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






The Revolt of the Belgian People


at Louvain


from August 25-28, 1914.





[p. 89]



I. The revolt of the city of Louvain against the German troops of occupation and the punitive measures taken against the city have stirred the whole world.

The reason was, first of all, that Louvain is a city noted for its ancient university and its precious monuments and objects of art, the fate of which was of far-reaching interest. The principal reason, however, was the fact that the enemies of the German people, especially the Belgian Government through the press and its foreign diplomatic representatives and through commissioners, sent everywhere, disseminated news throughout the world adapted to prejudice public opinion against the Germans.

The Commission appointed by the Belgian Government to investigate violations of international law and offenses against the laws and customs of war, attempted with all means to put the blame for the disturbances in Louvain on the German troops. In several reports the commissioners accuse the German troops of having, without any cause whatever and in violation of international law, attacked the, presumably, unsuspecting and peaceful citizens of Louvain, many of whom were ill-treated and wounded while a large number was killed; the city was said to have been pillaged, devastated, set afire, and even completely destroyed.

These accusations are false; it has been established, on the contrary, that the German troops were not guilty of objectionable conduct and did not commit acts which were contrary to international law. It is the civilian population of Louvain and vicinity who stand charged with having disregarded the provisions of international law, and with having caused through their thoughtless and criminal actions, damage to the German army as well as to the city of Louvain.

II. According to the investigations which were instituted the happenings in Louvain were as follows:

The first German troops marched into Louvain on August 19, 1914, and were billeted about the town. The relations between the population and the troops whose numbers and composition were subject to constant changes during the following days, were at first quite cordial. Not one excess occurred. The German troops conducted themselves, as even the Belgians admitted—in exemplary manner. But the population too, showed such friendly demeanor, that many of the German soldiers went about unarmed, because they felt quite safe in Louvain.

[p. 90] This peaceful picture suddenly changed on August 25, 1914. On this day Belgian troops sallied forth from Antwerp in the direction of Louvain. The German troops stationed in and about Louvain advanced to meet them; additional troops were sent from Liege over Louvain to the front. Fighting occurred on the road to Malines at Bueken and Herent in the vicinity of Louvain. The engagement ended with a severe defeat of the Belgians who in the evening were forced back toward Antwerp.

The inhabitants of Louvain who, even after the occupation of the city, had maintained secret communication with Antwerp and knew therefore of the impending sortie of their countrymen, had evidently not counted upon this result of the fighting. They had the mistaken idea that the Belgian army, supported by British auxiliary troops, ought to be successful in breaking through the German lines, and they regarded the temporary advance of the Belgian troops as a sufficient success and encouragement to warrant their own participation in the fighting.

Before the battle was decided, toward 7 o'clock in the evening, a German "Landsturm" company marched back from the Northwest exit of Louvain to the East side of the city, to take tip its position in the square in front of the railway station. The city appeared still quiet when they marched through. A few ammunition and transport columns and several small detachments of German troops were in the streets. There were no especially large bodies of German troops in Louvain at this time.

Among the people of the city who watched the "Landsturm" company march through the streets were an unusually large number of young men, evidently of the better classes. They stood in small groups about the streets and gradually withdrew into the houses. Women and children were not visible.

The return of the "Landsturm" company and of other small military detachments evidently led the citizens of Louvain to believe that the Germans had been defeated and were retreating, and that gave the external impetus to the execution of a plan, evidently laid long beforehand, to annihilate the Germans during their retreat through the city. Shortly after the "Landsturm" company had arrived and made camp on the station square, toward 8 o'clock in the evening (German time), sky rockets were sent up in the city. Many of the soldiers observed first a green and then a red rocket appearing in the dark evening sky.

Simultaneously with this signal the inhabitants of Louvain opened a violent fire in various parts of the city upon the German troops on City Hall Square, Station Square and in the intervening section of the city. Rifles, revolvers and pistols were used, and the shooting was done from cellars, windows and chiefly from attics. In some places the [p. 91] firing sounded as if machine guns were also being used. The German soldiers were completely taken by surprise. Many of them were wounded and some killed, before they could rally to defend themselves. Much confusion was caused among the transport and other columns which were lined tip in the streets, because the horses which were either scared through the firing, or hit by bullets or small-shot, tore themselves loose and raced through the streets.

A particularly heavy fire was directed upon the market place, where the first Echelon of the "General-Kommando" was stationed. Several officers and men were wounded and killed. The staff of the "General Kommando" alone lost five officers, two clerks, twenty-five men and ninety-five horses.

The heaviest firing raged in "Station Street" and near the station. The "Landsturm" company, posted there between baggage wagons, was forced to retreat into the station for better cover. Heavy firing was also directed against the troops who had taken position on the "Place du peuple."

The horror of this attack was increased by the darkness which enveloped the city because the street lighting system had been destroyed. The attacked troops attempted to concentrate, assumed the defensive and returned the fire. When the firing ceased momentarily the troops, acting upon orders from their superiors, forced, their way into the houses from which shots had been fired, and commenced a search for the culprits. Some of these were killed during the fray, others were captured with arms in hand, and shot, according to the customs of war, after they had first been convicted of illegitimate participation in the fight. Many effected their escape through rear exits of the houses, and took part at other places in the street fighting which would break out again and again.

While the fighting was in full swing, General von Boehn, the commander of the XI Reserve army corps returned to the city from the field. This was around 10.30 P. M. On his way to the City Hall, several shots were fired at him. To put an end to the street fighting General von Boehn ordered a "Landwehr" brigade to advance into the city and had the Mayor and other citizens of standing seized as hostages. By his orders the hostages were led through the streets, and compelled to call on the citizens to cease hostilities. Although severe punishment was threatened, this request was not heeded. The population continued making attacks upon the troops. In their anger the people even shot at physicians, at members of the sanitary corps, and at sick and wounded who were under the protection of the Red Cross. They had so little regard for the provisions of the Geneva Convention that they fired also from houses which flew the Red Cross flag, and that they even directed their fire on a hospital. In several cases the use of explosives and [p. 92] bombs has been testified to and it has also been proven that boiling tar was poured on the German troops.

In some instances the population resorted even to abominable cruelties against German soldiers who had become defenseless. Private Hoos discovered in the cellar of a house the body of a German soldier whose abdomen had been ripped open with a sharp knife, so that the vitals protruded. Another German soldier was so horribly mutilated by the fiendish populace that he died as a consequence.

In view of these brutal attacks the German troops were compelled to resort to energetic countermeasures. Carrying out their warnings inhabitants who had participated in the attacks were shot and the houses from which shots had been fired were burnt down. The spreading of the fire to other houses could not be checked and thus several rows of houses burned down. In this manner the Cathedral, too, caught fire. A further spread of the conflagration was stopped by our troops who, under direction of their officers, heroically worked to extinguish the flames. It is due to their efforts that only a comparatively small section of the city—the section situated between the station and City Hall Square—suffered from the fire. The magnificent City Hall was saved thanks to our soldiers. The fire from the burning houses illuminated the night and made it possible for our troops to meet the attacks more effectively. Thus, gradually the firing subsided; only a shot here and there was heard during the rest of the night. But the next morning the attack was vigorously renewed, and the disorders continued all day and lasted through the following day, although the hostages were again led through the streets on August 26th and 27th, to counsel the people to keep quiet.

III. Besides the sky-rocket signals, which had been observed at the beginning of the attack, the following facts let it appear that the revolt did not start on the spur of the moment, but was the result of long and careful planning.

(1) Arms in considerable quantities were found, although the Mayor declared that they had been surrendered as early as August 19th.

(2) It was observed that a large number of young men came to Louvain and scattered over the city. It was easy for them to find quarters in the hotels and in the bachelor rooms left vacant by the students

(3) Numerous supplies of cartridges and explosives, which had been hidden by the population, exploded in the burning houses.

The attack, which was conducted with great stubbornness for several days, trust therefore have been premeditated. The long duration of the sedition against the German military authority precludes the idea that it was a planless action of a few excited individuals. The leadership of the treacherous revolt must have been in the hands of higher quarters. Everything points toward the participation of an official organization. Louvain was the headquarters of the Chief of the so-called "Garde- [p. 93] Civique." He had been in the city immediately before the outbreak of the rising and the revolt was started with the despatch to Louvain of untrained young men who wore no distinctive emblems and who, together with the soldiers who had been transformed into civilians, hid themselves in the houses, for the purpose of firing, unseen, upon the apparently retreating German troops at the proper moment. Even the Belgian Government has never dared to assert that regular troops of the Belgian army co-operated. in the venture. Thus we have here the treacherous action of franctireurs who were readily given shelter and places of concealment by the population of Louvain. The misdeeds of the "Garde-Civique" stand revealed to the whole civilized world by the typical case of Louvain. Unfortunately also a number of clerics permitted themselves to abuse their influence over the civilian population and to induce them to shelter the franctireurs; it has been ascertained that a number of clerics even actively participated in the revolt. He who considers that the authentic verifications of the German Government in the case of Louvain are not based on the hurried examination of greatly excited, mostly ignorant persons, by equally excited inquisitors, but have their foundation upon thorough and calm investigations, may draw his own conclusions as to the merit of other similar accusations raised against the German troops by the Belgians.

In the case of Louvain the official Belgian Investigation Commission attempted to explain the inconvenient but irrefutable fact of the shooting in the streets by claiming that it had been caused by German troops firing upon one another. The commission suppressed the fact, however, that the shooting lasted for days and was constantly renewed. With this simple statement the threadbare attempt to explain the start of the street riots, collapses.

While the Belgian Investigation Commission passes in short order over the main question under consideration, that of the violations of international law, it attempts by individual charges to cast aspersions upon the German army. If it has not been possible on the German side to trace any of these cases, it must not be overlooked by those who want to judge impartially, upon what testimony the accusations are based, which in comparison with the main question as to the cause of the street revolts, are of secondary importance. They were made by the same persons on whose testimony the assertions, scattered broadcast over the world by the Commission, were based that Louvain was totally destroyed and that, as we read in the third report of the Commission, only the City Hall and the station building remained intact! The actual extent of the conflagration is shown in the accompanying sketch (Annex D 50)—not even the sixth part of the city, and chiefly only that section situated near the station, was consumed by fire. The truth of one of these calumnies can be actually proved because of [p. 94] its foolish attempt to cast aspersions upon the whole German military administration. According to the fifth report of the Commission "a large portion of the booty (alleged to be the result of pillaging) was transported on military wagons and later sent to Germany." This assertion is a pure invention; the army administration determines what shall be transported on military wagons or railroad cars, and it never issued such an order.

How little value the Commission itself attributes to the stories which were brought before it, and which it unfortunately circulated without verification, is demonstrated in the fifth report which mentions the execution of Bishop Coenraets and Father Schmidt. After dwelling on, what the Commission itself calls the "alleged" execution, the report unhesitatingly adds the story that the involuntary spectators of this (alleged) scene were compelled to show their approval by handclapping. A stronger admission cannot be made that the hurriedly gathered material is published for sensational reasons, no matter whether truth and justice are ignored. In this connection it is of interest to know—what can hardly have remained concealed from the Belgian Commission—that Mr. Coenraets is living safe and sound to this day in the home of Professor Dr. Toels in Jirlen, Holland.

