Military Bureau for the Investigation of Offenses Against the Laws of War.


Fight of the Belgian People

at Dinant

from August 21-24, 1914.


[p. 61]



Immediately after crossing the Belgian frontier the Twelfth Army Corps had difficulties with the civilian population of Belgium, which reached their height in and around Dinant.

For the advance Dinant was of especial importance, in so far as the corps was to cross the river Meuse there.

The town with its suburbs of Leffe and Les Rivages on the right bank, and of Neffe, St. Médard and Bouvignes on the left bank of the Meuse lies along the river in a deep-cut valley. Both banks are steep and in many places rocky and rise up in terraces to a height of about 70 meters, the right side being a little higher than the left. Above the center of the town, on the right bank towers the fort, about one hundred meters high. Close near it, to the north, ends the main road which runs from Sorinnes. There are two further accesses from the East in the deep side valleys which end at Leffe and Les Rivages.

On August 15, 1914, a venture of German cavalry, in which among others the sharpshooters' battalion No. 12 took part, had resulted in a temporary occupation of the right Meuse bank. It was given up again before superior numbers of the enemy on the same day, numerous dead and a few wounded being left behind.

On August 17 the enemy's troops withdrew to the left Meuse bank. From that time Dinant, Leffe and Les Rivages were free from the regular troops of the enemy.

On August 21st, the Twelfth Army Corps (1st Royal Saxon Corps) became active outside Dinant. On the evening of that day the 2nd battalion of the sharpshooters, Fusilier-Regiment No. 108 went on a reconnaissance in force to Dinant accompanied by a detachment of pioneers. When they reached the first houses on the road that leads from Sorinnes, a signal shot was suddenly fired. At the next moment shots cracked on all sides. They were fired from all the houses, and blazed from the hill sides. The houses were stoutly barricaded so that clubs, axes and hand-grenades had to enforce access. Wires had been stretched across the street to cause the soldiers to stumble. Many of our men were wounded with small shot. Also stones were thrown at them.

The battalion penetrated as far as the bridge, where it ascertained that the bridge was occupied by the enemy's troops, and then returned, all the while being shot at from the houses. A thorough clearing of [p. 62] the place from franctireurs was not possible owing to the necessary haste. It was tried to overpower part of them by setting fire to those houses from which shots came.

It was evident that the populace made this assault on the reconnoitering detachment in accordance with a preconceived plan. It was also evident that Dinant had known of the impending venture and had turned to use measures which had been prepared long beforehand for that purpose. That preparation had been made was proved, among other things, by the loopholes with which numerous houses and walls had been provided.

After that experience it was to be expected that in future operations too, the civilian population would take part in the fight, but the fears entertained in that respect were far surpassed by the extent and the stubbornness that participation actually assumed.

On August 23rd the left Meuse bank was to be taken by the Twelfth Corps. After preparatory artillery fire the infantry advanced in the direction of Dinant, the 32nd infantry division northward, and the 23rd infantry division southward. The left wing of the enemy was attacked by Grenadier-Regiment No. 100 (Body Guards), and Infantry Regiment No. 132 and, next to that, the Sharpshooters' Regiment No. 108, whilst Infantry Regiment No. 178 reached Leffe through the Leffe valley.

The enemy was expelled from the heights of the left Meuse bank on the same day. August 23rd, with comparatively small losses to our side. The losses, on the other hand, which the hostile civilian population of Dinant and the neighboring places inflicted on the Twelfth Corps on August 23rd were very considerable; so were the exertions needed to break down the resistance, completely organized as it was, of the civilian population on August 23rd and the subsequent days.

Again, as on August 21st, the people of Dinant and its surroundings seemed to be informed that the advance of the Corps was imminent, and they were prepared in proportion.

The 1st battalion of the Regiment of Body Guards came from Herbuchenne and marched down a steep slope. During their descent they were taken under a brisk fire from houses and passages. In part it was necessary to fight for each house separately and to make use of hand grenades in order to drive the occupants out of their hiding places, from where they used all sorts of weapons, being concealed from the cellar to the attic. Those who were caught with arms in hand were shot on the spot, while suspects were first of all taken to the city jail as hostages. In spite of these measures the populace continued to shoot at the Body Guard grenadiers who suffered considerable losses, especially in officers. Amongst others Lieutenant Treusch von Buttlar fell here, while Captain Legler was seriously wounded.

[p. 63] In the meantime a large portion of the place was in flames partly owing to the use of hand-grenades, partly to French and German artillery fire. But all this had not been enough to convince the population that their participation in the fight was both useless and dangerous. Until evening, even when on the march to the crossing point which had been prepared at Les Rivages, the regiment was shot at from the houses.

Regiments No. 108 and 182 made the same experiences when they reached Dinant north of the regiment of Body Guards. Even from the easternmost houses they were shot at. The Ferme Malais was stormed by the 1st battalion of Regiment No. 108 of the sharpshooter-fusiliers. All franctireurs who offered resistance there were killed. In a fierce fight for every house an advance was made in the direction of the market place, the men expecting all the time to be shot at by invisible enemies from cellars, caves and slopes. Amongst others Major Lommatzsch of Infantry Regiment No. 182 was mortally wounded here by shots fired by two civilians from the windows of a house. Shots were even fired from the Cathedral. As early as in the course of the morning the commander of the 46th Brigade recognized that it was impossible to subdue the fanatical population without a bombardment of the place by artillery. But the troops were too far engaged in the house-to-house fighting to be withdrawn immediately. Only after 3 P. M. the regiments could be withdrawn to the heights north of Dinant so that now the artillery, particularly, parts of field artillery regiment No. 12 and a battery of heavy artillery could more effectively take Dinant under fire from Leffe.

