3446 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
quartered at their houses; that they treacherously attacked German troops in occupied
towns; and that they were guilty of various other diabolical and unwarranted acts.
Some at least of these charges are probably true. The Belgian people were
wrought up to a high pitch by the invasion
of their country, and some of them, when
occasion offered, no doubt did incautious
and even cruel things.
The offenses charged to the Germans
fall into two classes: those committed
without authority by individuals and those
committed by direct orders of responsible
officers. In the first class fall crimes
ranging from venial thefts of food or wine
up through the pillaging of money and
goods to brutal killing of wounded prisoners, mutilations, unprovoked murder,
and hideous outrages upon women and
young girls. Beyond all question, there
were many fiendish crimes committed by
individual German soldiers in Belgium and
northern France during this invasion.
This is not to say that such crimes were
approved by all the German soldiers or
that such a crime as rape, when discovered,
was not sometimes punished by the German
military authorities. In an army such
as the German, raised by universal conscription, all sorts of men were in the ranks,
from the gentlest to the most brutal and
depraved. Among hundreds of German
diaries subsequently captured by the Allies
were a few that mentioned crimes to condemn them; in others, the crimes appear
to have been set down with a sort of pride.
War has a brutalizing effect upon humanity, and in the case of the invasion of
Belgium there can be little doubt also
that the acts authorized by way of policy
by the military authorities encouraged