Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Belgian Franctireurs 1914


fritz
 Share

Recommended Posts

One has to be amazed at the sheet arrogance of the German approach - you invade a country that has no quarrel with you, purely for your own military convenience and then get upset if the population takes shots at you - its like a burglar getting upset at the housholder that fights back.

My very dear centurion;

Although I present myself as a "resident Hun", I have great admixtures of English, Scot, and Danish in me, as well as the Tutonic red stuff. Some day I will have to tell you of the greatest day in the life of my English maternal grandmother, in 1932, by then an elderly totally blind Englishwoman, when she was taken by the arm by her great hero, A. Hitler, and seated in the first row of the audience at one of his rallies in the Sportspalast in Berlin.

I think we should eschew poking ethnic thumbs in each other's eyes, but I must observe that your above statement is fairly mind-boggling, coming from the mouth of a proud spokesperson for Brit-land, which has for many hundreds of years occupied, invaded, exploited, and generally screwed over dozens and scores and possibly hundreds of countries and nations in every corner of the world, only giving up that amusement a few years ago. Even Tutonia, not an absolute piker in invasion and pillage, was a mere also-ran and failure in that field of competition, compared to the absolute world champion by any measure, proud Britainnia. You, sir, are tossing stones from the balcony of a very large glass mansion.

Unfortunately, one of the obscure tribes you foolishly attempted to subjugate 150 years ago was the Pashtoons, who no one has managed to tame in at least 2500 years, and who are now returning the favor by making things explode in your cities, making commuting a pure misery.

I suggest a truce and a return to military history, with at least a veneer of objectivity.

Bob Lembke (Resident Hun and Subversive Element)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dear Bob Lembke,

I believe in your last post you are rather modest in referring to Tutonia as a mere "also-ran". A rather curious way of minimizing The Holocaust, don't you think? Now that's a pretty big glass house. Biggest on the block I'd say. But you're right, let's return to being objective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now how many times did Britain invade a country of which it was guaranteeing the neutrality ? ;) It think that remains a special distinction of Teutonia

Carl (completely Belgian) (mixture of Flemish, French, German and Spanish) married to a Scottish woman)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all your comments in this matter.

Studying this theme I state that activities of "franctireurs" must have been not an affaire of an policeman´s status or a farmer´s right to defend his orchard but there must have been a larger dimension. Perhaps a lot of small groops in order to produce confusion and to provocate a general rebellion?? Who did it lead, if yes?

Did the reaction of German troops agree with convention of Haag or was it a war crime?

Fritz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He also mentioned the incident in which a Belgian burgomeister invited the local German commander (a colonel or general) to dinner, and at dinner the burgomeister's son shot the German officer to death. I have seen this event also mentioned by Allied/Belgian sources, although I am sure the interpretation or details may differ.

I'm quite sure that Bob's grand father firmy believed in the reality of this incident But if you studied what really happened that day in the Flemish town of Aarschot you might get a different idea

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, one of the obscure tribes you foolishly attempted to subjugate 150 years ago was the Pashtoons, who no one has managed to tame in at least 2500 years,

I think you mean Pakhtuns. Funny I never heard of the Belgians organising raids into German territory burning villages and carrying off cattle. Anyway 150 years ago Britain had other problems in India and weren't particularly interested in the North West frontier. As it was this was essentially quiet during the Mutiny. This was largely because of Britain's intervention in Persia a few years earlier. This saved Mohamed Dost (the emir of Afghanistan) from loosing territory so Britain's one time enemy became an ally. The word went out and attempts by the mutineers to a) gain support from the tribal areas and b] take refuge there were rebuffed. I think you may be thinking of the problems in and around Chitral at the end of the 19th century which involved both Pakhtuns and Balochi. ( I had a Balochi gardener once a villainous looking but charming gentleman) As a matter of the fact the tribal areas were essentially peaceful from the 1920s to some time after Pakistan's independence, mainly thanks to the RAF. Sub continent history is far from simple and can't be compared with anywhere else!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He also mentioned the incident in which a Belgian burgomeister invited the local German commander (a colonel or general) to dinner, and at dinner the burgomeister's son shot the German officer to death. I have seen this event also mentioned by Allied/Belgian sources, although I am sure the interpretation or details may differ.

