Modern war comes to old town

“The boulevards were deserted save for the troops coming back into the town [Louvain]. New houses were burning that had been intact in the afternoon. After passing the Porte de Tirlemont, we began to see people again—little groups that had come out into the streets through a craving for company, and stood huddled together listening to the fighting in the lower part of the town. In harmony with the policy of terrorising the population, the Germans have trained them to throw up their hands as soon as any one comes in sight, in order to prove that they are unarmed and defenseless. And the way they do it, the abject fear that is evident, shows that failure to comply with the rule is not lightly punished. Our worst experience of this was when in coming around a corner we came upon a little girl of about seven, carrying a canary in a cage. As soon as she saw us, she threw up her hands and cried out something we did not understand. Thinking that she wanted to stop us with a warning of some sort, we put on the brakes and drew up beside her. Then she burst out crying with fear, and we saw that she was in terror of her life. We called out to reassure her, but she turned and ran like a hunted animal. It was hard to see the fear of others—townspeople, peasants, priests, and feeble old nuns who dropped their bundles and threw up their hands, their eyes starting with fear. The whole thing was a nightmare.” – Hugh Gibson, August 27, 1914, A Journal from Our Legation in Belgium

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