A Spot of History: An excerpt from my book, Behind the Lines (minus the footnotes):
On that first day of invasion, Tuesday, August 4, it was a hot and surprisingly clear summer day in the normally cool, cloudy, and wet country of Belgium. At 8 a.m. German uhlans (lance-carrying cavalry) thundered across the Belgian border, signaling the start of what became the deadliest war the world had ever seen, and what Pope Benedict XV called “the suicide of civilized Europe.” By evening six columns of German troops were two to three miles past the border.
|A column of German foot soldiers during the August invasion. (Public domain; Fighting in Flanders, E. Alexander Powell, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1914.)|
According to historian Jeff Lipkes in his book, Rehearsals: The German Army in Belgium, August 1914, within ten minutes of entering Visé, the Germans shot their first civilian. He was “Monsieur Istas, a cashier at the railway station, [who was] gunned down as he returned to work after an early lunch. . . . By evening, more than a dozen corpses littered the streets. Most of the murders seemed wholly arbitrary. . . . The Brouhas, father and son, brewers, were dragged out of their basement and executed in front of their house.”
One of the town’s barbers, Louis Kinable, was shot in front of his shop because he had a pair of clippers in his hand—hence he was seen as a franc-tireur (civilian fighter). One boy was battered so badly by rifle butts “that his body could only be identified thanks to a card from his middle school proclaiming him an honors student.” Meanwhile, a Berlin newspaper reported that a 16-year-old Belgian girl in Visé had been executed for mutilating German corpses.
And so the story began . . .
My Post: I have been remiss in not posting to this blog, but I am happy to report that I am now done writing my book, Behind the Lines, and as of this evening, August 4, 2014, I will have sent the entire book to the designer! I hope to have print, print-on-demand, and an e-book available by October or November.
You can't believe how excited I am tonight after a year and a half of research and writing fulltime.
I promise to post more very soon -- especially how I have been fortunate enough to gather together a wonderful group of professionals who are helping me produce this book. I could not do it without them.
And, finally, I want to mention the book's new website. It's at http://www.wwibehindthelines.com/. I hope you like it.
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