[Illustration: Figure 2.]
The unsigned notebook of a soldier of the Thirty-second Reserve Infantry (Fourth Reserve Corps) has this entry:
Creil, Sept. 3.—The
iron bridge was blown up. For this we set
the streets on fire, and shot the civilians.
Yet it must be obvious that only the regular troops of the French Engineer Corps could have blown up the iron bridge at Creil; the civilians had no hand in it. As an excuse for these massacres, when any excuse is offered, the notebooks usually note that “civilians” or “francs-tireurs” had fired on the troops. But the “scrap of paper” which Germany subscribed—the Convention of 1907—provides in its first article “the laws, the rights, and the duties are not applicable solely to the army, but also to militia and bodies of volunteers” under certain conditions, of which the main one is that they shall “openly bear arms;” while Article 2 stipulates that “the population of an unoccupied territory, which on the approach of the enemy spontaneously takes up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to organize as provided in Article I, shall be considered as a belligerent, if they bear arms openly and observe the laws and customs of war.”
[Illustration: Figure 3.]
In the light of this text, the bearing of the barbarous recitals which follow may be properly estimated:
(a) Notebook of Private Hassemer, (Eighth Corps, Sept. 3, 1914, at Sommepy, Marne.)—Dreadful butchery. Village burned to the ground; the French thrown into the burning houses, civilians and all burned together.
(b) Notebook of Lieut. Kietzmann, (Second Company, First Battalion, Forty-ninth Infantry,) under date of Aug. 18, 1914, (Fig. 3.)—A short distance above Diest is the village of Schaffen. About fifty civilians were concealed in the church tower, and from there fired on our troops with a mitrailleuse. All the civilians were shot.
[It may here be noted, for the sake of precision, that the First Report of the Belgian Commission of Inquiry, Antwerp, Aug. 28, Page 3, identifies some of the “civilians” killed at Schaffen on the 18th of August; among them, “the wife of Francois Luyckz, 45 years of age, with her daughter aged 12, who were discovered in a sewer and shot”; and “the daughter of Jean Ooyen, 9 years of age, who was shot”; and “Andre Willem, sacristain, who was bound to a tree and burned alive.”]
(c) Notebook of a Saxon officer, unnamed, (178th Regiment, Twelfth Army Corps, First Saxon Corps,) Aug. 26.—The exquisite village of Gue-d’Hossus (Ardennes) was given to the flames, although to my mind it was guiltless. I am told that a cyclist fell from his machine, and in his fall his gun was discharged; at once the firing was begun in his direction, and thereupon