A brave stand was made in front of Louvain, on August 19, by the right wing of the Belgian army, acting as a rear guard, while the center fell back on Antwerp, but so superior in numbers and artillery were the Germans that a further retreat on Antwerp by way of Malines was ordered. Louvain was occupied the next day by an army of 50,000 Huns.
Governor General von Arnim, after taking formal possession of the city, disarmed the citizens, ordered them to bed at 8 p. m. daily and admonished them to leave one lamp burning in each house at night. All doors were to be left unlocked.
A proclamation was issued threatening with immediate death any citizen found with a weapon in his possession or in his house. It was decreed that every house from which a shot was fired would be burned. The burgomaster and other city officials were secured as hostages, and were subsequently put to death.
The Huns were determined to destroy Louvain in reprisal for the brave resistance offered by the Belgians to the German invasion. Seeking a pretext for the reign of terror which they intended to inaugurate, they falsely alleged that German soldiers had been killed by citizens of Louvain.
Three hundred men and boys were seized and shot in the streets. The burgomaster, two magistrates, the rector of the university and all police officials had previously been put to death. The torch was then applied to the "convicted houses" from which it was alleged shots had been fired.
Beautiful Louvain soon became a roaring furnace. Whole districts were wiped out, and with them the architectural gems for which the town was famous. The Halles, the University with its priceless library, and St. Peter's Cathedral, were wholly or partially destroyed.
The quaintly beautiful Town Hall alone was spared among the historic edifices that fell before the Vandal's torch. Whole streets were left in blackened ruins. Women and girls were given over to the brutal uses of the Hun soldiers; priests and aged c...