Berlin, April 10, 1915.


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


(Signed) Major Bauer.


(Signed) Dr. Wagner, District Court Councillor.


[p. 95]



Noyon, September 27, 1914.


Present: Dr. Ivers, Military Court Councillor as judge.

Reisener, Military-Court Secretary, as Cleric of the Court.


The commanding General of the IX Army Corps, General of Infantry von Boehn made the following deposition:

My name is Max von Boehn, I am sixty-six years old and a Lutheran.

Witness was informed that the Governor-General, General Field-Marshall Baron von der Goltz, had ordered a judicial investigation in order to ascertain whether any German military persons, and if so which, were culpably responsible for the burning of the city Louvain. He deposed as follows:

While the first echelon of the General Command arrived in Louvain on August 25, the orders which had been received were first briefly discussed and the reports for the Chief Army Commander relative to the time of arrival of the IX Reserve Army Corps were prepared. The disembarkation was not yet completed, when the 18th Reserve Division reported that the enemy was advancing against Bueken to attack on the road from Malines to Louvain. I immediately proceeded with the Chief of the General Staff and several members of the staff in an automobile to the field of operations. The principal participants in the fighting were the 18th Division of reserve and a part of the 17th division of reserve. The losses were only very small.

While the individual bodies of the 18th reserve division were advancing, the Hussars and a part of the Infantry were subjected to heavy firing by the inhabitants at Herent as well as from the houses south of Bueken. The losses were considerable. Persons who were caught in the act of firing were shot, and their houses set afire.

When I was about to return to Louvain with members of the staff after dark, the 27th "Landwehr" Brigade, camping north of the city, warned us not to proceed, as Infantry fire had been heard there. As it was necessary, however, to concentrate the whole general staff in Louvain, I drove in the automobile into the city where we were soon fired upon. I ordered the above mentioned "Landwebr" Brigade to enter the city and went with a part of the Brigade to the City Hall, where the Mayor and others were taken as hostages. They were ordered to proclaim all over town, under escort of a Company of Infantrymen, that the hostages would be shot and that the city would be set afire by artillery, if the firing from the houses were to continue. [p. 96] Now I also learned that the first echelon of the General Command, after its arrival in the city, where it was being held in readiness on the Market Square, had been suddenly attacked with a murderous fire from the houses surrounding the Market Square. Although the officers and men answered the fire, Captain von Harnier, Captain von Esmarch, Captain von Raven, first Lieutenant von Oertzen, Lieutenant Risler and other officers and men were wounded or killed. Almost all the saddle horses were shot, wounded or ran off and could not be captured again. The total loss of the staff of the General Command in dead, wounded and missing was: five officers, two officials, twenty-three men and ninety-five horses with full equipment. Several houses near the Market Square had already been set afire. Shots had also been fired from the hotel, into which the baggage of the staff had already been brought. I decided therefore to take the General Command to the station and remain there. The station had to be held because troop transports were arriving here continuously. The first thing that was done was to put fresh horses to the wagons and to reform the staff. Colonel Stubenrauch, Commander of the munition train, supported by Captain von Kretschmann, the first Adjutant, succeeded during the night, despite considerable difficulties, to completely readjust the staff and to get it ready at the station. A part of the "Landwehr" Brigade and a company of Infantry Regiment No. 163 remained at the station all night for the protection of the subsequent disembarkations. The main baggage train of the Reserve Hussar Regiment No. 6 was fired upon from the houses as it departed from the barracks, and was compelled to return there. When the Hussar regiment was again in the barracks in the evening, shots were fired into the barracks, from all the houses surrounding them. Quiet was established only after all the houses had been set afire and their occupants, wherever they were found with arms in their possession, had been shot. Numerous explosions of cartridge supplies and explosives proved that the attack had been carefully premeditated. It was possible for the regiment to leave the barracks without losses on the following morning but a patrol of the first squadron was attacked by about fifty civilians near Rotselaer, as a result of which two hussars and one horse were killed. Wherever troops showed themselves in the streets they were fired upon. An especially heavy fire was directed toward midnight from the roof tops of the houses surrounding the station, upon the troops camping there and upon the General Command. The proclamation of the Mayor had therefore been without avail. The only thing that could be done under these circumstances was to shoot the civilians, who had been caught sniping out of the houses and part of whom turned out to be disguised soldiers, and to set fire to the buildings. Despite this the troops of the reserve corps, who had also been shot upon from all sides while their train pulled into the station, [p. 97] were forced into several skirmishes during their passage through the town in the forenoon of the following day, and sustained heavy losses.

On the morning of August 26, I with members of the staff went to the field of action. On this trip we were also fired upon. The second echelon of the General Command remained behind, also the third General Staff officer, Captain Albrecht, whom I ordered to disarm the city. For this purpose the second battalion of Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 75 and a company of Infantry Regiment No. 163 were placed at his disposal. It was threatened that, if the attacks of the population were to continue, the city would be set afire by artillery. On Wednesday forenoon the attacks started with renewed vigor. A systematic disarmament became impossible, and the fine of 20,000,000 Francs, which had been imposed on the city, could not be collected. According to Captain Albrecht, the whole garrison had to be concentrated at the railway station in order to hold it under all circumstances for the arriving troops. He was harassed particularly by snipers concealed in the houses situated to the east, and in a factory, which had been equipped for defensive purposes. These buildings had therefore to be razed, for even from behind the bare walls, which remained after the fire, the shooting was renewed. The population which had taken refuge in the cellars, continued the firing from ladders which they had procured. In the tree tops of an alley a great number of armed men of particularly strong and youthful appearances were found. Many among these were recognized as soldiers by their identification marks and by parts of their uniforms which they were wearing under their civilian clothing. Numerous strong explosions caused by cartridge stores and explosives were audible from the burning houses. On the following day, too, the shooting was continually renewed. Captain Albrecht requested the population again through two clergymen to be quiet, but this attempt also was in vain. When the sedition became still more aggravated on August 27 a train of artillery was brought up and several houses were razed. Lieutenant Colonel Schweder, the Commander of the "Landsturm" Battalion Neuss, had been put in charge of this artillery. On August 28 the second battalion of Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 75 was replaced by two battalions of "Landwehr" Regiment No. 53 and a "Landsturm" battery was substituted for the train of artillery. On this day a detachment of pioneers also made a breach into the cloister near Herent, from which our line of communication had been subjected to an especially heavy fire.

Despite all these measures our columns and troops continued to be fired upon until August 28.

After the above testimony Excellency von Boehn gave the following expert opinion relative to the burning of the city of Louvain before military court Councillor Dr. Ivers in charge of the investigation:

[p. 98] The course the fighting took and the severity with which it was kept up, alone indicate the existence of a systematic organization. This is, moreover, conclusively proven by the following facts:

(1) Three hundred rifles were found hidden in a church in Louvain and a large quantity of rifles, revolvers and ammunition were discovered at Herent by the 18th division.

(2) The civilians who were shot as participants in the fighting were largely identified as soldiers.

(3) In the knapsacks of fallen soldiers civilian clothes were frequently found, especially clerical habits. The clergymen themselves led and incited the population. In Bueken for instance, a clergyman gave the signal for firing by stepping out of his church. Although he protested that there were no armed men in the church, five were found. They fired from the roof of the church. These men were all shot.

Vice-Sergeant at Arms Predöhl, of Reserve Hussar Regiment No. 6, reported that he was fired upon by twelve clergymen while he was reconnoitering. After they had been apprehended with the help of members of a field battery column of the III Reserve Corps nearby, they were brought to the III Reserve Corps for the passage of judgment, but the court-martial discharged them, because it could not be established who had done the firing. The men had identification marks, military boots and linen.

(4) During battle uniforms were frequently found lying beside empty knapsacks. But there was no dead body nearby, which indicates that the owner of the uniform must have left in civilian clothes.

(5) Among those who were caught red-handed and immediately shot down, were a number who wore dirty workingman's clothes. But their well kept hands and unusually fine linen proved that the workman's clothes were not their usual garb.

Inhabitants of the town testified that they did not know and had never seen these people in the town. The nucleus of all the franctireur-bands was the Garde-civique, whose leader was evidently the commandant of Louvain whose baggage was confiscated in the Hotel Metropole.

It is plain how easy it is for a troop like the Garde civique, whose members usually wear civilian clothing, to change their uniforms into civilian clothes and vice versa, as the occasion demands. Louvain was evidently the centre of this organization, which was best developed here, because the commander was on the spot.

The sortie out of Antwerp on August 25 was evidently the signal for the commencement.

For these reasons the whole population had to be taken away from the vicinity. As far as possible they were sent to Germany as prisoners.

[p. 99] This step had to be taken because Antwerp was not completely isolated, and it would have been possible for these people to rise again and again, which they would have done with the courage of desperation. Had they been sent to Antwerp the situation would, therefore, not have been materially relieved.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) von Boehn.


Witness was sworn as to the testimony and expert opinion given.




(Signed) Dr. Ivers.                                                                  (Signed) Reisener.





Noyon, September 27, 1914.


Present: Dr. Ivers, Military Court Councillor as judge.

Reisener, Military Court Secretary as Cleric of the Court.


Major von Klewitz, General Staff Officer of the IX Reserve Corps deposed as follows:

My name is Wilhelm von Klewitz, I was born in Magdeburg on February 3, 1872, and I am a Lutheran.

Witness was told that the Governor General Baron von der Goltz had ordered a court inquiry in order to ascertain, whether any German military persons, and if so which, were culpably responsible for the burning of the city of Louvain. He deposed as follows:

When the staff of the General Command arrived at the railroad station in Louvain, Captain Albrecht, who died in the meantime, and who, as advance officer of the General Command had gone ahead, reported that he had established headquarters at the Hotel Metropole, where the army headquarters lead also previously been quartered, and that the city was absolutely quiet. We proceeded to the Hotel Metropole in the city and went from there to our offices. This was toward six o'clock in the evening.

We had just spread out our maps in the office to inform ourselves about the situation, when Vice-Sergeant-Major Fischer came back by auto from the III Reserve Corps and reported that the III Reserve Army Corps had been attacked before Antwerp and requested to be immediately reinforced by the IX Reserve Corps. At that time half of the corps had already alighted and the other half was still aboard the train. The chief of the general staff and myself hastened immediately [p. 100] to the Commanding General. His Excellency drove at once with the members of his staff to the scene of action. All available troops were ordered into action and we succeeded toward nine o'clock that evening to repulse the Belgians. In the meantime the larger part of the officers of the General Command had arrived with their horses which were still being unloaded. It is to be noted that the Commanding General also ordered the troops who had already been quartered in Louvain, to advance to the battlefield.

