OUR PART IN THE GREAT WAR
OUR PART IN
THE GREAT WAR
AUTHOR OF "YOUNG HILDA AT THE WARS," "THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS," "LOVE, HOME AND THE INNER LIFE," ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
Copyright, 1917, by
Frederick A. Stokes Company
All rights reserved, including that of translation
into foreign languages
FRANCE ON JULY 14TH
Three years of world war draw to a close, as France prepares to celebrate the birthday of her liberty. Never in the thousand years of her tumultuous history has she been so calm, so sure of the path she treads, red with the blood of her young men. She has never drunk any cup of joy so deeply as this cup of her agony. In the early months of the war, there were doubts and dismays, and the cheap talk of compromise. There were black days and black moods, and a swaying indecision. But under the immense pressure of crisis, France has lifted to a clear determination. This war will be fought to a finish. No feeble dreams of peace, entertained by loose thinkers and fluent phrase makers, no easy conciliations, will be tolerated. France has made her sacrifice. It remains now that it shall avail. She will fulfill her destiny. Time has ceased to matter, Death is only an incident in the ongoing of the nation. No tortures by mutilation, no horrors of shell fire, no massing of machine guns, can swerve[vi] the united will. The "Sacred Union" of Socialist and royalist, peasant and politician, is firm to endure. The egoisms and bickerings of easy untested years have been drowned in a tide that sets towards the Rhine. The premier race of the world goes forth to war. That war is only in its beginning. The toll of the dead and the wounded may be doubled before the gray lines are broken. But they will be broken. A menace is to be removed for all time. The German Empire is not to rule in Paris. Atrocities are not to be justified by success. Spying will be no longer the basis of international relationship. France faces in one direction. She waits in arms at Revigny and along the water courses of the North for the machine to crack. That consummation of the long watch may be nearer than we guess. It may be many months removed. It does not matter. France waits in unshattered line, reserve on reserve, ready to the call.
Only once or twice in history has the world witnessed such a spectacle of greatness at tension. It is not that factories are busy on shells. It is that everything spiritual in a race touched with genius has been mobilized. Fineness of feeling, the graces of the intellect, clarity of thought, all the playful tender elements of worthy living are burning with a steady light.
The author was enabled to visit Verdun and the peasant district, and to obtain access to the German diaries through J. J. Jusserand, Ambassador of France; Frank H. Simonds, editor of the New York Tribune, and Theodore Roosevelt, by whose courtesy the success of the three months' visit was assured. On arrival in France the courtesy was continued by Emile Hovelaque, Madame Saint-René Taillandier, Judge Walter Berry, Mrs. Charles Prince, Leon Mirman, Prefet de Meurthe-et-Moselle, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of War.
|To France on July 14th||v|
|AMERICANS WHO HELPED|
|I.||The Two Americas||3|
|II.||The American Ambulance Hospital||14|
|III.||The Ford Car and Its Drivers||34|
|IV.||The Americans at Verdun||55|
|V.||"Friends of France"||72|
|VI.||The Saving Remnant||83|
|WHY SOME AMERICANS ARE NEUTRAL|
|I.||Neutrality: An Interpretation of the Middle West||93|
|II.||Social Workers and the War||105|
|III.||Forgetting the American Tradition||116|
|THE GERMANS THAT ROSE FROM THE DEAD|
|I.||Lord Bryce on German Methods||159|
|II.||Some German War Diaries||170|
|I.||The Lost Villages||211|
|IV.||The Mayor on the Hilltop||228|
|V.||The Little Corporal||240|
|VI.||The Good Curé||244|
|VII.||The Three-Year-Old Witness||257|
|VIII.||Mirman and "Mes Enfants"||261|
|IX.||An Appeal to the Smaller American Communities||274|
|I.||To the Reader||329|
|II.||To Neutral Critics||333|
AMERICANS WHO HELPED
THE TWO AMERICAS
There are two Americas to-day: the historic America, which still lives in many thousands of persons, and the new various America, which has not completely found itself: a people of mixed blood, divergent ideals, intent on the work at hand, furious in its pleasures, with the vitality of a new race in it, sprinting at top speed in a direction it does not yet know, to a goal it cannot see. It is in the sweep of an immense experiment, accepting all races, centering on no single strain.
This new joy-riding generation has struck out a fresh philosophy of life, which holds that many of the old responsibilities can be passed by, that the great divide has been crossed, on the hither side of which lay poverty, war, sin, pain, fear: the ancient enemies of the race. On the further side, which it is believed has at last been reached, lie, warm in the sun, prosperity and peace, a righteousness of well-being. It is a philosophy that fits snugly into a new country of tonic climate and economic opportunity, distant by three thousand miles from historic quarrels and the pressure of crowded neighborhood. We believe that, by coming on the scene with a lot of vitality and good cheer, we can clean up the old bothersome problems and make a fresh start in the sunshine. Christian Science in a mild genial form is the national religion of America. We believe that maladies and failures can be willed out of existence. As for "the fatalities of history," "an endless war between two mutually exclusive ideals," we classify that way of thinking with the surplus luggage of autocracies.
Now, there is a wide area in life where this breezy burst of power and good-will operates effectively. It is salutary for stale vendettas, racial prejudices, diseases of the nerves, egoistic melancholias. But there are certain structural disturbances at which it takes a look and crosses to the other side, preferring to maintain its tip-top spirits and its complacency. It does not cure a broken arm, and it leaves Belgium to be hacked through. The New America trusts its melting-pot automatically to remake mixed breeds over night into citizens of the Republic. It believes that Ellis Island and the naturalization offices somehow do something with a laying on of hands which results in a nation. Meantime, we go on blindly and busily with our markets and base-ball and million-dollar films.
Troubling this enormous optimism of ours came suddenly the greatest war of the ages. We were puzzled by it for a little, and then took up again our work and pleasures, deciding that with the causes and objects of this war we were not concerned. That was the clear decision of the new America of many races, many minds. The gifted, graceful voice of our President spoke for us what already we had determined in the silence.
But there are those of us that were not satisfied with the answer we made. The fluent now-famous phrases did not content us. It is for this remnant in our population that this book is written. From this remnant, many, numbering thousands, put by their work and pleasures, and came across the sea, some to nurse, and some to carry swift relief over dangerous roads; still others to fight behind trenches and over the earth, no few of them to die. Nearly forty thousand men have enlisted. Many hundred young college boys are driving Red Cross cars at the front. There is an American Flying Squadron. Many hundreds of American men and women are serving in hospitals. Many thousands of hard-working, simple Americans at home are devoting their spare time and their spare money to relief.
I give a few illustrations of the American effort. I have not tried to show the extent of it. I trust some day the work will be catalogued and the full account published, as belonging to history. For we have not wholly failed the Allies. I have merely sought in this book to cheer myself, and, I trust, some friends of "the good old cause, the great idea, the progress and freedom of the race." I believe that the historic America has spoken and has acted in this war. In a time when our country, perplexed by its own problems of mixed blood and warring ideas, bewildered by its great possessions, busy with its own vast work of shaking down a continent, has made a great refusal, it is good to have the spectacle of some thousands of young Americans, embracing poverty, taking dangers and even death gladly. There is something of the ancient crusade still stirring in these bones. The race of Wendell Phillips and Whittier has representatives above ground. There was an America once that would not have stood by when its old-time companion in freedom was tasting the bayonet and the flame. Some of that America has come down to Chapman and Neville Hall, to Seeger, Chapin, Prince, Bonnell.
Nothing said here is meant to imply that the sum of all American efforts is comparable to the gift which the men of France and Belgium and England have made us. I am only saying that a minority in our population has seen that the Allies are fighting to preserve spiritual values which made our own past great, and which alone can make our future worthy.
That minority, inheriting the traditions of our race, bearing old names that have fought for liberty in other days, has clearly recognized that no such torture has come in recent centuries as German hands dealt out in obedience to German orders. In the section on French peasants, I have told of that suffering.
In another section, I am speaking to the Americans who remain indifferent to the acts of Germany. They are not convinced by the records of eye-witnesses. The wreck of Belgium is not sufficient. Will they, I wonder, be moved, if one rises from the dead. We shall see, for in this book I give the words of those who have, as it were, risen from the dead to speak to them. I give the penciled records of dead Germans, who left little black books to tell these things they did in Flanders and the pleasant land of France.
There are many persons who are more sincerely worried lest an injustice of overstatement should be done to Germany than they are that Germany has committed injustice on Belgium and Northern France. The burned houses and murdered peasants do not touch them, but any tinge of resentment, any sign of anger, in criticizing those acts, moves them to protest. Frankly, we of the historic tradition are disturbed when we see a wave of excitement pass over the country at the arrival of a German submarine—dinners of honor, interviews with the "Viking"-Captain—and, in the same month, a perfect calm of indifference greeting the report of the French girls of Lille sent away and of families broken up and scattered. We that are shocked by the cold system of the German conquerors, and publish the facts of their methodical cruelty, are rebuked by American editors and social workers as exercising our heart emotionally at the expense of our head. But that hysteria which greets a German officer, indirectly helping in the job of perpetuating the official German system of murder and arson, is accepted as American vivacity, a sort of base-ball enthusiasm, and pleasant revelation of sporting spirit.
We believe we are not un-American, in being Pro-Ally. We believe we are holding true to the ideas which created our country—ideas brought across from the best of England, and freshened from the soul of France. We believe that Benjamin Franklin was an American and a statesman when he wrote:—
"What would you think of a proposition, if I should make it, of a family compact between England, France and America? America would be as happy as the Sabine girls if she could be the means of uniting in perpetual peace her father and her husband."
Cheer the Deutschland in, and U-53, but permit us to go aside a little way and mourn the dead of the Lusitania. All we ask, we that are held by some of the old loyalties, is that we be not counted un-American. We ask you to throw our beliefs, too, into the vast new seething mass. Let us contribute to the great experiment a little of the old collective experience. Because the marching feet of France strike a great music in our heart, do not hold us alien. We are only remembering what Washington knew. He was glad of the feet of those young men as they came tramping south to Yorktown.
In the immense labors of the naturalization factory, do not pause to excommunicate us, who find an ancient, unfaded freedom in England. We are moved as Lincoln was moved when he wrote to the operatives of Lancashire—Englishmen starving because of our blockade, starving but not protesting. Lincoln wrote:—
To the Workingmen of Manchester: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the address and resolutions which you sent me on the eve of the new year. When I came, on the fourth of March, 1861, through a free and constitutional election to preside in the Government of the United States, the country was found at the verge of civil war. Whatever might have been the cause, or whosesoever the fault, one duty, paramount to all others, was before me, namely, to maintain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic. A conscientious purpose to perform this duty is the key to all the measures of administration which have been and to all which will hereafter be pursued. Under our frame of government and my official oath, I could not depart from this purpose if I would. It is not always in the power of governments to enlarge or restrict the scope of moral results which follow the policies that they may deem it necessary for the public safety from time to time to adopt.
I have understood well that the duty of self-preservation rests solely with the American people; but I have at the same time been aware that favor or disfavor of foreign nations might have a material influence in enlarging or prolonging the struggle with disloyal men in which the country is engaged. A fair examination of history has served to authorize a belief that the past actions and influences of the United States were generally regarded as having been beneficial toward mankind. I have, therefore, reckoned upon the forbearance of nations. Circumstances to some of which you kindly allude induce me expecially to expect that if justice and good faith should be practiced by the United States, they would encounter no hostile influence on the part of Great Britain. It is now a pleasant duty to acknowledge the demonstration you have given of your desire that a spirit of amity and peace toward this country may prevail in the councils of your Queen, who is respected and esteemed in your own country only more than she is by the kindred nation which has its home on this side of the Atlantic.
I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the working-men at Manchester, and in all Europe, are called to endure in this crisis. It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this government, which was built upon the foundations of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of human slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the action of our disloyal citizens, the working-men of Europe have been subjected to severe trials, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under the circumstances, I cannot but regard your decisive utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. It is indeed an energetic and reinspiring assurance of the inherent power of truth, and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity, and freedom. I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.
We believe that Lincoln would have wished his people to show a like partizanship to-day in the cause of right. Before we all steer quite out of the tested channel, let us at least remind you that those captains knew the course. It is idle to talk of a return to the past. The statesmanship of Franklin is not the statesmanship of to-day. What Lincoln felt is out of tune with the new America. We must go on with the vast new turmoils, the strange unguessed tendencies. We must find a fresh hope in the altered world. Meanwhile, be neutral, but do not bid us be neutral. You cannot silence us. We mean that our ideas shall live and fight and finally prevail.
In one section of this book I deal with what the war is teaching us. The peoples of Europe are reasserting the rights of nationality. We must understand this. We need a wholesome sense of our own national being in the America of to-day. Nationality is the one great idea in the modern world, the one allegiance left us. It has absorbed the loyalties and fervor that used to be poured out upon art and religion. Groups of persons find emotional release in the Woman's Movement, in Trades Unions, in Socialism. But the one universal expression for the entire community is in nationalism, the assertion of selfhood as a people. Religious revivals no longer draw the mind of the mass people. But the idea of nationality sweeps them. It gives them the sense of kinship, it answers the desire for something to which to tie. It is easily possible that this idea will fade as the God of the Churches and the creative love of beauty faded. The Mazzini and Lincoln type of man may pass as the poet and the saint, Knights and Samurai, passed. But not in our time, not in a few hundred years to come. Nationalism may be only one more of the necessary "useful lies," one more illusion of the human race. But it will serve out our days. The mistake is in thinking that the heart of the common people will ever be satisfied with a bare mechanic civilization. Men are unwilling to live unless they have something to die for. We have filled the foreground in recent years with new automatic machines, new subdivisions of repetitive process. We tried to empty the huge modern world of its old values. Then the people came and smashed the structure, and found a vast emotional release in the war. The hope of a sane future is not in suppressing that dynamic of nationality. We must direct it.
THE AMERICAN AMBULANCE HOSPITAL
The recital of the young college boy crowding his ambulance between singing shells and bringing in his wounded down death's alley is familiar and stirring. And this, for most of us, has been the entire story. But that is only the first chapter. It is of no value to bring in a wounded man, unless there is a field hospital to give him swift and wise treatment, unless there is a well-equipped hospital-train to run him gently down to Paris, unless there are efficient stretcher bearers at the railroad station to unload him, and ambulances to transport him to new quarters. And finally, most important of all, the base hospital that at last receives him must be furnished with skilled doctors, surgeons, nurses and orderlies, or all the haste of transportation has gone for nothing. For it is in the base hospital that the final and greatest work with the wounded man is wrought out, which will let him go forth a whole man, with limbs his own and a face unmarred, or will discharge him a wrecked creature, crippled, monstrous, because of bungled treatment. It is a chain with no weak link that must be forged from the hour of the wounding at Verdun to the day of hospital discharge at Neuilly. And that final success of the restored soldier is built upon the loyalty of hundreds of obscure helpers, far back of the lines of glory. That which is fine about it is the very absence of the large scale romantic. It is humble service humbly given, with no war-medals in sight, no mention in official dispatches—only a steady fatiguing drive against bugs and dirt and germs and red tape.
So I begin my story with the work of the Scotch-American at the entrance of the American Ambulance Hospital at Neuilly-sur-Seine. He is the man that gives every entering wounded soldier a bath, and he does it thoroughly in four and a half minutes. He can bathe twelve inside the hour. He has perfected devices, so that a fractured leg won't be hurt while the man is being scrubbed. He has worked out foot-rests, and body-rests and neck-rests in the tub. This man has taken his lowly job and made it into one of the important departments of the hospital. And with him begins, too, the long tale of inventive appliances which are lessening suffering. The hospital is full of them in each branch of the service. Everywhere you go in relief work of this war, you see devices—little things that relieve pain, and save time and speed up recovery. That is one of the things differentiating this war from the old-time slaughters, where most of the seriously wounded died: the omnipresence of mechanical, electrical, devices. Inventive skill has wreaked itself on the sudden awful human need. The hideously clever bombs, and big guns, all the ingenious instruments of torture, will shoot themselves away and pass. But the innumerable appliances of restoration, the machinery of welfare, suddenly called into being out of the mechanic brain of our time, under pressure of the agonizing need, will go on with their ministry when Lorraine is again green.
The Ambulance is the cheeriest, the cleanest, the most efficient place which I have visited since the beginning of the war. There is no hospital odor anywhere. Fresh air and sunshine are in the wards. A vagrant from Mars or the moon, who wanted an answer to some of his questions about the lay-out of things, would find his quest shortened by spending an afternoon at the American Ambulance.
What does America mean? What is it trying to do? How does it differ from other sections of the map?
The swift emergency handling of each situation has been American in its executive efficiency. Things have been done in a hurry, and done well. In eighteen days this building was taken over from a partially completed school, with the refuse of construction work heaped high, and made into an actively-running hospital ready for 175 patients. That, too, in those early days of war, when workmen had been called to the colors, when money was unobtainable, transportation tied up, and Germany pounding down on Paris.
The skillful surgical work, some of it pioneering in fields untouched by former experience, has been a demonstration of the best American practice.
The extraordinarily varied types of persons at work under one roof in a democracy of service presents just the aspect of our community which is most representative. Millionaires and an impersonator, Harvard, Dartmouth, Tech, Columbia, Fordham, Michigan, Princeton, Cornell and Yale men, ranchers, lawyers, and newspaper men—all are hard at work on terms of exact equality. A colored man came in one day. He said he wanted to help with the wounded. He was tried out, and proved himself one of the best helpers in the organization. He received the same treatment as all other helpers, eating with them, liked by them. Some weeks later, one of our wealthy "high-life" young Americans volunteered his services. After the first meal he came wrathfully to the surgeon.
"I've had to eat at the same table with a negro. That must be changed. What will you do about it?"
"Do about it," answered the surgeon. "You will do one of two things—go and apologize to a better man than you are, or walk out of this hospital."
Recently this black helper came to the director in distress of mind.
"Have to leave you," he said. He held out a letter from the motor car firm, near Paris, where he he had worked before the war. It was a request for him to return at once. If he did not obey now in this time of need, it meant there would never be any position for him after the war as long as he lived.
A day or two later he came again.
"My old woman and I have been talking it over," he said, "and I just can't leave this work for the wounded. We'll get along some way."
A little more time passed, and then, one day, he stepped up to the director and said:
"I want you to meet my boss."
The superintendent of the motor car factory had come. He said to the director:
"I have received the most touching letter from this darkey, saying he couldn't come back to us because he must help here. Now I want to tell you that his position is open to him any time that he wants it, during the war, or after it."
Visitors, after walking through the wards, smelling no odors, hearing no groans, seeing the faces of the men smiling back at them, are constantly saying to the director:
"Ah, I see you have no really serious cases here."
It is the only kind of case sent to Neuilly—the gravely wounded man, the "grands blessés," requiring infinite skill to save the limb and life. So sweet and hopeful is the "feel" of the place that not even 575 beds of men in extremity can poison that atmosphere of successful practice. Alice's Queen had a certain casual promptness in saying, "Off with his head," whenever she sighted a subject. And there was some of the same spirit in the old-time war-surgeon when he was confronted with a case of multiple fracture. "Amputate. Off with his leg. Off with his arm." And that, in the majority of cases, was the same as guillotining the patient, for the man later died from infection. There was a surgical ward in one of the 1870 Paris hospitals with an unbroken record of death for every major operation. At the American Ambulance, out of the first 3,100 operations, there were 81 amputations. The death rate for the first year was 4.46 per cent.
These gunshot injuries, involving compound and multiple fractures, are treated by incision, and drainage of the infected wounds and the removal of foreign bodies. A large element in the success has been the ingenuity of the staff in creating appliances that give efficient drainage to the wound and comfort to the patient. The same inventive skill is at work in the wards that we saw on entering the hospital in the bathroom of the Scotch-American. These devices, swinging from a height over the bed, are slats of wood to which are jointed the splints for holding the leg or arm in a position where the wound will drain without causing pain to the recumbent man. The appearance of a ward full of these swinging appliances is a little like that of a gymnasium. Half the wounded men riding into Paris ask to be taken to the American Hospital. They know the high chance of recovery they will have there and the personal consideration they will receive. The Major-General enjoys the best which the Hospital can offer. So does the sailor boy from the Fusiliers Marins.
We had spent about an hour in the wards. We had seen the flying man who had been shot to pieces in the air, but had sailed back to his own lines, made his report and collapsed. We had talked with the man whose face had been obliterated, and who was now as he had once been, except for a little ridge of flesh on his lower left cheek. I had seen a hundred men brighten as the surgeon "jollied" them. The cases were beginning to merge for me into one general picture of a patient, contented peasant in a clean bed with a friend chatting with him, and the gift of fruit or a bottle of champagne on the little table by his head. I was beginning to lose the sense of the personal in the immense, well-conducted institution, with its routine and system. After all, these men represented the necessary wastage of war, and here was a business organization to deal with these by-products. I was forgetting that it was somebody's husband in front of me, and only thinking that he was a lucky fellow to be in such a well-ordered place.
Then the whole sharp individualizing work of the war came back in a stab, for we had reached the bed of the American boy who had fought with the Foreign Legion since September, 1914.
"Your name is Bonnell?" I asked.
"Do you spell it B-o-n-n-e double l?"
"By any chance, do you know a friend of mine, Charles Bonnell?"
"He's my uncle."
And right there in the presence of the boy in blue-striped pajamas, my mind went back over the years. Twenty-seven years ago, I had come to New York, and grown to know the tall, quiet man, six feet two he was, and kind to small boys. He was head of a book-store then and now. For these twenty-seven years I have known him, one of my best friends, and here was his nephew.
"Do you think I'm taller than my uncle?" the boy asked, standing up. He stood erect: you would never have known there was any trouble down below. But as my eye went up and down the fine slim figure, I saw that his right leg was off at the knee.
"I can't play base-ball any more," he said.
"No, but you can go to the games," said the director; "that's all the most of us do.
"I wish I had come here sooner," he went on as he sat back on the bed: standing was a strain. He meant he might have saved his leg.
We came away.
"Now he wants to go into the flying corps," said the surgeon.
He still had his two arms, and the loss of a leg didn't so much matter when you fly instead of march.
"Flying is the only old-fashioned thing left," remarked the boy, in a later talk. "You might as well work in a factory as fight in a trench—only there's no whistle for time off."
I have almost omitted the nurses from this chapter, because we have grown so used to loyalty and devotion in women that these qualities in them do not constitute news. The trained nurses of the Ambulance Hospital, with half a dozen exceptions, are Americans, with a long hospital experience at home. During the early months they served with no remuneration. An allowance of 100 francs a month has now been established. They reluctantly accepted this, as each was anxious to continue on the purely voluntary basis. There are also volunteer auxiliary nurses, who serve as assistants to the trained women. The entire nursing staff has been efficient and self-sacrificing.
We entered the department where some of the most brilliant surgical work of the war has been done. It is devoted to those cases where the face has been damaged. The cabinet is filled with photographs, the wall is lined with masks, revealing the injury when the wounded man entered, and then the steps in the restoration of the face to its original structure and look. There in front of me were the reproductions of the injury: the chin shot away, the cheeks in shreds, the mouth a yawning aperture, holes where once was a nose—all the ghastly pranks of shell-fire tearing away the structure, wiping out the human look. Masks were there on the wall of man after man who would have gone back into life a monster, a thing for children to run from, but brought back inside the human race, restored to the semblance of peasant father, the face again the recorder of kindly expression. The surgeon and the dental expert work together on these cases. The success belongs equally to each of the two men. Between them they make a restoration of function and of appearance.
In peace days, a city hospital would have only three or four fractures of the jaw in a year, and they were single fractures. There are no accidents in ordinary life to produce the hideous results of shell-fire. So there was no experience to go on. There were no reference books recording the treatment of wounds to the face caused by the projectiles of modern warfare. Hideous and unprecedented were the cases dumped by the hundreds into the American Ambulance. Because of the pioneer success of this hospital, the number of these cases has steadily increased. They are classified as "gunshot wounds of the face, involving the maxillæ, and requiring the intervention of dental surgery." These are compound fractures of the jaw, nearly always accompanied by loss of the soft parts of the mouth and chin, sometimes by the almost complete loss of the face.
I have seen this war at its worst. I have seen the largest hospital in France filled with the grievously-wounded. I have seen the wounded out in the fields of Ypres, waiting to be carried in. I have seen the Maison Blanche thronged with the Army of the Mutilated. I have carried out the dead from hospital and ambulance, and I have watched them lie in strange ways where the great shell had struck. But death is a pleasant gift, and the loss of a limb is light. For death leaves a rich memory. And a crippled soldier is dearer than he ever was to the little group that knows him. But to be made into that which is terrifying to the children that were once glad of him, to bring shrinking to the woman that loved him—that is the foulest thing done by war to the soldier. So it was the most gallant of all relief work that I have seen—this restoration of disfigured soldiers to their own proper appearance.
