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An Historical Record by 

Class J? A XC> 
Book , ^ — ■ 




S^€tnfordi g*oy/f>ta^* 

Be Sanson 




An Historical Record 









MAY 24 1917 





t I "IHE subject of this book is the treatment of the 
civil population in the countries overrun by 
the German Armies during the first three 
months of the European War. The form of it is a 
connected narrative, based on the published documents* 
and reproducing them by direct quotation or (for the 
sake of brevity) by reference. 

With the documents now published on both sides it 
is at last possible to present a clear narrative of what 
actually happened. The co-ordination of this mass 
of evidence, which has gradually accumulated since 
the first days of invasion, is the principal purpose 
for which the book has been written. The evidence 
consists of first-hand statements — some delivered on 
oath before a court, others taken down from the wit- 
nesses without oath by competent legal examiners, 
others written and published on the witnesses' own in- 
itiative as books or pamphlets. Most of them origin- 
ally appeared in print in a controversial setting, as 
proofs or disproofs of disputed fact, or as justifications 
or condemnations of fact that was admitted. In the 
present work, however, this argumentative aspect of 
them has been avoided as far as possible. For it has 
either been treated exhaustively in official publications 

*A schedule of the more important documents will be found in the 
"List of Abbreviations" pp. xi-xiii. 


— the case of Louvain, for instance, in the German 
White Book and the Belgian Reply to it — or will not 
be capable of such treatment till after the conclusion 
of the War. The ultimate inquiry and verdict, if it is 
to have finality, must proceed either from a mixed 
commission of representatives of all the States con- 
cerned, or from a neutral commission like that 
appointed by the Carnegie Foundation to inquire into 
the atrocities committed during the Balkan War. But 
the German Government has repeatedly refused pro- 
posals, made both unofficially and officially, that it 
should allow such an investigation to be conducted in 
the territory at present under German military occu- 
pation,* and the final critical assessment will therefore 
necessarily be postponed till the German Armies have 
retired again within their own frontiers. 

Meanwhile, an ordered and documented narrative 
of the attested facts seems the best preparation for 
that judicial appraisement for which the time is not 
yet ripe. The facts have been drawn from statements 
made by witnesses on opposite sides with different 
intentions and beliefs, but as far as possible they have 
been disengaged from this subjective setting and have 
been set out, without comment, to speak for themselves. 
It has been impossible, however, to confine the exposi- 
tion to pure narration at every point, for in the original 
evidence the facts observed and the inferred explana- 
tion of them are seldom distinguished, and when the 
same observed fact is made a ground for diametrically 
opposite inferences by different witnesses, the difficulty 
becomes acute. A German soldier, say, in Louvain on 

* Belgian Reply pp. vii. and 97-8. 



the night of August 25th, 1914, hears the sound of 
machine-gun firing apparently coming from a certain 
spot in the town, and infers that at this spot Belgian 
civilians are using a machine gun against German 
troops ; a Belgian inhabitant hears the same sound, and 
infers that German troops are firing on civilians. In 
such cases the narrative must be interpreted by a judg- 
ment as to which of the inferences is the truth, and 
this judgment involves discussion. What is remark- 
able, however, is the rarity of these contradictions. 
Usually the different testimonies fit together into a 
presentation of fact which is not open to argument. 

The narrative has been arranged so as to follow 
separately the tracks of the different German Armies 
or groups of Armies which traversed different sectors 
of French and Belgian territory. Within each sector 
the chronological order has been followed, which is 
generally identical with the geographical order in 
which the places affected lie along the route of march. 
The present volume describes the invasion of Belgium 
up to the sack of Louvain. 

Arnold J. Toynbee. 
March, 1917. 



FRONTISPIECE The Invaded Country {Map) 


PREFACE ....'....... V 







(i) On the Vise Road 23 

(ii) On the Barchon Road 27 

(iii) On the Fleron Road 31 

(iv) On the Verviers Road 37 

(v) On the Malmedy Road 38 

(vi) Between the Vesdre and the Ourthe .... 42 

(vii) Across the Meuse 44 

(viii) The City of Liege 46 


(i) Through Limburg to Aerschot . 52 

(ii) Aerschot 57 

(iii) The Aerschot District 74 

(iv) The Retreat from Malines 77 

(v) LouvAiN 89 





"^ This map shows practically all the roads and places referred to in the text, 





1. MoiTLANn To face page 16'' 

2. Battice 17*^ 

3. Li6ge Forts: A Destroyed Cupola 32"^ 

4. Ans: An Interior 33*^ 

5. Ans: The Church 48"^ 

6. Li^ge: a Farm House .49"^ 

7. Liege Under German Occupation 52*^ 

8. LitcE Under the Germans: Ruins and Placards . . 53*^ 

9. Liege in Ruins 6o»^ 

10. "We Live Like God in Belgium" 611^ 

11. Haelen 641^ 

12. Aerschot . 6$*^ 

13. Brussels: A Booking-Office , . . . 80*^ 

14. Malines After Bombardment Si*^ 

15. Malines: Ruins 84^ 

16. Malines: Ruins 85^ 

17. Malines: Cardinal Mercier's State-Room as a Red 

Cross Hospital 92-' 

18. Malines: The Cardinal's Throne-Room 93 v 

19. Capelle-au-Bois 96 '^ 

20. Capelle-au-Bois 97^ 

21. Capelle-au-Bois: The Church 112^ 

22. LouvAiN: Near the Church of St. Pierre 113^ 

23. Louvain: The Church of St. Pierre 116 -^ 

24. Louvain: The Church of St. Pierre Across the Ruins ii7v' 

25. Louvain: The Church of St. Pierre — Interior . . . 124-^ 

26. Louvain: Station Square 125/ 



Alphabet, Letters of the: — 

Capitals . . Appendices to the German White Book en- 
titled: "The Violation of International Law in 
the Conduct of the Belgian People' s-War" (dated 
Berlin, loth May, 19 15): Arabic numerals after 
the capital letter refer to the depositions con- 
tained in each Appendix. 

Lower Case . Sections of the "Appendix to the Report of the 
Committee on Alleged German Outrages, Appoint- 
ed by His Britannic Majesty's Government and 
Presided Over by the Right Hon. Viscount Bryce, 
O.M." (Cd. 7895); Arabic numerals after the 
lower case letter refer to the depositions con- 
tained in each Section. 

Ann (ex) 

Annexes (numbered i to 9) to the Reports of 
the Belgian Commission {vide infra). 


Reports {numbered i to xxii) of the Official Com- 
mission of the Belgian Government on the Viola- 
tion of the Rights of Nations and of the Laws and 
Customs of War. (English translation, pub- 
lished, on behalf of the Belgian Legation, by 
H.M. Stationery Office, two volumes.) 


"Germany's Violations of the Laws of War, 
1914-5"; compiled under the Auspices of the 
French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and trans- 
lated into English with an Introduction by 
J. O. P. Bland. (London: Heinemann. 191 5.) 


Appendix to the Report of the Committee on Al- 
leged German Outrages appointed by His Britannic 
Majesty's Government. 


" The Truth about Louvain," by R€n6 Chambry. 
(Hodder and Stoughton. 1915.) 



Davignon . . 



Hocker . . . 

"Horrors" . . 

Massart . . 

Mercier . . 

Morgan . . . 

Numerals, Roman 
lower case , 

R(eply) . . . , 

"Belgium and Germany," Texts and Docu- 
ments, preceded by a Foreword by Henri 
Davignon. (Thomas Nelson and Sons.) 

"An Eye-Witness at Louvain." 
and Spottiswoode. 1914.) 

(London: Eyre 

"The Germans at Louvain," by a volunteer 
worker in the Hopital St. -Thomas. (Hodder 
and Stoughton. 19 16.) 

" The Germans in Belgium: Experiences of a 
Neutral," by L. H. Grondijs, Ph.D., formerly 
Professor of Physics at the Technical Institute 
of Dordrecht. (London: Heinemann. 1915.) 

"An der Spitze Meiner Kompagnie, Three 
Months of Campaigning," by Paul Oskar 
Hocker. (UUstein and Co., Berlin and Vi- 
enna. 1914.) 

"The Horrors of Louvain," by an Eye-witness, 
with an Introduction by Lord Halifax. (Pub- 
lished by the London Sujiday Times.) 

"Belgians under the German Eagle," by Jean 
Massart, Vice-Director of the Class of Sciences 
in the Royal Academy of Belgium. (English 
translation by Bernard Miall. London: Fisher 
Unwin. 1916.) 

Pastoral Letter, dated Xmas, 1914, of His Emi- 
nence Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines. 

"German Atrocities: An Official Investigation," 
by J. H. Morgan, M.A., Professor of Constitu- 
tional Law in the University of London. (Lon- 
don: Fisher Unwin. 1916.) 

Reports {numbered i to xxii) of the Belgian Com- 
mission {vide supra). 

"Reply to the German White Book of May 10, 
1915." (Published, for the Belgian Ministry of 
Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by 
Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1916.) 

Arabic numerals after the R refer to the depo- 
sitions contained in the particular section of the 
Reply that is being cited at the moment: e.g., 
R15 denotes the fifteenth deposition in the sec- 



S(omville) . 


tion on Louvain in the Reply when cited in the 
section on Louvain in the present work; but it 
denotes the fifteenth deposition in the section 
on Aerschot when cited in the corresponding 
section here. 

The Reply is also referred to by pages, and 
in these cases the Arabic numeral denotes the 
page and is preceded by "p." 

"The Road to Liege," by Gustave Somville. 
(English translation by Bernard Miall. Hodder 
and Stoughton. 19 16.) 

"The German White Book on the War in Bel- 
gium: A Commentary," by Professor A. A. H. 
Struyken. (EngUsh Translation of Articles in 
the Journal Van Onzen Tijd, of Amsterdam, 
July 31st, August 7th, 14th, 2ist, 1915. Thomas 
Nelson and Sons.) 

N.B. — Statistics, where no reference is given, are taken from the 
first and second Annexes to the Reports of the Belgian Commission. 
They are based on official investigations. 




WHEN Germany declared war upon Russia, 
Belgium, and France in the first days of 
August, 1914, German armies immediately 
invaded Russian, Belgian, and French territory, and as 
soon as the frontiers were crossed, these armies began 
to wage war, not merely against the troops and fortifi- 
cations of the invaded states, but against the lives and 
property of the civil population. 

Outrages of this kind were committed during the 
whole advance and retreat of the Germans through 
Belgium and France, and only abated when open 
manoeuvring gave place to trench warfare along all the 
line from Switzerland to the sea. Similar outrages ac- 
companied the simultaneous advance into the western 
salient of Russian Poland, and the autumn incursion 
of the Austro-Hungarians into Serbia, which was turned 
back at Valievo. There was a remarkable uniformity 
in the crimes committed in these widely separated 
theatres of war, and an equally remarkable limit to 



the dates within which they fell. They all occurred 
during the first three months of the war, while, since 
that period, though outrages have continued, they have 
not been of the same character or on the same scale. 
This has not been due to the immobility of the fronts, 
for although it is certainly true that the Germans have 
been unable to overrun fresh territories on the west, 
they have carried out greater invasions than ever in 
Russia and the Balkans, which have not been marked 
by outrages of the same specific kind. This seems to 
show that the systematic warfare against the civil popu- 
lation in the campaigns of 1914 was the result of pol- 
icy, deliberately tried and afterwards deliberately 
given up. The hypothesis would account for the pe- 
culiar features in the German Army's conduct, but be- 
fore we can understand these features we must survey 
the sum of what the Germans did. The catalogue of 
crimes against civilians extends through every phase 
and theatre of the military operations in the first three 
months of the war, and an outline of these is a neces- 
sary introduction to it. 

In August, 1914, the Central Empires threw their 
main strength against Belgium and France, and pene- 
trated far further on this front than on the east and 
south-east. The line on which they advanced extended 
from the northern end of the Vosges to the Dutch 
frontier on the Meuse, and here again their strength 
was unevenly distributed. The chief striking force was 



concentrated in the extreme north, and advanced in an 
immense arc across the Meuse, the Scheldt, the Somme, 
and the Oise to the outskirts of Paris. As this right 
wing, pressed forward, one anny after another took up 
the movement toward the left or south-eastern flank, 
but each made less progress than its right-hand neigh- 
bour. While the first three annies from the right all 
crossed the Mame before they were compelled to re- 
treat, the fourth (the Crown Prince's) never reached 
it, and the army of Lorraine was stopped a few miles 
within French territory, before ever it crossed the 
Meuse. We shall set down very briefly the broad 
movements of these armies and the dates on which 
they took place. 

Germany sent her ultimatum to Belgium on the 
evening of Aug. 2nd. It announced that Germany 
would violate Belgian neutrality within twelve hours, 
unless Belgium betrayed it herself, and it was rejected 
by Belgium the following morning. That day Ger- 
many declared war on France, and the next day, Aug. 
4th, the advance guard of the German right wing 
crossed the Belgian frontier and attacked the forts of 
Liege. On Aug. 7 th the town of Liege was entered, 
and the crossings of the Meuse, from Liege to the Dutch 
frontier, were in German hands. 

Beyond Liege the invading forces spread out like a 
fan. On the extreme right a force advanced north- 
west to outflank the Belgian anny covering Brussels 



and to mask the fortress of Antwerp, and this right 
wing, again, was the first to move. Its van was de- 
feated by the Belgians at Haelen on Aug. I2th, but 
the main column entered Hasselt on the same day, and 
took Aerschot and Louvain on Aug. 19th. During the 
next few days it pushed on to M alines, was driven out 
again by a Belgian sortie from Antwerp on Aug. 25th, 
but retook Malines before the end of the month, and 
contained the Antwerp garrison along the line of the 
Dyle and the Demer. 

This was all that the German right flank column 
was intended to do, for it was only a subsidiary part 
of the two armies concentrated at Liege, As soon as 
Antwerp was covered, the mass of these armies was 
launched westward from Liege into the gap between 
the fortresses of Antwerp and Namur — von Kluck's 
army on the right and von Biilow's on the left. By 
Aug. 21st von Billow was west of Namur, and attack- 
ing the French on the Sambre. On Aug. 20th an 
army corps of von Kluck's had paraded through Brus- 
sels, and on the 23rd his main body, wheeling south- 
west, attacked the British at Mons. On the 24th von 
Kluck's extreme right reached the Scheldt at Tournai 
and, under this threat to their left flank, the British and 
French abandoned their positions on the Mons-Char- 
leroi line and retreated to the south. Von Kluck and 
von Billow hastened in pursuit. They passed Cam- 
brat on Aug. 26th and St. Ouentln on the 29th; on the 



31st von Kluck was crossing the Oise at Comptegne, 
and on the 6th Sept. he reached his furthest point at 
Courchamp^ south-east of Paris and nearly thirty miles 
beyond the Marne. His repulse, like his advance, was 
brought about by an outflanking manoeuvre, only this 
time the Anglo-French had the initiative, and it was 
von Kluck who was outflanked. His retirement com- 
pelled von Billow to fall back on his left, after a bloody 
defeat in the marshes of S>t. Gond, and the retreat was 
taken up, successively, by the other armies which had 
come into line on the left of von Biilow. 

These armies had all crossed the Meuse south of the 
fortress of Namur, and, to retain connexion with them, 
von Biilow had had to detach a force on his left to 
seize the line of the Meuse from Liege to Namur and 
to capture Namur itself. The best German heavy ar- 
tillery was assigned to this force for the purpose, and 
Namur fell, after an unexpectedly short bombardment, 
on Aug. 23rd, while Von Billow's main army at Char- 
leroi was still engaged in its struggle with the French. 

The fall of Namur opened the way for German 
armies to cross the Meuse along the whole line from 
Namur to Verdun. The first crossing was made at 
Dinant on Aug. 23rd, the very day on which Namur 
fell, by a Saxon army, which marched thither by cross 
routes through Luxembourg; the second by the Duke 
of Wiirtemberg's army between Mezieres and Sedan; 
and the third by the Crown Prince of Prussia's army 



immediately north of Verdun. West of the Metise the 
Saxons and Wiirtembergers amalgamated, and got into 
touch with von Biilow on their right. Advancing par- 
allel with him, they reached Charleville on Aug. 25th, 
crossed the Aisne at Rethel on the 30th and the Mame 
at Chalons on the 4th, and were stopped on the 7th at 
Vitry en Ferthois. The Crown Prince, on their left, 
did not penetrate so far. Instead of the plains of 
Champagne he had to traverse the hill country of the 
Argonne. He turned back at Serjnaize, which he had 
reached on Sept. 6th, and never saw the Mame. 

On the left of the Crown Prince a Bavarian army 
crossed the frontier between Metz and the Vosges. Its 
task was to join hands with the Crown Prince round 
the southern flank of Verdun, as the Duke of Wiirtem- 
berg had joined hands with von Biilow round the flank 
of Namur. But Verdun never fell, and the Bavarian 
advance was the weakest of any. Luneville fell on 
Aug. 22nd, and Baccarat was entered on the 24th; but 
Nancy was never reached, and on Sept. I2th the gen- 
eral German retreat extended to this south-easternmost 
sector, and the Bavarians fell back. 

Thus the German invading armies were everywhere 
checked and driven back between the 6th and the 12th 
September, 1914. The operations which came to this 
issue bear the general name of the Battle of the Mame. 
The Mame was followed immediately by the Aisne, 
and the issue of the Aisne was a change from open to 



trench warfare along a line extending from the Vosges 
to the Oise. This change was complete before Septem- 
ber closed, and the line formed then has remained prac- 
tically unaltered to the present time. But there was 
another month of open fighting between the Oise and 
the sea. 

When the Germans' strategy was defeated at the 
Marne, they transferred their efforts to the north-west, 
and took the initiative there. On Sept. 9th the Belgian 
Army had made a second sortie from Antwerp, to coin- 
cide with the counter-offensive of Joffre, and this time 
they had even reoccupied Aerschot. The Germans re- 
taliated by taking the offensive on the Scheldt. The 
retaining army before Antwerp was strongly reinforced. 
Its left flank was secured, in the latter half of Septem- 
ber, by the occupation of Termo?ide and Alost. The 
attack on Antwerp itself began on Sept. 27th. On the 
2nd the outer ring of forts was forced, and on the 9th 
the Germans entered the city. The towns of Flanders 
fell in rapid succession — Ghent on the 12th, Bruges on 
the 14th, Ostend on the 15th — and the Germans hoped 
to break through to the Channel ports on the front be- 
tween Ostend and the Oise. Meanwhile, each side had 
been feverishly extending its lines from the Oise to- 
wards the north and pushing forward cavalry to turn 
the exposed flank of the opponent. These two simul- 
taneous movements — the extension of the trench lines 
from the Oise to the sea, and the German thrust across 



Flanders to the Channel — intersected one another at 
YpreSi and the Battle of Ypres and the Yser, in the 
latter part of October, was the crisis of this north- 
western struggle. On Oct. 31st the German effort to 
break through reached, and passed, its climax, and 
trench warfare established itself as decisively from the 
Oise to the sea as it had done a month earlier between 
the Vosges and the Oise. 

Thus, three months after the German armies crossed 
the frontier, the German invasion of Belgium and 
France gave place to a permanent German occupation 
of French and Belgian territories behind a practically 
stationary front, and with this change of character in 
the fighting a change came over the outrages upon the 
civil population which remained in Germany's power. 
The crimes of the invasion and the crimes of the occu- 
pation are of a different order from one another, and 
must be dealt with apart. 



(i) On the Vise Road. 

The Germans invaded Belgium on Aug. 4th, 1914. 
Their immediate objective was the fortress of Liege 
and the passage of the Meuse, but first they had to cross 
a zone of Belgian territory from twenty to twenty-five 
miles wide. They came over the frontier along four 
principal roads, which led through this territory to the 
fortress and the river, and this is what they did in the 
towns and villages they passed. 

The first road led from Aix-la-Chapelle, in Germany, 
to the bridge over the Meuse at Vise, skirting the Dutch 
frontier, and Warsage^ was the first Belgian village on 
this road to which the Germans came. Their advance- 
guards distributed a proclamation by General von 
Emmich: "/ give formal pledges to the Belgian popu- 
lation that they will not have to suffer from the hor- 
rors of war. , . . If you wish to avoid the horrors of 
war^ you must act wisely and with a true appre-ciation 
of your duty to your country P This was on the morn- 
ing of Aug. 4th, and the Mayor of Warsage, M. 
Flechet, had already posted a notice on the town-hall 

* Belgian Report xvl (statements by the Mayor and another inhab- 
itant) ; Somville pp. 134-143. 



warning the inhabitants to keep calm. All that day 
and the next the Germans passed through ; on the after- 
noon of the 6th the village was clear of them, when 
suddenly they swarmed back, shooting in at the win- 
dows and setting houses on fire. Several people were 
killed; one old man was burnt alive. Then the Mayor 
was ordered to assemble the population in the square. 
A German officer had been shot on the road. No in- 
quiry was held; no post-mortem examination made (the 
German soldiers were nervous and marched with iinger 
on trigger) ; the village was condemned. The houses 
were systematically plundered, and then systematically 
burnt. A dozen inhabitants, including the Burgomas- 
ter, were carried off as hostages to the German camp 
at Mouland. Three were shot at once; the rest were 
kept all night in the open; one of them was tied to a 
cart-wheel and beaten with rifle-butts ; in thie morning 
six: were hanged, the rest set free. Eighteen people 
in all were killed at Warsage and 25 houses de- 

At Fouron-St. Martin^ five people were killed and 
20 houses burnt. Nineteen houses were burnt at 
Fouron-le-Compte.^ At Berneau,'^ a few miles further 
down the road, 67 houses (out of 116) were burnt on 
Aug. 5th, and 7 people killed. "The people of Ber- 
neau," writes a German in his diary on Aug. 5th, "have 

* Belg. xvii. 

t Soraville pp. 143-6. 



fired on those who went to get water. The village has 
been partly destroyed." On the day of this entry the 
Germans had commandeered wine at Berneau, and were 
drunk when they took reprisals for shots their victims 
were never proved to have iired. Among these victims 
was the Burgomaster, M. Bruyere, a man of 83. He 
was taken, like the Burgomaster of Warsage, to the 
camp at Mouland, and was never seen again after the 
night of the 6th. At Mouland * itself 4 people were 
killed and 73 houses destroyed (out of 132). 

The road from Aix-la-Chapelle reaches the Meuse 
at Vise.'\ It was a town of 900 houses and 4,000 souls, 
and, as a German describes it, "It vanished from the 
map." X The inhabitants were killed, scattered or de- 
ported, the houses levelled to the ground, and this was 
done systematically, stage by stage. 

The Germans who marched through Warsage 
reached Vise on the afternoon of Aug. 4th. The Bel- 
gians had blown up the bridges at Vise and Argenteau, 
and were waiting for the Germans on the opposite bank. 
As they entered Vise, the Germans came for the first 
time under fire, and they wreaked their vengeance on 
the town. "The first house they came to as they entered 
Vise they burned" (a 16), and they began to fire at 
random in the streets. At least eight civilians were 

* Somville pp. 146-7. 

tBelg. xvii; Somville pp. 177-184; Bland pp. 164-5; a 16. 

^ Hocker p. 46. 



shot in this way before night, and when night fell the 
population was driven out of the houses and compelled 
to bivouac in the square. More houses were burnt on 
the 6th; on the loth they burned the church; on the 
1 ith they seized the Dean, the Burgomaster, and the 
Mother Superior of the Convent as hostages; on the 
15th a regiment of East Prussians arrived and was 
billeted in the town, and that night Vise was destroyed. 
"I saw commissioned officers directing and supervising 
the burning," says an inhabitant (a 16). "It was done 
systematically with the use of benzine, spread on the 
floors and then lighted. In my own and another house 
I saw officers come in before the burning with revolvers 
in their hands, and have china, valuable antique furni- 
ture, and other such things removed. This being done, 
the houses were, by their orders, set on fire. . . ." 

