After 'Teutonic Fury', 'Belgian Fury'? Fact and Fiction in the Revenge of Belgian Soldiers in the Rhineland in 1923

TitleAfter 'Teutonic Fury', 'Belgian Fury'? Fact and Fiction in the Revenge of Belgian Soldiers in the Rhineland in 1923
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsGodfroid, Anne
EditorBranche, Raphaëlle, and Fabrice Virgili
Book TitleRape in Wartime
Pagination90-102
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
City, CountryBasingstoke, UK ; London ; New York
Abstract

On 19 November 1940, King Leopold III travelled to Berchtesgaden to meet Chancellor Hitler at the Berghof. The king expected assurances over his own future fate and that of his nation but the conversation took an unexpected turn. As he sought to explain the development of national public opinion in Belgium, Leopold III referred to the behaviour of German soldiers during the First World War – Hitler himself had of course been one such soldier. The Führer reacted promptly to the reference: he spoke of the allied forces of occupation in the Rhineland, the Saarland and the Palatinate and their behaviour which, he asserted, had been much worse than that of the German troops in occupied Belgium. According to him, some 17,000 rapes had been committed in the Rhineland alone; this had not happened in Belgium, where such crimes would immediately have incurred the death penalty. This view clearly bears the stamp of propaganda – the 17,000 rapes supposedly perpetrated by the occupying forces bear some relation to the figures put forward in relation to the campaign against colonial troops, or the Schwarze Schmach (black shame), stationed in the Rhineland. At its peak, in the spring of 1921, coloured soldiers were accused of committing more than a hundred rapes every day. The campaign attacked France but spared Belgium, whose Force publique (colonial troops from the Belgian Congo) was not present in the Rhineland.

Reprint Edition2013
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