The Trail Of The Beast In Belgium
( Originally Published 1918 )
GERMANY'S on rush into heroic Belgium speedily resolved itself into a saturnalia that drenched the land with blood and roused the civilized world into resentful horror. As the tide of barbarity swept forward into Northern France, stories of the horrors filtered through the close web of German censorship. There were denials at first by German propagandists. In the face of truth furnished by thousands of witnesses, the denials faded away.
What caused these atrocities? Were they the spontaneous expression of dormant brutishness in German soldiers? Were they a sudden reversion of an entire nation to bestiality?
The answer is that the private soldier as an individual was not responsible. The carnage, the rapine, the wholesale desolation was an integral part of the German policy of schrecklichkeit or frightfulness. This policy was laid down by Germany as part of its imperial war code. In 1902 Germany issued a new war manual entitled "Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege." In it is written this cold-blooded declaration:
All measures which conduce to the attainment of the object of war are permissible and these may be summarized in the two ideas of violence and cunning. What is permissible includes every means of war without which the object of the war cannot be attained. All means which modern invention affords, including the fullest, most dangerous, and most massive means of destruction, may be utilized.
Brand Whitlock, United States Minister to Belgium, in a formal report to the State Department, made this statement concerning Germany's policy in permitting these outrages:
"All these deliberate organized massacres of civilians, all these murders and outrages, the violation of women, the killing of children, wanton destruction, burning, looting and pillage, and whole towns destroyed, were acts for which no possible military necessity can be pleaded. They were wilfully committed as part of a deliberately prepared and scientific-ally organized policy of terrorism."
And now, having considered these outrages as part of the German policy of terrorism, let us turn to the facts presented by those who made investigations at first hand in devastated Belgium and Northern France.
Let us first return, to the tragic story of the destruction of Louvain. The first document comes in the form of a cable sent from the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs under date of August 8, 1914:
"On Tuesday evening a body of German troops who had been driven back retired in disorder upon the town of Louvain. Germans who were guarding the town thought that the retiring troops were Belgians and fired upon them. In order to excuse this mistake the Germans, in spite of the most energetic denials on the part of the authorities, pretended that Belgians had fired on the Germans, although all the inhabitants, including policemen, had been disarmed for more than a week. Without any examination and without listening to any protest the commanding officer announced that the town would be immediately destroyed. All inhabitants had to leave their homes at once; some were made prisoners; women and children were put into a train of which the destination was unknown; soldiers with fire bombs set fire to the different quarters of the town; the splendid Church of St. Pierre, the markets, the university and its scientific establishments, were given to the flames, and it is probable that the Hotel de Ville, this celebrated jewel of Gothic art, will also have disappeared in the disaster. Several notabilities were shot at sight. Thus a town of 40,000 inhabitants, which, since the fifteenth century, has been the intellectual and scientific capital of the Low Countries, is a heap of ashes. Americans, many of whom have followed the course at this illustrious alma mater and have there received such cordial hospitality, cannot remain insensible to this outrage on the rights of humanity and civilization which is unprecedented in history."
Minister Whitlock made the following report on the same outrage:
"A violent fusillade broke out simultaneously at various points in the city (Louvain), notably at the Porte de Bruxelles, Porte de Tirlemont, Rue Leopold, Rue Marie-Thérèse, Rue des Joyeuses Entrées. German soldiers were firing at random in every street and in every direction. Later fires broke out every-where, notably in the University building, the Library, in the old Church of St. Peter, in the Place du Peuple, in the Rue de la Station, in the Boulevard de Tirlemont, and in the Chaussée de Tirlemont. On the orders of their chiefs, the German soldiers would break open the houses and set fire to them, shooting on the inhabitants who tried to leave their dwellings. Many persons who took refuge in their cellars were burned to death. The German soldiers were equipped with apparatus for the purpose of firing dwellings, incendiary pastils, machines for spraying petroleum, etc.
