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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 17


TESTIMONY OF EYE-WITNESSE.
arated. An officer came up who said to us in French with a strong
German accent, 'You all deserve to be shot: a young girl of 15 has
just fired on one of our Commanders. But the Court-martial has
decided that only the men shall be executed: the women will be kept
prisoners."
"The scene that followed passes all description: there were
eighteen men standing in a row: besides the parish priests of
Anthee and Onhaye, and the Abbe Gaspiard, there was our own
priest, Mons. Poskin, and his brother-in-law, Mons. Schmidt, then
Doctor Jacques and his son Henri, aged just 16, then Gaston Bur-
niaux, the clerk's son, and Leonard Souxnoy: next them two men
named Balbeur and Billy, with the 17-year-old son of the latter: last
two men from Onhaye and Dinant who had taken refuge in Surice,
and two people more whom I did not know. Mons. Schmidt's little
boy of 14 was nearly put into the line-the soldiers hesitated, but
finally shoved him away in a brutal fashion. At this moment I saw
a young German soldier-this I vouch for-who was so horror-
struck that great tears were dropping onto his tunic: he did not
wipe his eyes for fear of being seen by his officer, but kept his head
turned away.
"Some minutes passed: then under our eyes and amid the
-shrieks of women who were crying 'Shoot me too; shoot me with my
husband!' and the wailing of the children, the men were lined up
on the edge of the hollow way which runs from the high road to
the bottom of the village. They waved last greetings to us, some
with their hands, others with their hats or caps. The young Henri
Jacques was leaning on the shoulder of one of the priests, as if to
seek help and courage from him: he was sobbing, 'I am too young;
I can't face death bravely.' Unable to bear the sight any longer,
I turned my back to the road and covered my eyes with my hands.
The soldiers fired their volley, and the men fell in a heap. Some-
one said to me, 'Look, they are all down!' But they were not all
shot dead; several were finished off by having their skulls beaten
in with rifle-butts. Among these was the priest of Surice, whose
head (as I was afterwards told) was dreadfully opened out.
"When the massacre was over the Germans plundered the
corpses. They took from them watches, rings, purses, and pocket-
books. Madame Schmidt told me that her husband had on him
about 3,000 francs, which was stolen. Dr. Jacques had also 8
good sum on him, though his wife could not say exactly how much.
"After this some more German soldiers brought up a maul
named Victor Cavillot, and shot him before he reached the spot
where the others were lying; they fired on him, and I saw him
double up and fall into the hollow way." (1)
(1) From the testimony of Mademoiselle Aline Diericz, of Tenham, an-
nexed to the Report of the Session of Dec. 18, 1914.
17


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