our German bumpkins going to make this much too subtle distinction between provocative and non-provocative display? This evidently left the door open to all sorts of arbitrary actions. So the people of Brussels judged it prudent to renounce their badges entirely. A few, however, replaced the rosette by an ivy-leaf, the emblem of fidelity in the language of flowers. What were the Germans to do now? Prohibit the wearing of the ivy-leaf, perhaps, for by the 5th July they had forbidden the manufacture and sale of artificial ivy-leaves, whether of cloth or paper. But they did not persist in this course. For the first time since we had been subject to them they conceived a witty idea. They themselves began to display the ivy-leaf; from that moment this emblem could not decently be worn by any of us. It would be interesting to know who inspired them with this ingenious idea.

The "Te Deum" on the Patron Saint's Day of the King.

Let us note the date of L'Ami de l'Ordre which contained Baron von Hirschberg's announcement: the 15th November, the patron saint's day of the[269] King. The same copy of the paper reproduced an article from Düsseldorfer General Anzeiger, which doubtless had escaped the censor, doing homage to the valour of the King and Queen. On the following day L'Ami de l'Ordre had to announce that the usual Te Deum would not be performed. Why was the ceremony suppressed? The paper did not say; but we can easily guess; the superior German authorities had decided otherwise.

In Brussels also the Te Deum of the 15th November was prohibited. It was decided to replace it by a mass which would be sung at 11 o'clock in the church of St. Gudule. By 10.30 the church was overflowing with people; but towards 11.0 a priest passed quietly through the ranks of the faithful, announcing that the singing of the Mass had been prohibited by the Germans, and that it would be replaced by a Low Mass. After this some hundreds of persons repaired to the Palais Royal, to the gate in the Rue Bréderode; they expected that a book would be there, as usual, to receive their signatures. The register had been there, but the German authorities had removed it. The callers then decided merely to leave their cards; but a Palace servant came to inform them that the Germans, after removing the register, had also forbidden the formation of assemblies near the Palace, and had even made some arrests; he therefore begged the public to disperse. More respect for patriotic sentiments!

The Portraits of the Royal Family.

Since then it has been forbidden to sell portraits of the Royal Family published since the outbreak of the war. In particular those picture-postcards are prohibited[270] which represent the King as a soldier, the King with his Staff, the King in the trenches, the King on the dunes, the King with General Joffre, the King at Furnes, the Queen as a nurse, Prince Leopold as a trooper, etc. The prohibition is applied with an incoherence which accords ill with the wonderful spirit of organization with which our persecutors are credited. In certain parts of Brussels the vendors have never been disturbed; in others, they may sell the cards in the shops, but may not expose them in the windows; elsewhere it is a crime even to have the cards in stock. In short, all is left to the caprice of the police. These make the round of the stationers' shops, seizing all prohibited cards, and very often, too, seizing other cards on their own initiative and for their own use. To a stationer who was privily selling us some prohibited cards, we put the question, whether the police did not often enter his shop, in order to seize whatever displeased them. "What displeases them?" he replied. "No, no; they seize more particularly whatever pleases them!" Another merchant, who was summoned to attend at the German police bureau in the Rue de l'Hôtel des Monnaies, was assured by the commissioner that the police had the right to take "everything that might excite the patriotism of the Belgians." This official put his own interpretation on Baron von der Goltz's regulations with regard to patriotism.

Not far away, at St. Gilles, on Sunday the 14th February, an under-officer brutally snatched away the national flag which covered the coffin of a Belgian soldier. Here is another example of individual ideas as to the respect to be paid to patriotism and piety.

While in Brussels the Germans prohibited only[271] the more recent Royal portraits, at Gand, in February 1915, the commandant of the Magazine,[42] in order to show his zeal, forbade the sale of any portraits of the Royal Family, of whatever date or nature.

The Burgomaster of Gand has received the following letter, the communal administration sending us a translation of the same:—
2. mob. Etappen Kommandantur.
Reference No. 1095.

Gand, 4th February, 1915.

To the Burgomaster of the City,—

I beg you again to draw the attention of all the booksellers, stationers' shops, etc., by hand-bill or by means of the newspapers, that they are forbidden under any circumstances to display the portraits of the Royal Family of Belgium, either in the windows or in the interior of the shops.

Those who act otherwise will be severely punished.

The Commandant of the Magazine,
(Signed) Henz.
(Le Bien Public, 13th February, 1915.)

The German persecutions were resumed with renewed vigour on the approach of the 8th April, the King's birthday. At Antwerp the Germans took care to forbid, in advance, anything that might have passed for a royalist manifestation; but the inhabitants succeeded, none the less, under their enemies' noses, in celebrating their Sovereign's anniversary.


Elsewhere the Germans, in their incorrigible meanness, had a different inspiration. They suddenly had an intuition that the communal administrations of Brabant were going to dismiss the schools in honour of the King. Immediately circulars were distributed, forbidding the closing of the schools on that day. But these ineffable blunderers had forgotten one thing: namely, that the 8th of April fell in the middle of the Easter holidays! Certain communes permitted themselves the malicious delight of inquiring of the Germans whether they must recall the pupils for the 8th of April? The Germans, of course, missed the irony of the situation, and replied that it would not be necessary to resume the classes. Their second letter contains a particularly delightful sentence: "My will is merely that instruction shall not be specially interrupted in honour of the anniversary of H.M. the King of the Belgians." Another example of the unshakable determination to respect the Belgians' patriotism!

Obligation to Employ the German Language.

These letters are written in German. For that matter, it has become a rule with our enemies to write only in their own tongue, and often even in German characters. Better still: at Liége and Namur (L'Ami de l'Ordre, 31st August, 1914) they required the Belgians also to write in German. Yet another way of respecting our patriotism!

The Belgian Army is our Enemy!

Far from making an effort to respect our feelings, one would even imagine that they must make it a point of honour (German honour) to wound our loyalty. Thus, when they punish any one for rendering service to the Belgians, instead of expressing the matter simply, as we have done, they announce that the Belgian is convicted of relations with the enemy. They are speaking of their enemies. But "the enemy" implies that the Belgian Government[273] or the Belgian army is the enemy of the Belgian people.

Better still: they inform us, by means of placards, that to aid the Belgian army is "treason." The Belgian becomes a traitor by rendering a service to his country! What a singular conception of honour!


The military tribunals have lately been compelled to condemn to hard labour for attempted treason a large number of Belgians, who had assisted their compatriots subject to military service in their attempt to join the enemy army.

I again warn [the public] against committing such crimes against the German troops, in view of the severe penalties which they will incur.

The Governor-General in Belgium,
General von Bissing,

Brussels, 3rd March, 1915.

The "Brabançonne" Prohibited.

At Namur the Brabançonne was declared seditious on the 23rd March, 1915. But a month later the execution of the first four verses was declared to be permissible. What did the Germans mean by that? Let us remember that none of the known versions of our national song (the two versions of Jenneval and that of Rogier) consists of more than four verses. Which, then, are those that our persecutors forbid? In their rage for prohibition they have prohibited something that does not exist!—unless they were speaking of the verse invented by La Libre Belgique, and published in its tenth issue. It would be amusing if the German authorities had fallen into a snare set by a prohibited newspaper!

In Brussels the Germans had not dared openly to interdict the Brabançonne, as they did another[274] national anthem which had, so to speak, the freedom of the city of Brussels: we mean the Marseillaise (placard of the 27th March, 1915). Never did one hear the Marseillaise so often as after the Germans forbade us to sing or play it; only it was now whistled. So, as might have been expected, whistling the Marseillaise was made a crime. As for the Brabançonne, it was prohibited in an underhand sort of way. It used to be sung every day in a school in Brussels; but two German soldiers of the Landsturm, who were guarding a neighbouring railway, heard it, and felt offended. Hence a letter to the communal authorities, demanding that the national anthem should be sung or played with more discretion. It is now seldom played save in the churches: at High Mass on Sunday and the funeral services for soldiers.

The National Anniversary of July 21st.

In July 1915 the people of Brussels hit on a new method of celebrating the national anniversary of the 21st July. Since our tyrants would obviously forbid us to fly our flag at half-mast, in token of our being for the time in mourning for our country, a number of shopkeepers announced, by means of a small printed notice, that "the shop would be closed on Wednesday, the 21st July." The Germans were displeased; moreover, they issued a decree forbidding all demonstrations.

21st July.
Order of the Governor of Brussels dated 18th July, 1915.

I warn the public that on the 21st July, 1915, demonstrations of all kinds are expressly and severely prohibited.

Meetings, processions, and the decoration of public and private[275] buildings also come under the application of the above prohibition.

Offenders will be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months and a fine which may amount to as much as 10,000 marks, or by one of these penalties to the exclusion of the other.

They also announced, by means of the newspapers in their pay, Le Bruxellois and La Belgique, that the closing of the shops might be regarded as a demonstration. Their pains were wasted. On the morning of the 21st the shops and cafés remained closed; in private houses the shutters were not opened. In all Brussels only a few taverns were open—taverns frequented by the Germans, which a Belgian would never compromise himself by entering. All that day it was a comforting and impressive spectacle to see the crowd, in its Sunday clothes, grave and deeply affected, with never one uplifted voice, passing along the streets of closed houses. Never had the like been seen in Brussels. No one would have dared to hope for such unanimity of feeling after eleven months of occupation. The Germans were raging. They brought out troops, who, with bayonet and cannon, occupied the principal public squares; they ran an armoured motor-car up and down the most frequented streets; they dragged artillery along the avenues surrounding the city. But they did not succeed in fomenting the slightest disturbance; the Brussels public was too firmly determined to preserve its dignity and its tranquillity.

In all the churches the Te Deum was replaced by a High Mass, followed by the playing of the Brabançonne; the latter was sung in chorus by the congregation, who were moved to tears.

The comic note was struck by the Germans.[276] Suddenly, in the afternoon, motor-cars began to hustle the crowds that had gathered; they bore red placards, which were immediately pasted up, announcing that the cafés, cinema-halls, etc., were to be closed at 8 p.m. Now all these establishments had been closed since the morning. The Germans must have lost their heads to make so grotesque an exhibition of themselves.

As a sort of reprisal, the authorities suspended the two newspapers which had not appeared on the 21st July: Le Quotidien and L'Écho de la Presse. Immediately La Belgique, which had appeared, suspended itself, in order to produce a belief that it was not German! As for the Bruxellois, it said not a word of the striking demonstration of the 21st.

In other Belgian towns the shops were closed. In Antwerp more than the shops were closed; the bureau of German passports, in the Place Verte, announced, by means of two written notices, in German and Flemish, that it was closed for the 21st July. The Germans were trying to repeat the trick of the ivy-leaf. In vain, however, since the 21st was to occur only once!

At Gand the Germans forbade the closing of the shops. And the latter were all open. But in many windows one saw, instead of the usual display of goods, a group of articles which comprised a bucket of water, a scrubbing-brush, and a chamois leather, with an inscription: "Cleaning To-day."

The Anniversary of the 4th August.

We must suppose that the unanimity with which the houses of Brussels were kept shut up touched the Germans in a sore place, for they prohibited[277] the repetition of their manifestation on the 4th August, the anniversary of their entrance into Belgium.


I warn the population of the Brussels district that on the 4th August any demonstration, including the decoration of houses by means of flags and the wearing of emblems as a demonstration is strictly prohibited.

All gatherings will be dispersed regardless by the armed forces.

Also I order that on the 4th August all the shops, as well as cafés, restaurants, taverns, theatres, cinemas, and other establishments of the same kind shall be closed after 8 o'clock in the evening (German time). After 9 o'clock in the evening (German time) only persons having a special written authorization emanating from a German authority may remain in or enter the streets.

Persons contravening these orders will be punished by a maximum imprisonment of five years and a fine which may amount to 10,000 marks, or one of these penalties to the exclusion of the other.

The shops and establishments beforementioned which, as a demonstration, shall close during the day of the 4th August will remain closed for a considerable period of time.

The Military Government,
von Kraewel.

1st August, 1915.

The placard announcing these prohibitions forbade us to deck our houses with flags! Flags, good God! Who then would have dreamed of flying flags in commemoration of the rupture of an international pact! At the most the people of Brussels had intended to wear in the buttonhole a little "scrap of paper." But the wearing of emblems was forbidden.

What the Germans did not think of forbidding was the little demonstration of sympathy which they received on the evening of the 4th. In conformity[278] with the order, all doors were closed at 20 hours (9 o'clock German time). But in several of the popular quarters of Brussels the inhabitants were no sooner indoors than the upper windows were thrown open, and a deafening concert issued forth, in which phonographs, alarm clocks, and saucepan-lids were predominant. The patrols demanded the closing of the windows; but the people climbed on the roofs to continue their charivari there. The military commandant was not pleased. It took him only five days to think of an appropriate punishment.

Official Communication.

M. Maurice Lemonnier, acting burgomaster of the City of Brussels, has just had posted the following communication:—

"To the Inhabitants of the Rue de l'Escalier and the Rue du Dam:

"I place before you the translation of an extract from a letter which I have just received from the German authorities.

"I call your attention to the penalties announced against those who shall contravene the measures ordained by the German Military Government."

Brussels, 9th August, 1915.
At the Sheriff's College, Brussels.

... Even if I am willing to recognize that the Administration of the City endeavoured, by means of its organs, to obtain the application of the prescribed measures on the 4th of this month, there yet remains the fact that in two streets isolated individuals were guilty, in a demonstrative manner, of gross misconduct toward the German patrols.

It is to be regretted that it has not been possible to discover the persons individually guilty; consequently nothing is left me to do but to take measures against the streets in which the offences were committed.

Consequently I order the following as regards the two streets, Rue de l'Escalier and Rue du Dam:

From Monday, the 9th of this month, and for the space of fourteen days, that is to say, until the 23rd of this month inclusively:


A. All business houses and cafés will be closed after 7 o'clock in the evening (German time).

B. After 9 o'clock in the evening (German time) no one must be found out of doors, in the street. After that time all windows giving on the street must be closed.

It is incumbent on the city to communicate the foregoing to the inhabitants of these streets, to apply the aforementioned measures, and to exercise a strict supervision in order that they may be observed.

Also I beg you to see that these streets are sufficiently lighted, until 11 o'clock at night (German time).

Moreover, I shall have these streets inspected by German patrols. If on this occasion fresh offences are committed against the German patrols, these latter will make use of their weapons.

With my utmost consideration (Avec haute considération distingué),

(Signed) von Kraewel,
Governor of Brussels.

Our tyrants appeared greatly to fear popular demonstrations. The people of Liége had planned to honour, on the 6th August, in the cemetery, the soldiers who died for their country during the defence of the city in August 1914. Immediately the Germans made public their restrictive measures.

City of Liége.

To the Population.

Colonel von Soden, Commandant of the Fortress of Liége, has just addressed to me the following letter (in translation):—

"In the course of the morning of Friday, the 6th August, commemorative ceremonies will take place at the tombs of the soldiers killed in combat.

"I beg you to bring the foregoing to the notice of the population.

"I particularly insist that, during the visit to the tombs, or in case of participation in the military ceremonies, no demonstrative manifestation of any kind must occur."

Liége, the 2nd August, 1915.

The Burgomaster,
G. Kleyer.

(Posted at Liége.)


The people of Liége retorted by putting their shops in mourning, and on the 6th August it was an impressive spectacle to see the shop-windows throughout the centre of Liége hung with deep violet.

School Inspection by the Germans.

In the schools the children were for a long time able to sing La Brabançonne on the sly; but this was not to last. The German authorities passed a decree against Germanophobe demonstrations in the schools.

Article First.

The members of the teaching staff, school managers and inspectors, who, during the occupation, tolerate, favour, provoke, or organize Germanophobe manifestations or secret practices will be punished by imprisonment for a maximum term of one year.

Article Second.

The German authorities have the right to enter all classes and rooms of all schools existing in Belgium, and to supervise the teaching and all the manifestations of school life with a view to preventing secret practices and intrigues directed against Germany.

Article Third.

Whosoever shall seek to oppose or prevent verifications and inquiries relating to infractions mentioned in Article 1, or the measures of supervision ordained by Article 2, is liable to a fine of 10 to 1,500 marks or to a maximum imprisonment of six months.

Article Fourth.

The infractions provided against in Articles 1 and 3 shall be tried by the military courts.

Brussels, 26th June, 1915.

Der General Gouverneur in Belgiën,
Freiherr von Bissing,


Our children will have to unlearn the national anthem, which, in the present circumstances, is evidently Germanophobe; and the teachers of history, too, must keep a watch upon their words. During the French lesson there must be no more recitations of Andrieux' Le Meunier de Sans-Souci. It may even be necessary to make deletions in the Latin classics; for one can see the military tribunals inflicting severe penalties on Tacitus, for even in his days Gallos certare pro libertate, Batavos, pro gloria, Germanos ad prædam (The Gauls fight for liberty, the Batavians for glory, the Germans for pillage). Another Latin author who would certainly be proscribed is Velleius Paterculus; he states in his Roman History: At illi (Germani), quod nisi expertus vix credat, in summa feritate versutissimi natumque mendacio genus (The Germans ally an extreme ferocity to the greatest knavery; they are a race born to lie; and one must have mingled with them to believe this). Velleius Paterculus was a good observer.

The morality—or immorality—of this long series of broken engagements, which might be indefinitely prolonged, has had the result that no one can any longer put his trust in Germany. None the less does Germany continue to make promises, and is even annoyed and irritated when one doubts her word. Thus the Chancellor said, in a speech delivered to the Reichstag on the 23rd May, 1915, at the time of the negotiations with Italy:—

"Germany had given her word that the concessions offered [by Germany] should be actually accorded [by Austria][43]; consequently there could no longer be any reason for distrust." Italy, strong in the experience acquired by Belgium, decided, on the other hand, that there was reason for distrust from the moment Germany pledged her word; and accordingly she broke off negotiations in order to declare war.


C.—Incitements to Disunion.

Divide et impera ("Divide in order to rule") is a maxim which has largely inspired the Germans in their relations with the Belgians. They therefore do their utmost to divide the nation from its King, to excite the Belgians one against another, and finally to kindle discord between our Allies and ourselves.

We have just seen by what unjustifiable methods, after promising to respect our patriotism, they proceeded systematically (as they do all things) to thwart our sentiments of fidelity to our King and our nationality. Not content with opposing—sometimes openly, sometimes with hypocrisy—all our loyalist manifestations, they endeavour to embroil us with our Sovereigns.