At nine o'clock P. M. the commanding general, the Chief of the General Staff, and myself returned by automobile to Louvain. The fighting took place near Bueken, seven kilometers north of Louvain. On our return to Louvain, everywhere in the villages between Bueken and Louvain, we met bodies of Landwehr troops who declared that the troops were being fired at in the surrounding villages. We ourselves were witnesses to the fact that in one village all traffic stopped because of the firing out of the houses. All troops warned the Commanding General against going into the city on account of street fighting going on there. But the Commanding General declared that he would not desert his staff alone in the city under fire, and that he was going back to the city. As a consequence we had to get out of the automobile when we arrived in Louvain. The Commanding General, the officers and chauffeurs towards 10 o'clock P. M. walked through the dark streets of the city to the Market Square. Whenever we turned a street corner on our way a flank fire was open on us. Suddenly the Staff Vetinary of the Corps appeared and reported, that the staff of the general command had been attacked, and that the horses had been partly shot, partly run away. He said that the troops had taken up the fight against the houses. Consequently the baggage was safe, and only the horses were gone. We then proceeded to the City Hall where we found a number of hostages, who had been brought in in the meantime. In the presence of the Commanding General, my brother, Lieutenant von Klewitz told the hostages they would be shot if firing in the city did not cease immediately. The hostages thereupon asked permission to make their influence felt in the streets. This was granted and Lieutenant von Klewitz marched with them through the city and admonished the population to be orderly. We then went to the Hotel Metropole. Upon our arrival there we found a civilian lying dead in front of the building. It developed that this man had been sitting in the Hotel Metropole. When the hotel was searched he was found armed in one of the rooms. He had wounded two soldiers, himself been shot at close quarters by the soldiers and thrown out of a window. Not a soul remained in the hotel with the exception of a civilian about whom we know nothing.

After this the Commanding General went afoot through the streets to the railroad station, escorted by a company of Infantry and, in order [p. 101] to personally conduct affairs, established himself there. The autos of the General Command had also been brought there. For the time being quiet prevailed around the station, but toward 11 o'clock P. M. several shots were fired from the surrounding houses upon the troops stationed at the depot. The fire became more violent and the Commanding General ordered to storm one of the houses. It was taken and set afire, because armed resistance was made. No sooner had the house been set afire, when I personally plainly saw the following occurrence:

I was standing with my back toward the station and watched another house. I saw, how a corner window was lit up, a dark figure appeared at the window and a shot was fired into the street. At the same moment when the shot was fired, I noticed how tiles were raised on the roof of the Hotel Maria Theresia, and a violent fire was opened upon the troops standing on the station square from the roof of the hotel. We at once sought cover. I personally had the impression that we were fired upon with machine guns from the Hotel Maria Theresia; the bullets came simply pouring down on us. On the following morning we were able to establish that machine guns had been used against us, because the effect of the machine gun fire were plainly visible in the main entrance door of the station. The machine gun fire lasted from four to five minutes and was promptly answered by our soldiers, who finally stormed the house and set it afire. In the meantime a great number of we ended had been brought in. Definite orders had been given to set tire to all houses out of which shots were being fired. Many Belgian civilians were caught with arms in their hands; they were to be shot upon orders from the Commanding General. Toward two o'clock the firing subsided. Ammunition supplies were continually exploding in the burning houses. The Commanding General sat in a railway carriage from 2-4 o'clock in the morning. At four o'clock in the morning the army corps went out to give battle. We did not use the main streets but drove through an alley. There I plainly witnessed the following scene:

While I was sitting in the automobile several shots were fired from a cellar at the left, twenty meters away. We fired upon the cellar windows, and the firing stopped. The Commanding General left the automobile and with a revolver in his hand went to the open square in front of the bridge. We then proceeded to the field of operations. The infantry followed behind us. The officer marching at the head of the troops was shot dead by a civilian concealed in a tree, at the identical spot on which we had alighted.

As our line of communication was continually kept under fire, orders were given to forcibly clear the city. Two guns and 150 rounds were sent. The guns were stationed at the station and swept the streets with shells. In this manner the district in the neighborhood of the station [p. 102] was made safe, and thus it was possible to take the columns, which had been camping for days before Louvain through the city. If this had not been done the soldiers of the I. army would have been starved. The conduct of the troops in Louvain was exemplary.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) von Klewitz.


Witness was then sworn.




(Signed) Dr. Ivers.                                                                  (Signed) Reisener.





Louvain (Railway Station), September 17, 1914.

Present: Dr. Ivers, Councillor of the Military Field Court, as judge.

Rambeau, Military Court Secretary, as Clerk of the Court.

In the investigation instituted by the Court of the Government General of Brussels in order to establish whether any German military persons, and if so which, are guilty of criminal culpability in connection with the burning of the city of Louvain:

Lieutenant-Colonel Schweder, retired, and at present in command of the Mobile Landsturm Infantry Battalion Neuss appeared and, declared what follows:

My name is Max Karl Schweder. I was born in Posen on April 14, 1856, and am a Protestant.

On Monday, August 24, 1914, the Landsturm Battalion Neuss, corning from Neuss, arrived at Tirlemont, and at once alighted from the train. I motored with my staff to Louvain where I arrived at 6:30 P. M. It was my intention to prepare everything in Louvain for the disposal and accommodation of the Company von Sandt. That company reached Louvain at 8:10 P. M.; it was accommodated in alarm quarters near the railway station. I myself, First-Lieutenant von Sandt, Surgeon-Colonel Dr. Berghausen, and Adjutant Lieutenant Lamberts, stayed opposite in an hotel. The night from August 24 to 25 passed off quietly. On the 25, at 6 P. M., the vast passages of the troops of the 9th Reserve Army Corps through Louvain commenced; the troops were bound from Liege to Malines. On the 25th, only about 100 men of von Sandt's company were at Louvain, the same number being absent as guards and pickets. To my knowledge no other troops but that company were stationed at Louvain on Tuesday, August 25. In the course of that day [p. 103] until 5 P. M. everything was perfectly quiet in the town. At 5 o'clock von Rosenberg, Major of the General Staff of, the 17th Reserve Division, put in appearance and ordered the company to be held ready at the northwestern entrance of Louvain. Together with First-Lieutenant von Sandt I at once led the company there, and placed them in cover of a small hilly elevation. There the company stayed from 5:45 until 7 o'clock without participating in the battle, which, if I remember correctly, had begun as early as 11 A. M. on both sides of the road from Malines to Louvain with Herent and Bueken as centres.

Shortly after seven I ordered First-Lieutenant von Sandt to march back with his company and to hold himself ready for the alarm at the railway station of Louvain. My feeling was that the company was needed there more than outside the town. I myself then walked to the station through the town which was almost stripped of troops. Of the population I saw some individuals and others in small groups stand outside the houses and move about the streets. The houses were dark everywhere. As to the German troops, I saw in the evening only a few baggage columns and small detachments accompanying them.

About 500 paces from the station, near the Rue Leopold, I suddenly perceived the flash of a rocket right above Station Street. At the same moment about fifteen German soldiers who were near me and myself were shot at from all surrounding houses out of windows, roof hatches and cellar apertures. These soldiers were partly by themselves in the street, partly following their baggage. I want to emphasize that before the rocket went up complete calm prevailed in the street and particularly that the soldiers were moving along the road in a perfectly harmless and quiet manner. I also wish expressly to state that neither an officer nor a German soldier fired a single shot at the inhabitants of Louvain before the assault on them which now commenced. I snatched up about ten soldiers with whom I went to the station having part of them walk on one side of the street part on the other. On this march, which was about 500 meters long, my ten men and myself were shot at from most houses in the street so that we were in a constant shower of bullets. During that march I ordered my men to reply to the fire directed against them.

When I reached Station Square, the company of First-Lieutenant von Sandt was already fighting with the populace who were firing from the surrounding houses, from roofs, windows and cellar apertures. At once I lay down in the firing line and took part in the fight with my rifle; First-Lieutenant von Sandt did the same. After about ten minutes there was a lull in the firing during which I sent strong patrols into the nearest houses from which the people had shot in order to get them out. The company I withdrew close to the station. One corporal and five men of the company were wounded, several of them by small-shot.

[p. 104] Excellency von Boehn and some officers arrived in the course of the evening. First-Lieutenant von Sandt and myself reported to him the main occurrences.

In conclusion I remark that all night, with a brief interruption, the inhabitants kept on firing from their houses; shots also came out of the group of houses to the east of the station.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Max Schweder.

Witness was sworn according to regulation.


(Signed) Dr. Ivers.                                                                  (Signed) Rambeau.





Louvain (Railway Station), September 17, 1914.

Present: Dr. Ivers, Military Court Councillor as judge.

Rambeau, Military Court Secretary as Clerk of the Court.


First Lieutenant von Sandt of the Reserves of the 2nd Westphalien Regiment of Hussars, retired, at present Captain in the 2nd Mobile Landsturm Infantry Battalion Neuss, deposed:

My name is Otto von Sandt. I was born on May 11, 1869, at Bonn and am a Catholic.

Witness was informed that the Governor General, General Field Marshal Baron von der Goltz, had ordered a judicial investigation in order to establish whether any German military persons, and if so which, had made themselves criminally liable. Von Sandt thereupon gave the following evidence:

I left Neuss with the 1st company of the 2nd Mobile Landsturm Infantry Battalion Neuss and arrived with that company at Louvain on the 24th of August, 1914. My company was stationed in a body in alarm quarters near the station. The night passed quietly. In the morning of August 25th, I at once began posting 150 men as railway guards. On that day no other troops were stationed at Louvain except a detachment of railway engineers of about sixty men. During the day large bodies of troops of the 9th Reserve Army Corps, passed through Louvain from Liege for Malines. It was about five o'clock when Lieutenant Colonel Schweder gave orders to march my company to the northwestern entrance of Louvain; an hour later my company lay in a [p. 105] covered position on a small elevation. About 1,500 meters away from us fighting of some importance was going on. There was no need for me to take part in it with my company and following the orders given by Colonel-Lieutenant Schweder we marched back in the direction of the Station Square of Louvain. On the road as far as Town Hall Square we passed many German troops and baggage columns. The inhabitants were standing outside the houses either alone or in groups. Everything was quiet on our march to the Station Square; nobody could anticipate that the populace were planning an assault. I and my company reached Station Square about ten minutes to eight o'clock. I was there about five minutes with my company when, all of a sudden and quite unexpectedly, shots were fired on my company from all surrounding houses, from windows and roof apertures. At the same time I heard brisk firing from Station Street and all the adjoining streets. Shots were also fired from the windows of my hotel, the Hotel de l'Industrie and even from my room.

We were standing near the baggage; now we knelt down and opened fire on the opposite houses. Sometime after the horses of the baggage and of the officers bolted, some of them having been wounded by shots. I then sought cover with my company at the entrance of some houses. Five men of my company were wounded at the assault. The reason that so few were wounded was that the shooters aimed too high. By order of Lieutenant-Colonel Schweder I then led my company close up to the station.

About an hour later an Adjutant arrived calling out my name—von Sandt. He asked me: "Can you affirm on oath that the Belgians fired at your company from the houses apposite and those adjacent?" I replied: "Yes, I can swear to that!" Then the Adjutant took me to His Excellency, General von Boehn, who was standing close by. The General asked me for an accurate report. I gave him my report as I have done here before Military Court Councillor Dr. Ivers. After receiving my report His Excellency said to me: "Can you affirm on oath what you have just reported to me; especially that the populace first shot from the houses?" I replied: "Yes, I can affirm that on oath."