The East Prussians were drunk, there was firing in 
the streets, and, once more, people were killed. Next 
morning the population was rounded up in the station 
square and sorted out — men this side, women that. The 
women might go to Holland, the men, in two gangs 
of about 300 each, were deported to Germany as f ranc- 
tireurs. "During the night of Aug. 15-16," as another 
German diarist* describes the scene, "Pioneer Grim- 
bow gave the alarm in the town of Vise. Everyone 
was shot or taken prisoner, and the houses were burnt. 
The prisoners were made to march and keep up with 

* Bland p. 165. 



the troops." About 30 people in all were killed at 
Vise, and 575 out of 876 houses destroyed. On the 
final day of destruction the Germans had been in peace- 
able occupation of the place for ten days, and the Bel- 
gian troops had retired about forty miles out of range. 
That is what the Germans did on the road from 
Aix-la-Chapelle; but, before reaching Warsage, the 
road sends out a branch through Aubel to the left, 
which passes under the guns of Fori Barchon and leads 
straight to Liege. The Germans took this road also, 
and Barchon was the first of the Liege forts to fall. 
The civil population was not spared. 

(ii) On the Barchon Road. 

At St. Andre, ^ 4 civilians were killed and 14 houses 
burnt. Julemont,^ the next village, was completely 
plundered and burnt. Only 2 houses remained stand- 
ing, and 12 people were killed. Advancing along this 
road, the Germans arrived at BlegnyX on Aug. 5th. 
Several inhabitants of Blegny were murdered that af- 
ternoon, among them M. Smets, a professor of gun- 
smithry (the villagers worked for the small-arms 
manufacturers of Liege). M. Smets was killed in his 
house, where his wife was in child-bed. The corpse 
was thrown into the street, the mother and new-born 

* Somville p. 148. 

t Somville pp. 147-8. 

$ Somville pp. 157-168; a 7, 20. 



baby were dragged out after it. That night the popu- 
lation of Blegny was herded together in the village in- 
stitute ; their houses were set on fire. Next morning — 
the 6th — the wornen were released and the men driven 
forward by the German infantry towards Barchon fort. 
The Cure of Blegny, the Abbe Labeye, was among the 
number, and there were 296 of them in all. In front 
of Barchon they were placed in rows of four, but the 
fort would not fire upon this living screen, and they 
were marched away across country towards Battice, 
where five were shot before the eyes of the rest, and 
the cure kicked, spat upon, and pricked with bayonets. 
They were again driven forward as a screen against a 
Belgian patrol, and were kept in the open all night. 
Next morning 4 more were shot — two who had been 
wounded by the Belgian fire, and one who had heart 
disease and was too feeble to go on. The fourth was 
an old man of 78. The Germans tortured these vic- 
tims by placing lighted cigarettes in their nostrils and 
ears. After this second execution on the 7th, the re- 
mainder were set free. . . . 

On the 10th Aug. the cure writes in his diary: 

"There are now 38 houses burnt, and 23 damaged. 

"Thursday the 13th: a few houses pillaged, two 
young men taken away. 

"Friday, the 14th: a few houses pillaged. 

"Friday night: the village of Barchon is burnt 

and the cure taken prisoner " 



The cure's last notes for a sermon have survived: 
"My brothers, perhaps we shall again see happy days 
. . ." But on the i6th, before the sermon was deliv- 
ered, the cure was shot. He was shot against the 
church wall, with M. Ruwet, the Burgomaster, and 
two brothers, one of them a revolver manufacturer 
who had handed over his stock to the German authori- 
ties (from whom he received two passes) and had been 
working for the Red Cross. After the execution the 
church was burnt down. The nuns of Blegny were 
shot at by Germans in a motor-car when they came out 
that day to bury the bodies. From the 5th to the 16th 
Aug., about 30 people were killed in the commune of 
Blegny-Trembleur, and 45 houses burnt in all. 

The village of Barchon,'^ as the cure of Blegny re- 
cords, was destroyed on the 14th — in cold blood, five 
days after the surrender of the fort. There was a battue 
by two German regiments through the village. The 
houses were plundered and burnt (110 burnt in all out 
of 146) ; the inhabitants were rounded up. Twenty- 
two were shot in one batch, including two little girls 
of two and an old woman of ninety- four. Thirty-two 
perished altogether, and a dozen hostages were carried 
off, some of whom were tied to field guns and com- 
pelled to keep up with the horses. On the 16th the 
Germans evicted the inhabitants of Chefneux,'\ and 

* Somville pp. 152-7; xvii. 
tSomville p. 156. 



shot 4 men. On the 17th they burned all the 22 houses 
in the hamlet. At Saives^ they burned 12 houses, and 
shot a man and a girl. 

We have the diary of a German soldier who marched 
down this branch road from Aubel when all the vil- 
lages had been destroyed except Wandre,'^ which stood 
where the road debouched upon the Meuse. 

"15th Aug. — 11 :5o a.m. Crossed the Belgian fron- 
tier and kept steadily along the high road until we got 
into Belgium. We were hardly into it before we met 
a horrible sight. Houses were burnt down, the in- 
habitants driven out and some of them shot. Of the 
hundreds of houses not a single one had been spared — 
every one was plundered and burnt down. Hardly 
were we through this big village when the next was 
already set on fire, and so it went on. . . . 

"16th Aug. The big village of Barchon set on fire. 
The same day, about 1 1 .50 a.m., we came to the town 
of Wandre. Here the houses were spared but all 
searched. At last we had got out of the town when 
once more everything was sent to ruins. In one house 
a whole arsenal had been discovered. The inhabitants 
were one and all dragged out and shot, but this shoot- 
ing was absolutely heart-rending, for they all knelt 
and prayed. But this got them no mercy. A few shots 

* S. p. 148 ; xvii. 

tBryce pp. 161-2; S. pp. 168-177. 



rang out, and they fell backwards into the green grass 
and went to their eternal sleep. 

"And still the brigands would not leave off shooting 
us from behind — that, and never from in front — ^but 
now we could stand it no longer, and raging and roar- 
ing we went on and on, and everything that got in 
our way was smashed or burnt or shot. At last we had 
to go into bivouac. Half tired out and done up we 
laid ourselves down, and we didn't wait long before 
quenching some of our thirst. But we only drank 
wine; the water has been half poisoned and half left 
alone by the beasts. Well, we have much too much 
here to eat and drink. When a pig shows itself any- 
where or a hen or a duck or pigeons, they are all shot 
down and slaughtered, so that at any rate we have 
something to eat. It is a real adventure. . . ." 

This was the temper of the Germans who destroyed 
Wandre. They burned 33 houses altogether and shot 
32 people — 16 of them in one batch. 

(iii) On the Fleron Road. 

There is another road from Aix-la-Chapelle to Liege, 
which passes through Battice and is commanded by 
Fort Fleron (Fort Fleron offered the most determined 
resistance of all the forts of Liege, and cost the Ger- 
mans the greatest loss). The Germans marched 
through Battice on August 4th, and came under fire of 
the fort that afternoon. In the evening they arrested 



three men in the streets of Battice, and shot them with- 
out charge or investigation. 

The check to their arms was avenged on the civil 
population. "On the arrival of the German troops in 
the village of Mzcheroux," states a Belgian witness 
(a 12), "during the time when Fort Fleron was holding 
out, they came to a block of four cottages, and having 
turned out the inhabitants, set the cottages on fire and 
burned them. From one of the cottages a woman 
(mentioned by name) came out with a baby in her 
arms, and a German soldier snatched it from her and 
dashed it to the ground, killing it then and there."* 

"The position was dangerous," writes a German in 
his diaryf on August 5th, from a picket in front of 
Fort Fleron. "As suspicious civilians were hovering 
round, houses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 were cleared, the owners 
arrested (and shot the next day). ... I shoot a civil- 
ian with my rifle, at 400 metres, slap through the 
head. ..." 

That day the cure of Batticei (who had been kept 
under arrest in the open since the evening of the 4th) 
was driven, with the Mayor and one of the communal 
councillors, under the Belgian fire. On the 6th the Ger- 
man troops again retired on Battice in confusion, and 
the village was destroyed that afternoon. Shots were 

* Same incident recorded in xvii, p. 50. 
fBryce pp. 168-9. 

tS. pp. 46-55; xvii; Reply pp. 110-116 (Report of L'AbW Voisin, 
Cure of Battice, to the Belgian Government). 


3. Liege Forts: A Destroyed Cupola 

4. Ans: An Interior 


iired indiscriminately and the houses set on fire. The 
first victim was a young man sitting in a cafe with his 
fiancee — ^he fell dead by her side. Three people were 
taken to the field to which the men of Blegny had been 
brought, and were shot with the five victims there. 
On the yth they shot a workman who had been given 
a safe-conduct by a GeiTnan officer to buy bread in a 
neighbouring village, and was on his way home with 
his wife. On the 8th they set the fire going again, to 
burn what still remained. They burned 146 houses and 
killed 36 people in Battice from first to last. 

The town of Herve^ lies a mile or so beyond Bat- 
tice on the Fleron road, and was also traversed by the 
Germans on August 4th. The first to pass were officers 
in a motor car, and as they crossed the bridge they 
shot down two young men standing by the roadside — 
one was badly wounded, the other killed outright. In 
the evening they sent for the Mayor, accused the in- 
habitants of having fired on German troops, and 
threatened to shoot the inhabitants and burn the town 
to the ground. The Mayor and the cure spent the 
night going from house to house and warning the peo- 
ple to avoid all grounds of offence — ^before they had 
finished there were more shots fired indiscriminately 
(by the Germans), and more (civilian) wounded and 
dead. The Mayor and cure were then retained as host- 
ages for the civilians' good behaviour. On the 6th 

*S. pp. 55-72; xvii; Reply pp. 123-7; ^ *• 



the first house was burnt; on the 7th five men were 
shot in cold blood ; on the 8th a fresh column of troops 
arrived from Aix-la-Chapelle, and these were the de- 
stroyers of Herve. "They fired indiscriminately in all 
quarters of the town," says an eye-witness (a 2), "and 
in the Rue de la Station they shot Madame Hendrickx, 
hitting her at close range, although she had a crucifix 
in her hand — ^begging for mercy." All through the 
8th the shooting and burning went on, and on the 9th 
the fires were kindled again. "The Germans gave 
themselves up to pillage and loaded motor cars with 
everything of value they could find." They burned 
and pillaged consecutively for ten days, and on the 
19th and 20th fresh regiments arrived and carried on 
the work. Two hundred and seventy -nine houses were 
destroyed at Herve altogether, and 44 people killed. 
"On the road to Herve everything is burnt," writes a 
German soldier (Reply p. 127) who passed when all 
was over. "At Herve, the same. Everything is burnt 
except a convent — everywhere corpses carbonised into 
an indistinguishable mass. (There are about a hun- 
dred, all civilians, and children among the number.) 
I only saw three people alive in the village — an old 
man, a sister of charity, and a girl." The Belgian wit- 
ness quoted above (a 2) records that "the German staff 
officers staying in his hotel told his wife that the rea- 
son why they had so treated Herve was becau^sc the 



inhabitants of the town would not petition for a pas- 
sage for the Germans at Fleron." 

In the villages between Herve and Fort Fleron the 
slaughter and devastation were, if possible, more com- 
plete. At la Bouxhe-Melen"^ there were two massacres 
— one on Aug. 5th and another on the 8th. In the sec- 
ond the people were shot down in a field en masse, 
and 129 were murdered altogether, as well as about 40 
people herded in from the farms and hamlets of the 
neighbourhood. Sixty houses in la Bouxhe-Melen 
were destroyed. In the commune of ^oumagne,\ on a 
branch road to the south, the Germans killed 165 
civilians and burned 104 houses down. When they 
entered Soumagne on Aug. 5th, they killed indiscrim- 
inately in the streets. 'They broke the windows and 
broke the door," writes a witness (a 5) who had taken 
refuge in a cellar. "My mother went out of the cellar 
door. . . . Then I heard a shot and my mother fell 
back into the cellar. She was killed." This indis- 
criminate killing was followed up the same afternoon 
by the massacre of 69 civilians in a field called the 
Fonds Leroy. "The soldiers fired a volley and killed 
many, and then fired twice more. Then they went 
through the ranks and bayonetted everyone still liv- 
ing. I saw many bayonetted in this way" (a 4). One 
boy was shot and bayonetted in four places, and lay 

* S. pp. 73-9 ; xvii. 

tS. pp. n 3-126; xvii; a 4, 5, 9. 



several days among the dead, keeping himself alive on 
weeds and grass. This boy survived. In another field 
18 vt^ere massacred in one batch, in another 19. "I 
saw about 20 dead bodies lying here and there along 
the road," writes one of the witnesses (a 4). "One of 
them was that of a little girl aged 13. The rest were 
men, and most of them had had their heads bashed in." 
— "I saw 56 corpses of civilians in a meadow," deposes 
another. "Some had been killed by bayonet thrusts 
and others by rifle shots. In the heaps of corpses above 
mentioned was that of the son of the Burgomaster. His 
throat had been cut from ear to ear and his tongue 
had been pulled out and cut off." 

In the hamlet of Fecher the whole population — 
about 1,000 women, children and men — was penned 
into the church on Aug. 5th, and next morning the 
men (412 of them) were herded off as a living screen 
for the German troops advancing between the forts 
(the first man to come out of the church being wantonly 
shot down as an example to the rest). The 411 were 
driven by bye-roads to the Chartreuse Monastery, above 
the Meuse, overlooking the bridge into the city of 
Liege, and on the 7th they were planted as hostages on 
the bridge while the Germans marched across. They 
were held there without food or shelter or relief for a 
hundred hours. At Micheroux^ 9 people were killed 
and 17 houses destroyed. These villages were all out- 

* S. pp. 1 10-2; xvii; a 12. 



side the eastern line of forts, but the places inside the 
line, between the forts and Liege, were devastated to 
an equal degree. At Fleron"^- 15 civilians were killed 
and 152 houses destroyed.^ At Retinnes% 41 civilians 
were killed and 118 houses destroyed.f At Queue du 
Bois^ 1 1 civilians were killed and 35 houses destroyed. 
At Evegnee 2 civilians were killed and 5 houses de- 
stroyed. At Cerexhe\ 4 women and children were 
burnt alive in a house, and 2 houses destroyed. At 
Bellaire^ 4 people were killed and 15 houses destroyed. 
At Jupille^^ 8 people were killed and 1 house de- 
stroyed. These villages were saved none of the hor- 
rors of war by the surrender of the forts. 

(iv) On the Vervzers Road. 

The Germans converged on the forts by more south- 
erly roads as well. At Dolhain,\\ on the road from 
Eupen to Verviers, 28 houses were burnt on Aug. 8th 
and several civilians killed. At Metten,X% near Verviers, 
a German soldier confesses that he and his comrades 
"were ordered to search a house from which shots had 

* S. pp. 126-130. 

t Partly by bombardment during the attack on the fort. 

%%. pp. 105-no; Reply pp. 133-4- 

§S. pp. 151-2. 

II S. p. 148. 

IS. p. 153. 

** S. p. 149. 

tfxvli. p. 57. 

:{::): Bland pp. 105-9. 



been fired, but found nothing in the house but two 
women and a child. ... I did not see the women fire. 
The women were told that nothing would be done to 
them, because they were crying so bitterly. We 
brought the women out and took them to the major, 
and then we were ordered to shoot the women. . . . 
When the mother was dead, the major gave the order 
to shoot the child, so that the child should not be left 
alone in the world. The child's eyes were bandaged. I 
took part in this because we were ordered to do it by 
Major Kastendick and Captain Dultingen. . . ." 

But Verviers and the Verviers road remained com- 
paratively unscathed. Far worse was done by the Ger- 
mans who descended on the Vesdre from Malmedy, 
south-eastward, over the hills. 

(v) On the Malmedy Road. 

¥ rancor champs ^ the first Belgian village on the 
Malmedy road, was sacked on Aug. 8th, four days 
after the first German troops had passed through it 
unopposed, and again on Aug. 14th by later detach- 
ments. At Hockay^^ near Francorchamps, the cure was 
shot. In Hockay and Francorchamps 13 people were 
killed altogether, and 25 houses burnt. "M. Darcham- 
beau, who was wounded (in the cellar of a burning 
house), asked a young officer for mercy. This young 

* S. pp. 16-18; xrii. p. 56. 
t S. p. 18; Mercier. 



officer of barely 22, in front of the women and children, 
aimed his revolver at M. Darchambeau's head and 
killed him." 

The fate of Pepznstef^ is recorded in a German 
diary: "Aug. 12th, Pepinster, Burgomaster, priest, and 
schoolmaster shot; houses reduced to ashes. March 
on." As a matter of fact, the three hostages were not 
shot, but reprieved. The Burgomaster of Corne5se-\ 
was shot in their stead (a 33, 34) — "an old man and 
quite deaf. (He was only hit in the leg, and a Ger- 
man officer came up and shot him through the heart 
with his revolver.)" Five houses in Comesse were 
burnt. At Soiron.t on Aug. 4th, the Germans bivou- 
acking there fired on one another, and eight German 
soldiers were wounded or killed. "But the officers," 
deposes a German private§ who was present at the 
scene, "in their anxiety to prevent the fact of this 
blunder from being reported, hastened to pretend that 
it was really the civilians who had fired, and gave 
orders for a general massacre. This order was car- 
ried out, and there was terrible butchery. I must men- 
tion that we only killed the males, but we burned all 
the houses." At Olnes\\ the cure and the communal 

* Bland p. 185. 

txvii; a 33, 34. 

:j:xvii; Reply p. 126. 

§ Reply p. 126. 

U xvii ; Mercier ; S. pp. 79-82. 



secretary were shot on Aug. 5th, and the schoolmaster 
the same evening, in front of his burning house, with 
his daughter and his two sons. Only two members 
of the schoolmaster's family were spared. In the ham- 
let of SL Hadelin,^ which came within the radius of 
Fort Fleron's guns, there was a wholesale massacre on 
the same date. Early in the day the Germans "re- 
quisitioned" 300 bottles of wine; later they drove a 
crowd of people from St. Hadelin, Riessonsart, and 
Ayeneux, to a place called the Faveu, and shot down 
33. The remainder were forced to haul German ar- 
tillery towards the forts, but these were partly released 
next day, and partly massacred at the Heids d'Olne. 
Twenty inhabitants of Ayeneux were massacred in a 
batch elsewhere. Sixty-two civilians were murdered 
altogether in the commune of Olne, and 78 houses de- 
stroyed — ^40 in St. Hadelin and 38 in Olne itself. 

At Foref\ the Germans burned a farm and killed 
two of the farmer's sons on Aug. 5th as they entered 
the place. They drove the farmer and his two surviv- 
ing sons in front of them as a screen. The school- 
master and two others were shot outside the village. 
"At Foret," states the German soldier quoted above,J 
"we found prisoners — a priest and five civilians, includ- 
ing a boy of 17. Pillage began . . . but we were 
shelled . . . and moved off to the next village. The 

* S. pp. 82-92. 
txvii; S. pp. 93-4, 
% Reply p. 136. 



house doors were at once broken in with the butt-ends 
of muskets. We pillaged everything. We made piles 
of the curtains and everything inflammable, and set 
them alight. All the houses were burnt. It was in 
the middle of this that the civilian prisoners of whom 
I have spoken were shot, with the exception of the 
cure." (The cure, too, was shot that night.)* "A 
little further on, under the pretext that civilians had 
fired from a house (though for my own part I cannot 
say whether they were soldiers or civilians who fired), 
orders were given to bum the house. A woman asleep 
there was dragged from her bed, thrown into the flames, 
and burnt alive. . . ." 

Thirteen people in all were killed at Foret, and 6 
houses destroyed. At Magnee-f 18 houses were de- 
stroyed and 21 people killed. The German troops in 
Magnee were caught by the fire from the Fleron and 
Chaudfontaine forts, and they revenged themselves, as 
elsewhere, on the civilians, shooting people in batches 
and burning houses and farms. This was on Aug. 6th, 
and at Ro?nsee,'^ on the same day, 34 houses were burnt 
and 31 civilians murdered — some of them being driven 
as a screen in front of the German troops under the 
fire of Fort Chaudfontaine. 

* Mercier. 
fS. pp. 94-100. 
:}: S. pp. jqQ-5. 



(vi) Between the Vesdre and the Ourthe. 

The same outrages were committed between the 
Vesdre and the Ourthe. At Louveigne^^ on Aug. 7th, 
the Germans, retreating from their attack on the 
southern forts, looted the drink-shops, fired in the 
streets, and accused the civilians of having shot. A 
dozen men (two of them over 70 years old) were 
imprisoned as hostages in a forge, and were shot down, 
when released, like game in the open. That evening 
Louveigne was systematically set on fire with the 
same incendiary apparatus that was used at Vise, and 
the cure was dragged round on the foot-board of a 
military motor-car to watch the work. There were 
more murders next day. The total number of civilians 
murdered at Louveigne was 29, and there were 77 
houses burnt. The devastation impressed the German 
soldiers who passed through Louveigne on the follow- 
ing days. "Louveigne has been completely burnt out. 
All the inhabitants are dead," writes a German diarist 
on Aug. 9th. "March to Louveigne," another records 
on Aug. 16th. "Several citizens and the cur€ shot 
according to martial law, some not yet buried — still 
lying where they were executed, for everyone to see. 
Stench of corpses everj^where. Cure said to have in- 
cited the inhabitants to ambush and kill the Germans." 
— "Bivouac! Rain I Burnt villages I Louveigne!" 

* S. pp. 40-5: Belg. Ann. 5, pp. 167-8; Morgan p, 100; Bryce p. 172. 



another exclaims on Aug. 17th. "We marched and 
bivouacked in the rain, in an orchard with a high hedge 
round it, full of fruit-trees. There was an abandoned 
house in front of it. The door, which was locked, was 
broken in with an axe. The traces of war — burnt 
houses, weeping women and children, executions of 
franc-tireurs — showed us the ruthlessness of the times. 
We could not have done otherwise. . . . But how 
many have to suffer with others, how many innocent 
people are shot by martial law, because there is no 
detailed enquiry first. ..." 

At Lince^^ in the commune of Sprimont, a German 
ofBcer was wounded when the troops returned in con- 
fusion from before the southern forts of Liege. The 
Germans forbade an autopsy to discover by what bul- 
let the wound had been caused, and condemned two 
civilians with a proven alibi to be shot. All the next 
morning the destruction went on. Houses were burnt, 
the cure was mishandled, a farmer and his son were 
shot down at their farm gate, a girl of twelve received 
four bullets in her body. The execution of the hos- 
tages took place in the afternoon. Sixteen men were 
shot, of whom 7 were more than 60 years old. At 
Chanxke,-\ on Aug. 6th, hostages from Poulseur were 
bound in ranks to the parapet of the bridge over the 
Ourthe, and kept there several days while the Germans 

»S. pp. 30-8. 
t S. pp. 20-30. 



filed across. "We were tortured by hunger and thirst," 
writes one of them. "We shivered at night. And 
then, of necessity, there was the filth. . . . At the 
end of the bridge the women were pleading with the 
Germans in vain, and the children were crying." On 
the 5th two civilian captives were shot on the bridge, 
and their bodies thrown into the river, and two more 
(one aged 70) were shot on the 7th. In the commune 
of Poulseur, from which these hostages came, 7 civilians 
were killed and 25 houses destroyed. In the commune 
of Sprimont 67 houses were destroyed and 48 civilians 
killed. At Esneux 26 houses were destroyed and 7 
civilians killed. 

(vii) Across the Meuse. 

