The Destruction Of Louvain By Professor Leon Van Der Essen

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“The Destruction of Louvain,” by Professor Leon van der Essen, is an eight page Belgian judicial report, published in 1923, but most likely written in late 1914 following the sack of Louvain, Belgium by German forces. The report chronicles the events starting from the initial German entry into Louvain on August 19, 1914 to the conclusion of the incident on August 25, 1914. Essen attempts to approach his report from a subjective point of view, including quotations from Louvain civilians, German troops, and the German Commander, Major von Bassewitz. The purpose of the report was to ascertain whether the German forces acted under self-defense or if the town was destroyed out of unprovoked malice. Ultimately, Essen begrudgingly comes to the conclusion …show more content…

The German request for passage through neutral Belgium was denied by King Albert I which spurred Germany to invade Belgium on August 4, 1914. Belgium was quickly overrun and a series of Belgian cities were subjected to numerous bombardments and pillaging in the wake of the German invasion. Essen’s judicial report was meant to tell the Belgian side of the invasion in response to Germany’s defensive diplomatic statements. Instead of Germany being seen as the victim in the war by the English and the United states, Belgium sought to reverse the situation and show Germany as the ruthless …show more content…

His in-depth descriptions of the destruction are meant to provoke the reader’s emotions to sympathize with the Belgian citizens caught between two armies. The author wants to place blame onto the German command, but, through his findings, he ultimately absolves the commanders and places blame on the troops instead when he states, “After carefully examining the mass of documents within our reach, we believe we may say that, in the present state of the evidence, it is impossible to consider proved the charge of premeditation with regard to Louvain…” Essen asserts that selective German troops on the ground are to be found at fault, not the German

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