Incitements to Disloyalty.

While they accuse the Belgian nation of having sold itself to the Triple Entente, they hold the King personally responsible for this "conspiracy." Having become the "valet" or the "slave" of England, the Sovereign could not accept the friendly hand which the Kaiser tendered him on two occasions—the 2nd and the 9th of August, 1914.

At Antwerp the Germans alone appear to have heard the absurd declaration, that he vowed to[283] "die in the city with his last soldiers." Then he betrays his army and "takes to flight, amid the maledictions of his subjects," deserting them for those that seduced him.

Then we have him on the Yser, the melancholy king "abandoned by God." He would ask nothing better than to conclude peace. But England holds him still in her toils, and prevents him from accomplishing this wise project. It is Le Réveil, that peculiarly truthful newspaper of Düsseldorf, which reveals this sinister exploit of Albion. The Hamburger Nachrichten receives the same report from Brussels.

King Albert wishes to make Peace.
Hamburg, 14th November, 1914.

From Brussels the Hamburger Nachrichten hears from a very reliable source that the report is confirmed which states that serious differences exist between Belgium and England—that is, that all personal relations are interrupted between King Albert and the British Staff.

The King desires an understanding with Germany, which Great Britain is endeavouring by all means to prevent.

(Vossische Zeitung, 15th November, 1914.)

The propagandist pamphlet Lüttich is less severe to our Sovereign, since it invokes, as an extenuating circumstance, his "blindness, which verges on stupidity." Incommensurable pride or imbecility—such are the characteristics of King Albert! Do these paladins of tact and delicacy show any greater respect for our Queen? Be sure they do not! An article on King Albert and the Triple Entente, in the Deutsche Soldatenpost of the 10th October, 1914, a newspaper intended both for the troops and the Belgian public, states: "From the outset the Queen[284] was initiated into the King's plans. She has not uttered a single word of reproach for the horrible brutalities of which the principal victims were innocent young German girls in Brussels and Antwerp."

Well, we know that none of these "proofs" have shaken our fidelity. Despite all prohibitions, despite all the fines imposed, thousands of copies of the portraits of the King in the midst of his troops, and of the Queen, our dear little Queen, tending the wounded, are sold every day of the year. The patriotism of the Belgians is certainly incurable!

The Walloons incited against the Flemings.

So the Germans sought a new device. As they could not cause disunion between the people and the Sovereign, they tried to sow dissension between the citizens themselves, by envenoming the problem of language and reviving political rancour.

At first they exploited, in the most virulent manner, the Flemish-Walloon conflict. As in all countries in which several tongues are spoken, there is naturally in Belgium a struggle between the Flemings, who speak a Germanic language, and occupy the northern portion of the country, and the Walloons, who speak a Latin tongue, and occupy the southern provinces. But this conflict, however lively it may have been, has never touched the foundations of our national conscience, and we have always felt ourselves Belgians before everything.

At the outset, confesses Herr Kurd von Strantz, the Germans did not realize what profit they might derive from the antagonism of races in Belgium: an antagonism which they believed to be profound, but which was only skin-deep. Since the month of[285] August, however, they have been trying to make up for lost time; they no longer lose a single occasion to excite the Flemings against the Walloons, and in particular they seek to make the latter believe that the Flemings already entertain feelings of sympathy towards their executioners.

Only two months after the occupation of the capital the Germans, organizing their conquest, attempted to win over the Flemings by feigning to espouse their grievances and by exploiting their racial relationship, in order to divide them from their Walloon fellow-citizens. Suddenly, in the official communiqués, Flemish took the place until then occupied by French, and the German newspapers began to display a touching sympathy for their "Flemish brothers," and for their country and their art. We did not even need to read the article published by the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant on the 11th December (which was seen by M. Paul Hymans), in order to divine, at the root of these sudden and simultaneous manifestations, the orders issued by the German official circles.

For it was not thus during the first weeks of the occupation. Then correspondence was permissible only in French and German: Flemish was not tolerated. The official notices were printed in French and German only. Then, on the 25th August, the Government placards appeared in German, French, and Flemish. Finally, on the 1st October, Flemish had the advantage of French. Although from the standpoint of Belgian law the latter measure was legal in the Brussels district, the by-law ordering the cinema-houses to publish their programmes in Flemish as well as French was not so; very often the manager is innocent of Flemish, and the[286] Flemish programme is spelt in the most fantastic manner. Absolutely illegal, too, is the by-law compelling shopkeepers in Bruges and Ostend to replace their French shop-signs by signs written in Flemish. Still more galling was the outcome of a certain trial at Tongres. Some young men, Flemings and Walloons, were accused of the same offence. They were inscribed on separate lists, according to their origin. The Walloons were condemned to severer penalties than those inflicted on the Flemings. One sees the double object here: to mollify the Flemings and to make the Walloons suspicious of them. We may compare this with the fact that the majority of the Flemish civil prisoners have been repatriated, while the Walloons are still in Germany.

However, the daily task of insinuation and persuasion is undertaken by the German press. In the first place it lays stress on the great affinity of character, historical past, origin, and language between the Germans and the Flemings (Düss. Gen. Anz., 4th December, 1914). The Germans must humour the Flemings and make friends with them. One reason why it would not do to treat Belgium more harshly (as had been demanded) is that there is a racial relationship between a portion of the population and that of Germany. There is no Belgian people (Voss. Zeit., 1st March, 1915). Much is made of the distant echoes of the linguistic quarrel (Voss. Zeit., 1st March, 1915; K.Z., 18th March, 1915; Frankf. Zeit., 24th March, 1915; Osswald, Zur Belgischen Frage).—The ill-feeling of the Flemings toward the "purely Walloon" Belgian Government must be fomented (Frankf. Zeit., 24th March, 1915), and also their dislike of the Belgian press printed in the[287] French tongue, both Government and press having been long ago won over to France and the hatred of Germany (K.Z., 15th November, 1915). La Croix Rouge is published in three languages, Flemish preceding even German, and the French occupying only the extreme right of the sheet; each number contains only one feuilleton, and that is a novel in Flemish. A little Flemish conversation manual—Vlamischer Sprachführer—is published in Düsseldorf for the use of Germans, and of soldiers in particular. In order to compromise the Flemish, the Germans pretend that well-known Flemings are already working hand-in-hand with the German administration. It is even stated that a pro-German group of young Flemings exists (K.Z., 18th March, 1915). In verse translations, the Dietsch or duitsch of the Flemish poets is rendered by "German," whereas these words signify simply the Flemish or Dutch language (Lüttich, p. 127; Köln. Volksz., 25th January, 1915). Herr Karl Lamprecht, the well-known historian, who knew that his translation was dishonest, was one of those who translated dietsch by "German" (Die Woche, No. 12, 1915). Better still, in the same article Herr Lamprecht feigns to believe that by the expression Noord en Zuid Emmanuel Hiel intended to denote the Germans and the Flemings; whereas he is speaking—and no confusion is possible—of the Dutch (Noord-Nederlanders), and the Flemings (Zuid-Nederlanders).

A short story by M. Maurice Sabbe was published in the Berliner Tageblatt on the 25th December, 1914, with an introduction which was peculiarly compromising to the author's patriotic sentiments. His extremely plain reply was as follows:—


How Fräulein Dämchen was Buried.
(Reproduction prohibited.)
By Maurice Sabbe,
Professor of Germanic Languages at the Malines Athenæum.

(The sketch was preceded by a brief introduction, which we quote.)

The sketch we publish here deserves particular attention. Maurice Sabbe is a scholar and a Flemish writer of repute, who, during the bombardment of Malines, fled into Holland. Sabbe knows Germany, thanks to a long residence at Weimar, and the military situation has not succeeded in destroying his feeling, which is exempt from prejudice, for Germany and Germanism. He expresses his opinion with sympathy in the lectures which he is delivering in Holland, and, in the same spirit, he has addressed, through his translator, to a German journal, the Berliner Tageblatt, this short story of life in Malines, which describes an episode of the war: the first contribution which, coming from Belgium and written by a Belgian during the war, has been destined to find publication in Germany.

The Editor.
(Berliner Tageblatt, 25th December, 1914.)
Bussum, 28th December, 1914.


I beg your hospitality for the following lines:—

In the November number (1914) of the review Onze Eeuw I published a literary version of an episode of the bombardment of Malines. A Dutch writer, M. E. Meier, requested my permission for the publication of a translation of this sketch in a German newspaper. I granted it him without hesitation and even with a certain pleasure. My narrative emphasized the kindness and magnanimity of my countrymen towards their enemies, and, at a moment when the German press was accusing every Belgian of being a franc-tireur, I thought myself fortunate to be able to place a contrary example beneath the eyes of the German public.

I left the choice of newspaper to my translator, and the translation appeared in the Christmas number of the Berliner Tageblatt.

But here the plot thickens. Unknown to me, the editors of the Berliner Tageblatt prefaced my story with a notice highly compromising to me. It asserts, in short, that I have German[289] sympathies which the war has not succeeded in shaking, that I am giving lectures in Holland in order to express these feelings, and that I wrote my short story especially to be published in Germany!

The last assertion is already contradicted by the fact that the sketch in question is a translation of the text which appeared in a French review two months ago. As for my sentiments, they are what they have always been, those of a Belgian unshakably attached to his unhappy country and his noble King. These, and no others, are the feelings I have expressed in my lectures in Holland. My numerous auditors can testify to this.

You will give me a sensible pleasure, sir, by inserting this letter, thus assisting me to avoid any misunderstanding.

Accept, etc.,
Maurice Sabbe.

This is only a detail in the conflict we are sustaining against invading Germany, but it is a very instructive detail, because it shows that before accepting any assertion on the part of our oppressors we must always ask ourselves how much of it is a lie. The same question arises à propos of a letter written by a Fleming living at Liége and speaking "in the name of the Flemish population of Liége," which aspires to live under the German domination. By the singularities of his syntax and his orthography this Fleming from Liége can only be of German origin (Düss. Gen. Anz., 11th February, 1915).

Once there was even a kind word spoken for the Walloons, vindicating the dignity of their dialects, which are by no means dependent on the French. (It is true this bold assertion comes from Herr Kurd von Strantz.)

Inciting the People against the Belgian Government.

On the other hand, they hope to detach the Belgian people from its Government. Especially during the siege of Antwerp did they heap effort[290] on effort of this kind. It was then greatly to their interest to send as many troops as possible to the Western front (so says Lieutenant-General Imhoff, in his introduction to Delbrück's Der Deutsche Krieg in Feldpostbriefen, pp. 11 to 13). Now hundreds of thousands of their men were delayed in Belgium by the siege of Antwerp. At all costs these had to be liberated in order to lengthen the battle-front towards the north-west and the sea. Towards the middle of September they did not hesitate for the third time to make peace proposals to the Government—proposals which were rejected with disdain, as were the previous ones (pp. 50-1). After this repeated diplomatic failure they attempted trickery, a speciality in which they shine to more advantage. As they could not succeed in directly influencing the leaders of Belgian politics, they endeavoured to act on them indirectly through the people. A newspaper was established, L'Écho de Bruxelles, "for the general welfare," to which a certain "Aristide" contributed. He professed to be an occasional correspondent, although his articles were really the pretext for issuing the paper.

In the first number he published a detestable letter in which he called upon the Belgian Government at all costs to make peace with Germany. This proceeding was so improper that the N.R.C. even, while reprinting the letter, could not refrain from criticizing it harshly. In No. 4, which appeared on the 4th October, 1914, and which was entirely devoted to an attempt to cause mental anxiety in the people of Brussels, he condemned as unpatriotic "the man who does not rise up to cry to the people of Antwerp that they must cease from this sanguinary, disastrous, and useless[291] struggle for a cause which is not ours." The same accusation was made against "those divisional Generals whom the laurels of General Leman will not allow to sleep." "The laurels of General Leman, great God!" he adds, and thereupon he moves heaven and earth to prove the notorious insufficiency of the valiant defender of Liége. No, he says, "the true and only heroes of this melancholy war in Belgium are those who ... have proposed to treat with Germany. These, Ministers and generals, have given proof of courage and wisdom, exposing themselves to the vengeance of a mob over-excited by a system of lies and delusions.... And the public will kick out these French journalists and these hawkers of French journals who for years have whispered hatred of neighbour against neighbour, the latter being the best customer Belgium possessed." We have cited only the more scandalous portions of this article, ignoring the merely ignoble passages.

While "Aristide" was endeavouring to influence the civil population, aeroplanes were distributing to the Belgian troops in Antwerp circulars, printed in French, and in another language which had a certain resemblance to Flemish; and these strange handbills informed the Belgian soldiers that they had been deceived by their officers and by the authorities; that the Belgian army was fighting for the British and the Russians, etc.

Brussels, 1st October, 1914.

Belgian Soldiers,

Your blood and your whole salvation, you are not giving them at all to your beloved country; you are only serving the interest of Russia, a country which desires only to increase its[292] already enormous power, and, above all, the interest of England, whose perfidious avarice has given birth to this cruel and unheard-of war. From the commencement your newspapers, paid from French and English sources, have never ceased to deceive you, telling you nothing but lies as to the causes of the war and the battles which have followed, and this is still done every day. Consider one of your army orders which affords fresh proof of this. This is what it contains:

"You have been told that your comrades who are prisoners in Germany have been forced to march against Russia beside our soldiers." Yet your common sense must tell you that this would be a measure quite impossible to execute. When the day comes when your comrades who are prisoners return from our country and tell you with how much benevolence they have been treated, their words will make you blush for what your newspapers, and your officers, have dared to tell you, in order to deceive you in so incredible a manner. Every day of resistance makes you sustain irreparable losses, while with the capitulation of Antwerp you will be free from all anxiety. Belgian soldiers, you have fought enough for the interests of the princes of Russia, for those of the capitalists of perfidious Albion. Your situation is one to despair of. Germany, who is fighting only for her life, has destroyed two Russian armies. To-day no Russian is to be found in our country. In France our troops are about to overcome the last resistance. If you wish to rejoin your wives and children, if you wish to return to your work, in a word, if you wish for peace, put an end to this useless struggle, which is ending only in your ruin. Then you will quickly enjoy all the benefits of a favourable and perfect peace.

von Beseler,
Commander-in-Chief of the Besieging Army.

When examples of this circular were brought to us in Brabant, we at first thought it was a hoax. But we had to submit to the evidence; the idea of this proclamation had really been conceived and executed by the Germans.

After the fall of Antwerp the campaign continued. Was it not necessary to prevent the Belgians from going to join the Allies in the direction of Flanders? With this end in view, the Germans attempted to[293] throw suspicion on the conduct of the Belgian military authorities at the time of the taking of Antwerp. It was again the Écho de Bruxelles which was entrusted with the publication of the first false news. Shortly after the accomplishment of this pleasant task, the Écho de Bruxelles disappeared for ever: doubtless it was no longer required.

As for the defamatory libels which were uttered in November and December, in order to incriminate the conduct of the civil authorities of Antwerp, it is not yet known by whom they were instigated, worded, and distributed; but we have a reasonable conviction that the Germans were not unaware of them. In any case they did what they could to profit by this disagreement, and they also did their best—in vain—to revive the question when the Belgians, by common accord, had settled their differences.

But the Germans had not yet given up the idea of fomenting conflicts among us. In an article entitled Belgische Umstimmigkeiten (Change of Temper in Belgium) the Kölnische Zeitung of the 22nd November, 1914 (2nd morning edition) referred to a telegram from Berlin which stated that news received from Breda (according to the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger) asserted that seven Belgian officers had deserted and had there been interned. To verify this was very difficult, the more so as in November 1914 no postal or telegraphic communication was permitted between Belgium and Holland. The rest of the article informed us that on the 5th November—a fortnight before their desertion—these officers had received from King Albert the Cross of the Order of Leopold: they[294] had thus waited to desert until they had been made the object of special distinction, which is at least peculiar. And then, setting out from the Yser, they crossed the German lines to be interned at Breda, in Northern Brabant. Strange! strange! And all this in order to inform us that these officers, disheartened by the servile and treacherous attitude of the King, refused again to send their men into battle, for the sake of the English.

Inciting the Belgians against the English.

It will be remarked that the English always receive a good share of the venomous slime which the Germans, as M. Spitteler says, spit upon the King, the Government, and the Belgian authorities. "England—there is the enemy!" says the Hassgesang Gegen England—i.e. Song of Hatred of England, the work of Herr Ernst Lissauer.

We love but with a single love,
We hate but with a single hate;
We have one foe, and one alone—

It would be tedious to mention all the innumerable articles intended to arouse in us a hatred of England. We may mention the opinion of Dr. Hedin, reproduced on the placard of the 9th November, 1914; the proclamation of Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, inserted, for our edification, in Le Réveil (29th October), as well as the declaration imputed to the Flemish "poet" Cyrid Buysse (placard of 12th December, 1914). But these lovers of truth forgot to announce, a few days later, that M. Buysse denied the truth of the German declaration. A mere instance of forgetfulness, no doubt, unless[295] the Amsterdam-Copenhagen-Berlin-Brussels route, which was covered by the so-called declaration, had suddenly grown too long for truth to travel by.

D.—A Few Details of the Administration of Belgium.

The preceding chapter has informed us how the Germans bore themselves towards the inhabitants of the territory occupied in conformity with—or rather in contravention of—Articles 42-56 of the Hague Convention. Treachery and untruthfulness are the chief weapons employed by our enemies. We need not return to the subject. We desire now merely to refer to some details relating to the administration. Details, we said; and in truth we shall consider neither the financial administration of the country, nor its judicial administration, nor its political administration, nor any of the other great cog-wheels essential to the life of a nation. We shall confine ourselves to very simple facts which any one can remark and understand.

(a) Present Prosperity in Belgium.

There is nothing of which the Germans are more proud than their talent—real or illusory—for organization. Accordingly they professed their intention of re-establishing the normal state of affairs in Belgium, in spite of the war, and they are always informing the whole world that everything has resumed its regular course in our country.

Assertions of the German Authorities.

