3451 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
When we left Owele shots were fired; but
there, women and everything were fired
upon. At the frontier they have today
shot a Hussar and destroyed the bridge.
The bridge has been rebuilt by the gallant
"In this way we destroyed eight houses
with their inmates," says another captured
diary. "In one of them two men with
their wives and a girl of 18 were bayoneted.
The little one almost unnerved me, so
innocent was her expression, but it was
impossible to check the crowd, so excited
were they. For in such moments you
are no longer men but wild beasts."
The following extracts are from the
diary of a German officer in the 178th
Regiment of the Twelfth Saxon Corps:
"August 17th. In the afternoon I
had a look at the little chateau belonging
to one of the King's secretaries (not at
home). Our men had behaved like regular
vandals. They had looted the cellar
first, and then they had turned their attention to the bedrooms and thrown things
about all over the place. They had even
made fruitless' efforts to smash the safe
open. Everything was topsy-turvy-magnificent furniture, silk, and even china.
That's what happens when the men are
allowed to requisition for themselves.
I am sure they must have taken away a
heap of useless stuff simply for the pleasure
"August 23d. ...Our men came back
and said that at the point where the valley
joined the Meuse we could not get on any
further as the villagers were shooting at
us from every house. We shot the whole
lot-16 of them. They were drawn up
in three ranks; the same shot did for three
at a time. . . .
"The sight of the bodies of all the inhabitants who had been shot was indescribable. Every house in the whole
village was destroyed. We dragged the
villagers one after another out of the most
unlikely corners. The men were shot
as well as the women and children who were
in the convent, since shots had been fired
from the convent windows; and we burnt
"The inhabitants might have escaped
the penalty by handing over the guilty
and paying 15,000 francs.
"The inhabitants fired on our men
again. The division took drastic steps
to stop the villages being burnt and the
inhabitants being shot. The pretty little
village of Gue d'Ossus, however, was
apparently set on fire without cause. A
cyclist fell off his machine and his rifle
went off. He immediately said he had
been shot at. All the inhabitants were
burnt in the houses. I hope there will
be no more such horrors.
"At Leppe apparently 200 men were
shot. There must have been some innocent men among them. In future we
shall have to hold an inquiry as to their
guilt instead of shooting them.
"In the evening we marched to Maubert-Fontaine. Just as we were having
our meal the alarm was sounded-everyone
is very jumpy.
"September 3d. Still at Rethel, on
guard over prisoners ....The houses are
charming inside. The middle class in
France has magnificent furniture. We
found stylish pieces everywhere and beautiful silk, but in what a state. . . .Good God!
.. .. Every bit of furniture broken, mirrors
smashed. The Vandals themselves could
not have done more damage. This place
is a disgrace to our army. The inhabitants
who fled could not have expected, of course,
that all their goods would have been left
intact after so many troops had passed.
But the column commanders are responsible for the greater part of the damage,
as they could have prevented the looting
and destruction. The damage amounts
to millions of marks; even the safes have
"In a solicitor's house, in which, as
luck would have it, all was in excellent
taste, including a collection of old lace
and Eastern works of art, everything was
smashed to bits.
"I could not resist taking a little
memento myself here and there. ...One
house was particularly elegant, everything
in the best taste. The hall was of
light oak; I found a splendid raincoat