Belgian civilian workers who died and were buried in France
Once a Belgian village or town was captured by the Germans, they began a hunt for young Belgians who had not been mobilized in the Belgian army or not had volunteered for the Belgian army.
Those who were picked up were deported to Germany and ended up in camps like Soltau, Sennelager, Alten Grabau, etc... Soon, however, there came an international protest against this conduct of the Germans and most of the young men returned back home by February/March 1915.
Then the Germans took a different approach. Because by then it had become clear that the "short-term" view of this war had "verschwunden". Both parties understood that, but it left Germany in need of a workforce. They had mobilized their army in masse because they believed they would win this war in a minimum of time. Therefore the young German men who had been mobilized had to be replaced in industry and agriculture to keep the German war economy at level.
Germany began to starve the occupied territory of Belgium by confiscating food supplies and by doing so they forced the Belgians to accept their work offers. They recruited "Zivilarbeiter" for 30 pfennig a plate of turnip soup and 50 grams of bread a day. Out of pure necessity the Belgians accepted to work for the Germans under these conditions and doing so kept their economy, agriculture and war machine in motion.
Many of our young men were not send to Germany, but to France, right behind the trenches. Their job was to ensure the supply of weaponry and digging or strengthening the trenches. In Belgium Italian POWs were used for this work behind the German trenches. In both places these men were treated like animals.
Many have not returned.
In the military cemetery of Effry in France 201 Belgian civilian casualties are buried, In Guise 33 and in Pierrepont 139. That's almost 380 young men who had no reason to die.
The copyright to the pictures of the graves of civilian workers are available at the same conditions as the copyright of the photos of the soldiers. See therefore the section Photo database in the menu on the homepage.