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Remembered Today:

Belgian Franctireurs 1914


fritz
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A few years ago I engaged the services of a Flemish enhusiast to guide me round the Artois sector. What surprised me about this chap, who was an avid collector of German regimental histories, and a superb escort, was his profond admiration of the German army and the German culture, and his conviction that it was more enlightened and generally superior to the Galllic world of the French and the Walloons. It would be interesting to find out how he perceives the behaviour of the German army in Belgium in 1914.

Phil (PJA)

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A few years ago I engaged the services of a Flemish enhusiast to guide me round the Artois sector. What surprised me about this chap, who was an avid collector of German regimental histories, and a superb escort, was his profond admiration of the German army and the German culture, and his conviction that it was more enlightened and generally superior to the Galllic world of the French and the Walloons. It would be interesting to find out how he perceives the behaviour of the German army in Belgium in 1914.

Phil (PJA)

I think I know who you are mentioning, I used to correspond with him, if I am right. (If it is, his collection of German regimental histories was, say 5-6 years ago, perhaps one of the top collections in the world.) I might have the answer to your question, at least in part.

The fellow I am thinking of was then in his late 20's, had worked for the Belgian Senate, but had resigned to pursue his study of WW I full-time. He worked in six languages (Horrors!!), had written and published two books on the war (I have one, 400 pages, Dutch), and was vice-chairman of an international society on military archeology. He was a frequent and valuable participant on this Forum.

Then one day he got in a verbal tussle on the Forum with a Brit who exhibited no scholarship at all, I would eat a shoe if he had a foreign language (Again really vital for any serious work on Belgium 1914), but he knew everything about what happened in Louvain in 1914. They got in a nasty tussle, and the end result was that the Belgian, deeply offended, left the Forum, and I think that I have only seen him contribute once in the last 5 years.

Did I also mention that he also was a graduate of the University of Louvain? So of course he was living and studying in Louvain for years. He certainly knew and knows four times as much about the topic as everyone now contributing put together. But he was driven off the Forum by a guy with the temprament of a guy in a vomit-soaked team shirt in the cheap seats at Arsenal.

So we are probably not going to have the benefit of his informed opinion.

Bob

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Hi Phil,

I also, Bob would doubt it, but I see no reason why anyone else ought to, share a profound respect (I won't say admiration though----that would be stretching it too far) for the fighting qualities, the devotion to 'causes' and the sheer professionalism of the German army in general, in both World Wars. I have nothing but contempt for German 'culture' (a misnomer anyway) in the early to mid 20th. century-----but high praise for their technological and organisational skills (their chemical works were top notch in those days, for instance) which were world beaters.

I recall what John Cuneo reported in 'Winged Mars'---page 167-

"The commanders who had such troops to rely on in days of adversity were fortunate. It was impossible to ask or expect of them more than they were ready to give, and capable of giving"

Though I would comment that by 1918 war weariness had taken over in the German army---desertions were enormously high, ---as Fuller says-

"Wedged between his starving family and a hopeless future the German soldiers morale was shattered by the realisation that the succession of offensives since March 21st. had been in vain, and that their result was a defensive future that could see no offensive dawn"

So, in fine, a resolute army up until almost the end, but the (sorry that you will find this disagreeable Bob) reputation of it tainted, as that of ALL German armies, in ALL theatres, in both wars---by quite inexcusable viciousness and callousness to prostrate and defeated foes----and cavalier attitudes to allies, who were always, at best, of limited worth.

You are known by the friends you keep, and Germany was 'shackled to a corpse' by its own admission---in WW1. And the Italians in WW2 were, perhaps, even worse!

Cheers,

Dave.

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"Then one day he got in a verbal tussle on the Forum with a Brit who exhibited no scholarship at all, I would eat a shoe if he had a foreign language (Again really vital for any serious work on Belgium 1914), but he knew everything about what happened in Louvain in 1914. They got in a nasty tussle, and the end result was that the Belgian, deeply offended, left the Forum, and I think that I have only seen him contribute once in the last 5 years."

You are too much concerned with 'foreign languages' by half I'm afraid---and you seem on the one hand to ridicule those writings of the times, and on the other hand worship them as the fount of all---and the only---knowledge.

I take your "Brit with no scholarship at all" for what it really is, and deprecate it. This 'Brit' was always going to be damned in your subjective eyes as he had no "foreign language"---which is NOT "vital for any serious work on Belgium in 1914" You are the living proof of that, as you HAVE the languages, yet still manage to know little of the massacres in Belgium in 1914. Or you profess to know little!

I will ask the question you so adroitly try to avoid, again--

Do you claim that all the serious historians I have quoted here are wrong about the atrocities meted out to Belgium, and to a lesser extent France in the first few weeks of war-----either they are all right (as they all agree) or they are ALL wrong, and you know better, because your relatives were axed to death .......... or something.

Your 'tongues' and years of research and books ready for the publisher MUST leave you with deeper insights into all this than ---

John Terraine

Corelli Barnett

J.M. Winter

David Ascoli

Nial Ferguson

D.J. Goodspeed

Hew Strachan

Barbara Tuchman

John Horne

Alan Kramer

Larry Zuckerman

Jeff Lipkes

To mention just a very few---please give a straight answer----

Dave.