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Otto von Sandt.

Witness was then sworn according to regulations.


(Signed) Dr. Ivers.                                                                  (Signed) Rambeau.



[p. 106]



Louvain Railroad Station, 4 P. M., September 17, 1914.

Present: Dr. Ivers, Military Court Councillor as judge.

Rambeau, Military Court Secretary as Clerk of the Court.

First Lieutenant von Sandt testified in addition:

About half an hour before Excellency von Boehn had spoken to me about the firing of the Belgians from their houses on my company, and after His Excellency had ordered these houses near the station put on fire, and while they were ablaze—except the "Maria Theresia" Hotel, which was not set afire because of the close proximity of the army gasoline store-two or three more volleys were fired from the windows of this hotel and particularly from the roof. The shots were directed at our officers and men standing in front of the station. I want to say that apart from my company there were about 150 other soldiers of the 35th Reserves standing in front of the station; they had just alighted from the train. Only now—after we had removed the gasoline barrels to a safe place—did we open fire on the hotel and set it on fire.

After this additional statement had been read to the witness he included it in his testimony made and sworn to in the forenoon of the same day.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Otto von Sandt.


(Signed) Dr. Ivers.                                                                  (Signed) Rambeau.


Malines, November 19, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Stempel.

Military Court Secretary Stemper.


There appears upon summons Captain von Sandt as witness, and, after having been acquainted with the subject of the inquiry, deposes as follows:

(Remarks as to his person as indicated before.)


I can only confirm the absolute truth of my statement of September 17, 1914. I, as well as my commander Schweder, put up at the Hotel de l'Industrie at Louvain. I did not personally see the rocket signals fired near the station, but soldiers of my company, whom I consider trustworthy, repeatedly assured me that rocket signals had gone up near the station and that immediately after shooting commenced from the surrounding houses. There is no doubt that the shots fired from the houses came from civilians. At that time there were no German soldiers at all in the houses. Our soldiers only shot after a lively fire had [p. 107] been opened on them from the houses. Our troops, coming from the battle of Bueken, entered the town of Louvain in close file without being pursued to Louvain by Belgian troops. The latter had been repulsed via Herent to Bueken. There was no reason whatever for our troops to fire before the shooting from the houses had been started. I affirm under oath that it was completely out of question that our troops should have previously shot at each other by mistake. It was reported to me that identification marks had been found later on the bodies of many slain civilians, so that it must be assumed that also Belgian soldiers in civilian clothes took part in the shooting. I did not see any mutilated German soldiers in Louvain, however, soldiers of the marines—I think of the 7th Battalion—which was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel von Berund, related to me in a credible manner that a German soldier whose skull was fractured had been found in the Hotel de Suede. Another German soldier—according to what these men told me—had been found dead in a house in Marie Therese Street with his legs and arms chopped off. This house was thereupon set on fire.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Otto von Sandt.

Witness affirmed the correctness of his testimony, taking it on his former oath.

(Signed) Stempel.                                                                    (Signed) Stemper.





Louvain, September 17, 1914.

(Station Building.)

Present: Dr. Ivers, Military Court Councillor as Judge.

Rambeau, Military Court Secretary as Clerk of the Court.


Infantryman Wilhelm Krebbers of the 1st Company of the second mobilized "Landsturm" Infantry Battalion Neuss deposed as follows:

My name is Wilhelm Krebbers, I was born on October 10, 1873, in Crefeld, and am a Catholic.

I can positively assert, that the German officers and soldiers fired upon the houses only after the inhabitants of all the houses surrounding the station had made a murderous attack upon us Germans from the windows and especially from the roofs of the houses, many shots and heavy volleys being fired.

[p. 108] I was in charge of the baggage. When the shooting was over my baggage wagon and the horses were missing. It was after midnight when I met in the station street two soldiers from another regiment with my wagon and horses. I climbed upon the wagon and drove to the station. When I passed the Hotel "Maria Theresia" several volleys were fired upon my team from the windows and the roof of the hotel. The horses ran away and came only to a halt in front of a wall behind the station.

The testimony was then read to the witness and he was told that it had to be the pure truth as he would have to swear to it. He declared:

I have told the pure truth and can swear to it with a clear conscience.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Wilhelm Krebbers.


Witness was sworn.


(Signed) Ivers.                                                                        (Signed) Rambeau.






Louvain, September 18, 1914.

Present: Dr. Ivers, Military Court Councillor as judge.

Rambeau, Military Court Secretary as Clerk of the Court.


Private Kuppers of the "Landsturm" Battalion Neuss deposed:


My name is Hubert Küppers, I was born on April 11, 1877, in Güchen, District of Grevenbroich, and am a Catholic.

I am a private in the first company of the "Landsturm" Infantry Battalion Neuss.

On August 25 I was doing sentry duty at the main entrance of the railroad station of Louvain from seven to nine o'clock in the evening. At about eight o'clock our company chief arrived with his company at the Station Square. A part of the company took position between our baggage wagons in the square and the others lay down upon the ground a few feet distant. The company had hardly been five minutes at the Station Square, when I saw a green colored sky-rocket appear above the city, in the direction of the Hotel Maria Theresia, at the Station Square. I noticed that the sky-rocket became extinct above the monument in the square, and that a number of small, many colored balls fell from it. They died out in the air before they reached the ground.

[p. 109] The green colored sky-rocket had hardly disappeared when on the opposite side a red colored rocket appeared, headed also for the station. After a few moments the red colored sky-rocket became also extinct, and a number of small blue, red and green balls fell from it, but disappeared before they reached the ground. A few seconds later a murderous fire was opened upon the German soldiers from the windows and attics of almost every house around the Station Square. I feel sure that the two sky-rockets were signals for the Belgians to commence their firing upon the German soldiers. I was relieved at nine o'clock. I immediately reported to Sergeant Grunewald on duty in the guard room that I had observed at eight o'clock a green colored, and shortly afterward a red colored sky-rocket appearing above the city-one from the left, the other from the right, and that a number of illuminated, many colored balls had fallen from them.


Witness, after being admonished to tell the truth, declared:


I can swear with a clear conscience to the occurrence relative to the sky-rocket, as I have described it.


Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Hubert Küppers.


Witness was sworn.


(Signed) Dr. Ivers.                                                                  (Signed) Rambeau.





Malines, November 18, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Stempel.

Military Court Clerk Stemper.

Assistant Surgeon Keuten being summoned appears as witness and declares:

My name is Arnold Keuten. I am twenty-five years of age, Assistant Surgeon of the 2nd Mobile "Landsturm" Battalion Neuss, at present in Malines.

If I remember right I came to Louvain on August 27 in the afternoon. I stayed there until the beginning of October when the Landsturm battalion left. In the course of the afternoon I heard shooting in the Rue de la Station. I then wore the Red Cross band. I had the impression as if they shot at us there from a house although the Red Cross band could be plainly seen on my arm. We walked up to the house. A German soldier from another battalion jumped from the first [p. 110] story of that house and broke his leg. He told me that he had just been pursued and fired at by six civilians in the house. Later on I went to Louvain station where two German soldiers, both being wounded by small-shot were brought to the sick room which I had to superintend. Small shot was found in their abdominal muscles and in the thigh. They said that civilians had fired at them out of houses, while they were standing between the cars at the railway station.

From September 10 to 12, I looked after a hospital room at Wygmael, about five kilometers from Louvain. During those days there had been fighting in the neighborhood particularly near Rotzelar and Wackerzerl. It was reported to me that about three hundred wounded Belgians were still lying on the battlefield. I went there twice to tend them, the first time with a cart and some men who wore the Red Cross badge. When I took the Belgians (who were severely wounded) out of a house, two or three shots were fired at us from some bushes although it was still daylight. Also the second time when I went with two sanitary staff autos and two ambulances marked with the Red Cross and carrying Red Cross flags which could be seen far off, repeated shots were fired from bushes. We merely made the ride to take back the Belgian wounded.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) A. Keuten.


Witness was sworn according to regulations.


(Signed) Stempel.                                                                    (Signed) Stemper.







Quedlinburg, November 22, 1914.

Present: Lieutenant Möllmann as Court Officer.

Sergeant-at-arms of the "Landwehr" Bringern as Clerk of the Military Court.


Musketier August Zander of the Third Reserve Company of the Hanoverian Infantry Regiment No. 165, who is a merchant's clerk in private life, appeared as a witness and deposed as follows:

My name is August Zander, I am twenty-one years old, a Lutheran, born in Schoenebeck on the Elbe and live at present in the Infantry Barracks at Quedlinburg.

[p. 111] On August 21, 1914, 1 was sent to the hospital in Louvain owing to an injury on my foot. The hospital was located in the barracks of the 11th Belgian Infantry Regiment, opposite the military hospital, and was made recognizable as such by a Red Cross flag.

Our meals were regularly served by a number of young Belgians, who attended a school in Louvain, preparatory to becoming clergymen, a few Dominican and Franciscan monks, who wore yellow cossacks, and a few civilians. The attendants wore white sleeve bands, marked with the Red Cross.

On the afternoon of August 25, these persons who had served us our meals, suddenly disappeared. The evening meal was served by civilians. Something must have been the matter with the food, because most of those who partook of it, got violent diarrhoea.

In the evening, when most of us had already retired—it may have been about nine or nine-thirty o'clock—we suddenly heard heavy firing. All those who were able jumped out of bed and looked for guns to defend themselves.

The highest in authority in the hospital was a Sergeant-at-arms of the 27th Regiment, who was lying badly wounded in bed. He tried to calm us by saying that we were under the protection of the Red Cross, and that nobody would harm us. But those of us who had managed to get arms hurried to the entrance of the hospital to defend themselves and us.

I noticed quite distinctly that two or three men were sitting on top of an adjoining house and firing upon our hospital.

We heard heavy firing below at the gateway where the sentries were posted. The sound of the shots from pistols, used by the Belgians, and the rifles, used by our own troops, was clearly distinguishable. In the meantime one or the other of our soldiers came to us with the assurance that we had nothing to fear, as the attack, which the inhabitants had started, had been repulsed. But they also told us that our sentries had fared badly; that boiling tar had been poured over them and that they were suffering excruciating pains.

We finally went to bed again. During the whole night we heard isolated revolver shots fired, which we could plainly distinguish from the rifle shots.

On the following morning between eight and nine o'clock I went into the court yard to wash. Two other soldiers were nearby. Suddenly about ten revolver shots were fired upon us. The bullets, I plainly noticed, struck quite close to me. The shots had evidently been fired from the roof of one of the houses across the street by removing some of the tiles. On our way to the station, on the same morning, our sentries warned us repeatedly to be careful, as shots were still being fired into the streets. It was several hours before the hospital train left [p. 112] the Louvain station. During this time a number of revolver shots were heard from the rear of the train. They were evidently aimed at the hospital train, for soon afterward a fellow soldier was carried from the rear part, where he had just been severely wounded in the leg by shots, to the front part of the train.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) August Zander.

Witness was then sworn.



(Signed) Möllmann.                                                                (Signed) Bringern.







