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A School History of the Great War
written by "Gerson, Armand Jacques, 1881-"
... the German trenches lay all of Belgium except a very small corner, and the richest manufacturing districts of France, including eighty per cent of the [Pg 83]iron and steel industries, and fifty per cent of the coal. On the other hand the Allies had occupied only a small section of German territory at the southern end of the line, in Alsace. German occupation of Belgium and northeastern France was accompanied by horrible barbarities and systematic frightfulness, which were in violation of the Hague Conventions as well as of other laws and usages of civilized warfare. The aim at first was to terrorize the people and reduce them to a condition of fear and of servility to the conquerors. Men and women were executed without adequate evidence or trial; many German soldiers were quartered in the homes; at the slightest sign of resistance innocent persons were punished for the guilty; immense fines and forced contributions were imposed upon the communities; furniture, works of art, beautiful buildings, and historic structures were ruthlessly pillaged and destroyed. In the second place, the Germans began a systematic plundering of the occupied country, taking for transportation to Germany anything they deemed useful or valuable. Nearly every article made of metal, wool, rubber, or leather was seized. Machinery from Belgian and French factories was taken to German establishments. Households were compelled to surrender bathtubs, door knobs and knockers, kitchen utensils, gas fixtures, bedclothes, etc. Food, farm animals, and farm products were confiscated; and the population was saved from actual starvation only by [Pg 84]the energies of Belgium's friends in France, England, and America. At a later time, a third policy of the Germans was to drag Belgian and French young men and women away from their families and relatives and compel them to work far from their homes in factories, fields, and mines. Probably more than two hundred thousa...

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