Meanwhile, the Germans had crossed the Meuse at 
Vise, and were descending on Liege from the north. 
At Hallembaye, in the commune of Haccourt,'^ 18 
people were killed. There were women, children and 
old men among them, and also the cure,f who was 
bayonetted on his church threshold as he was removing 
the sacrament. In the commune of Haccourt 80 houses 
were destroyed, and 112 hostages were carried away 
into Germany. Hermalle-sous-Argenteau% was plun- 
dered on Aug. 15th, and 9 houses destroyed. There 

* S. pp. 191-3 ; xvii. 

t Mercier, 

% S. pp. ^190-1, a 15. 



was a mock execution of hostages in the presence of 
women and children, and 368 men of the place were 
imprisoned in the church for 17 days. At Vivegnis^ 
6 civilians were shot on Aug. 13th, and 45 houses 
destroyed the day after. The Germans fired on the 
inhabitants through the windows and doors, and two 
men were thus killed in a single household. At Heure- 
le-Romain'\ the population was confined in the church 
on Aug. 16th (it was Sunday) and compelled to stand 
there, hands raised, under the muzzle of a machine- 
gun. Seven civilians were shot at Heure-le-Romain 
that day, including the Burgomaster's brother and the 
cure, J who were roped together and shot against the 
church wall. All through the 16th and 17th the sack 
continued; on the 18th fresh troops arrived and com- 
pleted the work by systematic arson and the slaughter 
of 19 people more. Twenty-seven civilians were 
killed at Heure-le-Romain altogether and 84 houses 
destroyed. At Hermee,^ on Aug. 6th, the Germans, 
caught by the fire of Fori Pontisse^ revenged them- 
selves by shooting 11 civilians, including old men of 
76 and 82 years. On the 14th, the day after the sur- 
render of the fort, the inhabitants of Hermee were 
driven from their homes and the village systematically 
burnt, 146 houses out of 308 being destroyed. In the 

*S. pp. 187-8. 

t S. pp. 200-5; xvii; a 17. 

% Mercier. 

§S. pp. 194-200; xvii; a 35. 



village itself, as apart from the outlying hamlets of 
the commune, only two or three houses were left stand- 
ing. At Fexhe-Slms, near Hermee, 3 people were 
killed. Twenty- three were killed, and 13 houses de- 
stroyed, in the hamlet of RhSes in the commune of 

Thus the Germans plundered private property, 
burned down houses, and shot civilians of both sexes 
and all ages, on every road by which they marched 
upon Liege — from the north-east, the south-east, and 
the north. One thousand and thirty-two civiliansf 
were shot by the Germans in the whole Province of 
Liege^ and 3,173 houses were destroyed in two arron- 
dissements (those of Liege and Verviers) alone out of 
the four of which the Province is made up. 

(viii) The City of Liege. 

Twenty-nine of these civilians were killed and ^^X 
of the houses destroyed in the city of Liege itself — on 
August 20th, a fortnight after it had fallen into the 
German Army's possession. The Germans entered 
Liege on August 7th. Their entry was not opposed by 
Belgian troops, and arms in private hands had already 
been called in by the Belgian police. § The Germans 

* S. pp. 185-7; ^ 6, 10, II, 13. 
t Known by name. See Reply, p. 142. 

:|: There were also thirty-seven houses destroyed in the suburb of 
§a 24. 



found themselves in peaceful occupation of a great 
industrial city, caught in the full tide of its nornial 
life. There was nothing to suggest outrage, still less 
to excuse it, in their surroundings there; their conduct 
on August 2oth was deliberate and cold-blooded. The 
Higher Command was faced with the problem of 
holding a conquered country, and wanted an example. 
The troops in garrison were demoralised by the sudden 
change to idleness from fatigue and danger, and were 
ready for excitement and pillage. 

"Aug. i6th, Liege," writes a German soldier in his 
diary.* "The villages we passed through had been 

"Aug. 19th. Quartered in University. Gone on 
the loose and boozed through the streets of Liege. Lie 
on straw; enough booze; too little to eat, or we must 

"Aug. 20th. In the night the inhabitants of Liege 
became mutinous. Forty persons were shot and 15 
houses demolished. Ten soldiers were shot. The 
sights here make you cry." 

There are proofs of German premeditation — warn- 
ings from German soldiers to civilians on whom they 
were billeted,f and an ammunition waggon which 
drew up at 8.0 a.m. in the Rue des Pitteurs, and twelve 

* Bryce pp. 172-3. 
ta a8. 



hours later disgorged the benzine with which the houses 
in that street were drenched before being burnt. ^' 

"The city was perfectly quiet," declares a Belgian 
witnesSjf "until about 8.0 p.m. At about 9.15 p.m. 
I was in bed reading when I heard the sound of rifle- 
fire. . . . The noise of the firing came nearer and 
nearer." The first shot was fired from a window of 
"Emulation Building," looking out on the Place de 
rUniversite, in the heart of the town. J The Place 
was immediately crowded with armed German soldiers, 
firing in the air, breaking into houses, and dragging out 
any civilians they could find. First nine men (5 of 
them Spanish subjects) were shot in a batch, then 7 
more.§ "About io.o p.m. they were shooting every- 
where. About 10.30 p.m. several machine guns were 
firing and artillery as well." (The artillery was 
firing on private houses from the opposite side of the 
Meuse.|| ) "About 1 1.0 p.m. I saw between 45 and 50 
houses burning. There were two seats of the fire — 
the first at the Place de I'Universite (8 houses — I was 
close by at the time), the second across the Meuse on 
the Quai des Pecheurs, where there were about 35 
houses burning. I heard a whole series of orders given 
in German, and also bugle calls, followed by the cries 

* a 24. 

fa 28. 

rjrS. p. 209. 

§ Names given by S. pp. 21 1-2; cp. a 27. 

II S. p. 212. 



of the victims, and I saw women with children running 
about in the street, pursued by soldiers. . . ." (a 28). 

The arson was elaborate. In the Rue des Pitteurs 
the waggon loaded with benzine moved from door to 
door.* "About 20 men were going up to each of the 
houses. One of them had a sort of syringe, with which 
he squirted into the house, and another would throw a 
bucket of water in. A handful of stuff was first put 
into the bucket, and when this was thrown into the 
house there was an immediate explosion" (a 31). At 
the Place de I'Universite, when the Belgian fire-brigade 
arrived, they were forbidden to extinguish the fire, and 
made to stand, hands up, against a wall (a 28, 29). 
Later they were assigned another task. "About mid- 
night," states a witness (a 30), "a whole heap of 
civilian corpses were brought to the Hotel de Ville on 
a fire-brigade cart. There were 17 of them. Bits were 
blown out of their heads. . . ." 

As the houses caught fire the inmates tried to escape. 
The few who reached the street were shot down (a 24, 
26). Most were driven back into the flames. "At 
about 30 of the houses," a witness states (a 31), "I 
actually saw faces at the windows before the Germans 
entered, and then saw the same faces at the cellar win- 
dows after the Germans had driven the people into the 
cellars." In this way a number of men and women 

*a 24, 27, 31. 



were burnt alive.* In some cases the Germans would 
not wait for the fire to do their work for them, but 
bayonetted the people themselves. In one house, near 
the Episcopal Palace,'j* two boys were bayonetted 
before their mother's eyes, and then the man — their 
father and her husband. Another man in the house 
was wounded almost to death, and the Germans were 
with difficulty prevented from "finishing him off," 
next morning, on the way to the hospital. An orphan 
girl, who lodged in the same house, was violated. 

Next morning, August 2 1st, the district round the 
University Buildings on either side of the Meuse was 
cleared of its inhabitants — such inhabitants as sur- 
vived and such streets as still stood. The people were 
evicted at a few hours' notice, and not allowed to 
return for a month.J The same day a proclamation 
was posted by the German authorities: "Civilians 
have fired on the German soldiers. Repression is the 
result." § The indictment was not convincing, for 
"Emulation Building," from which the first shot was 
fired on the night of the 20th, had been cleared of its 
Belgian occupants some days before and filled entirely 
with German soldiers. Later the German Governor 
of Liege shifted his ground, and laid the blame on 
Russian students "who had been a burden on the 

* a 31 ; S. p. 213. 
t S. pp. 219-224. 
:{: S. pp. 217-8, 325. 
§ S. p. 2i8. 



population of the city."* A clearer light is thrown 
on the outbreak of August 2oth by what occurred on 
the night of August 2ist-22nd. "Aug. 22nd, 3 a.m., 
Liege," writes a German in his diary. "Two infantry 
regiments shot at each other. Nine dead and 50 
wounded — fault not yet ascertained." But in the 
other diary, quoted before, the incident is thus recorded 
under the same date: "August 21st. In the night the 
soldiers were again fired on. We then destroyed sev- 
eral houses more." The soldiers fire, the civilians suffer 
reprisals, but the Germans' object is gained. The con- 
quered population is terrorised, the invaders feel secure. 
"On August 23rd everything quiet," the latter diarist 
continues. "The inhabitants have so far given in. 

"August 24th. Our occupation is bathing, and eat- 
ing and drinking for the rest of the day. We live like 
God in Belgium." 

*S. p. 334; a 24. 



(i) Through Limburg to Aerschot. 

The first German force to push forward from Liege 
was the column commissioned to mask the Belgian 
fortress of Antwerp on the extreme right flank of the 
German advance. From the bridges of the Meuse this 
column marched north-west across the Province of 
Limburg. Belgian patrols met the advance-guard 
already at Lanaeken on August 6th, driving civilians 
in front of it as a screen.* The invaders were obsessed 
with the terror of franc-tireurs. At Hasselt^^ on 
August 17th, they made the Burgomaster post a proc- 
lamation advising his fellew-citizens "to abstain from 
any kind of provocative demonstration and from all 
acts of hostility, which might bring terrible reprisals 
upon our town. 

"Above all you must abstain from acts of violence 
against the German troops, and especially from firing 
on them. 

"In case the inhabitants fire upon the soldiers of the 
German Army, a third of the male population will be 

*xv p. 20. 
tBryce pp. 185-4- 




At Tongres,^ on August i8th, the Germans carried 
threats into action. The population was driven out 
bodily from the town, and the town systematically 
plundered. At least 17 civilians were killed (includ- 
ing a boy of 12), and a number of houses were burnt. 
"On August 18th," writes a German in his diary, "we 
reach Tongres. Here, too, it is a complete picture of 
destruction — something unique of its kind for our pro- 
fession."f — "Tongres," writes another on the 19th. 
"A quantity of houses plundered by our cavalry." A 
captured letter from the hand of a German army- 
doctor reveals the pretext on which this was done. 
"The Belgians have only themselves to thank that their 
country has been devastated in this way. I have seen 
all the great towns attacked and the villages besieged 
and set on fire. At Tongres we were attacked by the 
population in the evening when it was dark. An im- 
mense number of shots were exchanged, for we were 
exposed to, fire on four sides. Happily we had only 
one man hit — he died the following day. We killed 
two women, and the men were shot the day after." 
There is no disproof here of the Belgian affirmation 
that the shots were fired by the Germans themselves. 

This outbreak at Tongres on August 18th was not 
an isolated occurrence. On the same day the Germans 

*xvii p. 66; xxi p. 129; Morgan p. loi ; Bland p. 131; Davignon 
p. 107. 
fXhe man was a glass-maker. 



shot down the Burgomaster's wife and a lawyer at 
Cannes,^ and two men and a boy at Lixht,'^ a few 
miles north-west of the Vise bridge. But Limburg 
suffered little compared to Brabant, into which the 
Germans next advanced. 

Haelen, where their advance-guard was severely 
handled by the Belgian Anny on August l2th, lies 
close to the boundary between the two provinces, and 
they took vengeance on the civil population of Brabant 
for this military reverse. 

"The Germans came to Schaffen^"% the cure reports, 
"at 9.0 o'clock on August 18th. They set fire to 170 
houses. A thousand inhabitants are homeless. The 
communal building and my own residence ure among 
the houses burnt. Twenty-two people at least were 
killed without motive. Two men (mentioned by 
name) were buried alive head downwards, in the pres- 
ence of their wives. The Germans seized me in my 
garden, and mishandled me in every kind of way. . . . 
The blacksmith, who was a prisoner with me, had his 
arm broken and was then killed. ... It went on all 
day long. Towards evening they made me look at the 
church, saying it was the last time I should see it. 
About 6.45 they let me go. I was bleeding and uncon- 

*xvii p. 66. 
txvii p. 63. 
:|: Reply pp. 140-1 ; k4; Bedier pp. lo-i; i pp. 3-4. 



scious. An officer made me get up and bade me be off. 
At several metres distance they fired on me. I fell 
down and was left for dead. It was my salvation. . ., . 

"All the houses were drenched, before burning, with 
naphtha and petrol, which the Germans carry with 
them. ..." 

On the German side, there is the ordinary excuse. 
"Fifty civilians," writes a diarist, "had hidden in the 
church tower and had fired on our men with a machine- 
gun.=^ All the civilians were shot." 

The cure mentions that the Germans found the 
church door locked, broke it in, and then found no one 

At Molenstede, another village in the Canton of 
Diest^ 32 houses were burnt and 11 civilians killed. 
In the whole Canton 226 houses were burnt, and 47 
people killed in all. 

The Germans were also advancing by a more south- 
erly road from Tongres through St. Trond. At St. 
Trond,-^ the first Uhlans killed 2 civilians in the street 
and wounded others. At Budirgen they killed 2 
civilians and burned 58 houses, at Neerlinter one and 
73. In the Canton of Lean they killed 19 civilians 
altogether, and 174 houses were destroyed. 

♦There had been Belgian soldiers with a machine-gun in the 



At Haekendover, in the Canton of Tirlemont, they 
killed one civilian, burned 32 houses and pillaged 150 
(out of 220 in all). At Tirlemont itself, they killed 
three civilians and burned 60 houses. At Hougaerde^"^ 
when they entered the village, they drove the cure of 
Autgaerde before them as a screen, and he was killed 
by the first bullet from the Belgian troops, who were 
defending the road from behind a barricade. Four 
civilians were killed at Hougaerde, 100 houses pil- 
laged, and 50 destroyed. In the whole Canton of 
Tirlemont the Germans killed 18 civilians, and burned 
212 houses down. 

At Bunsbeek they killed 4 people and burned 20 
houses, at Roosbeek 3 and 42. "After Roosbeek," a 
German diarist notes,f "we began to have an idea of 
the war; houses burnt, walls pierced by bullets, the 
face of the tower carried away by shells, and so on. A 
few isolated crosses marked the graves of the victims." 
At KieseghemX the Germans used civilians as a screen 
again, and killed two more when they entered the vil- 
lage. At Attenrode they killed 6 civilians and burned 
17 houses, at Lubbeck 15 and 46. In the CMnton of 
Glabbeek 35 civilians were killed from first to last, 
and 140 houses destroyed. 

* Reply p. 128. 
t Davignon p. 97. 
:j:xv p. 20. 



(ii) AerschoL 

The Germans marched into Aerschot^ on the morn- 
ing of Aug. 19th, driving before them two girls and 
four women with babies in their arms as a screen.f 
One of the women was wounded by the fire of the 
Belgian troops, who had posted machine guns to dis- 
pute the Germans' entry, but now withheld their fire 
and retired from the town. The Germans encountered 
no further resistance, but they began to kill civilians 
and break into houses immediately they came in. They 
bayonetted two women on their doorstep (c 27). 
They shot a deaf boy (c 1) who did not understand 
the order to raise his hands. They shot 5 men they 
had requisitioned as guides (R. No. 3). They fired 
at the church (c 18). They fired at people looking 
out of the windows of their houses (R. No. 5). The 
Burgomaster's son, a boy of fifteen, was standing at a 
window with his mother and was wounded by a bullet 
in the leg (R. No. 11). They killed people in their 
houses. Six men, for instance, were bayonetted in one 
house (R. No. 15). They dragged a railway employe 
from his home and shot him in a field (R. No. 2). 
"I went back home," states a woman who had been 
seized by the Germans and had escaped (c 18), "and 
found my husband lying dead outside it. He had been 

*ci-38; Belg. xxi pp. 111-4; Anns, i, 7; Reply pp. 147-178; Ger- 
man White Book, A; Struycken; Davignon p. 97. 
t Reply No, i ; ga. 



shot through the head from behind. His pockets had 
been rifled." 

Other civilians (the civil population was already 
accused of having fired) were collected as hostages,* 
and driven, with their hands raised above their heads, 
to an open space on the banks of the River Demer. 
"There were about 200 prisoners, some of them in- 
valids taken from their beds" (c 1). There was a 
professor from the College among them (R. No. 9), 
and an old man of 75 (c 15). After these hostages 
had been searched, and had been kept standing by the 
river, with their arms up, for two hours, the Burgo- 
master was brought to them under guard,f and com- 
pelled to read out a proclamation, ordering all arms 
to be given up, and warning that if a shot were 
fired by a civilian, the man who fired it, and four 
others with him, would be put to death. It was a 
gratuitous proceeding, for, several days before the 
Germans arrived, the Burgomaster (like most of his 
colleagues throughout Belgium) had sent the town 
crier round, calling on the population to deposit all 
arms at the H6tel-de-Ville, and he had posted placards 
on the walls to the same effect (c 4, 7). A priest drew 
a German officer's attention to these placards (c 20), 
and the Burgomaster himself had already given a trans- 
lation of their contents to the German commandant 

*ci, 6, 9, is; R. No. 9. 
tci, 15; R. Nos. 4, 9, II. 



(R. No. li). That officer* disingenuously represents 
this act of good faith as a suspicious circumstance. 
"To my special surprise," he states, "thirty-six more 
rifles, professedly intended for public processions and 
for the Garde Civique, were produced" (from the 
H6tel-de-Ville). "The constituents of ammunition 
for these rifles were also found packed in a case." But 
the only weapon still found in private hands on the 
morning of Aug. 19th was a shot gun used for pigeon 
shooting (c 1), and when the owner had fetched it 
from his home the hostages were released. Yet at this 
point 4 more civilians were shot down, two of them 
father and son — the son feeble-minded (c 15). 

The Germans quartered in Aerschot were already 
getting out of hand. "I saw the dead body of another 
man in the street," continues the witness (c 15) quoted 
above. "When I got to my house, I found that all the 
furniture had been broken, and that the place had been 
thoroughly ransacked, and everything of value stolen. 
When I came out into the street again I saw the dead 
body of a man at the door of the next house to mine. 
He was my neighbour, and wore a Red Cross brassard 
on his arm. . . ." 

The Germans gave themselves up to drink and 
plunder. "They set about breaking in the cellar doors, 
and soon most of them were drunk" (R. No. 15). — 
"An officer came to me," states another witness (c 7), 

* German White Book, A 3. 



"and demanded a packet of coffee. He did not pay 
for it. He gave no receipt." — "They broke my shop 
window," deposes another. "The shop front was pil- 
laged in a moment. Then they gutted the shop itself. 
They fought each other for the bottles of cognac and 
rum. In the middle of this an officer entered. He did 
not seem at all surprised, and demanded three bottles 
of cognac and three of wine for himself. The soldiers, 
N.C.O.'s and officers, went down to the cellar and 
emptied it. . . ." Not even the Red Cross was 
spared. The monastery of St. Damien, which had 
been turned into an ambulance, was broken into by 
German soldiers, who accused the monks of firing and 
tore the bandages off the wounded Belgian soldiers to 
make sure that the wounds were real (R. No. l6). 
"Whenever we referred to our membership of the Red 
Cross," declares one of the monks, "our words were 
received with scornful smiles and comments, indicating 
clearly that they made no account of that." 

About 5.0 p.m. Colonel Stenger, the commander of 
the 8th German Infantry Brigade, arrived in Aerschot 
with his staff. They were quartered in the Burgo- 
master's house, in rooms overlooking the square. Cap- 
tain Karge, the commander of the divisional military 
police, was billeted on the Burgomaster's brother, also 
in the square but on the opposite side. About 8.0 p.m. 
(German time) Colonel Stenger was standing on the 
Burgomaster's balcony; the Burgomaster, who had just 


lo. "We Live Like God in Belgium" 


been allowed to return home, was at his front door, 
offering the German sentries cigars, and his wife was 
close by him; the square was full of troops, and a 
supply column was just filing through, when suddenly 
a single loud shot was fired, followed immediately by 
a heavy fusillade. "I very distinctly saw two columns 
of smoke," writes the Burgomaster's wife (R. No. ii), 
"followed by a multitude of discharges." — "I could 
perceive a light cloud of smoke and dust," states Cap- 
tain Karge,* who was at his window across the square, 
''coming from the eaves of a red comer house." In a 
moment the soldiers massed in the square were in an 
uproar. "My yard," continues the Burgomaster's wife, 
"was immediately invaded by horses and by soldiers 
firing in the air like madmen." — "The drivers and 
transport men," observes Captain Karge, "had left 
their horses and waggons and taken cover from the 
shots in the entrances of the houses. Some of the 
waggons had interlocked, because the horses, becoming 
restless, had taken their own course without the drivers 
to guide them." Another German officer f thought the 
firing came from the north-west outskirts of the town, 
and was told by fugitive German soldiers that there 
were Belgian troops advancing to the attack. A 
machine-gun company went out to meet them, and 
marched three kilometres before it discovered that there 

* White Book A 3, Appendix, 
t White Book A 5. 



was no enemy, and turned back. "About 350 yards 
from the square," states the commander of this unit,* 
"I met cavalry dashing backwards and transport 
waggons trying to turn round. ... I saw shots 
coming from the houses, whereupon I ordered the 
machine guns to be unlimbered and the house fronts 
on the left to be fired upon." 

Who fired the first shot*? Who fired the answering 
volley? There is abundant evidence, both Belgian and 
German, of German soldiers firing in the square and 
the neighbouring streets; no single instance is proved, 
or even alleged, in the German White Book, of a 
Belgian caught in the act of firing. "The situation 
developed," deposes Captain Folz,f "into our men 
pressing their backs against the houses, and firing on 
any marksman in the opposite house, as soon as he 
showed himself." But were they Belgians at the win- 
dows, or Germans taking cover from the undoubted 
fire of their comrades, and replying from these vantage 
points upon an imaginary foe? "Near the H6tel-de- 
Ville," continues Captain Folz, "there stood an officer 
who had the signal 'Cease Fire' blown continuously. J 
Clearly this officer desired in the first place to stop the 
shooting of our men, in order to set a systematic action 
on foot." 

*A 4. 

t White Book A 5. 

:j:cp. A 3, Appendix. 



The German soldiers' minds had been filled with 
lying rumours. "I heard," declares Captain Karge, 
"that the King of the Belgians had decreed that every 
male Belgian was under obligation to do the German 
Army as much harm as possible, . . . 

"An officer told me he had read on a church door 
that the Belgians were forbidden to hold captured Ger- 
man officers on parole, but had to shoot them. . . . 

"A seminary teacher assured me" (it was under the 
threat of death) "definitely, as I now think that I can 
distinctly remember, that the Garde Civique had been 
ordered to injure the German Army in every possible 
way. . . ." 

Thus, when he heard the shots, Captain Karge leapt 
to his conclusions, "The regularity of the volleys gave 
me the impression that the affair was well organised 
and possibly under military command." It never oc- 
curred to him that they might be German volleys com- 
manded by German officers as apprehensive as himself. 
"Everywhere, apparently," he proceeds, "the firing 
came, nol from the windows^ but from roof-openings 
or prepared loopholes in the attics of the houses." But 
if not from the windows, why not from the square, 
which was crowded with German soldiers, when a 
moment afterwards (admittedly) these very soldiers 
were firing furiously? "This" (assumed direction 
from which the firing came) "is the explanation of the 
smallness of the damage done by the shots to men and 



animals," and, in fact, the only victim the Germans 
claim is Colonel Stenger, the Brigadier. After the 
worst firing was over and the troops were getting under 
control, Colonel Stenger was found by his aide-de- 
camp (A 2), who had come up to his room to make a 
report, lying wounded on the floor and on the point 
of death. Captain Folz (A 5) records that "the Regi- 
mental Surgeon of the Infantry Regiment No. 140, 
who made a post-mortem examination of the body in 
his presence on the following day, found in the aperture 
of the breast wound a deformed leaden bullet, which 
had been shattered by contact with a hard object." It 
remains to prove that the bullet was not German. The 
German White Book does not include any report from 
the examining surgeon himself. 

