Page 3453

3453 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

attacked Hougaerde on the 18th of August:

the Belgian troops were holding the Gette

Bridge in the village. The Germans forced

the parish priest of Autgaerden to walk

in front of them as a shield. As they

neared the barricade the Belgian soldiers

fired, and the priest was killed. After

the retreat of the Belgians, the Germans

shot 4 men, burned 50 houses, and looted

100."

The explanation of the rigorous policy

of the Germans in Belgium would seem

to be that they realized that unless something was done to cow the spirit of the

country they would be constantly subjected to uprisings and annoyances in

their rear. A wireless dispatch sent out

from Germany toward the end of August

declared that "the only means of preventing

surprise attacks from the civil population

has been to interfere with unrelenting

severity, and to create examples which,

by their 'frightfulness,' will be a warning

to the whole country." German warfare

had always been ruthless, and the need

of terrorizing the civil population of an

enemy, of breaking their spirit, had been

inculcated by many of their writers on

war and by their "War Book." Such

a course was defended as not only necessary but as least productive of bloodshed

in the end.

There can be no doubt that the policy

of "frightfulness" in Belgium presently

broke the courage and spirit of the civil

population and thus accomplished the

object which the conquerors had in mind.

In the world at large, however, it created

a feeling of hostility toward Germany that

probably worked infinitely more harm to

the German cause than was gained. Sympathy for Belgium was the more pronounced because it was known that she

had been forced into the conflict against

her will. Well might the wretched Belgian fugitives, as they fled from their

burning homes and the dead bodies of

their relatives, cry out that they had had

no hand in the murder of the Austrian

Archduke I

Most of the German troops who passed

through Belgium took no active part in the

conquest of that country; for, in spite

of the interest which the events excited

throughout the world at the time, the actual

fighting, as regards numbers and bloodshed, was relatively unimportant. The

real work lay ahead in France, and thither

the Teutonic legions hastened along the

paths hacked out by their advanced forces.

Meanwhile what of the French ? They

too had had a plan, and, in the early days

of the war, they tried to carry it out. It

was to cross the eastern frontier and redeem the beloved "lost provinces"-Alsace

and Lorraine. A considerable force was

sent northward to guard the Sambre and

Meuse gateways, while an offensive was

undertaken from Belfort and over the

crests of the Vosges. Southern Alsace

was lightly held by the Germans, and the

French were able to occupy, after some

fighting, the town of Altkirch,on August 7th,

and Mulhausen, on the next day. The

tricolor was greeted with transports of

joy by many of the inhabitants, and the

news that French troops had reached the

bank of the Rhine aroused great enthusiasm in France.

General Joffre, the French Commander

in Chief, issued the following proclamation

to the inhabitants of the province:

"Children of Alsace!

"After forty-four years of sorrowful

waiting French soldiers once more tread

the soil of your noble country. They

are the pioneers in the great work of revenge. For them what emotion and what

pride!

"To achieve this work they have made

the sacrifice of their lives. The French

nation unanimously urges them on, and

on the folds of their flags are inscribed

the magic words, 'Right and Liberty.'

"Long live Alsace! Long live France!"

But soon Austrian troops were reported

to be pushing through southern Germany

to help their allies, while the Germans

attacked the invaders on the 9th of August.

The battle began badly for the French, and

they retired from Miilhausen.

A new forward movement, led by General Pau, a one-armed veteran of the war

of '70, was soon begun, and there was