Posted by: secondeguerremondialeclairegrube | December 20, 2014

1914-1918: is Louvain burning ?

1914-1918 : is Louvain burning ?

Grüß Gott !

German troops, during First World War, prevented the Belgian city of Louvain from burning down totally ; and saved the Town Hall.

Yahoo.com / 14-18 / Le président allemand Joachin Gauck à Louvain / Vidéo / Internet:

« Le couple royal belge, le roi Philippe et la reine Mathilde ont accueilli lundi dans la ville de Louvain le président allemand Joachim Gauck dans le cadre des cérémonies du centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale. »

« Il y a cent ans les troupes allemandes envahissaient la Belgique et incendiaient la moitié de la ville de Louvain. Les envahisseurs avaient mis le feu à la bibliothèque de l’université entraînant la perte de nombreuses archives. »

Who are the Huns ? / Ernst Müller-Meiningen / The law of nations and its breakers / Reimer / Berlin / 1915:

« 8 September, 1914. Emperor Wilhelm:

« Not only did they make use of these cruel weapons [Dum-Dum bullets], but the Belgian Government had openly encouraged the participation of the Belgian civil populace in the fight and carefully prepared it for this end for a long time. The cruelties which were committed upon wounded soldiers, doctors and nurses in this guerilla warfare (physicians were murdered and hospitals attacked by rifle-fire) even by women and priests, were of such a nature that my generals were finally forced to resort to the most severe measures in order to punish the guilty and to intimidate a blood-thirsty population from continuing its dastardly and murderous deeds. »

« Several villages and even the ancient city of Louvain with the exception of the beautiful Town Hall were destroyed through the necessity of protecting my troops and assuring them some measure of self-defense. My heart bleeds when I realize that such measures should have become unavoidable and when I think of the innumerable innocent people who have lost their homes in consequence of the barbarous behavior of these criminals. »  Wilhelm, I.R.

« (This sincere, manly and justifiable note of the Emperor was subjected to the foulest abuse and misinterpretation in England, and by journalistic reverperation, by certain newspapers of the United State. The full extend of the injury sustained by Louvain had not at that time be ascertained, but as has been subsequently proved, only a portion of the town had succumbed to the flames, the spread of which had been heroically fought by the German troops, to whose efforts the saving of the historic Town Hall was also due.) »

« The Imperial Chancellor in his communication to the representatives of the «United Press» and the «Associeted Press», also alludes to the systematic nature of the franc-tireur campaign in Belgium. Herr von Bethmann Hollweg writes:

– « The fact that Belgian girls have put out the eyes of wounded men upon the battlefield is kept secret from you. The officials of Belgian cities have invited our officers to meals and then shot them whilst seated at the table. The civil population in violation of all international law was incited to attack our troops in the back by all manner of inhuman weapons after having received them in a spirit of assumed friendliness. Belgian women cut the throats of sleeping German soldiers in the quarters they themselves had offered the men. »

« And this lawless and inhuman method of carriyng on war in Belgium was repeated in village after village as the German troops entered the French territory. There was obviously a centralized method of procedure organized and carefully prepared for secretely by the state in both countries. This is nowhere more conspicuous and evident than in the attack upon the Germans which occured in the Belgian university town of Louvain. The use made of this affair in order to organize a most shameful and atrocious international campaign of falsehood against Germany, a campaign embellished with the most incredible tales of robbery and murder in order to embitter the whole world against Germany, is notorious. »

« The 40 witnesses who have so far testified under oath have already beyond a shadow of doubt established the fact that on the 25th of August a red rocket was fired into the skies from the houses that stood opposite and to the left and the right of the railway station of Louvain. This red rocket was the signal for the immediate discharge of a green rocket. As the luminous spheres of both rockets threw their light over the railway station and the vicinity, a fierce volley of bullets was fired from the upper windows of the houses in the Rue de la Gare and partly from the roofs of these houses, upon the German troops who stood unsuspectingly in front of the station and in the streets. A dozen non-commissioned officers and men as well as several horses were wounded, some seriously, others slightly, before the Germans found time to return the fire. »

(…)

« Louvain was the headquarters of the Chief of the so-called Garde civique. Shortly before the revolt this man was still frequenting the city. The movement began with the sending of young and undisciplined men to Louvain. They were furnished with no distinct badges and they concealed themselves in the houses in company with the soldiers who had converted themselves into civilians so that they might at the proper moment fire upon the apparently retreating German troops. »

« In order to oppose these brutal attacks our German troops were forcet to adopt energetic counter-measures. In accordance with the warnings given, the persons who are taken part in the attack were shot and the houses from which the shots had been fired, were set aflame. It was impossible to avoid the flames from these houses from setting fire to others, from which reason certain streets were destroyed. It was also owing to this that the cathedral was damaged. The further spread of the flames was prevented by the German troops who under the leadership of their officers took up the battle with the flames in the most self-sacrificing spirit. It is to them that thanks are due that only a small portion of the town, namely the section between the railway station and the Town Hall Square, suffered from the flames. Thanks to the endeavors of our troops it was possible to preserve the magnificent Town Hall. The Memorial contains appendices which furnish complete proofs of all these statments. »

(…)

« With respect to their precious art-treasures, the Belgians will certainly fare no worse in the hands of the Germans that under their former government. We have not only refrained from seizing these art treasures, but have taken means to protect them from all possible damage. This is true of Louvain, in spite of the criminal acts and treacheries committed there; (…) »

« To this category also belongs an ingenious photograph of the Town Hall at Louvain, which lies before me. The ruins of half-burnt houses, which were destroyed for the purpose of saving the Town Hall, have been so skilfully brought into the photograph that they appear to form a portion of the Town Hall itself. »

« The stories that are dished up to a credulous or incredulous public surpass even the notorious tale of the English nurse, Grace Hume. The English commission have at least the gratification of knowing that what they have written cannot possibly be surpassed. Women with breast cut off, violated and mutalited babes, crucified children. German soldiers who triumphantly bear on their pikes through the streets of Belgian towns the decapitated heads of their enemies, German incendiary battalions who under the device «Gott mit uns», systematically reduce houses to ashes – these are some ot the choice exhibits in this Chamber of Horrors. »

« Indeed, it was the Germans themselves who took pains, not only in Louvain, but also in other cities, to ensure that the art treasures should, as far as possible, be rescued and preserved. »

« It should not be forgotten that it was entirely due to the self-sacrificing spirit of German officers and soldiers that the magnificient Town Hall at Louvain, – in the neighborhood of which a treacherous attack had been made by the population, – was preserved. »

(…)

« Even the «Morning Post» regarded it as a «wonder» that the Town Hall as well as the cathedral should have been spared. No, it was not a «wonder» – it was merely the solicitude, the discipline and the innate reverence for art in the breasts of the besiegers. »

*********************************

« Indeed, it was the Germans themselves… »

Claire GRUBE

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