Meanwhile, the town and people of Aerschot were 
given over to destruction. "I now took some soldiers," 
proceeds Captain Karge, "and went with them towards 
the house from which the shooting" — in Captain 
Karge's belief — "had first come. ... I ordered the 
doors and windows of the ground floor, which were 
securely locked, to be broken in. Thereupon I pushed 
into the house with the others, and using a fairly large 
quantity of turpentine, which was found in a can of 
about 20 litres capacity, and which I had poured out 
partly on the first storey and then down the stairs and 
on the ground floor, succeeded in setting the house on 
fire in a very short time. Further, I had ordered the 




men not taking part in this to guard the entrances of 
the house and arrest all male persons escaping from it. 
When I left the burning house several civilians, in- 
cluding a young priest, had been arrested from the 
adjoining houses. I had these brought to the square, 
where in the meantime my company of military police 
had collected. 

"I then . . . took command of all prisoners, 
among whom I set free the women, boys and girls. I 
was ordered by a stafF officer to shoot the prisjners. 
Then I ordered my police ... to escort the prison- 
ers and take them out of the town. Here, at the exit, a 
house was burning, and by the light of it I had the 
culprits — 88 in number, after I had separated out three 
cripples — shot. . . ." 

These 88 victims were only a preliminary batch. 
The whole population of Aerschot was being hunted 
out of the houses by the German troops and driven 
together into the square. They were driven along with 
brutal violence. "One of the Germans thrust at me 
with his bayonet," states one woman (c 9), "which 
passed through my skirt and behind my knees. I was 
too frightened to notice much." — "When v/e got into 
the street," states another (c 10), "other German 
soldiers fired at us. I was carrying a child in my arms, 
and a bullet passed through my left hand and my 
child's left arm. The child was also hit on the funda- 
ment. , . . In the hospital, on Aug. 22nd, I saw 



three women die of wounds." — "In the ambulance at 
the Institut Damien," reports the monk quoted above, 
"we nursed four women, several civilians and some 
children. A one-year-old child had received a bayonet 
wound in its thigh while its mother was carrying it in 
her arms. Several civilians had burns on their bodies 
and bullet wounds as well. They told us how the 
soldiers set fire to the houses and fired on the suffocat- 
ing inhabitants when they tried to escape." 

At' elsewhere, the incendiarism was systematic. 
"They used a special apparatus, something like a big 
rifle, for throwing naphtha or some similar inflammable 
substance" (c 19). — "I was taken to the officer in com- 
mand," states a professor (c 14). "I found him per- 
sonally assisting in setting fire to a house. He and 
his men were lighting matches and setting them to the 
curtains." — "We saw a whole street burning, in which 
I possessed two houses," deposes a native of Aerschot, 
who was being driven towards the square. "We heard 
children and beasts crying in the flames" (c 2). A 
civilian went out into the street to see if his mother 
was in a burning house. He was shot down by Ger- 
mans at a distance of 18 yards (c 5). Another house- 
holder (R. No. 5) threw his child out of the first-floor 
window of his burning house, jumped out himself, and 
broke both his legs. His wife was burnt alive. "The 
Gemians with their rifles prevented anyone going to 
help this man, and he had to drag himself along with 



his legs broken as best he could" (c 19). — "The whole 
upper part of my house caught fire," declares another 
(R. No. 13), "when there were a dozen people in it. 
The Germans had blocked the street door to prevent 
them coming out. They tried in vain to reach the 
neighbouring roofs. . . . The Germans were firing 
on everyone in the streets. . . ." 

By this time the Germans were mostly drunk (cq) 
and lost to all reason or shame. Two men and a boy 
stepped out of the door of a public-house in which they 
had taken refuge with others. "As soon as we got out- 
side we saw the flash of rifles and heard the report. 
. . . We came in as quickly as we could and shut 
the door. The German soldiers entered. The first man 
who entered said, 'You have been shooting,' and the 
others kept repeating the same words. They pointed 
their revolvers at us, and threatened to shoot us if we 
moved" (c 4). 

In another building about 22 captured Belgian 
soldiers (some of them wounded) and six civilian 
hostages were under guard. They were dragged out 
to the banks of the Demer and shot down by two com- 
panies of German troops. "I was hit," explains one 
of the two survivors (a soldier already wounded before 
being taken prisoner), "but an officer saw that I was 
still breathing, and when a soldier wanted to shoot me 
again, he ordered him to throw me into the Demer. 
I clung to a branch and set my feet against the stones 



on the river-bottom. I stayed there till the following 
morning, with only my head above water. . . ." 
(R. No. 8). 

The Burgomaster's house was the first to be cleared. 
Colonel Stenger's aide-de-camp dragged the Burgo- 
master out of the cellar where he and his family had 
taken refuge, and carried him off under guard. Half- 
an-hour later the aide-de-camp returned for the Burgo- 
master's wife and his fifteen-year-old son. "My poor 
child," writes the Burgomaster's wife, "could scarcely 
walk because of his wound. The aide-de-camp kicked 
him along. I shut my eyes to see no more. . . ." 
(R. No. 11). 

"When we reached the square," the same witness 
continues, "we found there all our neighbours. A girl 
near me was fainting with grief. Her father and two 
brothers had been shot, and they had torn her from 
her dying mother's bedside. (They found her, nine 
hours later, dead). All the houses on the right side of 
the square were ablaze. One could detect the perfect 
order and method with which they were proceeding. 
There was none of the feverishness of men left to pil- 
lage by themselves. I am positive they were acting 
with orderliness and under orders. . . . From time 
to time, soldiers emerged from our house, with their 
arms full of bottles of wine. They were opening our 
windows, and all the interiors were stripped bare. 
. . ." — "The square was one blaze of fire," states a 



blacksmith (c i), "and the civilians were obliged to 
stand there close to the flames from the burning 
houses." — "They put the women and children on one 
side," adds a woman (c 7). "I was among them, and 
my 5 children — one boy of fifteen and 4 girls. I saw 
that many of the men had their hands tied. They 
took the men away along the road to Louvain. . . ." 
The men were being led out of the town, as Captain 
Karge's prisoners had been led out a few hours before, 
to be shot. The Burgomaster, his brother, and his son 
were in this second convoy. "Under the glare of the 
conflagration," writes the Burgomaster's wife, "my 
eyes fell upon my husband, my son and my brother- 
in-law, who were being led, with other men, to execu- 
tion. For fear of breaking down his courage, I could 
not even cry out to my husband : T am here.' " There 
were 50 or 60 prisoners altogether, and another batch 
of 30 followed behind.* "They made us walk in the 
same position, hands up, for 20 minutes," one survivor 
states (c 4). "When we got tired we put our hands 
on our heads/' — "One of the prisoners," states a sec- 
ond member of the convoy (c 8), "was struck on the 
back with a rifle-butt by a German soldier. The young 
man said: 'O my father.' His father said: 'Keep 
quiet, my boy.' Another soldier thrust his bayonet 
into the thigh of another prisoner, and afterwards com- 
pelled him to walk on with the rest." — "Our hands," 

♦C4, 8. 



states a third (R. No. 7), "were bound behind our 
backs with copper wire — so tightly that our wrists were 
cut and bled. We were compelled to lie down, still 
bound, on our backs, with our heads touching the 
ground. About six in the morning, they decided to 
begin the executions." 

An officer read out a document to the prisoners. — 
One out of three was to be shot. "It was read out like 
an article of the law. He read in German, but we 
understood it. . . . They took all the young 
men. . . ." (c 4). 

The Burgomaster's chief political opponent was 
among the prisoners. He offered his life for the Burgo- 
master's — "The Burgomaster's life was essential to the 
welfare of the town." The Burgomaster pleaded for 
his fellow citizens, and then for his son. The officer 
answered that he must have them all — the Burgo- 
master, his son and his brother. "The boy got up and 
stood betAveen his father and uncle. . . . The shots 
rang out, and the three bodies fell heavily one upon 
another . . ." (R. No. 7). 

"The rest were drawn up in ranks of three. They 
numbered them — one, two, three. Each number three 
had to step out of his rank and fall in behind the 
corpses ; they were going to be shot, the Germans said. 
My brother and I were next to each other — I number 
two, he three. I asked the officer if I might take my 
brother's place : 'My mother is a widow. My brother 



has finished his education, and is more useful than I !' 
The officer was again implacable. 'Step out, number 
three.' We embraced, and my brother joined the rest. 
There were about 30 of them lined up. Then the 
German soldiers moved slowly along the line, killing 
three at every discharge — each time at the officer's 
word of command" (R. No. 7). 

The last man in the line was spared as a medical 
student and member of the Red Cross (R. No. 5). 
The survivors were set free. On their way back they 
passed another batch going to their death (R. No. 7). 
They passed the corpse of a woman on the road, and 
another in the cattle-market (c 17). Other inhabi- 
tants of Aerschot were forced to bury all the corpses 
on the Louvain road in the course of the same day. 
They brought back to the women of Aerschot the sure 
knowledge that their husbands, sons and brothers were 

The rest of what happened at Aerschot is quickly 
told. When the Germans had marched the second 
convoy of men out of the town and dismissed the 
women from the square, they evacuated the town them- 
selvesf and bombarded it from outside with artillery ;X 
but in the daylight of Aug. 2oth they came back again, 
and burned and pillaged continuously for three days 

* R. No. 3 ; c 12. 

t White Book A 2 and 3 (Appendix). 

:j:c I, 4, 5; R. No. 11. 



— taking not only food and clothing but valuables of 
every kind, and loading them methodically on waggons 
and motor cars.* On the evening of the 2oth, the 
Institut Damien, hospital though it was, was com- 
pelled to provide quarters for 1,100 men. "We spent 
all night giving food and drink to this mob, of whom 
many were drunk. We collected 800 empty bottles 
next morning." f 

On Aug. 26th and 27th the remnant of the popula- 
tion — about 600 men, women, and children, who had 
not perished or fled — were herded into the church.t 
They were given little food, and no means of sanita- 
tion. On the evening of the 27th a squad of German 
soldiers amused themselves by firing through the 
church door over the heads of the hostages, against 
the opposite wall. On the 28th the monks of St. 
Damien were brought there also. (Their hospital was 
closed, and the patients turned out of their beds.) 
The rest of the hostages were marched that day to 
Louvain. There were little children among them, and 
women with child, and men too old to walk. At Lou- 
vain, in the Place de la Station, they were fired upon, 
and a number were wounded and killed. The sur- 
vivors were released on the 29th, but when they re- 
turned to Aerschot they were arrested and imprisoned 

*R. Nos. 9, 10, 15. 

tR. No. 16. 

:j:c 7, 13, zo, 33-5; R. Nos. 12, 13, 15, 16. 



again— the men in the church, the women in a chateau. 
The women and children were released the day follow- 
ing (that day the active troops at Aerschot were re- 
placed by a landsturm garrison, who began to pillage 
the town once more).* The men were kept prisoners 
till Sept. 6th, when those not of military age were 
released and the remainder (about 70) deported by 
train to Germany. All the monks were deported, what- 
ever their age.f 

"On Aug. 31st," writes a German landsturmer in 
his diary,| "we entered Aerschot to guard the station. 
On Sept. 2nd I had a little time off duty, which I spent 
in visiting the town. No one, without seeing it, could 
form any idea of the condition it is in. . . . In all 
my life I shall never drink more wine than I drank 

Three hundred and eighty-six houses were burnt at 
Aerschot, 1,000 plundered, 150 inhabitants killed, and 
after this destruction the Germans admitted the inno- 
cence of their victims. "It was a beastly mess," a 
German non-commissioned officer confessed to one of 
the monks in the church of Aerschot on Aug. 29th. § 
"It was our soldiers who fired, but they have been 

* R. No. 9. 

fcp. the treatment of the monks at Louvain, p. 137 below. 

^Davignon, p. 97. 

§R. p. 171- 



(iii) The Aerschot District. 

The smaller places round Aerschot suffered in their 
degree. At Nieuw-Rhode 2oo houses (out of 321) 
were plundered, one civilian killed, and 27 deported 
to Germany. At Gelrode,^ on August 19th, the Ger- 
mans seized 21 civilians as hostages, imprisoned them 
in the church, and then shot one in every three against 
a wall — the rest were marched to Louvain and im- 
prisoned in the church there. None of them were dis- 
covered with arms, for the Burgomaster of Gelrode had 
collected all arms in private hands before the Germans 
arrived. The priest of Gelrodef was dragged away to 
Aerschot on August 27th by German soldiers. "When 
they got to the churchyard the priest was struck sev- 
eral times by each soldier on the head. Then they 
pushed him against the wall of the church" (C24). — 
"His hands were raised above his head. Five or six 
soldiers stood immediately in front of him. . . . 
When he let his hands drop a little, soldiers brought 
down their rifle butts on his feet" (c25). Finally 
they led him away to be shot, and his corpse was 
thrown into the Demer. 

Eighteen civilians altogether were shot in the com- 
mune of Gelrode, and 99 deported to Germany. 
Twenty-three houses were burnt, and 131 plundered, 
out of 201 in the village. 

* C39-45. 

tc3, 23-5, 40; R. No. to (Aerschot). 



At Tremeloo^ 214 houses were burnt and 3 civilians 
killed (one of them an old man of 72). A number of 
women were raped at Tremeloo. 

At Rotselaer^ 67 houses were burnt, 38 civilians 
killed, and 120 deported to Germany. A girl who 
was raped by five Germans went out of her mind 
(C52). The priest of Rotselaer was deported with his 
parishioners. The men of the village had been con- 
fined in the church on the night of August 22nd, again 
on the night of the 23rd, and then consecutively till the 
morning of the 27th. The priest of Herent (who was 
more than 70 years old)t and other men from Herent, 
Wackerzeel, and Thildonck, were imprisoned with 
them, till there were a thousand people in the church 
altogether. The women brought them ^what food 
could be found, but for five days they could neither 
wash nor sleep. On the 27th they were marched to 
Louvain with a batch of prisoners taken from Lou- 
vain itself, and were sent on the terrible journey in 
cattle-trucks to Aix-la-Chapelle. 

At Wespelaer^ the destruction was complete. Out 
of 297 houses 47 were burnt and 250 gutted. Twenty- 
one inhabitants were killed. "The Germans shot the 
owner of the first house burnt on his doorstep, and his 
twenty-years-old daughter inside. ... I only saw one 

* C54-6. 

tc48-9, 52; R. pp. 351-3. 

X For his death see footnote on p. 151 below. 

§ C60-63. .. 



man shot with my own eyes — a man who had an old 
carbine in his house. It had not been used; he was 
not carrying it. . . . In another house a married 
couple, 80 years old, were burnt alive" (c6o). 

At Campenhout^ the Germans burned 85 houses 
and killed 14 civilians. In a rich man's house, where 
officers were quartered, they rifled the wine cellar and 
shot the mistress of the house in cold blood as she 
entered the room where they were drinking. "The 
other officers continued to drink and sing, and did not 
pay great attention to the killing of my mistress," 
states a servant who was present. As they continued 
their advance, the Germans collected about 400 men, 
women and children (some of the women with babies 
in their arms) from Campenhout, Elewyt and Malines, 
and drove them forward as a screen, with the priest of 
Campenhout at their head, against the Belgian forces 
holding the outer ring of the Antwerp lines.f 

The devastation of this district is described by a 
witness who walked through it, from Brussels to 
Aerschot, after the Germans had passed (c 25). "We 
traversed the village of Werchter, where there had 
been no battle, but it had been in the occupation of 
the Germans, and on all sides of this village we saw 
burnt-down houses and traces of plunder and havoc. 
In Wespelaer and Rotselaer and Wesemael we saw 

*c 46-47. 
tg 16-18. 



the same. We did not pass through the village of 
Gelrode, but close to it, and we saw that houses had 
been burnt down there. In Aerschot the Malines 
Street, Hamer Street, Theophile Becker Street and 
other streets were completely burnt. Half the Grand 
Place had been burnt down. . . ." 

(iv) The Retreat from Malines. 

Yet the devastation done by the Germans in their 
advance was light compared with the outrages they 
committed when the Belgian sortie of August 25th 
drove them back from Malines towards the Aerschot- 
Louvain line. 

In Malines itself* they destroyed 1,500 houses from 
first to last, and revenged themselves atrociously on 
the civil population. A Belgian soldier saw them 
bayonet an old woman in the back, and cut off a young 
woman's breasts (d 1). Another saw them bayonet 
a woman and her son (d 2). They shot a police in- 
spector in the stomach as he came out of his door, and 
blew off the head of an old woman at a window (d 3). 
A child of two came out into the street as eight drunken 
soldiers were marching by. "A man in the second file 
stepped aside and drove his bayonet with both hands 
into the child's stomach. He lifted the child into the 
air on his bayonet and carried it away, he and his com- 
rades still singing. The child screamed when the 
*d 1-9. 



soldier struck it with his bayonet, but not afterwards. 
This incident is reported by two witnesses (d 4-5). 
Another woman was found dead with twelve bayonet 
wounds between her shoulders and her waist (d 7). 
Another — ^between 16 and 20 3^ears old — who had 
been killed by a bayonet, "was kneeling, and her hands 
were clasped, and the bayonet had pierced both hands. 
I also saw a boy of about 16," continues the witness, 
"who had been killed by a bayonet thrust through his 
mouth." In the same house there was an old woman 
lying dead (dp). 

The next place from which the Germans were driven 
was Hofstade,^ and here, too, they revenged them- 
selves before they went. They left the corpses of 
women lying in the streets. There was an old woman 
mutilated with the bayonet.f There was a young 
pregnant woman who had been ripped open. J In the 
lodge of a chateau the porter's body was found lying 
on a heap of straw. § He had been bayonetted in the 
stomach — evidently while in bed, for the empty bed 
was soaked with blood. The blacksmith of Hofstade 
— also bayonetted in the stomach — was lying on his 
doorstep. II Adjoining the blacksmith's house there 
was a cafe, and here a middle-aged woman lay dead, 

* d 10-65 j vii p. 54. 

td 18, 20, 21, 34, 52, 62. 

Jd II, 18, 20, 21, 37, 39, 41, 44. 

§d 36, 38, 40. 

II d 32-4» 38-9. 



and a boy of about 16. The boy was found kneeling 
in an attitude of supplication. Both his hands had 
been cut off. "One was on the ground, the other hang- 
ing by a bit of skin" (d 25). His face was smeared 
with blood. He was seen in this condition by twenty- 
five separate witnesses, whose testimony is recorded in 
the Bryce Report.''' Several saw him before he was 
quite dead. 

In one house at Hofstadef the Belgian troops found 
the dead bodies of two women and a man. One of 
the women, who was middle-aged, had been bay- 
onetted in the stomach; the other, who was about 20 
years old, had been bayonetted in the head, and her 
legs had been almost severed from her body. The man 
had been bayonetted through the head. In another 
room the body of a ten-year-old boy was suspended 
from a hanging lamp. He had been killed first by a 
bayonet wound in the stomach. 

"I went with an artilleryman," states another Bel- 
gian soldier,^ "to find his parents who lived in Hof- 
stade. All the houses were burning except the one 
where this man's parents lived. On forcing the door, 
we saw lying on the floor of the room on which it 
opened the dead bodies of a man, a woman, a girl, and 
a boy, who, the artilleryman told us, were his father 

*d 12, 13, 16, 17, 20, 21, 25, 27, 29-31, 33, 35, 38, 43, 46, 52, 54-7. 

td 10, 13, IS, 26, 47. 
td 36, cp. 37. 



and mother and brother and sister. Each of them had 
both feet cut off just above the ankle, and both hands 
just above the wrist. The poor boy rushed straight off, 
took one of the horses from his gun, and rode in the 
direction of the German lines. We never saw him 
again. . . ." 

Retreating from Hofstade, the Germans drove about 
200 of the inhabitants with them as a screen, to cover 
their flank against the Belgian attack.* At Muysen 
they killed 6 civilians and burned 450 houses. "There 
were broken wine bottles lying about everywhere" 
(d 88). 

At Sentpst^"^ as they evacuated the village, they 
dragged the inhabitants out of their houses. One old 
man who expostulated was shot by an officer with a 
revolver,:j: and his son was shot when he attempted to 
escape. They fired down into the cellars and up 
through the ceilings to drive the people out (d 68). 
The hostages were taken to the bridge. "One young 
man was carrying in his arms his little brother, 10 or 
11 years old, who had been run over before the war 
and could not walk. The soldiers told the man to hold 
up his arms. He said he could not, as he must hold 
his brother, who could not walk. Then a German 

*vii p. 54. 

t d 66-83. 

td 67-9, 73, 75. 

Wi^ "■ ■■■■ ■' 


'^. .••'!?:»-■; 4f - 

13. Brussels: A Booking-Office 


soldier hit him on the head with a revolver, and he let 
the child fall. ..." 

In one house they bound a bed-ridden man to his 
bed, and shot another man in the presence of 13 chil- 
dren who were in the house (d 29). In another house 
they burned a woman and two children (d 71) ; they 
burned the owner of a bicycle shop in his shop ;* these 
four bodies were found, carbonised, by the Belgian 
troops. The Belgians also found a woman dead in 
the street, with four bayonet wounds in her body 
(d 36), and saw an Uhlan overtake a woman driving 
in a cart, thrust his lance through her body, and then 
shoot her in the chest with his carbine (d 80). In a 
farmhouse the farmer was found with his head cut off. 
His two sons, killed by bullet wounds, were lying be- 
side him. His wife, whose left breast had been cut 
off, was still alive, and told how, when her eight-year- 
old son had gone up a ladder into the loft, the Ger- 
mans had pulled away the ladder and set the building 
on fire.f Twenty-seven houses were burnt at Sempst, 
200 sacked, 18 inhabitants killed, and 34 deported to 

At Weerde 34 houses were burnt. As the Germans 
retreated they bayonetted two little girls standing in 
the road and tossed them into the flames of a burning 
house — their mother was standing by (d 85). At 

*d 66, 69-72, 77-9. 
t d 74, cp. 81. 



Eppeghem* 176 houses were burnt, 8 civilians killed, 
and 125 deported. The killing was done with the 
bayonet. A woman with child, whose stomach had 
been slashed open, died in the hospital at Malines. 
When the Germans returned to Eppeghem again, they 
used the remaining civilians as a screen. On August 
28th they did the same at Elewyt,^ not even exempt- 
ing old men or women with child. We have the testi- 
mony of a Belgian priest who was driven in the screen, 
and of a Belgian soldier in the trenches against which 
the screen was driven. A hundred and thirty-three 
houses Were burnt at Elewyt, and 10 civilians killed. 
The Belgian troops found the body of a man tied 
naked to a ring in a wall. His head was riddled with 
bullets, there was a bayonet wound in his chest, and 
he had been mutilated obscenely. A woman, also 
mutilated obscenely after violation, was lying dead on 
the ground. In another house a man and a woman 
were found, with bayonet wounds all over their bodies, 
on the floor. At Perck 180 houses (out of 243) were 
sacked and 5 civilians killed. At Bueken 50 houses 
were burnt, 30 sacked (out of 84), and 8 civilians 
killed. The victims were killed in a meadow in the 
sight of the women and children.! Among them was 

*d 87-9; g 20. 

txv p. 22; g 18; d 90-1, 26. 