And the work of these hundreds of Americans at Neuilly was summed for me in the person of one dental surgeon, who sat a few feet from those forty masks and those six hundred photographs, working at a plaster-cast of a shattered jaw. He was very much American—rangy and loose-jointed, with a twang and a drawl, wondering why the blazes a writing person was bothering a man at work. It was his time off, after six days of patient fitting of part to part, and that for a year. So he was taking his day off to transform one more soldier from a raw pulp to a human being. There were no motor car dashes, and no military medals, for him. Only hard work on suffering men. There he sat at his pioneer work in a realm unplumbed by the mind of man. It called on deeper centers of adventure than any jungle-exploration or battle-exploit. It was science at its proper business of salvation. Those Krupp howitzers were not to have their own way, after all. Here he was, wiping out all the foul indignities which German scientists had schemed in their laboratories.
Two days later, I saw the boys of the American Ambulance unload the wounded of Verdun from the famous American train. The announcement of the train's approach was simple enough—these words scribbled in pencil by the French authorities:
"Train Américain de Revigny."
Those twelve "Musulman" are worth pausing with for a moment. They are Mohammedans of the French colonies, who must be specially fed because their religion does not permit them to eat of the unholy food of unbelievers. So a hospital provides a proper menu for them.
Add the figures, and you have 262 soldiers on stretchers to be handled by the squad of 38 men from the American Ambulance. They marched up the platform in excellent military formation. The train rolled in, and they jumped aboard, four to each of the eight large cars, holding 36 men each. In twenty-seven minutes they had cleared the train, and deposited the stretchers on the platforms. There the wounded pass into the hands of French orderlies, who carry them to the French doctors in waiting in the station. As quickly the doctor passed the wounded, the boys took hold again and loaded the ambulances en route to Paris hospitals. It was all breathless, perspiring work, but without a slip. There is never a slip, and that is why they are doing this work. The American Ambulance has the job of unloading three-fourths of all the wounded that come into Paris. The boys are strong and sure-handed, and the War Ministry rests easy in letting them deal with this delicate, important work. They feel pride in a prompt clean-cut job. But, more than that, they have a deep inarticulate desire to make things easier for a man in pain. I saw the boys pick up stretcher after stretcher as it lay on the platform and hurry it to the doctor. That wasn't their job at all. Their job was only to unload the train, but they could not let a wounded man lie waiting for red tape. I watched one long-legged chap who ran from the job he had just completed to each new place of need, doing three times as much work as even his strenuous duty called for.
"Look here," I said to Budd, the young Texan, who is Lieutenant of the Station squad. I pointed to a man on a stretcher. My eye had only shown me that the sight was strange and pathetic. But his quicker eye caught that the man needed help. He ran over to him and struck a match as he went. The soldier had his face swathed in bandages. Arms and hands were thick with bandages, so that every gesture he made was bungling. He had a cigarette in his mouth, just clear of the white linen. But he couldn't bring a match and the box together in his muffled hands so as to get a light. He was making queer, unavailing motions, like a baby's. In another second he was contentedly smoking and telling his story. A hand grenade which he was throwing had exploded prematurely in his hands and face.
Work at the front is pretty good fun. There is a lot of camaraderie with the fighting men: the exchange of a smoke and a talk, and the sense of being at the center of things. The war zone, whatever its faults, is the focal point of interest for all the world. It is something to be in the storm center of history. But this gruelling unromantic work back in Paris is lacking in all those elements. No one claps you on the back, and says:
"Big work, old top. We've been reading about you. Glad you got your medal. It must be hell under fire. But we always knew you had it in you. Come around to the Alumni Association banquet and give us a talk. Prexy will be there, and we'll put you down for the other speech of the evening."
What the people say is this:
"Ah, back in Paris, were you? Not much to do there, I guess. Must have been slow. Couldn't work it to get the front? Well, we can't all be heroes. Have you met Dick? He was at Verdun, you know. Big time. Had a splinter go through his hood. Better come round to our annual feed, and hear him tell about it. So long. See you again."
But the boys themselves know, and the hurt soldiers know, and the War Minister of France knows. These very much unadvertised young Americans, your sons and brothers, reader, often sit up all night waiting for a delayed train.
These boys of ours, shifting stretchers, wheeling legless men to a place in the sun, driving ambulances, are the most fortunate youth in fifty years. They are being infected by a finer air than any that has blown through our consciousness since John Brown's time. And the older Americans over here have that Civil War tradition in their blood. They are gray-haired and some of them white-haired. For, all over our country, individual Americans are breaking from the tame herd and taking the old trail, again, the trail of hardships and sacrifice. They have found something wrong with America, and want to make it right. I saw it in the man from Philadelphia, a well-to-do lawyer who crossed in the boat with me. He was gray-haired, the father of three children, one a boy of twenty-one. He was taking his first real vacation after a lifetime of concentrated successful work. I saw him lifting stretchers out of the Verdun train.
Boys and old men with an equal faith. The generation that isn't much represented over here is that of the in-betweeners, men between thirty-five and fifty years of age. They grew up in a time when our national patriotism was sagging, when security and fat profits looked more inviting than sacrifice for the common good. Our country will not soon be so low again as in the period that bred these total abstainers from the public welfare. The men and boys who have worked here are going to return to our community—several hundred have already returned—with a profound dissatisfaction with our national life as it has been conducted in recent years.
I have left the American train standing at the platform all this time, but it rests there till the afternoon, for it takes three hours to clean it for its trip back to the front. Only three hours—one more swift job by our contingent. It is the best ambulance train in France. The huge luggage vans of the trans-continental expresses were requisitioned. Two American surgeons and one French Medecin Chef travel with the wounded men. It carries 240 stretchers and 24 sitting cases in its eight cars for "Les blessés." The five other cars are devoted to an operating room, a kitchen for bouillon, a dining car, a sleeping car for the surgeons, and the other details of administration. Safety, speed and comfort are its slogan. The stretchers rest on firm wooden supports riding on an iron spring. The entire train is clean, sweet smelling, and travels easily. J. E. Rochfort, who has charge of it, went around to the men on stretchers as they lay on the platform.
"You rode easily?" he asked.
"Très bien: très confortable."
If an emergency case develops during the long ride, the train stops while the operation is performed. It is also held up at times by the necessities of war. For the wounded must be side-tracked for more important items of military demand—shells, food, fresh troops.
Village and town along its route turn out and throng the station to see the "Train Americain." The exterior of the cars carries a French flag at one end, and, at the other, the American flag. I like to think of our flag, painted on the brown panel of every car of the great train, and brightly scoured each day, riding through France from Verdun to Paris, from Biarritz to Revigny, and the thousands of simple people watching its progress, knowing its precious freight of wounded, saying, "Le train Americain," as they sight the painted emblem. It is where it belongs—side by side with the Tricolor. There isn't a great question loose on the planet to-day, where the best of us isn't in accord with the best of France.
That is the biggest thing we are doing over there, carrying a message of good-will from the Yser to Belfort, up and down and clear across France, and "every town and every hamlet has heard" not our "trumpet blast," but the whirr of our rescue motors and the sweetly running wheels of our express. It is one with the work of the Ambulance Hospital, where, after the bitter weeks of healing, the young soldier of France receives his discharge from hospital. Looking on the photograph and plaster cast of what shell-fire had made of him, and seeing himself restored to the old manner of man, he has a feeling of friendliness for the Americans who saved him from the horror that might have been. The man whose bed lay next walks out on his own two legs instead of hobbling crippled for the rest of his life, and he remembers those curious devices of swinging splints, which eased the pain and saved the leg. He, too, holds a kindly feeling for the nation that has made him not only a well man, but a whole man. And America has two more friends in France, in some little village of the province.
This work of the hospital, the train, the motor ambulance, is doing away with the shock and hurt of our aloofness. These young Americans, stretcher-bearers and orderlies, surgeons and nurses, drivers and doctors, are unconscious statesmen. They are building for us a better foreign policy. It is a long distance for friendly voices of America to carry across the Atlantic. But these helpers are on the spot, moving among the common people and creating an international relationship which not even the severe strain of a dreary aloofness can undo. Our true foreign policy is being worked out at Neuilly and through the war-cursed villages. This is our answer to indifference: the gliding of the immense train through France, carrying men in agony to a sure relief; the swift, tender handling of those wounded in their progress from the trench to the ward; the making over of these shattered soldiers into efficient citizens.
The quarrel none of ours?
The suffering is very much ours.
Too proud to fight?
Not too proud to carry bed-pans and wash mud-caked, blood-marked men. Not too proud to be shot at in going where they lie.
Neutrality of word and thought?
We are the friends of these champions of all the values we hold dear.
War profits out of their blood?
Many hundreds have given up their life-work, their career, their homes, to work in lowly ways, with no penny of profit, no hope of glory, "just because she's France."
THE FORD CAR AND ITS DRIVERS
This is the story of the American Ambulance Field Service in the words of the boys themselves who drove the cars. Fresh to their experience, they jotted down the things that happened to them in this strange new life of war. These notes, sometimes in pencil, sometimes written with the pocket fountain pen, they sent to their chief, Piatt Andrew, and he has placed these unpublished day-by-day records of two hundred men at my disposal. Anybody would be stupid who tried to rewrite their reports. I am simply passing along what they say.
One section of the Field Service with twenty cars was thrown out into Alsace for the campaign on the crest of Hartmannsweilerkopf. Here is some of the fiercest fighting of the war. Hartmannsweilerkopf is the last mountain before the Plain of the Rhine, and commands that valley. The hill crest was taken and retaken. Here, too, is the one sector of the Western Front where the French are fighting in the enemy's country. Alsace has been German territory for forty-three years. The district known as Haute Alsace is a range of mountains, running roughly north and south; to the east lies German Alsace, to the west the level country of French Alsace. On the crest of the mountains the armies of France and Germany have faced each other. The business of the ambulances has been to bring wounded from those heights to the railway stations in the plain.
John Melcher, Jr., says of this work:
"The mountain service consists in climbing to the top of a mountain, some 4,000 feet high, where the wounded are brought to us. Two cars are always kept in a little village down the mountain on the other side. This little village is a few kilometers behind the trenches, and is sometimes bombarded by the Germans. The roads up the mountain are very steep, particularly on the Alsatian side. They are rough and so narrow that in places vehicles cannot pass. These roads are full of ruts, and at some points are corduroy, the wood practically forming steps. On one side there is always a sheer precipice."
"If you go off the road," writes one of our young drivers, "it is probably to stay, and all the while a grade that in some parts has to be rushed in low speed to be surmounted. Add to this the fact that in the rainy (or usual) weather of the Vosges, the upper half is in the clouds, and seeing becomes nearly impossible, especially at night. Before our advent the wounded were transported in wagons or on mule-backs, two stretchers, one on each side of the mule. Two of us tried this method of travel and were nearly sick in a few minutes. Imagine the wounded—five hours for the trip! That so many survived speaks well for the hardihood of the "Blue Devils." Now with our cars the trip takes 1½ or 2 hours. We get as close to the trenches as any cars go. Our wounded are brought to us on trucks like wheelbarrows, or, at night, on mules, about one-half hour after the wound is received. This is hard service for both cars and drivers, and it is done in turn for five days at a time; then we return to St. Maurice to care for the cars and rest; the ordinary valley service is regarded by us as rest after the spell on the hills.
"Car 170 (the E. J. de Coppet Car) has been doing well on this strenuous work. The two back fenders have been removed, one by a rock in passing an ammunition wagon, and the other by one of the famous "75's" going down the hill.
"The men appreciate it. Often, back in France, we are trailed as the 'voitures' they have seen at Mittlach, or as the car which brought a comrade back. They express curiosity as to our exact military status. The usual thing when we explain that we are volunteers is for them to say "chic." When they learn that the cars are given by men in the United States whose sympathy is with them, they nod approval."
Another man writes of the condition of the service:
"At Cheniménil, the headquarters of the automobile service for this section, we reported to Captain Arboux, and were informed by him of the terms on which he had decided to accept our services. We were to draw our food, wine, tobacco, automobile supplies, such as tires, oil, gasoline, from the Seventh Army, as well as our lodging, and one sou a day as pay. In short, we were to be treated exactly as the French Ambulance sections, and to be subject to the same discipline."
Rations consist of a portion of meat, hard bread—baked some weeks previously—rice, beans, macaroni or potatoes, a lump of grease for cooking, coffee, sugar and a little wine. For soldiers on duty there are field kitchens, fire and boilers running on wheels. But billeted men have their food cooked by some village woman, or a group build wood fires against a wall. Our men made arrangements to mess at a restaurant.
The work was so continuous that some of the men drove for as long as fifty hours without sleep, and no one had time for more than an occasional nap of an hour and a half.
After the battle of Hartmannsweilerkopf the section was decorated as a whole, and twelve men individually were decorated. Lovering Hill of Harvard has been in charge of this section. He has received two citations, two Croix de Guerre, which he doesn't wear, because he knows that the Western Front is full of good men who have not been decorated. The boys formed "The Harvard Club of Alsace Reconquise," and had Harvard Alumni Dinners when the fighting eased up.
"I think that we have saved the wounded many hours of suffering," writes Henry M. Suckley of Harvard, 1910. In that quiet statement lies the spirit of the work done by the American Field Service.
From the head of the Valley of the Fecht, over 10 miles of mountain, 5 up and 5 down, to Krut on the other side—that has been the run.
W. K. H. Emerson, Jr., says:
"Once I went over a bank in an attempt to pass a convoy wagon at night without a headlight, such light being forbidden over part of the Mitlach road. I was lucky enough to lean up against a tree before slipping very far over the bank, and within ten minutes ten soldiers had lifted the machine, and put it back on the road, ready to start. Nothing was wrong but the loss of one sidelight, and the car went better than before. There was great merriment among the men who helped to put it on the road."
After four months the section had its barracks, at the 4,000-foot level, blown down by a gale. So they used a new road. Suckley writes of finding two huge trees across the path.
"I had three wounded men in the car, whom I was hurrying to the hospital. I walked down two miles to get some men at a camp of engineers, the road being too narrow to permit turning. There is a new service to the famous Hartmannsweilerkopf, or, rather, within half a mile of this most southerly mount contested by the Germans. For three miles it is cut out of the solid rock, just wide enough for one of our cars to pass. You can imagine the joys of this drive on a dark night when you have to extinguish all lights, and when the speed of the car cannot be reduced for fear of not making the grades. The first aid post, called Silberloch, is but 200 or 300 yards from the famous crest which has been the scene of many fierce combats. The bursting of shells has taken every bit of foliage from the wooded crest, carried pines to the ground, so that only a few splintered stumps stick up here and there. At the post no one dares show himself in the open. All life is subterranean in bomb-proofs covered by five feet of timber. The road is concealed everywhere by screens, and the sound of a motor may bring a hail of shells down on your head. The stretcher bearers are so used to meeting death in its worst forms—by burning oil, by shell fragments, by suffocating shells—that they have grown to look at it smilingly."
It is a St. Paul's School car that operates there.
"Another time the run was up to an artillery post in the mountains. The road was extremely steep near the top, and covered with gravel. It was only by hard effort that a dozen men could push the car up. We ran to the communicating trench, where they had the man waiting. He was wounded in the abdomen, and in great pain. We started down over the terrible road; at every pebble he would groan. When we reached the worst place of all, where the road had recently been mended with unbroken stones, his groans began to grow fainter. They ceased, and, stopping, we found that he was dead. But there had been a chance of saving his life. A larger car could not have gone up. A wagon or a mule would have caused his death almost immediately.
"On one of our hills in winter a team of six Red Cross men was kept on duty waiting for our ambulance to come along. The cars would go as far as possible up the incline, and before they lost speed would be practically carried to the crest on the shoulders of the pushers—mules, with their drivers hanging on the beasts' tails to make the ascent easier. Strapped on these animals are barbed wire and hand-grenades, red wine and sections of the army portable houses."
Such is winter in Alsace.
"Luke Doyle had driven his car to the entrance of the Hartmanns trenches and our last post, when a heavy bombardment forced every one to make for the bomb-proof. Several men were wounded and he came out to crank his car and carry them off when he was ordered back to safety. A few moments later a shell landed close to the 'abri.' It struck a man and killed him. A flying piece reached Doyle and entered his elbow. Another of our section, Douglas, arrived, and was knocked flat by a bursting shell. He rose, put Doyle in his car and drove him up the road to safety."
Another time, Jack Clark writes:
"Car 161 still lives up to her reputation. Yesterday, in a blizzard, she was blown off the road between two trees, over three piles of rock, through a fence and into a ditch. Three men and a horse removed her from the pasture, and she went on as ever."
Car 163 had 13 cases of tire trouble in two weeks. The whole success of the adventure depends on the condition of the cars. So through all the narrative of shell-fire and suffering men recurs the theme of roads and tires, axle-trouble and hill-grades. The adventure of the car itself is as real as that of the man. The car becomes a personality to the man at the wheel, just as the locomotive is to the engineer. It isn't any old car. It is the little Ford, Number 121, given by Mrs. Richard Trowbridge of Roxbury, Mass. In that particular car you have carried 500 wounded men, you have gone into the ditch, stuck in the mud, and scurried under shell-fire, shrapnel has torn the cover, and there is the mark of a rifle-bullet on the wheel-spoke. You have slept at the wheel and in the chassis, after hours of work. You have eaten luncheons for two months on the front seat. The reader must not get very far away from the ambulance-car in making his mental picture of the experience of the boys in North France, and he must not object if all through this chapter he gets the smell of grease and petrol, and if the explosions are tires as often as shells. Because that is the way it is at the front. These boys never take their eyes from the road and the car. So why should we who read of them?
There is a certain Detroit manufacturer who has a large and legitimate advertisement coming to him. If he will collect the hundred fervid and humorous comments written into the records of the field service he will have a publicity pamphlet which will outlive "A Message to Garcia." For this job of the jitneys is more than carrying orders; it is bringing wounded men over impossible routes, where four wheels and a motor were never supposed to go. Mr. Ford with his ship accomplished nothing, but Mr. Ford with his cars has done much in getting the boys out of the trenches. They would have lain there wounded for an hour, two hours, in the Alsace district for twelve hours longer, if his nimble jitneys had not chugged up to the boyau and dressing station.
"We expected to be kept rolling all night." To "keep rolling" is their phrase for driving the car.
"The next sixty hours were not divided into days for us. We ran steadily, not stopping for meals or sleep except during the brief pauses in the stream of wounded. Except for one memorable and enormous breakfast at the end of the first 24 hours, I ate while driving, steering with one hand, holding bread and cheese in the other. The first lull I slept an hour and a half, the second night there was no lull and I drove until I went to sleep several times at the wheel. Then I took three hours' rest and went on. Gasoline, oil and carbide ran low; we used all our spare tires. One of our men ran into a ditch with three seriously wounded soldiers, and upset. Another man broke his rear axle. During the two and one-half days of the attack, over 250 wounded were moved by our 15 cars a distance of 40 kilometers."
Ambulance work depends on the supply of gasoline, oil, carbide and spare parts, solid rations and sleep. Success rests in patching tires, scraping carbon and changing springs. Any idea of ambulance work is off the mark that thinks it a succession of San Juan charges. It is hard, unpicturesque work, with an occasional fifteen minutes of tension.
"A stretcher makes a serviceable bed, and, warmly wrapped in blankets, one can sleep very comfortably in an ambulance."
"A climb of 800 meters in less than 10 kilometers involves mechanical stress."
"The unique spring suspension and light body construction make our cars the most comfortable for the wounded of all the types in service."
A mechanical detail—but it is in these bits of ingenious mechanical adaptation to human needs that the American contribution has been made. It isn't half enough in a machine-made war to be dashing and picturesque. You must fight destructive machinery with still cleverer engines of relief. The inventive brain must operate as well as the kind heart and the spirit of fearlessness. It is in the combination of courage and mechanical versatility that the best of the American quality has been revealed.
Flashes of the soldier life are given by the boys. Canned beef is called by the poilu "singe," or monkey meat.
"All that is impossible is explained by a simple 'c'est la guerre.' Why else blindly scrape one's way past a creaking truck of shells, testing 20 horses, two abreast, steaming in their own cloud of sweaty vapor? Why else descend slopes with every brake afire, with three human bodies as cargo, where a broken drive shaft leaves but one instantaneous twist of the wheel for salvation, a thrust straight into the bank, smashing the car but saving its load? 'C'est la guerre.'"
"'Chasseurs Alpines': a short, dark-blue jacket, gray trousers, spiral puttees, and the jaunty soft hat 'bérets.' These are the famous 'blue devils.'"
"I, who came for four months and have been working eight, can assure any one who is considering joining the American Ambulance that he will go home with a feeling of great satisfaction at having been able to help out a little a nation that appreciates it, and that is bearing the brunt of the fighting on the Western Front."
"Among the wounded that our cars carried, was the General of the Division—General Serret"—brought down from the height he had held to be amputated and to die.
Another section of twenty-four cars started in at Esternay at the time of the spring freshets, when life was chilly and wet. Eleven received individually the Croix de Guerre. This section served two divisions of the second French Army and had a battle front of from seven to ten miles—the St. Mihiel sector, a region subject to artillery fire. It has been commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry, a descendant of Commodore Perry.
They had 1,800 wounded a week, and a mileage of 5,000 kilometers.
"Sudbury broke his arm cranking, this morning."
The service was brisk. Shroder with two wounded was rounding a corner when a shell hit so close as to jump his car up. One car came in from service in July with 23 shrapnel holes. On July 8, within 24 hours, the boys of this section carried 997 wounded.
"During the bombardment the trenches were so smashed by continuous fire as to cease to be trenches: the men lay in holes in the ground. They would come down when relieved, dazed and sometimes weeping, yet they held their ground." Long waits and frantic activity: dullness and horror alternating. Nine members of the ambulances were in the house against which a shell exploded. A soldier was killed and one mortally wounded. The Americans were thrown in a heap on the floor. "Now, the section occupies a large house just outside the town. There is a large hole in the garden where a shell alighted soon after this became our new quarters; but the good fortune of the Ambulance is with it still."
"To Clos Bois. Sharp shrapnel fire. Small branches and leaves showered down in the wood. It was necessary for two of our men, whose ambulances stood in the open to expose themselves in putting stretchers in the cars. Great courage was displayed by McConnell, who was active in this work even when not required to be so, and who was hit in the back by a fragment of shell, sustaining, however, no further injury than a bad bruise. Mention should be made of Martin, who drove away with his car full of wounded while the firing was still going on, a bullet mark in his steering-gear, and a spare tire on the roof punctured."
The order of the day, July 22, cited the American section, "Composed of volunteers, friends of our country."
Here are a half dozen impressions that come to the men in the course of their work.
"I counted one evening fifteen balls, within a space of a dozen yards of the doorway where I was sheltering."
"The dark houses, deserted streets, the dim shape of a sentry, the night scents of the fields"—these are what the evening run reveals.
"On the one hand are the trenches where men live in conditions which must resemble those of the cave men: dug into the earth, and with danger of death as a daily habit; on the other, within half an hour's walk, most of the comforts of civilization. We come down from the work of carrying hundreds of mangled men, and in the evening sit eating strawberries and cake in a pretty drawing-room."
"The wounded had a curiously unconcerned appearance, as though having been hit already they are immune."
"Our young heroes——" Yes, they are all of that, fearless, and swift to act. But they are practical heroes—good mechanicians, ready to lend a hand on any lowly job of washing a stretcher or shifting furniture. I like the rough-neck way of the American Ambulance. There has been a snobbish attempt made to describe these young workers as belonging to our "best families," representing the "elite" of America. That is to miss the point of the work. It is democratic service. Work hard and you are a popular member of the community. This Lorraine section went to Verdun, and Robert Toms of Marion, Iowa, wrote me:
"Everybody has the right spirit, and we are all working together. We are living the real army life—sleeping out of doors and eating in a barn."
One of the Verdun sections was sent to Bar-le-Duc recently where a bombardment by fourteen German aeroplanes was under way. Forty persons were killed and 160 injured. The boys cruised around the streets during the overhead shelling of forty-five minutes, picking up the dead and wounded. Almost all the cars were hit by fragments of shell. This prompt aid under fire endeared the American Ambulance to the inhabitants of that town. Next day one of the drivers took his coat to a tailor for repair. The man refused to accept any pay from one who had helped his city.
A few of us were sitting around quietly one day when a French sous-officer entered, in a condition of what seems to our inarticulate Northern stolidity as excitement, but what in reality is merely clear expression of warm emotion. He said:
"The people of Bar-le-Duc are grateful for what the Americans have done. Your work was excellent, wonderful. We will not forget it."
This work of the American Ambulance Field Service is the most brilliant, the most widely known of any we are doing in France. As we motored through Lorraine, Major Humbert, brother of the Commanding General of the Third Division, stopped three of us, Americans, and said he wished to tell us, as spokesman to our country, that the American Ambulance Service gave great satisfaction to the French Army. "It is courageous and useful. We thank you."
A Flanders section was sent out, ten cars at first. They served at the Second Battle of the Yser, when gas was used for the first time by the enemy. It is a flat country and they ran close to the battle-front. They were billeted at Elverdinghe till the village crumbled under shell fire.