Even in his inaugural proclamation (2nd September, 1914), von der Goltz took the trouble of[296] informing us that work was to be resumed. But the Germans had placed such impediments in the way of inter-urban relations that all activities were necessarily suspended. In October he accorded "facilities of communication," as we were informed by the announcement of the 15th, which meant that "circulation" was no longer absolutely prohibited, and that he who had the means to obtain a passport, and could spend a day or two in procuring it, would thereafter be authorized to travel from Louvain to Malines, or from Namur to Liége. As these measures, though so full of solicitude for the general welfare, did not produce all the results that were expected of them, the communal authorities were advised to refuse relief to the unemployed (6th November, 1914). Nothing came of that advice!

To the numerous obstacles already mentioned we must add one other: the railway-workers and the artisans employed in many of the foundries and workshops of Belgium were perfectly well aware that their labours would principally benefit the Germans, so that by returning to their workshops they would be committing an unpatriotic action. To overcome this passive resistance the Germans multiplied their proclamations in the industrial centres. It was wasted effort.

In the meantime the Governor-General, in the vain hope of galvanizing the labour organizations, sent to Germany for well-known Socialists, who, under the pretext of having a chat with the leaders of the trades unions, were really to inculcate the idea that it was their duty to urge a resumption of work. The visits of the German Socialists have been described by M. Dewinne, of Brussels, a militant worker, in the Parisian journal L'Humanité.


Infatuated as the Germans might be, they could hardly delude themselves as to the failure of their attempts at subornation. This did not prevent Baron von Bissing from issuing declarations dealing with the situation which were truly touching in their sincerity.

News Published by the German General Government.
Normal Situation in Belgium.

Vienna, 19th December.—The Sofia correspondent of the Neue Freie Presse has had an interview with Field-Marshal von der Goltz, who declared: "The situation in Belgium is entirely normal. The Belgian population is acquiring the conviction that the Germans are anything but cruel."

The General Government in Belgium.

Berlin, 15th December.—To the correspondent of the Hamburger Korrespondent, the new Governor-General in Belgium, General Baron von Bissing, has made the following declarations: I wish to maintain order and tranquillity in this country, which has become the base of operations for our troops. Our army must know that order prevails behind it, so that it may always give its attention freely only to what lies before it. I hope also that I shall succeed, hand in hand with the civil administration, in doing a great deal for the economic situation. When the Emperor appointed me Governor-General he charged me, with particular insistence, to do everything to assist the weak in Belgium, and to encourage them.

The General Government in Belgium.

The Parasitical Exploitation of Belgium admitted by Germany.

But, you may ask, had not Germany other than military reasons for wishing to revive the economic life of Belgium? A semi-official article in the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, which was brought to our cognizance by the Düsseldorfer General-Anzeiger of the 30th December, 1914, informs us upon this point. The article emanates[298] from Governmental circles in Brussels, probably from the immediate entourage of the Governor-General. Its object is to reply to the complaints formulated in Germany, according to which the authorities deal too gently with the Belgians. Instead of trying to revive Belgian industry, it would be better, say the critics, to crush it completely, in order to suppress future competition: on the other hand, it is claimed that the contribution of 480 million frs. is insufficient to reduce us to impotence, and that we ought to have been more severely "squeezed." The German Government in Belgium defends itself briskly against the reproach of sentimentality; it asserts that it has never allowed itself to be guided by an exaggerated mildness (and we are ready to declare that on this point at least its assertions maybe credited!). It would surely not be very intelligent, it protests, to strangle outright a country so ill-directed. Would it not be preferable to exploit Belgium scientifically, so as to make her yield as much as possible? The argument amounts to this: do not let us kill the goose that lays the golden eggs; but of course it is understood, although one need not express it explicitly, that when it is no longer in condition to lay, we shall not hesitate to cut its throat.

The Tenfold Tax on Absentees.

Many Belgians have left the country. That is easily understood. Those who were present at the massacres of Visé, Louvain, Dinant, Termonde ... hastened, in their terror, to abandon those haunts of horror. Those who lived in the towns left intact, such as Brussels and Gand, but who heard people[299] talk of the massacres and the burnings, had also only one idea: to fly before the arrival of the Germans. Even those Belgians who did not leave at the outset eventually grew weary of the insupportable vexations inflicted on us by the authorities. Others took flight because they knew themselves to be threatened with imprisonment. Moreover, many of those who had means had prudently retired to foreign countries, to the great fury of the Germans; there was no way of getting at these "bad patriots," as it seems a German-Swiss journal called them (K.Z., 11th February, 1915); no way of forcing them to pay war-taxes. Moreover, it was these émigrés who should have kept alive the industries de luxe; finally, they were conspiring together abroad, and rendering services to the Belgian Government at Havre. If only they could be forced to return! Our enemies accepted with enthusiasm an unlucky proposal—made by certain communal administrations and immediately withdrawn by them—that the absent persons should be subjected to a special tax, equal to ten times the personal tax. The communal councils which conceived the idea of this tax immediately realized its illegality, but Baron von Bissing seized the occasion which this afforded him of persecuting the émigrés. He published, on the 16th January, a special decree on the subject of the "additional extraordinary tax upon absentees" (Belg. All.). It may be remarked that the tax touches only those who possess a certain competence.

Here are two facts which show how far life was normal in Belgium in the spring of 1915, and how far the Belgian workers were delighted to place themselves at the service of Germany.


Railway Traffic in Belgium.

(a) An article in the Düsseldorfer General-Anzeiger of the 19th April, 1915 (morning), asserts that the traffic on the Belgian railways is beginning to revive; indeed, says the writer, there are thirty-eight trains daily leaving the Gare du Nord in Brussels. He exaggerates slightly. Six weeks later, when traffic had become more active, a table, dated the 30th May, 1915, which appeared in the "Belgian" newspaper L'Information, gave the movements of trains in the Gare du Nord and Gare du Midi of Brussels for the month of June. We find that only thirty-four departures are given for the two stations. Thirty-four trains in June 1915—and in June 1914 there were 292. Compare the figures.

Trouble with the Artisans of Luttre.

(b) The insufficiency of the number of trains is in reality one of the things that most embarrasses the German authorities (see Frank. Zeit., 16th January, 1915, first morning edition). In and about the railway workshops, for example, on the sidings at Luttre, there are hundreds of locomotives out of repair and waiting for attention. But the workers employed in these shops do not intend to work for the Germans. In vain do the latter protest that engines repaired by the Belgians shall be employed only for Belgian traffic. What guarantee have they that the locomotives will not serve to transport German troops, or munitions intended to kill our brothers? Is it not a matter of public notoriety that a contract is merely a scrap of paper?

To enable the workers to resist the solicitations of the Germans the necessary relief has been distributed[301] for the maintenance of their families. The Germans know very well that it is this money which prevents them from subduing the workers to their will. They therefore proceed with the utmost severity against the persons whose duty it is to distribute the relief. Early in April 1915 they imprisoned thirty of the notables of Luttre, Nivelles, and the neighbourhood, whom they accused of assisting the working staff of the Luttre workshops. A German official declared that the prisoners had been arrested neither by the civil authority nor the military, and that they would not proceed to trial. At the same time the administrations of the communes neighbouring upon Luttre were forced to display a proclamation requiring the men to resume work. Among the promises made to those who should resume work was one that the prisoners should be liberated. So thirty notables were thrown into prison, and kept there, in order to force Belgian artisans to work for the Germans! When it was found that in spite of everything the men would not return to the shops, the prisoners were sentenced to undergo various punishments, the maximum term of imprisonment being three months. As for the recalcitrant workers, many were sent to Germany, where they were treated in the most inhuman fashion.

Traffic Suppressed at Malines.

At the construction shops of Malines the Germans went a different way to work. There again workers were needed to repair railway material. Three hundred were called for. As they did not present themselves their addresses were obtained, and one fine morning soldiers called at their houses and manu militari led them to the shops. But there[302] the men folded their arms and persisted in doing nothing. The Germans had to let them go.

How to obtain their submission? The Germans threatened to suppress all traffic in Malines. A singular fashion of punishing workless men who refuse to betray their country, especially after declaring that the only "guilty" persons were those who had organized the collective refusal to work! (La Belgique, 9th June, 1915). But, in accordance with the juridical principle that "the innocent must suffer with the guilty," our enemies punished the market-gardeners of the Malines district and prevented them from sending their cabbages and rhubarb and peas and asparagus to market.

After the lapse of some days the Governor-General removed the prohibition. But he did not wish it to seem that he had repented of his decision, however unreasonable the latter might be, so to keep himself in countenance he posted up a statement that a sufficient number of workers had resumed work (placard of 10th June, 1915). However, the Baron von Bissing cannot have been ignorant of the fact that none of the strikers of the Malines workshops had returned; the only workers whom the Germans had been able to recruit were some unemployed persons from Lierre, Boom, and Duffel, who had never set foot in the shops before. As they could not be employed in the manufacture of railway material, they were made to dig trenches in the direction of Wavre-Ste Catherine and Duffel.

The workers whom the soldiers led to the shops by force related that their escort begged them not to resume work, because they would then be obliged to leave Malines and to go to the Yser, a prospect which inspired them with the keenest terror.


(b) The Germans' Talent for Organization.

"The industrial and commercial prosperity" which Belgium is at present enjoying is, of course, due to the Germans' incontestable spirit of organization. "This sense of discipline and order, which the foreigner calls militarism" (Voss. Zeit., 12th February, 1915, morning), has enabled the officers of the reserve to accomplish such wonderful things that Herr Oswald F. Schütte, correspondent of the Chicago Daily News (see K.Z., 6th May, 1915, first morning edition) can scarcely find the words to describe them. "We understand," adds the same journalist, "that the Government at Havre does not look with a favourable eye upon the success with which the German administration has once more made life worth living in Belgium."

They are certainly something to be wondered at, the officers who are administering our country. Would you have proof? The Belgian officials of the Bridges and Highways Department refused to obey the Germans, so that the latter appointed their engineer officers to direct the work of repairing roads. But the work was naturally carried out by Belgian contractors. On macadamized roads the breaking of stones, which formerly cost from 18 to 22 centimes per square metre (about 2d. per square yard), now costs 60 to 65 centimes. Good business, you will say, for the contractors and their men. But no!—the difference goes into the pockets of the officers.

Conflict between Authorities.

This method of procedure naturally results in conflicts between the various administrations. We have already related (p. 157) that the city of Brussels[304] was condemned to pay a fine of half a million francs because the civilians and the soldiers were in disagreement. Muddles of this kind testify to something quite different from a brilliant talent for organization, which the Germans would have us believe is the distinguishing mark of their administration.

Suppression of the Bureau of Free Assessment.

In order to give the impression that they alone are capable of re-starting the economic machine in Belgium, the Germans begin by dislocating the existing machinery. Thus, a group of advocates and surveyors created a bureau for the gratuitous assessment of the damage caused by the war to real estate. This body was working to the general satisfaction, when suddenly, in March 1915, the Germans decided to take its place. Now observe their methods. The applicant who wishes the damage suffered by his property to be estimated has to begin by paying a provisional deposit, after which he finds that the costs of the assessment have to be paid out of his own pocket. What this really comes to is this: the Germans, having burned a house and reduced its owner to poverty, demand that the latter shall pay in advance for the evaluation of the damage done.

The Belgian Red Cross Committee Suppressed.

Another example of the suppression of a body working in a normal manner. As soon as they occupied Brussels the Germans began to meddle in the doings of the Directing Committee of the Red Cross Society, and appointed a delegate to the Society. They then tried to force the Red[305] Cross to exceed its duties, which were clearly specified by the international convention known as the Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field. Neither in the text of the Convention of 1869, nor in that of the Convention of 1906, is there any question of other patients than soldiers wounded during hostilities. Doubtless it is a matter for praise if the Red Cross of each country should extend its action to needs existing in time of peace; in Belgium, for example, the Red Cross has organized ambulances in the International Exhibitions. But it is none the less true that its essential mission, and the only mission foreseen by the International Convention, is to ameliorate the condition of soldiers who are victims of warfare. It was therefore an abuse of the Red Cross to impose other aims upon it; to compel it, for example, to organize "the relief and support of women by means of labour." The Red Cross of Belgium decided, with abundant reason, that it could not in time of war assume novel functions, nor, above all, could it set apart for the same sums of money which were largely derived from private subscriptions entrusted to it for the succour of the wounded; it therefore refused to involve itself. After lengthy negotiations the Governor-General suspended the Belgian managing committee from its functions, and seized the funds.

We should mention that the Central Administration of the Red Cross, sitting in Geneva, decided that the Brussels Committee was in the right.

Attempting to justify their illegal attitude, the German authorities established a special journal, La Croix Rouge, Bulletin officiel de la Croix[306] Rouge de Belgique, printed in Flemish, French, and German. This journal continues to pretend that the Belgian Committee was legally dissolved, as it would not "assist the people in the present melancholy situation."

In vain did the Germans endeavour to put the world off the scent as to their intentions. They knew perfectly well that the National Committee of Relief and Alimentation patronized and subsidized without distinction all the benevolent undertakings which applied to it (p. 176). The real aim of our enemies is to supplant the National Committee. This committee is a private institution in which they have no voice, which greatly annoys them; at most they can endeavour to make it believed that the revictualling of Belgium is effected with their assistance. But this, as may be supposed, is not enough for them; their real aim, their unavowed object, is to obtain entire control of the National Committee, in order to exercise there also their talent for organization—or, more precisely, their talent for peculation. The 40,000,000 frs. per month does not sate their appetite. What an indefinite perspective of fleshpots could they only lay hands on the revictualling of Belgium!

The whole affair of the Red Cross was conducted with annoying duplicity—annoying even to us, who nevertheless were beginning to grow accustomed to their campaign of lies. For months there were negotiations between the Belgium Managing Committee and the German authorities, represented by the Graf von Hatzfeld-Trachenberg. At each interview the latter brought forth fresh demands on the part of the Governor-General, but he always[307] added that he was acting reluctantly, and that in his opinion the demands were unjustified; only, of course, he had to obey. (This is, by the way, the classic procedure. Whenever a German commits a dirty action he entrenches himself behind discipline.) These lame discussions lasted until the 16th April, 1915; upon a final refusal on the part of the Belgian Committee to exceed its proper functions, Graf von Hatzfeld-Trachenberg gave orders for the decree of dissolution to be read.

(c) The Belgian Attitude toward the Germans.

Our enemies spread the report that the relations between occupants and inhabitants were greatly improving, and that the Belgians had abandoned their provocative attitude, which was so unpleasant at the outset of the war. They also asserted that by the end of October the people at Antwerp had ceased to display any antipathy towards them (Köln. Volksz., 30th October, 1914, morning edition).[44] But, in truth, they flattered themselves when they stated that the Belgium people regarded them with glances full of hatred. Hatred? No; merely glances full of disdain, when by chance one could not do otherwise than gaze at them; but, as a rule, the Belgians turn their eyes away, as they turn their backs upon German music.


At Liége, in Brussels and Antwerp, and at Malines, when an officer addresses a Belgian the latter pretends not to hear (N.R.C., 20th October, 1914, morning edition), or simply states that he has not time to speak to the other; or he replies in Flemish; or else, having affected to listen to him with all the marks of the most exquisite politeness, he leaves the German standing still without replying a word. The ladies more often reply, but it is only to beg the Germans not to speak to them. The officer who asks his way is almost certain to be sent in a contrary direction; while he who climbs on the platform of a tram finds that all the passengers immediately turn their backs upon him; and this rotation is executed with the regularity and precision of a reflex movement. The officer who begs a a passer-by to lend him his cigar that he may obtain a light, sees the other disgustedly throw away the cigar which an enemy has touched. The child whom an officer condescends to caress pushes away his hand with an indignant expression, and makes the ugliest grimace he knows of. In short, they are the objects of universal detestation.

Perhaps it will be said that this attitude is peculiar to the towns which have been little or not at all affected by the war. But no! In localities which were largely burned down, such as Aerschot, Eppeghem, Dinant, and Louvain, the population behaves in a manner even more characteristic. At Dinant the children sing at the tops of their voices a Marseillaise with new words, expressly anti-German, in which a good deal is said about pigs. At Louvain some officers who used to amuse themselves with a phonograph which reproduced the record of the song Gloria, Vittoria, had to give up using it in June 1915, because the passers-by accompanied the refrains with other words: Gloria, Italia. At Eppeghem and Aerschot the children play at soldiers, with[309] Belgian police bonnets on their heads, yelling La Brabançonne. One would say the sight of those calcined ruins, far from intimidating the Belgians, as the butchers had hoped, only whets their rebellious spirits, and that the certainty of final success has completely effaced, in the soul of the people, the memory of the terrors experienced at the time of the burnings and killings.

Not only is the Belgian population far from fraternizing with them, as they try to make the world believe, but it neglects no opportunity of proving that it is animated by very different feelings. It must be confessed that when we openly wear the Belgian or American colours it is with a double object: to advertise our attachment to our country, or our gratitude to America, and also to make the Germans furious. The little celluloid portraits of the King and Queen which one wears in the buttonhole serve the same purposes. After the Germans had imprisoned M. Max in a German prison many people displayed his portrait. This was extremely disagreeable to our enemies (Köln. Volksz., 30th September, 1914, morning edition); but precisely for that reason people persisted in wearing the little medallion until the German police demanded its forcible removal.

When the Governor-General, in the interviews which he granted the correspondents of the N.A.Z. and the Berliner Tageblatt, pretended to regard the wearing of the Belgian or American colours as a piece of childish mischief, he was simply trying to put them off the scent, for he of all people had no illusions as to the significance of the ribbons which the Belgians are wearing in their buttonholes. This significance was as follows: The Germans[310] pretend (1) that their armies are victorious and will remain so; (2) that they will be able to dictate their terms, and will annex Belgium; (3) that this will be easy, as the Belgians are already abandoning their provocative attitude, and are beginning to fraternize with their persecutors. For the moment we cannot reply publicly to lies 1 and 2; as to 3, any Belgian who wears a little rosette tacitly proclaims that he does not wish to be taken for a craven, and that his anti-German feelings have lost none of their keenness.

Other Germans try to deceive their compatriots as to the feeling of the Belgians for their oppressors. Here is what Herr Walter Nissen says, the Bruxelles correspondent of the Düss. Gen.-Anz. (23rd July, 1915):

"Opinion in Belgium is daily becoming more conciliatory. Belgium may, for the moment, be compared with a woman who is beginning to love despite herself, and who, through pride and vexation, says 'No!' as loudly as possible, for fear anyone should see what is happening to her. But one does see it, despite the ribbons of the national colours—indeed precisely on that account."

