Andenne, on the right bank of the Meuse, was a town of 8,000 inhabitants. When the Germans arrived there on the morning of August 19th they found the bridge connecting Andenne and Seilles wrecked. In the afternoon they began building a pontoon bridge, which was ready the next day. They were very much put out about the wrecking of the other bridge, by the Belgian soldiers, a couple of hours before their arrival. Their exasperation became still greater when they discovered after having finished the pontoon bridge, that the big tunnel on the left bank of the Meuse had also been made useless by barricades and entanglements."But will you then please give me a pass, otherwise I may be detained again on my way back."In other circumstances I should not have taken so much trouble, but I was so tired that I gave the man all my papers to make him see that I was a Netherland journalist. But according to him that didn't matter at all, because the Netherlanders were quite as dirty as the Germans, for they had allowed the enemies of Belgium to pass through their country, and so on. In a torrent of words I told him that there was not a word of truth in it, and that the Belgian Government would surely lose no time in declaring the same as soon as the country was free again. At last I appealed to his heart by relating all the Netherlanders had done for the Belgians. This had the desired effect, and I was allowed to drive home with him.During my first visit I estimated the number of civilian victims at about eighty. This number turned out to be larger, as many during the second fire fled to their cellars, exits of which were however choked up by the collapsing walls. The corpses of numerous suffocated citizens were found in these cellars.
What happened at Landen made a very deep222 impression upon me; it shocked me more than all the terrible things which I had seen during the war and all the dangers which I went through. When the train went on again, and the soldiers began to speak to me once more, I was unable to utter a word and sat there musing.At seven o'clock in the evening I entered Liège; and so far I had achieved my end.Major and Commanding Officer."The unhappy man asserted in a loud voice that183 he was innocent, but got the answer that he would have to prove that later on. But he never had a chance of doing that. Arriving at the market-place, he and three others were simply placed against the wall and shot. He could not even have spiritual assistance."The miserable behaviour of the men has been the cause that a non-commissioned officer and a private were seriously wounded by German ammunition.Probably more than one hundred civilians had been shot, whereas many perished in the cellars. The heads of the municipality and several priests had at first been taken as hostages. Bail of ten million francs was asked for their release, but after much haggling they consented to accept one and a half millions, which sum was forthcoming from the various local banks.Having got them, several officers examined my credentials, and their faces showed that the horizon was a little clearer for me."Netherlander or not, it does not matter. Whosoever one be, every civilian is shot down by them.""Lies, gossip."
- CHAPTER IV
- "August 22nd, 1914.
- My opinion on the matter is still the same as when I first wrote about it to De Tijd, and in Vrij Belgi?; and from my own personal knowledge and after mixing with the people I consider the allegation that the Belgians acted as francs-tireurs an absolute lie.
- The game of shooting and looting went on all through the night of the 20th. Not a window or door remained whole even if the house was not burned down altogether.
- "Very well, sir, then I shall go there!"
- "Yes, but you see they may be forged, you see. They may shoot me, you see, but a traitor, you see, no, then I would knock you down, you see...."
- He did not seem to mind much the destruction of the Halls with their world-famous wealth of books; anyway he spoke about it in an unconcerned tone. But he seemed to attach great importance to the safety of the town-hall. He said that when the buildings adjoining the town-hall began to burn, he had them blown up in order to keep the fire away from the beautiful monument.
- "Every attack on German troops by others than the military in uniform not only exposes those who may be guilty to be shot summarily, but will also bring terrible consequences on leading citizens of Liège now detained in the citadel as hostages by the Commander of the German troops. These hostages are:—
- That the book was not published sooner is because I could not foresee more than others how terribly long the war would last; and I should have preferred to wait till the end in order to insert several reports which I know are being kept in the occupied part, in order to acquaint the whole world with the full truth about the behaviour of the Germans. As long as the Germans keep the upper hand in Belgium, such a publication cannot take place without danger to several persons. 更多 CPK 推荐