Post edited by Mod for lack of respect to another member. 27/04/11

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Then one day he got in a verbal tussle on the Forum with a Brit who exhibited no scholarship at all, I would eat a shoe if he had a foreign language (Again really vital for any serious work on Belgium 1914), but he knew everything about what happened in Louvain in 1914. They got in a nasty tussle, and the end result was that the Belgian, deeply offended, left the Forum, and I think that I have only seen him contribute once in the last 5 years

I think this is the thread that Bob is thinking about

 

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Wow

The trench warfare seems to be back with a vengeance.

Just some things to

There are 'proper' British historians (Martin Gilbert eg.) who seem to believe in the presence of Franc - tireurs (something which I do NOT believe in). The main writers in English on the topic of Franc-tireurs (and I do think people should try and stick to the topic in question. It is imo an important but very charged topic). are Kramer and Horne, Lipkes and Zuckerman. Kramer and Horne talk about the possibility of a limited amount of civilians. Lipkes conclusions are questionable.

Chris

There apparently is more information available on the Saxon units at Dinant (Leipzig trial testimonies, there are also some rather interesting texts on Leuven/louvain)

Bob

A contact at the Belgian MOD tells me that a database on the civilians victims of 1914 is planned.

Carl

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Hi Carl,

Yes, but there are also 'proper' British historians who would have us believe British Generals right across the board in the war were 'Donkeys' (Clark) or 'butchers' (Laffin') or a 'custom bound clique' (Woodward), or 'that hideously unattractive group, the British generals of the First World War' (Keegan) although I do not put Gilbert on the same low beam as those, and those like them---who have personal agendas to minister to---nevertheless Gilbert paints with a very wide brush, and his Jewish proclivities MIGHT mean he 'bends over backwards' a bit to not be seen as one who 'damns' the Germans for every sin imaginable.

I don't know, but perhaps he was being 'devils advocate' a bit when writing about Franc-Tireur activity----which I don't say NEVER happened-----but claim, and stand un-refuted on the claim----- that a massive preponderance of the historians I read, and have read, for half a century at least, say that it amounts to a carefully orchestrated German premeditation to use 'burgomasters children (the Belgians must have bred a special race of burgomasters children like the assassins of Syria!-----said Mr. Brand Whitlock, American ambassador and witness to the devastation of Louvain---to even begin to believe what he was told by von Luttwitz, in 'justification' of barbarity on a scale not seen in Europe since the 30 years war) and ordinary townspeople and villagers as some kind of well armed and fearless 'fifth column'.

I agree with you Carl, on the unlikely reality of huge numbers of Belgians being shot for franc-tireur activities---which I firmly believe is a travesty of the truth, and a lame (very lame) effort by some to expiate a degree of German brutality that is accepted across the board in WW2---but somehow, for obvious reasons, is not believed about WW1.

It is apposite I believe, and therefore I shall, (though I do take your point Carl) quote from another master historian, of a later war, William Shirer-- though I risk Bobs fury (with impunity) at doing what he himself is a self confessed master at doing--

"on the morning of June 9th. 1942, ten truckloads of German security Police under the command of Captain Max Rostock (hanged in Prague in 1951) arrived at Lidice and surrounded the village. No one was allowed to leave, but any who had been away were allowed to RETURN! A boy of twelve panicking, tried to steal away---he was shot down and killed. A peasant woman ran toward the outlying fields. She was shot in the back and killed. The entire male population of the village was locked up in the barns, stables and cellar of a farmer named Horak, who was also the mayor.

The next day, from dawn until 4p.m. they were taken into the garden behind the barn, in batches of ten, and shot by firing squads of the security Police. A total of 172 men and boys over sixteen were there. An additional 19 male residents, who were working in the Kladno mines during the massacre, were later picked up and dispatched in Prague!

Seven women who were rounded up in Lidice were taken to Prague and shot.

ALL the rest of the women of the village, who numbered 195, were taken to Ravensbrueck concentration camp, where seven were gassed, three 'disappeared' and forty-two died of ill treatment. Four of the Lidice women who were about to give birth were first taken to a hospital in Prague where their newly born infants were murdered and they themselves then shipped to Ravensbrueck.

There remained the children of Lidice......they were carted off to concentration camps......'every trace of them lost' a tribunal at Nuremberg later concluded."

Page 992---'The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich'

Germans did it in that war----we all accept. Germans also did it in the earlier war---though some choose to ignore the dreadful truth of this,and their twists and turns are almost humorous, were it not for the deadly reality of that which is under discussion here, because to believe it removes the unique---abberration---- that Nazism is seen to be in Germany then, and delivers that terrible 'continuity' of war aims and the procedures and practices used to gain those aims, that Germany used in BOTH wars. Not 'unique' then at all!

I claim with confidence that my foray into WW2 atrocities is thus fully justified---as if I really need to justify historical analogy when it is so patently relevant.

