Brand Whitlock, one of the darlings of the progressive set, was a
politician, a fiction author and also a friend to Woodrow Wilson. The
longtime mayor of Toledo,Ohio, and the American Minister to
Belgium during World War One, he was called a muckraker by some
because of his maudlin ramblings. He transmitted accounts of German
atrocities directly as they were fed to him from the same sources who
created the British Bryce Report with no desire to verify the sources.
The Bishop of Namur writes to the Governor-General in Belgium, subjecting the [German] "White
Book" to an examination that is without mercy in its logic. After having gone over the different
charges of the Germans concerning the firing by civilians, he points out to the Governor-General that,
in the "White Book," there is not a word concerning the tragedy at Tamines, not a word about
Surice, not a word about Spontin, not a word about Namur, not a word about Fehe, not a word
about Gommeries, not a word about Latour, not a word, in short, about sixty-five other places where
there was pillage and massacre and incendiarism. The Bishop shows, in the appendix devoted to
Dinant, that almost three hundred times the [German] "White Book" contented itself with repeating
the unsupported allegation, "They have fired on us"; and he adds, with perfect comprehension of the
German psychology, when this is denied, when the Germans are challenged to produce proof, they
reply, simply: "You cannot deny this; a German soldier said so."
James Gerard sat on the New York Supreme Court from 1908-1913.
A generous contributor to the Democratic party during the presidential
campaign of 1912, Wilson rewarded him with ambassadorships to
Germany until 1917. Wined, dined and treated like a celebrity in
Germany, he changed colors as soon as he was instructed to. A
speech by Gerard typified the government sentiment:  "A warning
to German Americans. Every citizen must declare himself American
or traitor." Image: Gerard, left; Whitlock, right
More Anti-German War Propaganda (Fake Reports) by the Wilson's Boys
Official Report by U.S. Ambassador to Belgium, Brand Whitlock
to the U.S. Secretary of State, September 12, 1917
Towns were sacked and burned, homes were pillaged; in many places portions of the population,
men, women, and children, were massed in public squares and mowed down by mitrailleuses, and
there were countless individual instances of an amazing and shameless brutality. The stories of these
deeds gradually filtered into Brussels in ever increasing numbers as the days went by, brought by the
refugees, who, in crowds, fled the stricken region in terror. It was difficult at first to believe them;
but the stories persisted, and were told with such detail and on such authority that one could no
longer doubt their essential truth. They became a matter of common knowledge and public notoriety;
and they saturated the general mind with their horror.
Over all this area, that is in the country lying about Vise, Liege, Dinant, Namur, Louvain, Vilverde,
Malines and Aerschot, a rich agricultural region dotted with innumerable towns, villages and hamlets,
a land of contented peace and plenty, during all that month of August there were inflicted on the civil
population by the hordes that overran it deeds of such ruthless cruelty and unspeakable outrage that
one must search history in vain for others like them committed on such a prodigious scale.
Take, for example, the following cases: Battice, in the province of Liege, is about five kilometres
from Bligny. It was pillaged and burned on the 6th of August by Germans who had been repulsed
before the forts of Liege. Thirty-six persons, including three women, were massacred, the village
methodically burned, and the church destroyed. The Germans entered Aerschot on August 19th. The
greater part of the inhabitants who had remained in the town were shut up in the church for several
days, receiving hardly any nourishment. On August 28th they were marched to Louvain. Upon their
arrival there they were let loose and were fired upon by German soldiers. The following day they
were marched back to Aerschot, the men being again shut up in the church and the women were put
in a building belonging to a Mr. Fontaine. Many women and young girls, it is said, were raped by the
German soldiers. Upon one occasion seventy-eight men were taken outside the town and were made
to pass before German gendarmes who struck them with the butts of their revolvers. Of these
seventy-eight men only three escaped death.
At another time a number of men were put in rows of three, the Germans shooting the third man in
each row. The Germans killed over one hundred and fifty of the inhabitants of Aerschot, and among
this number were eight women and several children. The pillage and firing of houses continued for
several days, and a great quantity of furniture and objects of art were sent to Germany. On the 6th of
September, three hundred of the inhabitants were carted off in wagons to Germany. In the seven
small villages surrounding Aerschot, forty-two persons were killed, four hundred and sixty-two were
sent to Germany, one hundred and fifteen houses were burned and eight hundred and twenty-three
were pillaged.
