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Remembered Today:

Belgian Franctireurs 1914


fritz
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Good afternoon Bob,

This was the very first thread I contributed to in August 2009 and like most contributors I acknowledge the erroneous nature of some of the more outlandish "atrocities" stories; notwithstanding that I cannot understand why you fail to acknowledge the hostage taking and the summary execution of civilians which undoubtedly took place.

Steve, I have never, never, never denied the hostige taking and the summary execution of civilians. I just mentioned that my grand-father wrote in one letter that in his vicinity 125 prisoners were shot in one event, he may have watched. I probably have reported that at least twice in this thread. Please read what I write.

I am writing this from Jamoigne (I can see Rossignol from the church,) I am at a loss to comprehend what evidence you will accept. (I 80% agree with you. But if you are telling me that a two year old was shot by a firing squad for whimpering when he saw his mother shot for whimpering, or mass crucifictions, or even more nutty things, I require some sort of proof. I have not studied Rossignol, I vaguely remember the name, never heard of Jamoigne. So much rubbish and fabrications were created that I will not accept anything without a perponderance of proof. This is what happened, in the 1920s the European reaction to the tidal wave of fabrications produced during and immediately after the war was that many people thought that the entire matter was a fabrication. By the way, if you are in Belgium, do you have an opinion why the Flemish blew up the memorial to the martyrs?) It is not an anti-German thread (there is a thread of that in the thread, but that is fine with me.) but we must not forget these actions and remember that in times of conflict the civilian population must be protected by respect for the rules of war.

My family is almost extinct, 80% from the murder of civilians at the hands of occupying forces or encroaching civilians. And in WW II almost every woman in the family was gang-raped. I just heard from a cousin of mine, about more, about two fathers who tried to protect their young daughters; they were knifed to death before the daughters, who after watching that were raped dozens of times. One of the girls just called my cousin and discussed it. The cousin who mentioned it had both civilian parents killed in a concentration camp after the end of the war. The mother starved to death, I don't know about how her father died. Incidentally, my family almost never discussed these things with me. These delights were inflicted on my family by the Russians, by the Poles, by the Americans, and by the French. The Brits were not involved.

Are you lecturing me to "remember that in times of conflict the civilian population must be protected by respect for the rules of war"?

These matters were almost never, never discussed in my family, at least in front of me. Instead, I was treated to stories of adorable, bumbling Russians, funny stories. And until recently any mention of this sort of thing was discouraged or even prosecuted as neo-Nazi behavior in Germany.

bob

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As you know from our previous discussions on this and other threads, I am not lecturing you; indeed from your final point I am sure we share much common ground in our detestation of instances where civilians are unfairly targetted on whichever side, in whichever conflict but in this intance we are discussing Belgium, primarily in 1914.

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bob

Oh dear,

How many families were gang raped by Wermacht (ordinary 'good' Germans ) as well as S.S. in Russia, or Poland Bob? Or Greece, or Norway.....etc. etc.?

This is the terrible price of admission for inaugerating aggressive war on your neighbours, for attempting to destroy democracy and claim hegemony over Europe, and for trying to destroy one odoius regime in the East and replace it with an even more despicable one... AND FAILING.

I ask again, not expecting any reply, though just possibly some attempt at evasion, just what on earth did Germany expect from conquering Russia? Why does Germany in the 20 th. century (this is history Bob, like it or not, this is not "animus" but straightforward history) wage war with hitherto unimaginable cruelty, callousness and ferocity---but expect to have it waged back at them with kid gloves on? Why is that Bob?

Why do you not weep for the millions----yes, millions, of Russian 'families' who stood by and watched their daughters raped--- or sisters----aye, and then were all shot! More 'propaganda Bob?

Do I really need to talk about the fate of European Jewry to make you accept that these terrible deeds were actually done----and things almost exactly like them in WW1-----a truly terrible continuity I claim---of horror.

Let us get back to commonsense please----I cite the 'continuing' rape of Belgium in WW1 (though I could quite as easily do so for 'occupied' France also.---

".........Belgian provincial councils were suppressed; many Burgomasters were deported; and in 1917 the indigenous judiciary was removed. The Germans also levied a tax to pay for the maintenance of the occupying army. From the start, the Belgian economy was shattered. The Industrial base was deprived of raw materials and markets, and contracted. By July 1918 the occupying power had confiscated or destroyed 167 factories and what could not be shipped to Germany was systematically looted. The remaining industrial installations, including 26 blast furnaces, were razed. By the end of hostilities over 800,000 men were unemployed and one third of the population was on public assistance.

By 1915, the country faced famine..........the result for the Belgian population was that people died without basic necessities. They reverted to preindustrial diets of bread and potatoes and were deprived of meat and dairy products. Wartime mortality rates were more than double those of peacetime. The birthrate fell by 75%. The war, for the Belgians, was a total disaster"

Page 167 'The Experience Of World War One' J.M. Winter.

