A Belgian Lawyer's Appeal





One of the great lawyers of Belgium in behalf of the members of the bar

of Brussels, Liége, Ghent, Charleroi, Mons, Louvain, and Antwerp,

appeared twice before the German Court of Justice at Brussels and

appealed for more just treatment of the Belgian people. In his first

appeal, he protested against the illegal manner in which the Belgians

were accused of crime, tried, and convicted at the pleasure of German

officials. He concluded with the following eloquent words:



I can understand martial law for armies in the field. It is the

immediate reply to an aggression against the troops, the quick

justice of the commander of the army responsible for his

soldiers. But our armies are far away; we are no longer in the

zone of military operations. Nothing here threatens your troops,

the inhabitants are calm.



The people have taken up work again. You have bidden them do it.

Each one attends to his business--magistrates, judges, officials

of the provinces and cities, the clergy, all are at their posts,

united in one outburst of national interest and brotherhood.



However, this does not mean that they have forgotten. The

Belgian people lived happily in their corner of the earth,

confident in their dream of independence. They saw this dream

dispelled; they saw their country ruined and devastated; its

ancient hospitable soil has been sown with thousands of tombs

where our own sleep; the war has made tears flow which no hand

can dry. No, the murdered soul of Belgium will never forget.



His second appeal will be spoken by school children in Belgium, and

perhaps in America, when the names of the German judges to whom he

spoke are forgotten even in Germany.



We are not annexed. We are not conquered. We are not even

vanquished. Our army is fighting. Our colors float alongside

those of France, England, and Russia. The country subsists. She

is simply unfortunate. More than ever, then, we now owe

ourselves to her, body and soul. To defend her rights is also to

fight for her.



We are living hours now as tragic as any country has ever known.

All is destruction and ruin around us. Everywhere we see

mourning. Our army has lost half of its effective forces. Its

percentage in dead and wounded will never be reached by any of

the belligerents. There remains to us only a corner of ground

over there by the sea. The waters of the Yser flow through an

immense plain peopled by the dead. It is called the Belgian

Cemetery. There sleep our children by the thousands. There they

are sleeping their last sleep. The struggle goes on bitterly and

without mercy.



Your sons, Mr. President, are at the front; mine as well. For

months we have been living in anxiety regarding the morrow.



Why these sacrifices, why this sorrow? Belgium could have

avoided these disasters, saved her existence, her treasures, and

the lives of her children, but she preferred her honor.





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