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Sacking of Louvain 1914


Chris Boonzaier
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Is there anyone who has any idea which German units were involved? Am I right in thinking it was the 18th Reserve Division?

Thanks

Chris

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Hello Chris,

IIRC it were troops of the IX. Reservekorps (17. and 18. Reservedivision) indeed who did what they did there. They came from Germany (coastal defence) to reinforce the German army in the West.

Regards,

Jan

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Guest Tazman

An interesting (and quick) read on this subject:

"The Germans in Belgium", by Lodewijk Hermen Grondijs.

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Hello

There was an article on Belgian television about the sack of the city in 1914 and a ceremony around the railway station on Saturday. I visited Louvain (Leuven) yesterday to see the monument in the square outside the railway station. It has been renovated and looks very well. All along the main street and in the squares there are enormous photographs taken in 1914 showing the damage. It was very interesting. Many of the houses and buildings have a symbol of 1914 surrounded by flames on their facade to show that they were destroyed and rebuilt.

There is no permanent exhibition there that I am aware of but it is a lovely city and well worth the visit.

Regards

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Guest Tazman
Hello

There was an article on Belgian television about the sack of the city in 1914 and a ceremony around the railway station on Saturday. I visited Louvain (Leuven) yesterday to see the monument in the square outside the railway station. It has been renovated and looks very well. All along the main street and in the squares there are enormous photographs taken in 1914 showing the damage. It was very interesting. Many of the houses and buildings have a symbol of 1914 surrounded by flames on their facade to show that they were destroyed and rebuilt.

There is no permanent exhibition there that I am aware of but it is a lovely city and well worth the visit.

Regards

I wish to visit Belgium someday and spend plenty of time researching all the places that interest me. Some of the cities that were associated with the early occupation will definately be on that list.

I watched "The Guns Of August" this weekend, the film made from the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Barbara Tuchman. There is a lot of great footage throughout, and what appears to be some very interesting scenes of occupied Louvain, and other action.

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Hello Tazman,

A trip to Belgium is certainly recommended but most of the WWI sites are either around Ypres or of course northern France. There are some of the Liege and Antwerp forts which are open to the public and the museum on the battlefield of Haelen is worth the trip. Finally the Royal Army Museum in Brussels has a respectable, though not large, WWI section.

I am not familiar with the film the Guns of August. I presume it is a documentary??

Regards

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There are lots of places to see in Belgium with a WW1 connection. Dinant springs to mind. Memorials everyhwre to the massacre and a WW1 exhibition in the citadel.

Coming further east there are the battlefields of Neufchateau and Rossignol - Battle of Frontiers.

Get in touch for a guided tour of some totally unknown places.

The forts of Liege are well worth seeing. The famous Fort Loncin of course, but also others. Have a look at the WFA website for a list of places and how to get in touch with tourist offices, etc.

Zeebrugge is amazing. Again there is a list on the WFA website.

I put it there.

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Guest Tazman
Hello Tazman,

A trip to Belgium is certainly recommended but most of the WWI sites are either around Ypres or of course northern France. There are some of the Liege and Antwerp forts which are open to the public and the museum on the battlefield of Haelen is worth the trip. Finally the Royal Army Museum in Brussels has a respectable, though not large, WWI section.

I am not familiar with the film the Guns of August. I presume it is a documentary??

Regards

Hello!

Thank you for the visiting tips. While this excursion won't be for awhile (several years?), I will make it.

As for the Guns of August - yes, it is a kind of documentary. As a companion to the Tuchman book, it provides less information but some fantastic imagery, like footage of the funeral parade of King Edward - with many of the future combatants in procession. Some fantastic battle scenes as well (athough most were probably staged at some point).

It also has a really cool arial scene - of what looks like 1919 Ypres (is it the destroyed Cloth Hall I see?).

From Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...220745?v=glance

I borrowed through my local library, as I am a complete cheapskate.

All the best,

Mike

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  • 3 years later...

Hi,

I am trying to find out which units were actually IN the city when things went pear shaped. So far I have found that Reserve Infantry Regiment 31 had a battalion there... but surely there is some source with a bit more info than that?

Thanks

Chris

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Chris

I am new to this thread, but have had a look at the histories of 18th Res Div. It appears that at least 1st Bn, RHQ and MG Coy of RIR 31 were there at the time. It seems clear that some or all of the divisional rear echelons - heavy baggage etc were in Leuven that evening as well. Much of the effort of 18th Res Div on 25 Aug 14 seems to have been to the northwest and it is pretty clear from the histories that Buken got the treatment the same day. Franctireurs, Belgian soldiers operating in civilian clothes and others are blamed for it. Some of the accounts suggest that wild firing in all direction set off at least some of the fires which I suppose is feasible, but there is a sentence in the History of RIR 86 which may be significant. After a paragraph talking about Leuven being in flames and the chaos caused to the baggage trains by Belgians pouring fire into them, appears, Die Vergeltungsfackel erregte die Gemueter bei Freund und Feind. Make of that what you will.

Jack

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When it comes to the histories of the regts it seems that "The silence is deafening"

R.I.R.31 that was right in the thick of it gives it barely two lines in their history...

"At about 5 pm shots were fired at the II./R.I.R. 84 in Bueken. At the same time our troops on Löwen (Louvain) were attacked. Strict measures were taken to combat the franktireur and gangsters."

as if they wanted to sweep the whole event under the carpet.

As it was one of the most famous events of the war I find it a strange treatment by the history.

I think both sides used it... from the allies side it was obvious that the Germans had really put their foot in it on a "public relations" level and the Germans in turn tried hard to justify it.

There is a great article by a Neutral, 3rd party journalist that appeared in the New York Tribune.

I recently found a nice German postcard illustrating it as well, with an obvious bit of spin.

http://www.kaiserscross.com/41815/77301.html

Best

Chris

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