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THE SACK OF LOUVAIN, Issue 15627, 19 October 1914
THE SACK OF LOUVAIN
PEOPLE BURNT ALIVE. "WALKING THROUGH HELL.” The following account of the appalling and ruthless sacking of Louvain hy the Germans is given hy the correspondent of the ‘Niemvo Rotterdam scho Conr.ant,’ who himself witnessed the outrages : ‘‘ I arrived at Louvain on Tuesday afternoon, and, accompanied by a German officer, made my way through Use town. Near the station were the Commander and Staff and many of the military, for a food and ammunition train had just arrived. _ Suddenly shots rang out from houses in the neighborhood ol the station. In a moment tho shooting was taken tip from houses all over the' town. From the window of the third floor of an hotel opposite thd station a machine gun opened fire. It was impossible to know which of the civilians bad taken part iT! the (hooting, and from which houses they had tired. Therefore the soldiers went into all the houses, and immediately there lollowed the most terrible scenes of street lighting. Every single civilian found with weapons, or suspected of tiring, was put to death on the spot. The innocent suffered with the guilty. —Old Mon, Side, and Women.— “There was no time for exhaustive inquiry. Old men, sick people, women were shot. In the meanwhile part of tho town was shelled hy artillery. Many buildings were set on lire by tho shells. On others petrol was poured' and a match applied. Tho German officer advised me to go away, as several houses being still intact more tiring was expected. “ Under a strong escort two groups of men and .women arrived, each a hundred strong. 'They were hostages. They were stood in rows by the station, and' every time a soldier was shot in tho town 10 ot these pitiful civilians were .slaughtered. There was no mercy. Tears and pleadings wore in vain. Tho good suffered with the bad. At night the econo was terrible, burning buildings shedding a lurid glow over tins town, which was running with tears of blood. This was no time for sleep. The sight of thin terrible rrwfume?;; (hove away all thoughts and desire for rest. Towards dawn the. soldiers took possession of all buildings which had not been deist toyed, —Strewn with TJodies.— “With the Using of tho sun I walked on the boulevards, and saw them strewn with bodies, many of them being of old people and priests. Leaving Louvain lor Tirlemonl, one passed continuously through utterly devastated country.'* A Dutchman who escaped from Louvain says that when the German artillery began to demolish the houses the Gorman .soldiers began looting everything. He and his little son hid in a cellar beneath a pile of pneumatic tyres. One woman took refuge in a pit, in which water was up to her waist. Sncli was the terrible plight ol civilians in Louvain. Beeping on: T'Ay saw that neighbors had been driven to “fhc roof of a burning building, when: they perished. While still concealed in the cellar the .Dutchman and his son discovered to their horror that tho house above them was in flames, Tho sTnuuicn was terrible, as the people who dared to leave their houses were shot like rauTdlf, leaving burro we. They beard floor by floor, and then the roof, crash, down above them. The situation was desperate. It was impo.s>iT!?eto mmihi in tho cellar. Driven out oy dire necessity, they lied. They wire immediately stopped by military idles at the " present.” —Agonised Screams.- - “Do not lire. I am German," s.ml tl. Dutchman, in German, seized wiiii a su*dea inspiration. this secured ins side conduct to the railway Motion, The i-mv-nc-y through the town was. said lies iefugc.o, ” like walking tluongdi lieil." I-rom burning houses he heard agonising ma of tho.-o perishing in tho couth igvatioite. While he was waiting at the sta lion tO people arrived then 1 , driven by troops, who asserted they found them hiding in houses from which ehoffi had bcrni ffred. Three people swore hy all they held eacved lhev were, innocent, hut, notwithstanding, .- !i were shot. AWFUL STREET .SCENES. GF (I MAX S' GRIM RKVKXG K. Among the vc-lngecs arming at Folkysionc mi August 06 were women and children from Louvain ami soldiers from Liege, all narrating thrilling adventures. Some .if the refugees bad obviously Inoviedly descried their bonk-.-'. v,-tapping a few m their belongings in sheets of newspaper. One woman from Louvain tore down the curtains from her windows, wrapped them round some weaving apparel, and ran from her house with her two children. In the--treet she became involved in a stampede, fit men. women and children tearing away front the burning town, whither she knew nos. This woman’s stoic was so disjointed. so interspersed with hysterical t-obs and exclamations, that it is impossible to make a lull and coherent narratiyu of it. Periodically she clasped For children. gazed round upon I lie English faces, and thanked God and bemoaned her tale alternately. Although suffering from extreme nervous excitement, another woman had intervals of comparative calmness, dining which site described her experiences as follows :—“ Aii. nTstou,” she exclaimed, I will tell you. yes, of the burning of Louvain. Wo had' pulled down some m the building.-; so that the Germans should not mount, guns on them when they came. I believe time was the reason. We were, in a state of terror because we had board of tho cruelties of tho Germans.’’ Every time lire poor woman referred to the Germans she paused to utter maledictions upon f/tpni. ■'Well,” she proceeded, "they came, and all wo had heard about them was not so bad as wo experienced. In tbe streets people wete cruelly butchered, and then on all rides flames began to rise. Wo wetc prepared for what we had regarded as the'worst, but never had wo anticipated, that they would hum ns m our homes, People rushed about Uantic to save f heir property. Rid ores of relatives., were snatched from the. walls, clothing was seized, ami the people were demented. —Reason for Destruction. - ‘•What was the excuse given? Well, they said our people had shot, at them, but* that was absolutely untrue. Tho teal reason was tho pulling down of the buildings. My house was burning when f left it wiLh'my three children, and here I am with them .safe in England, beautiful England. Dot what we nave._ suffered 1 Wc were pan of a crowd which left the burning town, and kept walking without knowing whore wo were going. Milos and miles wo trudged. I am told we walked over 70 miles before wo came to a. railway. I never regarded a railway as 1 did then. I wanted to bow clown and kiss tho vails, ii fell exhausted, having carried rny children in turn. Footsore, broken-hearted, after the first joy of sighting the railway, 1 felt my head whirling, and I wondered whether it- was ail worth while. T lien I thought of my deliverance, and thanked God. 0 What did Louvain look like? Like what it was, a mass of flame devouring our homes, out- property —to _ some, perhaps, our relatives. Ik was pitiful to behold. Most of wo women wore, deprived of our husband?. They had either' fallen or wore fighting for their country. In the town everybody who offered any opposition was killed, and everyone found to be armed in any way was shot. Wives saw their husbands shot in the streets. I saw Mis burgomaster shot, and I saw another man dragged roughly away from his weeping wife and children and shojj through the head. Well, we got a train and reached Boulogne, and now for the first time wo fee! really safe.”
THE SACK OF LOUVAIN, Issue 15627, 19 October 1914
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