I'm quite sure that Bob's grand father firmy believed in the reality of this incident But if you studied what really happened that day in the Flemish town of Aarschot you might get a different idea

Hi, Carl;

I have seen mention of this repeatedly in German sources, but I have also either discussed it in the previous "Rape of Belgium" thread with an expert on the Belgian side, or otherwise got the impression that informed opinion on the Allied side verified that it happened. I have not seen anyone knowledgable deny that it happened. I myself do not "know" exactly what happened, or the other events in the town before or after this event. I would doubt that there were disturbances or atrocities going on in the town before the dinner, or I would think that this commanding officer would have accepted a dinner invitation at the home of the mayor. The idea that a mayor would extend a dinner invitation to the commanding officer of an occupation force, and that then the family of the mayor would murder the commanding officer at the mayor's dinner table, is rather astonishing. There was another incident, in which I think that two German colonels went to the residence of the local Belgian commander, to formally request the surrender of the town. I cannot imagine that they would just stroll thru the town, but must have entered under a flag of truce, I would think. Upon knocking at the Belgian commander's door, they were shot down and killed from the windows.

I have had the full training of a US Army officer, but did not acdept my commission due to a vision problem, so my general tendencies are along the line of a patriotic American. However, one recent matter that I am "cranked up" about was the illegal invasion of Iraq, led by the US and the UK. Three very sophisticated American and British studies, with excellent methodology, which I am professionally familiar with, indicate that the civilian deaths in the invasion total about 1,000,000, with indications that the "Coalition of the Willing" killed about half, mostly in the first half of the fiasco, while the "bad guys" killed the other half, mostly in the later stages. (The second British study had a technical margin of error of plus or minus 1.2%, due to a very large sample size.) Armies do not like people firing out of windows at them in built-up areas, whether they use AK-47s or some old Martini rifle. My grand-father, for one, was furious on having to jump out of his staff car and crawl under it for cover. And my grandfather was deeply involved with what he called "his" 42 cm and 30.5 cm guns. This is why I previously suggested that there was a deep cultural disconnect here.

Bob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bob, as your friend may I suggest you do not fall into the traps of revanchists here like centurion and instead refer to the thread 'Rape of Belgium' were most arguments have been exchanged ?

It really makes no sense to listen and to argue with self named mythbusters who seem to have NOT read the numerous French and German primary sources since they only have the ability to read English sources from the 1914+ area. They certainly fell victim to the psyops and deception messages. just a friendly advice Bob. I am out Bob, it makes no sense to kill each other here even if it is only virtually.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry,

I thought this was a Great War forum. How does the war in Iraq and some tendentious views relate to the subject of the forum?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It really makes no sense to listen and to argue with self named mythbusters who seem to have NOT read the numerous French and German primary sources since they only have the ability to read English sources from the 1914+ area.

In fact Professor Kramer used original sources from the archives of Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy which he and his colleagues were quite capable of reading. Ah well if you can't match the argument rubbish the other guys!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those interested in the Aarschot incident :

(From : Alleged German Atrocities - Report of the committe Appointed by the British Government and Presided over by the Right Hon. Viscount Bryce)

A shot was fired about 7 o'clock in the evening, by which time many of the soldiers were drunk. The Germans were not of one mind as to the direction from which the shot proceeded. Some said it came from a jeweler's shop, and some said it came from other houses. No one was hit by this shot, but thereafter German soldiers began to fire in various directions at people in the streets.

