“Profoundly moved” by this picture of desolation wrought by his troops, General von Hausen departed from the ruins of Dinant secure in the conviction that the responsibility lay with the Belgian government “which approved this perfidious street fighting contrary to international law.” The Germans were obsessively concerned about violations of international law. They succeeded in overlooking the violation created by their presence in Belgium in favor of the violation committed, as they saw it, by Belgians resisting their presence. With a sigh of long -tried patience, Abbé Wetterlé, Alsatian delegate to the Reichstag, once confessed, “To a mind formed in the Latin school, the German mentality is difficult to comprehend.” The German obsession had two parts: that Belgian resistance was illegal and that it was organized from “above” by the Belgian government or by burgomasters, priests, and other persons who could be classified as “above.” Together the two parts established the corollary: that German reprisals were righteous and legal, regardless of degree. The shooting of a single hostage or the massacre of 612 and the razing of a town were alike to be charged to the Belgian government —this was the refrain of every German from Hausen after Dinant to the Kaiser after Louvain. The responsibility must “fall upon those who incited the population to attack the Germans,” Hausen protests constantly. There can be absolutely no doubt, he insists, that the whole population of Dinant and other regions was “animated— by whose order?— by one desire to stop the advance of the Germans.” That people could be animated to stop the invader without an order from “above” was inconceivable.
Tuchman, Barbara W. (2009-07-22). The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; (Kindle Locations 5890-5902). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.