Cheers,

Dave.

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Bob

A contact at the Belgian MOD tells me that a database on the civilians victims of 1914 is planned.

Carl

Carl!

Now there is something positive. As I said, the Lebanese did, after the Israeli invasion of 1982, document, person by person, 23,000 civilians killed by the Israelis in their invasion, drive north, and six week bombardment of Beirut. The Boers also supposedly did do a person-by-person registry of the say 9,000 or 11,000 or whatever death toll in the camps that the Brits set up in for the wives and children of the Boer guerrilla (sp?) fighters that they rounded up and en-camped in the 1900 dust-up. (I have not attempted to access these data-bases, I am not especially interested in them, except as an example of methodology for the determination of the actual extent of the losses in such events. But I have read about these databases in generally reliable sources.) There have been other attempts at an actual person-by-person tally of losses; supposedly the Turks have dove in their astonishing archives and come up with a person-by-person list of 521,000 ethnic Turks killed by Armenians in the 29 years of fighting between 1894 and 1923 (involving about another six more major ethnic groups), and since have, for about 5 years, repeatedly called for an open, international investigation into what happened in that area at that time, an investigation refused repeatedly by the Armenian government. Finally, I have heard only once or twice (although I read the Israeli press daily for about 12-13 years) that Yad Vashem has such a registry for the victims of the Holocaust (my wife, who knows everything, also says that she has heard of it), but that it has to date only reached about 3,000,000, so it is reasonable to not even mention it, as ill-willed people might quite incorrectly use that as bogus "evidence" to minimize the Holocaust. The miserable nature of the public systems in Russia and Poland, the war-time destruction, the estragement of the pre-war Jewish population from other groups, makes it certain that such an effort would be quite incomplete.

The high level of development of the pre-war Belgian society and government, a relatively low level of destruction, etc. would allow such an effort to be quite complete, while there might still be questions about specific circumstances in individual cases. It certainly would underline a significant number of deaths of women and children, if that emerged.

It is interesting and rather surprising that there seems to be some semblance of an agreement on the overall scale of the civilian deaths. I saw a public "argument" in my readings from 1915 between German and Belgian official sources, in this case the Belgians maintaining that there were 6250 deaths, while the Germans admitted officially that there were 6000. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in Iraq, for example, where the pro-con range of estimates of civilian deaths at it's worse is about 40 to 1, not the 1.04 to 1 in the Belgian case.

Carl, I have an example of a "war crime" performed by my grand-father (no bodies, but not trivial), I will approach you off-line, perhaps with your help we can establish the victims, as the matter at issue is quite singular. Whether or not we can identify the victim the matter will surely will be included in the biography I am writing.

My position on this matter is constantly developing, although I am not specifically studying the topic itself. I recently read a bit of text by the noted German military historian Hans Delbrueck (he worked in the WW I period) which is very damning of matters in Belgium, which impressed me. Unfortunately the text in question is from a periodical ca. 1920, not a book, so accessing the original will be hard. I found the excerpt, incidentally, in one of Terrance Zuber's books, German War Planning, - - - - .

Bob

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...a massive preponderance of the historians I read, and have read, for half a century at least, say that it amounts to a carefully orchestrated German premeditation to use 'burgomasters children...
Dave, could you provide quotes from two or three of the sources in support of this comment please? Thanks.

Robert

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Hello ,

thank you for all your contributions in this matter. I believe to have now a better imagination of rhe events of those days in spite of all contradictions.

By chance I discovered an article of the "Spiegel" of 1958. Freispruch = acquittal. Hoping all who had proved their very good historical knowledge are able to read German and would like to assess this report.

Is it this a political agreement what Napoleon Bonaparte called "History is the lie that one has to be suitable" or academic truth.

Kind regards

Fritz

löwen 3 25-1958.doc

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Dave;

Can we drop our rambling thru the last two centuries in search of ethnic "got-chaa's"? (I, just yesterday, on the BBC {I listen to the BBC World Service about three hours a day while working on my computer}, heard an account of a major English war crime from 800 years ago.) Should that be trotted out?

I will be more than happy to debate these matters off-line, so that we do not get this interesting if volcanic thread either frozen or entirely erased. I will send you a PM, my mailbox is presently full, I fear.

What I find curious about the streak of very strong anti-Germanism existant in Britain, which has been observed by others than I, like the UK press, and has even led to diplomatic protest, is how German the English actually are. The basic ethnic stock is Germanic, diluted with some French from the Conquest, and by Viking seminal material, also Germanic, I think, and more lately other odds and ends. The English royal family has been German for about 250 years, with English-German royals then marrying more and more German stock (e.g., Prince Albert, Prince Phillip, whose father/grand-father ? , head of the Royal Navy ?, had to change his name from Battenburg to something more English-sounding when WW I broke out.). What would be the result of a politically-incorrect ethnic analysis of the royals? 75% German?

