As, in accordance with the continual practice of the German armies, pillaging is only a prelude to incendiarism, the sub-officer Hermann Levith (160th Regiment of Infantry, Eighth Corps) writes:
The enemy occupied the village of Bievre and the edge of the wood behind it. The Third Company advanced in first line. We carried the village, and then pillaged and burned almost all the houses.
And Private Schiller (133d Infantry, Nineteenth Corps) writes:
Our first fight was at Haybes (Belgium) on the 24th of August. The Second Battalion entered the village, ransacked the houses, pillaged them, and burned those from which shots had been fired.
And Private Sebastian Reishaupt (Third Bavarian Infantry, First Bavarian Corps) writes:
The first village we burned was Parux, (Meurthe-et-Moselle.) After this the dance began, throughout the villages, one after the other; over the fields and pastures we went on our bicycles up to the ditches at the edge of the road, and there sat down to eat our cherries.
They emulate each other in their thefts; they steal anything that comes to hand and keep records of the thefts—“Schnaps, Wein, Marmelade, Zigarren,” writes this private soldier; and the elegant officer of the 178th Saxon Regiment, who was at first indignant at the “vandalismus” of his men, further on admits that he himself, on the 1st of September, at Rethel, stole “from a house near the Hotel Moderne a superb waterproof and a photographic apparatus for Felix.” All steal, without distinction or grade, or of arms, or of cause, and even in the ambulances the doctors steal. Take this example from the notebook of the soldier Johannes Thode (Fourth Reserve Regiment of Ersatz):
At Brussels, Oct. 5,
1914.—An automobile arrived at the
hospital laden with war booty—one piano, two sewing machines,
many albums, and all sorts of other things.
“Two sewing machines” as “war booty.” From whom were these stolen? Beyond a doubt from two humble Belgian women. And for whom were they stolen?
I must admit that, out of the forty notebooks, or thereabout, that I have handled, there are six or seven that do not relate any exactions, either from hypocritical reticence or because there are some regiments which do not make war in this vile fashion. And there are as many as three notebooks whose writers, in relating these ignoble things, express astonishment, indignation, and sorrow. I will not give the names of these, because they deserve our regard, and I wish to spare them the risk of being some day blamed or punished by their own.
[Illustration: Figure 10.]
The first, the Private X., who belongs to the Sixty-fifth Infantry, Regiment of Landwehr, says of certain of his companions in arms, (Fig. 10:)
They do not behave as
soldiers, but rather as highwaymen,
bandits, and brigands, and are a dishonor to our regiment and
to our army.