“On August 25 the burning of Louvain began. The medieval city on the road from Liège to Brussels was renowned for its University and incomparable Library, founded in 1426 when Berlin was a clump of wooden huts. Housed in the fourteenth

“Who shot whom [which set the episode in motion] was never established and was in any case irrelevant to what followed, for the Germans burned Louvain not as a punishment for alleged Belgian misdeeds, but as a deterrent and a warning to all their enemies —a gesture of German might before all the world. General von Luttwitz, the new Governor of Brussels, expressed as much next morning. Visited in the course of duty by the American and Spanish Ministers, he said to them, “A dreadful thing has occurred at Louvain. Our General there has been shot by the son of the Burgomaster . The population has fired on our troops.” He paused, looked at his visitors, and finished, “And now of course we have to destroy the city.”

“An officer in charge in one street watched gloomily, smoking a cigar. He was rabid against the Belgians, and kept repeating to Gibson: “We shall wipe it out, not one stone will stand upon another! Kein Stein auf einander!—not one, I tell you. We will teach them to respect Germany. For generations people will come here to see what we have done!”

Tuchman, Barbara W. (2009-07-22). The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I

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