Is this incurable blindness? Is it an ineradicable spirit of falsehood? Does Herr Nissen really doubt the sincerity of our anti-German manifestations? During the months he has lived in our midst he must have discovered that we do, systematically, everything we can to displease the Germans, until they issue decrees of prohibition.

Here is a last trait which can leave no one in doubt as to the feelings of the Belgians. In March 1915 the German authorities organized a concert in the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. There were only three known Belgians present, among them a professor[311] of the University of Brussels. The University showed its disapproval by sending him to Coventry.

(d) Behaviour of the German Administration.

The preceding pages have already informed the reader that the Germans have not accustomed us to look for either gentleness or sincerity. But hitherto we have not insisted on their administrative procedure, which nevertheless deserves examination.

But first let us picture to ourselves the mental condition of the Belgians since August 1914. Cut off from all intellectual relations with foreign countries, we receive independent newspapers only in secret, at the peril of our liberty, or even of our lives. Every day, on the other hand, the newspapers, mutilated by the censorship, printing only the news—often false—which is favourable to the Germans, are instilling their slow poison into our brains. No matter: the people still repulse all attempts to foment disunion and demoralization; they pull their belts a little tighter rather than go to work for the enemy; they continue, to the last, to display our colours; in short, they have retained, unshaken and unshakable, their faith in our just cause and the final victory.

The German newspapers are full of admiring articles describing the firmness of mind evinced by the German people, for they, too, consent to certain privations to ensure the success of their arms. Wonderful! The German people are unfailingly encouraged by their newspapers, their pastors and priests, their schoolmasters and professors, and by lectures and innumerable pamphlets. Everything that might cause their resolution to falter is carefully[312] concealed from them. They are, moreover, accustomed to hold no other opinions than those which are officially presented to them. To falter, under these circumstances, would be almost incomprehensible. But in our country, on the other hand, everything is done to exhaust us, to dishearten us. The least success of the German arms becomes the "final crushing" of the enemy; the executions of Belgians who have aided their country are immediately advertised on every hand; and, finally, we are prevented, by every imaginable means, from spreading good news or preaching confidence. That in spite of all the Belgian should retain his tranquillity of mind and even his good humour is almost unbelievable, but it is true.

Here, then, is a population which is systematically refused the least item of comforting information, but which, on the other hand, is treated prodigally to everything of a nature to demoralize it; a population which, in order not to sink into despair, has to make an effort every moment of the day; a country in which it is strictly forbidden to do anything to encourage those who may suffer from a temporary depression, or to sustain and reassure those who feel themselves threatened. Is it not obvious that such pitiful psychologists as the Germans will resort to intimidation to reduce this population to their mercy? Everything is magnified into an offence, and all offences are punished by the heaviest penalties; the Germans even going so far as to threaten with death him who spreads "false news"—that is to say, who communicates news to his fellow-citizens which is displeasing to the Germans.


The Appeal to Informers.

The placards already cited show amply the diversity of the offences which may be committed, and the punishments which may be inflicted. But we must not forget those notices which order the inhabitants, often on pain of death, to inform against those persons who possess arms; to denounce those who are believed to be strangers to the commune; and those suspected of acting in a manner contrary to the orders of the German authorities.

Here are some of these notices:

Detention of Arms.

The communal administration forwards the following document:—

Important Warning.

It has come to my knowledge that the inhabitants of the country are still hiding arms and munitions in their houses.

Those who still have arms in their possession (whether firearms, bows, cross-bows, arquebuses, or knives and swords of any description) will not be punished in any way if the arms and munitions are deposited by the 15th December (noon precisely German time) at the house of the burgomaster of the commune, to be handed over to the military commandant.

After the date indicated all persons found in possession of arms or munitions will be shot. An account also will be demanded of the burgomasters concerned, and also of all the inhabitants of the houses or farms in which arms or munitions are found, as well as the neighbours of the guilty persons.

The death penalty will be imposed on all who learn of the existence of arms or munitions without warning the burgomaster of their commune, who must warn the military commandant.

The present decree forms the last appeal to the population to surrender their arms, and once the 15th December is past the severest action will be taken.

The burgomasters are personally responsible for ensuring that this warning receives the widest publication.

They are required to deposit with the nearest military authority[314] not later than the 15th December (at six o'clock in the evening, German time) the arms and munitions that shall be delivered to them.

The Commander-in-Chief.

Thielt, 5/xii/14.

(Le Bien Public, 11th December, 1914.)

By Order of the Military Authority.

The inhabitants of Dieghem are strictly forbidden to assemble in groups.

Moreover, the inhabitants are required to bring to the Secretariat, Chaussée d'Haecht 48, those persons whom they believe to be strangers to the commune, in order to verify their identity.

The Burgomaster,
G. De Connick.

(Posted at Dieghem, October 1914.)

On the Order of the German Military Authority.

The Commissary of the Arrondissement of Verviers calls the attention of the communal administrations and the inhabitants of his jurisdiction to the following regulations:—

The severest penalties will be inflicted upon offenders: whosoever shall damage the roads, telephones, or telegraphs will be HANGED. The same penalty will be inflicted on every person in whose house arms, ammunitions, and explosives shall be found. The house in which these objects are discovered will be destroyed by fire, and all the men encountered on the premises will be HANGED.

Rigorous penalties will be inflicted on localities in which roads, telephones, and telegraphs shall be damaged.

For their own safety the inhabitants of communes are invited to make known to the commandants of étapes those persons suspected of disobeying the present order or of opposing the measures taken.

On the other hand, those communes which remain tranquil, and in which this order is strictly obeyed, will enjoy the full protection of the German Government.

von Rosenberg,
Colonel commanding the 29th Brigade.

Verviers, 22nd August, 1914.

Those who are believed to be strangers; those who are suspected of acting contrary to orders ... it[315] is a régime of organized suspicion, a reign of terror, informing erected into a governmental process.

The most abominable thing which the Germans have conceived in this respect is that they encourage the denunciation of militia-men by their fathers, mothers, wives, or sisters. It is a principle admitted by all civilized nations—and also, no doubt, by Germany—that the Courts definitely abstain from evoking a conflict between the paternal and maternal instinct and the duty owed to justice. It is considered that it would be revoltingly inhuman to force a father or mother to bear witness against a son. Sophocles, in the Antigone, ranks this prejudice among "the immutable laws, unwritten, which are from all eternity." Now, in Belgium, when a young man leaves his family to rejoin the Belgian army, the German authorities enjoin upon his parents, his brother, or his sister, the duty of denouncing the absent man; in other words, his father or his mother—yes, we said his mother—must deliver up the son because he is doing his duty toward his country (notice of the 9th April, 1915). And the Germans are not content with threats. If the Germans forget their promises, at least they scrupulously carry their threats into execution. At Hasselt they imprisoned a woman whose son had rejoined the Belgian army (p. 152). At Namur they have on many occasions punished the parents of soldiers who had not committed the crime of denouncing them. And not content with inflicting these disgraceful penalties—disgraceful to those who impose them—they have forced L'Ami de l'Ordre to give publicity to these sentences, to the number of ten or more. Here are the details of one sentence:


According to § 3, No. 2, of the Imperial decree of the 28th December, 1893, concerning the extraordinary proceedings of the Council of War for foreigners, the Governor of the fortified position and the province of Namur has pronounced a deprivation of liberty against the following Belgian subjects: the farmer, Félix Duquet, of Jemeppe, two months; his wife, Victoire Duquet, née Swain, one month. They had harboured their son, Clement Duquet, Belgian soldier, who had lost his regiment, for several months, instead of notifying him to the German authority; by so doing they acted in contravention of the proclamation of the Government of Namur, dated 19th September, 1914.

(L'Ami de l'Ordre, 8-9th July, 1915.)

Assuredly for the Germans the word "humanity" is void of meaning; they have replaced it by "Germanity." No doubt they regard maternal love among the Belgians as being of an essence so inferior that they need not take it into account. Yet in order not to wound the sensibilities of their own soldiers, nor those of their "brothers by race," the Flemings, they omitted any mention of mothers in the German and Flemish texts of their notice of the 4th April. As we have already stated, they feel that they need not observe towards the feelings of the Belgians—and above all of the Walloons—the same consideration as is shown towards those of the Germans.

German Espionage.

Informing cannot exist without espionage. Now we know that the Germans are past masters in this art. Every one of our towns has been favoured by a swarm of spies, male and female. In the streets, on the promenades, in the cafés, in the trams[45]—everywhere one is conscious of the invisible inspection of secret agents. Woe to him who utters aloud an opinion unfavourable to Germany, or complains of a too outrageous placard or announcement, or criticizes a passing officer or any one connected with Germany, or abuses the German army: immediately a lady or gentleman hails a German soldier, and the offender is taken to the Kommandantur. And when a Belgian enters the Kommandantur he does not know when he will come out again; there he awaits, sometimes for several days, his turn to be interrogated; and after that imprisonment is certain. Not, of course, that he is always condemned; it sometimes happens that the offence has not been proved; but even so, "his hash is settled," for while he has been waiting his turn his house has been searched, and where is the house that does not contain some letter from a son or a brother who is a soldier? Prohibited correspondence! Sentenced!


Agents-provocateurs or "Traps."

A close espionage surrounds those who undertake the carrying of letters or the introduction of newspapers. In this case the spies work principally by means of "traps"—agents-provocateurs. A spy introduces himself to the person suspected of dealing with correspondence; he pretends he has a letter to send or receive. If the suspect listens to him, a picket of soldiers and policemen arrives on the following day to make a search. Other spies will speak in the street to a seller of newspapers; they will ask for a French or English journal, and scarcely has the vendor taken the forbidden journal from his pocket than a hand falls upon his collar.

It is also by means of "traps" that the Germans catch those who enable our militia to escape from the country. A young man, of the proper age, goes[318] in search of the suspected person, and by means of false papers passes himself off for a patriot who wants to take his place at the front. Arrangements being made, the spy departs; but a skilfully set trap enables him to catch a whole group of young fellows. It matters little to our cause, however, since for every one arrested hundreds cross into Holland every week. Many Belgians devote themselves to this patriotic task, though they well know that in case of failure they will be sent into Germany or shot. It should be said that their most active helpers are the soldiers of the Landsturm, the guardians of the frontiers, who, according to an established tariff, for the sake of alcohol or money, close their eyes as our militia-men cross the frontier.

One step further along the path of the informer, the spy, and the "trap," and we come to means whose ignominy is such that even the Germans themselves are forced to admit their dishonesty.

Thus, at Liége most of the letter-boxes on the house-doors are closed by means of nails. Why? At the end of 1914 many citizens of Liége used to receive Le Courrier de la Meuse, a newspaper edited and printed at Maestricht by Belgian refugees. There was no great mystery about its distribution; the paper was simply slipped into the letter-box. But the German agents spied on the vendors, and having done so, searched the houses at which the newspaper was delivered. The subscriber, of course, was condemned to pay a fine. Did part of this go to the spy? It is probable; in any case it was not long before the spies were importing Le Courrier de la Meuse in order themselves to place it in the letter-boxes of well-to-do houses. A search conducted immediately revealed the prohibited article, and,[319] in spite of the indignant denials of the victim, the fine was inflicted.

At Ferrières, near Jemelle, worse than this was done. A German priest pretended that the curé of Ferrières had repeated, before a witness, a private conversation held some hours earlier. Moreover, he wanted to garble the conversation. The abbé's action was repugnant in such a degree that even Baron von Bissing himself was a little uneasy about the matter, and revoked the punishment awarded to the Belgian.

While the mission of the spies and agents-provocateurs—including the abbés-provocateurs or ecclesiastical "traps"—was to procure the condemnation to various penalties of as many Belgians as possible, other "agents" in the pay of Germany commenced a vast inquiry, in order to prove, in the face of the evidence itself, the crimes of the "francs-tireurs." Well!—in spite of all the manœuvres of spies and provocateurs and the inquirers themselves, in spite of the personal rancour which impelled a few rare Belgians to become the accomplices of the Germans, and to denounce, in a spirit of vengeance, certain of their fellow-citizens, never did the Germans succeed in mentioning a single name, not one single name, of a Belgian civilian accused of having fired upon the German troops. We say expressly "accused," and not "convicted," to show that nowhere, in village or provincial town, although petty rivalry is so acute, and although informers, even though anonymous, would have been welcomed with joy by the Germans, nowhere was any one found to assert that a Belgian civilian had fired on the German troops. No, it was so improbable, so manifestly false, that not even the most miserable of wretches would have dreamed of formulating such a calumny.


The Germans wanted to make us believe that anonymous letters were pouring in upon them, but that they, as upright administrators, refused to follow up these accusations (Declaration, 4th May, 1915). Obviously a lie. We know them capable of themselves fabricating these anonymous accusations, simply to cause the Belgians mental uneasiness, and to give rise to mutual suspicion. This is yet another attempt to cause dissension.

For the rest, they have since then admitted that they have invited denunciation. Worse than this: denunciation is enough to procure condemnation; it is not necessary for the offence to be proved.


Cases are increasingly frequent in which letters are sent to Belgian soldiers at the front by means of intermediaries.

I remind the public that this is strictly prohibited. Any person denounced to the German authorities for such action will be subjected to a severe penalty.

The Governor of the Fortified Position
and the Province of Namur.

(L'Ami de l'Ordre, 13th June, 1915.)

We should never come to an end were we to mention all the tricks and shifts that enter into their methods of administration. We will confine ourselves to relating one or two more.

According to the Hague Convention, the functionaries of an occupied territory who remain at their posts must declare that they will undertake nothing, and will refrain from everything, that may be contrary to the interests of the occupier. Note two essential points: it is only the officials who are required to sign this agreement, and they undertake to refrain from anything that may be hurtful to the occupier.


Now in January 1915 the German administration of Namur wished to force the entire male population of the canton of Éghezée between the ages of eighteen and forty to sign the following declaration:—

"I the undersigned promise, conformably with the Hague Convention of the 18th October, 1907, to continue scrupulously and loyally the fulfilment of my functions, to undertake nothing against the interests of the German Empire, and I promise to prevent all that might be injurious thereto."

In certain communes the inhabitants, meaning well and imperfectly informed as to their rights and duties, signed this declaration, which is an improper one, as it was required of all the inhabitants, and not only of the officials; moreover, it made the signatories promise to prevent what was injurious to the Germans, not merely to refrain from it. Up to a certain point, therefore, all the inhabitants were obliged to place themselves at the service of the German authorities. Some burgomasters refused to allow the document to be signed as it stood. They added, on their own authority, the following sentence:—

"With the reservation of being able to respond freely to the appeal of the Belgian Government if the latter comes to resume possession of the country at present occupied by the German armies."

The Germans did not accept this addition; they proposed a new form of words:—

"I the undersigned promise, conformably with the provisions of the Hague Convention of 18th October, 1907, to continue scrupulously and faithfully in the performance of my functions, to undertake nothing against the interests of the German Empire, to refrain from all that might injure it."

In many villages the people again refused to sign. Men between 18 and 40 years of age cannot[322] promise to continue in the performance of functions which they have never fulfilled. What did the Germans do? They forced all the male inhabitants of the recalcitrant communes to present themselves daily at Éghezée, the chief town of the canton. But eventually they realized that it was iniquitous to make these men lose half their day every day simply because they, the Germans, were demanding an absolutely illegal thing. So the daily muster at Éghezée was abandoned.

The German administration falsely invoked the Hague Convention of 1907 in addressing the peasants, who doubtless did not even know the Convention by name, and it tried twice over to take advantage of their good faith. It is not surprising that the inhabitants of the province of Namur should have become suspicious, so that they would not willingly put their names to any paper presented by the Germans. In May it was only after long negotiations and threats that the young men of Rhisnes and Emines signed their identification cards, which, according to the Germans, "imposed no engagement on the signatory." We have not ourselves seen the wording of this card, so we cannot speak as to its tenor; but it is curious that the Germans should be so insistent upon the signing of a card having so little significance.

They also wished to impose, on the civic guard of Rhisnes and Emines, the engagement that they would no longer bear arms against Germany. More than half the men refused, and were sent as prisoners of war to Germany.

Monday, 3rd May, in the morning, sixty-nine Belgian militia-men of the communes of Rhisnes and Emines were arrested because they refused to sign their identification cards, which[323] contained nothing else than the information as to their persons necessary to complete such a document. They were taken to the prison of the fortress. On 6th May they were questioned a second time, and, having all without exception signed, they were immediately released.

Tuesday, 4th May, 107 members of the civic guard at Rhisnes were arrested because they refused to sign the declaration that they would not bear arms against Germany and her Allies during this war. In the course of the same day forty-nine signed the declaration and were released. The other fifty-eight maintained their refusal, and were transported to Germany as prisoners of war on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, the 5th May, eighty members of the civic guard of Emines and Warisoulx were arrested for the same reason; forty signed the declaration and were released. The rest were transported to Germany on the evening of the 6th May as prisoners of war.

Similarly on the 5th May, in the afternoon, 170 men, part being members of the civic guard and part militia-men of the communes of Taviers, Dhuy, St.-Germain, Hemptinne, Villers-lez-Heest, and Bovesse, were arrested because they refused to sign their identification cards. The Government hopes that these men will reflect and hear reason, and that they will submit spontaneously to this measure, which serves only for purposes of registration, so that they may be released.

It is expressly added that the signature of the identification cards imposes no engagement on the signatory; these cards contain only information as to identity, and all the Belgian militia-men, as well as the members of the civic guard, have been several times informed upon this point.


(L'Ami de l'Ordre, 7th and 8th May, 1915.)

Let us look into this case.

In the first place, there never was a civic guard at Rhisnes nor at Emines, so that it is absolutely fraudulent to give this title to all the male adult inhabitants; and since they have not been civic guards they have never borne arms against Germany, and cannot therefore engage to cease doing so. Here again appears the German duplicity in all its beauty. The men of Rhisnes and Emines assure[324] us that the paper said "no longer bear arms against Germany." The Germans have imposed a communiqué upon L'Ami de l'Ordre which gives another version—"not to bear arms."

But in the communiqué provided by the German authorities and published in La Belgique on the 5th June, our enemies recognize that the document said "no longer bear arms." However, a German communiqué is never entirely truthful; and this one forms no exception to the rule. Conforming to the truth in this respect, it departs from it in another. It says, in effect, that the men of Rhisnes "regarded themselves as still belonging to the Belgian Army." What absurdity! They refused to sign precisely because the Germans wished to make them say that they did belong to the Army!

