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factories, oil reservoirs, wireless stations and great centers of population.78 London, according to Colonel Jackson, could not be considered as an undefended city, for the reason that it was a seat of military stores and barracks and was prepared to offer resistance. The commander of an enemy's war balloon, he said, might arrive over London and signal as a matter of courtesy: "I am going to drop explosives.” We answer: “You must not drop explosives; we are not defended.” The commander replies, as it seems to me quite logically, “then you must surrender. Good. You will now obey orders.” Professor Holland replied, in a . letter published in the London Times, 79 that the words “by any means whatever" were added to Article 25 “deliberately and after much discussion, for the purpose of preventing just such attacks from airships upon undefended localities, among which I consider that London would unquestionably be included.” In a subsequent letter 80 he seems less certain of his position, for he asks “whether a great center of population like London can claim to be undefended when it contains barracks, stores, and bodies of troops?” “For the affirmative answer,” he says, “I can only vouch for the authority of the Institute of International Law, which at its meeting of 1896 adopted a statement to this effect.” But the views of the Institute are not those held by the authorities on military law or the writers on international law. According to them, a place is defended when it has the means and the determination to resist. “A place cannot be said to be undefended,” says Westlake,81 "when means are taken to prevent an enemy from occupying it. The price of immunity from bombardment is that the place shall be left open for the enemy to enter.” Certainly if it is occupied by organized military forces who oppose the entrance of the enemy, it is defended and may be bombarded. Every city which defends itself seriously, although it may be open and unfortified, says Bonfils,82 may be attacked as if it were
78 Spaight, Air Craft in War, p. 12. 70 April 25, 1914, p. 10. See also his Letters on War and Neutrality, pp. 101, 115. 80 London Times, April 25, 1914, p. 10. 81 International Law,-War, p. 315.
82 Droit International, sec. 1082. Compare also Merignhac, Lois et Coutumes, p. 177, who follows Bonfils in regarding resistance by the inhabitants as the test of the liability of a town to bombardment. He justifies the bombardment of Chateaudun by the Germans in 1870 because, although an open city, it was energetically defended by
fortified; the legitimacy of the aggression does not depend upon the fact of fortification, but upon the fact that it is occupied by armed forces. Both the British and German war manuals recognize the liability to bombardment of places occupied by troops, though they may not be fortified.83 Spaight, an English writer,84 holds that bombs may lawfully be dropped upon military stores and depots, in undefended as well as defended towns, and, for practical reasons peculiar to aerial warfare, the notifications or warnings required by the naval convention may be dispensed with.85 In regard to the liability of London to bombardment, he says:86
I can see nothing in international law to prevent an hostile air craft force from dropping bombs on Chelsea, Wellington, Albany or Knightsbridge barracks, or on the clothing factory or depot at Pimlico or on Euston, Kings Cross, Waterloo and other great railway termini. Many commercial undertakings which hold orders for the War Department or Admiralty would be liable to bombardment also. So probably would the War Office and the Admiralty and the headquarters of the Eastern Command and the London District. The vast territorial force headquarters all over London also appear to be possible legitimate objects of attack.
"The only way,” he adds, “by which a great city can escape liability is through international agreement or by the removal of its garrisons, barracks, stores, etc.” This seems to be an accurate statement of the rights of belligerents under the law as it now stands.
Both Antwerp and Paris were not only defended, but they were fortified at the time the German bombs were dropped upon them in 1914, Franc-Tireurs and the national guard, but he condemns the bombardment of Alexandria by the English in 1882 as an act of useless cruelty because the town was both open and undefended, p. 178. For the same reason Despagnet (sec. 532) condemns the bombardment of Piscagua, Peru, in 1878.
83 British Manual, sec. 119, and the German Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege, p. 22. 64 Air Craft in War, p. 18.
85 The Belgians complained that Antwerp was bombarded by German Zeppelins without previous notice. It is true that the Naval Convention (Art. 3) requires notice before beginning a bombardment, but this requirement was never intended to apply to aerial bombardment, nor was the requirement of Article 26 of the convention in respect to land warfare, which requires the commanding officer of an attacking party to do all in his power to warn the authorities before beginning a bombardment.
s Air Craft in War, p. 20.
and therefore the act was not a violation of the letter of Article 25 of the Hague convention in respect to land warfare.87 The protest placed by the mayor of Ostend in the hands of the American consul on September 26th, for transmission to the President of the United States, stated that Ostend was a "non-fortified” city and that the “majority" of the inhabitants were non-combatants. But it does not appear from the text of the protest as printed in the press dispatches that the town was also "undefended.” On the contrary, it may be inferred from the statement that not all the inhabitants were non-combatants, that it was occupied by military forces, and if they offered resistance it was liable to bombardment. It is quite likely that some of the smaller places upon which bombs have been dropped were undefended, as alleged, in which case the acts were clearly in violation of the Hague convention.88 The reported launching of bombs from a Japanese aeroplane upon German war-ships in the harbor of Kiau-Chau and upon wireless and electric power stations was, of course, not contrary to the Hague prohibition nor was the dropping of bombs by English aviators on the Zeppelin factories at Dusseldorf and Friedrickshaven in November and upon the Krupp factory at Essen in December.