Queen Victoria, the crown jewel of Brit royals, died in the arms of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Everyone was standing about her bed, waiting for her to die, when he climbed into bed with her and cradled her in his arms as she passed away, much to the astonishment of the assorted royals standing about.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of spending an evening over beer and pizza (I have to confess that Prinz Fritz preferred the cognac over the beer) with the great-great grand-son of the last Kaiser, he is the most direct decendent; however, for a curious legal reason (still in the courts), he is not considered the heir-apparent to a non-existant throne (there is the matter, however, of a clutch of castles); however, Prince Fritz is nicely placed in the crowded line of succession to the British throne. My wife has more than once observed that, in case of a specific disaster (she mentioned an airliner hitting a church during a top-end wedding), Prinz Fritz von Preussen might end up as the monarch and head of the Church of England. Wouldn't that be choice!

Finally, I believe that English is considered a member of the Germanic family of languages, although, I think, the one most distant from the core.

Bob

PS: As Rodney King one famously asked: "Can't we just be friends?" (or something like it.)

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Truly a rollercoaster of a thread, from Waterloo to Iraq and everything inbetween, I for one would be saddened to see it relegated to the PM channel, I have enjoyed all contributions immensely.

Regards,

Murrough.

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Dave, could you provide quotes from two or three of the sources in support of this comment please? Thanks.

Robert

Hi Robert,

Crikey! I can only assume you don't actually read anything I write----which is perfectly O.K. of course, but then strange that you ask me questions on those posts...

John Terraines book 'The Smoke And The Fire' is the source for the particular "Burgomasters children" quote-----and the rest are-----

Try (if you wish) to look back to, say, my first post (182) wherein I quote John Terraine ----or, another example 190---more Terraine and Hew Strachan, or what about 206 and 212 (Terraine and Strachan) or 223 Niall Ferguson--or 228 J.M. Winter---wherein I broached the "ongoing rape" after 1914--of Belgium. you might try 243 David Ascoli, or 253 John Cuneo---or 260 Shirer----quotes(the last ones) to do with the fact that I am not a 'Germanophobe' and atrocities performed by Germany in the last war.

That ought to be enough to prove my book collection Robert, (over 850, all hardback, 90% of them history---10% science related, though I do like science fiction , but there is some rubbish out there ) as I generally give the page no. as well, and typing out of my books is labourious as I am a one thumb typist :)

It would be easier perhaps if you just read my posts though.....no offence, you understand.

Dave.

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Dave;

Can we drop our rambling thru the last two centuries in search of ethnic "got-chaa's"? (I, just yesterday, on the BBC {I listen to the BBC World Service about three hours a day while working on my computer}, heard an account of a major English war crime from 800 years ago.) Should that be trotted out?

I will be more than happy to debate these matters off-line, so that we do not get this interesting if volcanic thread either frozen or entirely erased. I will send you a PM, my mailbox is presently full, I fear.

What I find curious about the streak of very strong anti-Germanism existant in Britain, which has been observed by others than I, like the UK press, and has even led to diplomatic protest, is how German the English actually are. The basic ethnic stock is Germanic, diluted with some French from the Conquest, and by Viking seminal material, also Germanic, I think, and more lately other odds and ends. The English royal family has been German for about 250 years, with English-German royals then marrying more and more German stock (e.g., Prince Albert, Prince Phillip, whose father/grand-father ? , head of the Royal Navy ?, had to change his name from Battenburg to something more English-sounding when WW I broke out.). What would be the result of a politically-incorrect ethnic analysis of the royals? 75% German?

Queen Victoria, the crown jewel of Brit royals, died in the arms of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Everyone was standing about her bed, waiting for her to die, when he climbed into bed with her and cradled her in his arms as she passed away, much to the astonishment of the assorted royals standing about.

A couple of years ago I had the privilege of spending an evening over beer and pizza (I have to confess that Prinz Fritz preferred the cognac over the beer) with the great-great grand-son of the last Kaiser, he is the most direct decendent; however, for a curious legal reason (still in the courts), he is not considered the heir-apparent to a non-existant throne (there is the matter, however, of a clutch of castles); however, Prince Fritz is nicely placed in the crowded line of succession to the British throne. My wife has more than once observed that, in case of a specific disaster (she mentioned an airliner hitting a church during a top-end wedding), Prinz Fritz von Preussen might end up as the monarch and head of the Church of England. Wouldn't that be choice!

Finally, I believe that English is considered a member of the Germanic family of languages, although, I think, the one most distant from the core.

Bob

PS: As Rodney King one famously asked: "Can't we just be friends?" (or something like it.)

Hi bob, last first.

Just because I take a contrary stance that does not automatically make us enemies ---- I never even thought of you that way.

Blinkered, subjective, condescending and trite where the deaths of thousands were concerned---- most of them murdered for absolutely no crime---with no trial, by the military representatives of a morally bankrupt country (the moment it crossed the border) who had no right to be there at all---except the right of might, which in the final analysis is a pretty poor claim to fame----Twisting and turning on the rack a deal, and avoiding straight answers to straight questions, which you STILL have not answered-------YES, but we are not enemies Bob, but, as I said to earlier----if I am barked at, I reserve the right to bite back. That is called retaliation Bob----and it is not so bad a crime as the one who inaugerates the 'dogfight'

Now to the beginning----

You ask if we can "drop our rambling through two centuries......xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I refute "rambling" through history, but admit to my penchant for drawing analogies in History---which I liken to a road map destination.