In August and September 1914 the Germans were sending Belgians into Germany as civil prisoners; in May 1915 they were sending them as prisoners of war. The difference is important, since the Hague Convention states that the cost of maintenance of war prisoners falls upon their country of origin, but that it is not speaking of civil prisoners. This is why the civilians of Rhisnes and Emines went to Germany as prisoners of war, as did the curé and the vicar of Cortemarck (p. 72).

We have already cited (p. 233) one case of premeditated abuse of a signature. Here is another: In October 1914 the German authorities of Mont St.-Guibert (between Ottignies and Trembloux) had the following placard posted:—


1. All the male inhabitants of the commune aged from 18 to 45 years, rich or poor, must present themselves to-morrow,[325] Tuesday, morning, the 6th October, at 7 o'clock in the morning (Belgium time) at the railway booking-office.

2. These inhabitants can no longer change their place of residence; their names have been given to the military authorities.

Those who do not carry out this order, who seek to escape, will be made prisoners and will render themselves liable to be shot. The families of offenders will be taken as prisoners and their property destroyed.

3. English, French, or Russians who are in the locality must be delivered to the military authorities. The same with Belgians having belonged to the Army who are deserters or have been prisoners. Offenders will be punished by death.

4. Fire-arms of all kinds which are still in possession of the inhabitants must be deposited immediately with the commandant of the railway-station. Those who are discovered to be still in possession of these arms, after the publication of this notice, will be shot.

5. Assemblies for roll-call will be held from time to time. The day and hour will be given in advance.

6. Umbrellas and sticks are forbidden at the station. Men must not present themselves in a state of drunkenness.

Mont St.-Guibert, 5th October, 1914.
The Burgomaster,
E. Wautier.

The Commandant of the Railway-station,
Hamich, Sergeant.

This placard threatens penalties, even shooting, for the failure to attend at the railway-station; moreover, the offender's family is of course held responsible. So far it is commonplace enough. We will say nothing as to the grade of officer who thus disposes of the lives of citizens—he is a sergeant; but we know that the humblest German soldier possesses every right. What does rather surpass the usual level German administrative procedure is the fact that the burgomaster, whose name figures at the bottom of the placard, knew nothing of the latter until it was posted. The[326] sergeant had used his name without deigning to consult him.

To give a complete idea of the administrative methods employed by the Germans against our country, it will be as well rapidly to describe how they behaved in a certain locality immediately after proceeding against the "francs-tireurs." Hitherto we have dealt only with places where they did not have to carry out "reprisals." We will now select Andenne, on account of the particularly savage character of the "repression" which drenched this unhappy town with blood and fire. Here are the facts in their tragic sequence:—

The German patrol which penetrated into the town on the 19th August, 1914, went straight to the house of the communal receiver and seized the funds: 2,232 frs.

On the following day the bulk of the troops arrived. That evening, between 6 and 9 p.m., a very sharp fusillade broke out. Immediately the civilians were accused of having fired, and the troops began to shoot down the inhabitants and burn the houses.

On the following morning—the 21st August—all the inhabitants not yet shot were driven into the Place des Tilleuls. The men were herded on one side, the women on the other. From time to time Major Scheunemann, who commanded the operations, had a few men shot, sometimes before the whole population, sometimes a little apart. During the morning the soldiers dragged the corpse of the burgomaster, Dr. Camus, into the Place. As soon as Major Scheunemann learned of the death of the first magistrate, he appointed as burgomaster M. de Jaer, who was one of the group of persons waiting[327] their turn to be shot. From that moment the order was given to kill no more; they contented themselves with sack and pillage. There were then 300 houses burned at Andenne and at Seilles, and 300 inhabitants were shot (11th Report).

We will confine ourselves, as regards the events which followed the burning and the massacre, to reprinting the placard posted at Andenne during the first ten days of the occupation:—

Inhabitants of Andenne.

By order of the German military authority occupying the town of Andenne:—

All the men are held as hostages.

Per shot fired on the German troops, there will be at least two hostages shot.

The hostages will be fed by the women, who will carry them the necessaries close to the bridge at 6 in the evening and 8 in the morning.

Women are strictly forbidden to converse with the hostages.

All the streets and public places will immediately be cleaned by all the women of the town, on pain of immediate arrest.

It is strictly forbidden to move about the town after 7 in the evening and before 7 in the morning, on pain of severe repression.

The dead will immediately be buried without any formality.

Young people over 14 and the women must give their assistance in every case of requisition.

It is strictly forbidden to show oneself at the windows.

By order of the German military authority,
The Burgomaster Designate,
E. de Jaer.

The Secretary,
Andenne, the 31st August, 1914.


On the 20th August of this year there was firing from numerous houses of the town of Andenne on the German troops who were passing through the town; bombs also were thrown. It is certain that the first outbreak of firing occurred, according to a certain plan, at precisely the same time in several streets: in the Rue Brun, the Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville, the Place des Tilleuls, and several other streets. A number of soldiers have been killed or wounded and war material damaged.


After denying the first attacks, there was again firing from many houses for several hours, and again on the 21st August, at two o'clock in the afternoon, an under-officer was killed by a shot from one of the houses in the Rue de l'Hôtel de Ville.

Those guilty inhabitants who have hitherto been found have been shot by the Council of War, but it was not possible to find the persons who arranged the plot.

We appeal, however, to the honour of the City of Andenne, which appears in the eyes of the civilized world as a nest of murderers and bandits.

Perhaps it is possible to restore the honour of this town; this is why the inhabitants are invited, in their own interest, to communicate to the military authority all that may make it possible to make progress in revealing the plot and its authors.

He who delivers proofs capable [of revealing, etc.] receives according to their value a reward of 500-1000 frs.

The measures which have been taken will or might be sooner mitigated as soon as inquiry shall have made progress to make known the guilty.

The Commandant of the City.

Andenne, the 22nd August, 1914.

Andenne, Sunday, 23rd August, 1914.
Official Notice.

Between Saarburg and Metz there has been a great battle. The German troops have made 21,000 French prisoners.

Long live His Majesty the Emperor of Germany, King of Prussia and Margrave of Brandenburg!

Major and Chief of Department.
Official Notice.

The revictualling of the population will be effected by the efforts of the Military Administration, assisted by the Civil Administration of Andenne constituted by the German Government, as far as possible.


1. In this connection, the sale of provisions and commodities is strictly forbidden.

2. Householders are advised to report at once the quantity of their provisions. Commodities will be taken for cash or redeemable voucher.

3. It would be in the interest of the population to announce exactly the quantity of their provisions.

4. Provisions not exceeding two days for the family need not be reported.

5. All the available forces of the commune are in the care of the Administration for the harvest.

Properties abandoned will be harvested as the rest.

The Commandant of the Town of Andenne.

27th August, 1914.


I have confidence in the Administration and in the population, that now each will be careful to obey as strictly as possible the orders of the Kommandantur in order to soften as far as possible the misfortune caused by the criminal deeds of a few inhabitants.

This is why I object to all that prevents the free circulation of the inhabitants. I trust that none of the inhabitants of Andenne and Seilles will make use of their liberty save for the prosperity of the commune.

The Administrations of Andenne and Seilles are working with me day and night to bring about a settled state of affairs.

All questions of revictualling and welfare must be addressed directly to the Administrations of Andenne and Seilles, which have also the power to require the inhabitants to work.

The German Army displays the greatest severity and energy if it is perfidiously attacked by the inhabitants, but it sincerely desires to use justice and humanity towards the people, if the conduct of the inhabitants permit.

Der Kommandant,

Andenne, 25th August, 1914.

To the Inhabitants of Andenne.

We call the attention of the population to the proclamation which the Military Commandant has just handed to us on leaving.

I am leaving this town in the expectation that it will perform, as during the last few days, and also in the future, all that may ensure orderly conduct towards the German Army.


I hand over the new bridge to the town for its use, and require it to be responsible for its safety and to maintain it in good condition.

For the present a small garrison will remain here, which will be fed and lodged by the town.

If all energies are permanently directed upon the prosperity of the town of Andenne and Seilles these localities will soon be cured of the grave wounds which the war has inflicted upon these communes, by their own fault.


Andenne, 28th August, 1914.

We are profiting by this occasion to congratulate and to thank the inhabitants of Andenne for the admirable manner in which they have behaved, during these latter days, and we urge them strongly to assist the Communal Administration to repair as far possible the great misfortunes which we have experienced.

The Burgomaster delegated by
the Military Authority,
E. de Jaer.

The Secretary,

Andenne, 28th August, 1914.


1. From Saturday, 29th August, 1914, midday, all the clocks must be set to the German time (one hour earlier).

2. Assemblies of more than three persons are strictly forbidden under penalty of fines.

3. To move about after 8 p.m. the authorization of M. le Commandant is required.

4. Arms must be deposited with the guard at the Casino, by noon on the 29th inst.

Where arms are still found in the houses after this date, the householder will be hanged.

5. The German troops requiring absolute tranquillity, workmen can return to work at once. Tho least revolt on the part of the inhabitants will result in the complete burning of the town, and the men will be hanged.

Lieut.-Col. and Commander-in-Chief.
Captain and Commander-in-Chief.


To the Inhabitants of Andenne.

Dear Fellow-Citizens,

We are happy to announce to you that the military authority will show the greatest goodwill towards us if, as we doubt not, the worthy population of Andenne continues to remain perfectly quiet, to labour with courage, and to obey authority with docility, as it has done up to the present, for which we thank it.

At a military fête, at which the military authority expressly invited us to be present, all the troops, including the officers—in our presence, and before many of the notables of Andenne, and Dean Cartiaux in particular—repeatedly shouted "Hurrah for Andenne!"

In the name of all of you, much affected, we expressed our thanks.

Dear friends, have confidence in us; we are working with all our souls for the safety of Andenne.

We have assured the military authority that the soldiers might be perfectly at ease in our midst, that none of us would wish to commit the least aggression—that, on the contrary, we shall all treat the Germany Army with complete loyalty. We have been responsible for you. In return, we ask you only one thing: it is, to continue to do what you have done until to-day, and, if, by some impossible chance, there should be among us an ill-conditioned person who might be capable of compromising honest people, point him out to us; for our worthy fellow-citizens must not be responsible for the crimes of a scoundrel.

Let the German Army be sure that the communal administration will with the utmost promptness hand over to it any one guilty of an act of ill-will, whoever he may be.

Dear fellow-citizens, patience and courage to support privation. Be easy in your minds; we are with you.

The Burgomaster delegated by
the Military Authority,

Dr. Ledoyen,
E. de Jaer,
Councillor Lahaye.
The Secretary,

Andenne, 30th August, 1914.


I am under the impression that the greater portion of the inhabitants desire tranquillity, therefore I invite them not to leave the town.


Before employing violent means, I shall make a strict inquiry to discover the guilty persons in case a revolt should break out.

I therefore expect of the population of Andenne that it will do everything to ensure that no German soldier shall be molested otherwise I shall be forced to act in accordance with the measures of my first proclamation.

Captain, L.I.R. 29, and Commandant-in-Chief.

One word as to these placards.

Placard of the 21st August.—The men are all regarded as hostages; the women have to feed them; they also have to clean up the town.

Placard of the 22nd August.—The military authorities declare, on the 22nd of August, that Andenne, where the "attacks of francs-tireurs" were repressed during the night of the 20th and the morning of the 21st, is already regarded by the whole civilized world as "a nest of murderers and bandits." It offers a reward of 500 to 1000 frs. to any one who will denounce the author of the plot. It also promises, to excite the zeal of the informers, that the severe measures in force will be mitigated as soon as the leaders are discovered. (No one was denounced.)

1st Placard of the 23rd August.—This announces the great victory between Sarrebourg and Metz: 21,000 French prisoners were taken. (An attempt to demoralize the population.) Note that the Wolff Agency reported only 10,000 prisoners; where did Major Scheunemann find the other 11,000?

2nd Placard of the 23rd August.—The Germans are attending to the revictualling of Andenne. (In reality the people of Andenne were starving.)

Placard of the 25th August.—The German administration is strict, but just. (The people of Andenne had noticed the severity.)


1st Placard of the 28th August.—Once again the inhabitants are urged to remain calm, and are congratulated on their good conduct. (The burgomaster was forced to countersign this proclamation. Had he seen it first?)

2nd Placard of the 28th August.—The German time is made compulsory. Assemblies of more than three persons are prohibited. If arms are found in a house their owner will be hanged. At the least disturbance, the complete burning of the town and the hanging of the men.

1st Placard of the 30th August.—The German troops, having pillaged Andenne and shot down its inhabitants, now shout "Hurrah for Andenne!" Then a fresh appeal to informers.

2nd Placard of the 30th August.—The German authorities now promise to make an inquiry if there is another revolt. (This inquiry would have been a novelty.)


We may be brief, for the cruel character of Kultur is so obvious, and appears so plainly from the documents cited, that it would be idle to insist upon it.

If it were necessary to justify our aversion, we need only remark that the cruelties recorded were systematically premeditated. Do not the Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege (Usages of War on Land according to the Great General Staff) state that the observation of these usages is not "guaranteed by any sanction other than the fear of reprisals," and that the officer, the child of his age, carried away by the moral tendencies which affect his country, must protect himself "against exaggerated humanitarian ideas," and must realize that "the only true[334] humanity often resides in the unmitigated employment of these severities?" If such principles are professed by the highest authorities, the German soldier will not shrink from any degree of violence; for he knows that wickedness will not merely provide him with amusement; it will also help to achieve the final aim of warfare.

So that the officer shall be in no danger of forgetting the spirit in which he should conceive his relations with the enemy population, he carries some such aid to memory as the Tornister-Wörterbuch. If he has letters or proclamations to draft, he has recourse to L'Interprète Militaire of Captain von Scharfenort, professor and librarian at the Academy of War in Berlin. M. Waxweiler (in La Belgique Neutre et Loyale, p. 265) has already drawn attention to the cruel and odious character of this vade-mecum, so we will not enlarge upon it. It was after consulting L'Interprète Militaire that a certain placard posted in Belgium in the August of 1914 was drafted. It gives no details as to the "lugubrious cruelties"; it applies both to towns and villages; it speaks of the "mayor" instead of the "burgomaster"; it is neither dated nor signed; in short, it presents all the characteristics of an "emergency placard," drafted beforehand.


We are not making war upon citizens, but only on the enemy army.

In spite of this, the German troops have been attacked in great number by persons who do not belong to the army. They have committed acts of the most lugubrious cruelty not only against combatants, but also against our wounded and our doctors who are under the protection of the Red Cross. To prevent these brutalities I order that which follows:


1. Any person who does not belong to the army and who is found arms in hand, will be shot instantly. He will be regarded as outside the laws of nations.

2. All arms, rifles, pistols, Brownings, sabres, daggers, etc., and all explosive material, must be delivered immediately by the mayors of every village or town to the commander of the German troops; if a single weapon is found, no matter in what house, or if any act has been committed against our troops, our transports, our telegraph lines, our railways, etc., or if any one gives asylum to francs-tireurs; the guilty persons and the hostages who will be taken in each village will be shot without pity. Besides this, the inhabitants of the villages, etc., in question will be driven out. The villages and towns even will be demolished and burned. If this happens on the road of communication between two villages or two towns, the inhabitants of the two villages will be treated in the same manner.

I expect the mayors and populations will be able, by their prudent supervision and conduct, to ensure the safety of our troops as well as their own.

In the contrary case, the measures indicated above will come into force.

Signed: The General Commanding-in-Chief.
(No name.)

The appeal to brutality comes from above. In 1900 the whole world shuddered at the advice which Wilhelm II gave the expeditionary corps setting out for China. "Follow the example of the Huns," cried the Kaiser. Why, then, do the Germans profess to be annoyed when compared to-day with the soldiers of Attila—or when their motto is spelt Gott mit Huns?

A German lieutenant, whose military note-book we have had before us, does full justice to his companions. After the massacre and burning of Ottignies on the 20th August, 1914, he wrote as follows (we translate):—

The inhabitants were in the square, under a guard of soldiers. Several men were condemned by the Council of War and at once put to death. The women, dressed in black, as in a solemn[336] procession, then departed. Among those who had just fallen, how many innocent were shot! The village has been literally sacked: the "blond brute" has shown himself for what he is. The Huns and the freebooters of the Middle Ages could not have done better. The houses are burning now, and when the action of the fire is not enough we raze what remains standing.

Very suggestive too is the placard of the 26th April, 1915, in which Baron von Bissing informs us that according to Mr. Fox, an American journalist, the Germans have committed no useless "cruelties." Then there are useful cruelties? Really the Governor-General, who seems to know his subject, ought to publish a table differentiating the various qualities of cruelty.

But a thing that does surprise us is that the virus of cruelty should already have contaminated civilians—I mean the Catholic members of the Reichstag. Herr Erzberger, the same who asserted, and who perhaps is asserting still, that the Belgians invaded Germany on the 2nd August, wrote what are perhaps the most coldly ferocious words imaginable: "Above all, no sentimentality!" (N.R.C., 6th February, 1916, evening edition).

Such advice bore fruit, as we shall discover when we come to examine, in succession, the physical and moral tortures in which our executioners delight. But first let us cite a few examples of aggravations. By that we mean acts of malice which do not endanger the life or reason of the victims, but which reveal, perhaps the more clearly for that, the desire to torment.

1. Aggravations.

A general remark occurs to us at once: it is that the Germans have failed in their object. For instead of exasperating us to the point of forcing us to[337] commit some imprudence, which they would have been obliged to repress, they simply made sure of our profound contempt. To tell the truth, each fresh persecution makes us furious for a day; but the sense of irony soon regains the upper hand, and then we have only one anxiety: to make their latest form of vexation ridiculous by all the means in our power.

Nothing better shows the contrast between the German mentality and the Belgian than the manner in which we have obeyed the decree concerning the German time.