More deaths to be laid at the Germanic 'door' Bob---it did not end in 1914. And that 'tax' to pay for the occupying forces levied on Belgium------just exactly like the one a morally bankrupt and prostrate France had to pay in 1940---onwards! Callousness to a conquered foe indeed, Continuity indeed, look at the treaties ('treaties' indeed! Abject surrender of a prostrate foe draconian terms) Of Brest Litovsk and Bucharest imposed in 1918--------- but 'kid gloves' for 'poor Germany'

Dave.

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Please, Bob, give us your assessment of the behaviour of the German military in Belgium in 1914 : officially condoned acts of terror, atrocities, or a monstrous fabric of lies and exagerration by the Allies ? No foreplay please, just insertion !

Phil (PJA)

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Please can we stop chasing Bob constantly. Chris posed succint questions and pursued clear answers, which haven't been forthcoming. Let's move on.

Robert

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That is quite unfair.---This is a good debate, robust but in no way argumentative---are you saying we should stifle it because no one really seems to agree with anything Bob says on this one? Is he really being "chased"---How sad.

I personally, and I am not alone, keep trying to "move on", and Chris is not the only one who has "posed questions" that have not been answered! But when they are answered (few and far between), they revert to family tragedies at the end of WW2......... Yes, they do!

Bob posited opinions as facts, and some here are merely responding to that with reasonably accurate facts (as reasonable as any Bob posed, and considerably more in most cases) ) of our own---or I should say, of eminent historians we have read.

Is this not what debate is all about? Perhaps Bob ought to consider that if so many take a contrary stance to his, then perhaps, just perhaps, he is wrong on this. A 'historian', and as Bob talks about books he intends to publish, then presumably he considers himself such a person, ought, first and foremost, be as thoroughly objective as is possible----I, for one, do not see this trait in anything Bob has posted.

I see a refusal to face unpalatable truths----not a good default position for a historian.

Dave.

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First of all, will someone explain to Dave, who has been a member of the Forum for all of a month, that it is actually quite amazing that the moderators have not already shut down this thread, and also very likely not only freeze the thread, but also erase the entire existing thread? I was participating in an interesting but somewhat abrasive thread on the forum a while ago, and at about 120 posts the entire thread, which contained some interesting material, was taken down, and the thread had not ventured much out of the WW I period. I certainly have been pushing the envelope, but he is writing long posts that seem barely to touch on WW I at all.

I have just received a kind e-mail from a dear Flemish e-friend; we disagree on some of these points, but we have a good relationship, and we trade information; he has just sent me an account of one of the Belgian survivors of one of the forts I am writing about. He has advised me not to take some of the present personal attacks (as he described them) too seriously. I am about to ask him if he can help me identify the victim of a "small" war crime that my grand-father committed in Belgium. (No bodies.)

I will answer some of the questions again put to me, although I feel that I have answered at least some of them in a satisfactory fashion. I have spent 8 of the last 12 hours writing responses to the many questions and challanges, I don't need to be told that I am unresponsive.

I am wondering if anyone is interested in a serious discussion of the various methodologies available for estimating or actually solidly establishing the numbers and circumstances involved in tragedies like the one we are discussing. Much of my education and especially my working life was in building large dynamic data systems using a lot of relevant methodology and technology, some of these systems managing data sets of millions of data records per year.

One problem is where this could be held. Skittles? One particular problem is that some of the most advanced studies, and also some of the most determined efforts to obscure and deny such efforts, and prevent the recording of relevant data on casualties, is based on what recently went on in Iraq, and to some degree is still going on. There have been three quite advanced studies of this sort, one by two top US universities, and two very sound studies done in the UK. I am thinking of a serious discussion, not a gotcha effort.

Bob

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As you know from our previous discussions on this and other threads, I am not lecturing you; indeed from your final point I am sure we share much common ground in our detestation of instances where civilians are unfairly targetted on whichever side, in whichever conflict but in this intance we are discussing Belgium, primarily in 1914.

Steve;

I am sorry about the tone of some of my response to you, a bit too much, and a bit too dramatic. Although I cataloged some of the "experiences" of my family in Europe (not all of them), additionally, in the US, while my father was doing valuable war work for the US Navy in a dangerous war zone, Naval Intelligence attempted moves that probably would have put my mother (a legal US resident for 16-17 years) and myself (a very dangerous three year old) in a concentration camp in the US, only being saved by my father's boss, a US Naval captain, telling the Naval Intelligence lieutenant that he had the power to ship my mother and I off, but that he (the naval captain/colonel rank) had the authority to move the lieutenant off the base and into a rain forest to sleep with the two-foot long poisonous centipedes, at which point the Naval Intelligence lieutenant reconsidered and decided that my mother and I were not as dangerous as he first thought. And there is more, which I will spare everyone.

So I got a bit touchy when you seemed to think that I was insensitive to militaries inflicting injustice on civilians.

Bob

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As usual, Bob does not help his own cause by scattergunning all over the place and regaling us with side-lines and irrelevances — but he is nevertheless cultivating ground that most of us will never broach, and we should therefore tax him with reporting objectively (and succinctly) on what he finds there. For his part, in the meantime, he needs to acknowledge that the greater part of Belgium's civilian casualties in the opening phase of the war lie at Germany's door. For those of us who do not have a personal stake in that loss, the numbers are not very great, and the more interesting question, historically, is when and why the excesses ceased.