The work was in part "cleaning plugs and cylinders, tightening nuts and bolts, oiling and greasing, washing our little cars just as though they were a lot of dirty kiddies." The cars receive pet names of Susan, and Beatrice, and The Contagious Bus. The Contagious Bus, Car 82, driven by Hayden, carried 187 contagious cases between March 29 and May 12, and a total of 980 men, covering 2,084 kilometers. In one day 95 men were transported to the hospitals in that one car.
"At 2.30 in the afternoon a call came from the 'Trois Chemins' poste, and in answering it Day and Brown had a close call. While on the road to the poste, at one place in view of the German trenches, they were caught in a bombardment, seven shells striking within 100 yards of the machine. Two or three days later, Latimer halted his machine at the end of the road, and walked down to the poste with the 'Medecin Auxiliare.' Shrapnel began to break near them and they were forced to put in the next few minutes in a ditch. They were forced to lie down five times that morning in this ditch, half full of mud and water. The red-headed girls still continue to keep open their little store right near the church on the main street. Downs spent the night on the road where he had dropped out with a broken transmission. A fire caused by the heating apparatus broke out in Ned Townsend's car. It flamed out suddenly, and it was too late to save even his personal belongings."
There are all kinds of interludes in the work. Here is a Christmas note, "Dec. 25. The section had its Christmas dinner at 5 o'clock. Kenyon plays the violin very well, and Day and Downs are at home with the piano. Toasts were drunk all the way from Theodore Roosevelt to 'The Folks at Home.' After dinner impromptu theatricals, Franklin and White's dance taking the cake."
"Car wanted for Poste de Secours No. 1, 200 yards from trenches, eight kilometers from our post. The car rocks from shell holes. Watch for the round black spots."
General Putz, commanding the Détachement d'Armée de Belgique, states: "In spite of the bombardment of Elverdinghe, of the roads leading to this village, and of the Ambulance itself, this evacuation has been effected night and day without interruption. I cannot too highly praise the courage and devotion shown by the personnel of the section."
One of the men writes: "From 3 a.m. April 22 until 7.30 p.m. April 26, five cars on duty. In those four days each man got seven hours' sleep, sitting at the wheel, or an hour on a hospital bed."
Of one sudden shell-flurry: "We stayed still for fifteen minutes, I smoking furiously, and the English nurse singing. Little 'Khaki,' the squad's pet dog, lay shaking."
Five days of continuous heavy work exhausted them, and half of the corps was sent to Dunkirk "en repos." On the day of their arrival shells came in from a distance of twenty-one miles, twenty shells at intervals of half an hour. They took a minute and a half to arrive. The French outposts at the German lines telephoned that one was on its way, and the sirens of Dunkirk, twenty-one miles away, blew a warning. This gave the inhabitants a minute in which to dive into their cellars. The American Ambulances were the only cars left in the town. On the sound of the siren the boys headed for the Grand Place, and, as soon as they saw the cloud of dust, they drove into it.
As one of them describes it:
"We spent the next two hours cruising slowly about the streets, waiting for the next shells to come, and then going to see if any one had been hit. I had three dead men and ten terribly wounded—soldiers, civilians, women. The next day I was glad to be off for the quiet front where things happen in the open, and women and children are not murdered."
"Seven shells fell within a radius of 200 yards of the cars, with pieces of brick and hot splinters."
A French official said of the Dunkirk bombardment:
"I was at most of the scenes, but always found one of your ambulances before me."
A Moroccan lay grievously wounded in a Dunkirk hospital. One of our boys sat down beside the cot.
"Touchez le main," said the wounded man, feebly. He was lonely.
The boys stayed with him for a time. The man was too far spent to talk, but every little while he said:
"Touchez le main."
Through the darkness of his pain, he knew that he had a companion there. The young foreigner at his side was a friend, and cared that he suffered. It is difficult to put in public print what one comes to know about these young men of ours, for they are giving something besides efficient driving. I have seen men like Bob Toms at work, and I know that every jolt of the road hurts them because it hurts their wounded soldier.
A young millionaire who has been driving up in the Alsace district, remarked the other day:
"I never used to do anything, but I won't be able to live like that after the war. The pleasantest thing that is going to happen to me when this thing is over will be to go to the telephone in New York and call up François.
"'That you, François? Come and let's have dinner together and talk over the big fight.'
"François is a Chasseur Alpin. I've been seeing him up on the mountain. François is the second cook at the Knickerbocker Hotel, and the finest gentleman I ever knew."
THE AMERICANS AT VERDUN
The French have been massed at Verdun in the decisive battle of the war. So were the Americans. Our little group of ambulance drivers were called from the other points of the 350-mile line, and five sections of the American Ambulance Field Service and the Harjes and the Norton Corps work from ten up to twenty hours of the day bringing in their comrades, the French wounded. One hundred and twenty of our cars and 120 of our boys in the field service were in the sector, under constant shell-fire. Several were grievously wounded. Others were touched. A dozen of the cars were shot up with shrapnel and slivers of explosive shell.
Will Irwin and I went up with Piatt Andrew, head of the field service, to see the young Americans at work. We left Paris on July 1 in a motor car. Our chauffeur was Philibert, Eighth Duke of Clermont-Tonnerre, Fifth Prince of the name, Tenth Marquess of Cruzy and Vauvillars, Forty-fifth Count of the name, Sixteenth Viscount of Tallart, Twenty-first Baron of Clermont en Viennois, Ancien Pair de France, descendant of the Seigneur of Saint Geoire. For nine centuries his family has been famous. The Duke is a kindly, middle-aged aristocrat, who is very helpful to the American Field Service. He takes the boys on visits to some one of his collection of châteaus. He drives Piatt Andrew on his tours of inspection. He is a gifted and furious driver, and on our dash from Paris to Verdun he burned up a couple of tires. It was a genial thing to see him, caked with dust on face and clothing, tinkering the wheel. To be served by one of the oldest families in Europe was a novel experience for Irwin and me, though actually what the Duke was doing in his democratic way is being done almost universally by the "high-born" of France. Up through thousands of transports, thousands of horses and tens of thousands of men, we steered our course to Lovering Hill's section of the American Field Service.
There on the hillside, to the west of Verdun, were the boys and their cars. It was daytime, so they were resting. All work is night work. They were muddy, unshaved, weary. A couple of base-ball gloves were lying around. One of the boys was repairing a car that had collided with a tree. There was mud on all the cars, and blood on the inner side of one car. For ten nights they have been making one of the hottest ambulance runs of the war.
It was on that run that William Notley Barber, of Toledo, Ohio, was shot through the back. The shell fragment tore a long, jagged rent in his khaki army coat, with a circle of blood around the rip, entered the back and lay against the lung and stomach. The car was shattered. The next man found him. The wrecked car still stood on the road with a dead man in it, the wounded soldier whom he was bringing back. We saw Barber at the field hospital. He had been operated on for the second time. He showed us the quarter inch of metal which the surgeon had just taken out, the second piece to be removed. He has won the Medaille Militaire.
This section needed no initiation. They had long served at Hartmannsweilerkopf in the Alsace fighting, and of their number Hall was killed. This experience at Verdun is a continuation of the dangerous, brilliant work they have carried on for sixteen months. These men are veterans in service, though youngsters in years. By their shredded cars and the blood they have spilled they have earned the right to be ranked next to soldiers of the line.
They gave me the impression of having been through one of the great experiences of life. There was a tired but victorious sense they carried, of men that had done honest service.
As we sat on the grass and looked out on a sky full of observation balloons and aeroplanes, a very good-looking young man walked up. Only one thing about his make-up was marred, and that was his nose—a streak of red ran across the bridge.
"Shrapnel," he said, as he saw me looking. "And it seems a pity, too. I spent $600 on that nose, just before I came over here. They burned it, cauterized it, wired it, knifed it, and pronounced it a thorough job. And as soon as it was cleaned up, it came over here into powder and dust and got messed up by shrapnel. Now the big $600 job will have to be done over again."
This young man is Waldo Pierce, the artist. It was he who once started on a trip to Europe with a friend, but didn't like the first meal, so jumped overboard and swam back. He sailed by the next boat, and arrived on the other side to find his friend in trouble for his disappearance.
Through the side of Pierce's coat, just at the pocket, and just over the heart, I saw a bullet hole.
"Pretty stagey, isn't it?" he explained. "If it had been a ragged, irregular hole, somewhere else, say at the elbow, it would have been all right. But this neat little hole just at the vital spot is conventional stuff. It looks like the barn door, and five yards away.
"And this is worse yet," he added, as he took out from the inner breast pocket a brown leather wallet. Through one flap the same shrapnel bullet had penetrated. Together, coat and wallet had saved this young man's life.
"That's the sort of thing that wouldn't go anywhere," Pierce went on. He is a Maine man, and has a pleasant drawl.
Wheeler's car was shot through, the slatting ripped at the driver's place, the sides a mess. A man on his right and a man at his left were killed. The stuff passed over his head as he knelt before a tire. The boys have been playing in luck. A dozen fatalities were due them in the June drive at Verdun. This was the fiercest offensive of the four months, and they stood up to it.
We were looking west, and as we looked an aeroplane burst into flames. As it fell, it left a trail of black smoke, funnel shaped, and always at the point of that funnel the bright spark, and at the heart of that spark a man burning to death. The spark descended rather slowly, with a spiraling movement, and trailing the heavy smoke. It burned brightly all the way to the horizon line, where it seemed to continue for a moment, like a setting sun on the earth's rim. Then it puffed out, and only the smoke in the sky was left. In another moment the light wind had shredded the smoke away.
It was 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and we had been coming from Paris at full tilt to get to the Etat Major and report ourselves. So, after watering the car and shaking hands all around, we started off, and straightway the rear left tire went flat, and its successor went flat, and for the third time it went flat. So we crawled to a village at midnight, and laid by for repairs.
At 3 a.m. we rose. There was no dressing to be done, as we had rested in our clothes. We ran out past the city of Verdun on the road going east to Fort de Tavannes. Wheat was ripening to the full crop in a hundred fields about us. All the birds were singing. The pleasant stir and fullness of summer were coming down the air.
Then on a sudden the famous Tier de Barrage broke out—the deadly barrier of fire that crumbles a line of trenches as a child pokes in an ant hill: the fire that covers an advance and withers an enemy attack. Here was what I had been waiting for through twenty-one months of war. I had caught snatches of it at a dozen points along the line. I had eaten luncheon by a battery near Dixmude, but they were lazy, throwing a shell or two only for each course. But here, just before the sun came up, 200 feet from us, a battery of twelve 75s fired continuously for twenty minutes. Just over the hill another battery cleared its throat and spoke. In the fields beyond us other batteries played continuously. Some of the men put cotton in their ears.
We ran through a devastated wood. The green forest has been raked by high explosive into dead stumps, and looks like a New Hampshire hillside when the match trust has finished with it. The road is a thing of mounds and pits, blown up and dug out by a four months' rain of heavy shells. The little American cars are like rabbits. They dip into an obus hole, bounce up again and spin on. They turn round on their own tails. They push their pert little noses up a hill, where the road is lined with famous heavy makes, stalled and wrecked. They refuse to stay out of service.
We rode back through the partially destroyed city of Verdun, lying trapped and helpless in its hollow of hills. We drove through its streets, some of them a pile of stones and plaster, others almost untouched, with charming bits of water view and green lawns and immaculate white fronts. The city reminded me of the victim whom a professional hypnotist displays in a shop window, where he leaves him lying motionless in the trance for exhibition purposes.
Verdun lay seemingly dead inside the range of German fire. But once the guns are forced back the city will spring into life.
Then we returned to the ambulance headquarters and in an open tent shared the excellent rations which the field service provides for its workers. We were sitting with the French lieutenant and discussing the values of rhythm in prose when the boys shouted to us from the next field. An aeroplane was dipping over an anchored sausage-shaped observation balloon. The aeroplane had marked its victim, which could not escape, as a bird darts for a worm. The balloon opened up into flame and fell through thirty seconds, burning with a dull red.
The hours we had just spent of work and excitement seemed to me fairly crowded, but they were mild in the life of the field service. They pound away overtime and take ugly hazards and preserve a boy's humor. More young men of the same stuff are needed at once for this American Ambulance Field Service. The country is full of newly made college graduates, wondering what they can make of their lives. Here is the choicest service in fifty years offered to them.
Even a jitney wears out. Bump it in the carburetor enough times, rake it with shrapnel, and it begins to lose its first freshness. More full sections of cars should be given. The work is in charge of Piatt Andrew, who used to teach political economy in Harvard, was later Director of the Mint, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and secretary of Senator Aldrich's Monetary Commission.
As soon as twilight fell we started on the nightly round. Here was Section 4 of the American Ambulance doing hot service for Hill 304 and Dead Man's Hill. It was on this ride that I saw the real Verdun, the center of the deadliest action since men learned how to kill. The real Verdun is the focused strength of all France, flowing up the main roads, trickling down the side roads and overflowing upon the fields. The real Verdun is fed and armed by the thousands of motor cars that bray their way from forty miles distant, by the network of tiny narrow gauge railways, and by the horses that fill the meadows and forests.
Tiny trucks and trains are stretched through all the sector. They look like a child's railroad, the locomotive not more than four feet high. They brush along by the road, and wander through fields and get lost in woods. The story goes in the field service that one of these wee trains runs along on a hillside, and just back of it is a battery of 220's which shoot straight across the tracks at a height of three feet. The little train comes chugging along full of ammunition. The artillery men yell "Attention," and begin firing all together. The train waits till there seems to be a lull, and goes by under the muzzles.
We were still far enough from the front to see this enginery of war as a spectacle. The flashing cars and bright winged aeroplanes, the immense concourse of horses, the vast orderly tumult, thousands of mixed items, separate things and men, all shaped by one will to a common purpose, all of it clothed in wonder, full of speed and color—this prodigious spectacle brought to me with irresistible appeal a memory of childhood.
"What does it remind me of?" I kept saying to myself. Now I had it:
When I was a very little boy I used to get up early on two mornings of the year: one was the Fourth of July and the other was the day the circus came to town. The circus came while it was yet dark in the summer morning, unloaded the animals, unpacked the snakes and freaks, and built its house from the ground up. Very swiftly the great tents were slung, and deftly the swinging trapezes were dropped. Ropes uncoiled into patterns. The three rings came full circle. Seats rose tier on tier. Then the same invisible will created a mile long parade down Main Street, gave two performances of two hours each, and packed up the circus, which disappeared down the road before the Presbyterian church bell rang midnight.
A man once said to me of a world famous general: "He is a great executive. He could run a circus on moving day." It was the perfect tribute. So I can give no clearer picture of what Pétain and his five fingers—the generals of his staff—are accomplishing than to say they are running one thousand circuses, and every day is moving day.
Our little car was like a carriage dog in the skill with which it kept out of the way of traffic while traveling in the center of the road. Three-ton trucks pounded down upon it and the small cuss breezed round and came out the other side. The boys told me that one of our jitneys once pushed a huge camion down over a ravine, and went on innocent and unconcerned, and never discovered its work as a wrecker till next day.
But soon we passed out of the zone of transports and into the shell-sprinkled area. We went through a deserted village that is shelled once or twice a day. There is nothing so dead as a place, lately inhabited, where killing goes on. There is the smell of tumbled masonry and moldering flesh, the stillness that waits for fresh horror. Just as we left the village, the road narrowed down like the neck of a bottle. It is so narrow that only one stream of traffic can flow through. By the boys of the field service this peculiarly dangerous village of Bethlainville is known as "Bethlehem"—Bethlehem, because no wise men pass that way.
The young man with me had been bending over his steering gear, a few days before, when a shrapnel ball cut through the seat at just the level of his head. If he had been sitting upright the bullet would have killed him. And another bullet went past the face of the boy with him. The American Field Service has had nothing but luck.
"But don't publish my name," said my friend. "It might worry the folk at home."
We rode on till we had gone eighteen miles.
"Here is our station."
I didn't know we were there. Our Poste de Secours was simply one more hole in the ground, an open mouth into an invisible interior—one more mole hole in honeycombed ground.
We entered the cave, and something hit my face. It was the flap of sacking which hung there to prevent any light being seen. We walked a few steps, hand extended, till it felt the second flap. We stepped into a little round room, like the dome of an astronomical observatory. It was lit by lantern. Three stretcher bearers were sitting there, and two chaplains, one Protestant, one Roman Catholic. The Protestant was a short, energetic man in the early forties, with stubby black beard and excellent flow of English. The Roman Catholic, Cleret de Langavant, was white-haired, with a long white beard, a quite splendid old fellow with his courtesy and native dignity. These two men, the best of friends, live up there in the shelled district, where they can minister to the wounded as fast as they come in from the trenches. Of one group of thirty French stretcher bearers who have been bringing wounded from Dead Man's Hill to this tunnel, where the Americans pick them up, ten have been killed.
We went out from the stuffy, overcrowded shelter and stood in the little communicating trench that led from the Red Cross room to the road. We were looking out on 500,000 men at war—not a man of them visible, but their machinery filling the air with color and sound. We were not allowed to smoke, for a flicker of light could draw fire.
We were standing on the crest of a famous hill. We saw, close by, Hill 340 and Dead Man's Hill, two points of the fiercest of the Verdun fighting. It was the wounded from Dead Man's Hill for whom we waited. Night by night the Americans wait there within easy shell range. Sometimes the place is shelled vigorously. Other nights attention is switched to other points.
"I shouldn't stand outside," suggested one of the stretcher bearers. "The other evening one of our men had his arm blown off while he was sitting at the mouth of the tunnel. He thought it was going to be a quiet evening."
But the young American doctor liked fresh air.
It was a wonderful night of stars, with a bell-like clarity to the mild air and little breeze stirring. A perfect night for flying. We heard the whirr of the passing wings—the scouts of the sky were out. Searchlights began to play. I counted eight at once, and more than twenty between the hills. Sometimes they ran up in parallel columns, banding the western heaven. Sometimes they located the knight errant and played their streams on him at the one intersecting point. Again the lights would each of them go off on a separate search, flicking up and down the dome of the sky and rippling over banks of thin white cloud.
Star lights rose by rockets and hung suspended, gathering intensity of light till it seemed as if it hit my face, then slowly fell. The German starlights were swift and brilliant; the French steady and long continuing.
"No good, the Boches' lights," said a voice out of the tunnel. A French stretcher bearer had just joined us.
Other rockets discharged a dozen balls at once, sometimes red, sometimes green. Then the pattern lights began to play—the lights which signal directions for artillery fire. They zigzagged like a snake and again made geometrical figures. Some of the fifty guns, nested behind us, fired rapidly for five minutes and then knocked off for a smoke. From the direction of Hill 304 heavy guns, perhaps 220's, thundered briefly. We could hear the drop of large shells in the distance. The Germans threw a few shells in the direction of the village through which we had driven, a few toward the battery back of us. We could hear the whistle of our shells traveling west and of their shells coming east. To stand midway between fires is to be in a safe and yet stimulating situation. From the gently sloping, innocent hillocks all about us tons of metal passed high over our heads into the lines. If only one shell in every fifty found its man, as the gossip of the front has it, the slaughter was thorough.
"It is a quiet evening," said my friend.
It was as if we were in the center of a vast cavity; there were no buildings, no trees, nothing but distance, and the distance filled with fireworks. I once saw Brooklyn Bridge garlanded with fireworks. It seemed to me a great affair. We spoke of it for days afterward. But here in front of us were twenty miles of exploding lights, a continuous performance for four months. With our heads thrust over the tunnel edge, we stood there for four hours. The night, the play of lights, the naked hill top, left us with a sense of something vast and lonely.
The Protestant clergyman came and said: "Let us go across the road to my abri."
He stumbled down two steps cut in clay and bent over to enter the earth cave. "I will lead you," he said, taking me by the arm.
"Wait while I close the door," he said; "we must not show any light."
When the cave was securely closed in he flashed a pocket electric. We were in a room scooped out of the earth. The roof was so low that my casque struck it. A cot filled a third of the space. The available standing room was three feet by six feet.
"You will forgive me for asking it," he went on, "but please use your pocket lamp; mine is getting low and I am far away from supplies. We can get nothing up here."
My friend handed over his lamp. The clergyman flashed it on a photograph pinned against a plank of wood.
"My wife," he said; "she is an American girl from Bensonhurst, Long Island. And that is my child."
He turned the light around the room. There were pages of pictures from the London Daily Mail and the New York Tribune. One was a picture of German soldiers in a church, drinking by the altar.
"I call this my New York corner," he explained, "and this is my visiting card." From a pile he lifted a one-page printed notice, which read:
"I, the undersigned, belong to the Protestant religion. In consequence and conforming to the law of 1905, this is my formal wish: In case of sickness or accident, I wish the visit of a Protestant pastor and the succor of his ministry whether I am undergoing treatment at a hospital or elsewhere; in case of death I wish to be buried with the assistance of a Protestant pastor and the rites of that Church."
Space is left for the soldier to sign his name. The little circular is devised by this chaplain, Pastor——, chaplain of the——Division.
At 2 o'clock in the morning we were ordered to load our car with the wounded, one "lying case," three "sitting cases." We discharged them at the hospital, and tumbled into the tent at Ippecourt at 4 o'clock.
"FRIENDS OF FRANCE"
American relief work in France has many agencies and activities. I have given illustrations of it, but these are only admirable bits among a host of equals. I have told of the American Field Service. Other sections of young Americans have been at work in the hottest corners of the battle front. The Harjes Formation and the American Volunteer Motor Ambulance Corps, known as the Norton Corps, have made a name for daring and useful work with their one hundred cars on the firing line. What the Field Service has done, they too have done and suffered. It was with a glow of pride that I read the name of my Yale classmate, W. P. Clyde, junior, of the Norton Ambulance, cited in an order of the day, and made the recipient of the French War Cross. The commanding general wrote of him:
"Volunteer for a perilous mission, he acquitted himself with a cool courage under a heavy and continuous fire. He has given, in the course of the campaign, numerous proofs of his indifference to danger and his spirit of self-sacrifice."
I have shown the contribution of scientific skill and mechanical ingenuity which Americans have made in hospital and ambulance work. There remains a work in which our other American characteristic of executive ability is shown. Organization is the merit of the American Relief Clearing House. When the war broke out, American gifts tumbled into Paris, addressed and unaddressed. There was a tangle and muddle of generosity. The American Relief Clearing House was formed to meet this need. It centralizes and controls the receipt of relief from America intended for France and her Allies. It collects fresh accurate information on ravaged districts and suffering people. It prevents waste and overlapping and duplication. It obtains free transportation across the ocean for all gifts, free entry through the French customs, and free transportation on all the French railways. It forwards the gifts to the particular point, when it is specified. It distributes unmarked supplies to places of need. It receives money and purchases supplies. It has 114 persons giving all their time to its work. It has issued 45,000 personally signed letters telling of the work. It employs ten auto trucks in handling goods. It has concentrated time, effort and gifts. It has obtained and spread information of the needs of the Allies. It has been efficient in creating relationship between the donor in America and the recipient in France, and in increasing good will between the nations. I do not write of the Clearing House from the outside, but from a long experience. For many months my wife has given all her time to making known the work of Miss Fyfe who manages the work of relief for civilians, their transportation, and conducts a refugee house, and a Maternity Hospital in the little strip of Belgium which is still unenslaved. Little local committees, such as Miss Rider's in Norwalk, in Cedar Rapids, in Montclair, and in Douglaston, L. I., have been formed, and 36 boxes of material, and over $1,500 in money, have been given. Those supplies the Clearing House has brought from New York to La Panne, Belgium, free of charge, promptly, with no damage and no losses. What the Clearing House has done for this humble effort, it has done for 60,000 other consignments, and for more than a million dollars of money. It has distributed supplies to 2,500 hospitals and 200 relief organizations in France. It has sent goods to Belgium, Salonica, to the sick French prisoners in Switzerland. It dispatched the ship Menhir for the relief of Serbian refugees. It has installed a complete hospital, with 200 beds and a radiograph outfit. The cases which it transports contain gauze, cotton, bandages, hospital clothing, surgical instruments, garments, underwear, boots, socks. The names of the men who have administered this excellent organization in Paris are H. O. Beatty, Charles R. Scott, Randolph Mordecai, James R. Barbour, and Walter Abbott.
After the claims of immediate dramatic suffering, comes the great mute community of the French people, whose life and work have been blighted. And for one section of that community the Association of "Les Amis des Artistes" has been formed. "To preserve French art from the deadly effects of the war, which creates conditions so unfavorable to the production of masterpieces of painting, sculpture, architecture, decorative arts, engraving," is the object of this society. The members see that other forms of activity will swiftly revive after the war. "The invaded districts will be rebuilt, business will flourish. But art will have a hard and prolonged struggle." The society purchases from its funds the works of men of talent whom the war has robbed of means of support. These paintings, statuary, engravings, so acquired, are annually divided among the members. The purchase is made by a committee composed of distinguished artists, critics and connoisseurs, representing the three great French salons and the various art tendencies of the modern movement. The Honorary Committee includes Bakst, Hanotaux, Maeterlinck, Rodin and Raemaekers. Americans who are aiding are Mrs. Mark Baldwin, Mrs. Paul Gans, Walter Gay, Laurence V. Benét, and Percy Peixotto.