On August 26, 1914, an automobile bearing the Red Cross flag and other emblems painted on it stopped at the City Hall Square in Louvain.

The night fighting in the streets had ceased.

The square was being cleaned of blood, etc. A vehicle with wounded had arrived from Mons.

Captain von Reventlow of Grenadier Regiment No. 12 was among the wounded and was transferred to the automobile of the voluntary hospital corps. It was one o'clock in the afternoon, and the weather was sunny, though there were some rainshowers. At this time rifle fire was opened upon the automobile containing the wounded.

(Signed) Georg von Zitzewitz, Lieutenant Commander and Delegate of the Voluntary Hospital Corps.





Aix-la-Chapelle, November 14, 1914.




Present: Schneider, Captain of the Landwehr, retired, as Military Court Councillor.

Military Court Secretary Klinke, as Clerk of the Military Court.


Mr. Hubert Sittart, member of the Reichstag, living in Aix-la-Chapelle, appeared upon summons and deposed as follows:

[p. 113] On August 31, a number of Louvain women complained to me with tears in their eyes about the sufferings which the bombardment of the city had caused them. They expressly admitted that the people had shot upon our troops from the houses and cellars. One of them, the widow of a physician, uttered the opinion that the perpetrators had been members of the "Garde civique." But when she heard that there were soldiers in Aix-la-Chapelle with buck-shot wounds, she had to admit that civilians also participated in the shooting. She also agreed that I was right when I maintained that also the "Garde civique" and the regular troops would deserve no mercy if they, instead of fighting openly and honestly, fired from ambush, from cellars and roofs.

The Vice-President of the Louvain University, Monseigneur Coenraets, told me that, when taken as a hostage, he was ordered to read a proclamation to the people, telling them that the hostages would be shot and the city bombarded, if the population were to keep up their treacherous attacks on the troops. No sooner had he read this in one of the streets when shots had been actually fired at the German soldiers accompanying him.

Witness then, after instructions as to the meaning of the oath, was sworn in according to law.

(Signed) H. Sittart.


(Signed) Schneider.                                                                 (Signed) Klinke.







Louvain, November 20, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Stempel.

Military Court Secretary Stemper.



In a side street of the Rue de Tirlemont in Louvain, near the jail, the following facts were established:

In that side street, on the left side when coming from the Rue de Tirlemont, is a long wall about four meters high. Opposite that wall, in a continuous row, are houses running up several flights. The wall shows numerous traces of gun shots. To judge from the existing and clearly visible traces those shots have no doubt been fired from the higher stories of the opposite houses. The traces of those shots run obliquely from above downward.

(Signed) Stempel.                                                                    (Signed) Stemper.



[p. 114]



Thiescourt, November 29, 1914. ('Temporary Quarters.)


Present: Lieutenant of the Reserves Stegmüller in Charge of the Hearing.

Non-commissioned Officer Schmidt as Clerk.

Captain Josephson appeared and, after instructions as to the meaning of the oath, deposed as follows:


My name is Walter Josephson, I am forty-six years old, a Lutheran, in command of the 2nd Battalion of Landwehr Infantry Regiment No. 53.

On August 27th, the 3rd battalion of Landwehr Infantry Regiment No. 53, while on the march from Rotzelaer to Louvain, had to take along a transport of about one thousand civilian prisoners. At first the prisoners were guarded by company 9 under my command and by company 12 under command of Captain Ernst, both of the 53rd Landwehr Infantry. When subsequently additional transports of prisoners came they were guarded by members of the 1st battalion of the 53rd Landwehr Infantry. Among the prisoners there was also a number of Belgian priests one of whom aroused my suspicion because, whenever we rested, he went from one prisoner to the other and spoke to them excitedly, so that I had to put him under special guard. At Louvain we delivered the prisoners at the station; another troop, the number of which I have forgotten, watched them over night. The next morning different people, among them Captain Ernst, reported to me that the above mentioned priest had shot at one of the sentries, but failed to hit. him. He was subsequently shot in the square facing the station, presumably by orders of the town corumander. Captain Ernst saw his body still lying there the next day.

Regarding the conditions in Louvain at that time I can add the following:

The 3rd Battalion of "Landwehr" Infantry Regiment No. 53 entered Louvain on August 25th, on the day of the assault, and was there again from August 27th to September 1st. My company was billeted with the principal of a public school, a very calm, sober-minded man with whom I fully discussed the assault. He told me that on the day before the assault he had taken a walk in the suburbs of Louvain and stopped at an inn. The landlord had told him that a troop of about one hundred young men had passed by his house that same day. These men were conversing in many tongues and were marching towards Louvain. They had asked him for drinks and lodging for the night, but the whole thing had looked so uncanny to him that he had refused to have any thing to do with them, and removed his sign from the house. He said [p. 115] to the principal verbally: "If these people come to Louvain, it will stink in Louvain tomorrow," by which he meant to say that blood would flow. The principal further informed me that almost every house in Louvain had a furnished room to rent to students. These rooms had been vacant at that time on account of the vacations, but that friends or acquaintances of the students, or any person claiming to be such, would be admitted to these rooms at any time; he suspected that these rooms had been occupied by the before mentioned young men. At any rate, it was strange that when I rode ahead of my battalion, together with Captain Ernst and the Adjutant of the Battalion, Lieutenant Stegmüller, in order to arrange for quarters in the Rue des Joyeuses Entrées of Louvain, there was a young man in almost every house although the younger Belgian male population had been enlisted; furthermore, it was strange that the inhabitants had shown themselves so very anxious to give quarters only to our officers, and, lastly, that in none of the officers' quarters room was to .be had for their orderlies except in adjoining houses, never in the houses where German officers were billeted.

With my company I had to furnish the guards at the station. Opposite the station there is a block of houses facing a street which is separated from the railway station by a board fence. From this fence shots were fired at the guards every night. I, therefore, had all these houses cleared and placed guards around the entire block. The same evening, when it got dark, I personally saw how a troop of fifty or sixty civilians emerged from the woods about six hundred or eight hundred meters away, but withdrew when they noticed the sentinels placed everywhere. From this time on there was no more shooting at the sentinels.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Josephson, Captain and Battalion Chief.


Witness duly sworn.


(Signed) Stegmüller.                                                               (Signed) Schmidt.







Reserve Hospital at Cleve, October 9, 1914.

Present: Councillor of Justice Fritzen as judge.

Assistant Frings as Clerk of the Court.


The below mentioned witness appears, and, upon being made acquainted with the subject of the investigation deposes as follows:

[p. 116] My name is Adam Hoos, I am thirty-two years old, a Catholic, private of Company 2 of Landwehr Regiment No. 55 of Wesel, at present I am in the reserve hospital of Cleve.

On August 25 we entered Louvain and took part in the street fighting. In the morning of August 26, when we searched the houses for wounded, we found in a cellar a soldier of our regiment, whose name I do not know. His abdomen was cut open, and the vitals were hanging out. We did not ascertain whether the dead man was otherwise wounded. To my mind the cut can only have been made with a sharp knife.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Adam Hoos.

Witness was sworn.

(Signed) Fritzen.                                                                     (Signed) Frings.




Bremen, January 10, 1915.

Present: Lieutenant of the Reserves Ahrens as Court Officer.

Non-commissioned Officer of the "Landwehr" Heinhorst as Clerk of the Military Court.


The following persons appeared at the investigation re the events at Louvain and testified after instructions as to the meaning of the oath

(1) Deputy-Officer Walter Kruse of Company 3 of the Substitute battalion of Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 75.

On August 25, 1914, towards 9 P. M., the 3rd Battalion of Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 75 arrived at the station of Louvain. Suddenly when about three hundred yards away from the station shots were fired at our train from both sides of the embankment. I heard the rattling of the shots against the cars. The train stopped. Orders were given to alight. I immediately let my men deploy on the tracks and reply to the fire. We were about three or four minutes in the fire when I received a load of buck-shot in the thigh. I had my wound dressed and did not witness the subsequent events directly. After ten minutes the shooting suddenly stopped whereupon the companies were gathered together. In the darkness one could only see the flash of the rifles. Most of the shots came from above so that one had to assume that they were fired from windows, roofs and trees. I did not see any particular person who fired the shots. About one and a half hours later I again heard heavy firing from the station where I lay wounded.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Walter Kruse. Witness was duly sworn.

[p. 117]

(2) Sergeant-Major Ludwig Hilmer of Company 3 of the Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 215, at present at Bremen:

When the train carrying the 3rd Battalion of the 75th Infantry Reserves arrived at the station of Louvain at about 9 P. M., on August 25, 1914, we were suddenly attacked by rifle fire on both sides of the train, while still three hundred to four hundred yards distant from the station building. The windows in my compartment were immediately shattered. We alighted and replied to the fire. Our opponents were not to be seen as it was already completely dark. We only saw the flash of the rifles and assumed that the shots were fired from the houses on either side of the railway. Five men of my company were wounded in this fight, partly by buckshot as I ascertained myself. About ten minutes later the firing ceased, but immediately was taken up again. Not before we had the lights turned off on the tracks did the fire cease. The companies now gathered at the station, took off their baggage and received orders to set on fire all the buildings from which shots were fired after having searched them. Strict orders were given at the same time not to do the least harm to women and children. In groups my company entered the houses in the district assigned to it. Captain Brinckmann and I entered an inn opposite the station where we found a waiter behind the counter and a rifle and ammunition standing beside him. Some of our men immediately took him to the officer in charge of the station while we continued our search. Various civilians were arrested and taken along by my men, and after being tried by the commander, they were shot, on the square facing the station. Acting on orders, I personally took part in the burning of several houses after first making sure that nobody was left inside. Towards 12 P. M., this work was done and the company returned to the station in front of which the bodies of about fifteen civilians were lying. Two priests were also standing there who were to serve as hostages. I heard one patrol reporting that citizens had been caught in a church with rifles and ammunition in their possession. There was no thought of sleep this night as the town resounded from the bursting of bombs and munitions that were stored in the burning houses. One imagined to be under heavy artillery fire. In the morning of the 26th of August, the company was again alarmed as baggage columns had been fired at in the town. We marched into a street about five minutes away from the station and were fired at from the houses, apparently with shot guns. We forced our way into the houses and arrested several civilians who had made themselves suspicious. The houses from which the shots came were set on fire. Towards noon the company returned to the depot. At about 3 P. M. I was standing with a Vice-sergeant major in front of the monument facing the station when we were suddenly fired on. Immediately after, five riderless horses came galloping towards us from the [p. 118] streets where the shots had come from. We found out later that they were horses of the field-gendarmes whose riders had been shot down in the town. Orders were now given to inform the whole own, while ringing bells and beating drums, that every company that entered the town would have a number of hostages led before them. These were to be shot the minute new shots would be fired from the houses. Among the hostages held at the station were several priests and government officials. Despite this measure civilians again fired at us the same evening and the following night. The morning of August 27 was uneventful for my company as we badly needed sleep. Only in the afternoon we were put to action again. As it was impossible to establish order in the town by means of hostages, orders were given that all male inhabitants between the ages of seventeen and fifty were to be arrested. Assisted by a squad of eighty men I executed this order after a lieutenant had read out the command in public everywhere in town. The men had to be dragged out from every house. After three hours' work I had rounded up about 200 or 300 men whom I brought to the station. Every man on whom arms or ammunition were found was shot; there were fifteen or twenty of these again. The rest were informed that as soon as shots were fired again they would all be placed before machine guns. This helped, for the next night passed in absolute quiet. However, the men had hardly been discharged the next morning when the shooting stated anew. Taking hostages along with us, my company again entered the town and was fired upon at once, and again we had to set fire to a number of houses. On this occasion I saw with my own eyes how a civilian shot from a high window at Captain Brinckmann. I heard the bullet strike the pavement. The Major immediately ordered the house set on fire. From here we advanced on a convent situated high up on a hill. It was said that shots had been also fired from that place; however, neither suspects nor arms nor ammunition were found by us. Immediately afterwards we heard cries for help coming from the road which passes the convent at the foot of the hill. We hurried back and had to aid a transport column which had been fired at. Again we set fire to a number of houses, and orders were given for all inhabitants to leave Louvain, as artillery was to be employed. This was done between two and four P. M., while our battalion was still at the station. I myself observed that the artillery projectiles exploded only in those parts of the town where the attacks had occurred.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Hilmer.