"Major von Manteuffel (of the German forces) sent for Alderman Schmidt. Upon the latter's arrival, the major declared that hostages were to be held, as sedition had just broken out. He asked Father Parijs, Mr. Schmidt, and Mgr. Coenraedts, First Vice-Rector of the University, who was being held as a hostage, to make proclamations to the inhabitants exhorting them to be calm and menacing them with a fine of twenty million francs, the destruction of the city and the banging of the hostages, if they created disturbance. Surrounded by about thirty soldiers and a few officers, Ma j or Manteuffel, Father Pari j s, Mr. Schmidt and Mgr. Coenraedts left in the direction of the station, and the alderman, in French, and the priest, in Flemish, made proclamations at the street corners.
"Near the statue of Juste-Lipse, a Dr. Berghausen, a German surgeon, in a highly ex-cited condition, ran to meet the delegation. He shouted that a German soldier had just been killed by a shot fired from the house of Mr. David Fishbach. Addressing the soldiers, Dr. Berghausen said: `The blood of the entire population of Louvain is not worth a drop of the blood of a German soldier!' Then one of the soldiers threw into the interior of the house of Mr. Fishbach one of the pastils which the German soldiers carried and immediately the house flared up. It contained paintings of a high value. The old coachman, Joseph Vandermosten, who had re-entered the house to try to save the life of his master, did not re-turn. His body was found the next day amidst the ruins.
"The. Germans made the usual claim that the civil population had fired upon them and that it was necessary to take these measures, i. e., burn the churches, the library and other public monuments, burn and pillage houses, driving out and murdering the inhabitants, sacking the city in order to punish and to spread terror among the people, and General von Luttwitz had told me that it was reported that the son of the burgomaster had shot one of their generals.
"But the burgomaster of Louvain had no son, and no officer was shot at Louvain. The story of a general shot by the son of a burgomaster was a repetition of a tragedy that had occurred at Aerschot, on the 19th, where the fifteen-yearold son of the burgomaster had been killed by a firing squad, not because he had shot a general, but because an officer had been shot, probably by Belgian soldiers retreating through the town. The story of this tragedy is told by the boy's mother, under oath, before the Belgian Commission, and is so simple, so touching, so convincing in its verisimilitude, that I attach a copy of it in extenso to this report. It seems to afford an altogether typical example of what went on all over the stricken land during those days of terror. (In other places it was the daughter of the burgomaster who was said to have shot a general.)
"The following facts may be noted: From the avowal of Prussian officers themselves, there was not one single victim, among their men at the barracks of St. Martin, Louvain, where it was claimed that the first shot had been fired from a house situated in front of the Caserne. This would appear to be impossible had the civilians fired upon them point blank from across the street. It was said that when certain houses near the barracks were burning, numerous explosions occurred, revealing the presence of cartridges; but these houses were drinking houses much frequented by German soldiers. It was said that Spanish students shot from the schools in the Rue de la Station, but Father Catala, rector of the school, affirms that the schools were empty.
"If it was necessary, for whatever reason, to do what was done at Vise, at Dinant, at Aerschot, at Louvain, and in a hundred other towns that were sacked, pillaged and burned, where masses were shot down because civilians had fired on German troops, and if it was necessary to do this on a scale never before witnessed in history, one might not unreasonably assume that the alleged firing by civilians was done on a scale, if not so thoroughly organized, at least somewhat in proportion to the rage of destruction that punished it. And hence it would seem to be a simple matter to produce at least convincing evidence that civilians had fired on the soldiers ; but there is no testimony to that effect beyond that of the soldiers who merely assert it: Man hat geschossen. If there were no more firing on soldiers by civilians in Belgium than is proved by the German testimony, it was not enough to justify the burning of the smallest of the towns that was overtaken by that fate. And there is not a scintilla of evidence of organized bands of francs-tireurs, such as were found in the war of 1870."
