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The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I [Hardcover]

Larry Zuckerman

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Book Description

Feb. 1 2004
In August 1914, the German Army invaded the neutral nation of Belgium, violating a treaty that the German chancellor dismissed as a "scrap of paper." The invaders terrorized the Belgians, shooting thousands of civilians and looting and burning scores of towns, including Louvain, which housed the country's preeminent university.

The Rape of Belgium recalls the bloodshed and destruction of the 1914 invasion, and the outrage it inspired abroad. Yet Larry Zuckerman does not stop there, and takes us on a harrowing journey over the next fifty months, vividly documenting Germany's occupation of Belgium. The occupiers plundered the country, looting its rich supply of natural resources; deporting Belgians en masse to Germany and northern France as forced laborers; and jailing thousands on contrived charges, including the failure to inform on family or neighbors. Despite the duration of the siege and the destruction left in its wake, in considering Belgium, neither the Allies nor the history books focused on the occupation, and instead cast their attention almost wholly on the invasion.

Featuring extensive archival research, including previously untapped Belgian government archives, The Rape of Belgium draws on a little-known story to remind us about the horrors of war. Further, Zuckerman shows why the Allies refrained from punishing the Germans for the occupation and controversially suggests that had the victors followed through, European history might have taken a very different course over the next several decades.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 339 pages
  • Publisher: New York University Press (Feb. 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814797040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814797044
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 22 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #825,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye opener! Sept. 20 2004
By Regine M. Brindle - Published on
Growing up in Post WW2 Belgium, I never understood why those who lived through the war could not stop recalling their experience.

Couldn't they just leave the past behind?

And then I grew up and I began asking questions?

My father's parents lived on the Dutch border, by Vise and so were some of the first to witness the invasion. My grandfather was deported to Bavaria for 5 years. His wife was left to fend for herself and their 6 year old son.

My mother's parents lived a few days' walk from the border, in Jauche. They, along with many others, fled Belgium with only the clothes they had on their backs. Watching the horizon for advancing German troops from the second floor of their homes, those who had survived WW1 had encouraged their adult children to just run. Why? Was that not cowardice?

I found the answer. It was not cowardice. It was survival instincts.

In its horrifying retelling, the book presents a sort of play rehearsal for the Holocaust.

The invaders' total disregard of the law and treaties but most of all their ability to get away with it all, set the tone for the next war. A German population, lulled by false propaganda, believed they had been victimized by the Allies. When the 'right' leader came along how could they resist seeking what they felt was righteous vindication.

How wrong they were though!

How Belgium and the Belgians ever managed to get back on their feet amazes me...

WW2 might not have happened had the issue of War Crimes been taken seriously. Millions of lives might have been spared. But hindsight is 20/20.

A must-read for anyone truly interested in learning from the Past.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facts behind the propaganda March 5 2005
By John C. Landon - Published on
The propaganda wars in the First World War produced a strong reaction against the distortions on both sides. But, as the author shows, the result in the case of Belgium was to forget the reality of the German invasion and occupation, which in many ways was the first episode of the twentieth century savagery of warfare against civilian populations. The term 'totalitarian' had not yet entered the language, but the war system created to plunder and repress the Belgians was in many ways the first instance of the type. Sixth place in the ranks of industrialized nations, Belgium was plundered of its industrial capital and infrastructure. This history was a premonition of the tactics of the Nazis to come. Sets the record straight in an area where it is difficult, short of the archival research provided, to maintain objective judgments.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Larry Zukerman Has Given Me Much to Think About Feb. 11 2008
By David Thomson - Published on
I have long held the view that the United States should have stayed out of World War I. Larry Zukerman is making me think twice about our involvement. Germany was guilty of war crimes against he people of Belgium. Its behavior during the invasion simply cannot be explained away. The German military did indeed seem to deliberately terrorize the population. Unfortunately, the shabbily put together Bryce Report encouraged outsiders to dismiss all reports of atrocities as mere exaggerations and outright lies. I consider this current review as incomplete. Am I perhaps too reluctant to admit being wrong in the past? Whatever, I strongly recommend The Rape of Belgium to all those interested in the history of this savage war. I will also be adding future insights in the comment section.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overview of little known atrocities of WWI Aug. 24 2007
By Yoda - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A book that finally provides a history (and excellent coverage via footnoted documentation) on a long forgotten and overlooked occupation and its accompanying attrocities. The cynicism of the time had prompted many to dismiss these atrocities as propaganda. Let the cynics of the present and the future not be so blinded as to dismiss the crimes against humanity being committed worldwide today, especially in distant and far-off lands such as Darfur.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rape of Belgium Aug. 14 2012
By Annie J - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book quite revealing. Being originally from Belgium and having grandparents that wen t through World War I in Belgium I knew they had bad times but I never thought it was this bad.

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