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tection against the invading German army. The British Government therefore at once demanded of Germany withdrawal of the invaders and respect for the neutrality of Belgium. The reply was a flat rejection of the demand and an attack by the German army upon the Belgian city of Liege. Thereupon, at eleven o'clock on the evening of August 4th, the British Government declared that a state of war with Germany existed.
The United States Government, through the President, at once made the customary proclamation of neutrality, on the same conditions that had prevailed in other foreign wars to which this country was not a party; and other neutral nations generally did the same. Italy, though an ally of Germany and Austria in the Triple Alliance, also made a proclamation of neutrality, informing Germany as she did so that she considered that the circumstances of the declaration of an aggressive war by Germany and Austria released her from all obligations under her treaty with those powers. Thus the issues were joined, and the world's greatest war was begun.
THE WAR IN FRANCE AND FLANDERS
Three Epochs of a Stupendous Campaign - The Invasion of Belgium Brialmont's Work — Liege the Savior of Europe - Unspeakable Atrocities of the Germans. - Northern France Overrun — The Drive at Paris - Battles of the Marne and Aisne — Ypres and Loos — Beginning of Trench Warfare — The Second Epoch of the Campaign - The German Drive at Verdun - "They Shall Not Pass" — Beginning of the Third Epoch - The Campaign on the Somme River - Bapaume and Peronne the Impregnable - The Great British and French Drive from Switzerland to the Sea — Breaking of the “Hindenberg Line" and Steady Retreat of the German Armies.
THE WAR in western Europe. has seen three major stages, or epochs, in which three nations successively have held the center of the stage in opposition to the German invasion. The first was very short, measured in weeks, or perhaps only days; when the handful of Belgians were holding back the multitudinous German legions until France, taken all unawares, could rally her forces for the defense of Paris. The second lasted a year and a half, when France, putting forth efforts which would have seemed incredible had they been predicted in advance, held the Germans in check until a British army could be created out of raw material and be put into the field. The third, now prevailing, is marked by the tremendous and apparently irresistible aggressiveness of the British army in cooperation with its French allies. Let us very briefly review these three epochs; briefly, because this is not a complete and detailed history of the war, but merely such an account of it as will make clear the chief happenings before the United States was dragged into the fray.
LIEGE THE IMMORTAL August 3, 1914. Like the Egyptian plague of locusts, devouring the land, the German armies rushed forward to devour France. They were four in number. One struck through central Belgium, the second through Luxembourg, the third between Metz and Nancy, and the fourth between the Vosges and the Swiss frontier. We have to do with the first named, by far the most formidable of all. Admitting that invasion of Belgium would be gross violation of law and treatment of a neutrality treaty as a "scrap of paper,” the German Government had tried to seduce Belgium into consenting to the deed. Since Belgium would not be seduced, but held out for faith and honor, Germany went in with force. The frontier was crossed on August 3d, and on the next day the invaders reached and began to attack the first of the Belgian fortified cities,
Brialmont, the great military engineer, had made it as he supposed impregnable. But that was before the days of the 42-centimeter guns. These stupendous engines soon pounded Brialmont's steel and masonry forts into ruin. But it took them three days to do it. Indeed, the last of the Liege forts was not reduced until August 18th. And by causing that delay to the German advance, Liege was the savior of Europe. Had it not been for that delay, and the time it gave France to mobilize her troops, Paris surely would have fallen. On August 20th Brussels was occupied without resistance. On the following three days the first great battle was fought at Namur, Mons and Charleroi, as a result of which the Belgians, French and British were driven back and the German rush toward Paris began.
THE MARTYRDOM OF BELGIUM Meantime the Germans instituted such a reign of atrocities in Belgium as the world had not known since the days of Tilly and Pappenheim, or perhaps of Timur Leng and Genghis Khan. This campaign of "frightfulness" was ordered from Berlin, partly in the hope of terrifying the nations into submission, and partly in vindictive spite against Belgium for having dared to resist the will of the Kaiser. Almost every principle of international law was violated. Unfortified and undefended cities and towns were sacked and burned. Unoffending civilians were murdered by hundreds, and by other hundreds were put to death wholesale by the military authorities on various lying pretences. Vast tributes were exacted from municipalities, under threat of destruction of the towns and massacre of the inhabitants. Private houses and shops were looted. The university library of Louvain, one of the most precious in the world, was wantonly burned. Churches were looted and their altars used as latripes Men, women and children were tortured to death, by crucifixion, by burning alive, and by hideous mutilations. Women, from girls scarcely in their teens to venerable granddames, were ravished by hundreds, generally in public where their children, parents or husbands were compelled to witness the infamy; many of them being thus abused by many soldiers until they died under the torture. Living or dead, they were often obscenely mutilated, and then their mangled bodies were "pegged out” upon the ground with bayonets or stakes driven through them. Babes were snatched from their mothers' arms and tossed about on bayonet points. Whole families, after indescribable ill treatment, were fastened in their houses and the houses burned. All through
Belgium and northern France, wherever the German armies went, there was such an orgy of lust, loot and murder as the civilized world had not seen for centuries.
SALVATION OF THE MARNE Meanwhile, reinforced by armies which had pushed through Luxembourg, the Germans swept on toward
Paris. By September 3d the French and their allies had been driven to the line of the Seine, Marne and Verdun, and the French Government fled from Paris to Bordeaux. But the French army, with a small British contingent, halted there to give battle. “We stop the Germans here,”