The new American fund of the "Guthrie Committee" for the relief of the orphans of war has been recently announced. It is planned to raise many millions of dollars for this object.
Children, artists, invalid soldiers, refugees—there is a various and immense suffering in France at this moment, and no American can afford to be neutral in the presence of that need. The sense of the sharp individual disturbance and of the mass of misery came to me one day when I visited the Maison Blanche. We entered the open air corridor, where a group of thirty men rose to salute our party. My eye picked up a young man, whose face carried an expression of gentleness.
"Go and bring the War Minister your work," said the Major who was conducting us.
A little chattering sound came from the lips of the boy. It sounded like the note of a bird, a faint twittering, making the sound of "Wheet-Wheet"—twice repeated each half minute. Then began the strangest walk I have ever seen. His legs thrust out in unexpected directions, his arms bobbed, his whole body trembled. Sometimes he sank partly to the ground. His progress was slow, because he was spilling his vitality in these motions. And all the time, the low chirrup came from his lips. More laborious and cruel than the price paid by the victims of vice was this walk of one who had served his country.
And yet nothing in the indignity that had been done to his body could rob him of that sweetness of expression.
"A shell exploded directly in front of him," explained the doctor, "the sudden shock broke his nervous system, and gave him what is practically a case of locomotor ataxia. He trembles continuously in every part. It forces out the little cry. The effect of that shock is distributed through his entire body. That is what gives hope for his recovery. If the thing had centered in any one function, he would be a hopeless case. But it is all diffused. When the war ends many of these men who are nerve-shattered, will recover, we believe. As long as the war lasts, they live it, they carry a sense of responsibility, with the horror that goes with it. But when they know the shelling is over for ever they will grow better."
In a few minutes the young soldier returned carrying two baskets. The one thing that is saving that man from going crazy is his basket making. Very patiently and skillfully his shaking hands weave close-knit little baskets. Some of them were open trays for household knick-knacks. Others were worked out into true art shapes of vase. I shan't forget him as he stood there trembling, the little reed baskets rocking in his hands, but those baskets themselves revealing not a trace of his infirmity. Only his nervous system was broken. But his will to work, his sweet enduring spirit, were the will and the heart of France.
The War Minister, in whose hands rests the health of four million soldiers, is as painstaking, as tender as a nurse. Fifteen minutes he gave that man—fifteen minutes of encouragement. The rest of France waited, while this one little twitching representative of his race received what was due from the head of the nation to the humblest sufferer. Do I need to say that the soldier was bought out? Professor Mark Baldwin and Bernard Shoninger held an extempore auction against each other. But one basket they could not buy and that was the tray the man had woven for his wife. He was proud to show it, but money could not get it. And he was a thrifty man at that. For, as soon as he had received his handful of five-franc notes, he went to his room, where he sleeps alone so that his twittering will not disturb the other men, and hid the money in his kit. Something more for his wife to go with the basket.
Clearing house of the suffering of France, the Maison Blanche is the place where the mutilated of the Grand Army come. As quickly as they are discharged from hospital, they are sent to this Maison Blanche, while completing their convalescence, before they return to their homes. It is here that arms, legs, stumps, hands and the apparatus that operates these members, are fitted to them. They try out the new device. It is to them like a foot asleep to a whole man; a something numb and strange out beyond the responses of the nervous system. It behaves queerly. It requires much testing to make it articulate naturally.
Through the recreation hall, where plays and motion pictures have made gay evenings in time past before the war, file the slow streams of the crippled, backwash of the slaughter to the North. To the soldiers it is a matter of routine, one more item in the long sacrifice. They fit on the member and test it in a businesslike way, with no sentimentalizing. Too many are there in the room, and other hundreds on the pleasant sunny lawns, in like case, for the individual to feel himself the lonely victim. There are no jests—the war has gone too far for superficial gayety—and there is no hint of despair, for France is being saved. The crippled man is sober and long-enduring.
There in that room I saw the war as I have not seen it in five months of active service at the front. For yonder on the Yser we had the dramatic reliefs of sudden bombardment, and flashing aeroplanes. But here were only broken men. There were no whole men at all in the long Salle. The spirit of the men was all that it ever was. But the body could no longer respond. They stood in long line, stripped to the waist or with leg bare waiting their turn with the doctor and the apparatus expert. There is the look of an automaton to an artificial limb, as if the men in their troubled motions were marionettes. And then the imagination, abnormally stimulated by so much suffering, plays other tricks. And it seemed to me as if one were looking in at the window of one of those shameful "Halls of Anatomy" in a city slum, where life-size figures lie exposed with grotesque wounds on the wax flesh. But here was the crackle of the leather straps, and the snapping of the spring at the knee and elbow-joint of the mechanism, and the slow moving up and filing past of the line, as man after man was tested for flexibility. Here is the army of France—here is the whole vast problem flowing through one door and gathered in one room.
American money is helping to reëducate these broken men, teaching them trades. There at the Maison Blanche, our fellow-countrymen have already trained 563 men, and at the Grand Palais 257. As I write this, 701 maimed men are still in course of being trained, and the number in the agricultural school has grown to 90. Altogether 2,000 maimed soldiers have been trained through American help. Most of the money for this work has been raised by the "American Committee for Training in Suitable Trades the Maimed Soldiers of France," of which Mrs. Edmund Lincoln Baylies is Chairman. The president of the society in France in control of this work is B. J. Shoninger, the former president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris.
Like England in the battle line, we are only at the beginning of our effort. In spots and patches we have responded well. Many are giving all they can. The thirty-five million dollars in money which we have collected for all causes is excellent. (Though England has given more than that to Belgium alone, in addition to financing the war and caring for her own multitude of sufferers.) America has made gifts in goods to the amount of sixty million dollars. Of local relief committees working for France we have over two thousand. There are about forty-five thousand Americans devoting their full time to the service of France as soldiers, drivers, fliers, doctors, nurses, orderlies, and executive officers. There are many thousands in the United States who are using a portion of their strength and leisure to raise money and supplies. As Sydney Brooks said to me:
"Those Americans who believe in our cause are more Pro-Ally than the Allies."
A group of Americans among our millions are aware that Washington wrote:
"All citizens of the United States should be inspired with unchangeable gratitude to France."
Note: For an account of the work of Mrs. Wharton see page 321.
THE SAVING REMNANT
I wish to show in this book three expressions of nationality. I seek to show the fire and vigor of German nationality, and how that force has been misdirected by the handful of imperialistic militarists in control. There has been no instance of a noble force so diverted since the days of the Inquisition, when the vast instinctive power of religion was used by a clever organization to torture and kill. Every instinctive element in our being is at times turned awry. Nationalism suffers just as sex love suffers from the perversions of evil institutions. But the abuse of instinct is no argument for cutting loose from that vital source and seeking to live by intellectual theories, emptied of warm emotional impulse. The remedy is in applying the intellect as a guide and corrective, not in treating instinct as an enemy. The nationalism of the German people will yet vindicate itself and swing true to freedom and justice.
I try to reveal the nationality of France, in the love of the peasant for the soil of his Patrie, for the house where he was born, and for the sunlight and the equality of his beautiful country. I have shown that there can be no peace as long as other men with other customs invade that soil, burn those homes, and impose their alien ideas.
I have told of what the American tradition of nationality has driven our men and women and our boys to do in France. They see the fight of France as our fight, just as France saw the American Revolution as her struggle. None of this work was done in vague humanitarianism. These men and women and boys are giving of their best for a definite aim. They are giving it to the American cause in France. France is defending the things that used to be dear to us, and our fellow-countrymen who are of the historic American tradition are standing at her side.
In recent years, our editors and politicians have been busy in destroying our historic tradition and creating a new tradition, by means of which we are to obtain results without paying the price. Neutrality is the method, and peace and prosperity are the rewards. I have collected many expressions of this new conception of Americanism. One will suffice.
Martin H. Glynn, temporary chairman of the National Democratic Convention, in renominating Woodrow Wilson for president, said:
"Neutrality is America's contribution to the laws of the world.... The policy of neutrality is as truly American as the American flag.... The genius of this country is for peace. Compared with the blood-smeared pages of Europe, our records are almost immaculate. To-day prosperity shines from blazing furnaces and glowing forges. Never was there as much money in our vaults as to-day.... When the history of these days comes to be written, one name will shine in golden splendor upon the page that is blackened with the tale of Europe's war, one name will represent the triumph of American principles over the hosts of darkness and of death. It will be the name of the patriot who has implanted his country's flag on the highest peak to which humanity has yet aspired: the name of Woodrow Wilson."
It was in protest against this neutrality, this reveling in fat money vaults, this assumption that prosperity is greater than sacrifice, that these young men of whom I have told have gone out to be wounded and to die. This mockery of the "blackened page" and "blood-smeared pages" of Europe has stung many thousands of Americans into action. The record of their service is a protest against such gloating. These fighters and rescuers and workers would not have served Germany with an equal zest. Neutrality between France and Germany is impossible to them. Those who fail to see the difference between France and Germany in this war are not of our historic American tradition.
Meanwhile our friends at home, very sincere and gifted men, but mistaken, I believe, in their attitude toward nationality, are summoning America to an artistic rebirth, so that "the new forces in our arts may advance." They write: "The soldier falls under the compulsion of the herd-instinct and is devoted by his passion to a vision out of which destruction and death are wrought." To one who has heard the guns of Verdun, this piping is somewhat scrannel. Art is not something that exists in a vacuum beyond space and time, and good and evil. Art is the expression of a belief in life, and that belief takes varying forms, according to the place and age in which it falls. It may be the expression of a surge of national feeling, as in Russian music. It may be the response to a rediscovery of ancient beauty, as in the Renaissance. It may be the quickening received from fresh discoveries of territory and strange horizons, such as touched the Elizabethans. In America we have long tried by artificial stimulants to revive art. We have omitted the one sure way, which is a deep nationality, achieved by sacrifice, a reassertion of national idealism. Out of that soil will spring worthy growths, which the thin surface of modern fashionable cosmopolitanism can never nourish. The sense of the true America has laid hold of these young men of ours in France. By living well they create the conditions of art. The things they do underlie all great expression. Already they are writing with a tone and accent which have long gone unheard in our America.
My lot has cast me with young men at their heroic moment. For the first months of the war it was with Belgian boys, later with French sailors, finally with these young Americans. They have made me impatient of our modern cosmopolitan American who, in the words of Dostoievski, "Can be carried off his feet, positively carried off his feet, by noble ideals, but only if they come of themselves, if they fall from heaven for him, if they need not be paid for."
The reason why pacifism is ineffectual is because it is an intellectual theory, which does not build on instinct. A man's love of his home and his nation is an instinctive thing, full of rich emotional values and moving with the vital current of life itself. Our pacifists would clear their thinking if they came under shell-fire. All that is sound in modern radical thought has been strengthened by this war. The democratic movement in England has become an overwhelming force. But the unsound elements in radical thought, those elements introduced by intellectual theorists who scheme a world distasteful to average human nature, have been burned away in the fire. One of those unsound elements was the theory of pacifism and cosmopolitanism. Many Americans have no belief in the idea of our country. They are busy with the mechanics of life. Any person who is not "getting results" is felt by them to be ineffectual. In that absorption in material gain, they have laid hold of a doctrine which would justify them in their indifference to profounder values. It is so that we have weakened our sense of nationality.
The nation is a natural "biological group," whose members have an "instinctive liking" for each other and "act with a common purpose." The instinctive liking is created by common customs and a shared experience. This experience, expressed in song and legislative enactment and legend, becomes known as the national tradition, and is passed on from generation to generation in household heroes, such as Lincoln, and famous phrases such as "Government of the people." That instinctive liking, created by the contacts of a common purpose and rooted in a loved tradition, is gradually being weakened in our people by importations of aliens, who have not shared in a common experience, and have not inherited our tradition. It is not possible to blend diverse races into a nation, when members of one race plot against our institutions in the interests of a European State, and members of another race extract wealth from our industry and carry it home to their own people. Instinctive liking is not so nourished. A common purpose is not manifested in that way. We have not touched the imagination of these newcomers. It requires something more than "big chances" to lay hold of the instinctive life of peasants. Our lax nationalism never reaches the hidden elements of their emotion to make them one in the deeper life of the State. Skyscrapers and hustling and easy money are excellent things, but not enough to call out loyalty and allegiance.
These changing conditions of our growth have blotted out from memory the old historic experience and substituted a fresher, more recent, experience. Forty years of peace and commercial prosperity have created a new American tradition, breeding its own catch words and philosophy. The change has come so quietly, and yet so completely, that Americans to-day are largely unaware that they are speaking and acting from different motives, impulses and desires than those of the men who created and established the nation. The types of our national heroes have changed. We have substituted captains of industry for pioneers, and smart men for creative men. Our popular phrases express the new current of ideas. "Making good," "neutrality," "punch," "peace and prosperity": these stir our emotional centers. We used to be shaken and moved when the spirit of a Kossuth or Garibaldi spoke to us. But to-day we receive the appeal of Cardinal Mercier, and are unmoved. We no longer know the great accent when we hear it.
So we must look to the young to save us. Henry Farnsworth was a Boston man, twenty-five years old. He died near Givenchy, fighting for France.
"I want to fight for France," he had said, "as the French once fought for us."
Our American workers are aiding France because she defends our tradition, which is also hers, a tradition of freedom and justice, practiced in equality. In her version of it, there are elements of intellectual grace, a charm, a profundity of feeling expressed with a light touch, bits of "glory," clothed in flowing purple, which are peculiar to the Latin temperament. But the ground plan is the same. Our doctors and nurses of the American Hospital, our workers in the hostels and the Clearing House, our boys in the American Field Service, are not alone saving the lives of broken men of a friendly people. They are restoring American nationality.
WHY SOME AMERICANS ARE NEUTRAL
NEUTRALITY: AN INTERPRETATION OF THE MIDDLE WEST
"The great interior region bounded east by the Alleghanies, north by the British Dominions, west by the Rocky Mountains, and south by the line along which the culture of corn and cotton meets ... will have fifty millions of people within fifty years, if not prevented by any political folly or mistake. It contains more than one-third of the country owned by the United States—certainly more than one million of square miles. A glance at the map shows that, territorially speaking, it is the great body of the republic. The other parts are but marginal borders to it."
(Lincoln's Message to Congress, Dec. 1, 1862.)
The war and the election together have revealed a growing separation between the ideas of the East and those of the West. This separation is largely the fault of the East, which prefers to do its thinking in terms of its own industrial welfare. The life of the West is a healthier life. There is better balance between industry and agriculture, more recognition of the value of social equality, more open-mindedness to new ideas, greater readiness to put them into practice. The East has been slow to recognize this moral leadership of the newer country. It has greeted the men and their ideas with caustic humor and sometimes with an almost malignant bitterness. This has not weakened the men nor crushed their ideas, but it has lessened good will. It has led the West to distrust a policy which has the endorsement of the East.
The German Kaiser said to a distinguished Frenchman whom I know:
"America once divided between North and South. It would not be impossible now to separate America, the East from the West."
It is time for the East to waken itself from its selfish sleep, and bend its mind to an understanding of the American community. In the matter of foreign policy, it is wiser than the Middle West, but in order to make its ideas prevail it will have to work by sympathetic coöperation. It will have to prove that its notion of foreign policy is not based on self-interest, but is a wise program for the American nation.
I have shown that a section of America of the Civil War traditions is intensely Pro-Ally, and has proved it in speech and action. The new America, spreading out over the immense areas of the Middle West, is neutral. It is neutral because it does not know the facts. I am sometimes told in Europe that it is the chink of our money that has made my country deaf. But our neutral people are our earnest Middle Westerners, hard-working and humanitarian. The Middle West has not given money, and it is warm-hearted. It has not taken sides, and it is honest. This neutrality is in part the result of the Allied methods of conducting the war. In England and France, there has been an unconscious disregard of neutral opinion, an indifference in the treatment of its representatives, an unwillingness to use the methods of a democracy in appealing to a democracy. A Government report, issued by a belligerent power, has little effect on a community three thousand miles away. But the first-hand accounts, sent by its own writers, who are known to be accurate and impartial, have wide effect. It is unfortunate that through the first two years of the war, more news was given to American journalists by Germany than by England and France.
There is need that some one should speak the truth about the foreign policy of the Allies. For that foreign policy has been a failure in its effect on neutrals. The successful prosecution of a war involves three relationships:
(1) The enemy.
(2) The Allies.
(3) The Neutrals.
The first two relationships have long been realized. The third—that of relationship toward neutrals—has never been realized. It is not fully realized to-day. The failure to realize it led America and England into the fight of 1812. It led to the Mason and Slidell case between England and America in the Civil War. The importance of winning neutral good will and public opinion is not, even to-day, included in the forefront of the national effort. It is still spoken of as a minor matter of giving "penny-a-liner" journalists "interviews." England has steered her way through diplomatic difficulties with neutral governments. But that is only one-half the actual problem of a foreign policy. The other half is to win the public opinion of the neutral people, because there is no such thing finally as neutrality. Public opinion turns either Pro or Anti, in the end. At present about thirty per cent of American public opinion is Pro-Ally. Ten per cent is anti-British, ten per cent anti-Russian, ten per cent Pro-German, and forty per cent neutral. The final weight will rest in whichever cause wins the forty per cent neutral element. That element is contained in the Middle West. The failure in dealing with America has been the failure to see that we needed facts, if we were to come to a decision. Our only way of getting facts is through the representatives whom we send over.
A clear proof that the cause of the Allies has not touched America except on the Atlantic Seaboard lies in the exact number of men from the Eastern Universities who have come across to help France, as compared with the number from the Middle Western institutions of learning. For instance, in the American Field Ambulance Service Harvard has 98 men, Princeton, 28, Yale 27, Columbia 9, Dartmouth 8. These are Eastern institutions. From the Middle West, with the exception of the University of Michigan, which has sent several, there is occasionally one man from a college. The official report up to the beginning of 1916 shows not a man from what many consider the leading University of America, the State University of Wisconsin, and less than six from the entire Middle West. There is no need of elaborating the point. The Middle West has not been allowed to know the facts.
Because my wife told her friends in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the facts of the war, three men have come four thousand miles to help France. One is Robert Toms, General Manager of the Marion Water Works, one is Dr. Cogswell, a successful physician, one is Verne Marshall, Editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Each man of the three is a successful worker, and gave up his job. These three men are as significant as the 98 college boys from Harvard.
What took place in that little Iowa group will take place throughout the whole vast Middle Western territory, when the Allies are willing to use the only methods that avail in a modern democracy—namely, the use of public opinion, publicity, and the periodicals,—by granting facilities for information to the representatives of a democracy when they come desiring to know the truth. Constantly, one is met in London and Paris when seeking information on German atrocities, German frightfulness, German methods:
"But surely your people know all that."
How can they know it? Our newspaper men have rarely been permitted access to the facts by the Allies. But to every phase of the war they have been personally conducted by the German General Staff. It has been as much as our liberty was worth, and once or twice almost as much as our life was worth, to endeavor to build up the Pro-Ally case, so constant have been the obstacles placed in our way. Much of the interesting war news, most of the arresting interviews, have come from the German side. The German General Staff has shown an understanding of American psychology, a flexibility in handling public opinion. The best "stories" have often come out of Germany, given to American correspondents. Their public men and their officers, including Generals, have unbent, and stated their case. An American writer, going to Germany, has received every aid in gathering his material. A writer, with the Allies, is constantly harassed. This is a novel experience to any American journalist whose status at home is equal to that of the public and professional men, whose work he makes known and aids. My own belief for the first twenty-two months of work in obtaining information and passing it on to my countrymen was that such effort in their behalf was not desired by France and England, that their officials and public men would be better pleased if we ceased to annoy them. I was thoroughly discouraged by the experience, so slight was the official interest over here in having America know the truth.
This foreign policy, which dickers with the State Department, but neglects the people, is a survival of the Tory tradition. One of the ablest interpreters of that tradition calls such a foreign policy—"the preference for negotiating with governments rather than with peoples." But the foreign policy of the United States is created by public opinion. Negotiation with the State Department leaves the people, who are the creators of policy, cold and neutral, or heated and hostile, because uninformed. If the Allied Governments had released facts to the representatives of American public opinion, our foreign policy of the last two years might have been more firm and enlightened, instead of hesitant and cloudy. As a people we have made no moral contribution to the present struggle, because in part we did not have the fact-basis and the intellectual material on which to work.
If a democracy, like England, is too proud to present its case to a sister democracy, then at that point it is not a democracy. If it gives as excuse (and this is the excuse which officials give) that the military will not tolerate propaganda, then the Allies are more dominated by their military than Germany. Of course the real reason is neither of these. The real reason is that England and France are unaware of the situation in our Middle West.
The Middle West is a hard-working, idealistic, "uncommercialized" body of citizens, who create our national policy. It has some of the best universities in America—places of democratic education, reaching every group of citizen in the State, and profoundly influential on State policy. Such Universities as the State Universities of Wisconsin and Michigan are closely related to the life of their community, whereas Yale University could not carry a local election in New Haven. What the late Professor Sumner (of Yale) thought, was of little weight at the Capitol House at Hartford, Conn. What John R. Commons (Professor at the State University of Wisconsin) thinks, has become State law. The Middle West has put into execution commission government in over 200 of its cities, the first great move in the overthrow of municipal graft. It practices city-planning. Many of its towns are models. Our sane radical movements in the direction of equality are Middle-Western movements. To curse this section as money-grubbing, uninspired, and to praise the Harvard-Boston Brahmins, the Princeton-Philadelphia Tories, and the Yale-New York financial barons, as the hope of our country, is to twist values. Both elements are excellent and necessary. Out of their chemical compounding will come the America of the future. The leaders of the Middle West are Brand Whitlock, Bryan, La Follette, Herbert Quick, Henry Ford, Booth Tarkington, Edward Ross, John R. Commons, William Allen White, The Mayos, Orville Wright. Not all of them are of first-rate mentality. But they are honest, and their mistakes are the mistakes of an idealism unrelated to life as it is. The best of them have a vision for our country that is not faintly perceived by the East. Their political ideal is Abraham Lincoln. Walt Whitman expressed what they are trying to make of our people. The stories of O. Henry describe this type of new American.
A clear analysis of our Middle West is contained in the second of Monsieur Emile Hovelaque's articles in recent issues of the Revue de Paris. In that he shows how distance and isolation have operated to give our country, particularly the land-bound heart of it, a feeling of security, a sense of being unrelated to human events elsewhere on the planet. He shows how the break of the immigrant with his Old World has left his inner life emptied of the old retrospects, cut off from the ancestral roots. That vacancy the new man in the new world filled with formula, with vague pieces of idealism about brotherhood. He believed his experiment had cleared human nature of its hates. He believed that ideals no longer had to be fought for. Phrases became a substitute for the ancient warfare against the enemies of the race. And all the time he was busy with his new continent. Results, action, machinery, became his entire outer life. The Puritan strain in him, a religion of dealing very directly with life immediately at hand, drove him yet the harder to tackle his own patch of soil, and then on to a fresh field in another town in another State: work, but work unrelated to a national life—least of all was it related to an international ideal.
And he let Europe go its own gait, till finally it has become a dim dream, and just now a very evil dream. But of concern in its bickerings he feels none. So to-day he refuses to see a right and a wrong in the European War. He confuses the criminal and the victim. He regards the Uhlan and the Gerbéviller peasant as brothers. Why don't they cease their quarrel, and live as we live?
That, in brief, is a digest of Hovelaque's searching analysis of our national soul at this crisis. We have not understood the war. We are not going to see it unless we are aided. If we do not see it, the future of the democratic experiment on this earth is imperiled. The friends of France and England lie out yonder on the prairies. The Allies have much to teach them, and much to learn from them. But to effect the exchange, England and France must be willing to speak to them through the voices they know—not alone through "Voix Americaines" of James Beck, and Elihu Root and Whitney Warren and President Lowell and Mr. Choate. England must speak to them through Collier's Weekly and the Saturday Evening Post and the newspaper syndicates. There is only one way of reaching American public opinion—the newspapers and periodicals. No other agency avails. England must recognize the function of the correspondent in the modern democracy. Through him come the facts and impressions on which the people make up its mind. He supplies public opinion with the material out of which to build policy. For our failure to understand the war, France and England must share the blame with America. We should have been ready enough to alter our indifference and ignorance into understanding, if only our writers had been aided to gain information.
But the Western Allies have little knowledge of American public opinion, and small desire to win it. They have sent some of our best men over in disgust to the enemy lines. Any one, coming on such a quest as I have been on, that of proving German methods from first-hand witness, is regarded by the Allies as partly a nuisance and partly misguided. If any public criticism is ever made of my country's attitude by the French or English, we, that have sought to serve the Allies, will be obliged to come forward and tell our experience:—namely, that it has been most difficult to obtain facts for America, as the Allies have seen fit to disregard her public opinion, and scorn the methods and channels of reaching that public opinion.
