The town of Louvain, with its 42,000 inhabitants, was one of the centres of Belgian culture. It had no mercy shown to it and has been nearly obliterated. Several quarters of the town were set on fire, the Church of St. Pierre, a marvelous example of Gothic art; the buildings of the University, including the Library with more than 70,000 volumes, of which a large number were ancient manuscripts, the collections belonging to the University; nearly all the scientific institutions, and nearly all the houses of the town were deliberately burned. They are now nothing more than heaps of ashes. Their destruction has been a loss to the whole civilized world.
Numbers of absolutely innocent women and children lost their lives in the fire which was started by order of the German military officials. Of those who were saved, several thousand, including women enfeebled by age, and children in arms, are today wandering homeless over the roads, without food or clothing. They are not to blame for anything, unless it is because they belong to a nation which has refused to purchase peace at the price of dishonor. That can be the only crime accounted to them and it is for that they have lost all their possessions upon the earth.
From the declaration made by the Imperial German Chancellor it may be seen that the German Government is conscious of its wrongdoing. As one of the guarantors of Belgium’s neutrality, it wanted to force Belgium to relinquish its neutrality for Germany’s benefit. Because Belgium would not consent to this injustice and because Germany could not reproach her with anything else, Germany invaded and covered with blood and ruin a small peaceful country of hard-working and honest people, a country which it had promised to protect.
This attack upon her neutrality is the first violation for which Belgium asks judgment from the universal conscience.
The entire Belgo-German question today is dominated by the fact of this violation of the neutrality of Belgium. Therefore, there is not a single shot fired by a German soldier in Belgium, which is not manifestly and avowedly belying most sacred things: the keeping of a solemn pledge, and the right for an honest nation that never wanted war, nor showed aggressive dispositions, to be allowed to live its peaceful and neutral life.
Such is the Belgian case. Humanity will judge it.
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Statement Issued by German Embassy at Washington, Oct. 13.
The German Ambassador drew special attention today to the telegram which came from German headquarters. This telegram proves the German contention that the Allies did not intend to respect Belgian neutrality. It even proves more, namely, that Belgian neutrality practically did not exist and that the Belgian Government was conspiring with the Allies against Germany. Notwithstanding the denials coming from French sources it is a fact that French prisoners were taken at Liege and Namur, who acknowledged that they had been in those fortresses before the German troops entered Belgium.