Hilmer was sworn.


[p. 119]

(3) Private Heinrich Westerkamp of the Company of Wounded of the Substitute Battalion of Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 75.

At noon on August 25 I arrived at Louvain with the second battalion of the 75th Infantry Reserves. While we were receiving our dinner from the field kitchens in that part of the town, which is situated towards the suburbs of Herent, we were surprised to see so many strong men crowding the streets and putting their heads together. At Herent I was assigned to the baggage train on account of sore feet, while the battalion marched on. I was just drawing water from a well when all of a sudden the baggage transport was fired at from all sides. The wagons had already been turned about, and as the horses could not be held we returned to Louvain at top speed. However, things being unsafe there—as we were told by stragglers—we intended to drive past the station into the next village to spend the night there. But we got hardly fifty meters past the station when we had to stop as we had lost a wheel from one of the wagons. Hardly had they been stopped in the pitch dark street when we received a violent fire from the houses on either side of the tracks and from the brushwood on the railway embankment. The man sitting beside me on the wagon at once got a shot in one of his feet. We alighted and tried to get into cover. At that moment a civilian came running towards me from a house, holding a revolver in his raised hand. I shot him dead. Immediately after a hand grenade exploded about 7 or 8 meters from me, killing a horse. Now the three of us looked for cover in the niche of a house from where we succeeded in reaching a shed. At this time—about 9 P. M.—the 3rd battalion arrived which we joined. During the night the shooting never ceased and the houses around the station were ablaze. Even a machine gun was being fired from the roof of the Hotel du Nord, as one could tell exactly by the regularity of the shots. The next morning I ascertained that five horses of the baggage train had been killed. I stayed in front of the station until noon, August 26, and saw here how about forty persons were tried by an officer and how about twenty of them were shot. Two priests were, also taken before the officer, one of whom declared that he was a German and denied having shot. However, as I heard later, a Browning pistol was found on him. I also saw how a man of the 162 or 163 Regiment was carried past me on a tent cover. He was moaning terribly, and I was told that he had been attacked by several civilians while on patrol duty, and that he had been emasculated.

Later I heard that the man had died from the mutilation suffered. A Belgian, who addressed me in German, declared that the whole disaster would have been avoided if the clergy had not blessed from the pulpit those who would shoot at German troops. That noon we followed the troops with the baggage transport, after new horses had been supplied to us. Of the village of Herent we found only a heap of ruins remaining. [p. 120] About three days later I met Lieutenant Foerster (now with Company 4 of the 75th Infantry Reserves). He told me that other German soldiers had been mutilated in a bestial manner. {NOTE: The details are so revolting as to be unfit to be laid before the general public.}

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Westerkamp

Witness was duly sworn.

(Signed) Ahrens, Lieutenant and Military Court Officer.

(Signed) Heinhorst, non-commissioned officer and Clerk of the Military Court.








Altona, March 1, 1915.


Present: Military Court Councillor, Dr. Steengrafe,

Military Court Secretary, Koch.

The merchant Gruner appeared as witness and gave the following testimony under oath:


My name is Richard Gruner, I am twenty-three years old, a Protestant, and a merchant of Hamburg.


After the mobilization I placed myself as volunteer at the disposal of the military authorities and went to the front as chauffeur attached to the staff of the IX Army Corps of reserve. On the evening of August 25, 1914, we arrived in Louvain. An impending sortie out of Antwerp had been reported, and the German troops had been ordered out of Louvain and were, as I suppose, employed against this attack. The baggage inclusive of the automobiles, was left on the square near the Hotel Metropole. Captain von Esmarch ordered me to drive after the departing troops to bring .back a company of soldiers for the protection of the staff. They took position upon the square. At nine o'clock in the evening I noticed a green sky-rocket ascending above the city. At the same moment shots were fired upon us from the houses surrounding the square. I distinctly heard the regular tack, tack of machine guns. Several of our number were seriously wounded. The German soldiers answered the fire and succeeded in checking it. The houses out of which the firing came were burned down. I gained the impression that this was a carefully planned proceeding. Until then the inhabitants had treated us with courtesy and consideration.


[p. 121] After the attack in the center of the town had been disposed of, the troops were ordered from there to the railroad station. Up to this time I had not observed any participation of Belgian clergymen. On my way to the station I noticed a man in clerical habit with unmistakable clerical physiognomy and wide brimmed hat with two tassels, pointing out the way to bodies of our troops. I myself followed a number of cars which preceded me along another street. I learned later, that the soldiers who followed the directions of the clergyman, came to a blind alley where they were exposed to a crossfire from the houses.


When I arrived at the station, I learned, that here, too, the civilian population had made an attack upon the German soldiers from the surrounding houses, but that it had been repulsed. As in other parts of the town, a number of houses around the station were in flames. All citizens who had been arrested were taken to the station Square, put through an examination and shot according to martial law, whenever their guilt was established. I, myself acted as interpreter during some of the examinations, which lasted throughout the night until the following morning. There may have been from eighty to one hundred persons who were shot according to martial law, among them perhaps ten to fifteen clergymen, not including one man who was unmistakably disguised as a clergyman, because he wore civilian clothing under his clerical habit. I am in a position to state emphatically that among these clerics was the same clergyman of whom I spoke before. He was recognized by soldiers as the man who directed them into the blind alley; he, too, was shot. I also acted as interpreter during the examination of two other clergymen. One carried a revolver still loaded with four cartridges, while one had been fired; he, too, was shot. I must state here that it had been previously announced, that all inhabitants in whose possession firearms were found, would be shot. I cannot recollect to-day what else was brought to light during the examination of this clergyman. But I know that nobody was executed whose participation in the attacks against the German troops had not been clearly established by two witnesses, or who was not found with a weapon in his possession. Those who were brought before the court martial must have given cause for some suspicion, otherwise they would not have been arrested.


During the night as well as during the day attacks were made here and there upon the German troops near the station.


[p. 122] In the course of the examination many of the Belgians asserted that their actions against the Germans had been represented to them by persons "higher-up," also by the clergy as a matter of creed. As we carried the wounded from the hospital in our automobiles at night, shots were fired upon us also from a monastery.


Read, approved and signed.


(Signed) Gruner.


The witness was sworn accordance to law.


Attested (Signed) Steengrafe, Military Court Councillor.


(Signed) Koch.






Berlin, March 19, 1915.


Present: Military Court Councillor Dr. Grasshoff, as judge.

Secretary Pahl as Clerk of the Military Court.

Richard Gruner, merchant from Hamburg-Grossborstel, Holunder Weg 12, being summoned appears. The solemnity of the oath was pointed out to him, and he declared:


My name is Richard Gruner, I am twenty-three years of age, and a Protestant.


First of all I confirm every statement which I made at the court examination at Altona on March 1, 1915. That statement which has just been read out to me is in every point in conformity with the full truth. I supplement it as follows:


The examination of the franctireurs taken to the railway station at Louvain by the German troops in the night from August 25th to 26th was conducted by Captain Albrecht who at that time was intelligence officer of the Staff of the 9th Reserve Army Corps and later fell at Noyon end of October, 1914. In times of peace Captain Albrecht was attached to the Great General Staff. He asked me to serve as an interpreter during part of the examinations. Whilst the soldiers led forth the civilians whom they had arrested, firing continued in the town. One hundred to two hundred persons were handed over to me to be searched and examined. Captain Albrecht walked up and down the station square passing from one group of franctireurs, who were to be examined, to another. He asked for the result of the examination and then gave his orders for the further treatment of the accused. Altogether about six hundred persons may have been brought in. At least five hundred of them were saved from being shot, because clear proof [p. 123] of their guilt had not been attained at the examination. These persons were taken aside; subsequently the men were sent to Germany while women and children were left the option to go to Antwerp.


It is untrue that in ordering them to be shot an arbitrary choice was made amongst the persons who had been brought up. The examinations were carried out with the strictest impartiality. I searched the persons that had been brought up myself, whether they had arms, which I found in many cases. I had furthermore been instructed to give attention as to whether the accused were disguised Belgian soldiers, which could be ascertained by the identification mark (death mark). I found that military mark in the pockets or purses of many persons that had been brought before me. Captain Albrecht—I presume at higher orders—proceeded in the following manner. He ordered those to be shot who had been caught with arms or the mark of identification or in whose cases at least two eye-witnesses established that the accused had shot at the German troops. In my firm conviction it is altogether out of the question that any innocent man lost his life. Captain Albrecht, in particular, did all he could under the circumstances to admonish the soldiers to speak the truth. When no arms or marks had been found, he asked the witnesses a second time himself whether they were quite sure in their statements, and pointed out to them that life or death of a person depended on their statements. Only when after that admonition the soldiers firmly insisted on their evidence, were orders given for the accused to be shot.


Amongst the persons brought forward were several clergymen; altogether ten or fifteen of them have been shot. I myself established that one priest carried a loaded revolver from which a cartridge had been fired. The empty shell was still in the chamber of the revolver. Ink the case of another priest I am perfectly sure that he was the very man who had intentionally lured our soldiers, according to their own evidence, into the franctireur fire. There is no doubt that those two men were genuine clergymen. But a third man wore civilian dress under his clerical garb and I found a military mark on him.


All the time the examination was going on I stayed at the railway square. So I can confirm from my own knowledge that there was no mock-execution of clergymen and that none of the involuntary observers of those scenes were compelled to express any approval.


Amongst those who were brought up were many civilians who, when they noticed that I spoke French, called out to me that they were innocent, and that the priests alone were responsible for what had occurred. They expressly pointed to those priests who had been rounded up with them. Amongst the accused was a Belgian civilian who in order to prove his pro-German feelings showed forth a document which stated that the King of Prussia had conferred on him the Order of the Red Eagle. I took the opportunity to reprove him that he who was [p. 124] evidently an educated man and the other men of his class had not restrained the population from the assault. His answer was: "We can do nothing against the clergy who have the people in their hands." The man not being convicted was placed among the prisoners.