Early in the morning, Infantry Regiment No. 178 had begun its march from Thynes to Leffe, using the low road along the Leffe valley. Even before reaching Leffe, the company marching at the head was shot at from isolated lots and from steep slopes that lay along both sides of the road and were partly wounded. Particularly brisk was the fire from the paper factory on the left of the road and the adjacent houses pertaining thereto. Therefore the slopes were searched for franctireurs, later with the help of the 11th Sharpshooters. The barricaded houses were forcibly opened and cleared of their inhabitants. All who were caught with arms in hand were shot. The trouble caused to the advancing regiment by the people hidden in the houses grew ever more violent. Shots came out of every house, although in many houses no one could be found, the snipers retreating into their hiding places, only to leave them later and shoot again at the German troops. Thus it became imperative to set fire to a number of houses in order to force the snipers out of their coverts. A number of inhabitant's were taken to the convent yard as hostages.

The 9th Company of Regiment No. 178, making front against the enemy on the left Meuse bank, occupied a garden lot along the river which belonged to a villa and a factory. Here too the soldiers were [p. 64] shot at. The villa and the factory were consequently cleared of their occupants. The owner and a number of his workmen were fetched from the cellar of the factory and shot. The women and children found with them were accommodated in the convent yard.

Nearly all day Regiment No. 178 fought fiercely with the Leffe population suffering many losses.

Infantry Regiment No. 103 which arrived at Leffe towards evening was also shot at by franctireurs from the slopes of the Leffe-ravine and from houses. The same measures of defense had to be taken: men caught with arms were disarmed and shot, and fire was set to such houses as could not otherwise be cleared. In the evening it became quiet at Leffe. But the assumption that no more was to be feared from the populace proved erroneous. After dusk the pickets on the left wing, which the 2nd battalion of Infantry Regiment No. 178 had placed towards the Meuse as a safeguard, were attacked by a large number of inhabitants south of the barracks of the 12th Belgian Infantry Regiment. A reinforcement of troops cleared that region and the adjacent part of the town, being all the while kept under fire from the houses by franctireurs. A considerable number of persons who were caught with arms in hand were shot.

About midnight the von Zeschau detachment coming from Houx arrived at the northern entrance of Leffe. Barely were the first houses reached when a brisk gun fire was poured from them on the foremost companies. The doors of the houses had been barred and the windows barricaded with bedsteads and other furniture. Those houses were stormed and set on fire as a protection against franctireurs who could not otherwise be caught. The men who were found in those houses with arms were shot. Also from the above mentioned factory was a brisk and constant fire poured on the detachment, especially on the machine gun Company of Infantry Regiment No. 177, and the fire of the franctireurs only ceased when the factory was set on fire.

Whilst these events happened in the North of Dinant, sanguinary battles with the civilian population also ensued in the South, at Les Rivages and Anseremme.

Late in the afternoon Grenadier Regiment No. 101 together with the third company of field-pioneers arrived at Les Rivages on the road which terminates there, in order to cross the river Meuse. Already in the morning the pioneers, with pontoon wagons to bridge the river, had reached that section of Dinant which the regiment of body guards had occupied. But they had been obliged to retreat to the height because they had been fired at from the houses, and could not check the shooting in spite of their efforts to clear them, in which efforts they were supported by the infantry.

[p. 65] First of all, the village of Les Rivages appeared as dead. On the opposite bank the houses of Neffe were ablaze, from hits of our artillery fire.

The crossing began at once. First the 2nd and then the 11th Company of Grenadier Regiment No. 101 gained the left bank and started a large frontal attack against the enemy's infantry on the western river heights. The 11th Company in passing the narrow lane at Neffe were fired at, in quick succession, with five loads of small-shot. The barricaded house was forced open, the snipers, one man and two women, were shot.

Immediately afterwards the company, led by the captain, reached the railway dam. At that place, an outlet for water traversed that embankment. In front of it lay a civilian, shot, with a carbine-like weapon in his possession. In the dark tunnel people could be seen. The Captain called out loud: "Sortez, on ne vous fera rien." (Come out, no harm will be done to you.) Neither an answer came back from the dark passage nor did the people hidden there leave it. The consequence was that a number of gunshots were fired into the passage. The grenadiers rushed across the railway embankment further up the height. The detachment which had been left behind to secure and clear the passage hunted from 35 to 40 civilians out of it, men, half-grown boys, women and children, also found 8 to 10 rifles, not hunting rifles, but apparently military guns. A part of the civilians were killed or wounded by the fire of the grenadiers.

In the meantime everything kept quiet at Les Rivages. The first person who made his appearance was a lame man. He said that he was the Mayor, and that the people of Les Rivages were peaceful in contrast to those of Neffe. He was, therefore, sent over to Neffe with orders to admonish the Neffe people to keep quiet; if they did, no harm would come to them.

The commander of the Grenadier Regiment No. 101 secured from the nearest houses a number of persons to avail himself of them as hostages in case of hostile actions on the part of the population. It was explained to them that their lives were pledged for the safety of the troops. That measure was caused by the revolt of the native population of Dinant, which had become known, and by the report, made at that very moment by an officer, that he had been fired at out of the houses close to Les Rivages, south of that place in the direction of Anseremme. The men were placed along a garden wall to the left of the crossing point, the women and children, who had come out of the houses with them, a little lower down the stream.

The crossing and the bridging of the river continued. When the bridge had advanced about forty meters, franctireurs suddenly began a brisk gun fire out of the houses of Les Rivages and from the rocky [p. 66] slopes south of the "Rocker Bayard" and its proximity. The shots were fired on the close formation of the grenadiers who were waiting for passage and on the working pioneers. The greatest consternation and confusion ensued. In consequence, the male hostages who were gathered at the garden wall were shot.