Having the destination is of absolutely no use to you----unless you know where you have come from, what road you are on!

Please elaborate your 800 year old British atrocity---or at least give me a clue or two----I will correct you on it Bob!:) PS I hope you don't mean the Crusades........please, not the Crusades and the 'crimes' against bloody Islam, not that old rubbish....A bit too late really----not executing prisoners at Agincourt---which I have already covered here I think--or somewhere on the Forum-----I hope Bob

I am not at all happy debating off line-----that is not why I joined this forum, the whole point of which (surely) is to bounce ideas and opinions around (even those that have been 'done to death') and perhaps widen our understanding, or, even happier, reach a new consensus---but at the very least chat to people who either agree or disagree with us all. That is my understanding of a forum like this-----a sort of 'clubhouse' where like minded chaps chat about that which interests them.

We all know our 'Germanic' Saxon heritage----but the Romans ---- and recall where I live Bob----not a kick in the bum away from the Roman wall----Had a huge Legionary fortress at Benwell (Condercum) five minutes drive from me---but it was occupied by a Cavalry 'Ala' which meant auxilliaries, which means that 'Romans' in Britain, for the most part, for the most time, could have been Spaniards, or Africans---or middle Eastern (archers certainly were) or slingrs from the Balearic Islands-or anywhere in a world wide 'Empire'--my point being that Britain was a huge admixture of every concievable race long before our 'Germanic' bloodline appeared------though that is overplayed also, as recent DNA tests on huge swathes of the 'Danelaw' (the east side of England ruled by the ----well, as the name implies, Danes, at the time of Alfred and beyond) shows hardly any German trends, but huge Danish and Norwegian similarities---as can be expected. Our supposed "French from the conquest" as you put it is really just more Norse---not 'French' at all---the Normans (Northmen) really just Norse Viking adventurers, had settled in 'Normandy,under their King---Rollo, just a few decades earlier----I have no books in front of me Bob, just memory, but it does not fail me.

So "French"---like "GERMANIC" is a bit of a misnomer I'm afraid.

Yes, you are right----the Kaiser was a strange one indeed, and I could amuse us all with opinions around the world of how HE was considered extremely strange at the time! Strange man, and a deadly dangerous man. His etnic hates ran deep----anti semitism a major one!

Your Prince Fritz has no cjhance I am afraid-----it is cloud cuckoo land of the first order to imagine anything else Bob....

Yes, English is similar---a bit, , but just try (well, you will be O.K. but I, with my linguistic limitations would not) to read BEOWULF in Old English----it is sometimes tantalisingly almost familiar----then, just as quickly, like nothing an English speaker today is at all familiar with. It is, in a nutshell---a foreign language.

Bob, the end of all this is clear my friend----England did NOT invade Belgium in 1914!

Cheers,

Dave.

edited by me Forum rules apply Keith

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Truly a rollercoaster of a thread, from Waterloo to Iraq and everything inbetween, I for one would be saddened to see it relegated to the PM channel, I have enjoyed all contributions immensely.

Regards,

Murrough.

Hi murrough,

I also am enjoying the debate---and have no interest in going off line with it----my own feelings only sir.

Cheers,

Dave.

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I can only assume you don't actually read anything I write...
Dave,

With respect, I read all of your posts at the time. Having gone back over these quotes from secondary sources, I still can't see anything that supports your comment: "...a massive preponderance of the historians I read, and have read, for half a century at least, say that it amounts to a carefully orchestrated German premeditation to use 'burgomasters children..."

The quotes refer to the atrocities in general or, in one instance, to the fact that the army command condoned actions against civilians.

Robert

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"I don't know, but perhaps he was being 'devils advocate' a bit when writing about Franc-Tireur activity----which I don't say NEVER happened-----but claim, and stand un-refuted on the claim----- that a massive preponderance of the historians I read, and have read, for half a century at least, say that it amounts to a carefully orchestrated German premeditation to use 'burgomasters children (the Belgians must have bred a special race of burgomasters children like the assassins of Syria!-----said Mr. Brand Whitlock, American ambassador and witness to the devastation of Louvain---to even begin to believe what he was told by von Luttwitz, in 'justification' of barbarity on a scale not seen in Europe since the 30 years war) and ordinary townspeople and villagers as some kind of well armed and fearless 'fifth column'."

Hi Robert,

Right, I see what you mean------the "Burgomasters children" was a following on, a chasing the scent, of one of Bobs earlier exposes about the (as he sees it) fictitious Burgomasters story he once read. Hence the 'Burgomaster bit---the 'Burgomasters children is from Terraine----I offer the actual quote ---

"Genearal von Luttwitz, military Governor of Brussels pronounced the city's doom the next day. He told the Spanish Ambassador and the American Ambassador, Mr. Brand Whitlock, 'A dreadful thing has occurred at Louvain. Our General there has been shot by the son of the Burgomaster. The population has fired on our troops-and now, of course, we have to destroy the city' Mr. Whitlock heard this story of German generals being shot by the sons and sometimes the daughters of Burgomasters so often 'that it seemed to him the Belgians must have bred a special race of burgomasters children like the Assassins of Syria' Burning and shooting had already begun........"

