Слике страница




sang patriotic songs while enduring this new form of oppression.

Raids took place at Courtrai, Alost, Termonde, Bruges, Ghent, Mons, and in numerous rural and industrial communes. The men were collected and examined as if they were cattle; the able-bodied were despatched to unknown destinations.

At Bruges, the burgomaster, an old man of 80 years of age, who since the beginning of the occupation had given an example of noble patriotism, was deprived of his office for refusing to assist the German military authorities in their horrible task; the town was condemned to a fine of 100,000 marks for every day's delay in the enrolment of victims.


Up to the 24th October, this deportation had taken place principally in the military zone (i. e., East and West Flanders). In the rest of the country, the civil authorities had no doubt hesitated to employ measures which not only violate the spirit and the text of the Hague Convenion, but also the solemn promise made to the population in a proclamation of the 25th July, 1915, that no forced labor would be exacted from them which did violence to their sentiments of patriotism.

The Belgian Government, however, have learned that a census of unemployed is going on in the whole of the occupied territory, and have reason to fear that the horrors of deportation may soon be extended to all the provinces.


The “Cologne Gazette,” in an article the translation of which the newspapers published in Belgium have been ordered to reproduce, endeavors to justify the iniquitous measures taken with regard to the Belgians; it dwells with complacency on the dangers of idleness to which many workmen are exposed, and throws the responsibility for unemployment on England, which is preventing the importation of raw materials into Belgium. The German Government's organ also attempts to justify forced labor by the statement that the Belgians will only be employed in quarries, lime-kilns, and similar industries unconnected with the war.

The latter argument is worthless, for it is well known that concrete and other products of lime-kilns and quarries play an important part in the consolidation of modern trenches and fortifications.

When Germany endeavors to repudiate all responsibility for the lamentable condition of the Belgian working class, we reply , that there would be no lack of work if the invaders, who are in any case responsible for this condition of things through the very fact of their aggression, had not disorganized industry, seized the raw materials, oils, and metals employed in it, and requisitioned all kinds of machinery and implements. They have exacted a detailed declaration of all stocks of driving belts, perhaps with the intention of seizing them later. The invaders have even resolved to complete the ruin of the metal and glass industries of Belgium for the benefit of German competition by

means of prohibitive duties on products exported to Holland, the only market still remaining open to them,

The Belgian workman has always been remarkable for his industriousness. If, during the last two years he has been often unemployed, it is because he had no work in prospect but that offered him by the enemy. His patriotism forbade him to accept it, because by so doing he would indirectly have helped in making war against his country.


The invader, by means of the barbarous system of wholesale deportations, pursues a double object :

Firstly, the terrorization of the population by driving families to despair, and thus forcing the workers to assist the German occupation.

This scheme is assisted by the announcement that all those who may receive relief for their maintenance will be put to forced labor. The workman who, from devotion to his country, refuses to serve the enemy, knows that he is exposing himself to exile and to real slavery.

This deportation is thus a coercive measure to force the workman to accept, against his conscience, the offer of work which is abhorrent to him.

The second object of the German authorities is to substitute Belgians for the German workmen, who thus become available and are sent to the front to fill up the gaps in the German Army; for Germany needs men at any price. If it were otherwise, if she only proposed to combat the idleness of our workmen, why could she not employ their energies on the spot in works of public utility, near their families and their homes ? Not only has she not done this, but we learn from a reliable source that she has several times deported men at work, or even designedly put workmen out of employment who had never before ceased to work, in order to have a pretext to use their work for her own purposes.

According to the German papers, a fairly high salary is offered them as a bait if they agree to become voluntary workmen, and in that case every kind of work is liable to be imposed upon them. The Germans thus wish to induce these unfortunate people to do work of direct assistance to the war by the hope that their lot will be improved. The deported Belgian can thus choose between starvation and treason.

The Belgian Government denounce to all civilized nations these infamous proceedings, which trample upon all the laws of humanity as well as upon those provisions of the conventional - rules of war relating to the power of the occupant.

They protest with the utmost energy against the application of a system which the empty explanations of the enemy will not save from the name and the stigma of slave-trade, an infamy which completes the dishonor of the German occupation, in spite of its pretended anxiety to protect the legitimate rights of the population of Flanders !

(Parliamentary Papers, Miscellaneous, No. 37; 1916.)




(d) [$221] War Diaries.


This disregard for the lives of civilians is strikingly shown in extracts from German soldiers' diaries, of which the following are representative examples:

Barthel, who was a sergeant and standard bearer of the 2nd Company of the 1st Guards Regiment on Foot, and who during the campaign received the Iron Cross, says, under date 10th August, 1914: “A transport of 300 Belgians came through Duisburg in the morning. Of these, 80 including the Oberburgomaster were shot according to martial law.”

Matbern, of the 4th Company of Jägers, No. 11, from Marburg, states that at a village between Birnal and Dinant on Sunday, August 23rd, the Pioneers and Infantry Regiment 178, were fired upon by the inhabitants. He gives no particulars beyond this. He continues: “About 220 inhabitants were shot, and the village was burnt. Artillery is continuously shooting—the village lies in a large ravine. Just now, 6 o'clock in the afternoon, the crossing of the Meuse begins near Dinant. All villages, chateaux and houses are burnt down during the night. It is a beautiful sight to see the fires all round us in the distance."

Bombardier Wetzel, of the 2nd Mounted Battery, 1st Kur1:essian Field Artillery Regiment, No. 11, records an incident which happened in French territory near Lille on the 11th October: “We have no fight, but we caught about 20 men and shot them.” By this time killing not in a fight would seem to have passed into a habit.