Under date of September 12, 1917, Minister Whitlock, in a report to the State Department of the United States, made the following summary : "As one studies the evidence at hand, one is struck at the outset by the fact so general that it must exclude the hypothesis of coincidence, and that is that these wholesale massacres followed immediately upon some check, some reverse, that the German army had sustained. The German army was checked by the guns of the forts to the east of Liége, and the horrors of Vise, Verviers, Bligny, Battice, Hervy and twenty villages follow. When they entered Liége, they burned the houses along two streets and killed many persons, five or six Spaniards among them. Checked before Namur they sacked Andenne, Bauvignies, and Champignon, and when they took Namur they burned one hundred and fifty houses. Compelled to give battle to the French army in the Belgian Ardennes they ravaged the beautiful valley of the Semois; the complete destruction of the village of Rossignlo and the extermination of its en-tire male population took place there. Checked again by the French on the Meuse, the awful carnage of Dinant results. Held on the Sambre by the French, they burn one hundred houses at Charleroi and enact the appalling tragedy of Tamines. At Mons, the English hold them, and after that all over the Borinage there is a systematic destruction, pillage and murder. The Belgian army drive them back from Malines and Louvain is doomed. The Belgian army falling back and fighting in retreat took refuge in the forts of Antwerp, and the burning and sack of Hougaerde, Wavre, Ottignies, Grimde, Neerlinter, Weert, St. George, Shaffen and Aersehot follow.
"The Belgian troops inflicted serious losses on the Germans in the South of the Province of Limbourg and the towns of Lummen, Bilsen, and Lanaeken are partially destroyed. Antwerp held out for two months, and all about its outer line of fortifications there was blood and fire, numerous villages were sacked and burned and the whole town of Termonde was destroyed. During the battles of September the village of Boortmeerbeek near Malines, occupied by the Germans, was retaken by the Belgians, and when the Germans entered it again they burned forty houses. Three times occupied by the Belgians and retaken by the Germans Boortmeerbeek was three times punished in the same way. That is to say, every-where the German army met with a defeat it took it out, as we say in America, on the civil population. And that is the explanation of the German atrocities in Belgium."
A committee of the highest honor and responsibility was appointed by the British Government to investigate the whole subject of atrocities in Belgium and Northern France; Its chairman was the Rt. Hon. Viscount James Bryce, formerly British Ambassador to the United States. Its other members were the Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Pollock, the Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Clark, Sir Alfred Hopkinson, Mr. H. A. L. Fisher, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, Mr. Harold Cox and Sir Kenelm E. Digby.
The report of the commission bears upon its face the stamp of painstaking search for truth, substantiates every statement made by Minister Whitlock and makes known many horrible instances of cruelty and barbarity. It makes the following deductions as having been proved beyond question :
1. That there were in many parts of Belgium deliberate and systematically organized massacres of the civil population, accompanied by many isolated murders and other. outrages.
2. That in the conduct of the war generally innocent civilians, both men and. women, were murdered in large numbers, women violated, and children murdered.
3. That looting, house burning, and the wanton destruction of property were ordered and countenanced by the officers of the German army, that elaborate provision had been made for systematic incendiarism. at the very out-break of the war, and that the burnings and destruction were frequent where no military necessity could be alleged, being, indeed, part of a system of general terrorization.
4. That the rules and usages of war were frequently broken, particularly by the using of civilians, including women and children, as a shield for advancing forces exposed to fire, to a less degree by killing the wounded and prisoners and in the frequent abuse of the Red Cross and the white flag.
The Bryce Commission's report on the destruction of Dinant is an example of testimony laid before them. It follows:
"A clear statement of the outrages at Dinant, which many travelers will recall as a singularly picturesque town on the Meuse, is given by one witness, who says that the Germans began burning houses in the Rue St. Jacques on the 21st of August, and that every house in the street was burned. On the following day an engagement took place between the French and the Germans, and the witness spent the whole day in the cellar of a bank with his wife and children. On the morning of the 23d, about 5 o'clock, firing ceased, and al-most immediately afterward a party of Germans came to the house. They rang the bell and began to batter at the door and windows. The witness' wife went to the door and two or three Germans came in. The family were ordered out into the street. There they found another family, and the two families were driven with their hands above their heads along the Rue Grande. All the houses in the street were burning.