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Mick, the nature of the oppression changed. My impression is that the changes coincided with the introduction of long-term military occupation. This included the appointment of Etappenkommandanten, with their associated forces ('Etappe' was the military region behind the front lines, extending back to the German border). It has been interesting to see German authors take on this period. Most notably, Renz, Krumeich, and Hirschfeld in their book that was translated as 'Scorched Earth: The Germans on the Somme 1914-1918' (ISBN 184415973-6). There is a whole chapter entitled 'The German Occupation of Northern France'. The chapter features the diaries of two French civilians who lived in Lille and Roubaix.

The fighting in Lille took place in early October 1914. There were no reports of atrocities but sections of the city were shelled and set alight. Immediately prior to this, many civilians fled the city.

In September 1915, a census was carried out by the Germans. Copper was requisitioned. Then the sale of potatoes was banned. Madame Degrutère, a schoolmistress in Lille, wrote: 'Fortunately every fourteen days we receive rice, beans, maize, lard and every week beef or salted bacon from the American Committee. Were it not for that we would starve to death because the bread ration is inadequate and butter, like meat, cannot be bought.'

In November, a 16 year old was shot for spying. 'Other young people, including Gonti's son, were sentenced to forced labour. It appears they took photos of the trenches. M. Brackers d'Hugo has also been sentenced for concealing weapons.

By March 1916, 'life is growing more intolerable'. Butter, eggs, milk, meat and potatoes were no longer available. There were no vegetables, shoes or cloth to make/repair clothes. 'Horseflesh costs ten francs a kilo and old cheese eight francs.' Having requisitioned the cows, sheep, pigs and poultry, the Germans 'now want the rabbits'. The townsfolk lived on a staple of rice 'and it is very difficult to feed the children'.

Dogs were taxed. Many people killed their dogs rather than pay the tax.

Later in March, all the shops were closed. House to house searches were carried out, looking for contraband. The American Committee became the major source of food but 'there is a huge number of people to be attended to, and one can queue all day'.

In April 1916, the Germans began confiscating grass from the gardens. 1800 French civilians were arrested and 'brought at bayonet point to the railway station'. Men and women were forcibly deported. Even horsemeat became unavailable.

As we celebrate Easter, it is worth reflecting on that Easter in 1916:

'What a sad Easter. Food ever scarcer, for dinner rice and bread as we cannot find anything else. At night the Germans woke up everybody in the district to collect the census slips. Not satisfied with that, meanwhile they sent whole families, who wanted nothing else than to be at home, to other occupied regions. They did that at Roubaix, Tourcoing, Lille. It began at Fives. Everybody had to be ready. They were given ninety minutes to pack thirty-five kilos including kitchenware. To prevent any uproar machine guns were placed in the streets, before the departure they were fired into the church and school. The deportations from Lille lasted a week, every day German soldiers (twenty per house) arrived at three in the morning in one or other district with bayonets fixed, forced everybody to get up and took away the men and especially women and girls aged twenty to thirty-five, and nobody knows to where. The scenes are indescribable, hours of anxiety and panic for the mothers whose children have been wrenched from them. It is a sight to tear at your heartstrings. We are being led like criminals to the scaffold. On Easter Sunday we could not attend mass because the church was occupied by troops.'

David Hirsch, who lived in Roubaix, noted that the deportees were taken to a 'concentration camp near Sedan, the others are working as treefellers in the woods. One female accompanies every thirty men as cook.'

In May 1916 homes were ransacked in the search for any metal objects.

A war levy was imposed on Lille in June 1916 - 23 million marks. '...the Germans are forcing us to pay under threat of the heaviest reprisals against the entire population.'

Further deportations took place in latter half of 1916. Food became every more scarce and the searches continued for metal and other commodities to assist the war effort.

'25 December 1916. A miserable Christmas'.

The diaries document the 'illegal' happenings as well. Unscrupulous German soldiers and administrators would steal or otherwise add insult to the miseries of those left in Lille. The book 'Schlump: the story of an unknown soldier' recounts how even honest German soldiers who were assigned to duties in the rear areas fell into behaviours that oppressed the local populations. These behaviours became worse as the effects of the war and the terrible shortages became worse.

One of the saddest accounts that I have ever read related to the freeing of French villages in 1917. Spears wrote about the pursuit of the Germans, who were withdrawing to the Hindenburg Line. He was a liaison officer that accompanied the French forces in the pursuit. Spears described the terrible consequences of the occupation, especially on the French women, in his book 'Prelude to Victory'. Truly awful.

Robert

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"First of all, will someone explain to Dave, who has been a member of the Forum for all of a month........."

Bob, I did not realise, how could I, that obsequiousness and genuflecting to people who have been 'here' longer than "a month" was mandatory on the forum, and expected by the members. But no, of course it is not----SO why mention the longevity thing at all? Further I have no idea why you feel 'this' thread has anything in common with 'that' thread------it may puzzle you why the thread has not been closed but it would puzzle me if it were to be----and everyone else I think!

