Cover image for The rape of Belgium : the untold story of World War I
The rape of Belgium : the untold story of World War I
Zuckerman, Larry.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xi, 339 pages : illustrations, 1 map ; 24 cm
1. Your neighbor's roof -- 2. Marching through Hell -- 3. The ghost of 1870 -- 4. Belgium does not ask for pity -- 5. A vague and misty unreality -- 6. This poisoned atmosphere -- 7. At least they only frown your women -- 8. Hell's premises -- 9. Taking note of these things -- 10. Mort pour la patrie -- 11. Like a thief in the night -- 12. It is impossible that we will be abandoned -- 13. A trifle -- 14. A popular delusion.
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Table of contents
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D615 .Z83 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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In August 1914, the German Army invaded the neutral nation of Belgium, violating a treaty that the German chancellor dismissed as a "scrap of paper." The invaders terrorized the Belgians, shooting thousands of civilians and looting and burning scores of towns, including Louvain, which housed the country's preeminent university.

The Rape of Belgium recalls the bloodshed and destruction of the 1914 invasion, and the outrage it inspired abroad. Yet Larry Zuckerman does not stop there, and takes us on a harrowing journey over the next fifty months, vividly documenting Germany's occupation of Belgium. The occupiers plundered the country, looting its rich supply of natural resources; deporting Belgians en masse to Germany and northern France as forced laborers; and jailing thousands on contrived charges, including the failure to inform on family or neighbors. Despite the duration of the siege and the destruction left in its wake, in considering Belgium, neither the Allies nor the history books focused on the occupation, and instead cast their attention almost wholly on the invasion.

Now, The Rape of Belgium draws on a little-known story to remind us of the horrors of war. Further, Zuckerman shows why the Allies refrained from punishing the Germans for the occupation and controversially suggests that had the victors followed through, Europe's reaction to the rise of Nazi Germany might have taken a very different course.

Author Notes

Larry Zuckerman is the author of The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World, which has been translated into four languages. The British edition was the recipient of the Andre Simon Special Commendation Award, given annually to a book on culinary arts

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Zuckerman argues that the atrocity stories about Germany's "rape of Belgium," which were so widely reported and discredited, have in fact distracted from telling the history of Belgian life under German occupation during World War I. Zuckerman, an independent scholar, begins his account with a discussion of the German decision to violate Belgian neutrality, a choice that violated international law and ensured Britain's entering the conflagration. Zuckerman goes on to juxtapose the genesis and propagation of the image of the "rape of Belgium" with the reality of events on the ground. His analysis of German attacks on Belgian civilians follows the story told in John N. Horne and Alan Kramer's German Atrocities 1914: History of a Denial. Zuckerman's strengths are his detailed analysis of the tribulations of Belgian civilians forced to endure mass expropriations, arbitrary and administratively chaotic occupation, and chronic hunger. That thousands of Belgian civilians were sent to Germany as forced labor might be regarded as a premonition of the next war. Zuckerman is weaker in placing German policy toward Belgium into comparative perspective, a perspective that could only strengthen an already solid book. A welcome addition to the literature, this is recommended for all history collections.-Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The German march through Belgium in 1914 generated a host of spectacular atrocity stories that verged on "patriotic-pornography" and obscured the country's systematic plundering. German crimes during the invasion were serious enough: the shooting of hundreds, perhaps thousands of civilians; the burning of towns, including the infamous episode of the medieval library at Louvain. These horrors were but the prologue to a four-year occupation that saw Belgium stripped of much of its heavy industry, starved by German confiscations, and subjected to forced deportations of hundreds of thousands of its workers. Belgium would never recover its ranking as the world's sixth industrial power, not only because of the war, but also because of the politics of peacemaking, which ultimately focused on the plight of Germany and ignored her victims. Zuckerman has mined Belgium's archives to depict a German occupation that presaged the Nazi era. He illustrates how the falsity of the most lurid atrocity accounts rendered public opinion dubious or indifferent to the real "rape of Belgium," and thus allowed Germany to escape accountability for its crimes. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All collections. G. P. Cox Gordon College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Note on Geographyp. xi
Introductionp. 1
1 Your Neighbor's Roofp. 5
2 Marching through Hellp. 22
3 The Ghost of 1870p. 38
4 Belgium Does Not Ask for Pityp. 62
5 A Vague and Misty Unrealityp. 78
6 This Poisoned Atmospherep. 103
7 At Least They Only Drown Your Womenp. 120
8 Hell's Premisesp. 142
9 Taking Note of These Thingsp. 165
10 Mort pour la Patriep. 183
11 Like a Thief in the Nightp. 200
12 It Is Impossible That We Will Be Abandonedp. 218
13 A Triflep. 242
14 A Popular Delusionp. 259
Notesp. 277
Bibliographyp. 321
Indexp. 329
About the Authorp. 339