After only a week's occupation the inhabitants of Andenne were obliged to set their clocks to the German time. At Namur, too, this was required from the 31st August. Elsewhere the German time was enforced only at a much later date, and only in respect of the clocks in cafés. Many cabaret-keepers merely stopped their clocks; others had fitted a second small hand, an hour in retard of the first; others wrote beneath the clock "German Time," or even "This clock is an hour fast." In the window of a Brussels watchmaker, in the midst of many clocks which indicated more or less precisely the German time, was one which was specially labelled "Correct Time"—and that one told, of course, the Belgian time. In short, every one did what he could to avoid letting his customers regard the German time as the true time. And really, if one has adopted, as is the case in Germany and in Belgium, the system of hourly segments, it is obvious that Belgium ought to form part of the segment of Western Europe, not part of that of Eastern Europe. It is, therefore, solely in a spirit of aggravation that Germany forces her time upon[338] us; and she is fully aware of this, as her public notices are always careful to speak of "German time," not of "Central European time."

Treatment inflicted upon Belgian Ladies.

What do you think of the additional suffering inflicted on ladies condemned to several weeks' imprisonment for having conveyed letters from Belgian soldiers to the parents of those soldiers, or for speaking a little too boldly before an officer, or for some other crime of a like nature? It is a delicate idea to shut them up in common with half a score of other prisoners, in a room containing no convenience but a pail furnished with a cover. They are lucky if the company does not include some very dubious characters.

We need not insist: these are aggravations, not serious at bottom, but their irritating nature can only be fully appreciated when one suffers them daily, or hears them described by friends or relatives who have been their victims.

After the examples of collective and impersonal malfeasance dictated by some high officer desirous of justifying the fair fame of Kultur, we will take those cases in which the personality of the author clearly reveals itself, and, let us say at once, in which this personality instantly excites the disgust and indignation of all merely civilized persons.

The Germans reached Capelle-au-Bois on the 30th August. But on the 31st they were repulsed by Belgian troops. On the 4th September they returned in force and forced back the Belgians; not without difficulty, however, for they had many[339] killed, of whom nineteen were buried at Capelle-au-Bois. With the Belgian troops as they withdrew went all the inhabitants of the village, leaving behind them only a few helpless old people. In this all but empty village, where no one was left to offer them the least resistance, the Germans hastened to kill several inhabitants—four, it is believed. Then, under the orders of Captain von Puttkammer, the strong-boxes were broken open, the objects of value packed and sent to Germany, and the wines carried to the bank of the canal and into the houses occupied by the officers. On the evening of the 4th September the troops set fire to the village. Thanks to incendiary pastilles and benzine pumps, the fire spread rapidly; 235 houses were burned of the three hundred which formed the heart of the village. So far all was as usual; but here is the characteristic fact. The better to enjoy the spectacle the troops spent the evening on the bank of the canal; there they organized a little orgie, over eight hundred empty bottles being afterwards discovered.

At the same period the Germans established a few miles further to the west, at Londerzeel, pillaged and then burned the house of the notary, M. Van Hover. They had tried in vain to open the safe, so, furious at their failure, they poured benzine into it and set fire to it, procuring at least the satisfaction of knowing that all the papers would be reduced to ashes.

What are we to think of the officer who, lodging in the house of a curé in the province of Antwerp, found it amusing to tear pages from the books which formed his host's library, or to gum them together, so that in seeking to separate them the[340] owner himself would tear them? Note that it was no clown who devised this kindly pastime, for he took care to choose, in the Latin books, the pages bearing the most important passages.[48]

Filthy Amusements.

Others preferred to defile things. When in August and September 1914 we were told that the Germans were amusing themselves by depositing ordure in their beds we refused to believe in such perversion. But a walk through Eppeghem, Sempst, and Weerde was enough to enlighten us. Not only had they emptied all the houses, rich or poor; not only had they taken the trouble to smash into quite small pieces all the glass and crockery they could not carry away; not only, in the grocers' shops, had they delighted themselves by mixing snuff with the butter, and tacks with the cloves, and pepper with the flour, but all the bedding bore the malodorous traces of their visit.

Let it not be imagined that this mania of beastliness is peculiar to the common soldiers. The officers who spent the night of the 19th August, 1915, at Cortenburg, between Louvain and Brussels, were infected by the same Kultur. In a certain house they carefully laid the table in the dining-room, without forgetting the serviettes, and then deposited a souvenir on every plate. In another house in Cortenburg they chose, as a receptacle, the tall hat of the householder. In the château of Malderen (Brabant), having taken all that pleased them and broken the rest into small pieces, they opened a card-table, deposited their excrement there, and carefully closed it again.


Another manifestation of the scatological mania: Many hundreds of German Army surgeons met in congress during the Easter holidays of 1915, in Brussels. On the last day of the congress, Wednesday, the 7th April, a banquet was held, on the premises of the Palais de Justice. On the Thursday morning it was discovered that the surgeons had left souvenirs behind them; they had evacuated the surplus of food and liquor consumed by the three natural orifices, and had chosen for their purpose the most beautiful halls of the Palais. Frankly, we should not have expected this from the doctors; it is true, however, that they were German military doctors.

A man amuses himself as he can—or, to put it more plainly, according to his mentality. After all, these beastly habits, disgusting as they are, are not those whose results are most disagreeable.

There are others who seek violent contrasts. Thus, at Houtem, while the church was burning, on the 13th September, 1914, a military band was playing its liveliest selections at a few yards' distance. At Monceau-sur-Sambre, on the 22nd August, officers were playing the piano in the château of the demoiselles Bourriez, on the Trazegnies road, when the soldiers had already lit the upper floors. At Louvain, on the 25th August, 1914, in a café near the railway-station, soldiers set fire to the upper floor without warning the proprietor, and remained below, where they kept a mechanical piano going. They were thus able to enjoy the despairing expressions of the inmates when they discovered that they could no longer hope to save anything.


2. Physical Tortures.

We shall not here refer to the innumerable cases of torture cited in the Reports of the Commission of Inquiry, nor those reported in Nothomb's La Belgique Martyre. We will confine ourselves to facts of which we have personal knowledge. The Germans will, of course, seek to deny them. So it is as well to begin by a declaration of their own. Vorwärts, on the 23rd August, 1914 (the very day on which the chief atrocities were committed in the Dinant district), protested against the proposal made by a German officer, not to kill francs-tireurs outright, but to wound them mortally and leave them to die slowly in agony, while forbidding any one to go to their assistance. What to our mind is even graver than the proposition itself is the fact that the Deutsches Offizierblatt accepted it as quite a natural thing.

It is clear that where they are proved, the cruelties committed by our enemies must be denounced, and that everything must be done to prevent their repetition. However, we must not allow the recital of these cruelties to force us to resort to a sort of policy of retaliation, or lead us to wash out what others have done with innocent blood.

What are we to say when we find an organ like the Deutsches Offizierblatt expressing its sympathy for the following proposition: The "brutes" captured as francs-tireurs should not be shot outright, but should be fired upon and left to their fate, all succour being prevented? What again are we to say when it is added that the destruction, in reprisal, of whole localities even does not represent "a sufficient vengeance for the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier assassinated"? These are the imaginings of bloodthirsty fanatics, and we are ashamed to perceive that men capable of speaking thus exist in our nation. Such expressions, even if they are not carried into action, are truly of a nature to place our struggle in an unfavourable light all the world over.

(Vorwärts, 23rd August, 1914.)


The Fate of the Valkenaers Family.

One of the most horrible tragedies of this war was the massacre of the Valkenaers family, at Thildonck, on the 26th August, 1914, while Louvain was burning. Because they had not prevented the Belgian soldiers from utilizing their farms as points of support, the members of the two Valkenaers households were shot down in cold blood. Of these fourteen unfortunate people three were grievously wounded and seven killed. The better to amuse themselves, the Germans forced the elder of the young girls to wave a sort of flag.

During the preceding night (that of the 25th August), in Louvain, they had savagely mangled the corpse of a young woman.

On the afternoon of the 25th, being still in the immediate neighbourhood, at Bueken, they had seized the curé and cut off his nose and ears before giving him the coup de grâce (p. 238). At the same time began the torture of the curé of Pont-Brûlé, to end only on the 26th.

At Elewijt, on the 27th, they amused themselves by amputating the hands of four men—the three brothers Van der Aa and François Salu.

A little further to the east the first German troops who had passed through Schaffen, near Diest, on the 13th or 14th August, had there tortured the blacksmith Broeden. All day long he had laboured, shoeing the horses of the enemy's cavalry. Early in the evening he repaired to the church, with the sacristan, with the object of saving some precious articles which had not been placed in security. He was surprised by the soldiery and seized. Successively the Germans broke his wrists, his[344] arms, and his legs; perhaps he suffered yet other tortures. When he was practically lifeless the soldiers asked him whether he thought that he would in future be capable of undertaking any kind of labour. On his replying, in an almost inaudible voice, that he did not, they declared that in that case he ought not to continue to live. Immediately they threw him, head first, into a ditch dug for the purpose; then the ditch was filled, leaving his feet protruding.

In other parts of the country also the most varied tortures. At Spontin, near Dinant, on the 23rd August, 1914, they pierced the curé and the burgomaster with bayonet-wounds until death ensued; but first they had bound each man with a strong cord, drawn violently tight round the waist by the combined efforts of two soldiers. It must be supposed that the officer who presided over the "severities" at Spontin had quite a special affection for cords, for having taken alive some 120 inhabitants of the place (the rest were killed, shot down while they were trying to escape), he had them all tied together by the wrists and conveyed them towards Dorinn; but many were shot before reaching that village.

On the same day, in Dinant prison, a soldier strangled a baby in the arms of its mother because it was crying too loud.

At Sorinnes, still in the Dinant district, and on the same day, Jules and Albert Houzieaux were burned alive.

At Aiseau, on the 21st August, the Germans shut two men into a house, to which they set fire. But[345] the unexpected arrival of a shell prevented them from enjoying the sufferings of their victims.

At Hofstade chance favoured them better; they threw Victor de Coster, whom they had just stripped, into the furnace provided by his own house; his servant shared his fate.

We must suppose that the Germans take great pleasure in the contortions of the hanged. Herr Heymel had to content himself with admiring the corpse of a priest swinging in a tree; and his friend, Herr Klemm, was careful to devote, to the memory of this comforting spectacle, a drawing, published in Kunst und Künstler (January 1915). Herr Heymel expresses his great satisfaction before this spectacle; but what pleasure he would have experienced could he have witnessed the hanging of the men whom the Germans boast of having hanged to the trees of the Herve district; or could he have assisted to hang that inhabitant of Èvelette, whom the soldiers put to death at Andenne, on the 20th; or the cabaret-keeper who was strung up to a lantern before the Louvain railway-station, on the night of the 26th; but our fastidious littérateur would have tasted the keenest delight at Arlon, when an old man was put to death; he remained hanging for hours, with his feet just grazing the soil (p. 351).

The Germans, perhaps, will say—supposing they think they ought to excuse themselves—that these executions were carried out as a result of the attacks of francs-tireurs, or after the mutilation of the German wounded by Belgian civilians. But it will be impossible for them to allege these lies as circumstances extenuating the inhuman treatment which they inflicted upon Belgian soldiers at the[346] time of their first attacks on the forts of Liége, on the night of the 4th August; that is, a few hours after the commencement of hostilities. Not only did they maltreat in every imaginable manner their Belgian prisoners, but certain German soldiers pushed Kultur so far as to refuse water to poor wounded fellows dying of thirst; more, they even gave themselves the atrocious pleasure of spilling on the ground the water contained in the wounded men's own flasks, and this before their eyes.

3. Moral Tortures.

The physical tortures which the Germans have inflicted upon us cannot rival their methods of moral torture. In these they have achieved refinements worthy of the inventive genius of an Edgar Allan Poë.

Moral Torture before Execution.

To force those about to be shot to dig their own graves, as they did at Tavigny,[49] is quite a commonplace method. In the Fonds de Leffe, on the 23rd August, 1914 (p. 360), they perfected their mode of operation. They had called up eight men of Dinant to bury the victims as they were shot (there was so much work to do that it had to be entrusted to experienced hands). In the evening each of the gravediggers dug his own grave; four were shot, and buried by their colleagues; just as these were about to suffer the same fate an officer "pardoned" them: not out of humanity (that would have been too decent), but simply because their services would be required during the following days.


At Dinant, during the bloody days of the 23rd and 24th August, they invented many other moral tortures. On the morning of the 23rd they shot, in a meadow of the Fonds de Leffe, a group of thirteen men. But instead of leading them all together before the firing platoon, they cunningly prolonged their pleasure; the thirteen unfortunates were tied, in succession, to the same tree, and shot down one by one.

The whole of the 23rd was consecrated, in the Fonds de Leffe, to killing the men in small batches of half a dozen; these were shot either before their wives and children, or at a short distance, but within earshot, so that the family should lose none of the groans of the dying.

When, later on, the women and children were shut up in a windmill, having first been marched in front of the corpses, the Germans allowed themselves the distraction of lighting fires before the windows from time to time, in order to make the women believe that they were about to be burned alive with their children, and to delight in their anguish.

While men were being shot in the Fonds de Leffe, horrible massacres were being committed at Leffe and at Dinant, at only a few minutes' distance. Here, too, men were shot before their families—for example, Victor Poncelet and Charles Naus—and the survivors were forced to pass through the midst of the corpses. The officers, too, devised more complicated diversions; for instance, allowing a group of women and children to escape into the mountains, in order to shoot them down from a distance.

A moral torture commonly employed is that which consists in making people believe that they are going to be killed. All the inhabitants of Sorinnes were[348] placed before machine-guns, and a German chaplain, speaking French, ceremoniously shook each man by the hand. At Dinant two or three hundred persons were lined up against a wall; then a pastor recited the prayers for the dead (perhaps the chaplain of Sorinnes had found another opportunity for his pleasantry), and an empty machine-gun was pointed at them. An officer laughed as though his sides would split while he threatened, with his revolver, some fifteen women shut up in the convent of Prémontré, at Leffe.

Pretended executions and threats of execution were everywhere in common usage. At Wépion, near Namur, on the 23rd August, 1914 (the day of the Dinant horrors), the Germans packed the women into boats, and told them to row into the middle of the Meuse. They took aim at them several times; then, having sufficiently amused themselves, they allowed them to return to the bank.

On the 28th September, 1914, a group of civil prisoners from the north of Brabant were going towards the railway-station, whence they left for Germany. The procession was preceded by a military band, which played funeral marches, so that they were convinced that they were being led to execution.

Two citizens of Brussels, taking a walk on Sunday, the 30th August, ventured as far as Koningsloo, in the suburbs. They were seized by German sentinels, and imprisoned at the post. From time to time an under-officer approached them, held his revolver under their noses, and grimaced at them: "Ah, ah, walk's over, walk's done!" (Fini, promenade!). One of the prisoners asked the guard[349] if they were really going to be shot; in which case they would wish to make certain arrangements. But the soldier reassured them: "Don't be afraid," he said, "it's only a game of our officer's; he does it every day to amuse himself." And sure enough, towards evening the two prisoners were set free without further ceremony.

Sectional execution—execution by small groups—under the eyes of those awaiting their fate, was applied on a large scale at Arlon. On the 26th August, 123 (or 118, or 127) inhabitants of Rossignol and neighbouring localities were taken thither, and were killed in groups of ten or twelve. Madame Hurieaux was reserved for the last; she saw her husband and all her companions in misfortune perish first; and she died crying "Vive la Belgique! Vive la France!"

It will be of interest to reproduce here the narrative of a medical student who was present at the executions which took place at Arlon. It may be taken as a sample, so to speak, of the German procedure: massacre and incendiarism, with no previous inquiry; the most varied moral and physical tortures; capricious condemnation or liberation of prisoners; pillage of the communal funds, etc.

At the beginning of August I left Y——, where my parents live, to go to the village of X——, lying to the north of my native town.

Two days later the French arrived, making towards the north of Luxemburg. There were movements of troops in different directions, and soon one could see that battles would be fought in the neighbourhood.

I thought I could make myself useful by opening a small ambulance, which I did.

I was lodging with one of my aunts, who has a son of my own age.


One day an engagement took place between the French and the German troops, and a wounded German soldier was brought into my little ambulance; his name was Kohn.

I gave him first aid; I apologized for not being able to do more, and I told him that towards evening it might be possible to carry him to Arlon, where he would receive all necessary care.

I returned to my aunt's house; I found her in tears; they had just taken away her son, my cousin Jules, on the pretext that he had fired on them. It was a piece of stupidity, for there was nothing in the whole house but one revolver, and I was carrying that on me. I had had it on me all the time I was at the ambulance. I hastened to hide it under a chest, and I decided to go and demand my cousin of the Germans. I speak their language a little, and I was so convinced of my cousin's innocence that I imagined a few words of explanation would make them give him up.

I soon found him, tied to a tree, beside other prisoners.

I began to parley with a German officer.

He replied that there was nothing to do for the moment, that the prisoners would be sent to Arlon, and that he was convinced that if I followed them I should be able, at Arlon, to obtain justice for my cousin.

We set out for Arlon; I was beside the prisoners. At a determined spot we were handed over to other soldiers. I was greatly astonished, at a given moment, to see that I had become a prisoner myself; I was no longer accompanying my cousin, to save him; I was sharing his fate.

We arrived at Arlon; we were lined up against a wall. There were with us, notably, a woman, with two young children of nine and ten, an old villager with his son, and other people whom I did not know.

An officer on horseback approached us. He was, it seemed a judge. He turned to the soldiers and asked, pointing to each of us: "Did that one fire?" And the soldiers always replied in the affirmative.

Now it should be noted that these soldiers had seen nothing, and could have seen nothing, for they were not those who seized the prisoners in the village in which they were arrested.

The head-dress of the troops was entirely different; the first had helmets, and the second caps.

When the officer had finished pointing at us, we were informed that we were all condemned to death.

An old man was seized; I myself was seized; and we were pushed to one side, to be shot.


The old man's son rushed towards him and tried to drag him away from the soldiers. The result was that the son was seized, to be shot with the father.

This is how things happened:

The two were put against a wall; a platoon of soldiers commanded by an officer took up their position in front of them.

The officer commanded all their movements with a deliberation calculated to increase the torture of the victims.

"Load!"... Then a pause. "Take aim!"... Then a pause. "Fire!"...

The two unhappy men fell to the ground, groaning.

The officer went up to them, recognized that they were not dead, and again gave orders to fire, with the same deliberation and the same method. This time the father ceased to move; it took a third volley to finish the son.

We were then all led to a guard-house.

There we remained for three days. We were given nothing to eat. We fasted from the morning we were taken; it was only on the following day, or the day after that, that we received a little water.