"The party was eventually put into a forge where there were a number of other prisoners, about a hundred in all, and were kept there from 11 A. M. till 2 P. M. They were then taken to the prison. There they were assembled in a courtyard and searched. No arms _were found. They were then passed through into the prison itself and put into cells.. The witness and his wife were separated from each other. During the next hour the witness heard rifle shots continually and noticed in the corner of a court-yard leading off the row of cells the body of a young man with a mantle thrown over it. He recognized the mantle as having belonged to his wife. The witness' daughter was allowed to go out to see what had happened to her mother, and the witness himself was allowed to go across the courtyard half an hour afterward for the same purpose. He found his wife lying on the floor in a room. She had bullet wounds in four places but was alive and told her husband to return to the children and he did so.
"About 5 o'clock in the evening, he saw the Germans bringing out all the young and middle-aged men from the cells, and ranging their prisoners, to the number of forty, in three rows in 'the middle of the courtyard. About twenty Germans were drawn up opposite, but before anything was done there was a tremendous fusillade from some, point near the prison and the civilians were hurried back to their cells. Half an hour later the same forty men were brought back into the courtyard. Almost immediately there was a second fusillade like the first and they were driven back to the cells again.
"About 7 o'clock the witness and other prisoners were brought out of their cells and marched out of the prison. They went between two lines of troops to Roche Bayard, about a kilometer away. An hour later the women and children were separated and the prisoners were brought back to Dinant passing the prison on their way. Just outside the prison, the witness saw three lines of bodies which he recognized as being those of his neighbors. They were nearly all dead, but he noticed movement in some of them. There were about one hundred and twenty bodies. The prisoners were then taken up to the top of a hill outside Dinant and compelled to stay there till 8 o'clock in the morning. On the following day they were put into cattle trucks and taken thence to Coblenz. For three months they remained prisoners in Germany.
"Unarmed civilians were killed iii masses at ether places near the prison. About ninety bodies were seen lying on the top of one another in a grass square opposite the convent. A witness asked a German officer why her husband had been shot, and he told her that it was because two of her sons had been in the civil guard and had shot at the Germans. As a matter of fact, one of her sons was at that time in Liége and the other in Brussels. It is stated that besides the ninety corpses referred to above, sixty corpses of civilians were recovered from a hole in the brewery yard and that forty-eight bodies of women and children were found in a garden. The town was systematically set on fire by hand grenades. Another witness saw a little girl of seven, one of whose legs was broken and the other injured by a bayonet We have no reason to believe that the civilian population of Dinant gave any provocation, or that any other defense can be put forward to justify the treatment inflicted upon its citizens."
The Bryce Commission reports the outrages in a number of Belgian villages in this terse fashion:
"In Hofstade a number of houses had been set on fire and many corpses were seen, some in houses, some in back yards, and some in the streets. Two witnesses speak of having seen the body of a young man pierced by bayonet thrusts with the wrists cut also. On a side road the corpse of a civilian was seen on his door-step with a bayonet wound in his stomach and by his side the dead body of a boy of five or six with his hands nearly severed. The corpses of a woman and boy were seen at the blacksmith's. They had been killed with the bayonet. In a café, a young man, also killed with the bayonet, was holding his hands together as if in the attitude of supplication.
"In the garden of a house in the main street, bodies of two women were observed, and in an-other house, the body of a boy of sixteen with two bayonet wounds in the chest. In Sempst a similar condition of affairs existed. Houses were burning and in some of them were the charred remains of civilians. In a bicycle shop a witness saw the burned corpse of a man. Other witnesses speak of this incident. An-other civilian, unarmed, was shot as he was running away. As will be remembered, all the arms had been given up some time before by the order of the burgomaster.
"At Weerde four corpses of civilians were lying in the road. It was said that these men had fired upon the German soldiers; but this is denied. The arms had been given up long before. Two children were killed in the village of Weerde, quite wantonly as they were standing in the road with their mother. They were three or four years old and were killed with the bayonet. A small barn burning close by formed a convenient means of getting rid of the bodies. They were thrown into the flames from the bayonets. It is right to add that no commissioned officer was present at the time. At Eppeghem, on August 25th, a pregnant woman who had been wounded with a bayonet was discovered in the convent. She was dying. On the road six dead bodies of laborers were seen.