One of the most sorely tried communities was that of the little village of Tamines, down in what is
known as the Borinage, the coal fields near Charleroi. Tamines is a mining village in the Sambre; it is
a collection of small cottages sheltering about 5,000 inhabitants, mostly all poor labourers.
The little graveyard in which the church stands bears its mute testimony to the horror of the event.
There are hundreds of new-made graves, each with its small wooden cross and its bit of flowers; the
crosses are so closely huddled that there is scarcely room to walk between them. The crosses are
alike and all bear the same date, the sinister date of August 22, 1914. Whether their hands were cut
off or not, whether they were impaled on bayonets or not, children were shot down, by military
order, in cold blood. In the awful crime of the Rock of Bayard, there overlooking the Meuse below
Dinant, infants in their mothers' arms were shot down without mercy. The deed, never surpassed in
cruelty by any band of savages, is described by the Bishop of Namur himself.
This scene surpasses in horror all others; the fusillade of the Rock Bayard near Dinant. It appears to
have been ordered by Colonel Meister. This fusillade made many victims among the nearby parishes,
especially those of des Rivages and Neffe. It caused the death of nearly 90 persons, without
distinction of age or sex. Among the victims were babies in arms, boys and girls, fathers and mothers
of families, even old men. It was there that 12 children under the age of 6 perished from the fire of
the executioners, 6 of them as they lay in their mothers' arms: the child Fievet, 3 weeks old; Maurice
Betemps, 11 months old; Nelly Pollet, 11 months old; Gilda Genon, 18 months old; Gilda Marchot,
2 years old; Clara Struvay, 2 years and 6 months. The pile of bodies comprised also many children
from 6 to 14 years. Eight large families have entirely disappeared. Four have but one survivor.
Those men that escaped death -and many of whom were riddled with bullets - were obliged to bury
in a summary and hasty fashion their fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters; then after having been
relieved of their money and being placed in chains they were sent to Cassel [Prussia].
Monceau-sur-Sambre (Charleroi) was pillaged and sacked on the 22nd of August. Twelve inhabitants
were shot by firing squads and twenty-eight as they emerged from their burning houses. Thirty of all
ages and both sexes were wounded under similar conditions. Sixty-two houses were looted and two
hundred and fifty burned. French soldiers were holding a bridge on the Sambre with machine guns
and rifles and had received the Germans with a short but spirited fusillade. Gougnies, in the province
of Hainaut, was sacked on the 23rd of August. No fighting had taken place there and the first troops
had passed through quietly. On Sunday, the 23rd, claiming that civilians had fired on their troops, the
Germans set fire to various parts of the village. Seventeen houses were burned, and among those one
in which Mr. Piret, provincial councillor for the Hainaut, had established a hospital. Ten wounded
French soldiers therein were burned alive. Mr. Piret in spite of his great age was taken out and shot
the next day at Le Roux. Two other inhabitants of Gougnies, Messrs. Thiry, aged 83, and Gregoire,
56, were also shot.
It is interesting to note that near Louvain at Heverle is the chateau of the Due d'Arenberg, a German;
many of the houses in the village belonged to him; on these houses there were posted little cards, one
of which I attach to this report; they read: "This house must be protected. It is strictly forbidden to
enter the houses or to burn them without the consent of the Kommandantur". Certain houses were
marked, in chalk: "Nicht phindern." [Do not pillage.] During the whole of that terrible month of
August [1914], and during a part of September, eastern Belgium was the scene of such happenings,
from the deliberate and systematic organized massacres of civil populations, with isolated murders
and outrages, violations of women, and those nameless deeds one cannot bring oneself to mention
and yet somehow hears; down to the sack of wine cellars by drunken soldiers...There is little doubt
that the German soldiers often fired because of the fear of francs-tireurs, but there is no convincing
evidence that they were actually fired upon; indeed, no serious effort seems to have been made
judicially to establish the fact. As to have a town given over to fire and sword, it sufficed simply for a
German soldier to cry: "Man hat geschossen" [Some one fired a shot], so it seems now to suffice,
when justification is attempted, to say: "The Belgians fired on us."...
It may be that there were instances where Belgian housewives threw boiling water on the soldiers, it
would not have been surprising if they had, though it seems somewhat less likely in the case of
boiling tar, as housewives are not generally in the habit of keeping boiling tar available as means of
defence, and it is not stated how the German soldiers were roasted. But it would seem that there
could not have been enough boiling water in all Belgium, even had it all been flung at German
soldiers, to make it a military necessity to burn, to slay, to sack and to pillage on such a scale. (end)