Page 28 'The Smoke And The Fire'

I accept I should have had a full stop after "...German premeditation,"

The facts remain though Robert----The premediation to 'justify' executions and blame it on supposed Franc-titeur activities--though evidence against the executed is non existant---and trials to determine 'guilt' or innocence are also non existant----was 'hot off the press'---and certainly Terraine sees an 'orchestrated campaign'---

"One cannot help thinking the German press was all too well prepared. Aug. 8th. .....Captain Walter Bloem of the 12th. Brandenburg Grenadiers recorded on his way to the frontier-

' We bought the morning papers at a wayside station and read, amazed, of the experiences of those of our troops already across the Belgian frontier---of priests, armed, at the head of marauding bands of Belgian civilians, committing every kind of atrocity, and putting the deeds of 1870 into the shade. Of treacherous ambushes of patrols, and sentries found later with eyes pierced and tongues cut off, of poisoned wells and other horrors. Such was the first breath of war, full of venom, that, as it were, blew in our faces as we rolled on towards it.

The next day, more and more revolting stories of cruelty on our troops by Belgian civilians FILLED THE PAPERS."

Two days later princess Blucher in Berlin was informed by a German officer that there were thirty officers lying in hospital in Aachen with their eyes put out by Belgian women and children. A PRECONCIEVED SYSTEMATIC campaign of self-justification was clearly in operation from the very beginning of the war"

Page, 26 same author.

Cheers,

Dave.

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" There was the widely reported incident in which a Belgian mayor invited a German colonel or general to dinner, and the mayors son shot the officer to death at the dinner table...."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thats the 'scent' I was chasing Robert---Bobs post 209

Dave.

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I accept I should have had a full stop after "...German premeditation,"

The facts remain though Robert----The premediation to 'justify' executions and blame it on supposed Franc-titeur activities--though evidence against the executed is non existant---and trials to determine 'guilt' or innocence are also non existant----was 'hot off the press'---and certainly Terraine sees an 'orchestrated campaign'---

"One cannot help thinking the German press was all too well prepared..."

Dave, sorry but this still isn't entirely clear to me. Are you saying that there was a pre-planned premeditated campaign to commit atrocities in Belgium? Or are you saying that there was a premeditated progaganda strategy to 'justify' atrocities? The latter is what Terraine's quote appears to be implying. This is quite a different concept, and even Terraine is not convincing in his introductory sentence - 'One cannot help thinking the German press was all too well prepared'. This is absolutely not the same as saying there was such a premeditated campaign.

With respect to 'Princess Blucher', was Terraine referring to Evelyn Blücher, who wrote 'An English Wife in Berlin'?

Robert

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Poked about a bit. I have heard the story of the German shot at table several places, and even in one of my grand-father's letters. So I poked about a bit on this.

Whitlock's books describe the events of 1914, but were published in 1918, when the US and Germany were at war, and Whitlock was a government employee. There were a number of books by US diplomats published in 1918 covering events of 1914 and 1915, and if you take their version of events uncritically, you are kidding yourself.

I instead went to the book Fighting in Flanders by E. Alexander Powell, a leading US war correspondent. The dinner-table shooting took place in Aerschot, not Louvain, and Powell arrived at Aerschot shortly after the event. He said that the Belgian and German versions of the story are identical to a point, and then diverge. He said that both agree that the burgoumeister invited the German Chief of Staff to dinner (unfortunately he did not say of what unit, but he was described as a colonel, which would make him possibly the chief of staff of a division, but not likely {many WW I German divisions had a General Staff captain as the chief of staff} but almost certainly of an army corps), and several of his staff. Powell then said that the two versions are still in synch, including the account of the 15 year old son of the burgomeister approaching the table (according to later details in the Belgian version it was at the end of the meal) and shot the German colonel to death at table. Powell's accounts have the diversion right there, the Belgian version is that, inflamed with the dinner wine, the Chief of Staff stated to the burgomeister that he planned to spend the night with the young daughter of the burgomeister, whereupon the son of the Burgomeister (was he a part of the dinner party?) left, obtained a pistol, and returned to the dining room and shot and killed the colonel in order to protect the honor of his young sister. (It is not expressed, but I guess that the German version is that the demand of the daughter did not occur.)

There is another Belgian version floating about, that the dinner occurred, after dinner the colonel stepped out onto the balcony, and that a German infantryman in the street raised his rifle and killed the colonel, presumably at a range of about 20 feet.

Morality aside, is the "daughter" version creditable? In the middle of a combat situation, the only chance for national survival is for the German Armies to pass as rapidly thru Belgium as possible, and the chief of staff of an army corps (or army?) announces before his staff that he is taking a sex break and forcibly spending the night with the daughter of the Mayor?

