# The missions of the Germans

"Original photograph of the Belgian theatre of operations. Two-man patrol in the streets of Brussels":
The helmets worn by these two soldiers serve to identify them as infantrymen from a unit from Hanover, the Füsilier-Regiment Feldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen Nr.73. This photograph was clearly taken in the summer of 1914, while the occupation was quite recent and the presence of German troops was still fascinating to the curious onlookers wearing their summer straw hats.  - Private collection, Nicolas Mignon. ©

"Original photograph of the Belgian theatre of operations. Two-man patrol in the streets of Brussels": The helmets worn by these two soldiers serve to identify them as infantrymen from a unit from Hanover, the Füsilier-Regiment Feldmarschall Prinz Albrecht von Preußen Nr.73. This photograph was clearly taken in the summer of 1914, while the occupation was quite recent and the presence of German troops was still fascinating to the curious onlookers wearing their summer straw hats. - Private collection, Nicolas Mignon. ©

During the four years of the occupation, German battalions are assigned to a considerable variety of activities. Some of them regularly change barracks or duties, while others "specialise" and remain in their post for several years.

The tasks assigned to the occupation troops require many skills to be brought into service. Guarding a railway line out in the countryside, in a zone that would remain totally calm for three years, requires far less involvement and composure from the men than the fact of guarding the border with the Netherlands, where they have received orders to shoot on sight, and where any breach of the established rules is severely punished. Even so, the troops are more inclined to patrol the streets and cafés of the big cities than they are to serve as executioners for German traitors or Belgian spies.

The Belgians come across the Germans as they perform their duties, but most particularly when the Germans are on duty in their village, and they share the same day to day experience.

 

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