It is said by one witness that about 1,500 were marched to Louvain and that the journey took six hours.
The journey to Louvain is thus described by a witness: We were all marched off to Louvain, walking. There were some very old people, among others a man 90 years of age. The very old people were drawn in carts and barrows by the younger men. There was an officer with a bicycle, who shouted, as people fell out by the side of the road, “Shoot them!”
Period III., (September.)
It is unnecessary to describe with much particularity the events of the period beginning about Sept. 10. The Belgian soldiers, who had recaptured the place, found corpses of civilians who must have been murdered in Aerschot itself just as they found them in Sempst and the other villages on Aug. 25. Some of these bodies were found in wells and some had been burned alive in their houses.
The prisoners released by the Belgian Army from the church were almost starved.
HAECHT.—At Haecht several children had been murdered, one of 2 or 3 years of age was found nailed to the door of a farmhouse by its hands and feet—a crime which seems almost incredible, but the evidence for which we feel bound to accept. In the garden of this house was the body of a girl who had been shot in the forehead.
CAPELLE-AU-BOIS.—At Capelle-au-Bois two children were murdered in a cart and their corpses were seen by many witnesses at different stages of the cart’s journey.
EPPEGHEM.—At Eppeghem the dead body of a child of 2 was seen pinned to the ground with a German lance. Same witness saw a mutilated woman alive near Weerde on the same day.
TREMELOO.—Belgian soldiers on patrol duty found a young girl naked on the ground, covered with scratches. She complained of having been violated. On the same day an old woman was seen kneeling by the body of her husband, and she told them that the Germans had shot him as he was trying to escape from the house.
The events spoken to as having occurred in and around Louvain between the 19th and the 25th of August deserve close attention.
For six days the Germans were in peaceful occupation of the city. No houses were set on fire—no citizens killed. There was a certain amount of looting of empty houses, but otherwise discipline was effectively maintained. The condition of Louvain during these days was one of relative peace and quietude, presenting a striking contrast to the previous and contemporaneous conduct of the German Army elsewhere.
On the evening of Aug. 25 a sudden change takes place. The Germans, on that day repulsed by the Belgians, had retreated to and reoccupied Louvain. Immediately the devastation of that city and the holocaust of its population commences. The inference is irresistible that the army as a whole wreaked its vengeance on the civil population and the buildings of the city in revenge for the setback which the Belgian arms had inflicted on them. A subsidiary cause alleged was the assertion, often made before that civilians had fired upon the German Army.