SOCIAL WORKERS AND THE WAR
I found in Belgium the evidences of a German spy system, carried out systematically through a period of years. I saw widespread atrocities committed on peasant non-combatants by order of German officers. I saw German troops burn peasants' houses. I saw dying men, women and a child, who had been bayonetted by German soldiers as they were being used as a screen for advancing troops. What I had seen was reported to Lord Bryce by the young man with me, and the testimony appears in the Bryce report. I saw a ravaged city, 1,100 houses burned house by house, and sprinkled among the gutted houses a hundred houses undamaged, with German script on their door, saying, "Nicht verbrennen. Gute leute wohnen hier."
With witnesses and with photographs I had reinforced my observation, so that I should not overstate or alter in making my report at home. Opposed to this machine of treachery and cruelty, I had seen an uprising of the people of three nations, men hating war and therefore enlisted in this righteous war to preserve values more precious than the individual life. With a bitter and a costly experience, I had won my conviction that there were two wars on the western front.
When I returned from a year in the war zone, five months of which was spent at the front, I looked forward to finding a constructive program, hammered out by the social work group, which would interpret the struggle and give our nation a call to action. I looked to social workers because I have long believed and continue to believe that social workers are the finest group of persons in our American community. They seem to me in our vanguard because of a sane intelligence, touched with ethical purpose.
It was a disappointment to find them scattered and negative, many of them anti-war, some of them members of the Woman's Peace Party, some even opposing the sending of ammunition to the Allies.
Few elements in the war were more perplexing than the failure of our idealists to make their thinking worthy of the sudden and immense crisis which challenged them. Absence of moral leadership in America was as conspicuous as the presence of inexhaustible stores of moral heroism in Europe.
The very experts who have prepared accurate reports on social conditions are failing to inform themselves of the facts of this war. I have found social workers who have not studied the Bryce report, and who are unaware of the German diaries and German letters, specifying atrocities, citing "military necessity," and revealing a mental condition that makes "continuous mediation" as grim a piece of futility as it would be if applied to a maniac in the nursery about to brain a child.
I heard the head of a famous institution, a member of the Woman's Peace Party, tell what promise of the future it gave when a German woman crossed the platform at The Hague and shook hands with a Belgian woman. There is something unworthy in citing that incident as answering the situation in Belgium, where at this hour that German woman's countrymen are holding the little nation in subjection, and impoverishing it by severe taxation, after betraying it for many years, and then burning its homes and killing its peasants. An active unrepentant murderer is not the same as a naughty child, whom you cajole into a conference of good-will. A pleasant passage of social amenity does not obliterate the destruction of a nation. Such haphazard treatment of a vast tragedy reveals that our people are not living at the same deep level as the young men I have known in Flanders, who are dying to defend the helpless and to preserve justice.
I was asked by a secretary of the Woman's Peace Party to speak at Carnegie Hall to a mass meeting of pacifists. When I told her I should speak of the wrong done to Belgium which I had witnessed, and should state that the war must go on to a righteous finish, she withdrew her invitation, saying she was sorry the women couldn't listen to my stories. She said that her experience as a lawyer had shown her that punishment never accomplished anything, and the driving out of the Germans by military measures was punishment.
I have known social workers to aid girl strikers in making their demands effective. Have the social workers as a unit denounced the continuing injustice to Belgium? Protests, made by the Belgian government to Washington, of cruelties, of undue taxation, of systematic steam-roller crushing, were allowed to be filed in silence, so that these protests that cover more than twelve months of outrage are to-day unknown to the general public, and have not availed to mitigate one item of the evil. One was astonished by the sudden hush that had fallen on the altruistic group, so sensitive to corporate wrong-doing, so alert in defense of exploited children and women. Why the overnight change from sharp intolerance of successful injustice?
I find that our philanthropists are held by a theory. The theory is in two parts. One is that war is the worst of all evils. The other is that war can be willed out of existence. They believe that another way out can be found, by some sort of mutual understanding, continuous mediation, and overlooking of definite and hideous wrongs committed by a combatant, wrongs that date back many years, so that out of long-continued treachery the atrocity sprang, like flame out of dung.
They refuse to see a right and a wrong in this war. It is not to them as other struggles in life, as the struggle between the forces of decency and the vice trust with its army of owners, pimps, cadets and disorderly hotel keepers. They have let their minds slip into a confusion between right and wrong, a blurring of distinctions as sharp and fundamental as the distinction between chastity and licentiousness, between military necessity and human rights, between a living wage and sweatshop labor. In their socialized pity, they have lost the consciousness of sin.
I found a ready answer to the charges of hideous practice by the army of invasion—the answer, that war is always like that. But it is too easy to dismiss all these outrages as "war." That is akin to the easy generalizations of prohibition fanatics, of pseudo-Marxian Socialists, of Anarchists, of vegetarians, of Christian Scientists, and of many other sincere persons who overstate, who like to focus what is complex into a one-word statement. "Do away with drink at one stroke, and you have abolished unhappy marriages." "All modern business is bad." "Government is the worst of all evils." "Meat-eating leads to murder."
Just as men-of-the-world theories on the inevitability of prostitution, with its "lost" girls, had to give way to the presence of facts on the commercialized traffic, so the pacifist position on the present war is untenable when confronted with the honeycombing of Belgium with spies through long years and with the state of mind and the resultant acts of infamy recorded by Germans in their letters and diaries. There is an incurable romanticism in the literature of the pacifists that is offensive to men in a tragic struggle. Let me quote two sentences from a peace pamphlet issued by friends of mine who are among the best-known social workers in the United States:
"It (war) has found a world of friends and neighbors, and substituted a world of outlanders and aliens and enemies."
This is a quaint picture of the ante-bellum situation in Belgium, when the country was undermined with German clerks, superintendents, commercial travelers, summer residents, who were extracting information and forwarding it to Berlin, buying up peasants for spies and building villas with concrete foundations for big guns. "Friends and neighbors" is a rhetorical flourish that hurts when applied to German officers riding into towns as conquerors where for years they had been entertained as social guests.
"In rape and cruelty and rage, ancient brutishness trails at the heels of all armies."
That description is just when applied to the German army of invasion which practiced widespread murder on non-combatants. It is inaccurate, and therefore unjust, when applied to the Belgian, French and British armies. I have lived and worked as a member of the allied army for five months. It does not trail brutishness. It is fighting from high motive with honorable methods. It is unfortunate to overlay the profound reality of the war with a mental concept.
1. The social workers have failed to apply their high moral earnestness to this war. They have not accepted the war as a revelation of the human spirit in one of its supreme struggles between right and wrong. As the result their words have offended, as light words will always hurt men who are sacrificing property and ease and life itself for the sake of an ideal.
2. They have neglected to inform themselves of the facts of the war. As the result, they have made no positive program and taken no constructive action.
Let them deal with such facts as the German villa in the Belgian town where we lived—a villa that was a fortification with a deep concrete foundation for a heavy gun. I want them to face, as I had to face, the eighty-year-old peasant woman with a bayonet thrust through her thigh, and the twelve-year-old girl with her back cut open to the backbone by bayonets. Is it too much to ask that our social workers shall hold their peace in the presence of universal suffering and not mock noble sacrifice with tales of drugged soldiers? It was not the vinegar on hyssop that explains the deed on the cross. Is it too much to ask them to abstain from their peace parties and their anti-munitions campaigns?
We should listen to these leaders more readily if we had seen them risking their lives like the boys of the American Ambulance. To weigh sacrifice in detached phrases calls for an equal measure of service and a shared peril. If a few of our social workers had been wounded under fire, we should feel that their companions in the hazard were speaking from some such depth of experience as the peasants of Lorraine. But our idealists have not spoken from this initiation. Miss Addams is still puzzled and grieved by the response her words about drugged soldiers called out. Mr. Wilson is annoyed that his phrase of "too proud to fight" gave little pleasure to the mothers of dead boys.
With fuller knowledge our leaders will turn to and build us a program we can follow, a program of action that preserves the immutable distinction between right and wrong, that lends strength to those dying for the right. With such frank taking of sides, let me give two instances where definite results could be achieved. They are both highly supposititious cases. But they will serve.
Let us suppose, that at this moment the Russian government, under cover of the war, is harrying and suppressing the Russian revolutionary centers in Paris and London—the French and British governments remaining complacent to the act because of the present war alliance. If we had a staunch public opinion, resulting in a strong government policy at Washington which had decided there was a right and a wrong on the western front, and which had thrown the immense weight of its moral support to the defenders of Belgium, such a government would be in a position to make a friendly suggestion to France and England that "live and let live" for Russian liberalism would be appreciated.
Let us take another imaginative case. Suppose that, under cover of the war, Japan was tightening her hold on China, and gradually turning China into a subject state. If our government were on relations of powerful friendship with the Allies, it would be conceivable that England could be asked to hint gently that unseemly pressure from Tokyo was undesirable. The English fleet is a fact in the world of reality.
What is needed precisely is a foreign policy that will strengthen the tendencies toward world peace, based on justice. By our indecision and failure to take a stand, we have lessened our moral value to the world. It is weak thinking that advocates a policy and is too timid to use the instruments that will shape it. Because we want a restored Belgium and France and a world peace, we need statesmen who are effective in attaining these things. We need men who can suggest a diplomatic gain in the cause of justice that the nations will agree on, because of a government at Washington that carries weight with the diplomats who will bring it to pass. We want to see the friendship of France and England and Canada regained. We are letting all these things slip. There will come a day when it is too late to do anything except develop regrets. Why should not social workers declare themselves in time?
At a season of national gravity, when the future for fifty years may be determined inside of four years, we want those men for our leaders who can work results in the world of time and space, instead of dream liberations in the untroubled realms of moral consciousness.
Before we have an all-embracing internationalism, we must have a series of informal alliances, where the forces of modern democracy tend to range on one side, and the autocratic nations tend to range on the other side. There will be strange mixtures, of course, on both sides, even as there are in the present war. But the grand total will lean ever more and more to righteousness. Righteousness will prevail in spite of us, but how much fairer our lot if we are ranged with the "great allies—exultations, agonies, and love," and man's unconquerable will to freedom.
FORGETTING THE AMERICAN TRADITION
The Chicago Evening American places on its editorial page on August 10, 1916, a letter to which it gives editorial approval. The letter says: "There are thousands of German-born citizens, in fact the writer knows of no others, whose very German origin has made them immune against such influences as ancestry, literature, sentiment and language, which count for so much in their effect upon a great percentage of our population. These very men continue to be loyal Americans. If we are disloyal, what then do you call the Choates, the Roosevelts, the Eliots, and the foreign-born Haven Putnams?"
The letter is signed M. Kirchberger. Mr. Hearst finds this statement of sufficient importance to spread out before five or six million readers of his newspapers. It is of importance, because it voices the belief of an ever-increasing element in our population. Our ancestry, literature, sentiment and language do produce such men as Joseph Choate, Theodore Roosevelt, Charles William Eliot and George Haven Putnam. Those names do go straight back in our national history to the original stock, which shaped our national policy and ideals. It was their ancestry, English and American literature, their racial sentiment, and the English language, which made the historic America. Mr. Kirchberger believes them to be disloyal to the New America. I trust he and his numerous clan will define what sort of country he wants to make of us, what ancestry he wishes to have prevail, what literature he will introduce into our schools, what sentiment and what language. I hope his group will come out into the open with their program of action. For they have one. He sees clearly that the civilization of a nation is the resultant of its racial inheritance, its literature, its language and its ideas about life. He means that our civilization shall go his way, not the way of the Choates and Eliots. He has no quarrel whatever with the vague internationalism of many of our social workers because under that fog he and his kind can operate unobserved. I do not underestimate the influence of such thought as his. It is growing stronger every day. It is sharply defined, forceful, and it will prevail unless we fight it.
When one comes among us, sharing the privileges of citizenship, to tell us that he is "immune" from the claims of our great ancestry, and the noble sentiment of our past, he is striking at the heart of our nationality. He is vastly more significant than his own alien voice. For his claims are being advocated by editors and politicians. His ideas are sweeping our communities. Our nation does not live because it is a geographical unit, nor because it accepts all the races of Europe. It lives because it fought at Yorktown side by side with Rochambeau and his Frenchmen. It lives in the songs of Whittier and in the heart of Lincoln. By its past of struggle for ideas it has given us a heritage. But we have substituted pacifism and commercialism for the old struggle, and we have substituted phrases for the old ideas which cost sacrifice to maintain. If enough citizens become "immune" from the influences that have shaped us, we shall lose our historic continuity, and become the sort of nation which these enemies would have us be. But these considerations do not bring alarm to our leaders. Our leaders supply the very intellectual defense for this treason. They supply it in the doctrine of so-called internationalism.
Let us without delay select our position and hold it. Let us stand firmly on our traditions and history. We have no wish to be "immune" from our language and literature, our sentiment and ancestry. We need a fresh inoculation of those "influences." Let us reinforce the policy of Franklin which recognized the desirability of friendship with France and England. Let us restate the policy of Lincoln, who paused in the stress of a great war to strike hands with the workers of England, because they and he were at one in the love of liberty.
No single factor of race and climate, language and culture is determinative on that central power of cohesion which gathers a multitude of persons—"infinitely repellent particles"—into an organism which lives its life in unity, and forms its tradition from a collective experience. But it does not follow that some one of these factors cannot be so strengthened as to disturb the balance. If the geographical territory is carved up the nation is destroyed. Successive waves of immigration can drown out the sharply defined character of a people. This is now taking place in the United States. The proof is our reaction to the war. It is not that we revealed differences of "opinion." It is that we were untrue to our tradition.
It is easy to throw the discussion into nonsense by asking: Is there any such thing as a pure race? Are not the greatest nations of mixed blood? Do you think race and nation are the same thing? It is true that no one thing is determinative in the making of a nation. Race and language, culture and government, border line and climate, religion and economic system, are each an influence, and, together, they shape the people in face and habit till they walk the earth with a new stride and look out on the world with different eyes from those of any people elsewhere. But the supreme thing about a nation is that it happened. A certain group of people developed affinities and aspirations, cohered and became an organism, fought its way to independence, and remembered the blood it had spilled. That tradition of common experience and sacrifice in victory and defeat is the cord that binds the generations. It is a spiritual ancestry that colors every thought and governs every action. An English historian, Professor Ramsay Muir, has stated this aptly. He writes:
"The most potent of all nation-molding factors, the one indispensable factor which must be present whatever else be lacking, is the possession of a common tradition, a memory of sufferings endured and victories won in common, expressed in song and legend, in the dear names of great personalities that seem to embody in themselves the character and ideals of the nation, in the names also of sacred places wherein the national memory is enshrined."
Gilbert K. Chesterton said to me:
"Certain people like the arrangements under which they live. They prefer to die rather than to let other people come in and change things. Even if their nation decides on a policy that is suicidal, they would rather die with her than live without her. That is nationality. When the call came, the citizens of the nations answered with what was deep in their subconsciousness. All resolutions to act as 'workers,' as members of an 'International,' fell away. If pacifists of the ruling class, like Miss Hobhouse and Bertrand Russell, would analyze what is really in their mind, they would find that what they dislike is the spectacle of democracy enthusiastically and unanimously agreeing to do something. They distrust democracy on the march. It is their artistocratic sense that disapproves. Just now, it is the Kaiser whom the democracies are marching out to find, and the people are not behaving as the pacifists would like to have them."
This idea of nationalism, instead of being an early and now obsolete idea, is a recent and a noble idea. What the common life of the home is to the father and mother and children, through poverty and childbirth and fame, that is the life of a nation to its citizens. In the blood of sacrifice it is welded together. Mixed races cannot dilute it, a doctored border cannot suppress it, a stern climate cannot quench it, an oppressive government cannot enslave it. Only one thing can destroy it and that is when it annuls its past and weakens at the heart. When it ceases to respond to the great ideas that once aroused it, then it is time for those who love it to look to the influences at work that have made it forgetful. The denial of that common experience, the refusal to inherit the great tradition, the unwillingness to continue the noble and costly policy—these mark the decline of a nation. These are the signs of peril we see in the unwieldy life of our immense democracy to-day. The call that came to us from France was the same voice that we once knew as the voice of our most precious friend. By our failure to respond we show that we have allowed something alien to enter our inmost life. In our equal failure to safeguard our own helpless non-combatants, we reveal that the old compulsions no longer move us. By the cry that went up from half our nation—not of outrage at stricken France, not of anger for slaughtered children of our own race—but that strange mystical cry, "He kept us out of war," we betray that we have lost our hardihood. We have been overwhelmed by numbers. We have suffered such a heaping up of new elements that we have no time to teach our tradition, no will to continue our race experience.
I was talking of this recently with a profound student of race psychology, Havelock Ellis. He said that the determining factor is the strength of the civilization receiving the fresh contributions. Is that civilization potent enough to shape the new contributions? The French have always had their boundaries beaten in upon by other races, but so distinctive, so salient, is their civilization that it absorbs the invasion. He said that the question to decide is whether the cells are sufficiently organized and determinate to receive alien matter.
Surely no student of our social conditions can say that our tendencies are clear, our collective will formed, our national mind unified. We keep adding chemical elements without coming to a solution. England accepted a few invasions and conquests and then had to stiffen up and work the material into a mold. France was overrun every half century, but finally she drew the sacred circle around her borders, and proceeded to the work of coalescing her parts. Our present stream of tendency, and our present grip on our own historic tradition, are not strong enough to admit of immense new European contributions. We are losing the sense of what we mean as a people.
In dealing with any pet assumption of modern thought, one must guard against misunderstanding. The opponent calls one reactionary and then one's day in court is over. Or the opponent pushes a plain statement over into an academic discussion, and the whole matter at issue is befogged. I am not attacking the desirability of a true internationalism. I am saying that our conception of it is all wrong, and that our method of attaining it is futile. The greater day of peace between nations will not come by weakening the ties of nationality. It will come through a deepening of the sense of citizenship in each nation. But much of our recent thinking has tended to weaken the claims of nationality. It is against this that we must set ourselves. We want internationalism, but the internationalism we mean is an understanding and a good will between distinct nations, not an internationalism which is the loss of a rich variety, and the blurring of distinctions. Nations will not disappear. They will heighten their individuality under the process of time. The hope of peace lies in the appreciation of those differences. We are not to reach internationalism by ceasing to become nations, as our present-day theorists advocate. There lies the service of the war. It has taught us that the Frenchman and the German will refuse to merge their ideas about life and duty in a denationalized world league. Each wants his plot of ground, his own patch of sky, his own kind of a world, with those men for neighbors who think as he thinks. The Frenchman does not wish to be speeded up by universal vocational training, and a governmental régime where efficiency and organization are the aims of the corporate life. The German does not wish his world to contain waste and laziness and dilettantism. A hundred years ago the world put up a sign in front of encroaching France: "No trespassing on these premises." To-day the grass of France is red where the marauder crossed the line. I have seen the soul of France at tension for two years, and I know that her agony has deepened her sense of nationality.
It is easy to retort that it is the nationalism of Germany that has spread fire and blood across Europe. But it is easier yet to give the final answer. There are diseases of individuality—the "artistic temperament," egoism, freakishness, criminality—which require chastening. But because certain individuals have to be restrained, we do not crush individual liberty, self-expression and the free play of development. There are diseases of nationalism—the lust for power and territory, the desire to impose the will, the language and the customs, on smaller units. When a nation hands over its foreign policy and its personal morality to the state, which is only the machinery of a nation, and when the machine, operated by a little group of imperialists instead of by the collective will of the nation, turns to organized aggression, there is catastrophe. Prussian history from the vivisection of Poland, through the rape of Schleswig and the crushing of Paris, to the assassination of Belgium, offers us no guarantees of a common aim for human welfare. But it is because nationality has been betrayed, not because it has been expressed. The Uhlan officer, murdering women, is no reason for abolishing Habeas Corpus. The misbehavior of Germany is no excuse for rebuking the liberty of France.
At the touch of the bayonet, on the first shock of reality, internationalism crumbles—the internationalism, I mean, that disbelieves in national quality, and disregards essential differences. Groups of "workers," the "universal" church of co-religionists, dissolve. The nation emerges. Wars have been the terrible method by which nations have created themselves, and by which they have defended their being. Pacifism is not a disease, it is the symptom of the disease of a false internationalism. Pacifism springs from the belief that nations do not matter, that "humanity is the great idea." "Why should nations go to war, since the principle of nationality is not vital?" But, actually, this principle is vital. "An effective internationalism can only be rendered possible by a triumphant nationalism." The present war is a fight by the little nations of Belgium and Serbia, and by the great nation, France, for the preservation of their nationality. We have failed to understand "the causes and objects" of this war, because we have weakened our own sense of nationality. Our tradition has been drowned out by new voices. Ninety years ago, we responded to Greece, and, later, to Garibaldi and Kossuth. To-day, only those understand the fight of the nations who have been reared in our American tradition. Richard Neville Hall went from Dartmouth College and died on an Alsatian Hill, serving France. A friend writes of him: "He was saying things about the France of Washington and Lafayette, how he had been brought up on the tradition of that historic friendship."
I have found something inspiring in the action of these young Americans in France. Perhaps out of them will come the leadership which our country lacks. My own generation moves on to middle life, and, as is the way of elders, reveals moderation of mind and a good-natured acceptance of conditions. Nothing is to be hoped for from us. The great generation of Walt Whitman and Julia Ward Howe is dead, and the next generation of George Haven Putnam and Eliot and O. O. Howard is dying. There is nowhere to turn but to the young. They must strive where we have failed. They must fight where we were neutral. I have seen some hundreds of these youth who love France because they love America. In them our tradition is continued. Through them the American idea can be reaffirmed for all our people. May they remember their dead, their boy-comrades who fell in service at the front. They have shared in the greatness of France. May they come home to us very sure of their possession. We have nothing for them. Complacent in our neutrality, and fat with our profits, we have lost our chance. They bring us moral leadership.
Now, all this will have no appeal to the many nationalities among us. The American tradition (except for a few personalities and ideas) is meaningless to them. I have dealt with their needs in the preceding chapter. I am writing these next chapters for the inheritors of our American tradition, who have grown slack and cosmopolitan, who, though of the blood-strain and cultural consciousness that fought our wars and created our civilization, are now too tired, some of them, to do anything but exploit the other nationalities which have tumbled in on the later waves of immigration. Others of us are simply swamped by the multitude and find our refuge in cosmopolitanism. "They're all alike. They will all be Americans to-morrow." If these tame descendants of America will be true to their own tradition, they will learn to be merciful to their fellow-countrymen with quite other traditions. It is precisely because we "old-timers" have been forgetting our tradition that we have been blind to the rich inherited life of those that come to us. If we recover our own sense of spiritual values, we shall welcome the tradition and the hope which the humblest Jew has brought us.
Cosmopolitanism is the attempt to deny the instinct of nationality. It works in three ways with us. It seeks to impose an English culture on our mixed races; it seeks to create an American type at one stroke; it preaches an undiscriminating indeterminate merging of national cultures into a new blend, "the human race," which will be composed of individuals pretty much alike, with the same aspirations. The differences of inheritance will be thrown away like the bundle from the pilgrim's back. Modern thought is permeated with this "new religion of humanity," which is going to accomplish what the Roman Empire and the Spanish Inquisition failed to do: unify the infinite variety of human nature.
One of its analysts says that "internally it is productive of many evil vapors which issue from the lips in the form of catchwords." He traces it to ill-assimilated education, and sees its final stage when "the victim, hating his teachers and ashamed of his parentage and nationality, is intensely miserable." He is the man without roots, who has lost his contacts with the ideas, the ethic, the customs, the affectionate attachments, out of which social life develops.
For the last fifty years certain Germans have preached a boundless cosmopolitanism, while the German people have practiced an intense ingrowing racialism. It is, of course, true that these men who preached it were themselves rebels against the German system. Karl Marx, Lasselle, Engels, helped to found an international movement in protest against the form of nationality within which they lived. But the direction and violence of their rebound were governed by the hard surface from which they recoiled. The personality of these men and the tonic value of their thought have been of inestimable benefit to our age. In their main position they were much nearer the truth than their opponents. But the precise point I am dealing with is their theory of cosmopolitanism. And here a grievous personal experience in a cramping environment misled these early radicals, and they incorporated in their program the anti-national item which did not belong. Because their analysis of conditions was in the main so searching, so just, their thought has continued to exercise a profound influence, and the animating ideas in their philosophy of history and in their analysis of industrialism were imported to England and to America. The stern and unbending leaders of socialist thought have reproduced their masters' voice with an almost unchanged accent. A few great Russians contributed to the same theory of cosmopolitanism, and have powerfully affected groups of modern thinkers. I doubt if any single idea has traveled further and more swiftly than this idea that the sense of nationality is a mistaken thing, and that a something wider and vaguer is the goal of the future. The Latin races have sometimes thought they believed it, but they quickly corrected their thinking under the impact of event.