It is said that a German General or Colonel was killed at the Burgomaster's house. As far as the committee have been able to ascertain, the identity of the officer has never been revealed. The German version of the story is that he was killed by the 15-year-old son of the Burgomaster. The committee, however, is satisfied by the evidence of several independent witnesses that some German officers were standing at the window of the Burgomaster's house, that a large body of German troops was in the square, that some of these soldiers were drunk and let off their rifles, that in the volley one of the officers standing at the window of the Burgomaster's house fell, that at the time of the accident the wife and son of the Burgomaster had gone to take refuge in the cellar, and that neither the Burgomaster nor his son were in the least degree responsible for the occurrence which served as the pretext for their subsequent execution, and for the firing and sack of the town. 8

The houses were set on fire with special apparatus, while people were dragged from their houses, already burning, and some were shot in the streets.

The whole text (about Aarschot, but also the other Belgian towns where there were "atrocities") can be found on the Dutch WW1 Forum, in English.

http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/view...hlight=aarschot

Aurel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It has also been pointed out ,that this was a deliberate tactic of the German staff,

to use brutal reprisal and force, to oppress and dominate the population through fear.

Thus making the population docile.

@+

Patrick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aurel;

I will repost your post and enter some comments.

For those interested in the Aarschot incident :

(From : Alleged German Atrocities - Report of the committe Appointed by the British Government and Presided over by the Right Hon. Viscount Bryce)

I have heard of the Bryce Report, but never bothered to look it up, just like I have never bothered to look up and read the German goverment reports of a similar nature published in the same year. Your citation does not include the date or the place of publication. The report was published simultaneously in London and in Washington, D.C., on May 12, 1915. Perhaps the Brits following this can chime in. Was it standard practice for British Government documents to be published simultaneously in London and also, on the same day, in a foreign capital about 3500 miles from London? The publication date is also interesting in that it was four days after the sinking of the Lusitania. This was pointed out at the time, but the British Government dismissed a propaganda intent and insisted that the timing was pure coincidence. Of course, for maximum propaganda impact, the timing is perfect; one would allow the Lusitania reportage to sink in and develop, and then drop the other shoe.

Can we believe that this is an objective study, a serious attempt to arrive at the truth? The very idea is absurd. There was no greater need for the UK than to bind the US and Canada to the war effort, insure the flow of ammunition, arms, strategic supplies, food, etc., and, perhaps just as important, the flow of funds. I have seen expert opinion that stated that the French economy would have absolutely collapsed in 1916 without the flow of US funds. The large population groups were the English, but most of them came a long time before, and had won their indepencence thru two wars with Britain. The two other groups which were probably the largest and the most ethnically active were the Irish and the Germans, and they had generally arrived recently, and for their own reasons would largely side with the Central Powers. I understand that polls in 1914 indicate that most Americans would prefer to stay out of the war, but that of those that wanted to participate, the large majority would rather fight against Britain.

A shot was fired about 7 o'clock in the evening, by which time many of the soldiers were drunk. The Germans were not of one mind as to the direction from which the shot proceeded. Some said it came from a jeweler's shop, and some said it came from other houses. No one was hit by this shot, but thereafter German soldiers began to fire in various directions at people in the streets.

It is said that a German General or Colonel was killed at the Burgomaster's house. As far as the committee have been able to ascertain, the identity of the officer has never been revealed. The German version of the story is that he was killed by the 15-year-old son of the Burgomaster. The committee, however, is satisfied by the evidence of several independent witnesses that some German officers were standing at the window of the Burgomaster's house, that a large body of German troops was in the square, that some of these soldiers were drunk and let off their rifles, that in the volley one of the officers standing at the window of the Burgomaster's house fell, that at the time of the accident the wife and son of the Burgomaster had gone to take refuge in the cellar, and that neither the Burgomaster nor his son were in the least degree responsible for the occurrence which served as the pretext for their subsequent execution, and for the firing and sack of the town. 8

This is the story repeated over and over about the supposed German behavior in Belgium in 1914. The German troops were drunk, going wild, and in their drunkenness started shooting at one another, and then of course in their drunkenness assumed that the Belgians were shooting them, and then started shooting the Belgian civilians. In this version the German officers are dining with the Burgomeister and their soldiers are shooting them thru the windows. Of course. There are a lot of things wrong about this story, one of them the differences in drinking between Germans and some other groups (in particular the UK lower classes), at that time, and in the present. German troops were provided with wine, beer, and hard liqour, and could often buy as much hard liqour as they wanted at very cheap prices. My father explained that a soldier getting drunk would be ridiculed. Why didn't German troops behave like that at any other time, and at any other place?