+ x pp. 78-9. 



the parish priest.* "He was a man 75 or 80 years 
old. He could not walk fast enough. He was driven 
along with blows from rifle-butts and knocked down. 
He cried out: 'I can go no further,' and a soldier 
thrust a bayonet into his neck at the back — the blood 
flowed out in quantities. The old man begged to be 
shot, but the officer said : 'That is too good for you.' 
He was taken off behind a house and we heard shots. 
He did not return. . . ." (d 97, cp. 98). At Vel- 
vordef 33 houses were burnt and 6 civilians killed. In 
the whole Canton of Vilvorde, in which all these places, 
except Malines, lay, 611 houses were burnt, 1,665 
plundered, 90 civilians killed, and 177 deported to 

The devastation spread through the whole zone of 
the German retreat. At Capelle-au-BoisX the Belgian 
troops found two girls hanging naked from a tree with 
their breasts cut off, and two women bayonetted in a 
house, caught as they were making preparations to flee. 
A woman told them how German soldiers had held her 
down by force, while other soldiers had violated her 
daughter successively in an adjoining room. Four 
civilians were killed at Capelle-au-Bois and 235 houses 
burnt. At Londerzeel^ 18 houses were burnt and one 
civilian killed. He was a man who had tried to pre- 

* Mercier. 

td 92-3. 

:|:d 112-4; cp- Massart, pp. 33S-9. 

§ S 22. 



vent the Germans from violating his two daughters. 
When the Germans re-entered Londerzeel they used 
the civilian population as a screen. At Ramsdonck, 
near Londerzeel, a woman and two children were shot 
by the Germans as they were flying for protection 
towards the Belgian lines.* At Wolverthem lo houses 
were burnt and 5 people killed. At Meysse 3 houses 
were burnt and 350 sacked, 2 civilians killed and 29 
deported. At Beyghem 32 houses were burnt. At 
Pont-Brule^'\ on Aug. 25th, the priest was imprisoned 
with 28 other civilian hostages in a room. The Ger- 
man soldiers compelled him to hold up his hands for 
hours, and struck him when he lowered them from 
fatigue. They compelled his fellow-prisoners to spit 
on him. They tore up his breviary and threw the 
fragments in his face. When he fainted they threw 
pails of water on him to revive him. As he was re- 
viving he was shot. Fifty-eight houses were burnt in 
the commune of Pont-Brule-Grimbergen, 5 civilians 
shot, and 65 deported. These places lay in the Canton 
of Wolverthem, west of the river Senne, between Ter- 
monde, Malines, and Brussels. In the whole canton 
426 houses were burnt, 1,292 plundered, 29 civilians 
killed, and 182 deported to Germany. 

In the district between Malines and Aerschot it was 
the same, and places which had suffered already on 

*k 21, 

t Reply p. 431; Mercier. 



Aug. 19th were devastated again on Aug. 25th and the 
following days. At Hever^ in the Canton of Haecht, 
a baby was found hanged by the neck to the handle of 
a door. Thirty-five houses were burnt. At Boortmeer- 
beek'\ 103 houses were burnt and 300 sacked (out of 
437) > 5 civilians were killed— one of them a little girl 
who was bayonetted in the road. At Haecht^ 5 men 
were seized as hostages and then shot in cold blood. 
One of them survived, though K - was bayonetted twice 
after the shooting to "finish him off." Seven others 
were stripped naked and threatened with bayonets, 
but instead of being killed they were used as a screen. 
The Belgian troops found the body of a woman on the 
road, stripped to the waist and with the breasts cut off. 
There was another woman with her head cut off and 
her body mutilated. There was a child with its stom- 
ach slashed open with a bayonet, and another — two or 
three years old — ^nailed to a door by its hands and feet. 
At Haecht 40 houses were burnt. 

At Thildonck 31 houses were burnt and 10 civilians 
killed. Seven of those killed in the commune of Thil- 
donck belonged to the family of the two Valckenaers 
brothers, whose farms (situated close to one another) 
were occupied by the Belgian troops early on the morn- 

*d 125. 

1 94- 
%A. 100-8. 


ing of August 26th. As the Germans counter-attacked, 
the Belgian soldiers opened fire on them from the farm 
buildings and then retired. A platoon of Germans, 
with an oflBcer at their head, entered Isodore Valcke- 
naers' farm (where the whole family was gathered) 
about 8.0 a.m. Isodore and two of his nephews — 
barely more than boys — were shot at once. His 
daughter, who clung to him and begged for his life, 
was torn away. The cwo young men were killed in- 
stantaneously. The elder, though horribly wounded 
by the bullet, survived, and was rescued next day. 
The rest of the family — a group of eleven women and 
children, for Frangois-Edouard Valckenaers, the other 
brother, was away — were shot down half-an-hour later. 
They were herded together in the garden and fired on 
from all sides. Madame Isodore Valckenaers was hold- 
ing her youngest baby in her arms. The bullet broke 
the child's arm and mangled its face, and then tore the 
mother's lip and destroyed one of her eyes. (The 
baby died, but the mother survived.) Madame F.-E. 
Valckenaers also survived — her dress was spattered 
with the brains of her fourteen-year-old son, whom she 
was holding by the hand. Five died altogether out of 
this group of eleven — some instantaneously, some after 
hours of agony. The eldest of them was only eighteen, 
the youngest was two-and-a-half. Thus seven of the 
Valckenaers' family were killed in all out of the four- 



teen present, and three were severely wounded. Only 
four were left unscathed.* 

At Werckterf 267 houses were burnt and 162 
sacked (out of 496), 15 civilians were killed, and 32 
deported. The priests of Wygmael and Wesemael 
were dragged away as hostages, and driven, with a 
crowd of civilians from Herent, as a screen in front of 
the German troops on Aug. 29th. At Wesemael 46 
houses were burnt, 13 civilians killed and 324 de- 
ported. At Hohbeek one civilian was killed and 35" 
houses burnt. In the whole Canton of Haecht 899 
houses were burnt, 1,772 plundered, 116 civilians 
killed, and 647 deported. 

As the Germans fell back south-eastward, the devas- 
tation spread into the Canton of Louvain. "When 
the Germans first arrived at Herent^^X states a wit- 
ness (d 97), "they did nothing, but when they were 
repulsed from Malines they began to ill-treat the 
civilians." They shot a man at his door, and threw 
another man's body into a burning house. At Aan- 
boscli^ a hamlet of Herent, they dragged 4 men and 9 
women out of their houses and bayonetted them. In 
the commune of Herent they killed 22 civilians (the 
priest was among the later victims) § and deported 104 
altogether, burned 312 houses and sacked 200. At 

*R. pp. 378-380. 
td iio-i. 
%A 95-9. 
§ Mercier, 



V el them they killed 14 civilians and burned 44 houses. 
At Winxele they burned 57 houses and killed 5 
civilians — the soldier who had shot and bayonetted 
one of them thrust his bayonet into the faces of the 
hostages : "Smell, smell ! It is the blood of a Belgian 
pig" (d 97-8). At Corbeek-Loo 20 civilians were 
killed, 62 deported, and 129 houses burnt. At Wilsele 
36 houses were burnt and 7 people killed. One of 
them was an epileptic who had a seizure while he was 
being carried away as a hostage. Since he could go 
no further, he was shot through the head (d 129). At 
Kessel-Loo 59 people were killed and 461 houses burnt; 
at Linden 6 and 103; at Heverle 6 and 95. In the 
whole Canton of Louvain 2,441 houses were burnt, 
2,722 plundered, 251 civilians killed, and 831 de- 
ported. About 40 per cent, of this destruction was 
done in the City of Louvain itself, on the night of 
August 25th and on the following nights and days. 
The destruction of Louvain was the greatest organ- 
ised outrage which the Germans committed in the 
course of their invasion of Belgium and France, and 
as such it stands by itself. But it was also the inevita- 
ble climax of the outrages to which they had aban- 
doned themselves in their retreat upon Louvain from 
Malines. The Germans burned and massacred invari- 
bly, wherever they passed, but there was a blood- 
thirstiness and obscenity in their conduct on this re- 
treat which is hardly paralleled in their other exploits, 



and which put them in the temper for the supreme 
crime which followed. 

(v) Louvam. 

The Germans entered Louvam on August 19th. The 
Belgian troops did not attempt to hold the town, and 
the civil authorities had prepared for the Germans' ar- 
rival. They had called in all arms in private posses- 
sion and deposited them in the H6tel-de-Ville. This 
had been done a fortnight before the German occupa- 
tion,* and was repeated, for security, on the morning 
of the 19th itself. f The municipal commissary of 
police remarked the exaggerated conscientiousness with 
which the order was obeyed. "Antiquarian pieces, 
flint-locks and even razors were handed in."J The 
people of Louvain were indeed terrified. They had 
heard what had happened in the villages round Liege, 
at Tongres and at St. Trond, and on the evening 
(August 18th) before the Germans arrived the refugees 
from Tirlemont had come pouring through the town.§ 
The Burgomaster, like his colleagues in other Belgian 
towns, had posted placards on August 18th, enjoining 
confidence and calm. 

The German entry on the 19th took place without 
disturbance. Large requisitions were at once made on 

* "Germans," p. 26. 


tR29; cp. "Germans," p. 9; Chambry, p. 14; es; R34. 

§ "Germans," p. 15; R24. 



the town by the German Command. The troops were 
billeted on the inhabitants. In one house an officer de- 
manded quarters for 50 men. "Revolver in hand, he 
inspected every bedroom minutely. 'If anything goes 
wrong, you are all kaput' That was how he finished 
the business.'"^ It was vacation time, and the lodg- 
ings of the University students were empty. Many 
houses were shut up altogether, and these were broken 
into and pillaged by the German soldiers. f They pil- 
laged enormous quantities of wine, without interfer- 
ence on the part of their officers. "The soldiers did not 
scruple to drain in the street the contents of stolen 
bottles, and drunken soldiers were common objects."^ 
There was also a great deal of wanton destruction — 
"furniture destroyed, mirrors and picture-frames 
smashed, carpets spoilt and so on."§ The house of 
Professor van Gehuchten, a scientist of international 
eminence, was treated with especial malice. This is 
testified by a number of people, including the Profes- 
sor's son. "They destroyed, tore up and threw into 
the street my father's manuscripts and books (which 
were very numerous), and completely wrecked his li- 
brary and its contents. They also destroyed the manu- 
script of an important work of my late father's which 

* Chambry, p. 1 6. 
tea; Ry, lo. 
%^z\\ Chambry, p. 17. 
§"HoMors," p. 31. 


was in the hands of the printer."* — "This misdemean- 
our made a scandal," states another witness. "It was 
brought to the knowledge of the German general, who 
seemed much put out, but took no measures of pro- 
tection."t The pillage was even systematic. A serv- 
ant, left by an absent professor in charge of his house, 
found on August 20th that the Germans "had five 
motor-vans outside the premises. I saw them remov- 
ing from my master's house wine, blankets, books, etc., 
and placing them in the vans. They stripped the whok 
place of everything of value, including the furniture. 
... I saw them smashing glass and crockery and the 
windows."! On August 20th there were already acts 
of violence in the outskirts of the town. At Corbeek- 
Loo a girl of sixteen was violated by six soldiers and 
bayonetted in five places for offering resistance. Her 
parents were kept off with rifles. § By noon on August 
20th the town itself "was like a stable. Streets, pave- 
ments, public squares and trampled flower beds had 
disappeared under a layer of manure." || 

On August 2oth the German military authorities 
covered the walls with proclamations: "Atrocities 
have been committed by (Belgian) franc-tireurs."l[ — 

* 625. 

tR24; cp. Rii; ez; "Germans," p. 25. 


§62; R18. 

II "Germans," p. 25. 

H "Germans," p. 26; R24. 



"If anything happens to the German troops, le total 
sera res pons able'"'^ (an attempt to render in French 
the Prussian doctrine of collective responsibility). 
Doors must be left open at night. Windows fronting 
the street must be lighted up. Inhabitants must be 
within doors between 8.0 p.m. and 7.0 a.m. Most of 
these placards were ready-made in German, French 
and Russian. There were no placards in Flemish till 
after the events of August 25th. Yet Flemish was the 
only language spoken and understood by at least half 
the population of Louvain. 

Hostages were also taken by the German authori- 
ties.f The Burgomaster, a City Councillor and a Sena- 
tor were confined under guard in the H6tel-de-Ville on 
the first day of occupation. From August 2 1 st onwards 
they were replaced successively by other notables, in- 
cluding the Rector and Vice-Rector of the University. 
On August 21st there was another German proclama- 
tion, in which the inhabitants were called upon (for 
the third time) to deliver up their arms.:]: Requisi- 
tions and acts of pillage by individual officers and 
soldiers continued, and on the evening of August 24th 
the Burgomaster was dragged to the Railway Station 
and threatened with a revolver by a German officer, 
who had arrived with 250 men by train and demanded 

* "Horrors," p. 31. 

tR7. 24. 


— i,..-..v.. 


a hot meal and mattresses for them at once. Major 
von Manteuffel, the Etappen-Kommandant in the city, 
was called in and the Burgomaster was released, but 
without reparation.* On that day, too, the German 
wounded were removed from Louvainf — an ominous 
precaution — and in the course of the following day 
there were spoken warnings.^ On the morning of this 
day, Tuesday, August 25th, Madame Roomans, a 
notary's wife, is said to have been warned by the Ger- 
man officers billeted on her to leave the town. In the 
afternoon, about 5.0 o'clock, another lady reported how 
an officer, billeted on her and taking his leave, had 
added: "I hope you will be spared, for now it is going 
to begin." At supper time, when the first shots were 
fired and the alarm was sounded, officers billeted on 
various households are said to have exclaimed "Poor 
people!"— or to have wept. 

On the morning of August 25th there were few 
German troops in Louvain. The greater part of those 
that had entered the town since the 19th had passed on 
to the front in the direction of Malines, and were now 
engaged in resisting the Belgian sortie from Antwerp, 
which was made this day. As the Belgian offensive 
made progress, the sound of the cannon became louder 
and louder in Louvain, § and the German garrison grew 

*Ri, 24; "Germans," pp. 28-9. 


JR2, 24, 29. 

§ "Germans," p. 31; Grondijs, p. 34; e i; Ri, 8, 11, 17. 


increasingly uneasy. Despatch riders from the front 
kept arriving at the Kommandantur ;* at 4.0 o'clock 
a general alarm was sounded ;f the troops in the town 
assembled and marched out towards the north-western 
suburbs; J military waggons drove in from the north- 
west in disorder, "their drivers grasping revolvers and 
looking very much excited." § At the same time, re- 
inforcements || began to detrain at the S>tation^ which 
stands at the eastern extremity of the town, and is con- 
nected with the central Grand' I* lace and with the 
University buildings by the broad, straight line of the 
Rue de la Station^ flanked with the private houses of 
the wealthier inhabitants. These fresh troops were bil- 
leted hastily by their officers in the quarters nearest the 
Station.^ The cavalry were concentrated in the Place 
du Peuple^ a large square lying a short distance to the 
left of the Rue de la Station, about half-way towards 
the Grand' Place.^* The square was already crowded 
with the transport that had been sent back during the 
day from the front.f f As the reinforcements kept on 
detraining, and the quarters near the Station filled up, 
the later arrivals went on to the Grand' Place and the 

♦"Germans," pp. 31-3. 

fe I. 

:j: e I ; "Germans," p. 32; D7, 8. 

§ "Germans," p. 32. 

Q "Germans," p. 32; DavigooD, p. 97; R17. 

1 Chambry, p. 21 ; 63 ; R17. 

**R7; D46. 



Hotel-de-Ville^'^ which was the seat of the Komman- 

During all this time the agitation increased. About 
7.0 o'clock a company of Landsturm which had 
marched out in the afternoon to the north-western out- 
skirts of the town, were ordered back by their battalion 
commander to the Place de la Station — the extensive 
square in front of the station buildings^ out of which 
the Rue de la Station leads into the middle of the 
city.f The military police pickets^ in the centre of 
the city were on the alert. Between 7.0 and 7.30 the 
alarm was sounded again, § and the troops who had ar- 
rived that afternoon assembled from their billets and 
stood to arms. || The tension among them was extreme. 
They had been travelling hard all day; they had en- 
tered the town at dusk; it was now dark, and they did 
not know their way about the streets, nor from what 
quarter to expect the enemy forces, which were sup- 
posed to be on the point of making their appearance. 
It was in these circumstances that, a few minutes past 
eight o'clock, the shooting in Louvain broke out. 

All parties agree that it broke out in answer to sig- 
nals. A Belgian witness,^ living near the Tirlemont 

* D46. 

tD7, 8. 
tei; R8. 

§R7, 17- 

II Chambry, pp. 23" 3. 




Gaie, saw a German military motor-car dash up from 
the Boulevard de Tirlemont^ make luminous signals 
at the Gate, and then dash off again. A fusillade im- 
mediately followed. The German troops bivouacked 
in the Place de la Station saw two rockets, the first 
green and the second red, rise in quick succession from 
the centre of the town.* They found themselves under 
fire immediately afterwards. A similar rocket was seen 
later in the night to rise above the conflagration.f It 
is natural to suppose that the rockets, as well as the 
lights on the car, were German military signals of the 
kind commonly used in European armies for signalling 
in the dark. There had been two false alarms already 
that afternoon and evening; there is nothing incredible 
in a third. The German troops in the Flace de la 
Station assumed that the signals were of Belgian origin 
(and therefore of civilian origin, as the Belgian troops 
did not after all reach the town), because these signals 
were followed by firing directed against themselves. 
They could not believe that the shots were fired in 
error by their own comrades, yet there is convincing 
evidence that this was the case. 

It is certain that German troops fired on each other 
in at least two places — in the Kue de la Station and in 
the Kue de Bruxelles, which leads into the Grand' 
Place from the opposite direction. 

*D7, lo, 13, 13, 14-18, 32; cp. D46. 





"We were at supper," states a Belgian witness,* 
whose house was in the Rue de la Station, "when 
about 8.15, shots were suddenly fired in the street by 
German cavalry coming from the Station. The troops 
who were bivouacked in the square replied, and an 
automobile on its way to the Station had to stop 
abruptly opposite my house and reverse, while its oc- 
cupants fired. Within a few seconds the din of re- 
volver and rifle shots had become terrific. The fusil- 
lade was sustained, and spread (north-eastward) to- 
wards the Boulevard de Diest. It became so furious 
that there was even gun-fire. The encounter between 
the German troops continued as far as the Grand' Place, 
where on at least two occasions there was machine-gun 
fire. The fight lasted for from fifteen to twenty min- 
utes with desperation ; it persisted an hour longer after 
that, but with less violence." 

"At the stroke of eight," states another witness,! 
"shots were heard by us, coming from the direction of 
the Place du Peuple, where the German cavalry was 
concentrated. Part of the baggage-train, which was 
stationed in the Rue Leopold, turned right about and 
went off at a gallop towards the Station. I was at my 
front door and heard the bullets whistling as they came 
from the Place du Peuple. At this moment a sustained 




fusillade broke out, and there was a succession of 
cavalry-charges in the direction of the Station" 

The stampede in the Place du Peuple is described by 
a German officer* who was present. "I heard the clock 
strike in a tower. . . . Complete darkness already pre- 
vailed. At the same moment I saw a green rocket go 
up above the houses south-west of the square. . . . 
Firing was directed on the German troops in the 
square. . . . Whilst riding round the square, I was 
shot from my horse on the north-eastern side. I dis- 
tinctly heard the rattling of machine-guns, and the bul- 
lets flew in great numbers round about me. . . . After 
I had fallen from my horse, I was run over by an 
artillery transport waggon, the horses of which had 
been frightened by the firing and stampeded. . . ." 

The shots by which this officer was wounded evi- 
dently came from Geraian troops in the Rue Leopold^ 
where they were attacking the house of Professor Ver- 
helst. The Landsturm Company bivouacked in the 
Station Square was already replying vigorously to what 
it imagined to be the Belgian fire, coming from the 
Rue Leopold and the Rue de la Station. 

"I stood with my Company," states the Company 
Commander,t "at about ten minutes to eight in the 
Station Square. I had stood about five minutes, when 
suddenly, quite unexpectedly, shots were fired at my 




Company from the surrounding houses, from the win- 
dows, and from the attics. Simultaneously I heard 
lively firing from the Rue de la Station, as well as from 
all the neighbouring streets." (Precisely the district 
in which the newly-arrived troops had taken up their 
quarters.) "Shots were also fired from the windows 
of my hotel — straight from my room" (which had 
doubtless been occupied by some newly-arrived soldier 
during the afternoon, while the witness was on duty at 
the Malines Gate). . . . 

"We now knelt down and fired at the opposite 
houses. ... I sought cover with my Company in the 
entrances of some houses. During the assault five men 
of my Company were wounded. The fact that so few 
were wounded is due to the fact that the inhabitants 
were shooting too high. . . . 

"About an hour later I was summoned to His Ex- 
cellency General von Boehn, who was standing near 
by. His Excellency asked for an exact report, and, 
after I had made it, he said to me: /Can you take an 
oath concerning what you have just reported to me — 
in particular, that the first shots were fired by the in- 
habitants from the houses?' I then answered: 'Yes, 
I can swear to that fact.' " 

But what evidence had the Lieutenant for the "fact" 
to which he swore? There was no doubt about the 
shots, but he gives no proof of the identity of those who 



fired them, and another witness,* who lived in a house 
looking on to the Station Square, is equally ppsitive 
that the assailants, too, were German soldiers. 

"Just before eight," he states, "we heard one shot 
from a rifle, followed immediately after by two others, 
and then a general fusillade began. I went at once 
to my garden; the bullets were passing quite close to 
me ; I went back to the house and on to the balcony, 
and there I saw the Germans, not fighting Belgians, 
but fighting each other at a distance of 200 or 300 
yards. At 8.0 o'clock it begins to be dark, but I am 
perfectly certain it was Germans fighting Germans. 
The firing on both sides passed right in front of my 
house, and from the other side of the railway. I was 
low down on the balcony, quite flat, and watched it all. 
They fought hard for about an hour. The officers 
whistled and shouted out orders ; there was terrible con- 
fusion until each side found out they were fighting each 
other, and then the firing ceased. About half an hour 
after, on the other side of the railway, I heard a 
machine-gun — I was told afterwards that the Germans 
were killing civilians with it. It went on certainly for 
at least five or six minutes, stopping now and then for 
a few seconds. . . ." 

This fighting near the Station seems to have been 

the first and fiercest of all, but the panic spread like 

wildfire through the city. It was spread by the horses 



that stampeded in the Place du Feuple and elsewhere, 
and galloped riderless in all directions— across the 
Station Square,'' through the suburb of Corbeek-Loo.'^ 
down the Rue de la Station.X and up the Rue de Tide- 
mont.l the Rue de Bruxelles,\\ and the Rue de Ma- 
lines.\ The troops infected by the panic either ran 
amok or took to flight. 

''About 8.0 o'clock," states a witness,** "the Rue 
de la Station was the scene of a stampede of horses and 
baggage waggons, some of which were overturned. A 
smart burst of rifle-fire occurred at this moment. This 
came from the German police-guard in the Rue de la 
Station, who, seeing troops arrive in disorder, thought 
that it was the enemy. Another proof of their mistake 
is that later during the same night a group of German 
soldiers, under the command of an officer, got into a 
shop belonging to the F.'s and in charge of their 
nephew B., and told him, pointing their revolvers at 
him, to hide them in the cellar. A few hours after- 
wards, hearing troops passing, they compelled him to 
go and see if it was the French or the Germans, and 
when they learnt that it was the Germans, they called 

*D8, 22. 


§ "Germans," p. 33' 
** e I ; cp. R8. 



out: 'Then we are safe,' and rejoined their compatri- 

These new troops hurrying into the town in the 
midst of the uproar were infected by the panic in 
their turn and flung themselves into the fighting. "On 
August 25th," states one of them in his diary,* "we 
hold ourselves on the alert at Gri7?tde (a sugar refin- 
ery) ; here, too, everything is burnt and destroyed. 
From Grimde we continue our march upon Louvain; 
here it is a picture of horror all round; corpses of our 
men and horses; motor-cars blazing; the water poi- 
soned; we have scarcely reached the outskirts of the 
town when the fusillade begins again more merrily 
than ever; naturally we wheel about and sweep the 
street; then the town is peppered by us thoroughly." 