I have never heard of a second or third story of the sort (as opposed to different versions of the Aerschot incident). Whitlock had a tangled phrase about this story and that, son and daughter, and that Terraine went off from there. Powell (very pro-Belgian, and I feel that he reports some curious stories) also went to the German Commander in Chief in the area, and discussed the incident with him.

I have seen other accounts; I would say that Powell's take on it, presenting the two stories that he heard, may be the most creditable and neutral that I know of. But, I am not studying these matters. I think that Whitlock also mentioned an alternative Belgian version in which the Germans for some reason shot the Burgomeister's son in the leg before the dinner party, (possibly putting him in a cranky mood). I should have taken notes when I broused thru this thicket.

I am planning perhaps two more posts in this thread, to wrap up some loose ends, and then see if I can drop out of this "knife fight in a phone booth", so to speak.

If I had to chose, I would lean toward the version(s) given by Powell, who was there, and published while the US was still neutral, if pro-Allies, than a story repeated by Whitlock, who was not there, and who published in 1918, when the US had entered into the propaganda war big-time.

Bob

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Hi Robert,

On the very first day of the war--4th. August, Ludendorff was in Herve----

"during the night i was awakened by brisk firing.....the franc-tireur warfare in Belgium had begun.....the Belgian government had systematically organised civilian warfare, for my part, I had taken the field with chivalrous and humane conceptions of warfare......my soldierly spirit suffered bitter delusion"

Ludendorffs 'My War Memories'

Ask yourself Robert----- is it "chivalrous" or "humane" to invade a country that is not only neutral but that your country is one of the signatories and 'custodians' of that neutrality. Is it, furthermore reasonable that Belgian civilians were fighting in so risky a way Germanic hordes on the FIRST day of the invasion.

Neutrality in war was codified by the Hague peace conference in 1907 --(Germany was a signatory to this also---but we know (don't we)? what value Germany placed on 'scraps of paper! Belligerents (the Germans, in this case, as they were the only ones contravening the neutrality of Belgium---were'nt they) ? Were forbidden to move troops OR supplies across neutral territoy. In it article 5 it states that --

"Neutrals must not allow such acts to occur. Article 10 states that resistance to such acts-----that is, Belgiun resistance to Germans moving through Belgium----"COULD NOT be regarded as itself a hostile act.

So, if this means anything at all, the Germans, who were contravening the convention by moving through a neutral country, could not, legally, condem or class as hostilty to themselves ANY acts by Belgians that attempted to abide by the convention and STOP this movement.

That Germany opposed the obvious here, and argued that war was for large standing armies only, fly's in the face of their own standards during the war of Liberation----though A.J.P. Taylor is scathing of what he calls "the myth of the national uprising against Napoleon"----the French, for instance were never troubled in Germany as they had been in Spain----or Russia, by 'Guerillas'

Germany was thus morally bankrupt, as I have said, the moment it crossed the frontier.

Ask yourself, I answer your question with a question, but I really feel I have crystallised MY TAKE on whether Germany pursued a vicious war of aggression from day one----John Terraine clearly does--

"There is, moreover, a distinct suggestion of ORCHESTRATION in the IMMEDIATE accusations of franc-tireur activity, and other anti-German activity."

Of course there is.

David Ascoli has few doubts--- "Let there be no doubt, about German atrocities, they were atrocious" has no illusions either--

Nor do I.

Hew Strachan feels the same----"In reality, there was very little--and POSSIBLY NO,---civilian resistance to the German invasion"

That is almost a consenus here---also.

Corelli Barnett likewise----"behind them the German troops left a TRAIL OF ATROCITY--burned villages, shot civilians..."

Quite a lot of shot civilians.

Really Robert---I think I have comprehensively laid out my reading of this whole disgraceful episode----an episode that did not just last a few weeks, as my post on the "ongoing rape" as I termed it----and your follow up to it --prove.

Yes, the same 'Princess' Blucher---she was that Robert---married to a Prince, and in Berlin, as Terraine reports---though he actually quotes Barbara Tuchman on this.

What do you think of the 'premeditation' aspect Robert? Are you really saying you doubt it---or my reading of it?

Cheers,

Dave.

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Poked about a bit. I have heard the story of the German shot at table several places, and even in one of my grand-father's letters. So I poked about a bit on this.

Whitlock's books describe the events of 1914, but were published in 1918, when the US and Germany were at war, and Whitlock was a government employee. There were a number of books by US diplomats published in 1918 covering events of 1914 and 1915, and if you take their version of events uncritically, you are kidding yourself.

