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German atrocities reported

29 August 2014

August 28th, 1914

THE English newspapers are full of accounts of wicked and wanton barbarities perpetrated by the German army in Belgium, and refugees from Germany tell us that the German newspapers provide counter-charges of the same kind against the Belgians. It will probably be wise to receive all these stories with some reserve. That there is truth in them we cannot doubt. Many things are always done in a campaign that the officers in command would stop if they could. There are no people so cruel as those who are frightened, or those who wish to inspire their opponents with terror. The invasion of France a hundred years ago by the allied armies was accompanied by deplorable scenes of rape and murder and theft. The rights of non-combatants are never strictly regarded. But we suspect there is a deliberate attempt on both sides, as there certainly was in the Balkan War, to make out that their opponents are blacker than they really are. In all armies there are some men who are pure savages, but we believe them to be the exception and not the rule. It seems, from the Belgian Minister's statement, that most of the atrocities complained of were the work of scattered bodies of men in small villages. In Brussels, where the men were thoroughly under their officers' control, the behaviour seems to have been good.

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