Our present school of softened, daintily stepping radicals have whittled away some of the original doctrine of the class war. The materialistic theory of history, surplus value and the proletarian division have had to yield in part to the facts of the case. But the modern reformers cling to that creation of German and Russian thought, a cosmopolitan world, the merging of races and nations into a universal undifferentiated brotherhood with gradually disappearing boundaries. We find it in our intelligent skilled social workers. I mention them in no unfriendliness, but because I believe that they and their group are a noble influence in our country, and because their blindness and failure in this crisis are a grief to me and to thousands of other persons who have looked to them for leadership. We find this idea of cosmopolitanism in the modern essayists, who are read in America, like Lowes Dickinson, Bertrand Russell, and Bernard Shaw. This doctrine has misled our social workers, our socialists, our radicals in social reform, our feminists—almost every element in our social movement. Our American radicalism is permeated with a vague cosmopolitanism, and its child, pacifism. At no point has "modern" thought exercised a profounder effect than on our social movement.
We need the check here of the Latin mentality. The clear Latin mind refuses to be misled by idealistic phrases, whose meaning does not permit of analysis into concrete terms. The French and Italians have recognized that the contribution of nationality is vital to the future. Their conception of social change is healthier than ours. It is Mazzini and not Karl Marx who was the prophet of a sane evolution. Mazzini says:
"Every people has its special mission, which will co-operate towards the fulfillment of the general mission of Humanity. That mission constitutes its nationality. Nationality is sacred.
"In laboring, according to true principles, for our country we are laboring for humanity. Our country is the fulcrum of the lever which we have to wield for the common good. If we give up this fulcrum, we run the risk of becoming useless both to our country and to humanity.
"Do not be led away by the idea of improving your material conditions without first solving the national question. You cannot do it.
"Country is not a mere zone of territory. The true country is the idea to which it gives birth." It is "A common principle, recognized, accepted, and developed by all."
His thought is clear and consistent. How shall a man serve all humanity whom he has not seen, if he does not serve his nation whom he has seen? "The individual is too insignificant, and humanity too vast." The stuff of nationality is the sacrifice rendered by the people to realize their aspirations—"By the memory of our former greatness, by the sufferings of the millions." The limits of nationality will tend toward natural boundaries—the division of
"humanity into distinct groups or nuclei upon the face of the earth, thus creating the germ of nationalities. Evil governments have disfigured the divine design. Nevertheless you may still trace it, distinctly marked out—as least as far as Europe is concerned—by the course of the great rivers, the direction of the higher mountains, and other geographical conditions. They (the Governments) have disfigured it so far that, if we except England and France, there is not perhaps a single country whose present boundaries correspond to that design. Natural divisions, and the spontaneous, innate tendencies of the peoples, will take the place of the arbitrary divisions sanctioned by evil governments. The map of Europe will be redrawn.
"Then may each one of you, fortified by the power and the affection of many millions, all speaking the same language, gifted with the same tendencies, and educated by the same historical tradition, hope, even by your own single effort, to be able to benefit all Humanity. O my brothers, love your Country! Our Country is our Home, the house that God has given us, placing therein a numerous family that loves us, and whom we love; a family with whom we sympathize more readily, and whom we understand more quickly than we do others; and which, from its being centered round a given spot, and from the homogeneous nature of its elements, is adapted to a special branch of activity."
The method of strengthening the sense of nationality is by education. "Every citizen should receive in the national schools a moral education, a course of nationality—comprising a summary view of the progress of humanity and of the history of his own country; a popular exposition of the principles directing the legislation of that country."
That Mazzini's ideas are a living force to-day is proved by the response of the nations in this war. In the seaside town of Hove, Sussex, where I live, his book, developing these ideas, was drawn out from the public library thirty-eight times in the last four years.
There is a danger here of over-stressing nationality and inviting a return to the anarchy of war, and this is the difficulty one has in pointing out the psychologic unsoundness of Cosmopolitanism. The limitations of the Mazzini theory have been convincingly drawn by Graham Wallas.
"Nationalism, as interpreted either by Bismarck ("We must not swallow more than we can digest") or by Mazzini, played a great and invaluable part in the development of the political consciousness of Europe during the nineteenth century. But it is becoming less and less possible to accept it as a solution for the problems of the twentieth century."
Wallas shows that Mazzini enormously exaggerated the simplicity of the question. National types are not divided into homogeneous units "by the course of the great rivers and the direction of the high mountains," but are intermingled from village to village. Do the Balkan mountains represent the purposes of God in Macedonia? And for which nationality, Greek or Bulgar? The remedy, as Wallas sees it, for recurring war between nations is an international science of eugenics which might "indicate that the various races should aim, not at exterminating each other, but at encouraging the improvement by each of its own racial type." In this way the emotion of political solidarity can be slowly made possible between individuals of consciously different national types. A political emotion, if it is to do away with war, cannot be created by thwarting the instinct of nationality. It must be based, "not upon a belief in the likeness of individual human beings, but upon the recognition of their unlikeness." We in America have tried to deny the facts of psychology by calling all our newcomers Americans. We have sought to escape our problem by shutting our eyes to the infinite dissimilarity of the individuals in our population. The only direction for hope to travel is that the improvement of the whole species will come rather from "a conscious world-purpose based upon a recognition of the value of racial as well as individual variety than from mere fighting." This is the true internationalism, and it differs as widely from a cosmopolitan blur which "makes" Americans as from the bitter enforced nationality of blood and iron, or spiritual imperial arrogance.
I have found a perfectly clear statement of what lies loosely in the mind of modern Americans of mixed race and intense pre-occupation with the game of getting on. I have found it in the editorial columns of a Middle Western paper. The Cedar Rapids Gazette says:
"The authorities who fear that the American race will 'die out' may not have noticed that all the ingredients of that race are still being born in Europe at about the usual rate. And, at the worst, if one American race dies out there will be another race as good or better in America to take its place.
"Several American races have already died to the extent that the members are no longer to be separately identified and their distinctive ideas no longer exert influence on the county. Among the vanished races are the Pilgrims, the Puritans, the Cavaliers, the Huguenots, the Acadian voyagers, the Knickerbockers, the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Dutch, the pioneer forest tribes of Kentucky, Ohio and southern Indiana, the picturesque Yankee, the southeastern Cracker, the typical Plainsman and Cowboy, each of whom in his time and place was the representative of a small and distinct nationality.
"The Americans of two generations are unlike. To use an Irish epigram, change is the only established characteristic of the American. The American in whose veins flows the blood of half a dozen European races, whose grandparents may have been born in four states, his parents in two states; whose wife may have been born in a state other than his own and whose four children may be married to men and women of four nationalities, is not worrying greatly regarding the exact composition of the 'American race.' Individually he has on hand a rather complete stock of the ingredients and is satisfied with the idea that he is doing his best to help establish a representative order of humanity.
"There is no need to worry about the passing of a race. The world and humanity are the big ideas. The race that deserves to die will pass. The race that fights for its existence, whose members have pride in their kind, will live. A race is recruited only through the cradle. A race that disregards its young is doomed. But mankind will not be less numerous and that which is of value will survive. Not only the end of the race, but the end of the world is in sight for those who leave no children to perpetuate their bodies and their minds."
The trouble with that is that it is devoid of self-respect. It gives no foundation for ethics. It gives no sanction for religion. It gives no soil and roots for literature. It treats the life of man as if it were grass to flourish and perish. It treats men as mechanical units in a political and industrial system. They go to their lathe in the factory, attend a motion-picture show in the evening, and so on for a few years to dissolution. It is pessimistic with a dark annihilating quality. And it is a habit of mind that is growing among us. It is the inevitable reflex of our bright surface optimism, which drowns thought in speed and change, and believes that activity under scientific direction can satisfy the human spirit.
Actually the stock we came of matters very much—for ourselves. Being dead, it yet lives, and we are the channel of its ongoing. Only by using the inheritance that comes to us can we lead the life of the mind in art and ethics and religion. "Huckleberry Finn," "The Virginian," "Still Jim," "The Valley of the Moon," and "Ethan Frome," possess a permanence of appeal precisely because they are rooted in the sense of nationality, and are a natural growth out of a tradition. Each story describes a vanishing race, and deals with a locality assailed by change. Each is a momentary arrest in time of an ebbing tide. Each has the unconscious pathos of a last stand. But not one of these books would have carried beyond the day of its appearance if it had dealt with a life-history removed from its long inheritance. It is only so that the nations among us will in time produce their literature. It will not be by surface types of "rapid" Americans. It will rather be by rendering the individual (whether Jew or Bohemian) in all the loneliness of crowds and modern cities, and revealing the thoughts and "notions" and desires that have come down to him from his very ancient past, and his little ripple of activity in the endless stream of descent. Montague Glass and Joseph Hergesheimer and Fannie Hurst are aware of this necessity of relating their art to the instinctive life of their character, and so under the brightest crackle of their American smartness something goes echoing back to a day that is older than the Coney Island and Broadway and Atlantic City of their setting. Joseph Stella in his drawings has shown perception of this by anchoring his type in its inherited life, and his steel workers are better than many reports of Mr. Gary on how it is with America at the Pittsburgh blast furnaces.
But not only is the sense of nationality needed for the finer activities of the mind. There is need of it in "practical" politics. It is discouraging that our American social movement has been captured by cosmopolitanism. For the immediate future lies with radical changes in the world of environment. Living conditions are going to be improved. A greater measure of equality will be achieved in our own time. But how is the social change inside the country to be related to other States? What shall be our foreign policy? This is where the cosmopolitanism of our radical group is a poor guide for action. It is the vice of liberals that they don't harness their ideas to facts. The result is that at time of crisis the power slips over in the hands of Tory reactionaries. We have seen a recent instance in England, where the liberals shirked the war during the premonitory years. As the result, the good old stand-pat crowd of Tories came in with a rush, simply because on foreign policy they had a program which at least dealt with the facts of the case.
Until liberals are willing to think through on foreign policy, studying European and world history, defining the meaning of the State and visualizing its relationship to other States, we shall have a skimmed-milk pacifism as their largest contribution to the problems of nation-States, submerged nationalities, backward races, exploitable territory and international straits, canals and ports of call. That is unfortunate. For, unless the liberal mind is brought to bear on foreign policy, we shall continue to have that policy manipulated by little groups of expert imperialists. These inner cliques present a program of action based on fact-study, which wins public opinion, because the instinct of the people trusts men who know what they want more than it trusts a bland benevolence without direction of aim.
Our social workers and other liberals would not think of advocating a policy of "Christianizing" the employer as the sole remedy for social maladjustment. But this is precisely the sort of thing they advocate in inter-State relationship. They seek to work by spiritual conversion, turning the hearts of the rulers to righteousness and softening the mood of the bellicose mass-people. And the chaos of the outer world will continue to pour into our tight little domestic compartments of nicely-adjusted social relationships.
In a word, foreign policy and domestic policy are of one piece, and the same realism must be applied to questions like the neutrality of Belgium and the internationalization of Constantinople which we apply to wage-scales. Until men of liberal tendency are willing to devote the same hard study to the map which they put on social reform and internal development, the world will continue to turn to its only experts on foreign policy, who unfortunately are largely imperialists.
A famous American president once said to a distinguished ambassador:
"We make them into Americans. They come in immigrants of all nationalities, but they rapidly turn into Americans and make one nation."
And the ambassador thought within himself and later said to me:
"But a nation is a people with a long experience, who have lived and suffered together. There is a bell in a great church, which if you lightly flick it with the fingernail, gives out one single tone which goes echoing through the Cathedral. If you stand at the far end, you can hear that tone. So it is with a nation. If it is struck, it responds as one man to its furthest border. At the stroke of crisis it answers with one tone."
No. We are not a nation. We are a bundle of nationalities, and some day we shall be a Commonwealth if we deal wisely with these nations who dwell among us.
We cannot "make" Americans. We can make "imitation Americans," as Alfred Zimmern calls them. The Jew, spiritually sensitive and intellectually acute, becomes an "amateur Gentile." The imaginative Calabrian, of rich social impulse, becomes a flashily dressed Padrone. The poetic, religious Irishman, whose instinct has been communal for many centuries, becomes a district leader. These individuals have come to us with rare and charming gifts, fruit of their nationality. Instead of frankly accepting them in their inheritance, we have applied a hasty conversion which denied their life of inherited impulses and desires. Instead of bringing out the good in them, we have Americanized them into commercial types.
Where does our future lie?
It lies in developing and making use of men like the great Jews, Abram Jacobi, Charles Proteus Steinmetz and Louis Brandeis, who are true to their own nature, and who respond to the American environment. These men are not amateur Gentiles. They are Jews and they are Americans. It lies in Italians like Dr. Stella, who love those elements in Italy which are liberal, and who further every effort in America to create free institutions. We need the help of every man of them to save our country from commercialism.
Recently I asked one of the most brilliant of living scholars, of German descent, to give me his views on the future in America. He wrote:
"What is America to do? I should answer: preach hyphenation. Make the common man realize that nationality is a spiritual force which has in essence as little to do with government as religion has. When government interferes with freedom of worship, religion comes into politics and stays there till its course is unimpeded. The same is true of nationality—in Ireland, in East Europe and elsewhere. But that is only an accident. To allow governments to exploit for political ends the huge inarticulate emotional driving force of either religion or nationality is to open the floodgates. Hence the wars of religion in the Seventeenth Century and the nationalist hatreds of the present war."
Alfred Zimmern says:
"It seems strange that there should be Americans who still hold firmly to the old-fashioned view of what I can only call instantaneous conversion, of the desirability and possibility of the immigrant shedding his whole ancestral inheritance and flinging himself into the melting-pot of transatlantic life to emerge into a clean white American soul of the brand approved by the Pilgrim Fathers. Now the only way to teach immigrants how to become good Americans, that is to say, how to be good in America, is by appealing to that in them which made them good in Croatia, or Bohemia, or Poland, or wherever they came from. And by far the best and the most useful leverage for this purpose is the appeal to nationality: because nationality is more than a creed or a doctrine or a code of conduct, it is an instinctive attachment."
The road to sound Internationalism, to an understanding between States, lies "through Nationalism, not through leveling men down to a gray, indistinctive Cosmopolitanism but by appealing to the best elements in the corporate inheritance of each nation." True democracy wishes to use the best that is in men in all their infinite diversity, not to melt away their difference into one economic man. The American passion for uniformity, for creating a "snappy," efficient, undifferentiated type, is merely the local and recent form of the rigid aristocratic desire to "Christianize" the Jew, to Anglicize Ireland, to modernize the Hindu. It is the wish to make man in our own image. It is the last bad relic of the missionary zeal which conducted the Inquisition. It is only subtler and more dangerous, because persecution called out hidden powers of resistance, but triumphant Commercialism, as engineered by our industrial oligarchy, calls out imitation.
I have a collection of photographs made at Ellis Island by Julian Dimock. They are subjects chosen almost at random from the stream of newcomers on the morning of ship-arrival. There is often something very touching in the expression of these faces: a trust in the goodness of life, in the goodness of human nature. Man and woman and youth, they seem to carry something that has been won by long generations of rooted life and passed on to them for safe-keeping. And suddenly at the landing in the new world the tradition is touched to a dream of hope. But that light never lasts for long. Watch those same newcomers as they are disgorged from our city factories. How soon the light goes out of their faces, the inhabiting spirit withdrawn to its own inaccessible home. Something brisk and natty and pert replaces that unconscious dignity. Something tired from unceasing surface stimulus takes possession of what was fresh and innocent in open peasant life and the friendly intercourse of neighbors.
These races, in their weakness and poverty, have been unable to swing back to their own deep center of consciousness. Unaided, it is doubtful if they will ever raise their buried life from its sleep. The Jewish nation is the only dispersion among us which has gathered its will and recovered its self-consciousness enough to give us any promising movement. They are slowly recognizing what is being done to their young. They begin to see that their nation is losing its one priceless jewel, the possession of spiritual insight. In the movement which is spreading through the day schools for teaching young Jews the great ethical tradition of their people, in their educational alliances, in the Menorah Association, in the Zionist Movement, in the writings of Brandeis, Kallen and Bourne, they are showing the first glimmerings of statesmanship and making the first application of intelligence to our commercialized cosmopolitan materialistic country which we have had since we passed on from "Anglo-Saxon" Protestant civilization. May their grip on their nationality never grow less. May the clear program which they have constructed against the drift and rush of our careless life seize the imagination of Italian and Serb and Bohemian. So and no otherwise, we shall at last have a spiritual basis for our civilization.
Frank acceptance of the fact of dual nationality leads to such clear statement as Randolph Bourne has given us in The Menorah Journal for December, 1916. He shows the fallacy of the "melting pot" idea, which attempts to knead the whole population into an undefined colorless mass, labeled American. In place of that undesirable and absurd consummation, he offers a coöperation of cultures. "America has become a vast reservoir of dispersions," and Coöperative Americanism will meet "the demands of the foreign immigré who wishes freedom to preserve his heritage at the same time that he coöperates loyally with all other nationals in the building up of America."
What is Coöperative Americanism? Mr. Bourne answers that it is "an ideal of a freely mingling society of peoples of very different racial and cultural antecedents, with a common political allegiance and common social ends, but with free and distinctive cultural allegiances which may be placed anywhere in the world that they like. If the Jews have been the first international race, I look to America to be the first international nation."
Now, there is no unpopularity to-day in lauding a Jew or a Greek or an Irishman. May I go a step further, and say that the same freedom to express the tradition within them must be extended to the Americans of the old stock, even those who hold a grateful love for France (some of them recently have died for that), even those who love England for her long struggle for political liberty. I cannot feel that Agnes Repplier, Lyman Abbott, George Haven Putnam and the American Rights League are deserving of a certain fine intellectual scorn which Randolph Bourne and Max Eastman have applied to them. The American Rights League is entitled to the same open field and the same respect which the Menorah Society should receive. Why does Mr. Bourne applaud the one and lash the other? I trust he will welcome both. What I think Bourne, James Oppenheim, Walter Lippmann and Max Eastman have failed to see is that the old American stock (of diverse race but common tradition) had a right to respond vigorously to this war, where their inheritance of social, legal and political ideas were battling with hostile ideas. Somewhere, at some point, the new American tradition must plant itself. In some issue it must take root. We of the old stock sought to make this war the issue. We failed. All right. It is now your turn. In the open arena of discussion the ideas of all of us must collide into harmony. I can make clear the difficulty one has in reaffirming the old American idea by quoting from the letter of an American editor in response to what the chapters of this book are stating:
"It seems so curiously out of focus in its estimation of the Old, the vanishing, America. Do you really believe that Old America should be raised from the dead:—The America of convenient transcendentalism where religion allowed a whole race to devote its body and spirit to material aggrandizement? If you blame America for Christian Science optimism, you must remember that Emerson and Whitman were our teachers. If you blame America for not taking part in the European war, you must remember that Washington told us to keep out of 'entangling alliances.' It is historic America that was grossly material, out of which our vast industrialism sprang with its importation of cheap labor. But the Garden of Eden always lies behind us, and nothing is commoner than finding Paradise in the past."
What I have tried to say is that the tradition of a nation is not a dead thing, locked in the past. It is a living thing, operating on the present. A tradition is a shared experience, governing present life. The State needs to cohere and find itself and establish a cultural consciousness, blended from manifold contributions. It is destructive to have new swirling elements ceaselessly driving through the mass. So I have protested against the too ready and ruthless discarding of the cultural consciousness bequeathed us by the older American stock. While the ideas imbedded in that consciousness will never again be in sole command, I believe that they should be more potent than they are to-day. I believe that politically they have a living value for us, and that we persistently underestimate the English contribution to freedom and justice. I deny that my desire that these ideas shall prevail is an attempt to locate the Garden of Eden and Paradise in the smoky past. It is, instead, the wish to see our country appropriate a particular political contribution from the English stock, exactly as it needs to appropriate certain social values from the Italians and the Greeks, and many very definite spiritual ideas from the culture of the Jews.
What is the solution of these diverse elements? What blend can we obtain from a score of mixtures? How fashion a civilization that shall absorb and assimilate those blood-strains and traditional beliefs? I think the one clear answer lies in the creation of free institutions, which shall answer a common need, and which shall violate the instinctive life and traditions of none. Those free institutions will be the product of education, legislation, Coöperation, Trades Unionism and Syndicalism, municipal and State ownership, and widely spread private ownership and enterprise. The organized State under democratic control will be the thing aimed at. But these free institutions must gradually extend over areas far wider than vocational training and economic well-being. They should seek to offer free expression to the fully-functioning mind in art, science, ethics and religion. In this way they will give a good life. We have the shadowy beginnings of such institutions in the public school and library. But we have nothing like the Danish or English coöperative movement. Our institution of property affords us nothing like true peasant proprietorship of Ireland.
No apter illustration of how little we have tackled our job can be found than in American Socialism. There is no American Socialism. Orthodox socialism in America is dead doctrine, brought across by German and Russian revolutionaries, reacting on their peculiar environment, and then exhumed in a new country. Meanwhile a great vital movement toward democratic control goes on in Europe, in Trades Unionism, Coöperation and municipal and State ownership. Our socialist locals repeat formulæ which Shaw, the Webbs, Rowntree, Wallas, Kautsky, Vandervelde and Hervé outgrew a generation ago. It is here I hold that the old American stock can do a service in interpreting American conditions to our recent arrivals.
But if we continue to leave the door open we shall continue to be swamped, and we shall employ our little hasty ready-made devices for turning peasants with a thousand years of inherited characteristics into citizens. We shatter them against our environment, and then are astonished that their thwarted instincts, trained to another world, revenge themselves in political corruption, abnormal vices, and murderous "gunman" activities. Psychologists like Ross warn us in vain.
These overlapping hordes of "aliens" destroy the economic basis on which alone free institutions can be reared. People, to whom we cannot afford to pay a living wage, or for whom we do not care to arrange a living wage, will not help us in creating free institutions. Instead, they are manipulated by the industrial oligarchy into a force for breaking down the standard of living of all workers. A resolute restriction of immigration is not a discrimination against any race. It is the first step toward unlocking the capacities of the races already among us. The reason for stopping immigration, then, is economic. It rests in the fact that our wage-scale and standard of living are being shot to pieces by the newcomers. As the result our existent institutions are not developing in liberal directions, and we are failing to create new free institutions. It requires a somewhat stable population, and a fairly uniform economic basis to create a Coöperative movement, like that in Ireland, or a Trade Union movement, like that in Australia.
Slowly the new order is coming, the day of the Commonwealth of nationalities, where men from many lands, drawing their spiritual reserves from the home that nourished their line through the long generations, will yet render loyal citizenship to the new State which harbors them and gives them a good life. The task of America is to create that Commonwealth, that entity which men gladly serve, and for which at need they willingly die. Our politics have not yet held that appeal. Not yet can an American of these recent years stand off from the stream of his experience, saying, "What does it mean that I am an American?" and answer it in the high terms which a Frenchman can use. Fifty years ago the American could answer in fairly definite terms. But does our recent history mean much to Czech or Russian Jew or Calabrian who has settled among us? It does not. The stirring of their blood responds to another history than ours. Shall we take away their tradition from them? We cannot if we would. What we can do with their help is to create free institutions which will win them to a new allegiance, and this will slowly root itself in the fiber of their line.
For a few generations they will continue at time of stress to hear the call of their old home, as a bird in the autumn takes the call of the South. The Serb will return to his mountains when the battle-line is drawn, as he returned five years ago. The German will go back to his barracks when Russia begins to spread toward the West. And over those that do not go back a great restlessness will come, and they will torment themselves, like a caged bird in the month of flight. But with each generation the call will grow fainter, till finally the old tradition is subdued and the citizen is domesticated. In this way only can the new allegiance and instinctive sense of nationality be created, growing very gradually out of free institutions.
Out of free institutions in State, property, religion and marriage, ever-developing to fit a developing people; out of the unfolding process of law, escaping from legalism and applying psychology to human relationship; out of an education, sanctioned by human interest, and devoted not only to vocational training but to the sense of beauty and wonder; out of vast movements of the mass-people toward democratic control; there will some day grow the new American tradition, which in the fullness of time will take possession of the heart of these diverse races and clashing nationalities. It will not root itself and grow in the years of "naturalization," nor yet in one or two generations. But in a hundred or two hundred years it will coalesce infinitely repellant particles and gently conquer antagonisms, and in that day, which not even our children's children will see, there will at last emerge the American Commonwealth.
I have made out the best case I can for our people. These chapters have listed every excuse that can reasonably be given for our failure to declare ourselves on the moral issue of this war. They have said that a careless, busy folk, like those of the Middle West, need many facts to enable them to see where the truth lies. They have pointed out how short-sighted is the foreign policy of the Allies which gives few facts to the American public. They have shown how the best of our radicals have failed to think clearly because they have been befuddled by a vague pseudo-internationalism. I have stated what I believe to be the falsity in our present-day conception of Europe, the self-complacency in our monopoly of freedom and justice; and I have tried to reveal how that assumption of merit blinded our eyes to the struggles of other peoples for the same causes. I have blamed our failure on Germany and on England. But after every explanation has been made, it is still true that our people ought to have been sensitive. At a great moment of history we failed of greatness. There remains a shame to us that we held aloof. There was no organized campaign of facts needed to convince France that we were fighting for human rights in our Revolution. Three thousand miles of water did not drown the appeal of our extremity. But to-day our leaders are so bewildered by dreams of universal brotherhood that they overlook our blood-brother on the Marne. Our common people have their eyes to their work, and do not look up, as the workers of Lancashire looked up with cheer and sympathy when we rocked in the balance of 1863.