The shooting of the hostages which was evidently noticed by the unseen franctireurs had the result that the firing ceased, and the bridge building continued.

On August 24th and partly in the previous night the troops of the corps managed to cross the Meuse at Les Rivages and Leffe. On August 25th the hindmost formations of the corps also crossed the river.

But the stringent measures taken on August 23rd had by no means finally checked the franctireurs. Also on the two following days, passing columns and single individuals were shot at from the slopes and out of houses though not to such an extent as on August 23rd. Those actions had again to lead to reprisals. Some civilians caught in the act were shot, and the artillery bombarded the buildings which were occupied by franctireurs. The latter happened at Neffe and St. Médard on August 24th, the former in all parts of the town on August 24th and 25th.

If one surveys the entire resistance offered to the German troops by the people of Dinant and its suburbs, the plan and method of that resistance is the most striking feature.

Even before August 23rd those who lived in the surroundings of Dinant knew that an organization existed at that place for the purpose of treacherously attacking the German troops. It was known that the assaults made by native civilians on German troops at Sorinnes and other places east of the Meuse were partly due to emissaries from Dinant.

That organization was remarkable for its careful preparation and its wide extent.

The houses had been put in a state of defense, doors being barred and windows barricaded, loopholes being cut and large supplies of fire arms and ammunitions stored up. That there was a large supply of ammunition is evident, among other things, from the fact that projectiles would constantly explode in the burning houses. At the time of the venture in the night of August 21st wires were strung across the street to make the soldiers stumble over them.

The firearms were only partly sporting guns; there were also machine guns and Belgian military rifles. That permits of the conclusion that the Belgian Government gave its support to the organization. The whole of Dinant with all its suburbs on the right and left of the Meuse river was equally well prepared. At Leffe, at Les Rivages, at Neffe, everywhere we found barricaded houses, loopholes and firearms. Moreover, the fighting reports emphasize that the Belgian civilians wore no [p. 67] military emblems. The entire population was agreed to check the German advance. They have only themselves to blame if they partly perished in the dangers to which they exposed themselves of their own will.

The resistance offered was most stubborn. It was carried on with all kinds of weapons, with military and sporting guns, with bullet and shot, with revolvers, knives and stones. All callings, even the clergy, took part in it, all joined—men and women, old people and children. Firing would continue from the cellars of burning houses, and one franctireur even fired at the firing squad with a revolver at the very moment when he was to be summarily shot.

With malice and treachery people fired, invisible themselves to those outside, out of loophole from behind at passing divisions or at individual officers. When the Germans entered the snipers would escape through back doors into the numerous caves and subterranean passages to continue their assassins' work in other places.

Some male franctireurs had donned woman's dress.

The Geneva emblem was misused by individual persons and for buildings in order to harm the Germans under its protection.

Even wounded soldiers who were being retransported as well as the sanitary staff were shot at from the houses.

But the climax in the revolting outrages to which their fanaticism drove the population was reached in such acts as cruelly assassinating the sleeping, outraging the dead, burning the wounded soldiers who for the purpose were tied down with wire.

In viewing the attitude taken by the troops of the Twelfth Corps with regard to the extremely hostile proceeding of the civilian population who employed all and any means, however reprehensible, the tactical aim of that Corps must not be lost sight of, which was speedily to cross the Meuse and drive the enemy from the left bank of the river. It was a military necessity quickly to overcome the resistance of the inhabitants who opposed that aim: an aim which had to be attained by every means. From that point of view it was certainly justified to bombard with artillery the town which had taken active part in the fight, to burn the houses which were occupied by franctireurs, and to shoot the inhabitants who were caught with arms in hand.

Likewise in agreement with the law was the shooting of the hostages which took place in various localities. The troops that were fighting in the town were in dire distress since, under the artillery, machine gun and rifle fire of the regular army of the enemy which was stationed on the left Meuse bank, they were shot at by the inhabitants both in their rear and on their sides. The hostages were secured in order to stop the action of the franctireurs. As nevertheless the people continued to inflict losses on the fighting troops the shooting of the hostages [p. 68] had to be resorted to. Otherwise their seizure would only have meant a vain threat. The shooting of the hostages was all the more justified as their innocence was not likely considering that the population in general took part in the fight, and it was inevitable in regard of the military object in view and of the distress of the troops, who were being treacherously attacked from behind.

The lives of women and children, unless they were caught in the act, or self-defense was necessary against them, have been spared on principle. If, in spite of this, women and children were killed and wounded the existing situation easily explains that. They were partly struck by hostile projectiles which came from the left bank of the Meuse, and partly by shots gone astray during the fight in the houses and streets. At Les Rivages, too, during the shooting of the, hostages, some women and children were hit who, contrary to the direction given, in the general confusion had left their place, which was separate from that of the male hostages, and had crowded together with these.

That the conduct of the. troops of the Twelfth Corps was not ruthless or cruel, is proved by numerous cases where they made provision for women, old men and children, acts which were most creditable under the obtaining circumstances. A number of confined women were carried from endangered houses to a place of safety and bedded on mattresses near our wounded soldiers. Wounded inhabitants-the wounds were generally the result of the enemy's fire-were bandaged and received conscientious medical treatment. Little children who were found alone were assigned to the care of women. The large number of women and children who had come from the burning town of Dinant, and were at Les Rivages in the night from the 23rd to the 24th of August, were sheltered in a house and provided with food and drink. In the morning they all got hot coffee from a field kitchen of the regiment of body guards.

The statements made by the surviving inhabitants of Dinant concerning the fights about their town, and the reports, based on those statements, of the Belgian Investigation Commission and of the hostile press are all characterized by ignoring the part taken by the population in the fight against our troops and by reporting merely and with intentional exaggeration what our troops have done to ward off that participation in the fight. In view of the established facts it is a malicious distortion of actual conditions to state that civilian inhabitants had fired no shots since they were ordered to deliver all arms.