I instead went to the book Fighting in Flanders by E. Alexander Powell, a leading US war correspondent. The dinner-table shooting took place in Aerschot, not Louvain, and Powell arrived at Aerschot shortly after the event. He said that the Belgian and German versions of the story are identical to a point, and then diverge. He said that both agree that the burgoumeister invited the German Chief of Staff to dinner (unfortunately he did not say of what unit, but he was described as a colonel, which would make him possibly the chief of staff of a division, but not likely {many WW I German divisions had a General Staff captain as the chief of staff} but almost certainly of an army corps), and several of his staff. Powell then said that the two versions are still in synch, including the account of the 15 year old son of the burgomeister approaching the table (according to later details in the Belgian version it was at the end of the meal) and shot the German colonel to death at table. Powell's accounts have the diversion right there, the Belgian version is that, inflamed with the dinner wine, the Chief of Staff stated to the burgomeister that he planned to spend the night with the young daughter of the burgomeister, whereupon the son of the Burgomeister (was he a part of the dinner party?) left, obtained a pistol, and returned to the dining room and shot and killed the colonel in order to protect the honor of his young sister. (It is not expressed, but I guess that the German version is that the demand of the daughter did not occur.)

There is another Belgian version floating about, that the dinner occurred, after dinner the colonel stepped out onto the balcony, and that a German infantryman in the street raised his rifle and killed the colonel, presumably at a range of about 20 feet.

Morality aside, is the "daughter" version creditable? In the middle of a combat situation, the only chance for national survival is for the German Armies to pass as rapidly thru Belgium as possible, and the chief of staff of an army corps (or army?) announces before his staff that he is taking a sex break and forcibly spending the night with the daughter of the Mayor?

I have never heard of a second or third story of the sort (as opposed to different versions of the Aerschot incident). Whitlock had a tangled phrase about this story and that, son and daughter, and that Terraine went off from there. Powell (very pro-Belgian, and I feel that he reports some curious stories) also went to the German Commander in Chief in the area, and discussed the incident with him.

I have seen other accounts; I would say that Powell's take on it, presenting the two stories that he heard, may be the most creditable and neutral that I know of. But, I am not studying these matters. I think that Whitlock also mentioned an alternative Belgian version in which the Germans for some reason shot the Burgomeister's son in the leg before the dinner party, (possibly putting him in a cranky mood). I should have taken notes when I broused thru this thicket.

I am planning perhaps two more posts in this thread, to wrap up some loose ends, and then see if I can drop out of this "knife fight in a phone booth", so to speak.

If I had to chose, I would lean toward the version(s) given by Powell, who was there, and published while the US was still neutral, if pro-Allies, than a story repeated by Whitlock, who was not there, and who published in 1918, when the US had entered into the propaganda war big-time.

Bob

Hi Bob,

Post edited - forum rules keith

C'mon mate----Whitlock was U.S. Ambassador in 1914-----isn't THAT a "government employee"? Wasn't he awarded recognition for TACT, ZEAL AND DIPLOMACY? The same man who was called 'La Ministre Protecteur' for the frequency of his appeals for mercy for condemned prisoners of the German occupiers !! You are the only one "kidding yourself here---you deny a great and good man any honour at all----this is base arguing, for base reasons, and scarcely worthy of a history forum ----you will deny the world, IF I LET YOU!

Terraine was quoting Barbra Tuchman-----I ask you again ----THREE seperate times now---in three seperate posts---are all the historians, all of great merit, wrong, and only you right, because you 'just know'---- better than them all?

Cloud cuckoo land Bob----you are a leading citizen I fear!

Of course you "lean towards" the 'story' of the burgomaster----taking things "uncritically, as long as they are German reports, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Dave.

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Terraine was quoting Barbra Tuchman-----I ask you again ----THREE seperate times now---in three seperate posts---are all the historians, all of great merit, wrong, and only you right, because you 'just know'---- better than them all?

That is your business ------ Sorry you feel you are in a "knife fight"---I brought a gun!

Dave.

The "you brought a gun" argument is not a strong one to make with a Yank. I've had carry permits for over 40 years, since I was at university.

Tuchman is a successful writer, but hardly a historian of any merit, and comes from three generations of liars.

Bob

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...I really feel I have crystallised MY TAKE on whether Germany pursued a vicious war of aggression from day one----John Terraine clearly does--

"There is, moreover, a distinct suggestion of ORCHESTRATION in the IMMEDIATE accusations of franc-tireur activity, and other anti-German activity."

Dave, forgive me if I haven't been clear. I was not asking if there was evidence of violence towards Belgian citizens. Nor was I asking about what Germany did from day one onwards. You mentioned the concept of premeditation. This implies a planned systematic approach.

Let me rephrase the question (again, apologies for not getting it right first time). Earlier you mentioned that extensive reading of several sources revealed that what happened in Belgium was premeditated, ie pre-planned. When asked to quote sources on this aspect, your quote suggested that the German newspaper coverage of the atrocities 'might' have been pre-planned. The latest quote from Terraine (and thank you for taking the effort to do this, as it is not a trivial exercise) only mentions a 'distinct suggestion'. I have no problem respecting Terraine's comment but it does not constitute any proof of premeditation. Again, Terraine is saying that the 'immediate accusations of franc-tireur activity' seemed to have been orchestrated. He is not saying, if I interpret correctly, that the violence against Belgian citizens was premeditated.

Do you have evidence that the violence against Belgian citizens was premeditated? Thanks

Robert

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