This war has shown to us that we are not at the level of earlier days. We have lost our national unity, our sense of direction. The war has revealed in us an unpreparedness in foreign and domestic policy. It is a curse to know one's weakness unless one cures it. So this war will not leave us blessed until we take a program of action. It is a waste of time to write a book on the war except to convince and move to action.
The steps are clear.
Our first step is to set our house in order. We need to recover our self-consciousness, to restate what we mean by America. A half million newcomers each year will not help us to find ourselves. We shall be the better friends of freedom if we digest our present welter. Let us fearlessly and at once advocate a stringent restriction of immigration. Our citizenship has become somewhat cheap. Our ideals have become somewhat mixed. Let us take time to locate the direction in which we wish to go, and decide on the goal at which we aim. "Thou, Oh! my country, must forever endure," said a famous patriot; but in a few years his country had been melted down into an autocracy. We cannot rely for all time on luck and happy drift. Size, numbers, the physical economic conquest of a continent—these are not a final good. They are at best only means toward worthy living. It is easier to rush in fresh masses of cheap labor than it is to deal with the workers already here as members of a free community, aid them in winning a high standard of living, and establish with them an industrial democracy. The cheapest way of digging our ditches and working our factories, and sewing our shirts, is of course to continue holding open our flood gates and letting the deluge come. It is the clever policy of our exploiters, and the sentimental policy of the rest of us who love to be let alone, if only we can cover our unconcern with a humanitarian varnish. But the result of it is the America of to-day with its oligarchy of industrial captains and bankers, with its aristocracy of labor, made up of powerful trades unions and restricted "Brotherhoods," and with its unskilled alien masses of mine and factory labor, unorganized, exploited. Let us begin to build the better America by sacrificing the easy immediate benefits of unrestricted immigration.
Our second step is to teach our tradition to the hundred million already here. It is a large enough classroom. We can advertise for new pupils when our present group matriculates. When it has matriculated, there will be no popularity for phrases like "He kept us out of war," nor for songs of "I didn't raise my boy to be a soldier." The teaching of that tradition will reveal the interweaving of the American and the French Revolutions as products of a single impulse toward world liberation. If we had known our history, we should have answered the need of France, as Hall, Chapman, Thaw, Seeger, and many more answered it who have laid down their lives for their friend, France. The teaching of the American tradition will reveal to our awakened astonished minds that our policy has not been that of neutrality toward oppressed peoples like the Belgians. It will reveal that the British fleet has served us well from the time of Canning down to Manila Bay. It will stir in us loyalties that have long been asleep. It will show what a phrase like "Government for the people" has meant in terms of social legislation. It will point to the long road we must tread before we reach that ideal goal. We cannot leave the teaching of our tradition to the public schools alone. Courses of evening lectures for the people, the newspapers and periodicals, clergymen and economists and social workers, all must help.
Our third step is a deep understanding sympathy with the forces in the world making for righteousness. We should have been sensitive enough to see the right and the wrong of the present war. But that chance has gone by. Let us now make ready to contribute to the future. The fundamental question is this: Are the democracies of the world to stand together, or is the world-fight for freedom to be made, with our nation on the side-lines? The whole emphasis of the world's emotion has shifted from war to peace. When thought follows this emotion and rationalizes it, we can begin constructive work. The test of our desire for peace will be found in this: Do we mean business? Pacifism is valueless, because it is a vague emotion. Peace is a thing won by thought and effort. It is not alone a "state of mind." If we are willing to give guarantees by army and navy, and to back up protest by force, we can serve the cause of peace. But if we continue our "internationalism" of recent years, we shall not be admitted to any such effective league of peace as France and England will form. We must take our place by the side of the nations who mean to make freedom and justice prevail throughout the world.
Our fourth step will be that measure of preparedness which will render us effective in playing our part in world history. We cannot go on forever asking the English fleet to supply the missing members in our Monroe Doctrine. We cannot go on forever developing a rich ripeness, trusting that no hand will pluck us. In a competitive world, which builds Krupp guns, we cannot place our sole reliance in a good-nature which will be touched to friendliness because we are a special people. That preparedness will not stop with enriching munition makers, and playing into the hands of Eastern bankers. It will be a preparedness which enlists labor, by safeguarding wages and hours. It is the preparedness of an ever-encroaching equality: a democracy of free citizens, prosperous not in spots but in a wide commonalty, disciplined not only by national service of arms, but by the fundamental discipline of an active effective citizenship. It is a preparedness which will call on the women to share the burden of citizenship. It is a preparedness which mobilizes all the inner forces of a nation by clearing the ground for equality. It will be a preparedness not against an evil day, but for the furtherance of the great hopes of the race.
THE GERMANS THAT ROSE FROM THE DEAD
LORD BRYCE ON GERMAN METHODS
In presenting the facts that follow of the behavior of the German Army, I am fortunate in being able to introduce them with a statement written for me by Lord Bryce. The words of Lord Bryce carry more weight with the American people than those of any other man in Europe, and his analysis of the methods of the German Staff is authoritative, because he was the Chairman of what is known as the "Bryce Committee," which issued the famous report on German "frightfulness." When I told him that our country would respond to a statement from him, he asked me to submit questions, and to these questions he has written answers.
The first question submitted to Viscount Bryce was this:
"America has been startled by Cardinal Mercier's statement concerning the deportation of Belgian men. Our people will appreciate a statement from you as to the meaning of this latest German move."
Lord Bryce replied to me:
"Nothing could be more shocking than this wholesale carrying away of men from Belgium. I know of no case in European history to surpass it. Not even in the Thirty Years War were there such things as the German Government has done, first and last in Belgium. This last case is virtual slavery. The act is like that of those Arab slave raiders in Africa who carried off negroes to the coast to sell. And the severity is enhanced because these Belgians and the work forcibly extracted from them are going to be used against their own people. Having invaded Belgium, and murdered many hundreds, indeed even thousands, among them women and children, who could not be accused of 'sniping,' the German military government dislocated the industrial system of the community. They carried off all the raw materials of industry and most of the machinery in factories, and then having thus deprived the inhabitants of work, the invaders used this unemployment as the pretext for deporting them in very large numbers to places where nothing will be known of their fate. They were not even allowed to take leave of their wives and children. Many of them may never be heard of again. And von Bissing calls this 'a humanitarian measure.' Actually, it is all a part of the invasion policy. They defend it as being 'war,' as they justify everything, however inhuman, done because the military needs of Germany are alleged to call for it. It shows how hard pressed the military power is beginning to find itself at this latest stage of the war. It is said that Attila, when he was bringing his hosts of Huns out of Asia for his great assault on Western Europe, forced the conquered tribes into his army, and made them a part of his invasion. I can hardly think of a like case since then. In principle it resembles the Turkish plan when they formed the Janissaries. The Turks used their Christian subjects, taken quite young and made Moslems, and enrolled them as soldiers (to fight against Christians) to fill their armies, of which they were the most efficient part. These Belgians are not indeed actually made to fight, but they are being forced to do the labor of war, some of them probably digging trenches, or making shells, or working in quarries to extract chalk to make cement for war purposes. The carrying off of young girls from Lille was terrible enough, and it seemed to us at the time that nothing could be worse. But the taking away of many thousand of the Belgian population from their homes to work against their own countrymen, with all the mental torture that separation from one's family brings—this is the most shocking thing we have yet heard of. I have been shown in confidence the reports received from Belgium of what has happened there. The details given and the sources they come from satisfied me of their substantial truth. The very excuses the German authorities are putting forward admit the facts. In Belgian Luxemburg I hear that they have been trying to stop the existing employment in order to have an excuse for taking off the men."
The second question read:
"How are such acts of German severity to be accounted for?"
Lord Bryce replied:
"When the early accounts of the atrocious conduct of the German Government in Belgium were laid before the Committee over which I presided they seemed hardly credible. But when we sifted them, going carefully through every case, and rejecting all those that seemed doubtful, we found such a mass of concurrent testimony coming from different sources, and carefully tested by the lawyers who examined the witnesses, that we could not doubt that the facts which remained were beyond question. You ask how German officers came to give such orders. The Committee tried to answer that question in a passage of their report. They point out that for the German officer caste morality and right stop when war begins. The German Chancellor admitted that they had done wrong in invading Belgium, but they would go on and hack their way through. The German military class had brooded so long on war that their minds had become morbid. To Prussian officers war has become, when the interests of the State require it, a sort of sacred mission: everything may be done by and for the omnipotent State. Pity and morality vanish, and are superseded by the new standard justifying every means that conduces to success. 'This,' said the Committee, 'is a specifically military doctrine, the outcome of a theory held by a ruling caste who have brooded and thought, written and talked and dreamed about war until they have fallen under its obsession and been hypnotized by its spirit.' You will find these doctrines set forth in 'Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege,' the German Official Monograph on the usages of war on land, issued under the direction of the German Staff. What military needs suggest becomes lawful. You will find in that book a justification for everything the German Army has done, for seizing hostages, i. e., innocent inhabitants of an invaded area, and shooting them if necessary. You will find what amounts to a justification even of assassination. The German soldiers' diaries captured on prisoners offer the proof that the German officers acted upon this principle. 'This is not the only case that history records in which a false theory, disguising itself as loyalty to a State or a Church, has perverted the conception of Duty, and become a source of danger to the world.' This doctrine spread outside military circles. I do not venture to say that it has infected anything like the whole people. I hope that it did not. But national pride and national vanity were enlisted, and it became a widespread doctrine accepted by the military and even by many civilians. The Prussians are far more penetrated by the military spirit than the Americans or English or French, and such a doctrine ministered to the greatness of the power of Prussia. It was part of Prussian military theory and sometimes of practice a century ago. But in the rest of Germany it is a new thing. There was nothing of the kind in southern Germany when I knew it fifty years ago.
"In an army there will be individual cases of horrible brutality—plunder, rape, ill-treatment of civilians. There will always be men of criminal instinct whose passion is loosed by the immunities of war conditions. Drunkenness, moreover, may turn a decent soldier into a wild beast. But most of the crimes committed in Belgium were not committed by drunken troops. The German peasant, the 'Hans' whom we know, is a good, simple, kindly sort of fellow, as are the rural folk in every country. But remember in the German army there is a habit of implicit obedience. The officers are extremely severe in military discipline. They will shoot readily for a minor infraction. It is the officers more than the private soldiers that were to blame. And some of the officers were shocked by what they were forced to do. 'I am merely executing orders and I should be punished if I did not execute them,' said more than one officer whose words were recorded. How can an officer in war time disobey the orders of the supreme military command? He would be shot, and if he were to say he could not remain in an army where he was expected to commit crimes, to retire in war time, if he were permitted to retire, would mean disgrace to his name. It is the spirit of the Higher German Army Command that is to blame. The authority that issued the orders is guilty. The German people as a whole are not cruel, but many of them have been infected by this war spirit.
"And we little realize how strict is the German censorship. The German people have been fed with falsehoods. So far are they from believing in the record of their own army's cruelties, that they have been made to believe in cruelties alleged to have been committed by French and English troops. They have been fed on stories of soldiers with their eyes put out by Belgians. The Chancellor of the German Empire in a press communication said:
"Belgian girls gouged out the eyes of the German wounded. Officials of Belgian cities have invited our officers to dinner and shot and killed them across the table. Contrary to all international law, the whole civilian population of Belgium was called out, and after having at first shown friendliness, carried on in the rear of our troops terrible warfare with concealed weapons. Belgian women cut the throats of soldiers whom they had quartered in their homes while they were sleeping.
"There was no truth at all in these stories."
The next question was submitted as follows:
"Has the German Government made any effort to prove their general charges and to disprove the detailed charges of your report and the report made by the French Government?"
Lord Bryce writes in reply:
"The diaries of German soldiers referred to have been published throughout the world, and no question has been raised of their authenticity. They contain testimony to outrages committed in Belgium and France that is overwhelming. No answer is possible. The German Government have never made a reply to the Report of the British Committee. They attempted to answer some of the reports made by the Belgian Government. But their answer was really an admission to the facts, for it consisted in allegations that Belgian civilians had given provocation. They endeavored to prove that Belgian civilians had shot at them. It would not have been strange if some civilians had shot at those who suddenly burst into their country, but no proof has ever been given of more than a few of such cases, nor of the stories of outrages committed by Belgian priests, women and children on German soldiers. Even if such occasional shooting by civilians had taken place, as very likely it did, that did not justify the wholesale slaughter of innocent persons and the burning of whole villages. In the burning of the 26 houses at Melle, which you tell me you witnessed, no allegations were made of shooting by civilians. The little girl murdered at Alost, to whom you refer, had not shot at the Germans. The woman, eighty years old, had not shot at them. These severities were committed as a method to achieve an end. That end was to terrorize the civilian population, and destroy the spiritual resources of the nation."
The final question was this:
"As the result of this war, what hope have we of reconstruction and an altered policy in Germany?"
Viscount Bryce answered:
"It is to be hoped and expected that the Allies will so completely defeat Germany as to discredit the whole military system and the ideas out of which the horrors of German war practice have developed. It is essential to inflict a defeat sufficiently decisive in the eyes of the German people that they will have done with their military caste and its nefarious doctrine, and it is essential to discredit the methods themselves—discredit them by their failure—in so thorough a manner that no nation will ever use them again. The way, then, of ending what is called 'frightfulness' is by a complete victory over it. It is our task to show that shocking military practices and total disregard of right do not succeed. We must bring to pass the judgment of facts to the effect that such methods do not avail. In this determination our British people are unanimous as they have never been before. The invasion of Belgium, the atrocities committed there, and the sinking of the Lusitania—these three series of acts united the whole British people in its firm resolve to prosecute the war to a complete victory. Now on the top of these things and of isolated crimes of the German Government, like the shooting of Miss Cavell and Captain Fryatt, come these abominable deportations of Belgians into a sort of slavery."
In all communication with Lord Bryce, one feels the accurate fair-minded scholar. He is without heat and partisanship. He added in a note:
"We know that our British soldiers fight hard, but they fight fair, and they have no personal hatred to their enemies. I have been at the British front and have seen their spirit. I was told that our men when they take a prisoner often clap him on the back and give him a cigarette. There is no personal hatred among our officers or men. Efforts are properly made here at home to keep bitterness against the German people as a whole from the minds of our people, but it is right that they should detest and do their utmost to overthrow the system that has produced this war and has made it so horrible."
SOME GERMAN WAR DIARIES
I have seen the original diaries of the German soldiers in the army which devastated Belgium and Northern France. Things tumble out just as they happened, hideous acts, unedited thoughts. Phillips Brooke once spoke of the sensation there would be if the contents of our minds were dumped on Boston Common for people to see. Here is the soul of the German people spilled out into writing. This is what Germany was in the year 1914. This record left by dead men and by captured men is a very living thing to me, because I saw these German soldiers at their work of burning and torture. Here they have themselves told of doing the very thing I saw them do. We must not miss the point of their proof, written and signed by the perpetrators themselves. It is the proof of systematic massacre, systematic pillage, systematic arson.
These diaries found on the field of battle were brought to the French General Staff along with the arms and equipments of the dead and the prisoners. They are written by the soldiers because of Article 75 of the German Instruction for Campaign Service (Felddienst-Ordnung), which states that "these journals of war serve for information on the general operations, and, by bringing together the various reports of active fighting, they are the basis for the later definitive histories of the campaigns. They should be kept daily." No words could be more exactly prophetic. Those diaries will be the basis of all future histories of the war. The keeping of them is obligatory for the officers, and seems to be voluntary on the part of the men, but with a measure of implied requirement. So stern did some of the soldiers feel the military requirement to be that they kept on with their record up to the point of death. Here is the diary of a soldier of the Fourth Company of the Tenth Battalion of Light Infantry Reserves, which he was writing at the moment he was fatally wounded.
"Ich bin verwundet. Behüte dich Gott. Küsse das Kind. Es soll fromm sein." And then the pencil stops forever. The writing on that final page of all is regular and firm up to the "Ich bin verwundet." Those last four sentences are each just a line long, as if each was a cry. He wrote the word "Küsse" and could hardly rally himself. His pencil slips into three marks without meaning, then he writes "das Kind." I trust my German readers will not deny me the use of this diary. It is the only one of which I have not seen the original. The photographic reproduction is my only evidence of this flash of tenderness among a thousand acts of infamy.
The diaries are little black-covered pocket copybooks: the sort that women in our country use for the family accounts. They contain about 100 pages. They average five inches in length and three in width. A few of the diaries, and those mostly belonging to officers, are written in ink. But most of them are in pencil, occasionally in black, but the large majority in purple.
Many of the diaries are curt records of daily marches and military operations. The man is too tired to write anything but distances, names of places, engagements. That was what the Great German General Staff had in mind in ordering the practice. They could not foresee what would slip through into the record, because in all their calculations they have always forgotten the human spirit. Once again we are indebted to German thoroughness. The causes, the objects, the methods of this war, will not be in doubt, as in other wars of the past. History will be clear in dealing its judgments. Like the surgeon's ray on a fester, German light has played on the sore spots. So the soldiers have gone on making their naked records of crimes committed and their naïve mental reactions on what they did, till all too late the German machine forbade further exposure of the national soul. But the faithful peasant fingers had written what all eternity cannot annul.
"These booklets, stained, bruised, sometimes perforated by bayonet or torn by splinters of shell, the pencilings in haste, day by day, in spite of fatigue, in spite even of wounds"—they are the most human documents of the war.
This privilege of working with the originals themselves was extended by the Ministry of War. The General Staff issued a Laissez-Passer, and gave me an introduction to the fine white-haired old Lieutenant, who is a Russian and German scholar. Together we went word by word over the booklets. I was impressed by the fair-minded attitude of my co-worker. "An honest man," he said, when we came to Harlak's record. "Un brave soldat," he declared of the old reservist, who protested against murder. He was not trying to make a case. He had no need to make a case. The pity of it is that the case has been so thoroughly made by German hands. These diaries have not been doctored in the smallest detail. There they are, as they were taken from the body of the dead man and the pocket of the prisoners. The room where we worked is stuffed with the booklets of German soldiers. Shelves are lined with the black-bound diaries and the little red books of identification carried by each soldier. They overflow upon tables. In this room and a suite adjoining sit the official translators of the French General Staff. I have purposely selected certain of my examples from the official reports of the French Government. I wanted to verify for American "neutrals" that no slightest word had been altered, that no insertions had been made.
My first diary was that of a Saxon officer of the Eighth Company, of the 178th Regiment, of the XII Army Corps. He makes his entry for 26 August, 1914.
"The lovely village of Gué-d'Hossus, apparently entirely innocent, has been given to the flames. A cyclist is said to have fallen from his machine, and in so doing his rifle was discharged, so they fired at him. Accordingly the male inhabitants were cast into the flames. Such atrocities are not to happen again, one hopes."
The German phrases carry the writer's sense of outrage: "Das wunderschöne Dorf Gué-d'Hossus soll ganz unschuldig in Flammen gegangen sein. ... Man hat männliche Einwohner einfach in die Flammen geworfen. Solche Scheusslichkeiten Kommen hoffentlich nich wieder vor."
He adds: "At Läffe, about 200 men have been shot. There it was an example for the place; it was inevitable for the innocent to suffer. Even so there ought to be a verification of mere suspicions of guilt before aiming a fusillade at everybody."
In the village of Bouvignes on August 23, 1914, he and his men entered a private home.
"There on the floor was the body of the owner. In the interior our men had destroyed everything exactly like vandals.... The sight of the inhabitants of the village who had been shot beggars any descriptions. The volley had nearly decapitated certain of them. Every house to the last corner had been searched and so the inhabitants brought out from their hiding-places. The men were shot. The women and children put in the convent. From this convent shooting has come, so the convent will be burned. Only through the giving up of the guilty and the paying of 15,000 francs can it save itself."
The German phrases of frightfulness have a sound that matches their meaning:
"Hatten unsere Leute bereits wie die Vandalen gehaust." "Männer erschossen."
I opened the diary of Private Hassemer of the VIII Corps, and in the entry at Sommepy (in the district of the Marne) for September 3, 1914, I read:
"3/9 1914. Ein schreckliches Blutbad, Dorf abgebrannt, die Franzosen in die brennenden Häuser geworfen, Zivilpersonen alles mitverbrandt."
("A hideous bloodbath (massacre), the village totally burned, the French hurled into the burning houses, civilians, everybody, burned together.")
An unsuspected brutality is here revealed. To these men a peasant of another race is not a father and husband and man. He is as a dog. He is "Ausländer," beyond the pale—a thing to be chased with bayonets and burned with fire, to the rollicking amusement of brave soldiers. Back of the slaughter lies the basic idea of a biological superiority in the German people, a belief that their duty calls them to a sacred war to dominate other races, and create a greater Germany. They think they are a higher order of beings, who can kill creatures of a lesser breed, as one slays the lower order of animals in the march of progress. Other races have had dreams of grandeur, but never so mad a dream, so colossal in its designs on world dominion, so cruel in its methods of achieving that supremacy.
Soldat Wilhelm Schellenberg, of 106 Reserve Infantry of the XII Reserve Army Corps, gives his home as Groitzsch bei Leipzig, "am Bahnhof," first floor, number 8. "Frau Martha Schellenberg" is to be notified. His diary is innocent.
I held in my hands the diary of Erich Harlak of the II Company, 38 Fusilier Regiment of the Sixth Army Corps. There is a cut through the cover and pages of the pamphlet—probably the stab of a bayonet. Harlak is a Silesian. On the first page he writes in German "Bitte dieses Buch gütigst meinen Eltern zusenden zu wollen." Then in French "Je prie aussi Les Français de rendre, s'il vous plait, cet livre à mes parents. Addresse Lehrer Harlak." "Meinen lieben Eltern gewidmet in Grune bei Lisser in Posen."
He writes, "I noticed how our cavalry had plundered here." He gives an instance of how the men broke to pieces what they could not carry away. "La Guerre est la Guerre." He writes that in French. He runs his table of values.
He has a vocabulary of French words in his own handwriting. His record is one of honest distress at the pillage done by his comrades.
When the French soldiers say "C'est la Guerre"—"that's the way it is with war"—they refer to the monotony of it, or the long duration, or some curious ironic contrast between a peaceful farmyard scene and a Taube dropping bombs. The Germans say it again and again in their diaries, sometimes in the French phrase, sometimes "Das ist der Krieg," and almost always they use it in speaking of a village they have burned or peasants they have shot. To them that phrase is an absolution for any abomination. It is the blood-brother of "military necessity."
Carl Zimmer, Lieutenant of the 57th Infantry of the VII Corps, has a diary that runs from August 2 to October 17, 1914. On August 29 he tells of marching through a village of Belgium.
"Very many houses burned whose inhabitants had shot at our soldiers. 250 Civilians shot."
At the head of his diary he writes: "Mit Gott für König und Vaterland." His record is in ink. Bielefeld in Westphalia is his home town.
Prussia has Prussianized Germany. These diaries cover the Empire. The writers are Rhenish Pomeranian and Brandenburgian, Saxon and Bavarian. And the very people, such as the Bavarians and Saxons, whom we had hoped were of a merciful tradition, have bettered the instruction of the military hierarchy at Berlin. What Prussia preached they have practiced with the zeal of a recent convert eager to please his master.
Fahlenstein, a reservist of the 34 Fusiliers, II Army Corps, writes on August 28th:
"They (the French troops) lay heaped up 8 to 10 in a heap, wounded and dead, always one on top of the other. Those who could still walk were made prisoners and brought with us. The severely wounded, with a shot in the head or lungs and so forth, who could not make further effort, received one more bullet, which ended their life. That is indeed what we were ordered to do."
("Die schwer verwundeten ... bekamen dennoch eine Kugel zu, dass ihr Leben ein Ende hatte. Das ist uns ja auch befohlen worden.")
His unwillingness to do the wicked thing must be subordinated to the will of the officer.
Corporal Menge of the Eighth Company of the 74th Reserve Infantry, 10 Reserve Corps, writes in his diary for August 15:
"Wir passieren unter dreimaligen Hurra auf unsern Kaiser u. unter den Klängen d. Liedes Deutschland über alles die Belgische Grenze. Alle Bäume ungefällt als Sperre. Pfarrer u. dessen Schwester aufgehängt, Häuser abgebrannt."
("We passed over the Belgian border under a three times given Hurrah for our Kaiser, and under the Strain of the song Deutschland über alles. All the trees were felled as barricades. A curé and his sister hanged, houses burned.")
This is a neatly written diary, which he wishes to be sent to Fraulein F. Winkel of Hanover.
