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ganizes forced liquidation of certain business concerns in Belgian territory occupied by the enemy.
According to trustworthy information the German Government has further ordered certain establishments to turn into the bank of the German Empire the amount of the accounts of French and English citizens.
The law of Belgium, of which the Hague Convention forms part, does not recognize as valid the powers granted for purposes of liquidation to receivers appointed by the occupant nor the liquidating operation. Therefore when the territory is liberated parties injured by the abuse of de facto power that may have been exercised by receivers or other liquidating agents will have a remedy
at law against the said receivers or agents.
All contracts or other legal instruments going beyond the mere custody or conservation of property will be voidable. This will in particular apply to alienations of real or personal property, conveyances of debt; in a word, all acts of disposal.
The representatives in places out of the occupied Belgian territory of Belgian or foreign firms or corporations that have been sequestered by the German authorities would make themselves liable to the penalties provided by the law decree of Dec. 10, 1916, besides damages through civil action, if they should carry out the instructions given them by the receivers or liquidating agents.
** Liberty Enlightening the World”
By HENRY VAN DYKE
Thou warden of the western gate, above Manhattan Bay,
French Captives Placed in Range of French Guns by Orders From Berlin
ENERAL VON STEIN,' the Ger
prisoners taken there for some time, and to bring them into a similar situation. Low actions will not, however, be committed by us.
I saw in France numberless crowds of French prisoners pass by. Our field-gray soldiers curiously crowded around, but I never heard one insulting word, and still less
any action against them. That was done by us barbarians."
The War Minister said he was sure the measures of reprisal would not always be executed with sufficient strictness, as the German people were always good natured and even oversentimental in such cases. He turned next to the case of German prisoners in England, saying:
In England things are different. Although the English usually deny atrocities, it must be admitted that in many cases they redressed grievances, and that generally the treatment in England is better. This, however, does not exclude that also the English employ many prisoners close behind the front, and therefore adequate measures have been taken as reprisals. We further know that captured Germans in the French ports are made to work under unfavorable conditions in excessive fashion by the English. For this reason also English prisoners have been put in the same position on certain places of the front. Immediately after the declaration of the submarine war we brought to the knowledge of the English Government that eventual special treatment of our brave submarine crews would be answered immediately with similar measures.
About the Russians not much is to be said. Many things are obscure. It is not yet certain whether the sad conditions on the Murman Railway have been completely cleared up. Some of our airplane officers are still chained in dungeons. But it ought not to be passed in silence that, in spite of everything else, in Russia conditions in many places have become rather better than worse. For this thanks are due to the devoted activities of the Swedish and Danish Red Cross. Since Sweden took charge of our representation in Russia very energetic work has been done there in order to better the fate of our comrades. Denmark magnanimously followed Switzerland's example and agreed that institutions for exchange of prisoners be established. Also the King of Spain offered help in the same direction. We welcome all these warm-hearted endeavors with sincere gratitude
man Minister of War, delivered
on March 3, 1917, in which he announced that, owing to French mistreatment of German prisoners, countermeasures had been adopted under which, beginning on that date, French prisoners would be placed in the zone of fire until the alleged abuses of the enemy were discontinued. In the course of his speech he said:
The situation is worse in France. Unfortunately things do not grow better there, but worse. The enemy endeavors to oppress our unfortunate comrades, body and soul. The liberties which we granted to prisoners in our camps, by allowing them occupation with art and science, as much as they like and were used to, are unknown in France. We therefore abolished these liberties in our prisoner camps. The time of warning which had been fixed at four weeks, after which countermeasures would be taken, only benefited the enemies. During that time
we treated our prisoners decently, and our prisoners in the hands of the enemy had to suffer four more weeks of torture. I asked that the time be cut short, and this has been granted today. Countermeasures will be taken immediately and continued until we receive from hostile Governments news that the hostile measures have been abolished.
Thousands of prisoners were discovered working close behind the French front, in range of the fire of our own guns. If these unfortunate people seek cover against our fire the French officers prevent this with arms. We have taken countermeasures, and brought French prisoners into the same situation behind our front. This will be continued until the enemy has decided to fulfill our demands and withdraw his prisoners fifty kilometers [about 324 miles] behind the front. The lowest act which they commit is that, especially during recent times, they have tortured German prisoners immediately after capturing them with all means in order to make them speak about military facts. This ghastly fate is especially reserved for officers and non-commissioned officers. They are locked up for days in receptacles resembling cages. They are made to suffer hunger for days in order to break their spirits. We do not meditate for one moment following the enemy on this road, but the front has been ordered to hold back
I cannot speak about the fate of our captured countrymen without mentioning the people dragged from East Prussia Alsace-Lorraine. There, perhaps, greater tragedies happened than among our prisoners. In my corps we had a young Alsatian clergyman who had been forced to leave his wife with a new-born child. The woman had to sit for weeks in a cellar, and was then dragged away by the French, and the unfortunate husband up to today has heard nothing of his family.