In the Rue Leopold^ leading from the Rue de la Sta- 
tion into the Ylace du Feuple^ "at 8.0 o'clock exactly 
a violent fusillade broke out." The newly-arrived 
troops, who had been under arms since the alarm at 
7.0 o'clock, "took to flight as fast as their legs could 
carry them. From our cellar," states one of the house- 
holders on whom they had been billeted,f "we saw 
them running until they must have been out of breath." 

There was a single shot, followed by a fusillade and 
machine-gun fire, in the Rue des Joyeuses Entrees,% 

♦Morgan, p. 102. 
fChambry, p. 23. 

+ R2. 



Waggons and motor-cars were flying out of the town 
down the Rue de Pare, and soldiers on foot down the 
Rue de Tirlemont.'' In the Rue des Flamands, which 
runs at right-angles between these two latter roads, "at 
ten minutes past eight, a shot was fired quite close to 
the Institut Superieur de Pkilosopkie" (now converted 
into the Hopital St. Thomas). "We had scarcely 
taken note of it," states one of the workers in the hos- 
pital,t "when other reports followed. In less than a 
minute rifle-shots and machine-gun fire mingled in a 
terrific din. Accompanying the crack of the firearms, 
we heard the dull thud of galloping hoofs in the Rue de 


Mgr. Deploige, President of the Institute and Di- 
rector of the Hospital, reportsj that "a lively fusillade 
broke out suddenly at 8.0 o'clock (Belgian time), at 
different points simultaneously— at the Brussels Gate, 
at the Tirlemont Gate, in the Rue de la Station, Rue 
Leopold, Rue Marie-There se. Rue des Joyeuses En- 
trees, Rue de Tirlemont, etc.§ It was the German 
troops firing with rifles and machine-guns. Some 
houses were literally riddled with bullets, and a num- 
ber of civilians were killed in their homes." 

Higher up the Rue de Tirlemont, in the direction of 

* "Horrors," p. 38. 
t "Germans," p. 33- 

§A1^ in the Rue Vital Decoster, north of the Rue de la Station 




the Grand' Place, there was a Belgian Infantry Bar- 
racks, which had been turned into a hospital for slightly 
incapacitated German soldiers. The patients were in 
a state of nervous excitement already. "Every man," 
states one of them,* "had his rifle by his side, also 
ball-cartridge." — "About 9.0 o'clock," states another,f 
"we heard shots . . . We had to fall in in the yard. 
A sergeant-major distributed cartridges among us, 
whereupon I marched out with about 20 men. In the 
Rue de Tirlemont a lively fire was directed against us 
from guns of small bore. . . . We pushed our way into 
a restaurant from, which shots had come, and found in 
the proprietor's possession about 100 Browning cart- 
ridges. He was arrested and shot." — "We now," con- 
tinues the former, "stormed all the houses out of which 
shots were being fired. . . . Those who were found 
with weapons were immediately shot or bayonetted. 
... I myself, together with a comrade, bayonetted 
one inhabitant who went for me with his knife. ..." 
But who would not defend himself with a knife when 
attacked by an armed man breaking into his house*? 
The witness admits that only five civilians were armed 
out of the twenty-five dragged out. Were these 
"armed" with knives? Or if revolver bullets were 
found in their houses, was it proved that they had not 
delivered up their revolvers at the time when they had 

*D29; cp. R2. 
tDao; cp. 035, vj. 



been ordered to do so by the municipal authorities and 
the German Command? The witness does not claim 
to have found the revolvers themselves as well as the 
ammunition, though even if he had that was no proof 
that his victims had been firing with them, or even that 
they were theirs. The German Army uses "Brown- 
ings" too, and at this stage of the panic many German 
soldiers had broken into private houses and were firing 
from the windows as points of vantage. Two German 
soldiers broke into the house of Professor Verhelst {Rtie 
Leopold^ 1 6), and fired into the street out of the sec- 
ond storey window. Other Germans passing shouted : 
"They have been shooting here," and returned the fire.* 
Mgr. Ladeuze, Rector of Louvain University, was 
looking from the window of his house adjoining the 
garden of the Chemical Institute^ Rue de Namur, and 
saw two German soldiers hidden among the trees and 
firing over the wall into the street.f Moreover, there 
is definite evidence of Germans firing on one another 
by mistake in other quarters beside the neighbourhood 
of the Station. 

"I myself know," declares a Belgian witness, J "that 
the Germans fired on one another on August 25th. On 
that day, at about 8.0 p.m., I was in the Rue de 
Bruxelles at Louvain. I was hidden in a house. There 

* "Germans," pp. 41, 107; 624; Rag. 
t "Germans," p. 107; Grondijs p. 58. 
tes; cp. eis; Rio. 



was one party of German soldiers at one end of the 
street firing on another party at the other end. I could 
see that this happened myself. On the next day I 
spoke to a German soldier called Hermann Otto — he 
was a private in a Bavarian regiment. He told me that 
he himself was in the Rue de Bruxelles the evening 
before, and that the two parties firing on one another 
were Bavarians and Poles, he being among the Ba- 
varians. ..." 

The Poles openly blamed the Bavarians for the error. 
A wounded Polish Catholic, who was brought in dur- 
ing the night to the Dominican Monastery in the Rue 
Juste-Lipse, told the monks that "he had been wounded 
by a German bullet in an exchange of shots between 
two groups of German soldiers."* On the Thursday 
following, a wounded Polish soldier was lying in the 
hospital of the Sisters of Mary at Wesemael, and, see- 
ing German troops patrolling the road between Wese- 
mael and Louvain, exclaimed to one of the nuns: 
"These drunken pigs fired on us."f 

The casualties inflicted by the Germans on each 
other do not, however, appear to have been heavy. 
One German witnessj saw "two dead transport horses 
and several dead soldiers" lying in the Place du Peuple. 
Another§ saw a soldier lying near the Juste-Lipse 

*xx\ p. 115. 

t D20. 



Monument who had been killed by a shot through the 
mouth. But most express astonishment at the light- 
ness of the losses caused by so heavy a fire. "It is 
really a miracle," said a German military doctor to a 
Belgian Professor in the course of the night,* "that not 
one soldier has been wounded by this violent fusillade." 
— "A murderous fire," states the surgeon of the Second 
Neuss Landsturm Battalion,f "was directed against 
us from Rue de la Station, No. 120. The fact that 
we or some of us were not killed I can merely explain 
by the fact that we were going along the same side of 
the street from which the shots were fired, and that it 
was night." — "A tremendous fire," states Major von 
Manteuffel, the Etappen-Kommandant,J "was opened 
from the houses surrounding the Grand' Place, which 
was now filled with artillery (one batter)0» and with 
transport columns, motor-lorries and tanks of benzine. 
... I believe there were three men wounded, chiefly 
in the legs." General von Boehn, commanding the 
Ninth Reserve Army Corps, estimates § that the total 
loss, in killed, wounded, and missing, of his General 
Command Staff, which was stationed in the Place du 
Peuple, "amounts to 5 officers, 2 officials, 23 men, and 
95 horses." — "I note that the inhabitants fired far too 





high," states a N.C.O. of the Landsturm Company 
drawn up in the Station Square.'^ *'That was our good 
luck, because otherwise, considering the fearful fire 
which was directed against us from all the houses in 
the Station Square^ most German officers and soldiers 
would have been killed or seriously wounded." 

Thus the German troops in Louvain seem not merely 
to have iired on one another, but to have exaggerated 
hysterically the amount of danger each incurred from 
the other's mistake. And the legend grew with time. 
The deposition last quoted was taken down on Sep- 
tember 17th, 1914, less than a month after the event. 
But when examined again, on November 19th, the same 
witness deposed that "Many of us were wounded, and 
some of us even received mortal wounds. ... I fully 
maintain my evidence of September 17th," he naively 
adds in conclusion. 

On the night of August 25th these German soldiers 
were distraught beyond all restraints of reason and 
justice. They blindly assumed that it was the civilians, 
and not their comrades, who had fired, and when they 
discovered their error they accused the civilians, de- 
liberately, to save their own reputation. 

The Director and the Chief Surgeon of the Hopital 

St.'Thomas went out into the street after the first fusil-. 

lade was over. Three soldiers with fixed bayonets 

rushed at them shouting: "You fired! Die!" — audit 



was only with difficulty that they persuaded them to 
spare their lives. When the firing began again a ser- 
geant broke into the hospital shouting: "Who fired 
here^" — and placed the hospital staff under guard.* 
This was the effect of panic, but there were cases in 
which the firing was imputed to civilians, and punish- 
ment meted out for it, by means of criminal trickery. 
It was realised that the material evidence would be 
damning to the German Army. The empty cartridge 
cases were all German which were picked up in the 
streets,*!* and it is stated that every bullet extracted 
from the bodies of wounded German soldiers was found 
to be of German origin. J The Germans, convicted by 
these proofs, shrank from no fraud which might enable 
them to transfer the guilt on to the heads of Belgian 

"The Germans took the horses out of a Belgian Red 
Cross car," states a Belgian witness§ living in the 
.Station Square, "frightened them so that they ran 
down the- street, and then shot three of them. Two 
fell quite close to my house. They then took a Belgian 
artillery helmet and put it on the ground, so as to pre- 
pare a mise-en-scene to pretend that the Belgians had 
been fighting in the street." 

* "Germans" pp. 33-5. 


:|:R29 (Statement by the Abbe van den Bergh, accredited by His 
Eminence Cardinal Piffl, Prince-Bishop of Vienna, to conduct in- 
quiries on behalf of the Wiener Priester-Verein) ; cp. R35. 




At a late hour of the night a detachment of German 
soldiers was passing one of the professors' houses, when 
a shot rang out, followed by a volley from the soldiers 
through the windows of the house. The soldiers then 
broke in and accused the inmates of having fired the 
first shot. They were mad with fury, and the professor 
and his family barely escaped with their lives. A ser- 
geant pointed to his boot, with the implication that 
the shot had struck him there ; but a witness in another 
house actually saw this sergeant fire the original shot 
himself, and make the same gesture after it to incite 
his comrades.* 

A staff-surgeon billeted on a cure in the suburb of 
Blauwput pretended he had been wounded by civilians 
when he had really fallen from a wall. On the morn- 
ing of the 26th the officer in local command arrested 
fifty-seven men at Blauwput^ this cure included, in 
order to decimate them in reprisal for wounds which 
the surgeon and two other soldiers had received. The 
cure was exempted by the lot, when the surgeon came 
up with a handful of revolver-cartridges which he pro- 
fessed to have discovered in the cure's house. The 
officer answered: "Go away. I have searched this 
house myself," and the surgeon slunk off. The cure 
was not added to the victims, but every tenth man was 
shot all the same.f 

*R3; cp. e24. 
tR29; cp. 636. 



That "the civilians had fired" was already an official 
dogma with the German military authorities in Lou- 
vain. Mgr. Coenraets, Vice-Rector of the University, 
was serving that day as a hostage at the Hotel-de-Ville. 
A Dominican monk, Father Parijs, was there at the 
moment the firing broke out, in quest of a pass for 
remaining out-of-doors at night on ambulance service. 
He was now retained as well, and Alderman Schmit 
was fetched from his house. Von Boehn, the General 
Commanding the Ninth Reserve Corps, harangued 
these hostages on his arrival from the Malines front, 
and von Manteuffel, the Etappen-Kommandant, then 
conducted them, with a guard of soldiers, round the 
town. Baron Orban de Xivry was dragged out of his 
house to join them on the way. The procession halted 
at intervals in the streets, and the four hostages were 
compelled to proclaim to their fellow-citizens, in Flem- 
ish and in French, that, unless the firing ceased, the 
hostages themselves would be shot, the town would 
have to pay an indemnity of 20,000,000 francs, the 
houses from which shots were fired would be burnt, and 
artillery-fire would be directed upon Louvain as a 

But "reprisals" against the civil population had al- 
ready begun. The firing from German soldiers in the 
houses upon Geraian soldiers in the street was answered 
by a general assault of the latter upon all houses within 

*Di (von Boehn), 2, 3 (von Manteuffel), 9, 49 (2). 



their reach. "They broke the house-doors," states a 
Belgian woman,* "with the butt-ends of their rifles. 
. . . They shot through the gratings of the cellars." — 
"In the Hotel'de-Ville," states von Manteuffel,t "I 
saw the Company stationed there on the ground floor, 
standing at the windows and answering the fire of the 
inhabitants. In front of the Hotel-de-Vzlle, on the 
entrance steps, I also saw soldiers firing in reply to the 
inhabitants' fire in the direction of their houses." — 
"Personally I was under the distinct impression," states 
a staff officer,^ "that we were fired at from the Hotel 
Maria Theresa with machine-guns." (This is quite 
probable, and merely proves that those who fired were 
German soldiers.) "The fire from machine-guns lasted 
from four to five minutes, and was immediately an- 
swered by our troops, who finally stormed the house 
and set it on fire." — "The order was passed up from 
the rear that we should fire into the houses," states an 
infantryman who had just detrained and was march- 
ing with his unit into the town.§ "Thereupon we shot 
into the house-fronts on either side of us. To what 
extent the fire was answered I cannot say, the noise 
and confusion were too great." — "We now dispersed 
towards both sides," states a lance-corporal in the same 

*ei3; cp. R17, 24. 


tDz; cp. Dii. 

§D36 (I). 


21. Capelle-au-Bois: The Church 


battalion,* "and fired into the upper windows. . . . 
How long the firing lasted I cannot say. . . . We now 
began shooting into the ground-floor windows too, as 
well as tearing down a certain number of the shutters. I 
made my way into the house from which the shot had 
come, with a few others who had forced open the door. 
We could find no one in the house. In the room from 
which the shot had come there was, however, a petro- 
leum lamp, lying overturned on the table and still 
smouldering. ..." 

These assaults on houses passed over inevitably into 
wholesale incendiarism. "The German troops," as the 
Editors of the German White Book remark in their 
summarising report on the events at Louvain, "had to 
resort to energetic counter-measures. In accordance 
with the threats, the inhabitants who had taken part in 
the attack were shot, and the houses from which shots 
had been fired were set on fire. The spreading of the 
fire to other houses also and the destruction of some 
streets could not be avoided. In this way the Cathe- 
dral" (i. e., the Collegiate Church of St. Pierre) "also 
caught fire. . . ." 

There is a map in the German White Book which 
shows the quarters burnt down. The incendiarism 
started in the Station Square^ and spread along the 
Boulevard de Tirlemont as far as the Tirlemont Gate. 
It was renewed across the railway and devastated the 

*D36 (2). 


suburbs to the east. Then it was extended up the Rue 
de la Station into the heart of the town, and here the 
Church of St. Pierre was destroyed, and the University 
Halles with the priceless University Library — not by 
mischance, as the German Report alleges, but by the 
deliberate work of Gemian troops, employing the same 
incendiary apparatus as had been used already at Vise, 
Liege and elsewhere.'''- 

The burning was directed by a German officer from 
the Vieux Marchc^ a large open space near the centre 
of the town, and by another group of officers stationed 
in the Vlace du Peuple.^ The burning here is de- 
scribed by a German officer^: (whose evidence on other 
points has been quoted above). "The Company," he 
states, "continued to fire into the houses. The fire of 
the inhabitants {sic) gradually died down. Thereupon 
the German soldiers broke in the doors of the houses 
and set the houses on fire, flinging burning petroleum 
lamps into the houses or striking off the gas-taps, set- 
ting light to the gas which rushed out and throwing 
table-cloths and curtains into the flames. Here and 
there benzine was also employed as a means of igni- 
tion. The order to set fire to the houses was given out 

* Area of incendiarism: "Eye-witness" p. i; "Horrors" pp. 39, 43; 
"Germans" pp. 35-S, 92; Chambry pp. 25, 92; Apparatus: ez, 13; 
R8, 13; cp. also D31, 37 (2). 

t R24. 




by Colonel von Stubcnrauch, whose voice I distin- 
guished. . . ." 

In the Rue de la Station the Germans set the houses 
on fire with incendiary bombs. This was seen by a 
Belgian witness,* and is confirmed by the German offi- 
cer just cited, who, in the Place du Feuple^ "heard 
repeatedly the detonation of what appeared to be 
heavy gims" round about him. "I supposed," he pro- 
ceeds, "that artillery was firing; but since there was 
none present, there is only one explanation for this — 
that the inhabitants {sic) also threw hand-grenades." 

In the Rue de Manege-\ another Belgian witness 
saw a soldier pouring inflammable liquid over a house 
from a bucket, and this though a German military sur- 
geon, present on the spot, admitted that in that house 
there had been nobody firing. Soldiers are also stated 
to have been seent with a complete incendiary equip- 
ment (syringe, hatchet, etc.), and with "Gott mit Uns" 
and "Company of Incendiaries" blazoned on their 
belts. The Germans deny that the Church of St. Pierre 
was deliberately burnt, and allege that the fire spread 
to it from private houses ;§ but a Dutch witness || saw 
it burning while the adjoining houses were still intact. 
There is less evidence for the deliberate burning of the 

* R8 ; e23 ; cp. "Germans" p. 46. 

tRi3; cp. 614, 28. 

rjieis; cp. €24. 


II R14 (Grondijs) ; cp. R19, 29. 



University Halles^ containing the Library, but it is 
significant that the building was completely consumed 
in one night (a result hardly possible without artificial 
means), and at ii.o p.m., in the middle of the burn- 
ing, an officer answered a Belgian monk, who protested, 
that it was "By Order."* The manuscripts and early 
printed books in the Library were one of the treasures 
of Europe. The whole collection of 250,000 volumes 
was the intellectual capital of the University, without 
which it could not carry on its work. Every volume 
and manuscript was destroyed. The Germans pride 
themselves on saving the Hotel-de-Ville, but they saved 
it because it was the seat of the German Komman- 
dantur, and this only suggests that, had they desired, 
they could have prevented the destruction of the other 
buildings as well. 

As the houses took fire the inhabitants met their fate. 
Some were asphyxiated in the cellars where they had 
taken refuge from the shooting, or were burnt alive as 
they attempted to escape from their homes.f Others 
were shot down by the German troops as they ran out 
into the street, t or while they were fighting the flames. § 
"The franc-tireurs," as they are called by the German 
officer in the Place du Peuple,\^ "were without excep- 

*R29; cp. "Eye-witness" p. 3; "Germans" p. 37; R25. 

tea, 23; Rio, ii, 18, 24. 

:l:ei; R8. 


II D46. 








tion evil-looking figures, such as I have never seen else- 
where in all my life. They were shot down by the 
German posts stationed below. . . ." 

Others, again, tried to save themselves by climbing 
garden walls.* "I, my mother and my servants," 
states one of these,t ''took refuge at A.'s, whose cel- 
lars are vaulted and therefore afforded us a better pro- 
tection than mine. A little later we withdrew to A.'s 
stables, where about 30 people, who had got there by 
climbing the garden walls, were to be found. Some of 
these poor wretches had had to climb 20 walls. A 
ring came at the bell. We opened the door. Several 
civilians flung themselves under the porch. The Ger- 
mans were firing upon them from the street." 

"When we were crossing a particularly high wall,'' 
states another victim, J "my wife was on the top of 
the wall and I was helping her to get down, when a 
party of 15 Germans came up with rifles and revolvers. 
They told us to come down. My wife did not follow 
as quickly as they wished. One of them made a lunge 
at her with his bayonet. I seized the blade of the 
bayonet and stopped the lunge. The German soldier 
then tried to stab me in the face with his bayonet. . . . 

"They kept hitting us with the butt-ends of their 
rifles — the women and children as well as the men. 

*R8, 26; ei4. 

t ei. 

^eS; cp. "Horrors" p. 39; eij; R8, 15, 17. 

117 ' 


They struck us on the elbows because they said our 
arms were not raised high enough. . . . 

"We were driven in this way through a burning 
house to the Place de la Station. There were a num- 
ber of prisoners already there. In front of the station 
entrance there were the corpses of three civilians killed 
by rifle fire. The women and the children were sepa- 
rated. The women were put on one side and the men 
on the other. One of the German soldiers pushed my 
wife with the butt-end of his rifle, so that she was 
compelled to walk on the three corpses. Her shoes 
were full of blood. . . . 

"Other prisoners were being continually brought in. 
I saw one prisoner with a bayonet-w^ound behind his 
ear. A boy of fifteen had a bayonet-wound in his 
throat in front. . . . The priests were treated more 
brutally than the rest. I saw one belaboured with the 
butt-ends of rifles. Some German soldiers came up to 
me sniggering, and said that all the women were going 
to be raped. . . . They explained themselves by ges- 
tures. . . . The streets were full of empty wine bot- 
tles. . . . 

"An officer told me that he was merely executing 
orders, and that he himself would be shot if he did not 
execute them. . . ." 

The battue of civilians through the streets was the 
final horror of that night. The massacre began with 
the murder of M. David-Fischbach. He was a man of 



property, a benefactor of the University and the town. 
Since the outbreak of war he had given 10,000 francs 
to the Red Cross. Since the Gern[ij;:in occupation he 
had entertained Grerman officers in his house, which 
stood in the Rue de la Station opposite the Statue of 
Juste-Lipse^ and about 9.0 o'clock that evening he had 
gone to bed. 

"Close to the Monument Square" states Dr. Berg* 
hausen, the German military surgeon who was respon- 
sible for M. David-Fischbach's death,* "I saw a Ger- 
man soldier lying dead on the ground. . . . His com- 
rades told me that the shot had been fired from the 
corner house belonging to David-Fischbach. There- 
upon I myself, with my servant, broke in the door of 
the house and met first the owner of the house, old 
David-Fischbach. I challenged him concerning the 
soldier who had been murdered. . . . Old David- 
Fischbach declared he knew nothing about it. There- 
upon his son, young Fischbach, came downstairs from 
the first floor, and from the porter's lodge appeared an 
old servant. I immediately took father, son, and ser- 
vant with me into the street. At that moment a 
tumult arose in the street, because a fearful fusillade 
had opened from a few houses on the same side of the 
street against the soldiers standing by the Monument 
and against myself. In the darkness I then lost sight 
of David-Fischbach, with his son and servant. . . ." 

*D9; cp. R34; C14 (M. David-Fischbach's servant). 



The soldiers set the old man with his back against 
the statue. Standing with his arms raised, he had to 
watch his house set on fire. Then he was bayonetted 
and finally shot to death. His son was shot, too. His 
house was burnt to the ground, and a servant asphyxi- 
ated in the cellar.* 

"Later," adds Dr. Berghausen, "I met Major von 
ManteufFel with the hostages, and all four or five of 
us saw the dead soldier lying in front of the monu- 
ment and, a few steps further on, old David-Fischbach. 
I assumed that the comrades of the soldier who had 
been killed , . . had at once inflicted punishment on, 
the owner of the house. ..." 

The corpse was also seen by a professor's wife who 
made her way to the Hopital St.-Thomas — the old 
man's white beard was stained with blood.f 

The massacre spread. Six workmen returning from 
their work were shot down from behind. J A woman 
was shot as she was beating for admittance on a door.§ 
A man had his hands tied behind his back, and was 
shot as he ran down the street. || Another witness saw 
20 men shot.^ One saw 19 corpses,** and corpses 
were also seen with their hands tied behind their backs, 

* Charabry pp. 26-7. 
t "Germans" p. 42. 
+ ei6. 
II ei5. 
** ei5. 



like the victim mentioned above.* There was the body 
of a woman cut in two, with a child still alive beside 
her.f Other children had been murdered, and were 
lying dead.J There was the body of another mur- 
dered woman, and a girl of fourteen who had been 
wounded and was being carried to hospital. A Ger- 
man soldier beckoned a Dutch witness into a shop,§ 
and showed him the shop-keeper's body in the back- 
room, in a night-shirt, with a bullet-wound through 
the head. 

