Thursday, October 4, 2012
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Today in history the battle for Liége ended when the last of the fortresses was smashed by the German super-heavy howitzers and General Gérard Leman was knocked out and captured, being found half buried in the rubble by the Germans. General Leman is regarded by all as the first hero of the Great War for his determined defense of his country and the Meuse fortresses. He was an old veteran of great courage and a true sense of duty to his King and the country. Because of that, he wanted it known especially that he had been found unconscious in the rubble and had not surrendered of his own will. Because of his duty he also knew, as they were taking him away to Germany as a prisoner of war, that he had to report to the King about what had happened. This was allowed because the Germans were very impressed by his courage and military skill, considering General Leman a gallant and worthy enemy. This was the letter the general wrote:
General Leman to King Albert I
After honourable engagements on August 4th, 5th, and 6th, I considered that the forts of Liege could only play the role of forts d'arret. I nevertheless maintained military government in order to coordinate the defence as much as possible, and to exercise moral influence upon the garrison.
Your Majesty is not ignorant that I was at Fort Loncin on August 6th at noon. You will learn with grief that the fort was blown up yesterday at 5.20 p.m., the greater part of the garrison being buried under the ruins.
That I did not lose my life in that catastrophe is due to the fact that my escort, Commandant Collard, a sub-officer of infantry who unfortunately perished, the gendarme Thevenim and my two orderlies, Vanden Bossche and Jos Lecocq, drew me from a position of danger, where I was being asphyxiated by gas from the exploded powder.
I was carried into a trench, where a German captain named Guson gave me a drink, after which I was made a prisoner and taken to Liege in an ambulance. I am convinced that the honour of our arms has been sustained. I have not surrendered either the fortress or the forts.
Deign, Sire, to pardon my defects in this letter. I am physically shattered by the explosion of Loncin. In Germany, whither I am proceeding, my thoughts will be, as they have ever been, of Belgium and the King. I would willingly have given my life the better to serve them, but death was denied me.
That, my friends is the words of a true and great Belgian patriot and he should be an example to all of us. I am sure the King was very proud of his general and his old teacher when he was delivered this letter. This is the spirit of those old veterans of 1914 that I admire so much and makes me regard them as the greatest heroes our country ever has produced.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Monday, August 6, 2012
Friday, August 3, 2012
This was the first great trial that Belgium had faced since independence. The country had put too much trust in international agreements and was not well prepared for war and Belgium was facing the most powerful and heavily armed military force in the world. In spite of the many difficulties, the people stood together as one to resist and to defend independence and the national integrity. When the Germans invaded Belgium they were going to be very surprised because they had expected that Belgium would not resist at all or could be easily swept aside with no difficulty. When the Belgian soldiers of 1914 held the forts, when they struck at the invaders, when they destroyed the bridges and fought constant rear-guard actions, the Germans became furious. Their timetable was thrown off, the first problem in their grand strategy for defeating France. The fierce Belgian resistance slowed the Germans down and then the British army at Mons slowed them down again and by the time they were approaching Paris the French were ready and the German plan was defeated. I have such great admiration for the awesome courage of the Belgian forces who stood directly in the path of the Imperial German war machine and stood their ground and fought them every step of the way. They were a small army but very huge heroes!
Monday, July 30, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
It would be nice if there could at last be peace and genuine friendship and cooperation between Belgium, Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo also after now 50 decades since the end of the Belgian colonial empire. Unfortunately, this cannot happen while those power-hungry individuals continue to blame every problem and misfortune on the Belgians of history so that they will not be held responsible for their own misrule. This encourages hatred and keeps always bitter feelings alive. Only when this stops can their at last be real friendship and cooperation again.
Friday, July 6, 2012
King Baudouin by The Mad Monarchist was just posted, a look at the life of the prior King who I know the 'Mad One' admires very much. The problems with the independence of the Belgian Congo are highlighted as probably the most difficult time of the reign of King Baudouin but the King was really very popular in Africa and visited the continent many times. Here are some photographic memories of King Baudouin in Africa:
King Baudouin and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
King Baudouin and first Congo President Joseph Kasavubu
King Baudouin in Leopoldville with Congolese leaders
King Baudouin with King Mutara III of Rwanda
King Baudouin with colonial officials in the Congo
King Baudouin arrives in Burundi
King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola visit the Congo
King Baudouin with President Mobutu
King Baudouin with President Mobutu
King Baudouin with the (very tall) King Kigeli V of Rwanda
King Baudouin visits the Force Publique school
King Baudouin reading his speech giving independence to the Congo
Monday, July 2, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
King Leopold I was the first King of the Belgians, and a very greatly admired and respected national leader all over the world, but the throne of Belgium was not the first kingdom he was offered to preside over. The Greeks had claimed independence to break away from the Ottoman Empire of Turkey in 1830 and were in need of a monarch. A prince from a powerful royal family or with, at least, family ties to powerful countries, was preferred to help secure Greek independence as a policy of insurance against efforts by the Turks to retake Greece. Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was considered and was asked to come reign over the new Kingdom of Greece. The cause of the Greeks had been a popular one in Europe, seen by many as a great romantic adventure and there was much sympathy for the Greeks against the Turks. Prince Leopold was not unaffected by this and he considered seriously accepting the offer to become the first King of Greece or King of the Greeks.