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BRUSSELS UNDER THE GERMANS, Issue 15662, 28 November 1914
BRUSSELS UNDER THE GERMANS
BRUSSELS UNDER THE GERMANS. t WHAT WILL BE ITS DESTINY? What will bp the destiny of the Belgian . capital in the long run ? is the question ! which, as one can well imagine, monopoi Uses conversation. [ There are two opinions, diametrically . opposed (wrote the London ‘ Daily Mail’s ’ | correspondent at the end of September*. ! Some think that the Germans will depart of their own accord, having been so badly beaten by the allied armies in Prance that their position will become untenable, and that trie people of Brussels will wake up one fine day freed for ever of the “reiter” (soldier) of the Kaiser. Others taka the contrary view. Pointing to sinister precedents, they aver that the Germans will not quit the city without putting everybody and everyth', ig to fire and sword as they retreat. The future alone can tell us which opinion will prove to be the right one, but it is certain that at present the Germans are taking all precautions to defend the ground foot by foot if they deem it possible, and in any case to avert the risk either of a surprise or of an enveloping movement of our troops seeking to sur- ‘ round the garrison in Brussels. The latter . is in constant contact with the German army posted before Antwerp. Brussels constitutes for the Germans a 1 sort of entrenched camp. Important works of defence havo been completed all round ‘ the town. Numerous roads and bridges have been mined, and there are not a few clever traps. Thus between Berchem-Ste. 1 Agathe and Grand Bigard, after having 1 excavated the highway to a great depth, the Germans have placed there 500 barrels without tops, which are covered with ■ branches and earth. There the surface has been made to appear quite normal. One can well conceive what would bo the effect of a cavalry charge in this spot! —Secrecy in the City.— Luckily the commanders of the Belgian army are quite well aware of these goingson on the part of the Germans, who know that they know. That is why the latter endeavor to prevent anyone from leaving Brussels. It is absolutely forbidden to use motors or bicycles. They have stopped the trams running beyond the limits of the town, and must of the pedestrians are themselves arrested. If they are young people of military age, or if they carry a* newspaper other than those whose circulation is authorised, or some letter, they are detained. Some of them succeed in being set at liberty, but others fail to return. Sometimes it happens that the surveillance relaxes, and that one can pass through without any further trouble than walking by a very long route, but that is only a matter of luck. There is no guarantee at I all against being disturbed. One result of this rigor is that it is becoming more and more difficult to get ncoiuato news, the newspapers penetrating the German lines being very few. Therefore the most fantastic rumors gain currency, and as there is practically no cohtrol over them one scarcely knows whether to place any faith or not in the supposed information which is bandied about. Some days ago it was persistently rumored that the Queen of the Belgians had died at Antwerp, and that secret orders had been given for prayer to be , ■ offered up in all the churches for the i repose of her soul. We would have come i to believe it, in common with the greater I part of the population, if an Antwerp ■ clady had not at last reached us, giving , an account of a visit by the Queen to tho | I hospitals at the bedside ot our brave , wounded soldiers. j —Land of Honey—and Beer.— j Their sojourn in Brussels seems to have increasing attractions for the Germans, ! who, to use a typical soldier’s expres- | sion, “ would find everything perfect if j the glasses of beer were larger." Our I city is a veritable land of honey for those I who form the garrison. They feast, and their Jot is envied without exception by all the Kaiser’s soldiers who only pass ; through. But, however many may come I and go, tho presence of the Prussian helmet is becoming a cause of deep depression for the inhabitants of the capital. The second fortnight of the month which is now ending would have beenmarked in the ordinary way by big fetes. There would have been, firstly, the “September Days,” in commemoration of the battle in Brussels during the Revolution of 1830. Every year wills it that one should do honor to the' brave men to whom wo owe an independence so dear to us that we have to defend it now so bitterly, A patriotic procession is organised, in which the civil and military authorities participate. It goes through the main thoroughfare, of tho town, emerging at the Place des Martyrs, in front of the crypt where rest the remains of the heroes of tho struggle. Wreaths are placed ’ there, school children sing the praises of the defenders of their land, and stirring hymns and passionate discourses are uttered exalting their bravery and the love of their native land. For the first time it has been necessary to depart from this rule and to omit, though with deep regret, to conform with this consecrated custom. However, some of our patriots were not willing to let these Days of September pass without paying pious homage to those who died for their country, and declaring themselves, in site of an*odious yoke, the champions of the cult of remembrance. Discreetly they put flowers near the tombs. —Flowers Removed From Graves.