CHAPTER 27
GERMAN COERCION OF BELGIAN WORKMEN AGAIN INVOLVES THE C.R.B.

The continued German coercion of Belgian workers to go into their employ was to develop new troubles for the C.R.B. As a sample of these activities, I summarize a report to our Brussels office from the C.R.B. representative in the Province of Namur, C. M. Torrey, which illustrates the methods used by the Germans:

NAMUR, 29 March 1916

GENTLEMEN:

Regarding the question of attempts by the military occupants to force Belgian workmen to do repair and construction of a military or semi- military nature on the railroads. . . . On the 7th of February 1916 a summons to these three and to eleven other able-bodied men of Rochefort . . . came from the office of the German Kommandantur, commanding the men to present themselves at Jemelle, a village two kilometers away, where railroad repair and construction shops are situated. Following this demand, the fourteen presented themselves the same day at Jamelle. . . . When all had gathered there at 8:00 A.M., a German officer evidently in charge of the shop asked them to work, describing the labor generally as that of repair, and offering as payment 3 marks 60 pfennigs a day . . . the men . . . seemed to agree substantially that the work demanded was either directly military . . . or indirectly . . . connected in general with the main purpose of the Germans' use of Belgian railroads.

This request . . . was immediately refused by each of the fourteen. . . . February 8th, they were taken . . . to Namur. . . . In Namur they were first put into prison . . . and kept there thenceforward on a diet (they tell

-253-

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