The houses were set on fire with special apparatus, while people were dragged from their houses, already burning, and some were shot in the streets.

I could go on for 10 pages about the alleged "special apparatus", which supposedly took several forms, and to anyone knowlegable about the German Army is clearly at least in part a fabrication. But I will spare you.

The whole text (about Aarschot, but also the other Belgian towns where there were "atrocities") can be found on the Dutch WW1 Forum, in English.

http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/view...hlight=aarschot

I skimmed it, and will read it more carefully. On the same forum, scroll down a bit, and see an English-language discussion of another classic WW I atrocity story, that of "The Crucified Canadian", which, it seems, eventually even the British denied, after spreading the story about the world. There was a particular propaganda effort toward the Canadians, I have a good deal of info about it, I believe that a Canadian principal in this effort, which even included commissioned Hollywood movies, published a book-length recantation of his role in the effort in 1923. I have a war-time book of atrocity stories, many quite proposterous, which he (may have) wrote and which was published in the US about 1916, in coordination with lecture tours by him and the Hollywood movie. Not surprisingly, this supposed Canadian wounded soldier actually was a professional actor.

Aurel

This is a very difficult topic to research, due to the tidal wave of deliberately written and distributed propaganda, some very clever, some astonishingly crude. Clearly the Germans committed some atrocities, certainly the Allies invented others, cetrtainly the Germans shot a bunch of people, and certainly some were justified, and others died quite unjustly. It is crystal clear that there was a great deal of franc tireur activity, it seems to have been a cultural form. As I said, Allied writings boast of it in French, and deny it in English. Another question is the scale of these events. I have seen Belgian materials from 1915 accusing the Germans of shooting 6500 people, and German materials from 1915 admitting the death of 6000 civilians.

Bob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right

First of all I do not have any intention of attacking anyone personally. I've always found Bob's interventions on the German army very informative. I cannot however agree to " a great deal of franc tireur activity (some franc tireur activity) it seems to have been a cultural form (what does that mean ? The areas (Haspengouw, Liege) were there were signs of civilian resistance during the very first days of the German invasion were culturally and economically closer to Germany than to France)

The German officer in the incident was an Oberst Johannes Stenger General Major commanding 8 infantry brigade in the 3th infantry division. I think he is buried in Vladslo cemetary

Link to comment
Share on other sites

to Fritz

Sorry no larger dimension to the franc-tireur problem. When it happened it is small and unorganised

The Hague convention was certainly violated frequently + the entire invasion of Belgium was against an international treaty

Carl

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I'm with the Germans on this one. Honestly! Belgians!! You invade their country; demand as much money as you think you can get; bombard their fortresses; kill their civilians; set fire to their towns and are they grateful???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

here is a quote from " Advance From Mons 1914" by Walter Bloem. He is describing his train journey as an officer with the Brandenburg Grenadiers toward Belgium, 8th August.

" 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 on patrols, and sentries found later with eyes pierced and tongues cut off, of poisoned wells and other horrors. "

You may wonder at the great fortune of the editor with a reporter in place with the troops whose action was one of the few secrets of the war. You may also share his undoubted gratitude at the communication system which gave the newspaper better news of the front than Supreme HQ. A nagging thought may cross your mind that perhaps these stories with their echoes of the Franco-Prussian war were already set and the presses ready to roll when occasion demanded.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Read some of the contemporary accounts of the invasion by German officers and you will see that they were amazed to find that the Belgian army shot back. They were, after all, supposed to surrender (proving the invincibility of the German army). It just proved that these people did not know their place in the scheme of things.

