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The martyrdom of Belgium: official report of massacres of peaceable citizens, women and children by the German army

Official Belgian commission of inquiry,   pp. [5]-19 PDF (6.7 MB)


Page [5]


OFFICIAL BELGIANS COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
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3Ibmm Kabtr SC JoUM
(1.) INCIDENTS AT NAMUR.
On August 21st, 1914, the Germans bombarded the town of
Namur, without any previous notice given. The bombardment be-
gan about 1 p. m. and -ontinued for twenty minutes. The be-
sieger was in possession of long-range guns, which enabled him
to fire upon the town bef'--e the forts had been taken. Shells fell
upon the prison, the hospital, the Burgomaster's house and the rail-
way station, causing conflagrations and killing several persons.
On August 23rd, the German Army pierced the exterior line of
defence, and the Belgian 4th Division retreated by the angle be-
tween the rivers Sambre and Meuse, while the greater number of
the forts were still uninjured and continuing to resist. The Ger-
man troops penetrated into the town of Namur on the same day
about 4 p. m.
On this day order was preserved: officers and soldiers requisi-
tioned food and drink, paying for them sometimes with coined mon-
ey, more often with requisition-certificates. Most of the latter
were bogus documents, but the townspeople were trustful and
ignorant of the German language, and so accepted them without
making difficulties.
Matters went on in the same way on August 24th till 9 o'clock
in the evening. At that hour shooting suddenly began in several
quarters of the town, and German infantry were seen advancing
in skirmishing order down the principal streets. Almost at the
same moment an immense column of smoke and fire was seen rising
from the central quarter of the place: the Germans had fired houses
in the Place d'Armes and four other spots, the Place Leopold, Rue
Rogier, Rue St. Nicolas and the Avenue de la Plante.
All was now panic among the peaceable and defenseless towns-
folk: the Germans began breaking open front doors with the butts
of their rifles, and throwing incendiary matter into the vestibules.
Six dwellers in the Rue Rogier, who were flying from their burning
houses, were shot on their own doorsteps. The rest of the in-
habitants of this street were forced to avoid a similar fate by es-
caping through -their back gardens. Many of them were in their
night clothes, for they had not the-time to dress or to pick up their
money.
In the Rue St. Nicolas several workmen's dwellings were set
on fire, and a larger number, together with some wood-yards, were
burned in the Avenue de la Plante.
The conflagration in the Place d'Armes continued till Thursday.
It destroyed the Town Hall, with its archives and pictures, the ad-
jacent group of houses, and the whole quarter bounded by the Rue


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