— The German authorities were not slow in getting wind of it, because their civilians, expelled to tho other side of the Rhino before tho war, have returned more arrogant than ever, and never lose a chance of exciting the German administration against the population. The flowers were immediately removed and all access forbidden to the Place des Martyrs, which was guarded by troops. Moreover, to prevent a similar demonstration in front of the column of Progress. sentries wore posted before it. Again, there was to have been celebrated by grand fetes tho completion of the works connecting Brussels with the S3 a. It is hardly necessary to say that there is no possibility of this, nor, indeed, of the great concourse of hydroplanes, called “The Circuit of the Three Rivers," which were to havo started from Brussels and returned there after an itinerary which contemplated flights over the Scheldt, the Meuse, and the Rhine, across Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Instead of thinking of fetes, the good people _ of Brussels are looking forward, not without dismay, to the approach of winter. The stoppage of commerce and industry is complete, and the working classes, whoso little sayings were exhausted long ago, owe their existence to a really humanitarian work, the carrying out of which will perhaps avert revolts, popular risings, and the pillage of shops. Under the auspices of the Ministers of Spain and the United States, and thanks to the gifts of generous philanthropists, the municipal councils of tho town and suburbs make a distribution every day at the public buildings of a pint of excellent soup and a pound of bread per head. Pressing appeals are made to people fortunately placed for contributions to keep this good work going as long as possible. But there are few rich people in Brussels. On the arrival of the Germans many were those who left the* abhorred enemy far behind them. There were others left in rather an awkward position, for coin
limes, and therefore it was a question of what one had at home and not of what was in the bank. Paper money, whatever its nature, Is not negotiable, and this causes a great deal of trouble. People who thought themselves in comfortable circumstances for the rest of their lives have had to ask themselves what they can do in order to exist in the future. Others are looking on helpless at tho ruin of their industry ox business. And here is an instance which shows how far the audacity of certain Teutons can go. Two merchants, one a Belgian and tho other a. German, who had established himself here, were fierce competitors in business, Our compatriot had won an evident superiority over the German by reason of his going tp better sources for his goods. Who supplied these? Before tho war tho Goman had made vain attempts to find out, but a few days ago, under some pretext or other, a search was ordered by the authorities at the Belgian merchant’s shop. The man who carried out this proceeding was his German rival, in tho garb of an officer of reserves! It is almost futile to add that the first things he examined were his rival’s books and correspondence. This is only one case m a thousand representative of the system of continual vexations which come very near to provocation. How is all this to end ? In many ease it is certain that if it had not been for the firmness of the burgomaster, M. Max, who, risking his life, tours the streets, and especially tho working-class quarters, preaching everywhere the need of calm and patience, virtues very hard to practise in tho actual circumstances, ahd for the diplomats representing the neutral nations. Brussels would already, have suffered the fate of the luckless provincial towns—Louvain, Dinant, Aerschot, and Diest, to mention only those of which practically nothing remains. Ono can imagine the state of mind resulting from the existence which we are compelled to endure in a town over which an atmosphere of storm hangs heavy and unceasingly; a town where freedom of speech is no longer permissible, for one never knows if one’s words will not be heard by one or other of the spies in the pay of the invader. Fortunately, the temperament of the Bruxellois constitutes an excellent nalilative to this lamentable state of things,* and in spite of all they laugh—that they shall not weep.
BRUSSELS UNDER THE GERMANS, Issue 15662, 28 November 1914
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