As for 'wandering' Bob----phew mate----kettle calling the frying pan...... I take no instruction from you on that .....

Not once have I, or anyone else, made any kind of personal attack (no one called YOU a "stripling" for instance) on you, that I recall! I have attacked your arguments (and your posts are at least as long as mine Bob----and again, I was not aware that the worth of posts was calculated by there brevity) and will continue to do so where I disagree with what you say. I will attack those arguments robustly where you denigrate English language histories, or descend to trivialising the rape (and I am happy to see others picking up on my post yesteday (228) moving this thread forward with the 'ongoing' occupational costs to the Belgian people) of Belgium and the murder of civilians as German policy, as "cultural differences"

So, your veiled threats about 'transgressing rules', and 'closing threads' have no substance Bob, and clearly demonstrate that your subjectivety on this whole matter is clouded and flawed. Last time you tried this somewhat underhand tactic I asked you to report any of my posts you deemed suspect----I urge you once again to do that, but not to try 'tactics' with me .

I can say this Bob, (with absolutely no personal malice at all----why should I have---even were I a "stripling") because we are in a DEBATE about history.

You have decided, quite alone, and quite wrongly, that this thread ("a thread within a thread" you claimed) has an anti-German "animus"

Let me ask you, and everyone else this question--

IF I were to castigate the Spartans in the 5th. Century B.C. for their atrocious treatment of their HELOT slaves, terrible even for the times, would I expect, would anyone expect, me to be accused of "animus" to Peloponnesian Greece today? Would Southern Greek posters be outraged at my 'anti - Greek '---'animus' expressions?

IF I berated Julius Ceasar and his Legions for ethnic cleansing in GAUL would it be reasonable for central Italian posters to be outraged at my anti-Italic stance here?

Alexander for the same ethnic cleansing just about everywhere ---would it be justified for Northern Greeks to threaten to close the thread for my--- 'Macedonian animus'

Of course those would be nonsense accusations, silliness and sadness of the very first order--everyone here would look askance at such nonsense accusations---even you Bob!---History is just that Bob, I will discuss it openly without the slightest fear---and I can discuss it like that because I have objectivity, but at no time do I descend to modern day judgements. Am I a Germanophobe now? OF COURSE NOT. Would I have been a one in 1914-18 or 1939-45 ----WELL OF COURSE I WOULD.

Enough of this rubbish Bob, I keep trying to move this thread forward, like others here----please help us out here with real argument, or real agreement, but it is of no help to merely imply that because I have only been here 1 month, that is the sum total of my historical acumen!

You are well adrift sir!

Dave.

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Hi, Mick;

As usual, Bob does not help his own cause by scattergunning all over the place and regaling us with side-lines and irrelevances I am the first to admit that I am the master of OT. — but he is nevertheless cultivating ground that most of us will never broach, and we should therefore tax him with reporting objectively (and succinctly) on what he finds there. I will try to, in an hour or so, lay down in a systematic fashion, what I believe, what I don't beieve, and what I feel I don't know (a lot) about the regrettable interaction between the German military on one hand and some stew of Belgian civilians, quasi-military (garde civique), and Belgian military, both uniformed and in some cases civilian-clad. For his part, in the meantime, he needs to acknowledge that the greater part of Belgium's civilian casualties in the opening phase of the war lie at Germany's door. I am the first to admit that a large part of Belgian civilian losses were unjust, eather totally innocent people swept up in events, some people who may have violated the rules and usages of war, but were denied due process, and some people (civilian or military) who were caught red-handed firing on troops or blowing bridges while in civilian garb, and would have been shot or otherwise disposed of by any military in the world, then or now. What is the numerical mix? I have no idea, but if someone made the asertion that, of the roughly 6000 Belgian civilians who lost there lives in that period, they had made a good-faith attempt to sort out the numbers, and now estimate that 2000 people were taken red-handed in deadly activities against the rules of war, and that 4000 people were innocent or may have or not have been innocent, but whose guilt was certainly not fairly established, I would not object to nor would have any grounds to object to such a finding. For those of us who do not have a personal stake in that loss, the numbers are not very great, and the more interesting question, historically, is when and why the excesses ceased. Mick, I would stand that very good question on its head, and ask why the events actually happened at all. I think I have answered that to some degree, but I will try (later) to do so more clearly, to catalog the mix of factors which led to the events in question. Certainly such events were not occuring in German occupations at other places or times.

There is a chorus of assertions that I am not answering people's questions as to my position on this or that matter. I spent 8 hours yesterday writing my responses, starting at 5:30 AM, and finally fizzled out at night and started my translation of a very interesting and useful first-person account of the siege of a Belgian fort just sent to me by a Flemish e-friend, to sooth my frazzled nerves.

Bob Lembke

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"........about the regrettable interaction between the German military on one hand and some stew of Belgian civilians, quasi-military (garde civique), and Belgian military, both uniformed and in some cases civilian-clad."

And therein is your subjectivity and trivialising of the murdered civilians who were neither a "stew" (but were people just like us whose country had just been wantonly invaded)---nor were ALL "quasi military" nor were all, by any means, " both uniformed and civilian clad".

