Friday, August 29, 2014

Today -100: August 29, 1914: Poor Louvain

Austria declares war on Belgium.

I feel like I should put those announcements in a special font or something.

Germany and Austria offer peace terms: Britain shall respect Germany’s commerce and its right to colonies; France to pay an indemnity; Poland recreated as a buffer state; Serbia to cease its pan-Slavic propaganda; Germany will recognize Britain’s naval supremacy.

France says Germans shot three Red Cross nurses.

The British win a naval battle off Heligoland in the North Sea.

The Germans burn and sack Louvain, Belgium, claiming that civilians “perfidiously attacked German troops.” It was actually a friendly fire incident, but the Germans have worked themselves up into a panicky indignant froth – yes, I said panicky indignant froth – about civilian resistance, which basically doesn’t exist and anyway Louvainihoovians were all made to turn in their guns before the Germans marched in. The Germans burn various medieval churches and the medieval university library (and it was a very good library with lots of irreplaceable medieval manuscripts and suchlike).  Also, and this news isn’t out yet, the burgomaster and other officials, including the entire Louvain police force and the university rector, are executed, as well as hundreds of civilians.  This incident – the cultural vandalism perhaps more than cruelty to civilians as a matter of military policy – will be used as the prime example of German assholery in Allied propaganda for some time and it has the virtue of all being true, unlike so many of the atrocity stories.  It had an effect on public opinion in neutral countries like Italy and the US.

Since Brussels has failed to pay the Germans the $40 million they demanded, they demand $2 million from the local scion of the Rothschild family and $6 million from Ernst Solvay, the chemicals magnate.

Germany defends the bombardment of Antwerp from zeppelins, citing the city’s status as a fortified city.  They say if Belgium didn’t want its women and children blown up it should have removed them from fortresses liable to attack.  They say the royal palace was fair game because the king is commander in chief of the Belgian army.

Germany orders all Belgian males aged 17 to 42 in the Li├Ęge region to go to Germany to bring in the harvest.  Many are instead fleeing to the Netherlands.

France’s Gen. Alexandre Persin, who evacuated his troops from Lille instead of defending it, is transferred in disgrace.

German troops attack the Belgian Congo.

Britain will use Indian troops, Kitchener says.  The Secretary of State for India, Lord Crewe, says that he doesn’t see a problem removing all those troops from India, because of the “enthusiasm” the Indians have shown for this war.

Sexy, Sexy Headline of the Day -100:  “RESISTED CZAR'S ADVANCE.; Germans Fought Desperately Till They Were Outmanoeuvred.”

German Uhlans (cavalry) take 130 francs from the town cash box of Alost, Belgium, leaving an IOU and 1½ francs as a tip for the police.

But you know who is worst affected by the war?  Washington D.C. hostesses, who when making out their invitation lists have to keep track of which foreign ambassadors and diplomatic staff are not allowed to speak with which other diplomats.

Rudyard Kipling is briefly detained as a suspected German spy while taking one of his constitutionals along the seaside near his home on the south coast of England.

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