"At Boortmeerbeek a German soldier was seen to fire three times at a little girl five years old. Having failed to hit her, he subsequently bayoneted her. He was killed with the butt end of a rifle by a Belgian soldier who had seen him commit this murder from a distance. At Herent the charred body of a civilian was found in a butcher's shop, and in a handcart twenty yards away was the dead body of a laborer. Two eye witnesses relate that a German soldier shot a civilian and stabbed him with a bayonet as he lay. He then made one of these witnesses, a civilian prisoner, smell the blood on the bayonet. At Haecht the bodies of ten civilians were seen lying in a row by a brewery wall. In a laborer's house, which had been broken up, the mutilated corpse of a woman of thirty to thirty-five was discovered."
Concerning the treatment of women and children in general, the report continues : "The evidence shows that the German authorities, when carrying out a policy of systematic arson and plunder in selected districts, usually drew some distinction between the adult male population on the one hand and the women and children on the other. It was a frequent practice to set apart the adult males of the condemned district with a view to the execution of a suitable number—preferably of the younger and more vigorous—and to re-serve the women and children for milder treatment. The depositions, however, present many instances of calculated cruelty, often going the length of murder, toward the women and children of the condemned area.
"At Dinant sixty women and children were confined in the cellar of a convent from Sun-day morning till the following Friday, Au-gust 28th, sleeping on the ground, for there were no beds, with nothing to drink during the whole period, and given no food until Wednesday, when somebody threw into the cellar two sticks of macaroni and a carrot for each prisoner. In other cases the women and children were marched for long distances along roads, as, for instance, the march of the women from Louvain to Tirlemont, August 28th, the laggards pricked on by the attendant Uhlans. A lady complains of having been brutally kicked by privates. Others were struck at with the butt end of rifles. At Louvain, at Liége, at Aerschot, at Malines, at Montigny, at Andenne, and elsewhere, there is evidence that the troops were not restrained from drunkenness, and drunken soldiers cannot be trusted to observe the rules or decencies of war, least of all when they are called upon to execute a pre-ordained plan of arson and pillage. From the very first women were not safe. At Liége women and children were chased about the streets by soldiers.
"Witnesses recount how a great crowd of men, women and children from Aerschot were marched to Louvain, and then suddenly ex-posed to a fire from a mitrailleuse and rifles. `We were all placed,' recounts a sufferer, `in Station Street, Louvain, and the German soldiers fired on us. I saw the corpses of some women in the street. I fell down, and a woman who had been shot fell on top of me.' Women and children suddenly turned out into the streets, and, compelled to witness the destruction of their homes by fire, provided a sad spectacle to such as were sober enough to see.
"A humane German officer, witnessing the ruin of Aerschot, exclaimed in disgust: `I am a father myself, and I cannot bear this. It is not war but butchery.' Officers as well as men succumbed to the temptation of drink, with results which may be illustrated by an incident which occurred at Campenhout. In this village there was a certain well-to-do merchant (name given) who had a cellar of good champagne. On the afternoon of the 14th or 15th of August three German cavalry officers entered the house and demanded champagne. Having drunk ten bottles and invited five or six officers and three or four private soldiers to join them, they continued their carouse, and then called for the master and mistress of the house.
`Immediately my mistress came in,' says the valet de chambre, `one of the officers who was sitting on the floor got up, and, putting a revolver to my mistress' temple, shot her dead. The officer was obviously drunk. The other officers continued to drink and sing, and they did not pay any great attention to the killing of my mistress. The officer who shot my mistress then told my master to dig a grave and bury my mistress. My master and the officer went into the garden, the officer threatening my master with a pistol. My master was then forced to dig the grave and to bury my mistress in it. I cannot say for what reason they killed my mistress. The officer who did it was singing all the time.'
"In the evidence before us there are cases tending to show that aggravated crimes against women were sometimes severely punished. One witness reports that a young girl who was being pursued by a drunken soldier at Louvain appealed to a German officer, and that the of-fender was then and there shot. Another de-scribes how an officer of the Thirty-second Regiment of the Line was led out to execution for the violation of two young girls, but reprieved at the request or with the consent of the girls' mother. These instances are sufficient to show that the maltreatment of women was no part of the military scheme of the invaders, however much it may appear to have been the inevitable result of the system of terror deliberately adopted in certain regions. Indeed, so much is avowed. `I asked the commander why we had been spared,' says a lady in Louvain, who deposes to having suffered much brutal treatment during the sack. He said : `We will not hurt you any more. Stay in Louvain. All is finished.' It was Saturday, August 29th, and the reign of terror was over.