Therefore any firing had to be illegal by the rules of war (why anyone should think that shooting at someone invading your country or to is illegal is a mystery to me, but there go the diplomats). That the Gendarmerie was an integral part of the Belgian army was unknown to them (so much for German intelligence), so they regarded them as being franc tireurs.

I wonder sometimes whether the German army did not expect all its enemies to line up to be registered by them as a legitimate part of the Belgian army before being released for a battle which the Germans had to be allowed to win or they would sulk.

There is no doubt at all that the Germans regarded any firing at them to be franc tireurs. At and near Dinant (and not just there) they simply refused to believe that the French were firing at them from within Belgium or were firing across the Meuse.

There are so many stories and so many graves, mass and otherwise - of people shot as an example or something, that they simply cannot all be made up.

And when you come to the German obsession that anyone not kow towing to them was a spy.........................

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reminds one of the old parachutists disguised as nuns story of the early part of ww2. Osbert Lancaster did a supurb pocket cartoon debunking this. A very large nun wearing hobnailed boots is seated on a bar stool with a pint in one hand and a cigar in the other (and with a finger through the trigger guard of a revolver), blowing smoke down a pair of very large hairy nostrils. At the other end of the bar the barman is saying to a military policeman "of course its only a suspicion"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bob,

Thanks for your posting.

But I am not knowledgeable enough to reply. I only know what I read in some sources (articles).

Just this. You write :

Clearly the Germans committed some atrocities, certainly the Allies invented others, cetrtainly the Germans shot a bunch of people, and certainly some were justified, and others died quite unjustly. It is crystal clear that there was a great deal of franc tireur activity,

[unquote]

Some atrocities ... shot a bunch of people .... some were justified ... others quite unjustly ... a great deal of franc tireur activity.

Yes, numbers may be very relative. Like : is 5.000 a bunch ? I'll think about it.

Aurel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right

First of all I do not have any intention of attacking anyone personally. I've always found Bob's interventions on the German army very informative. I cannot however agree to " a great deal of franc tireur activity (some franc tireur activity) it seems to have been a cultural form (what does that mean ? The areas (Haspengouw, Liege) were there were signs of civilian resistance during the very first days of the German invasion were culturally and economically closer to Germany than to France)

The German officer in the incident was an Oberst Johannes Stenger General Major commanding 8 infantry brigade in the 3th infantry division. I think he is buried in Vladslo cemetary

Carl;

I am not sure what you mean by the first sentence, but I have always found your postings informative, and I have never felt that you have personally attacked me. There are a very few people who make very nationalistic and abusive posts, but generally do not contribute much and do not seem to hang about the Forum for very long, and I assume that they generally do not find the Forum especially supportive of their rants. Please be assured that I welcome your postings.

The actual level of franc tireur activity is a very important and interesting point, and of course difficult to quantify. This is a central question in this area, and when the "War of Words" got to a fever pitch in 1915 the material written at that time, and especially that material written in English either by or with the logistical support of the UK, French, and Belgian government in exile and intended for the US and Canadian markets certainly cannot be relied on without investigation. Some time ago I cooperated off-Forum with a resident of the UK who was cataloging such work; he at first blush seemed to accept these works at face value, and as we went over his catalog of these works I believe that he began to realize that many of these were fishy indeed. Some of them are books supposedly translated, for example, from books in the German or in Danish, but when one investigates, it seems that the original book, and the author as well, soes not seem to exist or have existed, only the supposed translation. When you read the book, in its course cataloging a litany of horrors, and supposedly written by a veteran of the German Army, there are many mundane things about the German Army written that are patently not true to anyone relatively expert in its organization, regulations, customs, etc.

Another book of horrors, published in the US, and supposedly a US product, actually is found to have its pages printed by a British publisher (from those microscopic identifications printed on some pages in many books of the period), the pages then shipped to the US and then bound and "published" by at least two different US publishers in different US cities at the same time. Hardly normal publishing practice. I really have to get my hands on the UK document which supposedly, according to a British historian, details how the production of these commissioned books was organized and subsidized by the UK government, and which lists over a thousand of these fabricated to order books. The document states that the British government paid the publisher for every expense of producing the book, printing, paper, binding, distribution, so that every penny of sales went to the publisher's bottom line as profit, a rich reward for patriotism.