In that room we were literally tortured.

We were forced to stand upright; an old man was groaning he was so thirsty that his tongue protruded from his lips and the flies settled on it. As he could not stand any longer, the Germans passed a cord round his neck and attached it to a ring-bolt in the wall, so that he was supported only on his toes. The cord stretched and the wretched man fell now to this side, now to that. The soldiers made him stand upright again by striking his face with the butts of their rifles.

At one time his trousers fell down and we saw he was wounded in the thigh, by bayonet-thrusts. Later he became insane. In his delirium he cried: "Prepare food for the cows."[50] It was a horrible scene.

At another time the woman was taken out, with her two little children, and all three were shot against the wall of the Palais de Justice at Arlon. The soldiers asserted that they had "found a German soldier's purse" in this woman's house.

The time passed in the most atrocious moral anguish and physical suffering. We had lost all notion of time. The soldiers insulted us, spat upon us, made signs that our throats would be cut, that we were going to be shot. They took a pleasure in drinking in front of us.


At a certain moment an officer of superior rank entered the room. He came up to me and asked: "Why are you here?"

I replied: "They accuse us of having fired on the troops." Immediately he turned his back upon me, but I cried, with energy: "Yes, and far from having fired on them, I looked after them. If you want the proof of this, ask the soldier called Kohn who must be in the hospital here at Arlon."

I then told him of Kohn. He went to the hospital, and returned some time later; he had found the soldier Kohn, who confirmed my story.

An officer on horseback (the judge) came to the door of the guard-room: we were sent out, my cousin and I, and without even questioning us he said, "You are acquitted." I protested, saying: "There are still five or six people there of my village who are no more guilty than we are."

They were sent out, and the judge told them, as he told me, without any further inquiry, "You are acquitted."

As for the unhappy old man, I will tell you later how he escaped. He returned to his village; he is crippled.

I remained at Arlon until the end of August, at the house of one of my relatives, whose business brought him daily into contact with the Belgian authorities and the German army. I was thus able to obtain a good deal of precise information.

The Germans entered Arlon on the 12th August. They came from Mersch, in the Grand-Duchy. Several days earlier, all the weapons the inhabitants possessed had been deposited at the Hôtel de Ville. The people of Arlon knew from the newspapers what atrocities the Germans had committed in the neighbourhood of Liége, at Visé, Herve, Battice, Warsage, etc., and they were far from meditating any disturbance.

On entering the town the Uhlans began to break in the doors with the butts of their rifles.

On the following day Commandant von der Esch, commandant of the town, had a notice posted up, which I have copied verbatim.


Luminous signals have been made to-night between Freylange and the lower part of this town; one of our patrols has been[353] attacked; our telephone wires have been cut. To punish the population guilty of these acts of ill-will, I order for to-day at 3 o'clock the burning of the village of Freylange and the sack of 100 houses in the west of Arlon. I also condemn the town to pay a war contribution of 100,000 frs., which must be paid over before 6 p.m., or I shall have the hostages shot.

Von der Esch.

While the communal administration of Arlon was deliberating on the subject of the war contribution, the burning of Freylange and the sack of 100 houses of Arlon was carried out according to the programme.

After the 100,000 frs. had been paid to the Germans, they summoned to the general headquarters, established in the Hôtel de Ville of the northern portion of Arlon, a police agent, named Lempreur, and instructed him to proceed to arrest those who had fired on the German troops. He came back to say that he had found no one. "Ah!" they told him, "you are going about it unwillingly! Very good; you shall pay for the others." And without listening to his pleading, without allowing him to see his wife or children again, he was placed with his back to a door and a firing platoon shot him down.

I saw the door at the Hôtel de Ville; it was riddled with bullets.

A few days later another army division replaced the first. Immediately the town was condemned to pay a fresh war contribution: a million francs.

The town could get together only 238,000 frs. It was let off the remainder.

From the day when I was set at liberty we used almost daily to hear of executions in Arlon; they were of prisoners, brought just as we were, from the neighbouring villages, notably from Rossignol and Tintigny, who were shot in small parties.

One of these executions took place in the courtyard of the Church of St. Donat. The Dean succeeded in obtaining pardon for two of the condemned.

The most important execution was that of 123 (others say 127) inhabitants of Rossignol and its immediate surroundings, who were shot on 26th August. They were taken near the viaduct which passes over the Arlon railway-station (towards the connecting station). They were killed in small groups of ten or twelve. Those who were not dead were finished with the bayonet. Each group had to climb over the surrounding corpses.[354] They kept to the last a lady of Rossignol, Mme. Hurieaux, who thus had to see her husband and the greater part of the inhabitants of her village killed before her eyes. She died crying "Vive la Belgique! Vive la France!"

Here is one little detail which I was able to verify. When the receiver and examiner of Customs of Arlon learned of the approaching arrival of the Germans they removed all the money from the safe, leaving only copper coin to the value of about a franc. The Germans immediately proceeded to break open the safe, but succeeded only after two days' work. Infuriated by this discomfiture, they used the safe as a commode.

But whatever the moral sufferings inflicted on those who were executed, the tortures which the Germans applied to those against whom no accusation was brought were a hundred times more atrocious. Think of the martyrdom of Mme. Cambier, of Nimy, who was forced to tread on her son's brains; and the sufferings of the innumerable men and women of whom the Germans made a living shield, at Anseremme, Mons, Tournai, and Charleroi (p. 195). As to Charleroi, here is a detail not recorded by Herr Heymel. The prisoners collected at Jumet and Odelissert were tied in couples by the wrists, to prevent them from trying to escape when the French should fire on them. Moreover, they had to walk with their hands raised. When, by reason of fatigue, they dropped their arms, the soldiers struck them with the butts of their rifles. We know a man who was thus placed before the German troops, who saw one of his relatives killed at his side, and two of the latter's sons. He himself received three bullets, one in the right wrist, one in the left arm, and the third under the chin. He escaped, but is lamed for life.

Imagine also the tortures suffered by the civil prisoners who, in defiance of all justice, were sent[355] to Germany. Hunger, thirst, threats, and insults; packed into cattle-trucks, they had no room to lie down, or even to sit. Above all, they had no news of their families. On the 4th September, 1914, more than 100 inhabitants of Lebbeke, near Termonde, were placed as a screen in front of the German troops marching against Termonde. In the evening, those who had not been shot were added to others just captured, and all together, in all some 300, were sent into Germany. At the moment when these unhappy folk were leaving Lebbeke the Germans set fire to some of the houses, and kindly informed the prisoners that the whole village was about to be burned. Moreover, they said, the women and children would in part be killed, and the rest driven off in the direction of Termonde and Gand. Imagine, if you can, the sufferings endured by these unfortunate people for the two months during which they remained without news of their homes, in the conviction that their families were massacred or wandering wretchedly across the devastated country. While by means of these cruel lies, whose horrible effect was systematically calculated, they filled with despair the hearts of those who were departing, the soldiers amused themselves also by wringing the hearts of the poor women—mothers, wives, sisters, daughters—who remained in the village. For they, too, were for long weeks without news from the prisoners, and the abominable manner in which the German troops, drunk with carnage, had assassinated, on the day of exodus, twelve of their fellow-citizens (9th Report), permitted them to entertain the most frightful suppositions.

Make no mistake: the case of Lebbeke is far from being exceptional. All the civil prisoners were[356] treated with the same barbarity, a barbarity utterly unjustified, since, in the judgment of Baron von Bissing, no complaint had been formulated against the civil prisoners who have been sent back to their homes. But all have not returned. In June 1915, for example, most of the prisoners from Visé were still in Germany. As for those taken from Rossignol and so many other localities in Luxemburg, they will never return, alas! They have been shot without pretext.

Another horrible torture consists in the suppression of communications between the Belgian soldiers and their parents. Since mid-October 1914 all connections have been severed between the Belgian army which is fighting on the Yser and the Belgians remaining in Belgium. Those who seek to establish communication between the Belgian soldiers and their relatives are spied out and sentenced.

Against Jules-Arthur de Cuypere, bachelor, domiciled in the last instance at Liége, a deprivation of liberty of five months has been pronounced, because, contrary to the known regulations, he took charge, during a number of journeys to the Dutch frontier and into Holland, of a large number of letters from Belgian soldiers in France and interned Belgian prisoners in Holland; and delivered these letters, addressed to different members of families of Namur and the environs, at their addresses, by carrying them thither. At the same time he rendered himself guilty by crossing the frontier.

(L'Ami de l'Ordre, 5-6th July, 1915.)

Since the spring of 1915 the posts have been operating between Belgium and Holland, so that those few privileged persons who have a correspondent in Holland might thus indirectly obtain news if the Germans had authorized correspondence through an intermediary. But they have strictly forbidden it (pp. 22-3). They could easily organize a[357] service enabling soldiers to write to their relations: "I am going on all right ... I am wounded ..." and enabling the relations to reply, so that the soldiers' families would be reassured; while now the only news arrives by precarious methods, and often goes astray. But what our enemies desire is to make the poor relatives suffer as much as possible. We do not believe that such a form of torture has ever in any previous war been inflicted on a whole population. It is untrue, it seems, that Bismarck was the first to use the words which have been attributed to him: "In territories occupied by our victorious troops the inhabitants must be left nothing but eyes to weep with." But he quoted them with an approval that made them his own. Now they have come true.

Here is quite another kind of moral torture. The Germans are fond of leading small groups of Belgian prisoners through the streets of Brussels at moments when the latter are as busy as possible: for instance, on Sunday afternoons. One can imagine the humiliation of the poor soldiers exposed to the curiosity of the crowd; but it delights their guardians. It was evidently the desire to enjoy, simultaneously, the misery of the prisoners and the impotent anger of the spectators which led the Germans, at the time of their entry into Louvain on the 19th August, and into Brussels on the 20th, to place a few Belgian countrymen, with their hands tied behind their backs, at the head of their columns. In ancient Rome captives used to walk before the triumphal car of the conqueror. Do not the Germans realize how utterly this practice is contrary to the humane principles enjoined by Article 4 of the Hague Convention? We must suppose that they do not; for[358] not only do they not abandon the practice, but they make use of it to coin money.

Condemnation of the Town of Roulers.

Amsterdam, 29th May (Havre Agency).—The town of Roulers is condemned to pay a fresh fine of 1½ millions, because the population cheered Belgian prisoners passing through the town.

(L'Ami de l'Ordre.)

Impossible, it will be said, to invent tortures yet more diabolic. But no, when it is a question of doing evil, Kultur can surpass itself.

Imagine the mentality of the person who sent to M. Brostens, of Antwerp, the identity-disc of his son, who was taken prisoner. And imagine the inward joy of the sender in picturing the parents' despair on receiving the medal!

Refined Cruelty.

When they make prisoners they sometimes detach the identification-discs from the men and send them, unaccompanied by comment, to the parents, to make them believe that their son is dead.

This is what has just happened to M. Brostens, Lieutenant of Customs, of Antwerp. Having received, a few days ago, his son's regimental number, he went into mourning. So yesterday morning, what was not his amazement to see his son return, who, having been made prisoner at the beginning of the war, had succeeded in escaping.

(Le Matin, Antwerp, 14th September, 1914.)

Here, perhaps, the culprit was an uncultivated soldier. But what are we to think of the mentality of Baron von der Goltz, when he informs us by placard that a record is kept in a register of all aggressions against the German army, and that the localities in which such attacks have taken place may expect to receive their punishment?

General Government of Belgium.

It has recently happened, in the regions which are not at present occupied by the German troops in more or less force,[359] that convoys of wagons or patrols have been attacked, by surprise, by the inhabitants.

I draw the attention of the public to the fact that a register is kept of the towns and communes in whose vicinity such attacks have occurred, and that they may expect their punishment as soon as the troops are passing through their neighbourhood.

The Governor-General in Belgium,
Baron von der Goltz,

When one learns on what ultra-trivial hints the German troops have based their condemnation of the inhabitants, one may conclude that not a commune will escape repression. It was evidently this generalized terror which the Governor wished to inspire. He, too, wished to have the pleasure of inflicting moral torture.

To give point to the contrast between the mentality of our oppressors and our own, between their Kultur and our civilization, we should like to reproduce a letter in which a young girl, living in Gand, invited Belgian women to enter the hospitals for the purpose of assisting the wounded, Germans as well as our own, to write to their families. Committees of this kind were immediately constituted, notably in Brussels.

Belgian Compassion.

M. Paul Fredericq, Professor at the University of Gand, writes to the Soir:—

"A young girl of Gand has had a touching inspiration.

"She wished Belgian women who can write English and German, forgetting international hatred, and listening only to the voice of compassion, to attend at the ambulances and hospitals, in order to place themselves at the disposal of wounded foreigners, without distinction, and to write, at their dictation, letters intended to reassure their relatives.

"This truly Christian work of charity would put an end to the anguish of so many mothers, who know that their sons are engaged on the Belgian battlefields.


"I am certain that this appeal to the good hearts of our girls and women will not have been made in vain."

While the Germans are butchering our sons and wives, this is what Belgian hearts are thinking of.

(Le Peuple, 10th August, 1914.)

Finally, to close with, here is a numerical example which, better than any reasoning, gives you the Kultur of the German Army to the life:—

On the morning of Sunday, the 23rd August, 1914, the population of Fonds de Leffe (a suburb of Dinant) comprised 251 men and boys, including some fifteen inhabitants of neighbouring communes whom the Germans had dragged away with them. By the evening of the following day 243 had been put to death: none of those taken was spared; the eight who escaped the massacre had succeeded in fleeing. "Happily"—we were told by a woman whose father, husband, and four brothers-in-law were massacred—"happily many of the men had left for the army and were fighting on the Yser. A strange war, in which the soldiers are less exposed than the children, the old folks, and the sick who are left at home!"


[32] Apparently our author had never heard timber burn before.—(Trans.)

[33] As the Chancellor must have known, if the civil population had been called to arms it would have been a perfectly legal measure. But the Germans, who claim the right to do what is forbidden to others, would forbid others to do even those things that are lawful.—(Trans.)

[34] See the Tägliche Rundschau supplement, 24th September, 1914; and Hamburger Fremdenblatt, weekly supplement, 4th October, 1914.

[35] Epistle to Romans viii. 31.

[36] The bill-stickers of Brussels take a malign pleasure in refraining from pasting other matter over the burgomaster's denial. In July 1915, eleven months after it was posted, one could still read the famous denial in several parts of Brussels.

[37] Nothing was known of the torture inflicted on the curé of Bueken until, at the request of the Dutch Government, the body of Father Vincentius Sombroek was exhumed, at the end of September 1914 (N.R.C., 1st October, evening). The body of M. De Clerck was found at the same time, and it was then seen that he had been mutilated. This was known to his parishioners, but they had never dared to speak of it. What other horrors shall we learn of when tongues are again unloosed?

[38] Rom. xii. 12, 13.

[39] Oratio in Dominica infra Octavam Epiphaniae.

[40] Rom. xii. 12, 13.

[41] Prayer for the Sunday in the Octave of Epiphany.

[42] Etappen, a provisioned halting-place for troops.—(Trans.)

[43] The words in brackets are ours.

[44] Other witnesses, however, more sincere, admitted in May 1915 that the attitude of the people of Antwerp had remained just as hostile as at the outset (see the article by Dr. Julius Burghold, in K.Z. for the 29th May, 1915, 1 p.m. edition).

[45] In Brussels the tramways had issued, up to the 15th July, 1915, 1,032 gratuitous permits to German spies.

[46] The French of this proclamation is so bad that literal translation is impossible, but I have kept as close to the original as is consistent with intelligibility.—(Trans.)

[47] The passages italicized were underlined in pencil on the placard posted at Andenne.

[48] We shall give names at a later date.

[49] At least, they boast of having done so.

[50] I was told later that this old man was a sand merchant of Chatillon, and was in a state of senile dementia. He was well known to the people of Arlon.