I remained at Louvain until August 26th, 1914, 4 P. M. During that day, I constantly saw and heard, every now and again, the firing which proceeded from the houses; comrades of mine were wounded in my immediate neighborhood, as f. i. volunteer Wuppermann. During the forenoon of August 26th I conversed with two of the many women who were held prisoners at the station square. They belonged evidently to the better classes. One of them—an American woman from St. Louis—addressed me in English and begged me to liberate her and a woman friend, declaring that they were innocent. She declared that the clergymen had caused the whole trouble. She then fetched the other woman—a Belgian lady—with whom I talked in French. She, too, told me that the firing out of the houses was due to the attitude of the clergymen, and narrated the following story:

In the evening Belgian soldiers in civilian clothes had entered the houses and forced the inhabitants under threats to take them in, and to allow them to shoot out of the windows; previous to this, the clergymen had made the rounds of the houses and told the, inhabitants than it was their duty to take the Belgian soldiers into their homes and td assist them, because the German troops were waging war against the faith of the Belgians.

An especially strong fire was maintained upon the German troops during the critical days out of a monastery, situated outside of Louvain, on the road of Bueken. I heard soldiers say so repeatedly, and had to adopt especial precautions myself as I passed the monastery in my automobile on my way to Bueken in the afternoon of August 26, 1914. We had to take several civilians along, who were seated on the sideboard and on the radiator of the automobile, in order to be safe against shots being fired from the monastery.

I want to emphasize that we were even fired upon out of the houses while we were conducting the examinations on station square. I remember especially that when ten to twelve young men wearing a sporting cap-which was the frequent characteristic of disguised Belgian soldiers -were led up to the station, and when I had just started on my way to examine them, I was fired upon out of a house opposite, and that the prisoners ran away and we Germans shot after them.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Richard Gruner. Witness was then sworn.


(Signed) Dr. Grasshoff.                                                           (Signed) Pahl.



[p. 125]





Altona, March 1, 1915.

Present: Military Court Councillor Dr. Steengrafe.

Sergeant Meyer as Clerk of the Court.

Robert Weiss, a mechanic, appeared as witness, and after instructions as to the meaning of the oath declared as follows:

My name is Robert Weiss; I am a mechanic by trade. I am twenty-one years old, of Christian religion. At present chauffeur.

When the army was mobilized I volunteered and was assigned as chauffeur with the staff of the 9th Reserve Army Corps.

In the afternoon of August 25th we arrived at Louvain. The population at first was more than friendly towards us.

Towards evening I had driven a wounded soldier to the hospital situated near the market square. This hospital had been established in a convent. Towards 9 P. M. I drove the car—in which Captain von Harnier was a passenger—from the convent back to the market square, when all of a sudden shots came from all sides of the houses. I stopped my car and remained unhurt; Captain von Harnier received a shot through the arm; he hurried to the market square and I looked for cover under the car.

I may thus have lain for half an hour when a detachment of German infantry came along the street. I called out to the officer in charge, and he ordered his men to fire at the surrounding houses from which the firing continued. Then I drove my car into shelter at the convent yard.

A little while later when I was about to drive away again. Captain von Esmarch was carried in, covered with blood. While they carried him into the hospital, shots were fired on him from the convent. Accompanied by an infantry man I walked into the convent; we found a revolver there, but could not enter the narrow passages of the convent into which the men had evidently retired as we were afraid to be cut off.

The Belgian hospital staff refused to dress Captain von Esmarch's wounds. I finally took a Belgian physician by the arm and compelled him to dress the wounds.

Then I drove my car to the market square where I picked up the gentlemen of the General Command. While we drove to the railroad station I saw burning houses everywhere. Solitary shots still rang out from some of the houses.

No buildings were on fire around the station, and strict orders had been issued not to set any houses on fire there. About thirty minutes [p. 126] later shooting commenced from the hotels opposite the station. From there they were also using machine guns against the station as I could plainly distinguish by the regular "tac-tac."

Only then orders were given to bring down the houses facing the depot; they were set on fire; but the shooting was kept up even from the burning buildings and finally from their blank walls. We had losses.

Later only a few solitary shots were heard.

Those citizens who had participated in the assault were brought to the station where they were examined, and, if proven guilty, shot.

The soldiers who rounded up the citizens, were, as I heard myself, cautioned to be careful and conscientious. in the statements they made. The examinations were conducted by officers of the General Command. Anyone carrying a loaded weapon, in spite of the proclamation issued, was shot forthwith.

There were several dead men lying in the streets wearing clerical garbs; at the station, too, several men in clerical garbs were executed; they all were duly examined, but I was not present during the hearing.

Also on the following day shots were fired at us now and then from various houses.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Meyer.

Witness duly sworn.


(Signed) Dr. Steengrafe, Military Court Councillor.


(Signed) Weiss.






Altona, December 28, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Dr. Steengrafe.

Military Court Clerk Kahl.

Upon summons there appears Captain Hermansen of the second "Landwehr" and, after being instructed as to the meaning and sanctity of the oath, declares as follows:

My name is Richard Hermansen, I am twenty-seven years of age, a Lutheran, district attorney in Duesseldorf, at present a member of the substitute battalion of Infantry Regiment No. 76 of Hamburg.


On August 25 towards nine P. M. I arrived at Louvain after fifty-five hours railroad travel.


[p. 127] At the moment of alighting from the train a violent rifle fire was directed at the station and the surrounding houses from the buildings nearby. I also heard a regular noise which I took for machine-gun fire.

We took part in the searching and burning down of the houses from which the shooting had come.

Some of the houses showed regular loop-holes, including such houses on which I saw white flags displayed on the following day.

On September 1st I met a priest at Lombeek, St. Catherine near Ternath, west of Brussels, whom I commended for the quiet behavior of the inhabitants of Lombeek towards our company.

He said: "Yes, I have been preaching this for weeks from the pulpit and my parishioners listen to me; I have told them that if they wished to fight they should go to Antwerp, don a uniform and ask for a rifle; that the foe, too, was only doing his duty; that his soldiers were children of the same Heavenly Father."

I replied that if all of his brother clergymen had acted in the same way, the Belgians would have been spared much hardship. He did not protest; we conversed for a little while longer and when we parted he blessed me.

Read, approved, signed.


(Signed) Hermansen.

Witness duly sworn. (Signed) Steengrafe, Military Court Councillor.

(Signed) Kahl, Clerk of the Military Court.




Flensburg, January 8, 1915.

Present: Military Court Councillor Felgner.

Vice-Sergeant Major Becker as Military Court Clerk.


Captain von Vethacke appeared and, after being instructed as to the meaning of the oath, deposed as follows:

My name is Moritz von Vethacke, I am thirty-seven years old, a Lutheran, Captain of the substitute Battalion of the Reserve Infantry Regiment No. 86.

I confirm Captain Hermansen's statement of December 28, 1914, which I just read, and add the following remarks:

I am positive that among the corpses that lay on the square facing the depot there were several which were dressed in clerical garb. The investigations on the station square of Louvain were very carefully conducted. Every company had a section assigned to it which they had to [p. 128] clear of snipers. Anybody met with a rifle in hand was shot forthwith; others, however, in whose case there was no direct evidence that they had participated in the assaults were taken to the station where their fate was decided. The witnesses were immediately taken along to testify in the station. Those who were found guilty were shot in the station square. Any priests that were shot must have been found guilty by the court. I also met the priest mentioned in Major Hermansen's testimony; he made an excellent impression upon me; he did not contradict me either when I expressed my opinion to him that the clergy had incited the public and taken part in the assaults. From our conversation I gained the impression that this priest did not approve of the proceedings of his colleagues.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) von Vethacke.

Witness was duly sworn.

(Signed) Felgner.                                                                    (Signed) Becker.






Peronne, December 29, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Elkle.

Military Court Secretary Casser.


Otto Rudolph, paymaster of the Railway Reserve Corps No. 11, at present in Peronne, appeared and, after being instructed in the meaning of the oath, testified as follows:

My name is Otto Rudolph, I am thirty-four years of age, a Lutheran, by occupation police-officer in Worms. The Railway Reserve Corps No. 11, to which I have been assigned as paymaster, entered Louvain on August 24th. My commander instructed me to prepare quarters for the officers and stable the horses of the company in the neighborhood of the station. First I addressed myself to the owners of the hotel in the square facing the railway station, especially the owner of the Hotel "Maria Theresia." Everywhere I was met in the most accommodating spirit. However, as all the rooms had already been engaged .by officers of other troops I was unable to get the required rooms. I therefore endeavored to obtain quarters in the main street leading from the town hall directly to the station. I cannot just now recollect the name of that street. Here I obtained the required rooms, the landlords being extremely [p. 129] obliging. In No. 105 of this street I found quarters for three officers. In a house across the street, where a bank clerk lived, I was treated very courteously, too.

On this day, however, the quarters were not yet occupied because the company was all night busy at the depot constructing landing platforms.

The next day I requisitioned vegetables, straw, etc., in Linden and Kessel-Loo, a suburb of Louvain. The various farmers always complied with my requests in the most friendly manner. In the evening I returned from my forage. On the way, at the suburb Kessel-Loo, male civilians who had flocked together in a conspicuous manner intimated to me that the British had succeeded in an attempt to break through near Louvain. When I asked who had brought this news I was told that priests had reported it. I actually do recollect having seen three priests in Linden at the eastern end of the village towards seven P. M. They went through the streets one by one and made some communication to the people here and there. As I heard the thunder of guns not very far away I hurried to get back to the station in Louvain. I got there towards eight P. M. At about 9 P. M. I suddenly saw a rocket rise near the square facing the station. At the same moment I heard violent rifle firing. In order to find out about the shooting and get a better view I went to one of the "G" cars of the company train which was standing about 30 meters away from the depot square. From the open hatch of the "G" car I had an unbroken view across to the station square and the street connecting Louvain with Kessel-Loo. I plainly saw shots being fired at the train from the roof of the third house in the street opposite the station. Further I noticed shots being fired at the square from a window of the third floor of a hotel. Shots were also fired at the square in front of the station from a window of the Hotel Maria Theresia. The square and neighboring streets were crowded with our troops at the time of the shooting. The shots could only be meant for our troops. Our side replied to the fire. I myself aimed my rifle at a window on the third floor of the fifth house in the street running parallel with the train, from which a civilian, whom I could plainly see, had fired shots.

After we had been given the signal to cease firing I went to the square in front of the station; this may have been around 10.30 P. M. A general who was present there had instructed the field-gendarmes to search the various houses, from which shots had been fired, for arms and ammunition. Following my report of what I had seen, a search was likewise made of the third and fifth house of the street running parallel with the train. In both houses suspicious looking persons were discovered with rifles and ammunition to match. One of these persons, who was searched at the station, had cartridges in his pockets that fitted the rifles found.


[p. 130] Towards midnight a number of civilians were shot in the station square, among them six or seven priests. Suddenly a window opened on the second floor of the Maria Theresia Hotel, where on the previous day, while looking for quarters for the officers, I was accorded such courteous treatment. There I saw a man who repeatedly fired at the crowd of soldiers assembled in the station square. Shots were likewise fired from the houses which were displaying white flags as an indication of the friendly sentiments of the inhabitants.