But admitting that the German aviators were within the letter of the law in all their bomb dropping operations, it does not follow that their acts were in every case in conformity with the rules of humane and civilized warfare. The preamble to the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of Land Warfare declares that the governments represented in the Conference “were animated by a desire to serve * * * the interests of humanity and the ever progressive needs of civilization." What therefore the letter of the convention may permit its spirit may forbid. It may be safely presumed that the Conference did not intend to sanction the indiscriminate dropping of bombs on hospitals, churches, art galleries, and private houses, and the killing of innocent non-combatants when no military end was likely to be subserved. The undeveloped state of aerial navigation makes it impossible to direct the launching of bombs from air ships so that they will strike only legitimate objects of attack. In most of the cases reported, the bombs dropped did not fall upon ammunition depots, military works or other objects of legitimate attack, but upon private houses, hospitals, and churches, or in the public streets or squares, the only effect of which was to terrorize the population, kill innocent non-combatants and destroy private property.
87 The report of the Belgian Commission of Inquiry ("The Case of Belgium," p. 23) denies that Antwerp, Louvain and Namur were "invested” or “besieged" at the time the German bombs were dropped upon them, but it does not appear that they were also "undefended.” On the contrary, they were undoubtedly defended in the technical sense in which the word is used in military law.
88 In "The Case of Belgium” (p. 23), it is stated that the village of Heyst-op-denBerg and the city of Malines were bombarded by the Germans "both of which were undefended and in which there was not a single Belgian soldier."
It is not necessary to brand such methods of warfare as "down-right murder" or "pitiless savagery,” as some respectable American newspapers have done, but it is quite within the bounds of truth to say that, for an aviator to travel far beyond the sphere of military operations and, without warning, drop powerful explosives indiscriminately upon private houses and in the streets, killing innocent non-combatants who cannot defend themselves, is contrary to the generally accepted notions of civilized warfare.
DESTRUCTION OF TOWNS AND OF INSTITUTIONS DEVOTED TO RELIGION,
EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND ART, AS PUNITIVE MEASURES
With the possible exception of the violation of Belgian neutrality, no acts have provoked wider criticism than the burning of Louvain with its university, its cathedral, its library, including its books, manuscripts and scientific collections, the partial destruction of the cathedrals of Rheims and Soissons, the alleged "massacre" at Aerschot, the “sacking” of Senlis, including the partial destruction of its cathedral, and the '"atrocities” at Linsmeau, Termonde and Orsmael. The British Prime Minister, in his Guildhall speech of September 4th, characterized the burning of Louvain as “the greatest crime committed against civilization and culture since the Thirty Years War—a shameless holocaust of irreparable treasures lit up by blind barbarian vengeance." 89 Sir Frederick Pollock also declared that "it exceeded in horror and calcu
** London Times, September 5, 1914.
lated wickedness any military crime committed since the Thirty Years War.” 90 The London Times denounced it as “an atrocious act without a parallel even in the Dark Ages and one which would turn the hands of every civilized nation against the Germans." These expressions fairly represent the opinion of the English and, to a large degree, the American public in regard to the character of the act.
The public dispatches represent that, among other "atrocities,” the greater part of Aerschot, "an undefended country town” was de stroyed, the church of Notre Dame “desecrated” and more than one hundred and fifty of the inhabitants “massacred,” including the burgomaster and his fifteen year old son. A few days later Malines, also "an open and undefended town," was bombarded and many buildings and monuments, including the cathedral, the Hotel de Ville, the Roman Catholic university, and the court houses were destroyed. Still later Dinant, "a charming town with many picturesque buildings,” suffered the fate of Louvain and Malines. The leading citizens were made prisoners, including the members of the communal council, all but three or four of the latter being shot. Termonde is alleged to have suffered a similar fate, more than 1100 of its 1400 houses being destroyed.
The reports which we have of these acts are no doubt exaggerated, coming as they do mainly from English and Belgian sources, and simple justice to the military commanders of a great civilized state against whom the charges are made requires that whenever the evidence is doubtful, judgment should be suspended until the facts are fully known. In the present discussion, therefore, consideration will be mainly confined to an examination of the law governing those acts which the Germans themselves do not deny having committed. The destruction of Louvain is one of these, although it should be said that their account of the extent of the damage differs in some respects from the accounts derived from Belgian and English sources. While admitting in the main the facts charged in regard to Louvain, the Germans justified their act as a legitimate punitive measure against the city in consequence of the firing upon German troops in occupation thereof, by certain of the civilian inhabitants. The city had surrendered, the military commander had taken as hostages a number of the leading citizens, and the inhabitants
20 Letter to the Times, August 30, 1914.