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.
|Rape of Belgium|
|Part of the German occupation of Belgium during World War I|
|Date||4 August 1914 -23 November 1918|
|War crime, mass murder, enslavement|
|Deaths||at least 23,700|
|Victims||120,000 enslaved and deported to Germany|
|Perpetrators||Imperial German Army|
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". 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. 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. 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.: 13