These were the "evil-looking franc-tireurs" whom 
the German soldiers shot down at sight. Inhabitants 
of Louvain dragged as prisoners through the 
streets II recognised the corpses of people they 
knew. Here a bootmaker lay,1[ here a hair- 
dresser,!]" here a professor. The corpse of Pro- 
fessor Lenertz was lying in front of his house in 
the Boulevard de Tirlemont. It was recognised by Dr. 
Noyons, one of his colleagues (though a Dutchman by 
nationality), who was serving in the Hopital St.- 
Thomas, and so escaped himself.** "On the 27th," 
states a Belgian lady,tt "M. Lenertz' body was still 

* 619. 


+ ei3. 

§ Grondijs p. 39. 

II "Germans" pp. 46-7. ' 


** "Germans" p. 43. 



lying on the Boulevard. When his wife and children 
were evicted by the Grermans and came out of their 
house, members of the family had to stand in front of 
the body to hide it from Madame Lenertz' sight." 

The dead were lying in every quarter of the town. 
In the Boulevard de Tlrlemont there were six or seven 
more.* There was one at the end of the Rue du 
Manege.^ But the greatest number were in the Station 
Square, where they were seen by all the civilian prison- 
ers herded thither this night and the following day.J 
Their murder is described by a German sergeant-major§ 
who was fighting in the neighbourhood of the Station. 
"Various civilians," he remarks, "were led off by my 
men, and after judgment had been given against them 
by the Commandant, they were shot. in the Square in 
front of the Station. In accordance with orders, I 
myself helped to set fire to various houses, after hav- 
ing in every case previously convinced myself that no 
one was left in them. Towards midnight the work 
was done, and the Company returned to the station 
buildings, before which were lying shot about 15 in- 
habitants of the town." 

The slaughter itself increased the thirst for blood. 
A Dutch witness II met a German column marching in 

*Rn, 17. 

tei, 9, 13; R7, 8, 26. 


II Grondijs p. 41. 



from Aerschot. "The soldiers were beside themselves 
with rage at the sight of the corpses, and cried: 
'Schweinhunde ! Schweinhunde!' They regarded me 
with threatening eyes. I passed on my way. . . ." 

The soldiers in their frenzy respected no one. The 
Hostel for Spanish students in the Rue de la Station 
was burnt down, though it was protected by the Span- 
ish flag. Father Catala, the Superior of the Hostel and 
formerly Vice-Consul of Spain, barely escaped with 
his life. There was no mercy either for the old or the 
sick. A retired barrister, bedridden with paralysis, had 
his house burnt over his head, and was brought to the 
Hopital St.'Thomas to die. Another old man, more 
than eighty years old and in his last illness, was cast 
out by the soldiers into the street, and died in the 
Hopital St.'Thomas next day."'' An aged concierge 
was cast alive into the blazing ruins of the house it 
was his duty to guard. f So it went on till dawn, when 
the havoc was completed by salvoes of artiller}^ "At 
four o'clock in the morning," states an officer of the 
Ninth German Reserve Corps Staff, J "the Army Corps 
moved out to battle. We did not enter the main 
streets, but advanced along an avenue. ... As the 
road carrying our lines of communication was continu- 
ously fired on, the order was given to clear the town by 

♦"Germans" pp. 43-5; tz. 



force. Two guns were sent with 150 shells. The two 
guns, firing from the Railway Station, swept the streets 
with shells. Thus at least the quarter surrounding the 
Railway Station was secured, and this made it possible 
to conduct the supply-columns through the town. . . ." 

It was now the morning of August 26th. At dawn 
Mgr. Coenraets and Father Parijs, the hostages of the 
preceding night, were placed under escort and marched 
round the City once more. If the firing continued the 
hostages were to be shot. They had to proclaim this 
themselves to the inhabitants from point to point of 
the town, and they were kept at this task till far on 
in the day.* The inhabitants, meanwhile, were pay- 
ing the penalty for the shots which not they but the 
Germans had already fired. 

In one street after another the people were dragged 
from their houses, and those not slaughtered out of 
hand were driven by the soldiers to the Station Square. 
"I only had slippers on," states one victim,^ "and no 
hat or waistcoat. On the way to the Station Square, 
soldiers kicked me and hit me with the butt-ends of 
their rifles, and shouted: 'Oh, you swine! Another 
who shot at us I You swine!' My hands were tied 
behind my back with a cord, and when I cried: 'Oh, 
God, you are hurting me,' a soldier spat on me." — 
"We had to go in front of the soldiers," adds this 

* "Horrors" p. 40; "Germans" p. 47; xxi p. 115; R6, 10. 


25. Louvain: The Church of St. Pierre — Interior 


witness's wife,* "holding our hands above our heads. 
All the ladies who lived in the Boulevard — invalids 
or not — were taken prisoners. One of them, an old 
lady of 85, who could scarcely walk, was dragged from 
her cellar with her maid." 

When they reached the Station Square the men were 
herded to one side, the women and children to the 
other. It was done by an officer with a loaded revol- 
ver.f "We were separated from our families," states 
one of the men;t "we were knocked about and blows 
were rained on us from rifle butts; the women and 
children and the men were isolated from one an- 
other. ..." 

The men's pockets were rifled. Purses, keys, pen- 
knives and so on were taken from them.§ One gen- 
tleman's servant had 7,805 francs taken from his bag, 
and was given a receipt for 7,000 francs in exchange. || 
This was the preliminary to a "trial," conducted by 
Captain Albrecht,1f a staff officer of the Ninth Re- 
serve Corps. "The soldiers," states a German trades- 
man who acted as Captain Albrecht's interpreter,** 
"brought forward the civilians whom they had seized. 
... In all about 600 persons may have been brought 

* 64 ; cp. R7. 

tei = R8; cp. Ri, 7. 




H Killed, October, 1914. 
** D38. 



in, the lives of at least 500 of whom were spared, be* 
cause no clear proof of their guilt seemed to be estab- 
lished at the trial. These persons were set on one side. 
. . . Captain Albrecht followed the course — I imagine, 
by the command of his superiors — of ordering that 
those among the men brought forward upon whom 
either a weapon or an identification mark was discov- 
ered, or in whose case it was established by at least two 
witnesses that they had fired upon the German troops, 
should be shot. It is an utter impossibility, according 
to my firm conviction, that any innocent man should 
have lost his life. . . ." 

But was there really "clear proof of guilt'* in any 
of these cases? Not one of these "identification marks" 
(assumed to establish that the bearer was a member 
of the Belgian Army) has been brought forward as ma- 
terial evidence by the German Government. And was 
the other material evidence so clear? One man, for in- 
stance,'-" had a German bullet in his pocket which he 
had picked up in the street. "He was shot down, and 
two of his comrades had to make a pit and bury him 
in the place where he was shot."t One priest was shot 
"because he had purposely enticed the soldiers, ac- 
cording to their testimony, under the fire of the franc- 
tireurs."J Two other priests were shot "for distribut- 

* C4 ; cp. R20, 

t e4. 



ing ammunition to civilians,"* but this was only a 
story heard from General Headquarters at second-hand. 
The witness who tells it was sent with a squad "to 
set on fire two hotels in the Statioft Square and drive 
out their inmates. The chief culprits found, appar- 
ently, a way of escape in good time over the roofs, 
since only the proprietor of one of the hotels presented 
himself at 5.0 o'clock in the morning, and very shortly 
afterwards received the reward he deserved." But 
what was the proof that he deserved it? Not any 
material evidence on his person, or the testimony of 
two witnesses who had seen him fire, but simply the 
fact that he was the only Belgian found in a certain 
building the inmates of which had been condemned, 
a priori, as franc-tireurs. The logic of this proceeding 
is defended by the tradesman interpreter, who submitsf 
that "apart from all evidence, the persons brought to 
trial must have acted somehow in a suspicious manner 
— otherwise they would never have been brought to 
trial at all." 

"It is untrue," nevertheless he states expressly, "that 
an arbitrary selection among the persons brought for- 
ward was made when the order for execution was is- 
sued." But one of the Belgian women'| held prisoner 
in the Station Square describes how "the men were 






placed in rows of five, and the fifth in each row was 
taken and shot," as she affirms, "in my presence. If 
the fifth man happened to be old, his place was taken 
by the sixth man if he happened to be younger. This 
was also witnessed by my grandmother, my uncle and 
his wife, my cousin and our servant. . . ." 

"The whole day long," states another Belgian 
woman,* "I saw civilians being shot — twenty to 
twenty-five of them, including some monks or priests — 
in the Station Square and the Boulevard de Tirlemont, 
opposite the warehouse. The victims were bound four 
together and placed on the pavement in front of the 
Maison Hamaide. The soldiers who shot them were 
on the other side of the Boulevard, on the warehouse 
roof. For that matter, the soldiers were firing every- 
where in all directions." 

The executions were also witnessed by the German 
troops. "On the morning of August 26th," states a 
soldier,f "I saw many civilians, more than a hundred, 
among them five priests, shot at the Station Square in 
Louvain because they had fired on German troops or 
because weapons were found on their persons." 

This went on all day, and all day the women were 
compelled to watch it, while the surviving men were 
marched away in batches, and the houses on either side 
of the railway continued to burn. When night came 


tDi9;cp. D37 (3), 41, 43. 



the women were confined in the Station. "My aunt," 
continues the witness quoted above,* "was taken to 
the Station with her baby and kept there till the morn- 
ing. It rained all the night, and she wrapped the baby 
in her skirt. The baby cried for food, and a German 
soldier gave the child a little water, and took my aunt 
and the child to an empty railway-carriage. Some 
other women got into the carriage with her, but during 
the whole night the Germans fired at the carriage for 
amusement. . . ." 

The firing by German soldiers had never ceased since 
the first outbreak at 8.0 o'clock the evening before. An 
eye-witness records two bursts of it on the 26th — one 
at 5.0 p.m., and a more serious one at 8.45.t This 
firing was due in part to panic, but was in part of a 
more deliberate character. "The whole day," states a 
Belgian witness, J "the soldiers went and came through 
the streets, saying: 'Man hat geschossen,'»but it seems 
that the shots came from the soldiers themselves. I 
myself saw a soldier going through the streets shooting 
peacefully in the air." There was also killing in cold 
blood. A cafe proprietor and his daughter were shot 
by two German soldiers waiting to be served. The 
other daughter crept under a table and escaped.§ 

* ei3 ; cp. Chambry pp. 38-9. 

t "Eye-witness" p. 4; cp. "Horrors" p. 39; Chambry pp. 33, 71-2; 


■^ 62. 

§ Grondijs pp. 50-1, 



The women held prisoner at the Station were only 
released at 8.0 o'clock on the morning of the 27th,* 
but they had suffered less during these hours than the 
men. "Of the men," as a German witness puts it,t 
"some were shot according to Martial Law. In the 
case of a large number of others it was, however, im- 
possible to determine whether they had taken part in 
the shooting. These persons were placed for the mo- 
ment in the Station; some of them were conveyed 

The first batch J of those "not found guilty" was 
"conveyed" by the Boulevard de Diest round the out- 
skirts of the town, and out along the M alines Road^ 
about 11.0 o'clock in the morning. It consisted of 
from 70 to 80 men, one of whom at least was 75 years 
old, while five were neutrals — a Paraguayan priest, 
Father Gamarra,§ the Superior of the Spanish Hostel, 
Father Catala, and three of Father Catala's students. 
There were doctors, lawyers, and retired officers among 
the Belgian victims. One prisoner was driven on 
ahead to warn the country people that all the hostages 
would be executed if a single shot were fired ;|| the 
rest were searched, had their hands bound behind their 
backs, and were marched in column under guard. On 

*e4; R9. 


:j:Ri, 7, 8 (=ei), 20, 26. 

§R26 (his deposition); cp. Grondijs, pp. 70-1. 

II Ri, 8 (==ei). 



the way to Herent they were used as a screen.* The 
village of Herent was burning, and they had to run 
through the street to avoid being scorched by the 
flames.f "Carbonised corpses were lying in front of 
the houses." — "At Herent" states the South American 
priest,J "I saw lying in the nook of a wall the corpse 
of a girl twelve or thirteen years old, who had been 
burnt alive." On the road from Herent to Bueken 
"everything was devastated." Beyond Bueken and 
Campenhout they were made to halt in a field, and 
were told that they were going to be executed. Squads 
of soldiers advanced on them from the front and rear, 
and they were kept many minutes in suspense. Then 
they were marched on again towards Campenhout^ sur- 
rounded by a company which, they were given to un- 
derstand, was the "execution company." Crowds of 
German troops, bivouacked by the roadside, shouted 
at them and spat on them as they passed. They 
reached Campenhout at dusk, and were locked up for 
the night in the church with the inhabitants of the vil- 
lage. At 4.30 a.m. they were warned to confess, as 
their execution was imminent. At 5.0 a.m. they were 
released from the church, and told they were free. But 
at Bueken they were arrested again with a large num- 
ber of country people, and were marched back towards 
■ ^ 

*Ri, 7, 26. 
tRr, 8. 


Campenhout. One of these countrywomen bore a baby 
on the road.* From the outskirts of Campenhout they 
were suddenly ordered to make their own way as best 
they could to the Belgian lines. They arrived at 
Malines about 1 1.30 in the morning (of August 27th), 
about 200 strong. Within four hours of their arrival 
the German bombardmentf of Malines began, and they 
had to march on again to Antwerp. 

A second batch^ was driven out along the Brussels 
Road on August 26th between 1.0 and 2.0 o'clock in 
the afternoon. As they marched through Louvain by 
the Rue de Bruxelles, the guard fired into the win- 
dows of the houses and shot down one of the prisoners, 
who was panic-stricken and tried to escape. § At 
Herent they were yoked to heavy carts and made to 
drag them along by-roads for three hours,§ and an- 
other civilian was shot on the way.§ At 10.0 p.m. 
they were made to lie down in an open field with their 
feet tied together, and lay thus in pouring rain till 6.0 
o'clock next morning. Then they .were marched 
through Bueken, ThUdonck, Wespelaer — still in pour- 
ing rain — with their hands bound by a single long 
cord. They reached Catnpenhout at noon, and were 
set to digging trenches. At 7.0 p.m. they were allowed 
to sit down and rest, but only just behind the batteries 


q:xxi p, 117; ei8, 21; R23; "Germans" pp. 59-61, 
§ ezi. 



bombarding the Antwerp forts,* which might have 
opened retahation fire on them at any moment. That 
night they passed in Campenhout church, and at 9.0 
o'clock next morning (August 28th) they were marched 
back again to Louvain, about 1,000 in all — women and 
children as well as men. "The houses along the road 
were burning. The principal streets of Louvain itself 
were burnt out."* That night at Louvain they were 
crowded into the Cavalry Riding School in the Rue du 
Manege. Six or seven thousand people were impris- 
oned there in all.f The press was terrible, and the 
heat from the burning buildings round was so great 
that the glass of the roof cracked during the night.f 
Two women went out of their minds and two babies 
died.^ Next morning a German officer read them a 
proclamation to the effect that their liberty was given 
them because Germany had already won the war,§ and 
they were marched out again through the streets. They 
passed corpses left unburied since the night of August 
25th. § "The German soldiers giggled at the sight." || 
Once more they were driven round the countryside. At 
Herent the women and children, and the men over 
forty, were set free. At Campenhout the cure was 
added to the company, after being dragged round his 

* 621. 


tR22; cp. ei8, 21; "Germans" p. 60. 

§R22; ei8. 

II xxi p. 117. 


parish at the tail of a cart.* At Boortmeerheek the 
men between twenty and forty were also released at 
last, and told to go forward to the Belgian lines, under 
threat of being shot if they turned back. They ar- 
rived in front of Fort Waelhem in the dark, at 1 1 .o 
p.m. on the 29th, and were fired on by the Belgian 
outposts ; but they managed to make themselves known 
and came through to safety. 

The third batch "conveyed elsewhere" from Lou- 
vain on August 26th consisted of the Garde Civique.f 
All members of this body v/ere summoned by proclama- 
tion to present themselves at the Hotel-de-Ville at 2.0 
p.m.^ The 95 men who reported themselves were 
informed that they were prisoners, taken to the Station^ 
and entrained in two goods-vans. There were 250 
other deportees on the train, including the Gardes 
Civiques of Beygkem and Grimberghen, and about a 
hundred women and children. They did not reach the 
internment camp at Miinster till the night of the 28th, 
and on the journey they were almost starved. At 
Cologne Station a German Red Cross worker refused 
one of the women, who asked her in German for a little 
milk to feed her sick baby fourteen months old.§ In 
the camp at Miinster all the men were crowded pro- 

* cp. p. 76 above. 

^ Chambry p. 33; Grondijs p. 47. 

§ A German soldier was so much shocked at this that he fetched 
the milk himself. 


miscuously into a single wooden shed. The floor was 
strewn with straw (already old), which was never 
changed. The blankets (also old, and too thin to keep 
out the cold) were never disinfected or washed. There 
was no lighting or heating. The food was insufficient 
and disgusting. The sanitary arrangements were in- 
decent. And the deportees had to live under these 
conditions for months, in the clothes they stood in, 
though many had come in slippers and shirt-sleeves — 
the proclamation having taken them completely by 
surprise. In neighbouring huts there were the 400 
Russian students from Liege, 600 or 700 people from 
Vise, the Gardes Civiques of Hasselt and Tongres, 
people from Hac court and from several communes in 
the Province of Limburg — about 1,700 prisoners in 
all. On October 4th an article in the Berliner Tage- 
hlatt, signed by a German general, admitted that 
''only two of the prisoners at Milnster were under sus- 
picion of having fired" ; but none of the prisoners from 
Louvain were released till October 30th, and then only 
cripples and men over seventy years of age. The rest 
were retained, including a man with a wooden leg. . . . 

The fourth batch of prisoners on August 26th started 
about 3.0 o'clock in the afternoon, also by way of the 
Boulevard de Diest and the Malines Road:^ This 
group seems to have been treated even more brutally 
than the rest. One man was so violently mishandled 

* e3=:Ris; R17. 


that he fainted, and was carried in a waggon the first 
part of the way. He came to himself in time to see 
his own house burning and his wife waving him fare- 
well. He was then thrown out of the waggon and 
made to go on foot. His bonds cut so deeply into his 
flesh that his arms lost all sensation for three days. 
The party was marched aimlessly about between 
Herent^ Louvain^ Bueken, and Herent again till ii.o 
at night, when they had to camp in the open in the 
rain. They were refused water to drink. At 3.0 a.m. 
on August 27th they were driven on again, and 
marched till 3.0 p.m., when they arrived at Rotselaer. 
At Rotselaer they were shut up in the church — a com- 
pany of 3,000 men and women, including all the in- 
habitants of the village. This respite only lasted an 
hour, and at 4.0 o'clock they started once more along 
the Louvain Road. They were destined for a still 
worse torment, which will shortly be described. 

These preliminary expulsions on the 26th were fol- 
lowed up by more comprehensive measures on the 
morning of the 27th. Between 8.0 and 9.0 a.m. Ger- 
man soldiers went round the streets proclaiming from 
door to door: "Louvain is to be bombarded at noon; 
everyone is to leave the town immediately."* The 
people had no time to set their affairs in order or to 
prepare for the journey. They started out just as 

* "Germans" pp. 52-4, 71 ; Chambry pp. 40-1, 73 ; "Horrors" pp. 
40-1; Grondijs p. 52; "Eye-witness" p. 5; e2; Rii; D31. 



they were, fearing that the bombardment would over- 
take them before they could escape from the town. 
The exodus was complete. About 40,000 people alto- 
gether were in flight,''' and the majority of them 
streamed towards the Station Square^ where they had 
been ordered to assemble, and then out by the Boule- 
vard de Tirlemont, along the Tirlemont Road. 

The Dominicans from the Monastery in the Rue 
Juste-Lipse were expelled with the rest. "At the mo- 
ment when they were leaving the Monastery an old 
man was brought in seriously wounded in the stomach ; 
it was evident that he had but a few hours to live. A 
German officer proposed to 'finish him off,' but was 
deterred by the Prior. One of the monks attempted to 
pick up a paralysed person who had fallen in the street ; 
the soldiers prevented him, striking him with the butt- 
ends of their muskets. The weeping, terrified popula- 
tion was hurrying towards the Railway Station. . . ."f 
At the Station the Dominicans were stopped and sent 
to Germany by train ; the rest of the crowd was driven 
on. There were from 8,000 to 10,000 people in this 
first column.J "Nothing but heads was to be seen — 
a sea of heads. . . . The wind was blowing violently, 
and a remorseless rain scourged us. . . . The crowd 
was pressing upon us, suffocating us, and sometimes 

* "Germans" p. 54. 
t xxi p. 116. 


literally lifting us along like a wave, our feet not touch- 
ing the ground. We progressed with difficulty, and 
had to stop every ten metres. Sometimes a German 
asked us if we had any arms. . . ."* When they 
arrived at Tirlejnont they were kept outside the town 
till nightfall. f The inhabitants did their best for 
them, but Tirle?nont, too, had been ravaged by the 
invasion. The number of the refugees was overwhelm- 
ing, and there was a dearth of supplies. "My mother 
and I," states a Professor of Louvain University,^ 
"had to walk about 20 miles on the 27th and the fol- 
lowing day before we could find a peasant cart. We 
had to carry the few belongings we were able to take 
away, and to walk in the heavy rain. We could find 
nothing to eat, but other people were yet more unfortu- 
nate than we. I saw ladies walking in the same plight, 
without hats and almost in their night-dresses. Sick 
persons, too, dragged themselves along or were carried 
in wheel-barrows. Thousands of people were obliged 
to sleep in Tirlemont on the church pavements. We 
found a little room to sleep in. . . ." 

Ecclesiastics were singled out for special maltreat- 
ment. This professor, and twelve other priests or 
monks with him, was stopped by German troops en- 
camped at Lovenjoul. They were informed that they 

* Chambry pp. 53-4. 


were going to be shot for "having incited the popula- 
tion." — "A soldier," states the professor, "called me 
'Black Devil' and pushed me roughly into a dirty little 
stable." — "I was thrust into a pig-stye," states one of 
his fellow-victims,* "from which a pig had just been 
removed before my eyes. . . . There I was compelled 
to undress completely. German soldiers searched my 
clothes and took all I had. Thereupon the other ec- 
clesiastics were brought to the stye ; two of them were 
stripped like me; all were searched and robbed of all 
they had. The soldiers kept everything of value — 
watches, money and so on — and only returned us 
trifles. Our breviaries were thrown into the manure. 
Some of the ecclesiastics were robbed of large sums — 
one had 6,000 francs on him, another more than 4,000. 
All were brutally handled and received blows." They 
were saved from death by the professor's mother, who 
appealed to a German officer with more sense of justice 
than his colleagues, and they were thankful to rejoin 
the other refugees. 

A second stream of refugees was pouring out of 
Louvain by the Tervueren Road,'\ towards the south- 
west. "On the road," states a professor,^ "we had to 
raise our arms each time we met soldiers. An officer 


t "Eye-witness" pp. 5-9; "Germans" p. 58; Grondijs pp. 61-71 
(=Ri4) ; Chambry p, 73; R4, 13, 21 (=xxi pp. 117-9; "Eye-witness" 
pp. 8-9). 



in a motor-car levelled his revolver at us. He threat- 
ened fiercely a young man walking by himself who 
only raised one arm — he was carrying a portmanteau 
in the other hand, which he had to put down in a hurry. 
At Tervueren we were searched several times over, and 
then took the electric tram for Brussels. . . ." 

