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Hyped up propaganda not withstanding, the Germans did commit war crimes in World War One, as has been noted elsewhere on this blog.   Firstworldwar.com has a condensed report, as issued by the US Ambassador, Brand Whitlock, regarding the conduct of Germans in Belgium:

Towns were sacked and burned, homes were pillaged; in many places portions of the population, men, women, and children, were massed in public squares and mowed down by mitrailleuses, and there were countless individual instances of an amazing and shameless brutality.

The stories of these deeds gradually filtered into Brussels in ever increasing numbers as the days went by, brought by the refugees, who, in crowds, fled the stricken region in terror.  It was difficult at first to believe them; but the stories persisted, and were told with such detail and on such authority that one could no longer doubt their essential truth.  They became a matter of common knowledge and public notoriety; and they saturated the general mind with their horror.

The report goes on to detail a number of incidents.  The descriptions are graphic.  Not sensationalistic, as the prose is spare and precise:

In the seven small villages surrounding Aerschot, forty-two persons were killed, four hundred and sixty-two were sent to Germany, one hundred and fifteen houses were burned and eight hundred and twenty-three were pillaged.

One of the most sorely tried communities was that of the little village of Tamines, down in what is known as the Borinage, the coal fields near Charleroi.  Tamines is a mining village in the Sambre; it is a collection of small cottages sheltering about 5,000 inhabitants, mostly all poor labourers.

The little graveyard in which the church stands bears its mute testimony to the horror of the event.  There are hundreds of new-made graves, each with its small wooden cross and its bit of flowers; the crosses are so closely huddled that there is scarcely room to walk between them.  The crosses are alike and all bear the same date, the sinister date of August 22, 1914.

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