You give the 'game away' sir, by your disrespect of dead innocents, what was it you said recently----"a hundred years ago"---as if that makes it any lesser a crime, and your expression "stew"---which I find reprehensible. STEW, indeed!

You still have not, it seems to me, graspoed that we all accept the "quasi military" deaths (though they are few indeed) but want to hear you accept that thousands of 'ordinary people-----very ordinary indeed, who were one moment living their 'ordinary' lives , were quite suddenly and, to them, quite inexplicably, DONE TO DEATH by the Germanic horde that had descended upon them.

Can't do it, or won't do it Bob------that's O.K. We all know! I hope your 'books', when published, are a trifle more objective in whatever depths they choose to plumb.

I make this observation Bob----- I would pull my grandchildren out of your class were you a history teacher.... no offence, just straight talking.

Dave.

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Dave;

I refer to your month on the forum only in order to point out that you may not be familiar with the workings of the Forum, and that there is a very great danger of this interesting thread not only being frozen by the Moderators, but also perhaps being completely erased. The discussion on the Forum is not supposed to venture much past 1918, and probably only if the post-1918 events are closely linked to events that occurred in the Great War.The Moderators are also not overjoyed at invective.

You have (not surprisingly) missed my attempt at stereotypically clumsy Teutonic humor, in my addressing you as a "mere stripling". We are both old *****, I am merely a bit older. In Munich there are two rival breweries, and in the domestic advertising one refers to the other brewery as "the relative newcomer in the field of beer", as the "newcomer" started brewing in 1389, while the other brewery fired up their operation in 1332.

I am not rejecting or "dissing" all English history. I am simply pointing out that, on the topic of who shot whom in Belgium in 1914, and why (either in a military engagement, or in oppressive villany), if you can't work in the primary source languages (in this case, French, German, and Flemish), you can't really do any original research, and also face the additional burden that 90% of the material published in the war-time period in English were specifically commissioned and written and published as "disinformation", to use a KGB term.

Some Yank, a Texan, I think, popped up briefly on this forum, and he sounded like a Martian, or comic-strip character; it unfolded that he had been sitting in Texas for 25 years only reading the lurid war-time propaganda materials; he sounded like Clarabel the Clown.

Bob

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Dave;

I refer to your month on the forum only in order to point out that you may not be familiar with the workings of the Forum, and that there is a very great danger of this interesting thread not only being frozen by the Moderators, but also perhaps being completely erased. The discussion on the Forum is not supposed to venture much past 1918, and probably only if the post-1918 events are closely linked to events that occurred in the Great War.The Moderators are also not overjoyed at invective.

You have (not surprisingly) missed my attempt at stereotypically clumsy Teutonic humor, in my addressing you as a "mere stripling". We are both old *****, I am merely a bit older. In Munich there are two rival breweries, and in the domestic advertising one refers to the other brewery as "the relative newcomer in the field of beer", as the "newcomer" started brewing in 1389, while the other brewery fired up their operation in 1332.

I am not rejecting or "dissing" all English history. I am simply pointing out that, on the topic of who shot whom in Belgium in 1914, and why (either in a military engagement, or in oppressive villany), if you can't work in the primary source languages (in this case, French, German, and Flemish), you can't really do any original research, and also face the additional burden that 90% of the material published in the war-time period in English were specifically commissioned and written and published as "disinformation", to use a KGB term.

Some Yank, a Texan, I think, popped up briefly on this forum, and he sounded like a Martian, or comic-strip character; it unfolded that he had been sitting in Texas for 25 years only reading the lurid war-time propaganda materials; he sounded like Clarabel the Clown.

Bob

Hi Bob,

I am no 'Texan' though, nor 'clarabel' or any other kind of clown. I imagine this forum 'works' much like any other---IF anyone transgresses the rules, either the admin. or some outraged poster will report said person-----the admin. will consider if indeed some infraction has really taken place---or is the reporter just trying to 'get out of a no win argument' by 'nobbling' someone for no just reason.

You must search your own soul on that score Bob.

You also completely "not surprisingly" miss the point. Many of us here do not read 'foreign' languages and suffer very little because of that shortcoming. I, perhaps I am alone in this, but if so, then this is an uncommonly elitist forum, made up of multi linguistic masters, do not place much store in the "lurid war time propaganda"---NOT ONCE have I alluded to 'breasts cut off, or human bell clappers, or any of the rest of it's ilk. Though rest assured I know of them all---but I try to, in my haltingly lame way, deal in HISTORY Bob---objectively as well! NOT all original sources have the same merit-----I will (is this lazy-----I certainly think not) allow great and erudite historians to educate me in my ignorance. That is all I do---read history, deeply, often and comprehensively---and 'take in' the good, and disregard the bad.

What I believe is that the worthy historians (and I have been 'around the block' enough aye, and more than enough to know the good from the bad, or not so good) ---I have quoted, and I could have quoted a damned site more, some of them that you resolutely (apart from Strachan, who you rate but have not read, because, i think, he is somehow classed by you as not worthy as he is "secondary") deprecate as knowing nothing because they write in English, TELL us that 5,500 or so Belgians (civilians) were killed, and a further 500 or so French, in those first blistering weeks of 1914.