But here the ecclesiastics were singled out once more. 
One was searched so roughly that his cassock was torn 
from top to bottom.* Another was charged with 
carrying "cartridges," which turned out to be a packet 
of chocolates.f One soldier tried to slip a cartridge 
into a Jesuit's pocket, but the trick was fortunately 
seen by another monk standing by.J Insults were 
hurled at them — "Swine"; "Beastly Papists"; "You 
incite the people to fire on us"; "You will be castrated, 
you swine I" Then they were driven into a field, and 
surrounded by a guard with loaded rifles. About 140 
ecclesiastics were collected altogether, § including Mgr. 
Ladeuze, the Rector of Louvain University; Canon 
Cauchie, the Professor of History; Mgr. Becker, the 
Principal of the American Seminary; and Mgr. Wil- 
lemsen, formerly President of the American College. 
After they had waited an hour, 26 of them were taken 
and lined up against a fence. Expecting to be shot, 
they gave one another absolution, but after waiting 


t "Eye-witness" p. 5. 


§ "Eye-witness" p. 6. 



seven or eight minutes they were marched out of the 
field and lined up once more with their backs to a wood. 
As they marched, a soldier muttered that "one of them 
was going to be shot." The two Americans showed 
their passports to an officer, but were violently rebuffed. 
Then Father Dupierreux, a Jesuit student 23 years 
old, was led before them under guard, and one of their 
number was called forward to translate aloud into Ger- 
man a paper that had been found on Father Dupier- 
reux's person. The paper (it was a manuscript mem- 
orandum of half-a-dozen lines) compared the conduct 
of the Germans at Louvain to the conduct of Genseric 
and of the Saracens, and the burning of the Library to 
the burning of the Library at Alexandria. The officer 
cut the recitation short. Father Dupierreux received 
absolution, and was then ordered to advance towards 
the wood. Four soldiers were lined up in front of him, 
and the 26 prisoners were ordered to face about, in 
order to witness the execution. Among their number 
was Father Robert Dupierreux, the twin brother of 
the condemned.* "Father Dupierreux," states Father 
Schill,t the Jesuit who had been forced to translate 
the document, "had listened to the reading with com- 
plete calm. ... He kept his eyes fixed on the 
crucifix. . . . The command rang out: 'Aim! 
Fire!' We only heard one report. The Father fell 

*R3i; "Eye-witness" p. 7- 



on his back; a last shudder ran through his limbs. Then 
the spectators were ordered to turn about again, while 
the officer bent over the body and discharged his pistol 
into the ear. The bullet came out through the eye." 

The others were then placed in carts, and har- 
angued:* "When we pass through a village, if a 
single shot is iired from any house, the whole village 
will be burnt. You will be shot and the inhabitants 
likewise." They were paraded in these carts through 
the streets of Brussels and liberated, at 7.0 o'clock in 
the evening, at eight kilometres' distance beyond the 

Meanwhile, the proclamation of the morning had 
had its effect. Louvain was cleared of its inhabitants, 
but the bombardment did not follow. Between 1 1 .0 
and 12.0 o'clock a few cannon shots were heard in the 
distance, but that was all.f "At Rolselaer" states an 
inhabitant of Louvain who was in the party conveyed 
there on the 27th,J "I understood from the prisoners 
in the church that all the people of Rotselaer were 
made to leave their houses on the pretext that they 
were in danger of bombardment, and the Germans 
stated that they were being placed in the church for 
security. While all these people v/ere in the church 
the Germans robbed the houses and then burned the 


t "Germans" p. 72 ; "Horrors" p. 42 ; cp. Charabry p. 56. 



village." At Louvain the German strategy was the 
same. The bombardment was only a pretext for the 
wholesale expulsion of the inhabitants, which was fol- 
lowed by systematic pillage and incendiarism as soon 
as the ground was clear. The conflagration of two 
nights before, which had never burnt itself out, was 
extended deliberately and revived where it was dying 
out; the plundering, which had been desultory since 
the Germans first occupied the town, was now con- 
ducted under the supervision of officers from house to 

On the morning of August 27th, even before the 
exodus began, a Dutch witnessf waiting at the Hotel- 
de-Ville saw "soldiers streaming in from all sides, laden 
with huge packages of stolen property — clothes, boxes 
of cigars, bottles of wine, etc. Many of these men 
were drunk." — "I saw the German soldiers taking the 
wine away from my house and from neighbours' 
houses," states a Belgian witness.^ "They got into 
the cellar with a ladder, and brought out the wine 
and placed it on their waggons." — "The streets were 
full of empty wine bottles," states another.§ "My 
factory has been completely plundered," states a cigar- 
manufacturer. || "Seven million cigars have disap- 

« R24. 

t"Grondijs" p. 51. 

II Rio. 


peared." The factory itself was set on fire on the 
26th, and was only saved by the Germans for fear the 
flames might spread to the prison. They saved it by 
an extinguishing apparatus which was as instantaneous 
in its effect as the apparatus they used for setting houses 
alight. "The soldiers, led by a non-commissioned 
officer, went from house to house and broke in the shop 
fronts and house doors with their rifle butts. A cart 
or waggon waited for them in the street to carry away 
the loot."* Carts were also employed in the suburb 
of Blauwput, on the other side of the railway. "I saw 
German soldiers break into the houses," states a wit- 
ness from Blauwput.^ "One party consisting of six 
soldiers had a little cart with them. I saw these break 
into a store where there were many bottles of cham- 
pagne and a stock of cigars, etc. They drank a good 
deal of wine, smoked cigars, and carried off a supply 
in the cart. I saw many Germans engaged in looting." 
This employment of carts became an anxiety to the 
Higher Command. A type-written order, addressed 
to the Officers of the 53rd Landwehr Infantry, lays 
down that "For the future it is forbidden to use army 
carts for the transport of things which have nothing 
whatever to do with the service of the Army. At some 
period these carts, which travel empty with our Army, 
will be required for the transport of war material. 



They are now actually loaded with all sorts of things, 
none of which have anything to do with military 
supplies or equipment."* 

This systematic pillage went on day after day. 
"The Station Square," states a refugee from Louvainf 
who traversed the city again on August 29th, "was 
transformed into a vast goods-depot, where bottles of 
wine were the most prominent feature. Officers and 
men were eating and drinking in the middle of the 
ruins, without appearing to be in the least incommoded 
by the appalling stench of the corpses which still lay 
in the Boulevard. Along the Boulevard de Diest I 
saw Landsturm soldiers taking from the houses any- 
thing that suited their fancy, and then setting the 
house alight, and this under their officers' eyes." On 
September 2nd there was a fresh outbreak of plunder 
and arson in the Rue Leopold and the Rue Marie- 
Therese-X As late as September 5th — ten days after 
the original catastrophe — the Germans were pillaging 
houses in the Rue de la Station and loading the loot 
on carts. § Householders who returned when all was 
over found the destruction complete. "I found my 
parents' house sacked," states one.|| "A great deal of 
the furniture was smashed, the contents of cupboards 

* Chambry p. 86 ; v. p. 29. 


% "Germans" pp. 73, 89. 





and drawers were scattered about the rooms. . . . 
In my sister's house the looking-glasses on the ground 
floor were broken. On the bedding of the glass the 
imprint of the rifle-butts was clearly visible." — "In- 
side our house," states another,* "everything is upside 
down. . . . The floors are strewn with flowers and 
with silver plate not belonging to our house, the writ- 
ing room is filled with buckets and basins, in which 
they had cooled the bottles of champagne. . . . 
There was straw everywhere — in short, the place was 
like a barn. To crown everything, my father was not 
allowed to sleep in his own house. . . . When the 
Germans at last quitted our residence, it was necessary 
to cleanse and disinfect everything. The lowest stable 
was cleaner than our bedrooms, where scraps from the 
gourmandising and pieces of meat lay rotting in every 
corner amid half-smoked cigars, candle ends, broken 
plates, and hay brought from I don't know where." 

But these two houses were, at any rate, not burnt 
down, and more frequently, when they had finished 
with a house, the Germans set it on fire. They had 
begun on the night of August 25th; on August 26th 
they were proceeding systematically, f and the work 
continued on the 27th and the following days. All 
varieties of incendiary apparatus were employed — a 

* Chambry pp. 74-7. ^ 




white powder,* an inflammable stick,f a projectile 
fired from a rifle. i: They introduced these into the 
house to be burnt by staving in a panel of the front 
door § or breaking a window, || and the conflagration 
was immediate when once the apparatus was inside. 
This scientific incendiarism was the regular sequel to 
the organised pillage. The firing by German soldiers 
also went on. "On August 27th," states one German 
witness,^ "I was fired at from a garden from behind 
the hedge, without being hit. It was in the afternoon ; 
I could not see the person who had shot." The identi- 
fication can be inferred from the experience of the 
Rector of Louvain University, Mgr. Ladeuze, on the 
night of August 25'th, when he detected two German 
soldiers firing over the garden wall of the Chemical 
Institute into the Rue de Namur."^^^ Another German 
witness, a military surgeon in the Neuss LandstunTi,tf 
who arrived at Louvain in the afternoon of August 
27th, testifies that "in the course of the afternoon I 
heard the noise of firing in the Rue de la Station. . . . 
I had the impression that we were being shot at from 
a house there, in spite of my conspicuous armlet with 

* ei6. 

§ Chambry p. 53. 

II Ri9- 


** "Germans" p. 107 ; Grondijs p. 58 ; cp. p. 105 above. 
tt D21. 


the Red Cross. We approached the house. A German 
soldier of another battalion leapt out from the first 
floor, and in so doing broke the upper part of his thigh. 
He told me that he had just been pursued and shot at 
by six civilians in the house," The surgeon, a young 
man of twenty-five, a new-comer to Louvain, and un- 
used to the notion of German soldiers firing on one 
another, repeats this story without seeing that it fails 
to explain the shots fired from the house and directed 
against himself, and he takes the presence of the "six 
civilians" on faith. Was the soldier who escaped 
punishment by this lie firing into the street from panic *? 
This may have been so, for the German troops were in 
a state of nervous degeneration, but there is another 
possible explanation. Two days later, on August 29th, 
when Mr. Gibson, Secretary of the American Legation 
at Brussels, visited Louvain to enquire into the catas- 
trophe, his motor-car was fired at in the Rue de la 
Station from a house, and five or six armed men in 
civilian costume were dragged out of it by his escort 
and marched off for execution. But they were not 
executed, for they were German soldiers disguised to 
give Mr. Gibson an ocular demonstration that "the 
civilians had fired." The German Higher Command 
had already adopted this as their official thesis, and 
they were determined to impose it on the world.* 

*R27 (Deposition of Mgr. Deploige, President of the Institut 
Superietir de Phtlosophie and Director of the Hopital St.-Thomas) ; 



After the exodus on the morning of the 27th, Lou- 
vain la)'" empty of inhabitants all day, while the burn- 
ing and plundering went on. But at dusk a procession 
of civilians, driven by soldiers, streamed in from the 
north. They were the fourth batch of prisoners who 
had been marched out of Louvain on the previous day. 
They had spent the night in the open, and had been 
locked up that afternoon in Rotselaer church. But 
after only an hour's respite they had been driven forth 
again, and the whole population of Rotselaer with 
them, along the road leading back to the city. 

"On the way," states one of the victims,* "we rested 
a moment. The cure of Rotselaer, a man 86 years of 
age, spoke to the officer in command : 'Herr Offizier, 
what you are doing now is a cowardly act. My people 
did no harm, and, if you want a victim, kill me. . . .' 
The German soldiers then seized the cure by the neck 
and took him away. Some Germans picked up mud 
from the ground and threw it in his face. ..." 

"We entered Louvain," states the cure himself,f 
"by the Canal and the Rue du Canal. No ruins. We 
reached the Grand' Place — what a spectacle! The 
Church of Saint-Pierre! Rest in front of the Hotel- 
de-ViUe. Fatigue compelled me to stretch myself on 
the pavement, while the houses blazed all the time. 

R29 (Report by Abbe Van den Bergh, accredited by His Eminence 
Cardinal Piffl, Prince-Bishop of Vienna, to make enquiries on behalf 
of the Vienna Priester-Verein). 

*e3. tRi6. 



"Other prisoners from Louvain and the neighbour- 
hood kept arriving. Soon I saw fresh prisoners arrive 
from Rotselaer — women, children and old men, among 
others a blind old man of eighty years, and the wife 
of the doctor at Rotselaer, dragged from her sick-bed. 
(She died during the journey to Germany.) . . ." 

"In the Grand' Flace,"" states the former witness,* 
"the heat from the burning houses was so great that 
the prisoners huddled together to get away from 
it. . . ." 

"After we had remained standing there about an 
hour," states a third,f "we had to proceed towards the 
Station along the Rue de la Station. In this same 
road we saw the German soldiers plundering the houses. 
They took pleasure in letting us see them doing it. In 
the city and at Kessel-Loo the conflagration redoubled 
in intensity." 

"The houses were all burning in the Rue de la 
Station,''' states the first, ^ "and there were even flames 
in the street which we had to jump across. We were 
closely guarded by German soldiers, who threatened 
to kill us if we looked from side to side." 

Yet these victims in their misery were accused of 
shooting by their tormentors. "On August 27th," 
states an officer concerned, § "the Third Battalion of 
* 63. 

t Ri7- 


the Landwehr Infantry Regiment No. 53 had to take 
with it on its march from Rotselaer to Louvain a con- 
voy of about 1,000 civilian prisoners. . . . Among 
the prisoners were a number of Belgian priests, one of 
whom,'^ especially caught my attention because at every 
halt he went from one to another of the prisoners and 
addressed words to them in an excited manner, so that 
I had to keep him under special observation. In Lou- 
vain we made over the prisoners at the Station. . . . 
On the following morning it was reported to me . . . 
that the above-mentioned priest had shot at one of the 
men of the guard, but had failed to hit him, and in 
consequence had himself been shot in the Station 

Such were the rumours that passed current in the 
German Army ; but there is no reference in this officer's 
deposition to what really happened at the Station on 
the night of the 27th-28th. The prisoners arrived 
there about 7.0 p.m., and were immediately put on 
board a train. Their numbers had risen by now to 
between 2,000 and 3,ooo,t and the overcrowding was 
appalling. The cure of Rotselaer was placed in a truck 
which had carried troops and was furnished with 
benches; but even this truck was made to hold 50 

* This was the Priest of Herent, the Abbe van Bladel, whose body 
was exhumed at Louvain on Jan. 14th, 191 5, in the Station Square 

tes, 7, 17; R16. 


people,* while the majority were forced into cattle 
trucks — from 70 to 100 men, women, and children in 
each,f which had never been cleaned, and were knee- 
deep in dung4 They stood in these trucks all night, 
while the train remained standing in the Statioti. On 
August 28th, about 6.0 in the morning, they started 
for Cologne, but the stoppages and shuntings were 
interminable, and Cologne was not reached till the 
afternoon of August 31st. During these four days — 
from the evening of August 27th to the afternoon of 
August 31st — the prisoners were given nothing to eat,§ 
and were not allowed to get out of the train to relieve 
themselves when it stopped. || "We had nothing to 
eat," states one of them,1[ "not even the child one 
month old." — "My wife was suckling her child," states 
another,** "but her milk came to an end. My wife was 
crying nearly all the time. The baby was dreadfully 
ill, and nearly died." — "We had been without food 
for two days and nights, and had nothing to drink till 
we got to Cologne, except that one of my fellow- 
prisoners had a bottle of water, from which we just 
wetted our lips."f f — "I asked for some water for my 

*Ri6; cp. eio. 

te3, 7, 17; "Germans" p. 68 (Narrative of a Bulgarian student). 

$63, 7, lo, 17; "Germans" p. 68. 

§e3, 5, 10; R17. 

II e3, 7. 17- . ' 

** 65. 
tt eio. 



child at Aix-la-Chapelle, and it was refused. It was 
the soldiers that I asked, and they spat at me when 
they refused the water. The soldiers also took all the 
money that I had upon me."* — "We had not been 
allowed to leave the train to obey the calls of nature, 
till at Cologne we went on our knees and begged the 
soldiers to allow us to get down."f 

The brutality of the soldiers did not stop short of 
murder. "At Henne," where the train stopped at 3.30 
a.m. on August 29th, "a man got out to satisfy nature. 
He belonged to the village of Wygmael. He was go- 
ing towards the side of the line when three German 
soldiers approached him. One of them caught hold of 
him and threw him on the ground, and he was bay- 
onetted by one or other of them in his left side. The 
man cried out; then the German soldier withdrew his 
bayonet and showed his comrades how far it had gone 
in. He then wiped the blood off his bayonet by draw- 
ing it through his hand. . . . After the soldier had 
wiped his bayonet, he and his comrades turned the man 
over on his face. ... A few minutes after he had 
wiped his bayonet, he put his hand in his pocket and 
took out some bread, which he ate. . . ."J 

Between Louvain and the frontier two men in a 
passenger-carriage "tried to escape and broke the win- 



:|:eio; confirmed by eii. 


dows. The German sentinels bayonetted these two 
men and killed them."* 

Two people on the train went mad,f and two com- 
mitted suicide.^ When the train started again after 
its halt at Liege, a man from Thildonck was run over, 
and it was supposed that he had thrown himself under 
the wheels to put himself out of his misery. § When 
the train was emptied at Cologne, three of the prisoners 
were taken out dead. || 

The trucks were chalked with the inscription: 
"Civilians who shot at the soldiers at Louvain,"|f and 
at every place in Germany where the train stopped the 
prisoners were persecuted by the crowd.** "At Aix-la- 
Chapelle," states the cure of Rotselaer, "an officer 
came up to spit on me."ff At Aix, too, those destined 
for the internment camp at Munster had to change 
trains and were marched through the streets. "As we 
went," states one of them,^^ "the German women and 
children spat at us." — "We arrived at Aix-la-Cha- 
pelle,"" states another witness.§§ "There the German 
people shouted at us. At Diirren, between Aix-la- 
* 65. 

tes; cp. 67; R17. 

§eio, II. 

II ei6. 

** eio. 



Chapelle and Cologne, 4,000 German people crowded 
round. I turned round to the old woman with eight 
children, and said: 'Do these people think we are 
prisoners'? Show them one of your little children, at 
the window.' This child was a month old, and naked. 
When the child was shown at the window a hush came 
over the crowd." 

"When we reached Cologne a crowd came round the 
trucks, jeering at us, and as we marched out they 
prodded us with their umbrellas and pelted us and 
shouted: 'Shoot them dead! Shoot them dead!'— 
and drew their fingers across their throats."* 

"At Cologne,'' states the cure of Rotselaer,-\ "we 
had to leave the train and parade— men, women and 
children— through the streets under the surveillance of 
the police."— "On the way," adds another,i: "the chil- 
dren in the streets threw stones at us." 

They were herded for the night into an exhibition- 
ground called the "Luna Park," and here their first 
food was served out to them — for every ten persons 
one loaf of mouldy bread.§ A certain number found 
shelter in a "joy-wheel"; the rest spent the night in 
the open, in the rain. The guards amused themselves 
by making individuals kneel down in turn and threat- 

* 67 ; cp. eio. 

tRi6; cp. eio; R17; "Germans" p. 68. 

§ei7; R16. 


ening them with execution.* Next morning they were 
marched back to the station, once more under the in- 
sults of the crowd, and started to retrace their journey, 
but not all of them were allowed to return. A batch 
of 300 men were kept at Cologne for a week, during 
which time 60 of their number were shot before the 
eyes of the rest, while the survivors were paraded 
through the town again and subjected more than once 
to a sham execution.f OthersJ were sent direct from 
Azx-la-Chapelle to the internment camp at Miinster^ 
where the Garde Civique of Louvain had been sent 
before. In this camp the men were separated com- 
pletely from the women and children — one of them 
was the man§ whose baby had nearly died on the way, 
and for six weeks he was kept in ignorance of what 
was happening to the baby and to his wife. For the 
first six weeks they were given no water to wash in, 
and no soap during the whole period of their imprison- 
ment. They were not allowed to smoke or read or 
sing. This particular prisoner was allowed by special 
grace to return to Louvain with his family on Decem- 
ber 6th, but the others still remained. 

Meanwhile, the main body of the prisoners was 
being transported back to Belgium. This return jour- 
ney was almost as painful as the journey out; they 




were almost as badly crowded and starved ;'^ but the 
delays were less, and they reached Brussels on Septem- 
ber 2nd. While they were halted at Brussels, Burgo- 
master Max managed to serve out to each of them a 
ration of white bread.f They were carried on to 
Schaerbeek, detrained, and marched in column to Vil- 
vorde. "I was in the last file," states one of them.J 
"We were made to run quickly, and the soldiers struck 
us on the back with their rifles and on the arms with 
their bayonets." — "On the way to Vilvorde one man 
sprang into the water, a canal — he was mad by then. 
The German soldiers threw empty bottles at this man 
in the water; they were bottles they got from the houses 
as they passed, and were drinking from on the way."§ 
At Vilvorde they were informed that they were free.|| 
They dragged themselves forward towards the Belgian 
lines, but at Sempst another party of Germans took 
them prisoner again. || "The Germans thrust their 
bayonets quite close to our chests," states one of the 
prisoners ;|[ "then four of them prepared to shoot us, 
but they did not shoot. One of the prisoners went 
mad; I was made to hold him, and he hurt me very 
much." Finally the officer commanding the picket let 


fey, lo, 17; R16, 17. 
tei7; cp. es; R15, 16, 17. 
§ 67; R16, 17. 

II es, 17; Ri5- 



them go once more. They asked if they might return 
to Louvain. "If you go back that way we will kill 
you," the officer said; "you have to go that way," and 
he pointed towards Malmes.^ It was now midnight, 
and pouring with rain. The prisoners stumbled on 
again, and made their way, in scattered parties, to the 
Belgian outposts. f 

This horrible railway journey to Cologne was the 
last stroke in the campaign of terrorisation carried out 
against Louvain after the night of August 25th by the 
deliberate policy of the German Army Command. A 
refugee who had returned to the city on August 28th, 
and had been kept prisoner during the night, was re- 
leased with her fellow prisoners on the 29th. "We 
will not hurt you any more," said the officer in com- 
mand; "stay in Louvain. All is finished." J 

On August 30th the staff of the Hopital St.-Thomas, 
who had defied the proclamation of the 27th and re- 
mained continuously at their posts, took the task of 
reconstruction in hand.§ A committee of notables was 
formed, and overtures were made to Major von Man- 
teuffel, the German Etappen-Kommandant in the 
town. On September 1st a proclamation, signed by 
the provisional municipal government, was posted up, 

*e3; R15. 

§ "Germans" p. 84 seqq.; R27. 



with von Manteuffel's sanction, in the streets.* It 
communicated a promise from the German Military 
Authorities that pillage and arson should thenceforth 
cease, and it invited the inhabitants to come back to 
Louvain and take up again their normal life. The 
most pressing task was to clear the ruins, and to find 
and bury the dead. In Louvain alone, not including 
the suburban communes, 1,120 houses had been de- 
stroyed and 100 civilians had been killed during this 
week of terror. 

"We arrived at Louvain," writes a German soldier 
in his diary on August 29th.t "The whole place was 
swarming with troops. Landsturmers of the Halle 
Battalion came along, dragging things with them — 
chiefly bottles of wine — and many of them were drunk. 
A tour round the town with ten bicyclists in search of 
billets revealed a picture of devastation as bad as any 
imaginable. Burning and falling houses bordered the 
streets ; only a house here and there remained standing. 
Our tour led us over broken glass, burning wood-work 
and rubble. Tram and telephone wires trailed in the 
streets. Such barracks as were still standing were full 
up. Back to the Station, where nobody knew what to 
do next. Detached parties were to enter the streets, 
but actually the Battalion marched in close order into 

* "Germans" p. 86; R37. 

t Ann. 8 (Extract from the Diary of Gaston Klein) ; cp, Bryce p. 
80, No. 33. 



the town, to break into the first houses and loot — no, 
of course, only to 'requisition' — for wine and other- 
things. Like a wild pack they broke loose, each on 
their own; officers set a good example by going on 
ahead. A night in a barracks with many drunk was 
the end of this day, which aroused in me a contempt 
I cannot describe." 












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