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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 16


THE MARTYRDOM OF BELGIUM.
The ancient church of Hastiere suffered odious profanation.
Horses were stabled in it. The priestly vestments were torn and
befouled. The lamps, statues, and holy-water stoups were broken.
The reliquary was smashed, and the relics scattered about. Among
them were some relics of the Eleven Thousand Virgins of Cologne,
which had escaped the fury of the Huguenots of 1590 and the Rev-
olution of 1790. The tabernacle resisted an attempt at burglary,
but two of the four altars were profaned; the sepulchres at the
altars were broken open and the remains in them thrown out and
trampled under foot.
The parish priest of Hastiere, Abbe Emile Schogel, had taken
refuge in the crypt, with his brother-in-law, M. Ponthiere, a pro-
fessor of the University of Louvain, the wife and two daughters
of the professor, two servants, the schoolmaster of the village with
his wife and family, and other inhabitants. The Germans fired
at them through the windows of the crypt, and then forced them to
come up to the road, where they were brought before several officers,
of whom some were intoxicated. Some questions were put to the
Abbe, but he was given no time to answer. The women were then
dragged apart from the men, and the priest, M. Pointhiere, the
schoolmaster, and the other men were shot; their bodies were left
lying on the road. All this happened on August 24th, 1914, at
about 5.30 in the afternoon.
On this same day the village of Surice was occupied by the
German troops. At about 11 p. m. they set fire to some of the
houses. Next morning, about 6 o'clock, the soldiers broke open
doors and windows with the butts of their rifles, and forced all the
inhabitants to come out. They were led off in the direction of the
church. On the way several most inoffensive people were fired
upon. For example, the old choirman, Charles Colot, aged 88, was
shot as he came out of his door; the soldiers rolled his body in a
blanket, and set fire to it.
A man named Elie Pierrot was seized by the Germans as he was
coming out of his burning house, carrying his aged and impotent
step-mother (she was over 80 years of age), and was shot at short
range. The clerk, Leopold Burniaux, his son Armand, who had
been recently ordained priest, and another of his sons were shot
before the eyes of Madame Burniaux. She, with her last surviving
son, a professor at the College of Malonne, were marched off with
the surviving inhabitants on the road to Romedenne. In a garden
below the road there was a dead woman lying, with two small
children crying over her.
On arriving at Fosses the party were led to a piece of fallow
ground-they numbered between 50 and 60 persons of both sexes.
"It was about 7.15 a. m. when the men and the women were sep-
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