Without doubt it is a matter of profound regret that in consequence of the occurrences on August 23rd and 24th the prosperous town of Dinant with its suburbs was burned and ruined to a large extent, and numerous human lives lost. Not the German army, however, but exclusively the inhabitants of Dinant bear the responsibility for it. The [p. 69] whole population of Dinant, contrary to international law, fought against the German troops fanatically and treacherously, and compelled them to take such reprisals as the military aims required.

If the population had kept aloot from armed resistance and open participation in the fights they would hardly have been injured in life and property, however much the military operations might have endangered their condition.

Berlin, April 11th, 1915.


Military Commission for the Investigation of offenses against the laws of war.


(Signed) Major Bauer.                                    (Signed) Dr. Wagner, District Court Councillor.



[p. 71]





Dresden, November 6, 1914.


Paul Kurt Buchner, reservist of the 1st field company of Pioneer Battalion No. 12 in Pirna appears by order and states:

On August 21, 1914, my detachment was sent to Dinant during the night for reconnoitering purposes. With us marched the II battalion of Sharpshooters, Regiment No. 108. When we arrived at the city we were fiercely shot upon from the houses. We stormed a number of houses and saw that the shooters were civilians without any military emblems. We then retreated.

On August 23, 1914, the 23rd division advanced to the attack of Dinant. Here too we were shot at by civilians only, of whom a number were killed. At that time I received a shot in the thigh.

I then was taken to the hospital which was established in Sorinnes castle. During the night the castle was attacked and fired upon by the inhabitants of the village of Sorinnes. The inhabitants were driven back, however, without succeeding in entering the castle.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Kurt Büchner.


Witness was sworn.


(Signed) Dr. Illing,

Councillor of the Military Court of Appeal.




Neufchatel, February 20, 1915.

Present: Chief Military Court Councillor Schweinitz.

Military Court Secretary Lips as Clerk of the Military Court.


Witness named below appeared and testified in matters concerning the events in Dinant as follows:

My name is Herbert Max Reinhard Brink, I am twenty-two years of age, a Protestant, lieutenant of the 1st Field Company of Pioneer Battalion No. 12, XII Army Corps.

I was in command of a detachment of the 1st field pioneer company which took part in the reconnaissance in force during the night from August 21 to 22, 1914. At that time we were intensely fired upon from the houses. I did not see the shooters, but they certainly were not [p. 72] soldiers, since many of our injured soldiers were wounded by buck-shot. During the street fight a small old revolver fell upon my head, from which a shot had been fired. An officer, or soldier for that matter, would hardly have had such an obsolete weapon.

On August 23, 1914, I marched with a part of the first pioneer company into Dinant where I met the detachment of Count Kielinansegg. We were intensely fired upon from the houses, also at the bank of the River Meuse—but by no means from the other bank of the Meuse only. The shooters were civilians. I myself have seen several civilians with weapons in their hands. Also a woman shot upon us from the top of the stairs when we entered a house. She was shot immediately from below.

I witnessed that at one place four men and a woman were shot by grenadiers because they carried weapons and came out of the houses from which we were shot. upon. I also was present when a number of guilty inhabitants were shot by order of Count Kielmansegg; previous to the shooting the women and children were separated from them. I saw, that at the moment when the volley was fired one of the men drew a revolver from his pocket and shot upon the soldiers. I was astonished that nobody had taken the weapon away from him. He probably was brought up at the last moment before the execution took place.

Our men, as far as I have seen, did not in any way treat the people cruelly. Quite to the contrary. Thus, f. i., they carried four women, who, on account of recent childbirth, were unable to walk, on mattresses out of the houses from which all the inhabitants had been removed; and took them to a place of safety in the street where our wounded soldiers were lying.

At 7 P, M. I marched with my detachment from Dinant to Les Rivages. When we passed by the last houses of Dinant we again were intensely fired upon from the houses. We had no time to waste on clearing these houses since we had strict orders to evacuate Dinant immediately because of the impending bombardment of the town by artillery.

When we arrived at Les Rivages the bridge building was going on.

We remained here for two days. On August 24, after the bridge was finished we observed several times that our troops which had crossed the bridge and were marching down the river on the western bank of the Meuse were being fired upon from Dinant.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Brink, Lieutenant.

Witness was then sworn.

(Signed) Schweinitz.                                                               (Signed) Lips.


[p. 73]



Neufchâtel, February 16, 1915.

Present: Chief Military Court Councillor Schweinitz.

Military Court Secretary Lips as Clerk of the Military Court.


In matters of investigation concerning the events in Dinant vice-sergeant Bartusch appeared as witness:

After he had been informed about the matter in question and about the meaning of the oath, he testified as follows:

My name is Georg Wilhelm Bartusch; I am thirty-three years old, a Protestant, vice-sergeant, drum major of the 1st battalion of Grenadier Regiment (Body Guards) No. 100.

