Germany Invades Belgium

King Albert of Belgium exerted himself to repel the invaders.

By his orders nearly all the bridges, roads and tunnels in the Ardennes district, were at once destroyed at a total loss of $200,000,000. Then, placing himself at the head of his army, numbering 100,000 rifles, King Albert awaited the onset of the Huns.

Von Kluck's army of the Meuse moved out from the plains of Aix-la-Chapelle on August 3, crossing the German border and advancing to points overlooking Vise, Limburg, Hervé, and Verviers in Belgium. Their first objective was Vise, some ten miles north of Liege, on the Meuse River. This frontier town was defended by a single Belgian regiment.

The destruction of the bridge at Vise, and the stout resistance of the Belgian regiment, delayed the German advance two days. Pontoon bridges built by the Germans were repeatedly destroyed by the Belgian batteries, but finally, after a severe bombardment, a crossing was effected on August 5 and the Huns poured into the town.

To strike terror in the hearts of the townspeople, several civilians were seized and shot on the pretext that they had killed or wounded a few German soldiers.

The male inhabitants were all rounded up and sent to Aix-la-Chapelle as prisoners, while the women and children were ordered to depart into Holland, many of them being reduced to a state of utter destitution. The torch was then applied to many houses, while looting was general among the Hun soldiers.

At the outbreak of the First World War, the German army (consisting in the West of Seven Field Armies) executed a modified version of the Schlieffen Plan, designed to quickly attack France through neutral Belgium before turning southwards to encircle the French army on the German border. The plan called for the right flank of the German advance to converge on Paris and initially, the Germans were very successful, particularly in the Battle of the Frontiers (14 August–24 August). By 12 September, the French with assistance from the British forces halted the German advance east of Paris at the First Battle of the Marne (5 September–12 September). The last days of this battle signified the end of mobile warfare in the west.