The German response to real or alleged atrocities committed by Kaiser's troops in Belgium. German propaganda, published in several languages and in the international press, emphasized that the occupation forces of Belgium, had respected both the civilian population and the historical monuments. At the same time, the Germans accused the Belgian soldiers and civilians of carrying out a guerrilla war, violating the conventions of war.
During World War I, chemical weapons appeared on the battlefield : insidious and deadly against the enemy. At Ypres, in Belgium, chemical weapons were used so extensively that the city gave its name to one of them, the Yperite.
In Britain, where the conscription was voluntary, the enthusiasm for the war and the indignation for the German atrocities in Belgium moved in a few months hundreds of thousands of English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish to enrol in the Army. Only in early 1916 the sharp decline in the number of volunteers prompted the government to introduce a forced conscription.
The invasion of Belgium showed to the world the destructive power of destructive weapon. But it was a propaganda war mostly, involving the informations apparatus of the two coalitions. The fire of the ancient library of Leuven aroused particular reprobation. The news of the fall of Antwerp, appeared on the Kölnische Zeitung, was misunderstood to the point that among the countries of the Entente spread the legend that some members of the belgian clergy had been hung by the Germans to the bells...
On August 4th, the German troops crossed the Belgian border to score a series of brilliant triumphs. Many in Berlin were confident of a quick victory. The Deutsches Heer appeared to be unstoppable, but it had not counted on Belgium’s will to resist and British intervention.
In the spring of 1915, the German general staff was focused on the operations that were being developed on the eastern front and limited themselves to remaining on the defensive on the one in the west. Despite this, General von Falkenhayn decided to launch a limited offensive operation in the area of Yprés, in Belgium.