The world is revolted by it. Keep these savageries for us Frenchmen, your true enemies! But to wreak them against your victims, against this small, unhappy, innocent Belgian people … how shameful is this!
And not content to fling yourselves on living Belgium, you wage war on the dead, on the glories of past ages. You bombard Malines, you burn Rubens, and Louvain is now no more than a heap of ashes—Louvain with its treasures of art and of science, the sacred town! What are you, then, Hauptmann, and by what name do you want us to call you now, since you repudiate the title of barbarians? Are you the grand-sons of Goethe or of Attila? Are you making war on enemies or on the human spirit? Kill men if you like, but respect masterpieces. They are the patrimony of the human race. You, like all the rest of us, are its depositories; in pillaging it, as you do, you show yourselves unworthy of our great heritage, unworthy to take your place in that little European army which is civilisation's guard of honour.
It is not to the opinion of the rest of the world that I address myself in challenging you, Hauptmann. In the name of our Europe, of which you have hitherto been one of the most illustrious