Absentees, tenfold tax on, 298-9

Accusations, German, of Belgian cruelty, why made, 36;
absurdity of, 36-7;
progress of, 38-49;
against the Belgian Government, 89-92

Administration, German, of Belgium, 295-338

Aerschot, return of prisoners to, 95;
German burgomaster of, 140-1;
massacre at, 166

Agadir Crisis, 27

Agents-Provocateurs, 317-20

Aggravations, 336-41

Agreements, attempt to enforce illegal, 320-4

Air Raids, German, 122-4, 259-60, see Dirigibles

Albert, King, 178;
his patron saint's day, 268-9;
portraits of, 269-71;
his birthday, 272;
German abuse of, 282-3

America, Germany desires to influence, 38;
sends help, 173;
Belgium's gratitude towards, 178

Andenne, massacre at, 164, 326-33

André, M. François, speech by, 139-40

Anseremme, men sent to Germany, 119;
Germans hide behind women at, 119-20

Antwerp, siege of, 51, 144;
bombardment of, 123-4, 128-9;
the city fired, 148;
sorties from, 163;
flight from, 166

Arlon, massacre at, 349;
narrative of an eye-witness, 349-54

Arms, surrender of, 90, 207

Army, Belgian, the "enemy," 272-3;
correspondence with, 356-7

Army, German, see German soldiers, Prisoners, Wounded, Officers

Assessment Bureau, suppressed, 304

Asquith, Mr., speaks in Dublin, 53

Atrocities, pretended Belgian (98-108);
refuted by Vorwärts, 102-3;
by German wounded, 104-5, 106-8

Atrocities, German, 63, (70-88);
responsibility for, 70;
formula for excusing, 74-5;
method of, 91-2;
repetition of, 164-5

August 4th, Anniversary of, 276-9

August 6th, Anniversary of, 279-80

Baer, on "military necessity," 82

Bas-Luxembourg, massacres in, 71

Belge Neutre et Loyale, La, by E. Waxweiler, 37, 49, 75, 189, 200

Belgian Army, see Army

Belgian Government, proposals made to, 50-1;
accusations brought against, 89-92;
preventive measures taken by, 108-11;
people incited against, 289-94

Belgium, invaded, 30-2;
her attitude in defence of her neutrality, 33;
invasion of, 34;
character of, 53;
disinterested behaviour of, 61-2;
offered a bribe, 61, 140;
famine in, 164;
present administration of, 295-333;
see Invasion

Bernstoff, Count, 32, 124

Bethmann-Hollweg, his "scrap of paper" speech, and denial of same, 31;
the "strategic necessities" speech, 31-2, 34;
admits injustice of invasion, 63, 140;
refers to "gouged-out eyes," 207;
libellous declaration by, 209, 263-4, 281-2

Bismarck, 9, 31;
boasts of Ems telegram, 218

Bissing, Baron von, 23;
incites to massacre, 70, 83, 139;
cynicism and audacity of his lies, 188, 238, 336

Blinded soldiers, legend of, 99-100, 102-3

Blindness, deliberate, of German "intellectuals," 204, 209

Blöm, Captain, on theory of terrorization, 89, 164, 197

Boiling oil, legend of, 99-100

Bombardment, of coast, 121-2;
of open towns, 123-4;
of monuments, 124-8

Brabançonne, the, prohibited, 273-4

Brabant, return of prisoners to, 96

Bredt, on Belgian art and character, 69

Brussels, supposed "francs-tireurs" in, 81;
return of prisoners to, 94;
pretended outrages on Germans in, 107-8;
the truth, 110-11;
the city fined, 147;
contributions imposed upon, 156-8;
Palais de Justice in, 162;
Belgian colours prohibited in, 268;
shops closed as demonstration, 275

Brutality, the Kaiser calls for, 335

Bueken, the curé of, tortured and murdered, 238

Buisseret-Steenbecque, Count, 49

Bülow, General von, responsible for massacres, 71

Cæsar, sells Belgians into captivity, 93

Camps, prisoners', 92, 94

Capelle-au-Bois, atrocities at, 338-9

Carte de ménage, the, 172

Catholic priests, German, servility of, 216-17

Censorship, the German, 14-16, 204;
censored papers, 258-9;
examples of censorship, 259-60

Chamberlain, Houston Stewart, shameful libel by, 237

Chancellor, the German, see Bethmann-Hollweg

Charleroi, atrocities at, 75;
German story of, 100, 118;
Alfred Heymel's account of, 195-7, 230, 354

Churches, German hatred and destruction of, 73-4

"Circulation," prohibited, 169;
allowed, 296

Civil population, attitude of, 89-90;
accused of guerilla warfare, 91-2;
more civilians killed than soldiers by Sept. 14, 131;
lying accusations made against, 188-90

Civil Prisoners, see Prisoners

Clergy, German hatred of, 72;
murdered and tortured, 72-3, 238, 343

Cockerill workshops, 55-6

Coercive measures taken by Germans, 115-17

Collective penalties, illegal, 143-9

Colours, Belgian, prohibited, 265-7;
wearing of the, 309

Communal trading, exploitation, etc., 170-1

Communes, property of, requisitioned, 163-4
Commission for Relief, the American, 173

Committee of Relief, the National, 173

Conrad, Pastor, author of libel, 103

Contributions, illegal, 154-6;
imposed on cities, 156;
on Brussels, 156-8

Cooper-Hewitt lamp, claimed as German, 181

Correspondence, regulations as to, 22-3;
with the Army, 356-7

Credulity, German, 207-9

Critical spirit, German surrender of the, 202-5

Cruelty, necessity of, 82-3;
is it effectual? 195;
supposed Belgian, see Atrocities

Cugnon, lying placard at, 233

Cynicism, German, 191-3

Dead, German, transport of, 231-2

Declaration of war, 50;
ignored by German newspapers, 52

Demonstrations, prohibition of, 274-80

Destitution, statistics of, 178

Destrée, M. Jules, 50

Deutsch-Französischer-Soldaten-Sprachführer, 143

Dinant, return of prisoners to, 95-6;
massacres at, 98, 164, 166, 194, 347, 360

Dirigibles, at Deynze, 123;
Antwerp, 124;
imaginary tale of raid on Liége, 225-6, 229-30;
Germans lose one and pretend it is French, 230-1

Discussion, liberty of free, abolished, 205

Disdain of others, German, 184

Disunion, incitements to, 282-9

Drunkenness, in German Army, 80-2, 134

Dryander, Dr. O., servile complacency of, 213-15

Ducarne Report, the, 43-4

Dum-dum bullets, 113;
the Kaiser accuses Belgians of using, 208

Duplicity, German, 29

Economic depression in Belgium, 166

Egoism of German character, 182

Emblems, wearing of, prohibited, 268

Ems telegram, the, 131;
Bismarck boasts of, 218

Engagements, violation of, 262-4

England, as the guarantor of Belgian neutrality, 39, 41-3;
Germany attempts to obtain promise of neutrality from, 264;
Belgium incited against, 294-5

Eppeghem, fined, 148-9, 189

Eroberung Belgiëns, Die, propagandist publication, 252-3

Erzberger, Herr, objects to sentimentality, 336

Escaille, M. de l', 47-9

Espionage, German, 54-6, 316-20

Evere, air-raid at, 260

Executions, insufficiency of inquiry before, 74-6

Factories, destruction of, 168

Falsifications, German, of documents, 41-9

Famine in Belgium, causes of, 166-7, 169

Ferocity, instances of German, 333

Filthy tricks and amusements, 340-1

Fines, illegal and absurd, 146-9, 232

Flag, Belgian, prohibited, 265-8, 277

Flemish tongue, favoured, 285-7

Fleming-Walloon problem exploited, 284-9

Flight of Belgians before invasion, 166

Fonds de Leffe, massacre at, 360
Forest, hostages taken at, 150

France, Germany accuses, 31-3;
were her suspicions genuine? 33;
pacific mood of, 35;
accused of entering Belgium in July, 36-7;
sudden attack on checked, 61

Francorchamps, atrocities at, 75;
plundering of, 132

"Francs-tireurs," the German pretence of (63-80);
were there any? 64-5;
an obsession, 66-70;
Germany's invention of, 89;
method of "repression," 86-7;
the Great General Staff prepares the Army for, 98-9;
fines for attacks by, 147-9;
pretext for massacre and pillage, 165;
German lies concerning, 188-90, 196, 207;
organization of "attacks," 236;
proposal to torture, 342

Frankenberg, pretended murder of, 107-8

Freemasons appealed to, 202

Gand, coercion at, 116;
Belgian girl's proposal, 359-60

Gas, poisonous, use of, 112-13, 198-9

German Administration in Belgium, 295-333

German character, classical authors on, 281

German language, attempt to enforce, 272

German mentality, 56-8, 67, 179-360

German Prisoners, letters of, 56-8

Germans, Belgian antipathy to undiminished, 307-11

Germany, Belgian distrust of, 27-8;

Gerard, Mr., 111

Godet, M. Philippe, 47

Goltz, Baron von der, 23, 144, 149, 188, 199, 264-5, 296, 358

Gottberg, Herr, narrative of, 68

Graphic Lies, 218-24

Great General Staff, the German, murderous tactics of, 98-9;
methodical care of, 236-7

Greindl Report, falsification of, 41-3

Haecht, massacre at, 163

Hague Convention, violations of the, 12, 111-78

Hainaut, incendiarism in, 85;
Provincial Council convened, 139

Hate, Hymn of, 294

Harden, Maximilian, 183, 200

Hedin, Dr. Sven, deluded by Germans, 77-8, 165, 221

Herve, massacre at, 63

Heymann, Robert, lying narrative of attack on Jesuits, 225-8

Heymel, Alfred, on the Battle of Charleroi, 195-6, 345

Hindenburg, 83, 206

Holland, refugees in, 166

Honour, Belgian, German price of, 61, 140

Hoover, Mr. Herbert, 174, 178

Hostages, taking of, 149-51, 195-6, 327

Hostilities, precede declaration of war, 51

Houtem, atrocities at, 189

Humanitarian sentiments, claimed by German Army, 83

Huns, the Kaiser invokes the, 335

Huy, atrocities at, 77, 81

Identification cards, 322-3

Incendiarism, methods of, 84-5;
a cover to pillage, 132;
organization of, 236

Incendiary material, 84-5

Information, extraction of, 141-2

Informers, appeal to, 313-16

Innocent, to suffer with or in place of guilty, 84, 143-9, 199

Inscriptions, protection, 87-8

Insults, German, reason of, 36
Intellectual life in Belgium, 12

Intellectuals, German, wilful blindness of, 209-10;
the "Ninety-three," 211-12

International law, suppressed by war, 183

Interprète Militaire, L', 334

Invasion, of Belgium, reasons for the, 34-5;
danger of recognized, 40-1;
the Greindl Report, 41-3, 58;
reason for, 63

Ivy leaf, wearing of, 268

Jagow, Herr von, sends ultimatum, 30, 34

Jesuit Convent, lying tale of, 225-8

Journal de la Guerre, German propagandist journal, 247-8

Jungbluth Report, the, 43-4

King of Belgium, the, see Albert, King

Kitchener's Army, German account of, 187

Koch, the apotheosis of, 180-1

Koester and Noske, authors of Kriegsfahrten, 59, 132, 162, 221, 262

Kölnische Volkszeitung, suspended, 203

Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege, 137, 141, 159, 333

La Guerre, German propagandist journal, 248-9

Ladies, treatment of, 338

Laeken, orgies at, 81

L'Ami de l'Ordre, propagandist journal, 254-5

Latin authors, on German race, 281

Law of Nations, violation of the, 12

Le Bien Public, propagandist journal, 255-6

Leaflets, propagandist, 251-2

League of German Scientists and Artists, 251

Lebbeke, atrocities at, 68, 119, 354-5

Leffe, massacre at, 347

Leffe, Fonds de, massacre at, 347-8, 360

Legation, British, documents found in the, 45-6

Leman, General, 198, 238

Liége, German lies concerning forts of, 50;
occupation of, lies concerning, 38-60;
warned against Belgian news, 187;
marvellous tale of Jesuit convent near, 225-8;
keeps anniversary of August 6th, 279-80

Lies, concerning the situation in Belgium, 188;
concerning "francs-tireurs," 188-90, 217-282;
photographic, 218-20, 222-4;
written, 224-31

Lissauer, Ernst, author of the "Hymn of Hate," 294

Living shields, Belgians used as, 117-22, 263, 334-5

Lloyd George, speaks at City Temple, 35

Loot, see Pillage

Louvain, atrocities in, 87;
protective inscriptions, 88;
return of prisoners to, 95-6;
massacre in, 164;
lies concerning, 220-1

Lügenfeldzug, 60

Luttre, strike at, 300-1

Lusitania, sinking of the, 194

Machinery, requisitioned, 158-9

Magnet, M. Charles, appeals to Freemasons for inquiry, 202-3

Malines, bombardment of cathedral, 126-8;
traffic in suppressed, 301-2

Manuals, military, 45

Marseillaise, the, shopkeepers fined for selling, 146, 273-4

Max, M., imprisoned and released, 10;
and the Governor of Belgium, 156-9;
[366]his denial of a lying placard, 233-5, 265;
portrait worn, 309

Massacre, the two great periods of, 86-7, 131, 164-5;
see Atrocities, Reprisals, etc.

Massacres, pretended, of German civilians, 106-8

Mentality, German, 179-360

Mentality of a German officer, 78-80

Mercier, Cardinal, 202, 239-46

Meuse, pillage on the banks of the, 197-8

Middelkerke, Belgians detained at, 120-1

Might before Right, 183-4

Militarism, 182-4

Military employment of Belgians, 113-14

Militia, Belgian, escape of, 152-3

Mons, pillage at, 133

Monuments, destruction of, 124-8, 130-1

Murders, German, 63-80

Music, censored, 16, 146, 273-4

National anniversary, the, 274-6

National Committee of Relief, 172-8;
food, etc., distributed by, 175-7

Neutral opinion, necessity of influencing, 36, 38, 46-7

Neutrality, Belgian, violation of, 12, 27-62;
justification of, 31-2;
Germany accuses France of violating, 31-2;
England guarantees, 39-40

News published by the German Government, 185

News, secret propagation of, 20-1, 204-5

Newspapers forced to appear by the German Government, 13;
censored, 15;
authorized German newspapers, 16;
official, 17;
Dutch, 18-19;
introduced surreptitiously, 19-20;
secret, 21

Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, correspondence in, 103-5

"Ninety-three Intellectuals," the, 11, 211-12

Nissen, Herr Momme, on German virtues, 181;
pretends the Belgian attitude conciliatory, 310

Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 38

Observation-posts, pretended, 128-9, 130

Officers, German, lie to their men, 235-6

Organization, peculiarities of German, 303

Ostend, Belgians detained in, 120-1

Ottignies, account of atrocities at, by German officer, 335-6

Pasteur, ignored by Germans, 180-1

Pastoral Letter, Mgr. Mercier's, 240-6

Pastors, Protestant, servility of, 213-16

Photographs and picture-postcards, 193-4;
"faked" photographs, etc., 218-20;
showing Germans before Paris, etc., 238-9

Pillage, 131;
officers join in, 132-4;
methodical nature of, 136-7;
prohibited by Kriegsbrauch, 137, 166;
systematic, 197;
on the Meuse, 197-8

Placards, German, 22

Plague, lying report of, in Paris, 236

Poison-gas, see Gas

Poincaré, President, 220

Pope, the, surrenders Peter's Pence, 177

Portraits of Royal Family, 269-71, 309

Postcards, see Photographs

Preventive measures, see Reprisals, Terrorization

Pride, German, 179
Priests, see Clergy

Prisoners, civil, treatment of, 92-5;
return of, 95-6;
admittedly innocent, 96-8, 324;
torture of, 354-5

Prisoners, German, letters of, 56-8, 104-6

Proclamations, some absurd, 185-8

Professors, manifesto of the, 3, 125, 212-13

Propaganda, perfection of German, 11;
organization of, 246-7;
bureaux in Germany, 247-53;
abroad, 253-7

Provincial Councils convened, 138

Queen of Belgium, the, 11;
German abuse of, 283-4

Railway journeys, 24

Railways, stoppage of, 168-9, 300

Rape, 131

Raw material, requisitioned, 158-9, 167-8

Red Cross, Belgian, suppressed, 105-6, 304-7

Refugees, Belgian, 166

Reims, bombardment of Cathedral, 124-6

Relief, measures of, 171;
food, etc., distributed, 175-7

Relief, National and American Committees, 172-8

Repression, measures of, 152-3;
at Andenne, 326-33

"Reprisals," against "francs-tireurs," 63-80;
excuse for, 74;
frivolity of, 75;
see Atrocities

Requisitions, illegal, 158-61;
in kind and service, 159-60, 166;
of forage, 167;
of provisions intended for relief, 174

Royal Family, portraits of, 269-71

Ruysbroeck, coercion at, 117

Sabbe, M. Maurice, denies German libel, 287-9

Sacrilege, 133

School inspection, 280-2

"Scrap of paper," the, 31

Shelters, temporary, 170

Sibret, atrocities at, 76

Socialists, German, docility of, 206-7;
visit Belgium, 262, 296

Sorel, E., 39

Sorinnes, atrocities at, 347-8

Spontin, torture and murder of priest and burgomaster at, 344

Spitteler, Herr Karl, 46

Stamps, theft of, 135

State property, treatment of, 161-2

Submarine campaign, 194-5

Sweveghem, coercion at, 116-17

Tamines, atrocities at, 135-6, 164

Tavigny, atrocities at, 346-7

Taxation, illegal, 137-41, 166, 168;
of absentees, 298-9

Telegraph and telephone wires, fines, etc., for damages to, 145-9

Termonde, incendiarism at, 73, 85, 164, 167, 221

Terrorization, 64;
uses of, 83;
Blöm on theory of, 84;
the theory of the German Staff, 98-9;
in practice, 164

Tervueren, prisoners from, 93

Theft, see Pillage

Time, aggravation in respect of, 337-8

Tornisterwörterbuch, 141-3, 334

Torture, inflicted on priest, 238;
recommended, 342;
another priest tortured, 343;
other cases, 343-6;
moral and physical, 346-60

Trade, stagnation of, 168-9

Traffic, suppression of, 168-9

Treaty of London, 39

Ultimatum, the, 30

Uncensored newspapers, 261-2

Unemployment, 168-70;
patriotic reasons for, 296
Untruthfulness, German, 217-82

Useful cruelties, 336

Villalobar, Marquis of, 173

Violation of Belgian neutrality, see Neutrality, Belgium, Invasion

Violence, claimed as legitimate, 84, 263

Visé, massacre at, 64

Vorwärts, protests against German lies, 102-3, 184;
suspended, 203, 237;
protests against incitement to torture, 342

War, see Ultimatum, Invasion, etc.

War Booty, 132, 135, 197, 249-50

War Tax, monstrous, 139-40

Waxweiler, M. Emile, 37, 49, 75, 189, 200

Weber, pretended murder of, 107-8

Wépion, atrocities at, 75

Werchter, atrocities at, 164

White flag, abuse of, 118

Whitlock, Mr. Brand, 10, 110-11, 173, 178

Wiart, M. Carton de, 61-2

Wilhelm II, his "well-intentioned proposal," 35;
his three successive proposals, 50-1;
his telegram to President Wilson, 54, 89;
tacitly admits innocence of civilians, 97, 180, 189, 191, 207;
text of his telegram, 208, 264, 335

Wilson, President, Kaiser's telegram to, 34, 208

Wounded, German, letters from, 104-5;
Houston Chamberlain on Belgian treatment of, 237;
see Atrocities, pretended Belgian

Zobeltitz, refers to museum specimens as proving Belgium's preparation for war, 207

Printed in Great Britain by





Transcriber's Note

Obvious errors of punctuation and diacritical markings were corrected.

Inconsistent hyphenation was made consistent.

P. 5: Contributions and Requsitions -> Contributions and Requisitions.

P. 34: German troops entered Belguim -> German troops entered Belgium.

P. 46: sacrified on the altar of Kultur -> sacrificed on the altar of Kultur.

P. 60: pepetrates this trickery -> perpetrates this trickery.

P. 64: It would be impossible as this moment -> It would be impossible at this moment.

P. 157: degree of obstinancy -> degree of obstinacy.

Latin letter on pp. 242-3:
Militess onim ->  Milites enim.
dignitate nestrae -> dignitati nostrae.
di eadem matutina -> die eadem matutina.
aminarum pastor -> animarum pastor.
potius aminarum ->  potius animarum.
decenatus evenerunt -> decanatus evenerunt.

P. 298: German Goverment -> German Government.

P. 354: proceded to break open -> proceeded to break open.

Index entry for Propaganda, bureaux in Germany changed from 274-53 to 247-53.