Do you really mean to say those historians are simply peddling "disinformation" Bob-----I trust not!

What do you think of those erudite historians viewpoint Bob? It will tell me quite a lot if you answer that----either they have it right (all of them agree) or they have it wrong (all of them---as they agree)----your thoughts Bob please.......

Your "Teutonic humour" is a bit flat when you talk of human "stews" Bob--or "cultural differences"----not a good choice of expression, to somehow---though god alone knows how----justify, or trivialise, mass organised murder-----never mind 6,000----just one would be murder, and not able to be 'trivialised' away I think.---there you have it.

Can you offer me (us) something relating to murdered civilians in Belgium in 1914----or the "ongoing rape" as I called it yesterday, of those occupied areas in Belgium and France. ----Indeed one could go forward to the last days of war and still talk of the disgust that allied soldiers felt when advancing into towns, villages and hamlets thoroughly looted and trashed by the retreating Germans---things like small (but prized) family possessions that could not be taken away by the erstwhile conquerors ---destroyed in wanton acts of barbarism---and this in Nov. 1918, with surrender with honour and stolen countries still being asked for by Germany.

And expected.

.Anything on this Bob?

Dave.

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I am going to suppress my baser instincts and refrain from endless personal and nationalistic attacks and arguments. They add nothing to the discussion of the topic at hand and will only serve to pull down the thread. I am biting my tongue.

Bob

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I am going to suppress my baser instincts and refrain from endless personal and nationalistic attacks and arguments. They add nothing to the discussion of the topic at hand and will only serve to pull down the thread. I am biting my tongue.

Bob

Your "baser instincts" have perhaps already been demonstrated----I see no explanation from you for your human "stew" passage. As for "nationalistic" comments, Well, you also know what Samuel Johnson said about patriotism! ---And pray enunciate the "personal and nationalistic attacks" anyway-----where are they in evidence here, was it not you who commenced to talk, pejorativley, about Iraq---now, and 'Bomber Harris, then?

Is this 'nationalism" only one a one way street ?

Please do not feel you need to "bite your tongue"----that is a 'cop out' isn't it? Do you fear rational historical debate so much?

I fear you protest too much.

Dave.

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Back, once again, to the thread then,

Earlier mention was made of David Ascoli---

I quote from page 43 of 'The Mons Star'

" The German Invasion of Belgium can be summarized shortly; and it is proper to record that the resistance of the Belgian army.........had an incalculable influence on the German offensive plan. It also called down upon the heads of the Belgian people the FULL SAVAGERY OF A VERY SAVAGE MACHINE.....They responded with such brutality that even Moltke was shocked by his armies' excess. Let there be no doubt about Grman atrocities. They were in every sense atrocious."

My capitals, that I make no excuses over.

Dave.

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Without wishing to appear complacent about the killing of five or six thousand Belgian civilians - and I endorse Dave's sense of outrage at the prospect of their ordeal being denied or overlooked, or somehow dismissed - it might be arguable that, in the frenzied and intense opening weeks of warfare this was almost "par for the course".

At the same time, the Russians, in their brief incursion into East Prussia, are said to have killed fifteen hundred civilians. The Cossacks, it was reported, were especially cruel. The ancient slavic- teutonic racial feud was of some consequence here. And, it should be stressed, the brief time span and the smaller numbers of the invading army imply that, in proportionate terms, this was a more murderous act than that committed in Belgium.

No doubt the same sorts of horrors were committed in the Balkans, and, I daresay, in Galicia.

The troops were under enormous pressure, "hyped" up by the need to move quickly and carry the war plans into effect. This was especially so for the German right wing surging through Belgium, and it's understandable that this rather manic approach was amplified by fear of the dreaded franc-tireur.

That said, I feel that there has been an affront to the memory of the victims of German aggression - which definitely included women and children - in a refusal to countenance the heinous acts that were committed by the Germans in Belgium in 1914.

Phil (PJA)

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Without wishing to appear complacent about the killing of five or six thousand Belgian civilians - and I endorse Dave's sense of outrage at the prospect of their ordeal being denied or overlooked, or somehow dismissed - it might be arguable that, in the frenzied and intense opening weeks of warfare this was almost "par for the course".

At the same time, the Russians, in their brief incursion into East Prussia, are said to have killed fifteen hundred civilians. The Cossacks, it was reported, were especially cruel. The ancient slavic- teutonic racial feud was of some consequence here. And, it should be stressed, the brief time span and the smaller numbers of the invading army imply that, in proportionate terms, this was a more murderous act than that committed in Belgium.

No doubt the same sorts of horrors were committed in the Balkans, and, I daresay, in Galicia.

The troops were under enormous pressure, "hyped" up by the need to move quickly and carry the war plans into effect. This was especially so for the German right wing surging through Belgium, and it's understandable that this rather manic approach was amplified by fear of the dreaded franc-tireur.

That said, I feel that there has been an affront to the memory of the victims of German aggression - which definitely included women and children - in a refusal to countenance the heinous acts that were committed by the Germans in Belgium in 1914.