"The Germans used men, women and children of Belgium as screens for advancing infantry, as is shown in the following: Outside Fort Fleron, near Liége, men and children were marched in front of the Germans to pre-vent the Belgian soldiers from firing. The progress of the Germans through Mons was marked by many incidents of this character. Thus, on August 22d, half a dozen Belgian colliers returning from work were marching in front of some German troops who were pursuing the English, and in the opinion of the witnesses, they must have been placed there intentionally. An English officer describes how he caused a barricade to be erected in a main thoroughfare leading out of Mons, when the Germans, in order to reach a crossroad in the rear, fetched civilians out of the houses on each side of the main road and compelled them to hold up white flags and act as cover.
"Another British officer who saw this incident is convinced that the Germans were acting deliberately for the purpose of protecting themselves from the fire of the British troops. Apart from this protection, the Germans could not have advanced, as the street was straight and commanded by the British rifle fire at a range of 700 or 800 yards. Several British soldiers also speak of this incident, and their story is confirmed by a Flemish witness in a side street."
The French Government also appointed a commission, headed by M. Georges Payelle.
This body made an investigation of outrages committed by German officers and soldiers in Northern France. Its report showed conditions that outstripped in horror the war tactics of savages. It makes the following accusations:'
"In Rebais, two English cavalrymen who were surprised and wounded in this commune were finished off with gunshots by the Germans when they were dismounted and when one of them had thrown up his hands, showing thus that he was unarmed.
"In the department of the Marne, as every-where else, the German troops gave themselves up to general pillage, which was carried out always under similar conditions and with the complicity of their leaders. The Communes of Heiltz-le-Maurupt, Suippes, Marfaux, Fromentieres and Esternay suffered especially in this way. Everything which the invader could carry off from the houses was placed on motor lorries and vehicles. At Suippes, in particular, they carried off in this way a quantity of different objects, among these sewing machines and toys. A great many villages, as well as important country towns, were burned without any reason whatever. Without doubt,, these crimes were committed by order, as German detachments arrived in the neighborhood. with their torches, their grenades, and their° usual outfit for arson.
"At Marfaux nineteen private houses were burned. Of the Commune of Glannes practically nothing remains. At Somme-Tourbe the entire village has been destroyed, with the exception of the Mairie, the church and two private buildings. At Auve nearly the whole town has been destroyed. At Etrepy sixty-three families out of seventy are homeless. At Huiron all of the houses, with the exception of five had been burned. At Sermaize-les-Bains only about forty houses out of 900 remain. At Bignicourt-sur-Saultz thirty houses out of thirty-three are in ruins.
"At Suippes, the big market town which has been practically burned out, German soldiers carrying straw and cans of petrol have been seen in the streets. While the mayor's house was burning, six sentinels with fixed bayonets were under orders to forbid any one to approach and to prevent any help being given.
"All this destruction by arson, which only represents a small proportion of the acts of the same kind in the Department of Seine-et-Marne, was accomplished without the least tendency to rebellion or the smallest act of resistance being recorded against the inhabitants of the localities which are today more or less completely destroyed. In some villages the Germans, before setting fire to them, made one of their soldiers fire a shot from his rifle so as to be able to pretend afterward that the civilian population had attacked them, an allegation which is all the more absurd since at the time when the enemy arrived, the only inhabitants left were old men, sick persons, or people absolutely without any means of aggression.
"Numerous crimes against the person have also been committed. In the majority of the communes hostages have been taken away; many of them have not returned. At Sermaize-les-Bains, the Germans carried off about one hundred and fifty people, some of whom were decked out with helmets and coats and compelled, thus equipped, to mount guard over the bridges.