On August 23 1 was with the staff of the 1st Battalion at Dinant. We rather slid than ran down the steep hills into the city. One of tile inhabitants, the native of Luxemburg mentioned below, told me that they had not believed we would get down safely but that they expected us to be shot on the way. From the beginning we were fired upon from the houses; partly buck shot was used; the fire came from all openings of the houses, from the windows, doors, and loopholes which had been opened between the walls and roofs. Down in the town we looked for a temporary shelter for the battalion staff in a warehouse opposite the prison. From here we attempted to clear the neighborhood of franctireurs. All of those civilians who were found in the houses were taken to the prison. Those people who were caught with weapons in their hands were separated and lined up against a garden wall near the open space. There they were shot under orders of Lieutenant Colonel Count Kielmannsegg by a squad of Grenadiers. I do not know exactly how many were shot; it may have been fifty; it may have been one hundred. They were lined up in three or four rows; to my knowledge they were men only. I did not see that women and children were shot. One man attempted to keep a child in his arm, but he was prevented from doing so by a woman who took the child from him. It should be remembered that all this happened in a general disorder and while the people were still firing at us. I think it possible that a number of women and children whom we pushed back from the men fled behind the wall into the garden and that here they lost their lives either by our bullets, which may have pierced the wall, or by hostile shots coming from the other bank of the Meuse. As a matter of fact everybody outside the houses was in permanent danger of being killed. Right in the beginning when we arrived at Dinant a thirteen year old girl received a shot into the stomach from the other side of the Meuse. She was bandaged by two German stretcher bearers.

[p. 74] In the street two grenadiers brought a man up and said that he had wounded Captain Legler. We tied his hands with a rope and took him along, but he was snatched from us in the ensuing street fight by some civilians. Later on I recognized him among the men lined up to be shot by the marks which the rope left on his hands.

In a house which had already been searched, but which I went over again with a grenadier, I found behind a secret door two men, about twenty years of age, each of whom was holding a revolver in his hand, from which shots had already been fired.

Among the men who had been removed to the prison was a well-dressed man of about seventy years. I noticed that he carried something below his vest. When I reached for it he said, "purse." I opened his vest and drew forth a small revolver from which likewise a shot bad already been fired. As far as I know this old man was not shot with the others. Judging from the continuous firing practically all of the inhabitants of Dinant must have participated in the shooting.

When we busied ourselves about the wounded thirteen year old girl, her father, a Luxemburger, living in Dinant, who spoke broken German, said that in Dinant parents had given their children of ten and twelve years of age revolvers to shoot the "Allemands."

In the prison we found about eight pistols and as many sabres as well as a cigar box full of paper cartridges filled with buck shot.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Bartusch.

Witness then sworn.

(Signed) Schweinitz.                                                               (Signed) Lips.




Woods, S. W. of La-Ville-aux-Bois, February 5, 1915.




Rifleman Körner of the Fusilier Regiment "Prinz Georg" No. 108 was ordered to appear, and unifier oath made the following affidavit:

My name is Hugo Körner, I am 21 years of age, a Lutheran, glass-cutter by trade; and at present rifleman in the 11th company of Fusilier Regiment "Prinz Georg" No. 108.

I was one of twelve men who under command of Lieutenants Gauser and Berger had been ordered to arrest the civilians of Dinant who took up arms against the Germans. From a building under construction we observed that civilians were firing from a house upon us. We surrounded the house, forced our way in and arrested six male civilians. [p. 75] All had arms in their possession but wore no military emblems. Two of them were young then of perhaps 18 years of age, another one was an elderly man with gray hair. I know nothing of any alleged cruelties which German soldiers are said to have inflicted upon the inhabitants.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Körner.

The witness was sworn.

(Signed) Lossow,                                                                    (Signed) Schubert,

Lieutenant and                                                                         Vice-Sergeant-at-arms and

Court officer.                                                                           Military Court Clerk.





La Malmaison, December 9, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Näumann.

Military Court Clerk Schwarzbach.


In matters of the investigation into the violations of international law perpetrated against the German troops, first class private Säring, appeared as witness and after having been impressed with the significance of the oath, testified as follows:

My name is Johann Georg Säring, I am 22 years old, a Lutheran, locksmith by trade, and a first class private in the twelfth company of Infantry Regiment No. 182.

On Sunday, August 23, 1914, at Dinant I observed during the forenoon the arm of a man protruding out of a first story window of the pharmacy. The hand held a revolver, with which we soldiers were shot upon. I distinctly saw the Red Cross band on the arm. I smashed the locked door with an axe, and children, women, an elderly man, and at last the man with the Red Cross band on his arm came out. This man was taken before Colonel Franke, while the other civilians were held in a corner.

We then hurried toward the church in which civilians had been gathered. I am absolutely certain that we were fired upon from the church steeple. This could have been done only by inhabitants, as hostile soldiers were not seen all day.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Johann Georg Säring.


The witness was thereupon sworn.


(Signed) Näumann.                                                                  (Signed) Schwarzbach.



[p. 76]



La Malmaison, December 9, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Näumann.

Military Court Clerk Schwarzbach.

In matters of investigation concerning the violations of international law committed against German troops first class private of reserve; Einax of the 11th company of infantry regiment No. 182 appeared and after being informed of the meaning of the oath testified as follows:

My name is Karl Hermann Einax, twenty-eight years of age, a Protestant, cooper by profession, first class private since November 21, 1914.

On Sunday, August 23, 1914, at 2 P. M., when we marched into Dinant, we were fired upon. It was found that the firing came from the other side of the Meuse. We then entered the houses and searched them. I saw that an elderly looking man with gray, unkempt hair, cams out of a house which our troops had entered, and shot at us. Major Lommatsch who was severely wounded died in the afternoon as the result of his injuries.

When being questioned witness testified:

I also plainly observed that eight rifle barrels stuck out of the attic windows of a house on the main street, from which shots were fired upon us. Also from the tower of the church and from the cellars people were shooting upon us. They all were civilians.

I remember distinctly that from one house from which shots were fired, eight men—among them the priest with the red cross band on his arm—were brought out.

Our Captain, Baron von Gregory, himself had entered the house from which the priest was brought out. The captain is in Freiberg at present.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Karl Hermann Einax.

Witness was then sworn.

(Signed) Näumann.                                                                  (Signed) Schwarzbach.


[p. 77]



December 16, 1914.