Diary No. 32 gives an accurate picture of what took place in Louvain: “What a sad scene—all the houses surrounding the railway station completely destroyed-only some foundation walls still standing. On the station square captured guns. the end of a main street there is the Council Hall which has been completely preserved with all its beautiful turrets; a sharp contrast: 180 inhabitants are stated to have been shot after they had dug their own graves.”

The last and most important entry is that contained in Diary No. 19. This is a blue book interleaved with blotting paper, and contains no name and address; there is, however, one circumstance which makes it possible to speak with certainty as to the regiment of the writer. He gives the names of First Lieutenant von Oppen, Count Eulenburg, Captain von Roeder, First Lieutenant von Bock und Polach, Second Lieutenant Count Hardenberg, and Lieutenant Engelbrecht. A persual of the Prussian Army List of June, 1914, shows that all these cfficers, with the exception of Lieutenant Engelbrecht, belonged to the Frst Regiment of Foot Guards. On the 24th of August, 1914, the writer was in Ermeton. The exact translation of the extract, grim in its brevity, is as follows: “24-8-14. We took about 1,000 prisoners; at least 500 were shot. The village was burnt because inhabitants had also shot. Two civilians were shot at once.”

(Viscount Bryce, Reports on Alleged German Outrages, 38-39.)


(e) [8222] Case of Edith Cavell.

By MINISTER BRAND WHITLOCK (October 11, 1915).


Brussels, October 11, 1915. Your Excellency:

I have just heard that Miss Cavell, a British subject, and consequently under the protection of my Legation, was this morning condemned to death by courtmartial.

If my information is correct, the sentence in the present case is more severe than all the others that have been passed in similar cases which have been tried by the same court, and, without going into the reasons for such a drastic sentence, I feel that I have the right to appeal to your Excellency's feelings of humanity and generosity in Miss Cavell's favor, and to ask that the death penalty passed on Miss Cavell may be commuted and that this unfortunate woman shall not be executed.

Miss Cavell is the head of the Brussels Surgical Institute. She has spent her life in alleviating the sufferings of others, and her school has turned out many nurses who have watched at the bedside of the sick all the world over, in Germany as in Belgium. At the beginning of the war Miss Cavell bestowed her care as freely on the German soldiers as on others. Even in default of all other reasons, her career as a servant of humanity is such as to inspire the greatest sympathy and to call for pardon. If the information in my possession is correct, Miss Cavell, far from shielding herself, has, with commendable straightforwardness, admitted the truth of all the charges against her, and it is the very information which she herself has furnished, and which she alone was in a position to furnish, which has aggravated the severity of the sentence passed on her.

It is then with confidence, and in the hope of its favorable reception, that I have the honor to present to Your Excellency my request for pardon on Miss Cavell's behalf.

(Report by the British Chaplain in Brussels.)

On Monday evening, the 11th October, I was admitted by special passport from the German authorities to the prison of St. Gilles, where Miss Edith Cavell had been confined for ten weeks. The final sentence had been given early that afternoon.

To my astonishment and relief I found my friend perfectly calm and resigned. But this could not lessen the tenderness and intensity of feeling on either part during that last interview of almost an hour.

Her first words to me were upon a matter concerning herself personally, but the solemn asseveration which accompanied them was made expressedly in the light of God and eternity. She then added that she wished all her friends to know that she willingly gave her life for her country, and said: “I have no fear nor shrinking; I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me.” She further said: "I thank




[ocr errors]

God for this ten weeks' quiet before the end.” “Life has always been hurried and full of difficulty.” “This time of rest has been a great mercy.” “They have all been very kind to me here. But this I would say standing as I do in view of God and eternity, I realize that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

We partook of the Holy Communion together, and she received the Gospel message of consolation with all her heart. At the close of the little service I began to repeat the words “Abide with me, and she joined softly in the end.

We sat quietly talking until it was time for me to go. She gave me parting messages for relations and friends. She spoke of her soul's needs at the moment and she received the assurance of God's Word as only the Christian can do.

Then I said “Good-bye,” and she smiled and said, “We shall meet again."

The German military chaplain was with her at the end and afterwards gave her Christian burial.

He told me: "She was brave and bright to the last. She professed her Christian faith and that she was glad to die for her country." "She died like a heroine.”

(Parliamentary Papers, Miscellaneous, No. 17; 1915.)

(f) [$223] Case of Captain Fryatt.


In executing the captain of a British merchant vessel for an alleged attempt to ram a German submarine, and in seeking to justify this execution, the Germany authorities assume:

(1) That submarines may legitimately be used to visit, search and capture merchant vessels; and

(2) That a merchant vessel menaced with capture by a war vessel has no right to defend itself.

Neither of these assumptions is justified by the rules of existing international law.


(1) For the use of submarines against merchant vessels, whether to prevent carriage of contraband goods or blockaderunning by neutral vessels, or to capture enemy vessels, there was at the outbreak of the present world war no precedent. This is frankly recognized by German diplomacy. In a memcrandum submitted to our Department of State by the Germany Ambassador at Washington, March 8, 1916, it is said that the submarine was “a new weapon, the use of which had not been regulated by international law.” From this premise, Count Bernstorff draws the amazing conclusion that in choosing this weapon to prey upon the enemy's commerce, Germany “could not and did not violate any existing rule.” As a matter of fact, in using this new weapon against merchant vessels, Germany has continuously disregarded established usage and violated existing rules. Leaving out of account its claim that its submarines were entitled to sink enemy merchantmen without warning--a claim which was based

« ПретходнаНастави »