A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 168

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GERMAN INVASION OF BELGIUM


King Albert, through Queen Wilhelmina of Holland, and promised, in recognition of Belgian valour, to guarantee the most considerate treatment of the Belgian population, and every respect for the integrity of Belgian territory, if Belgium would abandon her resistance and allow the German troops a right of wayintheirattackuponFrance. KingAlbertrepliedwithan absolute negative. Great Britain, France and Russia,’* he said, “ have promised formally to support us in the struggle upon which we are engaged. French armies are hastening to our appeal and are already on our soil. If they are powerless to preserve us from a disaster, honour would not allow us to draw back. What Belgium has so well begun, France and Great Britain, witdi her help, will succeed in terminating. They will chase the routed enemy towards Germany, and our honour will not only be safe, but our name for ever glorious.” But 'for that heroic temerity Belgium was now to pay the price. After the fall of Louvain, Belgian resistance except around Antwerpandforisolatedskirmishesceased. Germanymarched throughthecountryunopposed. TheBelgianRoyalfamilyand the government removed from Brussels to Antwerp and the capital was suddenly faced with a German occupation. There was little sleep in Brussels on the night of August 19. In the early morning hours a cry arose from street after stieet “TheGermansarecoming.” DuringthenighttheCivilGuards marched back, singing the Marseillaise,” and mined through thecityoutontheothersidetowardsAntwerp. Therewasto be no resistance to the Germans. Brussels was an open town; as such it was protected by the laws of war against bombard- ment. It would simply submit to the presence of the enemy. It could do no less ; it would do no more. A proclamation by the burgomaster was pasted on the walls late in the evening : August 19. Fellow-citizens,—Despite the heroic resistance offered by our troops, seconded by the allied armies, there is reason to fear thattheenemymayoccupyBrussels. Shouldsuchanevent come to pass, I trust I may count upon the calm and the sang froid of the population. Above all, one should not lose one’s head or give way to panic. The municipal authorities willnotdeserttheirpost. Theywillcontinuetoperformtheir duties with the firmness which you have a right to expect from them in such serious circumstances.

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