Present: Lieutenant Franke as Court Officer.

Sergeant-major Lange as Military Court Clerk.


Sergeant-major (acting officer) Bauer testifies as follows:

My name is Kurt Bauer, twenty-four years of age, a Protestant, now sergeant-major of the reserves, in the 6th company of the infantry regiment No. 178, in private life student of architecture.

When the chief of my company was shot at in Leffe from a factory my detachment received order to clear the factory and the houses lying behind it from the enemy. I advanced with my men and clearly perceived that civilians shot with pistols upon us from the attic windows and from holes in the roofs of the factory and of the houses as well as from behind the shrubbery on the hill. We stormed the houses and set them afire. I also saw that even from the monastery shots were fired upon us although the Red Cross flag was raised above it.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Kurt Bauer.

Witness sworn.

(Signed) Franke.                                                                      (Signed) Lange.




Proviseux, March 2. 1915.

Present: Landwehr Lieutenant Certel as Court Officer.

Vice-sergeant Major Sommerberg as Clerk of the Court.

Grenadier Schlosser appeared and, after having been instructed as to the meaning and sanctity of the oath, deposed as follows:

My name is Franz Otto Schlosser, my age is twenty-two, I am a grenadier of the 10th company of Grenadier Regiment No. 101.

On August 24, 1914, I rowed across the Meuse in a boat near Dinant with Major Graisekvsky and Lieutenant von der Decken and men of the 10th company of Grenadier Regiment No. 101. When about half way across a strong fire was directed at us from various sides. On the other shore the Major ordered us to occupy a ditch where we were fired at from the houses to our left and right. I noticed with my own eyes that in one of the houses several women stood in a window and shot at us. Thereupon the major gave orders to get the tenants out [p. 78] of the buildings and we brought out about twenty people, I think only women and children. They were taken down to the Meuse as prisoners.

Then we put fire to the houses.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Franz Otto Schlosser.

Thereupon witness was sworn.

(Signed) Oertel, Lieutenant                                                     (Signed) Sommerberg,

and Court officer.                                                                    Vice-Sergeant-Major and

Clerk of the Military Court.





Neufchatel, March 2, 1915.


Present: Military Court Councillor Schweinitz.

Military Court Secretary Lips as Clerk of the Court.


In matters of the investigation of the events at Dinant Major Steinhoff appeared as witness and deposed:

My name is Fritz Eugen Steinhoff, my age is 48, I am a Major and Commander of the Pioneers of the XII Army Corps.

On August 23rd, 1914, towards 5 P. M., I arrived at the ferry landing near Les Rivages. No troops had arrived as yet except a pioneer officers' patrol. I went to the shore and thence about 100 meters in the direction of Anseremme. Various soldiers called my attention to the fact that shots were being fired from the bridge and from houses near the bridge. Wounded soldiers lay in the street. I, too, was fired at, and other soldiers cautioned me not to go any further.

I walked back to the ferry landing where I met Colonel Meister, whom I informed of what had happened. He had a detachment clear up the neighborhood and a considerable number of men and women were rounded up. The men were stood up against a wall near the ferry landing; the women and children a little further down stream. The ferrying and the bridge construction now proceeded. When the bridge had advanced to about 40 meters a lively rifle fire commenced, coming from the houses in Les Rivages and the cliffs above, and aimed at the grenadiers waiting on the other side and the pioneers at work on the bridge. I myself heard the whizzing of what I estimated as about one hundred bullets. A great confusion followed. Everybody was looking [p. 79] for cover, and work was interrupted. The grenadiers too, who stood crowded together, were greatly alarmed. I walked back to the Meuse through a garden plot to look after the pioneers. At this moment the hostile fire was renewed and simultaneously I heard a few short volleys in the immediate vicinity.

I then walked back again and saw a heap of corpses where the captured men had stood before. From that time on the franctireur fire ceased entirely, and the bridgework proceeded without interruption.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Steinhoff.

Witness sworn.

(Signed) Schweinitz.                                                               (Signed) Lips.





Orainville, March 17, 1915.

Present: Sergeant Richter as Military Court Clerk.

Reserve Officer Kleberger as Court Officer.


The soldier Steglich being summoned appeared as a witness. The solemnity of the oath was impressed on him, and he deposed as follows:

My name is Willy Steglich, I am twenty-two years of age, a Lutheran, and a workman in the building trade at Muegeln, at present a soldier in the machine gun company of Infantry Regiment No. 103.

I together with Vice-sergeant Bartsch and a few other men, among them some Marburg Chasseurs, fetched and freed from a house in Dinant a number of inhabitants who had been buried under ruins by the explosion of a grenade. They were men, women and children. We took them to a house where, by order of an officer of the Marburg Chasseurs, they were given protection and nursed by two sisters of the Red Cross.

In different houses in Dinant we found great quantities of small-shot ammunition piled up near the windows. Everywhere the bottom panes were broken, evidently for the purpose of placing a rifle in the aperture.

Read and approved.

Witness was sworn.

(Signed) Kleberger, Reserve Officer and Court Officer.


(Signed) Sergeant Richter as Military Court Clerk.



[p. 80]


Woods, southwest of La Ville-aux-Bois, February 5, 1915.


By order of the Rifle (Fusilier) Regiment "Prinz Georg" No. 108, Corporal Lauterbach appears, and, cautioned to tell the truth, deposes as follows:

My name is Paul R. Lauterbach, my age twenty-seven, I am a Lutheran, and a mechanic by trade, at present a corporal of Company 10 of the 108th Riflemen (Fusiliers).

After leaving the fort with the company and reaching the street connecting Sorinnes with Dinant, I plainly saw a woman standing in the window and firing a rifle at the German soldiers. The woman was immediately shot by a German soldier and her upper body dropped on the window sill.

