"All the women and children had been taken to a convent, where they were kept imprisoned for four days, without hearing of the fate of their beloved ones. They themselves expected to be shot in their turn. Round about them the burning of the town went on.He was quite upset, and evidently thought that the best plan was to muzzle me by taking me away from the others as quickly as possible.Now the bridge is blown up, the greater part of the church destroyed by the Germans, and, had nature not been more powerful than their brutal, clumsy violence, they would have pulled down that rock too. But it is still there, the solitary remnant of the famous beauty of Dinant.
This was so far true that I had altered the dates of a passport, which allowed me to stay in Louvain from September 6th till the 14th, into the 8th and the 16th. When taken to the commanding officer in Tirlemont, I convinced him so thoroughly of my complete innocence, that the next day I was allowed to go on to Louvain."So this brave lady succeeded in getting the sentence of death withdrawn. But the Germans wanted to torture their wretched prisoners on any or no plea. They were placed near the church wall, kept standing there all night, were told that they would be shot by and by, and threatened by the soldiers with their bayonets.It was an imposing sight to see all these various divisions in their brilliant uniforms coming down along the road, the soldiers' uniforms still without a stain, the horses in new, fine, strong leather harness, and the rumbling and jolting guns. The soldiers sang patriotic songs, and among them rode the officers, proud and imperious, many with a monocle, looking round superciliously.
I myself was not very safe either, for frequently236 bursting shells fell near me. I therefore thought it safer to cross to a farm-house a hundred yards farther on, where I might find shelter. Before I got there an officer of a passing division took me violently by the arm and asked who I was and what I was doing there? His eyes glittered savagely, and he as well as his men seemed to be fearfully excited."What," I exclaimed, "you dare to say that the Netherlanders act with the Germans? No, shall I tell you something? The Germans have asked206 the Netherland Government for permission to place a 42 cm. gun on their territory to shell Antwerp from that side, but the Netherland Government have refused."As I went a patrol marched out鈥攔einforcements had again come from Tongres鈥攚hose task was to clear the district of the enemy. The patrol consisted of six Death-head hussars, about forty bicyclists, and the rest infantry, altogether about four hundred men, who were able to keep together, because the hussars and the cyclists proceeded very slowly and cautiously in the direction of Lanaeken. I went with them, chatting with one of the officers. As soon as they had got to the road, the greatest caution188 was observed. The hussars went in front, followed by some of the infantry, all in loose formation, continually looking about in all directions, with the finger at the cock of the rifle.
On Thursday everyone, even the persons staying in the Institution and hospitals, were ordered to leave the town, as it was to be shelled. They seemed to have no pity even on the wretched wounded men. Only the male and female nurses remained with these, of their own free will, determined to die with them if necessary.A lot of artillery and a great number of soldiers were in the market-place ready to start. The commander sent one of his officers to us, who addressed me, examined my papers, and then said that I had surely met Belgian soldiers on the way. Of course I denied this emphatically."We beseech all residents in the municipality to guard the highest interests of all the inhabitants and of those who are hostages of the German Army, and not to commit any assault on the soldiers of this army.
All the wounded were Roman Catholics, and as they saw the approaching priest, they implored him in a loud voice to give them absolution of sins, some making an act of contrition. The priest was unable to come near each of them, and therefore called out in a loud voice: "My Jesus, be merciful!" He then gave them all absolution of sins. But as he kneeled down to perform this sacred task, a hostile bullet whizzed past his ear, and several soldiers who ran by aimed at him, so that he had to seek safety behind a tree. I saw with my own eyes five bullet-holes in the tree that was pointed out to me.Bouvigne, a hamlet near Dinant, had suffered fearfully from the bombardment of that town. Trees were splintered by the shells, the church was nearly a total wreck from the same cause, and two houses by the road had been riddled by bullets into a sieve, and also damaged by shells. On the whole scene of war I have not seen one house carrying so many bullets in it; their holes made the doors look like wire-netting. In these houses the French had barricaded themselves, brought mitrailleuses to them, and defended them until the last. None of those heroes left them alive. My colleague took many snapshots of this remarkable spot, while I collected bullets, fragments of shell, and similar mementos of this warfield."No, sir, we must hope for the best."
As soon as the Germans were near the coast they began to fortify it most formidably, in order to prevent eventual attempts at landing by hostile troops. Guns were soon mounted in the dunes, as I noticed during a trip which I made along the coast on Sunday, October 25th.52"And if the German authorities intend to institute a serious and impartial inquiry, then I give them the following particulars:
"'On October 9th no train with two thousand wounded arrived at the station of Landen, but only small transports whose number can be checked accurately by the lists of wounded. Rioting by two to three hundred soldiers near a carriage could not take place, as the station guard was instructed to keep free a path along the train. There is, moreover, always an officer of the station-guard present, when a train with wounded leaves. It is impossible that the soldiers could have aimed their rifles at the British, as the men who get their food in the dining-hall, as also the serving military personnel, are always unarmed. Other soldiers are not admitted to the station. The British have neither been beaten, nor stabbed, nor spit at; on the contrary plates full of hot soup have been offered them which were refused by two of them. This has been confirmed by the declarations of people who were present.'"German officials told that immediately after the surrender Maubeuge had been set on fire in various places, because civilians, etc.... The reader is by now able to complete the sentence.To avenge this alleged shooting by civilians the fires had been kindled in the houses, maxims placed in the streets, women and children beaten, men imprisoned or murdered.
He was back in The Netherlands before me."Bishop Rutten and Mr. Kleyer are allowed to leave the citadel for the present, but remain at the disposition of the German commanders as hostages.CHAPTER III
"Are you not afraid?""Whilst some soldiers committed these murders, others looted and wrecked the houses, smashed the safes or blew them up with dynamite. They forced their way into the Banque Centrale de la Meuse, seized the manager, Mr. Xavier Wasseige, and called upon him to open the safe. As he refused to do so, they tried to force it open, but in vain. Thereupon they took Mr. Wasseige and his two eldest sons to the Place d'Armes, where they and 120 of their fellow-citizens were shot by means of a mitrailleuse. The youngest three children of Mr. Wasseige were held by soldiers and forced to attend the slaughter of their father and brothers. We were also informed that one of the young Wasseiges lay dying for an hour and nobody dared to come to his assistance."What do you want here鈥攚hat are you here for?"
CHAPTER IIIThe road was quite deserted, for the people, who live in great fear, do not venture out.We passed a dead field-officer who still laid hold of a piece of a flag. When I read that sort of thing in a book, I thought: "how pretty and romantic," but never believed that this would actually happen in war-time. I saw the reality now, and, deeply touched, bared my head, saluting that dead hero. From papers we found on him we saw that his name was Van Gesthel; like most Belgians, he had been killed by shell.详情
Copyright © 2020