When a short while ago, in Belgium, workmen and inhabitants were sent to Germany for work storm of indignation arose abroad and also at home. We did not remain silent. The Belgians are our enemies, and many of them, probably from a safe hiding place, fired against our troops. My East Prussian and Alsatian countrymen are much nearer to my heart. l'nfortunately we could not obtain the least justice for these unhappy ones. France hides behind all sorts of pretexts, and pretends that these people do not want to return. In fact, very few, some thirty, have come back. During these days a sister was said to return with fifty children, but she came with empty hands. Whether a second sister, who comes in the next few days, will be more successful is not yet known. The Russian Government alleges national auxiliary service, and therefore refuses to release these people. I am always ready to defend the principle that we can do without the co-operation of these unfortunate ones if they are given back to us.
Official Reply of France The French Government took immediate cognizance of the foregoing charges and issued the following official denial:
In his recent speech to the Reichstag, the German War Minister gives an official character to the allegations already published by the German Wireless," and tries to persuade public opinion all over the world that German prisoners in France are subject to ill-treatment. He states that the period granted for the negotiations regarding the treatment of prisoners is now over, and that reprisals will be adopted. As a fact, the German Government has made a complaint to the French Government through the American Ambassador
the following points:
According to the German statements, at the time of their capture and interrogation, German prisoners have been ill-treated; they have been robbed and insulted; have been badly housed in the camps, and have been used as laborers in the area swept by shell fire. The Note, therefore, required:
(a) That the German prisoners should be taken away from the dangerous areas and put into camps at a distance of at least thirty kilometers (about twenty miles] from the front line;
(b) that they should not work within that distance from the front line;
(c) that they should be permitted to use the postal service with Germany:
(d) that delegates of the United States Embassy should be authorized to visit the camps in the zone of operations.
A reply had to be given before Jan. 15. On the precise date the French Government presented to the United States Embassy a reply:
(a) Formally refuting the accusations of ill-treatment;
(b) showing that no check had been placed upon postal correspondence;
(c) agreeing, in return for reciprocal treatment, to allow delegates from the United States Embassy to visit the prisoner camps;
(d) The French Government further declared itself formally ready to employ-on a reciprocal basis-no prisoner of war in the zone of fire, nor within twenty kilometers [122 miles) of the front.
Up to the present the French Government has received no answer to this note.
The German Government talks of reprisals, and thereby pretends to ignore the fact that there is documentary evidence to show that many months before German prisoners were employed on the French front in the zone of operations the Germans themselves were employing French prisoners under the fire of French guns; and it can truly be said that if they are attacking now it is to defend themselves.
This is clearly proved by irrefutable documents which are also corroborated by the confessions of their own prisoners showing that a prisoner camp was established at a point particularly beaten by the French artillery, where our miserable countrymen were kept without shelter or cover of any sort until evacuation was necessary for sanitary reasons.
On the other hand, it is sufficient to read the correspondence of German prisoners addressed to their families to be convinced of the feeling of humanity which has been displayed toward them. No better conclusion could be given than the following words said on Nov. 3, 1916, in a camp near Verdun by a German officer: “I am greatly pleased to be a prisoner in the hands of the French, but I must tell you that these people are too kind and too foolish. It is quite natural that prisoners should work, and they are not overworked, as I can tell you from all I have seen."
A Swiss newspaper, the Journal de Genève, stated on March 4 that Germany was already executing her threats against French prisoners of war; that they were being placed in barracks without food or water and without heating arrangements, notwithstanding the extreme cold. It declared also that French prisoners were being compelled to work
. in German trenches within reach of the French artillery.
Another German Statement Under date of March 9 the Overseas News Agency of Berlin sent out a semiofficial statement saying in part:
The measures taken by the Germans were adopted because about 30,000 German prisoners of war have for months been living under miserable conditions and forced to do the hardest kind of work close behind the French lines, in a majority of cases within the range of German artillery fire.
The French wireless service stated that Gustave Ador of Geneva, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, had visited the German prisoners of war in the district of operations and had gained a most favorable impression regarding their treatment. There is no doubt the French authorities carefully selected a special district in which the conditions were favorable in order to deceive M. Ador and neutral countries. The French report regarding the German and French negotiations relating to prisoners of war in the district of military operations is not correct. Here are the facts:
The French Government in a note dated Dec. 21, 1916, was requested to assemble German prisoners of war in good camps situated at least eighteen miles behind the front, and to refrain from putting them to work at places nearer the firing lines. In case of refusal, or if no answer was given, it was announced that on Jan. 15 French prisoners of war would be sent into the German district of operations under similar conditions. The note as is known with certainty was immediately sent by telegraph to the French Government at Paris and it arrived there prior to Jan. 5, 1917.
