3439 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
manner incompatible with the neutrality
of the Grand Duchy, and, in general, not
to institute or tolerate in the management of these lines any act which would
not be in strict accord with the duties
incumbent upon the Grand Duchy as a
On August 3d, after receiving Belgium's
defiant refusal to permit a free passage
over her territory, German troops under
General von Emmich advanced from Aix
la Chapelle and crossed the frontier near
the Belgian city of Liege.
The Germans still labored under the
delusion that the Belgians would not
make much resistance, and von Emmich
issued the following address to the Belgian
"It is with my greatest regret that the
German troops find themselves compelled
to cross the frontier of Belgium. They act
under the compulsion of an inevitable
necessity, the violation of Belgium's neutrality having already been made by
French officers, who, in disguise,, have
traversed Belgian 'territory in an automobile, in order to penetrate Germany.
"Belgians! it is my greatest desire that
means may yet be found to avoid a combat
between two peoples who have been friends
up to this time; formerly, even allies. Recall the glorious day of Waterloo, when
German arms contributed to found and
establish the independence and prosperity
of your fatherland.
"But we must have a free way. The
destruction of bridges, tunnels, and railways will be considered hostile acts. Belgians, the choice is yours.
"I hope that the German Army of
the Meuse will not be required to fight
you. A free path to attack him who
would attack us is all we ask.
"I give formal guarantee to the Belgian
people that they shall suffer none of the
horrors of the war; that we will pay in
gold money for the provisions that it
will be necessary to take from the country;
that our soldiers will show themselves
the best friends of a people for whom we
feel the highest esteem, the profoundest
"Upon your wisdom and a sensible
patriotism depends the escape of your
country from the horrors of the war."
But the Belgian people felt highly outraged by the German invasion and had
no intention of submitting peacefully to
such treachery. Though poorly prepared
for war, they made what resistance they
could and thereby brought down upon
themselves retaliation so severe as to
shock the world.
Liege was the strongest place in eastern
Belgium, and its forts commanded the
natural highway and railroad lines that
the Germans must control before they
could carry out their plan of an invasion
of France from the northeast. It was a
manufacturing town, its chief industry,
in fact, being the making of firearms.
Its history dated from the Middle Ages,
and it figures in one of Scott's best
novels, Quentin Durward, a story of the
age of Charles the Bold and Louis XI.
In those days its citizens were reputed
to be "the fiercest and the most untameable in Europe." Events were to prove
that its modern inhabitants had not lost
some of the characteristics of their forefathers.
At the beginning of August, 1914, Liege
was defended by a ring of six major and
six minor forts, which had been constructed
about a quarter of a century before but
partially rebuilt "in more recent years.
The main feature of these forts was a
huge concrete shell, the top of which was
about level with the earth, and out of
which rose a sort of movable steel cupola,
technically known as a "Gruson turret".
The heavy guns of the fortresses were
housed in these turrets, and the theory
was that shells striking the curved surface
of the turrets would be deflected off without penetrating. Below were chambers
for the garrison, machinery, ammunition,
and other stores. The earth, too, was
pierced with galleries leading to machine
guns, for use against infantry attacks.
As we have seen, the Belgian army was
a small one, not especially well trained;
and much of the defense of the country
fell, in fact, upon troops corresponding