On 31 July 1914, the multitude thronged at the National Bank, on rue du Bois Sauvage, behind the Saints-Michel-and-Gudule church. People wanted to exchange their money for precious metals, considered more trustworthy in a time of crisis. The war which threatened Europe created a real bank panic. From 27 July until 1 August 1914, more than 50 millions in silver were taken from the vaults of the Rue du Bois Sauvage, to be immediately hoarded. The reserves of the National Bank were at risk of total depletion.
Monetary panic was worsened on 1 August by food shortage. The rumour of a rapid shortage of commodities spread throughout the city. The population packed in the food stores, which took advantage and raised their prices. Stores were looted and sacked. Faced with the danger of war, the capital was in turmoil.