« ПретходнаНастави »
THE SPECTRE OF FAMINE From an early date in the war the grim spectre of potential famine haunted the European belligerents; and by the second year of the war all the peoples were placed upon a siege diet. The governments took possession and control of all food supplies, and fixed the prices and determined the amounts that should be distributed to the people. First attention was paid to the wants of the armies, it being essential that the physical strength of the soldiers should be maintained. After that, the non-combatant population fared but meagrely, especially in the blockaded Central Empires. Still, at the worst, they did not approximate the famine-pangs which others had endured in other wars.
There has, for example, been in Germany no such privations as those which German armies a generation ago imposed upon beleaguered Paris. In that City of Light in the war of the Terrible Year the market price of eggs rose to 45 cents apiece. A box of sardines cost $3 and a cauliflower the same. Potatoes were $10 a bushel. Fresh butter was $12 a pound. A head of cabbage cost $2.50, while a single carrot was valued at 45 cents. Preserved beef was $3 a pound and ham was $7 a pound. A fowl cost $14, a hare $15 and a rabbit $12.
So much for legitimate food supplies. But in the horrors of that siege Parisians eagerly devoured that which at other times would have caused their gorge to rise as filthy and obscene. Cats were eaten, by those who could pay $3 apiece for them; crows were delicacies at $1 each, and even rats were not disdained at 50 cents. As for bread, there was a loathsome composition, consisting largely of sawdust, but containing other ingredients which cannot decently be named, and this was doled out daily at the rate of a third of a pound to each person.
HORRORS OF ANCIENT SIEGES One of the most appalling examples of siege starvation the world has known was in the last siege of Jerusalem, when parents slew and devoured their own children. But some cases, in comparatively recent times, were scarcely less gruesome. One was that tremendous siege of Londonderry, in which the defenders of the city gathered in the cathedral and, before the altar, vowed and decreed the death of a traitor to any one who should so much as utter the word "surrender.” There are tales of cannibalism during that fearful struggle, while it is related that one prominent citizen whose corpulence strangely enough was not materially diminished by the famine seldom ventured to show himself in public because of the hungry and wolfish looks which were cast upon him by his starving neighbors. For a time, before the relief of the city, the rations of each fighting man were half a pound of tallow and three-quarters of a pound of salted hide. These were given to the men whose strength must be kept up so that they might fight. As for the rest of the populace, pity forbids speculation upon the scantness and the horrors of their fare.
THE HEROES OF LEYDEN Still more appalling was the plight of the defenders of Leyden in the last grim struggle of the Netherlanders against the might of Spain. For weeks, before the succor of the northwest hurricane, famine in its most hideous forms held sway over the devoted city. “Bread, malt cake and horse-flesh had entirely disappeared; dogs, cats, rats and other vermin were esteemed luxuries. A small number of cows, kept as long as possible for their milk, still remained; but a few were killed from day to day and distributed in minute portions hardly enough to support life among the famishing population. Starving men swarmed daily around the shambles where these cattle were slaughtered, contending for any morsel which might fall, and lapping eagerly the blood as it ran along the pavement; while the hides, chopped and boiled, were greedily devoured. Women and children, all day long, were seen searching gutters and dunghills for morsels of food, which they disputed fiercely with the famishing dogs. The green leaves were stripped from the trees, every living herb was converted into human food, but these expedients could not avert starvation."
The dying parents sent their dead children to the Burgomaster in protest against his resolution not to surrender, but these moved not his iron will. Indeed, he came out before them, bearing in his body the marks of as great privations and suffering as any of them had endured, and bade them kill him and eat his flesh for food rather than expect him to surrender the city to a fate far worse than death. Thus were they heartened again, so that they flocked to the crumbling battlements of the city wall and shrieked defiance at their merciless besiegers. “Ye call us rat eaters and dog eaters,” they cried, “and it is true. So long, then, as ye hear dog bark or cat mew within its walls, ye may know that the city holds out. And when all has perished but ourselves, be sure that we will each devour our left arms, retaining our right to defend our women, our liberty and our religion against the foreign tyrant.”
Against such resolution what could avail the might of Spain? At last came the spring tide and the northern hurricane, sweeping through the broken dikes and returning the land to the sea; upon the van a fleet of ships thronged with the wild Zealanders, more wild than the gale, more raging than the tide, sweeping on through flooded meadow land and orchards, the men bearing their ships upon their shoulders over the bars and shallows, hurling themselves in more than Berserk fury upon their countrymen's besiegers, spitting Spanish cavaliers upon their whale harpoons or dragging them with barbed boathooks to within reach of their deadly flenching knives. And the Spanish fled when they thus saw the sea “devouring the earth beneath their feet, while on the waves rode a flotilla manned by a determined race whose courage and ferocity were known throughout the world.”
THE PRESENT SCARCITY We shall look for no such starvation in this war, though beyond doubt the present scarcity is painful. Before the war Germany was the greatest importer of food supplies in all the world, in both gross and net. Her imports of food amounted to $1,640,000,000, and her exports to only $398,000,000, leaving net imports of $1,242,000,000—a colossal volume, the loss of which could scarcely fail to cause speedy and desperate distress. The second importer was Great Britain, with $1,403,000,000 imports and $163,000,000 exports, or net imports of food, drink and tobacco of $1,240,000,000. France was much more nearly self-sustaining, but even she imported $340,000,000 and exported $170,000,000, making her net imports of food $170,000,000. In Russia the balance was on the other side. Her imports of foodstuffs were set down at only $67,067,000, while her exports were $494,273,000, making her net exports $427,206,000. Russia could therefore easily get along without foreign supplies, and France could also do so; while for either Germany or Great Britain complete blockade would mean starvation,
GERMAN RELATIONS WITH AMERICA
Colonial Days — Attitude of Frederick the Great in the Revolution — Employment of Hessians and Other German Troops by the British Government — The Era of German Migration to America - German Unfriendliness in the Spanish War — Its Animus — The Perilous Episode at Manila - Prince Henry and the German Propaganda - German Professors - Denial of the Monroe Doctrine Germany Warned Out of Venezuela — Anti-Ar. erican Intrigues at Panama – Meddling in the Danish Islands.
RELATIONS BETWEEN the United States and Germany began at a later date than those with Great Britain, France or Spain. That was because Germany was not one of the colonizing powers in North America, and because down to the time of and during our Revolution the affairs of Europe engaged German attention to the exclusion of everything on this side of the sea. The German settlers in the thirteen colonies, while of a substantial character, were not sufficiently numerous to affect the course of public affairs. Among the patriot leaders of that time the great majority were of English origin. There were also some, including some of the foremost, of Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Dutch and French extraction. Germans were conspicuous by their absence.
FREDERICK THE GREAT Germany's first interest in America, if interest it may be called, was at the beginning of the Revolution. Because British soldiers sympathized with the Americans and refused to fight against them, the German King of England