"At Bignicourt-sur-Saultz thirty men and forty-five women and children were obliged to leave with a detachment. One of the men—a certain Emile Pierre—has not returned nor sent any news of himself. At Corfelix, M. Jacqet, who was carried off on the 7th of September with eleven of his fellow-citizens, was found five hundred meters from the village with a bullet in his head.
"At Champuis, the curé, his maid-servant, and four other inhabitants who were taken away on the same day as the hostages of Corfelix had not returned at the time of our visit to the place.
"At the same place an old man of seventy, named Jacquemin, was tied down in his bed by an officer and left in this state without food for three days. He died a little time after. At Vert-la-Gravelle a farm hand was killed. He was struck on the head with a bottle and his chest was run through with a lance. The garde champetre Brulefer of le Gault-la-Foret was murdered at Maclaunay, where he had been taken by the Germans. His body was found with his head shattered and a wound on his chest.
"At Champguyon, a commune which has been fired, a certain Verdier was killed in his father-in-law's house. The latter was not present at the execution, but he heard a shot and next day an officer said to him, `Son shot. He is under the ruins.' In spite of the search made the body has not been found among them. It must have been consumed in the fire.
"At Sermaize, the roadmaker, Brocard, was placed among a number of hostages. Just at the moment when he was being arrested with his son, his wife and his daughter-in-law in a state of panic rushed to throw themselves into the Saulx. The old man was able to free him-self for a moment and ran in all haste after them and made several attempts to save them, but the Germans dragged him away pitilessly, leaving the two wretched women struggling in the river. When Brocard and his son were restored to liberty, four days afterward, and found the bodies, they discovered that their wives had both received bullet wounds in the head.
"At Triaucourt the Germans gave them-selves up to the worst excesses. Angered doubtless by the remark which an officer had addressed to a soldier, against whom a young girl of nineteen, Mlle. Helene Proses, had made complaint on account of the indecent treatment to which she had been subjected, they burned the village and made a systematic massacre of the inhabitants. They began by setting fire to the house of an inoffensive house-holder, M. Jules Gand, and by shooting this unfortunate man as he was leaving his house to escape the flames. Then they dispersed among the houses in the streets, firing off their rifles on every side. A young man, seventeen years, Georges Lecourtier, who tried to escape was shot. M. Alfred Lallemand suffered the same fate. He was pursued into the kitchen of his fellow-citizen Tautelier, and murdered there, while Tautelier received three bullets in his hand.
"Fearing, not without reason, for their lives, Mlle. Proces, her mother and her grand-mother of seventy-one and her old aunt of eighty-one, tried to cross the trellis which separates their garden from a neighboring property with the help of a ladder. The young girl alone was able to reach the other side and to avoid death by hiding in the cabbages. As for the other women, they were struck down by rifle shots. The village curé collected the brains of the aunt on the ground on which they were strewn And had the bodies carried into Proces' house. During the following night, the Germans played the piano near the bodies.
"While the carnage raged, the fire rapidly spread and devoured thirty-five houses. An old man of seventy and a child of two months perished in the flames. M. Igier, who was trying to save his cattle, was pursued for 300 meters by soldiers, who fired at him ceaselessly. By a miracle this man had the good fortune not to be wounded, but five bullets went through his clothing."
This summary merely hints at the atrocities that were perpetrated. And these are the crimes that France and Belgium will remember after indemnities have been paid, after borders have been re-established and after generations shall have passed. The horrors of blazing villages, of violated womanhood, of mutilated childhood, of stark and senseless butcheries, will flash before the minds of French and Belgian men and women when Germany's name shall be mentioned long after the declaration of peace.
Schrecklichkeit had its day. It took its bloody toll of the fairest and bravest of two gallant nations. It ravaged Poland as well and wreaked its fiendish will on wounded soldiers on the battlefields.
But Schrecklichkeit is dead. Belgium and France have shown that murder and rape and arson can not destroy liberty nor check the indomitable ambitions of the free peoples of earth.
The lesson to Germany was taught at a terrible cost to humanity, but it was taught in a fashion that nations hereafter who shall dream of emulating the Hun will know in advance that frightfulness serves no end except to feed the lust for destruction that exists only in the most debased and brutish of men.