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Rape of Belgium

Systematic war crimes against Belgian civilians during World War I / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Rape of Belgium was a series of systematic war crimes, especially mass murder and deportation, by German troops against Belgian civilians during the invasion and occupation of Belgium in World War I.

Quick facts: Rape of Belgium, Location, Date, Target, Atta...
Rape of Belgium
Part of the German occupation of Belgium during World War I
Depiction of the mass murder of civilians in Blégny by Évariste Carpentier
LocationFlag_of_Belgium_%28civil%29.svg Belgium
Date4 August 1914 (1914-08-04)-23 November 1918 (1918-11-23)
TargetBelgian civilians
Attack type
War crime, mass murder, enslavement
Deathsat least 23,700
Victims120,000 enslaved and deported to Germany[1][2]
PerpetratorsWar_Ensign_of_Germany_%281903%E2%80%931919%29.svg Imperial German Army
The ruins of the Catholic University of Leuven's library after it was burned by the German army in 1914
The destroyed city of Leuven in 1915

The neutrality of Belgium had been guaranteed by the Treaty of London (1839), which had been signed by Prussia. However, the German Schlieffen Plan required that German armed forces advance through Belgium (thus violating its neutrality) in order to outflank the French Army, concentrated in eastern France. The German Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, dismissed the treaty of 1839 as a "scrap of paper".[3] Throughout the war, the German army systematically engaged in numerous atrocities against the civilian population of Belgium, including the intentional destruction of civilian property; German soldiers murdered over 6,000 Belgian civilians, and 17,700 died during expulsion, deportation, imprisonment, or death sentence by court.[4] The Wire of Death, maintained by the German Army to kill civilians trying to flee the occupation, was used to murder over 3,000 Belgian civilians, and 120,000 were enslaved and deported to Germany.[1][2] German forces destroyed 25,000 homes and other buildings in 837 communities in 1914 alone, and 1.5 million Belgians (20% of the entire population) fled from the invading German army.[5]:13