The next day, August 26, towards noon, I went again to the station square. A considerable crowd of male and female citizens of Louvain was assembled there. Among the male persons, who were being held as hostages, I recognized the bank clerk who owned a house in the street leading to the square. I had a talk with him; he told me that members of the Belgian "garde civique" had fired from his house as well as from the house No. 105 where I had intended to billet the officers. Asked why he had allowed this, he replied that on August 25, towards 3 P. M., members of the Belgian "garde civique" had appeared, compelling the occupation of the houses under penalty of death; he remarked that the citizens of Louvain had not approved of the treacherous shooting, but, that the leaders of the "garde civique" had compelled them to suffer the shooting from the houses.

Towards 2 P. M., when some of the houses in the main street from Kessel-Loo, opposite the main depot, were set on fire, shots were coming also from the remaining houses in this street whose tenants had negotiated with me the day before in a seemingly friendly manner.

To my mind, in view of the above described personal observations, this treacherous assault was the result of a carefully planned plot.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Rudolph. Witness was then sworn.                           (Signed) Elble, Military Court Councillor.


(Signed) Casser, Clerk of the Military Court.







Berlin, February 12, 1915.


Before Dr. Grasshof, Military Court Councillor at the Army Department, Berlin, and before Clerk Pahl appeared to-day, Captain of Horse [p. 131] Karl Friedrich von Esmarch (permanent residence Estate Schoenheim, post-office Rinkenes, district of Apenrade: at the time wounded and in the Vereins-Lazarett, 30 Wilhelmstrasse, Berlin; civil occupation: land owner.)

Von Esmarch requests that his evidence be taken as to what he observed of the happenings at Louvain on August 25, 1914.

The solemnity of the oath was pointed out to him whereupon he declared:

My name is Karl Friedrich von Esmarch. I am forty years old and a Protestant.

On August 25, 1914, I came to Louvain as Commander of the headquarters of the ninth Reserve Army Corps. About six P. M., our railway train arrived at Louvain, where we unloaded the horses and the first echelon. We were to march to the barracks of the Belgian hussars, feed the horses and take quarters. When on the way from the station to the barracks the adjutant brought me orders to turn back because the alarm was being sounded, as our troops were engaged in a fight about ten kilometers outside the town. For that reason the horses and the first echelon were to go to the "Place du Peuple" in Louvain and were to be fed there, while the saddle-horses were to follow upon new orders. We rode to the indicated square and stationed ourselves there. Besides us a column of the commissariat was in the square which was, therefore, crowded with vehicles and horses on all four sides. Gradually darkness set in. Regiments of infantry marched past us, at the southwestern side of the square they took the direction of the town hall. Since I had only staffguards to protect the cars I requested one of the passing regiments of infantry to re-inforce me with a company, because I felt anxious about our safety for the following reasons: at first the streets were full of people, nay, even crowded; but towards evening all street traffic stopped suddenly, and the streets seemed deserted. It also struck me that in the houses everywhere the shutters were let down. I obtained the company, and stationed it at the northwestern side of the square. Then I rode to the opposite side of the square, the southeastern one where the Forage-superintendent had his place, my object being to hurry him up.

When I reached there I heard a church clock strike. I did not count the strokes; there may have been eight or nine. By that time it was quite dark. At the same moment I saw a green rocket rising above the houses, south west of the square. Shortly after, the rattle of musketry was heard from the direction south west of the square. After that first firing, a general fusillade started from all houses round the square; the shots were fired at the German troops in the square. They came from behind the closed shutters. One could plainly see the flash; holes must have been bored into the shutters beforehand. I then wanted
[p. 132] to gallop to the company in order to give my orders. As I could not ride through the mass of wagons I had to ride round them, that is, round the northeastern part of the square. In doing so I was shot off my horse, at the northeastern side of the square. I plainly heard the rattle of machine guns, and bullets whizzed about me in large numbers. I was badly hit by five shots. Besides I was grazed by quite a number of bullets; my whole "attila" was torn in rags. After falling off the horse I was run over by transport-wagons, the horses attached to them shying and bolting because of the fusillade, and I was dragged along to the corner of the square separating the northeastern from the northwestern side. Here I lay for about half an hour under a wagon. During that tune I never lost my consciousness and took accurate notice of my surroundings. The bullets continued to pop round me on the sidewalks; I could plainly see the ricochetting of many keyholers. Besides I repeatedly heard, what seemed to be bigger projectiles, burst all around me. I thought it was artillery firing, but as there was no artillery present, the only explanation is that the inhabitants when they assailed us also threw hand-grenades from the houses into the square. Only some time after did our troops reply to the fire. The mutual firing lasted about half an hour, during which time I lay under the wagon. Its wheel-drag had caught in my belt so that I could not free myself alone. When the firing somewhat subsided, my orderly came up and freed me from my position. He took me to the northwestern side of the square where my company was stationed and placed me just inside the square, leaning my back against a cartwheel. From there I could notice all houses at the northwestern side of the square and besides the first houses on the two sides of the square which adjoined the northwestern side. I then made the following observations:

The company continued firing into the houses. The fire of the inhabitants gradually died down. Then the German soldiers smashed the doors of the houses in and set fire to them, flinging burning petroleum lamps into the houses or knocking off the gas jets and setting the escaping gas aflame, at the same time throwing covers and curtains into the flames; now and then benzine was also used for igniting purposes. Colonel von Stubenrauch, whose voice I heard, gave orders to set fire to the houses. When the smoke became too thick in the houses, the franctireurs left them and came down the front steps. Many of them still had arms in their hands; I plainly saw guns, revolvers, military rifles and other weapons. I was particularly struck with the large number of revolvers. The franctireurs were mostly people of very questionable appearance, such as I have never seen in my life. They were shot down by the German sentries standing below. All the time our men were most careful to spare women and children, who were allowed to leave the burning houses unhurt. I did not see a single case where [p. 133] a woman or child was hurt. Part of the women and children even gathered round us in the square where the German soldiers treated them very well. Near me a women was standing with a baby in a perambulator. The soldiers who stood about tried to comfort the crying woman.

For about half an hour I observed the scenes of houses being set afire and franctireurs being caught. Then my orderly brought up an automobile. Together with other wounded men I was conveyed to a hospital which we only reached after driving about for a long time. It was a Belgian military hospital. I then thought that it was a monastery because many monks were in it. I reached the place about midnight on August 25, 1914. On the morning of the following day I was taken away again in an auto to Louvain railway station in order to be conveyed to Liège.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Karl Friedrich von Esmarch.

Witness sworn.

Done as above.

(Signed) Grasshoff.                                                                 (Signed) Pahl.




Allemant, France, December 18, 1914.

Present: Military Court Councillor Dr. Czarnikow.

Military Court Secretary Thiele, as Clerk of the Court.


Lieutenant Brandt of Infantry Regiment No. 52 appeared, and, after being instructed in the meaning of the oath testified as follows:

My name is Kurt Brandt, I am thirty-two years old, a Protestant, Manger of J. Schmidt, printers in Mark-Neukirchen, Saxony. I can only repeat what I have stated in a report made to my regiment on September 27.

The report in question then was read to witness, whereupon he declared:

This report is the one I just spoke about. I repeat its contents. The letter mentioned in it of the Belgian Government and the lists found containing the names of the members of the Garde Civique I forwarded to the regiment the following day. Lieutenant Dunkel of the reserve will be able to substantiate the correctness of my statements. He was also in Louvain at that time in charge of a squad of the army telegraph corps.

Field-Gendarmes handed over to me during the firing about five civilians who wore no distinctive emblems. The gendarmes reported [p. 134] that they had caught the men with weapons in hand and they also brought the weapons along. I did not examine the prisoners but had them delivered to the "Kommandantur."

The owner of the hotel I mentioned, who came out of the hotel the following morning when it had been all burnt down, I delivered to the General Staff officer of the 9th Reserve Army Corps, a captain whose name I do not know. He was the same officer who had given me orders to destroy the two hotels. The civilian was examined by the officer and shot about half an hour later. At the same time two priests were also shot; when I saw them they were already under arrest. An orderly officer of the General Command informed me that he had distributed ammunition among the civilians.

Major Hildebrand who is mentioned in my report had expressly explained to me that he and his men had been fired upon mainly from the buildings opposite the station.

Read, approved, signed.

(Signed) Kurt Brandt.

Witness duly sworn.

(Signed) Czarnikow.                                                               (Signed) Thiele.



Sender: Kurt Brandt, Lieutenant of the Reserves. Mailed from woods near Fort Conde. Date: September 27—4 P. M.

On August 24 I arrived at Louvain with a squad of Company 11 of Infantry Regiment No. 52, to protect our Army Telegraph Corps, and took up quarters in the court building. The inhabitants were exceptionally friendly towards us. Throughout the following day troop transports of the 9th Army Reserve Corps arrived which were despatched in the direction of Antwerp as a sortie had been reported from there. Only one company and my squad remained with the baggage. This fact, and the thunder of guns plainly audible in the town, seems to have made the moment appear favorable to the inhabitants to execute the assault on our troops which was evidently premeditated and well prepared. Towards 9 P. M. a heavy fire was opened on our soldiers from the houses, especially in the direction of the freshly arriving trains. One of the sufferers was our old regimental comrade, Major Hildebrand, in charge of a battalion of the 31st Infantry Reserves which had just alighted from one of the trains.

The fire was opened all over the town as a complete surprise and so simultaneously that surely preparations must have been made for it. To my mind it must have been the work of the Belgian "garde civique." [p. 135] This seems to be confirmed by a communication of the Belgian Government which I had seized on August 23 at the office of the Mayor of Winghe-St. Georges, which stated that the "garde civique" was to be mobilized. The distinctive emblems mentioned in the communication (band and cockade) could not be found; the reason given was that they were to be distributed from Louvain, the district to which the above mentioned place belonged. Members' lists of the last three years were found, but no arrests could be made, because, as the mayor said, almost the entire population had fled; I suspect, however, that the male inhabitants had been "called in" to Louvain where these "troops" were to assemble. During the course of the evening troops were withdrawn to the town and towards twelve o'clock the firing ceased at last. Upon orders by the general staff of the 9th Reserve Army Corps I joined the other troops at the station where I received orders to proceed with the squad and destroy and set on fire two hotels from which heavy firing had come during the whole time and from which the tenants had to be driven out. It seems that the main culprits had managed to make their escape in time across the roofs of the adjoining buildings, for only the owner of one of the hotels emerged towards 5 A. M. on the following morning. He very soon after got his just deserts, likewise two priests who had distributed ammunition among the civilians. The next forenoon we continued on our march towards Brussels, and again, while en route td that city, we were exposed to violent firing from various houses of the town.

On the same day (September 23) I telegraphed to the town commander of Louvain about my discoveries in regard to the "garde civique" so that counter measures might be taken; I do not know any details about the result. At any rate, I as well as all others who went through the assault are firmly convinced that the whole matter was a coup which had been pre-arranged by the authorities.

(Signed) Kurt Brandt,


Reserve Lieutenant of Company 9 of Infantry Regiment No. 52.