Rifle volleys were fired from a very big building situated on the west shore of the Meuse. A Red Cross flag was flying from the top of the building.

South of the road leading from Dinant to Sorinnes along the Meuse, at a place which I am unable to designate just now, I found the charred body of a German sharpshooter whose feet had been tied together with a wire.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Paul R. Lauterbach.

(Signed) Lossow, Lieutenant                                                   (Signed) Schubert, Clerk

and Court Officer.                                                                   of the Military Court.





La Ville-aux-Bois, near Pontavert, March 6, 1915.

Present: Lieutenant of the Reserve Dachsel as Court Officer.

Corporal of the Reserve Steiger as Clerk of the Court.


By order of the Imperial German Court of the Government-General of Belgium, Corporal Rost of the sanitary corps appears as witness, and, cautioned to tell the truth and duly instructed as to the importance and sanctity of the oath, deposes as follows:

My name is Paul Richard Rost; I am a corporal of the sanitary corps of the 108th Riflemen (Fusiliers), twenty-five years old, a Lutheran.

While rescuing wounded soldiers in Dinant the night of August [p. 81] 21-22nd, all that I observed was that behind the men who shot from the windows, partly in shirt sleeves, the heads of women were also visible.

The next clay I saw among the dead that were arrayed in the castle yard in Sorinnes, the body of first class private Kirchhoff of my company. His skull was crushed in. The wound could only have been caused by a blunt instrument. The skull was almost entirely crushed.

On August 23, while passing an isolated estate near Dinant, not far from the road leading from Sorinnes to Dinant, I found the almost entirely charred body of a German soldier under a burnt heap of straw. To judge from the articles of equipment nearby he must have been a sharpshooter. Some of my comrades told me afterwards that another sharpshooter had been found in a field near Dinant whose face was charred. The estate where I found the sharpshooter had been equipped by us as a dressing station.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Paul Richard Rost.

Witness is duly sworn.

(Signed) Dachsel.                                                                    (Signed) Steiger.




There appears Private Trenkler of Company 12 of Infantry Regiment No. 178 and declares:

My name is Max J. Trenkler, born December 31, 1891, at Markersdorf, a Lutheran. At present I belong to Company 12 of Infantry Regiment No. 178.

I saw that civilians were shooting with small-shot, also that children behind the convent were shooting at our soldiers.

(Signed) Max Trenkler.


(Signed) Ryssel,                                                                      (Signed) Schulz,

Lieutenant and                                                                         Vice-Sergeant Major and

Court Officer.                                                                          Clerk of the Military Court.


Trench Cover of Infantry Regiment No. 178.


March 3, 1915.

Present: Chief Military Court Councillor Schweinitz.

Military Secretary Lips as Military Court Clerk.

At the hearing re the events of Dinant, there appears as witness Private Max Julius Trenkler, and, after the above deposition had been read to him, declares:

[p. 82] Statements as to my person are correct; in civil life I am working in underground constructive work.


My statement is correct.

On August 23, 1914, in the afternoon, we were lying in reserve on the northern slope of the Leffe valley opposite the convent situated in the forest. There we saw how a boy was shooting at us from a grove of fir trees on the opposite slope, behind the convent. The boy was using small-shot, which found its mark near us. We called out to some comrades in the road to go and look for the boy behind the convent. In clue time they caught him. Where they took him I do not know.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Max J. Trenkler.

Witness thereupon was duly sworn.

(Signed) Schweinitz.                                                               (Signed) Lips.




Sinz Barracks, February 25, 1915.

Present: Lieutenant of the Reserves Glaser as Court Officer.

Vice-Sergeant of the Reserves "Referendar" Richter as Clerk of the Court.


Rifleman Kaehler of the 1st company Riflemen (Fusiliers) Regiment No. 108, after having been duly instructed as to the sanctity and meaning of the oath, declares as follows:

My name is Emil Robert Kaehler, my age twenty-two, I am a Lutheran, and a plumber by trade, and since October, 1914, am serving in the 108th Riflemen (Fusiliers). On August 23rd, 1914, I saw a civilian in a street in Dinant, about twenty-seven years old, who wore the badge of the Geneva Red Cross around his left sleeve, shooting with a revolver on a sapper from the doorway of a house, without hitting the sapper. Thereupon I shot the civilian dead. The sapper took the revolver from him.

Kaehler thereupon was duly sworn.


Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Kaehler.


(Signed) Glaser,                                                                      (Signed) Richter,


Court Officer.                                                                          Clerk of the Court.



[p. 83]



La Ville-aux-Bois les Pontavert, February 2, 1915.


Present: Lieutenant of the Reserves and Battalion Adjutant Dachsel as Court Officer.

Corporal Steiger of the Reserves, as Clerk of the Court.


Upon order there appears assistant surgeon A. W. Köckeritz, and, cautioned to speak the truth and instructed as to the meaning and sanctity of the oath, deposes as follows:

My name is Albin Werner Köckeritz, I am assistant surgeon of the Reserves, twenty-eight years old, a Lutheran.

During the skirmish in the night from August 21-22, 1914, I was at Dinant. I did not observe any cruelties on the part of our troops against the inhabitants of the town who fired from their windows with shotguns and buckshot. Neither did I observe any excesses whatsoever against the citizens during the course of the further battles around Dinant which lasted until August 23, when we entered Dinant.

It is not true that the bodies of the slain civilians who took part in the fighting were mutilated in any manner. I did see, however, the charred body of a German cavalry man near Dinant, who probably had been shot from ambush. The body lay on a grate, to which it was fastened with wires. The spot where I found it was near the base hospital of the 2nd and 3rd Battalion of the 108th Riflemen, and of the 1st Field Artillery Regiment No. 12 west of Dinant.