This is why I am looking for materials written on the spot, on the day, hopefully in manuscript form, which never got into the propaganda mill of either side, or used for such purposes. The excerpt of the Bryce Report Carl posted and linked stated that the German Army encouraged soldiers to keep diaries and carry them on their person, this is not true, and I am sure that the British knew that.

What I meant by franc tireur activity seeming to be a "cultural form" is the celebration and boasting of such activity in both 1870 and 1914 that I repeatedly find in my readings in Belgian and French materials in French.

Carl, thanks for the identification of the German officer shot. Your information will allow me to look into this further. Unfortunately, in 1914 there seems to have been three "General Stenger"s in the German Army, and 98% of German reference materials never give a first name for officers, even sometimes resort to writing "Kraus I", "Kraus II", and "Kraus III" instead of giving first names. (The mailmen in my ancestoral village, army veterans, insisted in addressing one of my ancestors as "Fuchs III", rather than using his real name.) Referring to the reference Ehrenrangliste 1914-1918 there was in 1914 a Generalmajor Stenger who in 1914 was the commander of the 58th Infantry Brigade, who retired as a Generalleutnant, and who was alive in 1926. (page 67) There was an inactive (retired) Generalleutnant Stenger who previously had been the commander of the 62th Infantry Brigade, and who died on April 13, 1921. (page 697) The third General Stenger must have been our man, in early May 1914 he was a colonel and the commander of Infanterie=Regiment (6. Pommersches) Nr. 49, but when killed he was the commander of 8th Infantry Brigade, and he is listed as a Generalmajor, and as having been killed in Aerschot on August 19, 1914. He either could have been promoted to General between May and August 1914, or he may have been promoted after death to the next higher rank, as was customary upon retirement with officers with a certain number of years in his last rank. (This info was on page 205)

Note that the Bryce Report states that they were unable to find out his name or anything about him, written in a manner that suggests that he may not even have existed. But this clearly was a well-known incident, that is hardly plausable.

Carl wrote: "The areas (Haspengouw, Liege) were there were signs of civilian resistance during the very first days of the German invasion were culturally and economically closer to Germany than to France." My sergeant diarist describes marching into villages when entering in Belgium and having people rushing out of their homes and giving the marching troops fruit and water, (He said that they spoke a language "very much like ours"; must be Flemish.) but then perhaps being sniped at in the next village. (A Walloon village?)

Thanks for the info.

Bob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

here is a quote from " Advance From Mons 1914" by Walter Bloem. He is describing his train journey as an officer with the Brandenburg Grenadiers toward Belgium, 8th August.

" 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 on patrols, and sentries found later with eyes pierced and tongues cut off, of poisoned wells and other horrors. "

You may wonder at the great fortune of the editor with a reporter in place with the troops whose action was one of the few secrets of the war. You may also share his undoubted gratitude at the communication system which gave the newspaper better news of the front than Supreme HQ. A nagging thought may cross your mind that perhaps these stories with their echoes of the Franco-Prussian war were already set and the presses ready to roll when occasion demanded.

Undoubtedly. I came across an extract from a German newspaper of 2 August which says that Luxembourg city was in flames with a violent battle taking place with the French and machine guns in the main square.

In fact, the country was taken without bloodshed and no damage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, one of the obscure tribes you foolishly attempted to subjugate 150 years ago was the Pashtoons, who no one has managed to tame in at least 2500 years, and who are now returning the favor by making things explode in your cities, making commuting a pure misery.

I suggest a truce and a return to military history, with at least a veneer of objectivity.

Have to say the comment connecting British citizens of Pakistani origin with the miseries of commuting isn't very objective.