The French answer, dated Jan. 15, reached Berlin only after the announced countermeasures had been put into effect. Besides, the contents of the answer in a great part were unsatisfactory. The French Government had not fulfilled the German request. It had merely declared it was ready to place the German prisoners of war twelve miles behind the front, where they were not sufficiently secure against the fire of longrange cannon, and where they were especially exposed to airplane attacks.
This declaration, of course, did suffice for the abolishment of our countermeasures, especially since the experiences we had had with promises of the French Government relating to questions of war prisoners were very discouraging.
On the contrary, the French Government had to be asked to fulfill completely the German request. A communication to this effect was sent to the French Government in the beginning of February. On this occasion it was suggested to the French authorities that the whole district of operations on
both sides be completely cleared of war prisoners. This offer in itself proved that the German Government does not make French prisoners of war work in the districts of operations because of " lack of hands."
Since that time the French Government has not replied and prefers to expose Frenchmen to the fire of their own countrymen in order to be able to continue to torture German prisoners of war and to use them for labor contrary to international law.
The French Government complains that even in the middle of December French prisoners of war were singled out to be sent to the district of operations. This assertion is untrue. The prisoners of war in question were marked only a short while prior to the final day announced in the German offer. It they had to be sent there the guilt was solely with the French Government.
Denial by an American Philip 0. Mills, an American ambulance driver, denied General von Stein's charges against France in a communication to THE NEW YORK TIMES, dated March 6, declaring that the German War Minister's speech was due to Germany's determination to make French prisoners perform the dangerous work behind the lines, and that the charges were an excuse to justify that measure. He wrote:
“I can and do brand as a falsehood any statement that German prisoners are tortured or compelled to work behind the French lies under fire.
“Over six months' service on the French fronts as an ambulance driver of the American Red Cross, attached to a French division in the sector through which the largest number of German prisoners have been passed, (about 15,000,) thousands of whom I have seen and hundreds of whom I have talked to, gives me authority for what I say.
The French use only their older men for work close behind the lines, and I have never seen a German prisoner in the fire zone doing anything but traveling toward the rear. Night and day I have been on the roads in the fire zone, and there isn't a prison camp or citadel that cannot be and has not been visited by our ambulance drivers. We have had eighty men in service with forty cars at Verdun during December, and never a tale from any man of any such atrocity as is quoted in this speech.
The first assembling camp for prison.
An official report published in Berlin on Dec. 1, 1916, stated that there were 1,663,794 military prisoners in Germany on Aug. 1, 1916. In the two years of war to that date 29,297 prisoners had died. Of these, 6,032 died from tuberculosis, 4,201 from spotted fever, 6,270 from wounds, and the rest from other illnesses.
Russia has more than 1,000,000 military prisoners, of whom 428,000 were captured in 1916, mainly by General Brusiloff's armies. Besides these there are 200,000 Germans and Austrians interned as civil prisoners. At the end of 1915 the prisoners employed in State and agricultural work in Russia numbered 1,138,000, according to a Reuter dispatch from Petrograd. Of these 575,000 were under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Agriculture, 294,000 under the Department of Mines and Factories, and 169,000 under that of Ways and Communications. In the year 1916 the French captured 78,500 Germans and the British 40,800 on the western front, while in the Balkans the Entente armies took 11,173 Bulgarians and Turks. During the same period the Italians made prisoners of 52,250 Austrians. This gives the Entente Allies a total of more than 610,000 prisoners for the year 1916.
Great Britain has thus far made very little agricultural or industrial use of war prisoners, partly owing to the objections of labor unions and partly to fear of hostile acts.
ers of war is well out of gun range, well kept, and comfortable, and I have been through it often. The prisoners are immediately fed on arrival, with the regular French army ration and all the bread they can eat. I never saw or heard of a Frenchman abusing or ill-treating a German prisoner, but, on the contrary, have seen hundreds of little acts of kindness shown them. Everything is open to us foreign ambulance drivers, and we are treated as part of the French Army. It is absolutely false that German officers are locked in cages, &c., for I have seen them confined in comfortable houses and allowed exercise and good food.
The whole speech is merely to try to justify an improper use of prisoners of war and to prevent the ever-increasing number of voluntary German surrenders.
“ The French do not need to stoop to deny such lies, for there are now hundreds of good American citizens who have been to France and have seen how everything is conducted behind the French lines, and so can disprove for them all such slanders."
Employment of Prisoners Germany holds approximately 2,000,000 prisoners, most of whom are Russians. General Groener, Chief of the War Emergency Office, reported in February, 1917, that 750,000 of these prisoners were employed as farm laborers, and that more were soon to be put to work in the agricultural districts,