Phil (PJA)

Hi Phil,

We recall the utmost singular savagery that the Prussians used in their pursuit of the French after Waterloo was well and truly won----with nary a thought over 'Franc-Tireurs......

Endemic savagery in the Prussian manner---this is not an illusion, but verifiable historical fact.

Cheers,

Dave.

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Hi Phil,

We recall the utmost singular savagery that the Prussians used in their pursuit of the French after Waterloo was well and truly won----with nary a thought over 'Franc-Tireurs......

Endemic savagery in the Prussian manner---this is not an illusion, but verifiable historical fact.

Cheers,

Dave.

I am going to violate my vow, and comment; this being 100 years before the Great War, it probably is safer to comment on this than on Mosquitos bombing Danish schools, and the Danes in response dancing in the streets in glee.

Scene: Waterloo. Actor. Wellington. Battle going badly, he states: "I hope for Bluecher, or the night." (Accurate quote?) What he is saying is, despite about half of Wellington's army being German, he is getting his butt kicked, and if Bluecher and his "savage" Prussians don't arrive soon, he will have to flee the battlefield.

Scene: Prussians rushing to Wellington's aid, led by Bluecher, quite an old man, about 80, I think. Napoleon had to divide his army, and send part to block the advance of the Prussians. (What would have happened if Napoleon did not have to split his army, to try to block the "savage" Prussians? Wellington would almost certainly been defeated.) French force split off attacks the Prussians, and French cavalry gallops over the dehorsed Blucher, and gallop off. The old man, rescued by staff and Prussian cavalry, calls for a bottle of gin, strips naked on the battlefield, and gives himself an envigorating rub-down with the alcohol, puts his clothes back on, climbs in the saddle, and again gallops off to Wellington's aid, arriving in time and turning a defeat in progress into a victory. (Happy to say that in the 19th Century my family's traditional unit of service was the Furstenwalder (brandenburgische) Uhlan=Regiment, Prussian light cavalry, perhaps some rode to Wellington's rescue. Perhaps they should have stopped for a beer.

For this the Prussians are called "savages" for their conduct at Waterloo? I am amazed at the powerful filtering effect of Dave's Colonel Blimp glasses.

A number of German regiments on the West Front in WW I proudly wore sleeve ribbons bearing "Waterloo" and "Gibralter", at the latter fighting for four years to defend Gibralter for England.

While Waterloo is probably a safer topic than WW II Russia, neither cast a lot of light on events in Belgium.

Bob

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Furor Teutonicus indeed !

You forgot to mention, Bob, that Blucher dreamt that he had been impregnated by an elephant. Understandable, after Ligny.

" The elephant in the room" is one thing, this quite another !

Forgive my silly humour....put it down to the intemperance of youth : being a few days short of my fifty eigth birthday, I'm even more of a stripling than Dave.

Phil (PJA)

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Phil;

Thanks for your informative and fun last posts. But I have to state, again, that I never, never, never denied that there was a lot of injustice in the fate of Belgian civilians in Belgium in 1914, and I just stated that it is likely that over half of the killed were killed unjustly, either innocent, or subject to a totally unfair judicial process, if any.

But I will not accept any account provided at the time of what was probably the greatest organized propaganda effort in history, without some corroboration, or at least the scent of reasonableness. I really have to get that document I referred to, that I was led to by a British historian. (The context in which the document was described is interesting. A British officer wanted to publish an account of some of his heroics and adventure in Belgium {not in 1914, and not re: Hunnish frightfulness}, but he was informed that he could not, he was not reflecting the "official" take on his engagement. I think that the "official" and quite false version had already been published or was in the works.) The document I mentioned lists over 1000 British books title by title of "cooked" history that were commissioned and whose publication was totally subsidized by the government in a covert operation.

You will note that I am being vague, I know where this document is, but will not state where, lest some "patriot" facilitates its disappearance or unavailability. I took a shot at it in the UK last December but was foiled by the extensive Christmas-time staff vacations.

This sort of effort is quite defensible at the time, but unfortunately has poisoned the history of the period for almost 100 years to date. All sides and nations at war practice this sort of effort, but the Brit/Belgian project is absolutely breath-taking in scope.

I had a little project with a Forum Pal a couple of years ago, he approached me about a couple of these books, he was taking them at face value at first, and we worked at it, and he gradually realized the fabricated nature of the works he was interested in.

In connection with that effort I looked very carefully into several books, and the results were strange. To generalize, they were supposedly translations of French (Allied) or German works, the latter supposely a book of a deserter from the German Army who supposedly particpated in atrocities, was horrified, and fled to Denmark. However, while the "translated" English works are plentiful, and in fact were in some cases published simultaneously by four or five different US and Brit publishing houses (isn't that normal free-market publication?), with, perhaps, all of the actual US printed matter actually printed by one British publishing house, however, one can never find the original author, or the "original" Belgian or French or German or Danish book.