The 7th July bombings were 4 years ago, and although commuting might be seen as a misery by some (I, oddly enough, quite enjoy it), that's more to the discredit of successive governments making a b*lls-up of transport strategy than any terrorism.

I don't know enough about the subject under discussion properly to play a part, but if your views on commuting in the UK are as nuanced and objective as your views on fran tireurs, then I'm probably with the Belgians, too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have to say the comment connecting British citizens of Pakistani origin with the miseries of commuting isn't very objective.

The 7th July bombings were 4 years ago, and although commuting might be seen as a misery by some (I, oddly enough, quite enjoy it), that's more to the discredit of successive governments making a b*lls-up of transport strategy than any terrorism.

I don't know enough about the subject under discussion properly to play a part, but if your views on commuting in the UK are as nuanced and objective as your views on fran tireurs, then I'm probably with the Belgians, too.

Dear Steve;

Surely you must recognize that when I wrote that post I had so much tongue in my cheek that I almost choked to death in my office.

But there certainly is a lot of irony in the Brits for some god-forsaken reason messing with the Pashtoons (pardon the English-based transliteration, my Pashtoon is especially weak) in their back yard, and 150 + years later this exceptionally stubborn and to my mind bone-headed (spelled Talaban) tribe periodically trying to explode things in Brit-land. One of the costs of Empire, the white man's burden.

The question posed at the head of this thread was if there actually were franc tireurs in Belgium in 1914, or were they an invention of Tutonic publicists to justify rapine and pillage. We seem to now have arrived at a consensus of sort, there were franc tireurs, and the question has shifted to, perhaps, how many; since my sources primarily come from the people being shot at, they seemed to think a lot; the Belgians, to generalize, feel that it was a lot less.

I have postulated that going to the English literature to look at these questions is like trying to write a history of WW II from a pile of Captain America comic books or from the back issues of Dr. Goebbel's Das Stuermer. I'm sorry, but almost everything written in English in the period was specifically written by committee and under heavy subsidy to twist the truth and inflame US and Canadian public opinion. There are almost no primary sources in English.

I have resolved to get a copy of the book written by that Canadian actor who was at the center of the British disinformation effort in the US, and whose 1923 book supposedly is his confession and recanting of his role in that effort.

Perhaps we have arrived at a consensus; there were franc tireurs in Belgium in 1914, and we agree to disagree on how many, how active. I agree that there is no evidence that it was a centrally organized or led effort.

I will look thru the diary I am working on, for the details of the Belgian officers who were caught by the narrator's company trying to sneak into German lines, perhaps Carl or someone else can identify them, and clear up a bit about their fate. I dimly remember that something odd happened with them while they were in custody.

Bob Lembke

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife the "Book Detective" has located two copies of the 2nd book by the Canadian actor who popped up as the central actor (literally) of a major propaganda campaign by the Brits in the US and Canada about 1916. I am not totally sure about the topic of the second book, published in 1923, but the fact that the title seems to have the word "Lies" in it suggests that the book may "spill the beans" about his role in WW I disinformation campaign. Interestingly, the same guy seems to pop up in the late 1930's corresponding with three well-known philosophers; his letters to them being held in a rare book room at a major US library.

I really hate to divert myself from the work that I already have on my plate, which is more than enough to last to the end of my life, but the enormously successful disinformation campaign conducted, mainly aimed at the US and Canadian public, really is a fascinating topic. One thing that I did was conduct a little study of the publication dates of books published on "The Rape of Belgium" topic, and there literally were hundreds published during the war, and suddenly their publication halted in mid-1917. Their job was done, the US was in the war, and they could save the paper. By that time Wilson was arresting people not sufficiently enthusiastic about the war, convicting them of this and that, and tossing them in Federal prison, with some of them being murdered in prison, like some Mennonite pacifist conciencious objectors. It really was not necessary to continue the campaign at full bore.

Will have a copy of the book in my hot little hands in a few days (There is one at Princeton University, and one at Yale; they both cooperate closely with the wife's library), and give you guys a bit of info as to what it contains.

Bob

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...