One of the soldiers took me to the spot where two days before the Belgians had blown up the railway which had just now been repaired by the German engineers. According to his story eighty troopers had succeeded in surprising a guard of twelve and in pushing on to the railway."Sister," I said, "I am a cousin of S?ur Eulalie, and should like to see her, to know how she is and take her greetings to her family in The Netherlands."I believe that this made him angry; at least he ordered me to take off my shoes also, and their inside was carefully examined.
"Are you not afraid?"My new companion tried desperately to speak as good Dutch as possible, but failed in the most196 deplorable manner; every time pure German words came in between. He told a story that he stayed at Maastricht as a refugee, and now wanted to fetch his children from a girls' boarding-school at Brussels. I pretended to believe every word, and after he had forgotten the first story he made up another, saying that he came from Li猫ge, where some officers who were billeted on him were kind enough to give him a chance of going to Brussels, to purchase stock for his business."Ah well, you come from The Netherlands; tell me whether it is true that you have let the Germans through, allowing them to ravish us? Tell me whether this is true?"
As often as I went on tour to collect news on the scene of war, I got dozens of messages and letters, which alarmed people sent to the editor of De Tijd, with the request that they should be handed to me for further transmission to relatives. I took hundreds of them to and from Louvain.The officer assured me that a new effort would be made soon, as they were commanded to take Pontisse and Lierce at any price, the seventh and ninth regiment of foot-artillery of Cologne being selected for the purpose.
"True? True, sir? You go and look for yourself! And let me tell you one thing鈥攖here are no francs-tireurs here! We know quite well what we may do and what not, and only a moment ago I received a message from the Minister of the Interior, saying that non-combatants who shoot at the enemy expose themselves to danger and their fellow-citizens to retaliations.""Not allowed!"
I have, happily, not seen much of the distressing flight of the Antwerp population, as I happened to be at Li猫ge when the fortress fell into German hands. I went to Zundert via Maastricht and Breda, in order to go to the conquered fortress from that Netherland frontier-town, north-east of Antwerp.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.There was still a real reign of terror, and constantly the town-crier's bell was heard in the streets, informing the people that the victors required something or other. Only a few days ago it was announced that all bicycles had to be delivered at the bridge within twenty-four hours. Any person who after that time was found in possession of such a vehicle would be shot, and his house burned down. With similar threats all arms were requisitioned, but with the explicit addition that this referred also to old, and broken arms, or those which had been taken to pieces. Eatables and drinkables were also constantly claimed under threats of arson.
"6. Who distribute in the German army hostile incitements or communications.May all the nations of the world after the war collaborate to compensate Louvain for her martyrdom, see that this city shall be restored to her former, happy prosperity, and get a library which approaches as much as possible the one she lost. The Germans can probably do their part by investigating where the motor-cars went which left the Halls on that wretched Tuesday night, heavily laden with books.Great crowds walked the long way to Tirlemont. They were constantly threatened by German soldiers, who aimed their rifles at them; passing officers commanded from time to time that some should stay behind, and others were shot. Especially did the clerics amongst the refugees suffer a great deal;145 many were not only scandalously scoffed at, but also maliciously injured. The greater part of the Germans showed a strong anti-Catholic bias, in particular against the clergy, whom they accused of having incited the people against them.
"What do you want here鈥攚hat are you here for?"Arrived at Riempst I found the pretty village church in its full glory and the vicar engaged in performing his religious functions; the vicar of Sichem was also still at home. The only part of the report that was true was that various burgomasters from the environs had been sent to Tongres and had not returned since. The burgomaster of Riempst, with whom I had been imprisoned already once, was being searched for by the Germans everywhere, but could not be found. In several places I heard also that the Belgians were lying in the woods round about, and that something was being prepared at Riempst; but no one knew what. So I decided to go and inquire."The destruction took place from August 21st to the 25th.
The next morning I got up early, having been unable to sleep. I realised already that my task was difficult, dangerous, and full of responsibility, for I had to find out and communicate to the public the truth about events, which would be related as beautiful or horrid, according to the interests of my informants. It was dangerous, because I might meet with the same fate that seemed to have been inflicted on so many civilians already."Here rest 10 soldiers, French, I. Reg. 36. fell 22.8. R.I.P."The frightened maidens were saying their rosary.
Having pushed my way through the loafers, who stood waiting before the house, I was able to continue my journey to Maastricht."In Amsterdam...."I was not allowed to return by bicycle, and left it at a caf茅 at the crossing of the roads to Tongres and Riemst. A couple of days later the Germans had already abstracted the tyres.
"Pardon me, it is perhaps better not to say a word about that for the moment. We are living through difficult times."In this grand old monastery, both inside and out a jewel of architecture, about five hundred people had found shelter. They were lodged in halls, rooms, and kitchens. The fathers gave them everything in the way of food they might require, but they had to do their own cooking. As not one of these people had a home left, which they could call their own, no wonder that they greatly admired the fathers. Often when I strolled about with one of these, one or other of the refugees came to him to press his hand and express gratitude for the hospitality offered.103详情
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