My wife has worked in one of the leading research libraries in the world for 34 years, and has been a foreign language librarian for 27 years. (Her library has books in 293 languages, and she has purchased many of them.) She was wonderful book-search skills, and in WorldCat she has a high enough "security clearance" that she is authorized to enter the cataloging of the British Library and change it on her own. She recently was pleased to correct a world-wide problem in the cataloging of a major archeological publication (she is a trained archeologist, and "dug" in Britian several times); she had worked on the problem, which has existed since 1931, for 10 years; finally correcting the problem in the cataloging of 960 libraries world-wide, including the British Library, I am sure.

She could not find these "authors", anything they ever wrote, nor any of the original books which were supposedly translated. I think I still have the "Danish" book, in its English "translation", about the house, the "author" was supposedly a Danish-ethnic German (as I am), and it is clear that whoever wrote the book, supposedly a German Army NCO, was massively ignorant of the German Army.

Again I have zoomed off up an interesting and useful but ultimately diverting alley.

The point I am laboring toward is that I will not blindly accept any atrocity story out of such works. This parallels much of the opinion in the 1920's, when many, including Brits, realizing the massive deception, decided that all of these stories were rubbish, which, of course, is totally incorrect. If you take the atrocity stories out of these accounts, tally them up systematically, you probably would have 80,000 dead, or something of the sort. I explained that for four or five years I did not believe the stories about WW I that my father told me, although I cannot recall a single time he lied to me, until I was able to verify so many of them in an exhaustive process. I am an instinctive sceptic. Many others troll thru the literature and sweep out the stories that fit into their world-view. I fight mightily against that tendency every day. I mentioned the wonderful story of the Belgian professor that I would love to put in at least two books; but I looked for about three years until I came across the Belgian original and the surrounding book and established that the wonderful description was a 100% utter fabrication and lie. I still mourn the loss of the wonderful description.

bob

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"While Waterloo is probably a safer topic than WW II Russia, neither cast a lot of light on events...."

"Give me Blucher, or give me night"

Your "colonel Blimp" is not well taken Bob-----you come perilously close to being offensive on a personal level------- two could easily play that game mind you----this old dog bites back when barked at. Let us not resort to base 'ad hominem' utterances Bob---please. That was unwarranted and un-called for.

.Further, on Waterloo----whilst Bob and I seem quite happy discussing it -----(but draw different lessons from it---as expected) we differ in its reading. I am one of many who see Blucher's arrival on the battlefield AFTER the repulse of the 'Garde' and the essential rout of the French army as incidental to Wellingtons victory.

Further, we must remember ("Prussians rushing to Wellingtons aid") that this was a coalition army, and that Wellington would never have been there had his allies not planned to be at his side (I NEVER forget the Kings German Legion mind you) and to talk of 'rushing to aid' forgets this fact, and the embarrasing fact that had it been left to Gneisenau Wellington and his polyglot army could go hang!! Prussian allies indeed!

Also recall that the Prussians had been resoundingly beaten whilst fighting by themselves, and only joined in the victory that the allied army on the field had already won for them!

Wellington had only agreed to stand at Waterloo because his allies had promised to be on the French exposed right flank by 2.00a.m.!!

Prussian defective staff work was not in keeping with Bluchers undoubted loyalty-----good job Gneisenau was not in charge, or those later medals would shine considerably less bright Bob! In the event, the Prussians did not begin their march in support of the Anglo-Dutch army until the morning of June 18th. was well advanced . Napoleon shifted Lobaus VI corps to fight a skillful holding action on the right against Bulows corps, leaving Wellington to complete the defeat of the main French forces alone.

Those are the very brief facts of the Prussian 'victory' at Waterloo Bob------ your amusment has missed the mark, once again.

As for your 'what ifs'----here is one you might like to ponder--

'What if' Britain had left Prussia and Europe to French mercy after Prussia, fighting Napoleon, had been soundly defeated at the twin battles of Eylau and nearby Auerstadt, when the armies of Prussia were smashed and disintergrated? Recall that Berlin was occupied by Napoleon on Oct. 24th of that year. (1807) London NEVER was.

Prussia had to give up all the land it had taken in the during the second and third partitions of Poland, and all her territory west of the Elbe, to reduce her army, and pay large indemnity.

The word is, Bob, surrender!---But more than surrender, she agreed to an alliance with Napoleon against England!! Oh, those medals lose some of there lustre.

Ah Bob, history is a wide ranging subject sir, and I am not sure that you fully grasp its enormous scope------ but fear not my friend, I do.

Dave.

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Mick, the nature of the oppression changed. My impression is that the changes coincided with the introduction of long-term military occupation.

Robert

I think that's a fair point, the mass executions ended with chances of a swift victory; whilst the objective was a rapid advance through Belgium they appear to have been part of the means to terrorise the local population as they transited the country.

The occupation lasted over 4 years and, although incidents continued (including the mass deportations of workers) the mass executions seem to be linked to the initial advance. The occupation it itself is a fascinating subject, not often considered on this forum. Robert, I don't have the exact names to hand but I recall that there were two administrative areas: one the area bordering the front, the other further away, one been under military regulations, the other under the quasi-military governor. For example, cattle fetched a better price in the interior area than the frontier one resulting sometimes in sentries been posted on the "border" to stop farmers moving cattle from one area to the other.

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