Shots fired from a hospital flying the Red Cross flag were lighting up the other side of the Meuse.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Köckeritz.


Witness sworn.


(Signed) Dachsel.                                                                    (Signed) Steiger.




Present: Military Court Councillor Näumann,

Military Court Cleric Schwarzbach.


La Malmaison, December 8, 1914.

In matters of investigation of offenses committed against German troops contrary to the law of nations, Ostmann, Sanitary Sergeant of the 5th company of Grenadier Regiment No. 101 appeared as witness. The solemnity of the oath was impressed on him, and he gave evidence as follows:

[p. 84] My name is Eduard Ostmann. I am twenty-six years of age, a Protestant, and a merchant employee.

In the evening of August 23, 1914, when darkness set in, my company had reached Les Rivages. We stopped at the entrance of the place in the street. Since no sanitary sergeant was further ahead, I went as far as the place where the Meuse was to be crossed and stayed near it in the middle of the street. There was nobody close to me in the street. Whilst I confronted the houses where civilians were standing, somebody fired from a house to my right. I felt a sharp pain under my right eye and felt the blood trickling down my cheeks.

The surgeon attached to my battalion, Surgeon Captain Dr. Haupt, examined my wound and declared that a grain of shot had grazed me. The shot could only have been meant for me for I was the only man present in a space of two meters around me.

I had put on the badge of the Geneva Cross visibly and according to regulations.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Otto Eduard Ostmann.


Witness was sworn.


(Signed) Näumann.                                                                  (Signed) Schwarzbach.




Present: Military Court Councillor Näumann.

Military Court Clerk Schwarzbach.


La Malmaison, December 5, 1914.

In matters of investigation of the offenses committed against German troops contrary to the law of nations, Müller, private in the transport service of the reserves, 2nd field engineer-company, engineer battalion 12, appeared as witness.

The solemnity of the oath was impressed on him, and he gave evidence as follows:

My name is Erwin Müller. I am twenty-six years of age, a Protestant and a fruit grower.

On August 25, 1914, in the afternoon Sergeant Fehrmann and I noticed the corpses of a number of male civilians and one woman lying outside a house in a cross street at Dinant. We entered the house. In the room to the right lay an officer, lieutenant of Infantry Regiment No. 182, a cushion below his head. His head and part of his chest were covered with a white cloth. Two soldiers lay on one side of him, and [p. 85] one soldier on the other. All three soldiers wore the uniform of regiment No. 182. In the adjoining room a sergeant and five soldiers of the sane regiment lay likewise dead.

I raised the cloth from the dead lieutenant's body and noticed that he had a gun shot wound in his head. I noticed no further wounds on him.

By the side of the lieutenant lay a soldier with his abdomen exposed. He had been shot in the abdomen. Blood was coming from a gash which extended at least 10 centimeters from the larynx, sideways to the left; the edges of the wound stood about one centimeter apart. The blood had trickled down to his side. In my opinion it could only be a wound caused by cutting.

There was a soldier in the other room who also had his abdomen exposed. He had a wound about three centimeters wide in his abdomen. The wound was due either to a cut or to a stab. The clothes of the other soldiers were not disarranged, they had all gunshot wounds.

I had the impression as if the officer, the sergeant and the men had been taken by surprise in their quarters during sleep. I think so because 1 found the officer with a sofa cushion, and the others with a blanket or their knapsack under their heads. Their rifles stood in a corner.

Reserve Engineer Kretzschmann was in the house together with Fehrmann and myself.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Emil Erwin Müller.

Witness was sworn.

(Signed) Naumann.                                                                  (Signed) Schwarzbach.




Summoned by the Regiment "Prince George" No. 108 of the Sharpshooters Fusiliers, Surgeon-Captain of the Reserves, Dr. Holey, appeared and after being admonished to speak the pure truth deposed as follows

My name is Franz Alfred Holey. I was born on September 21, 1878, I am a Lutheran and in private life a medical practicioner, at present Surgeon-Captain and attached to the 3rd battalion of the Sharpshooter Fusiliers, Regiment No. 108.

On August 23, we advanced towards Dinant. That day, just outside Dinant, Major von der Pforte called my attention to the dead body of a German soldier whose hands and feet were fixed, by means of a wire, to poles which had been hammered into the ground. The corpse was completely charred; some combustible liquid had apparently been [p. 86] poured over it. To judge from the marks on the body (Demarkationslinien) the man must have been burned alive. The buttons and other remainders of the uniform prove that it was a German soldier.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Dr. Holey, Surgeon Captain of the Reserves.

Witness was sworn according to regulations.

Further observation: The corpse was found near an estate in the neighborhood of the marble-quarries.

(Signed) Lossow, Lieutenant and Court Officer.


(Signed) Schubert, Vice-Sergeant and Military Court Clerk.




Prouvais, February 24, 1915.


Summoned by Field Artillery Regiment No. 12 there appeared this day Major von Lippe of the Light Munition Column of the 2nd section of the 1st Field Artillery No. 12, to be examined under oath as witness to the events at Dinant. Major von Lippe declared:

My name is Fritz von Lippe, my age forty, I am, a Lutheran, by occupation a farmer; enlisted on August 4, 1914 with the light munition column of the 2nd section of Field Artillery Regiment No. 12.

On August 23, 1914, 1 saw behind the firing line of the 2nd section of the 1st Artillery Regiment No. 12 the bodies of a rifleman and a sharpshooter. One of the bodies had the eyes gouged, the other lay half-charred under a heap of straw with its hands and feet tied.

Major von Lippe then swore to the truth of his statement, after having been impressed with the meaning of the oath.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Fritz Lippe.


(Signed) Haase, First Lieutenant and Court Officer.