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The Rape of Belgium: The Untold Story of World War I Hardcover – Feb 1 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 339 pages
  • Publisher: New York Univ Pr (Feb. 1 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814797040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814797044
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 22.4 x 2.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 599 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,514,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0facb88) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa116512c) out of 5 stars A real eye opener! Sept. 20 2004
By Regine M. Brindle - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa115a1d4) out of 5 stars Facts behind the propaganda March 5 2005
By John C. Landon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0f72204) out of 5 stars Larry Zukerman Has Given Me Much to Think About Feb. 11 2008
By David Thomson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0f727d4) 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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0f7239c) out of 5 stars Excellent. Could be subtitled "the mindset of invading (German) armies and escalation of war crimes." Jan. 28 2013
By Clement A. Gollier - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book. While the subject matter involved WWI Belgium which, even for a Belgian like myself, can be distant enough to blur History and myth, I found Zuckerman's approach to be clear, rational, and, on the whole, balanced.

The book explains the rationale for Belgium's perceived inactivity in the early phases of the war, recounts fairly the early atrocities (Louvain...) before shifting to war crimes that are less dramatic (destruction and theft of industrial machinery, 'relocation' of labor to Germany...) but indeed more damning since clearly premeditated, and more damaging to Belgium in the long run. Zuckerman also recounts and critiques the diplomatic efforts of the exiled government and the mixed feelings that the Western powers exhibited toward Belgium. Finally the book clearly explains the legalistic side of atonement and punishment, not least the legal impunity of having invaded a neutral actor and the myth of 'unbeaten' Germany which, of course, had its own consequences.

There are interesting side notes, such as the involvement of Herbert Hoover or the fostering of Flemish nationalism, which could be developed further as they have their own historical significance. It is said, for instance, that Hoover's reluctance to large-scale relief during the Great Depression was based on his experiences in Belgium.

If I have one gripe, it is that the book as it progresses becomes more focused on the interplay of Great Powers. We are told that the Allies are annoyed at Albert's reluctance to join a unified command, but Albert's motivations are not explored in depth. The German gas attacks at Ypres could also have been discussed in more depth.

As it is, anyone interested in International Law, the psychology of armies on the march, or the genesis of similar WWII atrocities should absolutely read this book.