Penitential days are coming for the German Empire and for the German people. For these acts of horror are the acts of the people: man by man, regiment by regiment, half a million average Germans, peasants and clerks, stamped down through Belgium and Northern France, using the incendiary pellet and the bayonet. In the words of the manifesto, signed by the 93 Wise Men of Germany, referring to the German army, "Sie kennt keine zuchtlose Grausamkeit": it doesn't know such a thing as undisciplined cruelty. No, these are the acts of orderly procedure, planned in advance, carried out systematically. Never for an instant did the beautiful disciplined efficiency of the regiment relax in crushing a child and burning an inhabited house. The people of Germany have bowed their will to the implacable machine. They have lost their soul in its grinding.
Private Sebastian Weishaupt of the Third Bavarian Infantry, First Bavarian Corps:
"10.8.1914—Parie das erste Dorf verbrannt, dann gings los; Dorf nach dem andern in Flammen; über Feld und Acker mit Rad bis wir dann an Strassengraben kamen, wo wir dann Kirschen assen."
("Octobre 8, 1914. Parux is the first village burned, then things break loose: 1 village after another to the flames; over field and meadow with cycle we then come to the roadside ditches, where we ate cherries.")
It is all in the day's work: the burning of villages, the murder of peasants, the eating of cherries. Travelers among savage tribes have told of living among them for years, and then suddenly in a flash the inmost soul of the tribe has revealed itself in some sudden mystical debauch of blood. There is an immense unbridled cruelty in certain of these German soldiers expressing itself in strange, abnormal ways. This is the explanation of some of the outrages, some of the mutilations. But, for the most part, the cruelty is not perversion, nor a fierce, jealous hate. It is merely the blind, brutal expression of imperfectly developed natures, acting under orders.
Göttsche, now commissioned officer of the 85 Infantry Regiment, 9 Army Corps, writes:
"The captain summoned us together and said: 'In the fort which is to be taken there are apparently Englishmen. I wish to see no Englishmen taken prisoner by the company.' A universal Bravo of agreement was the answer."
("'Ich wünsche aber Keinen gefangenen Engländer bei: der Kompagnie zu sehen.' Ein allgemeines Bravo der Zustimmung war die Antwort.")
Forty-three years of preparedness on every detail of treachery and manslaughter, but not one hour of thought on what responses organized murder would call out from the conscience of the world, nor what resistances such cruelty would create. It is curious the way they set down their own infamy. There is all the naïveté of a primitive people. Once a black man from an African colony came to where a friend of mine was sitting. He was happily chopping away with his knife at a human skull which he wore suspended from his neck. He was as innocent in the act as a child jabbing a pumpkin with his jack-knife. So it has been with the Germans. They burn, plunder, murder, with a light heart.
There are noble souls among them who look on with sad and wondering eyes. What manner of men are these, they ask themselves in that intimacy of the diary, which is like the talk of a soul with its maker. These men, our fellow-countrymen, who behave obscenely, who pour out foulness—what a race is this of ours! That is the burden of the self-communion, which high-minded Germans have written down, unconscious that their sadness would be the one light in the dark affair, unaware that only in such revolt as their own is there any hope at all of a future for their race.
The most important diary of all is that of an officer whose name I have before me as I write, but I shall imitate the chivalry of the French government and not publish that name. It would only subject his family to reprisal by the German military power. He belongs to the 46th Reserve Infantry Regiment, 5 Reserve Corps. He has a knack at homely details. He enters a deserted house where the pendulum of the clock still swings and ticks and sounds the hours. He believes himself under the direct protection and guidance of God. He sees it when a shell explodes, killing his comrades. He speaks of the beauty of the dead French officers, as he sees them lying in a railway station. He is skeptical about the lies told against French and Belgians. He realizes that the officers are whipping up a fury in the men, so that they will obey orders to kill and burn. In his pages you can see the mighty machine at work, manufacturing the hate which will lead to murder. The hand on the lever at Berlin sets grinding the wheels, and each little cog vibrates and moves in unison. He is a simple, pious man, shocked by the wickedness of his soldiers, offended by the cruelty of the officers, hating war, longing for its end. He plans to publish his memoirs of the campaign, with photographs, which he will return to France to make after the war. He is a natural philosopher. Most of all, he loves his quiet smoke, which keeps him good-humored. He has written a page in his diary in praise of tobacco.
"I smoke about ten cigars a day. And if it hadn't been for these cigars my good-humor in these dangers and fatigues would be much less. Smoking gives me to a degree calm and content. With it I have something to occupy my thoughts. It is necessary for one to see these things in order to understand."
Later he writes:
"October 15, 1914. It had been planned at first that we should go into quarters at Billy (Billy sous-Nangiennes), where the whole civil population had been already forced out, and whatever was movable had been taken away or made useless. This method of conducting war is directly barbarous. I am astonished how we can make any complaint over the behavior of the Russians. We conduct ourselves in France much worse, and on every occasion and on every small pretext we have burned and plundered. But God is just and sees everything. His mills grind slowly, but exceedingly small."
("Diese Art kriegführung ist direkt barbarisch ... bei jeder Gelegenheit wird unter irgend einem Vorwande gebrannt und geplündert. Aber Gott ist gerecht und sieht alles: seine Mühlen mahlen langsam aber schrecklich klein.")
These extracts which I have given are from diaries of which I have examined the originals, and gone word by word over the German, in the penciling of the writer. The revelation of these diaries is that the Germans have not yet built their moral foundations. They have shot up to some heights. But it is not a deep-centered structure they have reared. It is scaffolding and fresco. We shall send them back home to begin again. Sebastian Weishaupt and Private Hassemer and Corporal Menge must stay at home. They must not come to other countries to try to rule them, nor to any other peoples, to try to teach them. Their hand is somewhat bloody. That is my feeling in reading these diaries of German soldiers—poor lost children of the human race, back in the twilight of time, so far to climb before you will reach civilization. We must be very patient with you through the long years it will take to cast away the slime and winnow out the simple goodness, which is also there.
In former European wars foul practices were committed by individual members of armies. But the total army in each country was a small hired band of men, representing only the fractional part of one per cent of the population. It was in no way representative of the mind of the people. Of the present German Army, Professor Dr. Max Planck, of the University of Berlin, a distinguished physicist, has recently written:
"The German Army is nothing but the German people in arms, and the scholars and artists are, like all other classes, inseparably bound up with it."
We must regard the acts of the German Army as the acts of the people. We cannot dodge the problem of their misbehavior by saying they have not committed atrocities. We have the signed statements of a thousand German diaries that they have practiced frightfulness village by village through Belgium and Northern France. We cannot say it was a handful of drunken, undisciplined soldiers who did these things. It was "the German people in arms." It was an army that "knows no such thing as undisciplined cruelty." It was a nation of people that burned and murdered, acting under orders. Now, we have arrived at the heart of the problem. Why did they commit these horrors?
Irritated by an unexpectedly firm resistance from the Belgian and French Armies, fed on lies spread by German officers concerning the cruelty of French and Belgians, they obeyed the commands to burn houses and shoot civilians.
These commands released a primitive quality of brutality.
On August 25th, 1914, Reservist Heinrich Bissinger, of the town of Ingolstadt, of the Second Company, of the First Bavarian Pioneers, writes of the village of Orchies:
"A woman was shot because she did not stop at the word Halt, but kept running away. Thereupon we burn the whole place."
("Sämtliche Civilpersonen werden verhaftet. Eine Frau wurde vershossen, weil sie auf Halt Rufen nicht hielt, sondern ausreissen wollte. Hierauf Verbrennen der ganzen Ortschaft.")
One wonders if Heinrich Bissinger would wish the treatment he and his comrades accorded to Orchies, to be applied to his own home town of Ingolstadt. If some German peasant woman in Ingolstadt failed to understand a word in a foreign tongue, and were killed, and then if Ingolstadt were burned, would Heinrich Bissinger feel that "military necessity" exonerated the soldiers that performed the deed?
Private Philipp, from Kamenz, Saxony, of the First Company, of the first Battalion of the 178th Regiment, writes: "Kriegs Tagebuch-Soldat Philipp, 1 Kompanie (Sachsen)," at the head of his diary. On August 23 he writes of a village that had been burned:
"A spectacle terrible and yet beautiful. Directly at the entrance lay about 50 dead inhabitants who had been shot, because they had traitorously fired on our troops. In the course of the night many more were shot, so that we could count over 200. Women and children, lamp in hand, had to watch the horrible spectacle. Then in the middle of the corpses we ate our rice; since morning we had eaten nothing. By search through the houses we found much wine and liquor, but nothing to eat."
("Im Laufe der Nacht wurden noch viele erschossen, sodass wir über 200 zählen konnten. Frauen und Kinder, die Lampe in der Hand, mussten dem entsetzlichen Schauspiele zusehen. Wir assen dann inmitten der Leichen unsern Reis, seit Morgen hatten wir nichts gegessen.")
German soldiers obey these orders because their military training and their general education have made them docile. They have never learned to exercise independent individual moral judgment on acts ordered by the state. The state to them is an organism functioning in regions that lie outside the intellectual and moral life of the individual. In every German there are separate water-tight compartments: the one for the life he leads as a husband and father, the other for the acts he must commit as a citizen of the Empire and as a soldier of the Army. In his home life he makes choices. In his public life he has no choice. He must obey without compunctions. So he lays aside his conscience. In the moral realm the German is a child, which means that he is by turns cruel, sentimental, forgetful of the evil he has done the moment before, happy in the present moment, eating enormously, pleased with little things, crying over a letter from home, weary of the war, with sore feet and a rebellious stomach, a heavy pack, and no cigars. I am basing every statement I make on the statements written by German soldiers. We do not have to guess at German psychology. They have ripped open their subconsciousness.
The lieutenant of the 5th Battalion of reserves of the Prussian Guard writes on August 24 at Cirey:
"In the night unbelievable things have taken place. Warehouses plundered, money stolen, violations simply hair-raising."
("In der Nacht sind unglaubliche Sachen passiert. Läden ausgeplündert, Geld gestohlen, Vergewaltigungen, Einfach haarsträubend.")
This diary of the lieutenant's has a black cover, a little pocket for papers, a holder for the pencil. It is written partly in black pencil and partly in purple. Thirty-two pages are written, 118 are blank. It covers a space of time from August 1 to September 4, 1914.
Mrs. Wharton has brought to my attention the chronicle of Salimbene, a Franciscan of the thirteenth century, wherein similar light-hearted crimes are recorded.
"On one day he (Ezzelino) caused 11,000 men of Padua to be burnt in the field of Saint George; and when fire had been set to the house in which they were being burnt, he jousted as if in sport around them with his knights.
"The villagers dwelt apart, nor were there any that resisted their enemies or opened the mouth or made the least noise. And that night they (the soldiers) burned 53 houses in the village."
The orders given by the German commanding general to his officers, far from recommending prudence and humanity, impose the obligation of holding the total civil population collectively responsible for the smallest individual infractions, and of acting against every tentative infringement with pitiless severity. These officers are as specialized a class as New York gunmen or Paris apaches. Their career lies in anti-social conduct. "This wild upper-class of the young German imperialistic idea" are implacable destroyers. Their promotion is dependent on the extent of their cruelties.
I have seen an original copy of the order for the day (Korps-Tagesbefehl) issued on August 12, 1914, by General von Fabeck, commanding the 13th Army Corps. He says:
"Lieutenant Haag of the 19th Regiment of Uhlans, acting as chief of patrol, has proceeded energetically against the rioting inhabitants, and as agreed has employed arms. I express to him my recognition for his energy and his decision."
("Ich spreche ihm für seinen Schneid und seine Umsicht meine Anerkennung aus.")
What that gives to Lieutenant Haag is the power of life and death over non-combatants, with praise for him if he deals out death.
Let us hear General von Fabeck speak again. Here are his instructions for his troops on August 15, 1914 (I have held the original in my hands):
"As soon as the territory is entered, the inhabitants are to be held responsible for maintaining the lines of communication. For that purpose the commander of the advance guard will arrange a strong patrol of campaign gendarmes (Feldgendarmerie-Patrouille) to be used for the interior of the locality held by our troops. Against every inhabitant who tries to do us a damage, or who does us a damage, it is necessary to act with pitiless severity."
"Mit rücksichtsloser Strenge."
This order is on long sheets of the nature of our foolscap. It is written in violet ink.
The copy reads:
gez. v. Fabeck
Für die Richtigkeit der Abschrift
Oberlt. und Brig-Adjutant.
Baessler is the aide-de-camp.
Two violations of the rights of non-combatants are in that order. The requisitioning of inhabitants on military work where they are exposed to the fire of their own nation; pitiless severity applied to every non-combatant on the least suspicion of a hostile act.
Actually the state which the simple soldiers obey so utterly is an inner clique of landed proprietors, captains of industry, and officers of the army—men of ruthless purpose and vast ambitions. The sixty-five millions of docile peasants, clerks, artizans and petty officials are tools for this inner clique.
"The theories of the German philosophers and public men are of one piece with the collective acts of the German soldiers. The pages of the Pan-German writers are prophetic. They are not so much the precursors as the results, the echoes of a something impersonal that is vaster than their own voice. Here we have acted out the cult of force, creator of Right, practiced since its dim origins by Prussia, defended philosophically by Lasson, scientifically by Haeckel and Ostwald, politically by Treitschke, and in a military way by General von Bernhardi."
The modern Germany is the victim of an obsession. Under its sentimental domestic life, its placid beergarden recreation, its methodical activities, its reveries, its emotional laxity fed on music, it was generating destructive forces. Year by year it was thinking the thoughts, inculcated by its famous teachers, until those ideas, pushed deep down into the subconscious, became an overmastering desire, a dream of world-grandeur. For once an idea penetrates through to the subconsciousness, it becomes touched with emotional life, later to leap back into the light of day in uncontrolled action.
I can produce one of the original bills posted on the walls of Liège by General von Bulow. Here is the way it reads:
A la population Liègeoise.
La population d'Andenne, après avoir témoigné des intentions pacifiques à l'égard de nos troupes, les a attaquées de la façon la plus traîtresse. Avec mon autorisation, le Général qui commandait ces troupes a mis la ville en cendres et a fait fusilier 110 personnes. Je porte ce fait à la connaissance de la ville de Liège, pour que ses habitants sachent à quel sort ils peuvent s'attendre s'ils prennent une attitude semblable.
Liège, le 22 Août, 1914.
Général von Bulow.
("The inhabitants of the town of Andenne, after having testified to their peaceful intentions in regard to our troops, attacked them in a fashion the most treacherous. By my authorization, the General who commanded the troops has burned the town to ashes and has shot 110 people. I bring this to the knowledge of the town of Liège, in order that the inhabitants may know what fate they invite if they take a like attitude.")
It is only in victorious conquest that the German is unendurable. When he was trounced at the Battle of the Marne, he ceased his wholesale burnings and massacres throughout that district, and continued his campaign of frightfulness only in those sections of Belgium around Antwerp where he was still conquering new territory. His dream of world conquest will die in a day, when the day comes that sends him home. In defeat, he is simple, kindly, surprised at humane treatment. He ceases to be a superman at the touch of failure. All his blown-up grandeur collapses, and he shrinks to his true stature.
This return to wholesomeness is dependent on two things: a thorough defeat in this war, so that the German people will see that a machine fails when it seeks to crush the human spirit, and an internal revolution in the conception of individual duty to the state, so that they will regain the virtues of common humanity. The water-tight compartments, which they have built up between the inner voice of conscience in the individual life and the outer compulsion of the state, must be broken through.
One of the best jokes of the war has been put over on the Germans by themselves. Here I quote from a German diary of which I have seen the original. It is written by a sub-officer of the Landwehr, of the 46th Reserve Regiment, the 9th Company, recruited from the province of Posen. He and his men are on the march, and the date is August 21. He writes:
"We are informed of things to make us shudder concerning the wickedness of the French, as, for instance, that our wounded, lying on the ground, have their eyes put out, their ears and noses cut. We are told that we ought to behave without any limits. I have the impression that all this is told us for the sole purpose that no one shall stay behind or take the French side; our men also are of the same opinion."
On August 23 he writes:
"I learn from different quarters that the French maltreat our prisoners; a woman has put out the eyes of an Uhlan."
By August 24 all this begins to have its effect on the imperfectly developed natures of his comrades, and he writes:
"I find among our troops a great excitability against the French."
There we can see the machinery of hate in full operation. The officers state the lies to the soldiers. They travel fast by rumor. The primitive, emotional men respond with ever-increasing excitement till they readily carry out murder.
Let us see how all this is working back home in the Fatherland. I have seen the photographic reproduction of a letter written by a German woman to her husband (from whose body it was taken), in which she tells him not to spare the French dogs ("Hunden"), neither the soldiers nor the women. She goes on to give her reason. The French, she says, men and women, are cruel to German prisoners. The story had reached her.
The German Chancellor in September, 1914, stated in an interview for the United States:
"Your fellow countrymen are told that German troops have burned Belgian villages and towns, but you are not told that young Belgian girls have put out the eyes of the defenseless wounded on the field of battle. Belgian women have cut the throats of our soldiers as they slept, men to whom they had given hospitality."
The final consecration of the rumor was given by the Kaiser himself. On September 8, 1914, he sent a cable to President Wilson, in which he repeated these allegations against the Belgian people and clergy. Of course, he knew better, just as his Chancellor and General Staff and his officers knew better. It was all part of the play to charge the enemy with things akin to what the Germans themselves were doing. That makes it an open question, with "much to be said on both sides." That creates neutrality on the part of non-investigating nations, like the United States.
But what he and his military clique failed to see was that they had discharged a boomerang. The comeback was swift. The German Protestants began to "agitate" against the German Roman Catholics. The old religious hates revived; a new religious war was on. Now, this was the last thing desired by the military power. An internal strife would weaken war-making power abroad. Here was Germany filled with lies told by the military clique. Those lies were creating internal dissension. So the same military clique had to go to work and deny the very lies they had manufactured. They did not deny them out of any large love for the Belgian and French people. They denied them because of the anti-Catholic feeling inside Germany which the lies had stirred up. German official inquiries have established the falsity of the atrocity charges leveled against the Belgians.
A German priest, R. P. Bernhard Duhr, S. J., published a pamphlet-book, "Der Lügengeist im Völkekrieg. Kriegsmärchen gesammelt von Bernhard Duhr, S. J.," (München-Regensburg, Verlagsanstat, Vorm. G. J. Manz, Buch und Kunstdruckei, 1915). Its title means "The spirit of falsehood in a people's war. Legends that spring up in war-time." His book was written as a defense of Roman Catholic interests and for the sake of the internal peace of his own country. This book I have seen. It is a small pamphlet of 72 pages, with a red cover. The widest circulation through the German Empire was given to this proof of the falsity of the charges laid to the Allies. Powerful newspapers published the denials and ceased to publish the slanders. Generals issued orders that persons propagating the calumnies, whether orally, by picture or in writing, would be followed up without pity. So died the legend of atrocities by Belgians. The mighty power of the Roman Catholic Church had stretched out its arm and touched the Kaiser and his war lords to silence.
The charges are treachery, incitement to murder and battle, traitorous attacks, the hiding of machine guns in church towers, the murder, poisoning and mutilation of the wounded. The story ran that the civil population, incited by the clergy, entered actively into hostilities, attacking troops, signaling to the Allies the positions occupied by the Germans. The favorite and most popular allegation was that women, old people and children committed atrocities on wounded Germans, putting out their eyes, cutting off their fingers, ears and noses; and that priests urged them on to do these things and played an active part in perpetrating the crimes. Putting out the eyes became the prize story of all the collection.
The German priest, Duhr, runs down each lie to its source, and then prints the official denial. Thus, a soldier of the Landwehr sends the story to Oberhausen (in the Rhine provinces):
"At Libramont the Catholic priest and the burgomaster, after a sermon, have distributed bullets to the civil population, with which the inhabitants fire on German soldiers. A boy of thirteen years has put out the eyes of a wounded officer, and women, forty to fifty years old, have mutilated our wounded soldiers. The women, the priest and the burgomaster have been all together executed at Trèves. The boy has been condemned to a long term in the home of correction."
The German commander of the garrison at Trèves writes:
"Five Belgian francs-tireurs who had been condemned to death by the court martial were shot at Trèves. A sixth Belgian, still rather young, has been condemned to imprisonment for many years. Among the condemned there were neither women, nor priests nor burgomaster."
This communication is signed by Colonel Weyrach.
Postcards representing Belgian francs-tireurs were placed on sale at Cassel. The commander of the district writes:
"The commanding general of the XI Army Corps at Cassel has confiscated the cards."
Wagner Bauer, of the Prussian Ministry of War, writes of another tale:
"The story of the priest and the boy spreads as a rumor among troops on the march."
The Herner Zeitung, an official organ, in its issue of September 9, printed the following: "Among the French prisoners was a Belgian priest who had collected his parishioners in the church to fire from hiding on the German soldiers. Shame that German soil should be defiled by such trash! And to think that a nation which shields rascals of that sort dares to invoke the law of humanity!"
Frhr. von Bissing, commanding general of the VII Army Corps, writes:
"The story of a Belgian priest, reported by the Herner Zeitung does not answer at any point to the truth, as it has since been established. The facts have been communicated to the Herner Zeitung concerning their article."
The Hessische Zeitung prints the following under title of "Letters from the Front by a Hessian Instructor":
"The door of the church opens suddenly and the priest rushes out at the head of a gang of rascals armed with revolvers."
The Prussian Ministry of War replies:
"The inquiry does not furnish proof in support of the alleged acts."
The Berliner Tageblatt, for September 10, has a lively story:
"It was the curé who had organized the resistance of the people, who had them enter the church, and who had planned the conspiracy against our troops."
The Prussian Minister of War makes answer: "The curé did not organize the resistance of inhabitants; he did not have them enter the church, and he had not planned the conspiracy against our troops."
The dashing German war correspondent, Paul Schweder, writes in Landesbote an article, "Under the Shrapnel in Front of Verdun." He says that he saw:
"A convoy of francs-tireurs, at their head a priest with his hands bound."
The German investigator pauses to wonder why every prisoner and every suspect is a franc-tireur, and then he goes on with his inquiry, which results in a statement from the Prussian War Minister:
"Deiber (the priest) had nothing charged against him, was set at liberty, and, at his own request, has been authorized to live at Oberhaslach."
The Frankfurter Zeitung, September 8, has a spirited account of a combat with francs-tireurs in Andenne, written by Dr. Alex Berg, of Frankfort:
"The curé went through the village with a bell, to give the signal for the fight. The battle began immediately after, very hotly."
The military authority of Andenne, Lieutenant Colonel v. Eulwege:
"My own investigation, very carefully made, shows no proof that the curé excited the people to a street fight. Every one at Andenne gives a different account from that, to the effect that most of the people have seen hardly anything of the battle, so-called, because they had hidden themselves from fear in the cellars."
Finally, the War Ministry and the press wearied of individual denials, and one great blanket denial was issued. Der Völkerkrieg, which is a comprehensive chronicle of review of the war, states:
"It is impossible to present any solid proof of the allegation, made by so many letters from the front, to the effect that the Belgian priests took part in the war of francs-tireurs. Letters of that kind which we have heretofore reproduced in our record—for example, the recital of events at Louvain and Andenne—are left out of the new editions."
Der Fels, Organ der Central-Auskunftstelle der katholischen Presse, states:
"The serious accusations which I have listed are not only inaccurate in parts and grossly exaggerated, but they are invented in every detail, and are at every point false."
And, again, it says:
"All the instances, known up to the present and capable of being cleared up, dealing with the alleged cruelties of Catholic priests in the war, have been found without exception false or fabrications through and through."
Turning to the "mutilations," we have the Nach Feierabend publishing a "letter from the front" which tells of a house of German wounded being burned by the French inhabitants. Asked for the name of the place and the specific facts, the editor replied that "you are not the forum where it is my duty to justify myself. Your proceeding in the midst of war of representing the German soldiers who fight and die as liars, in order to save your own skin, I rebuke in the most emphatic way."
But the Minister of War got further with the picturesque editor, and writes:
"The editorial department of the Nach Feierabend states that it hasn't any longer in its possession the letter in question."
Now we come to the most famous of all the stories.
"At a military hospital at Aix-la-Chapelle an entire ward was filled with wounded, who had had their eyes put out in Belgium."
Dr. Kaufmann, an ecclesiastic of Aix-la-Chapelle, writes:
"I send you the testimony of the head doctor of a military hospital here, a celebrated oculist whom I consulted just because he is an oculist. He writes me:
"'In no hospital of Aix-la-Chapelle is there any ward of wounded with their eyes put out. To my knowledge absolutely nothing of the sort has been verified at Aix-la-Chapelle.'"
The Kölnische Volkzeitung, October 28, gives the testimony of Dr. Vülles, of the hospital in Stephanstrasse, Aix-la-Chapelle, in reference to the "Ward of Dead Men," where "twenty-eight soldiers lay with eyes put out." The men laughed heartily when they were asked if they had had their eyes put out.
"If you wish to publish what you have seen," said Dr. Vüller, "you will be able to say that my colleague, Dr. Thier, as well as myself, have never treated a single soldier who had his eyes put out."
Professor Kuhnt, of the clinic for diseases of the eye at Bonn, writes:
"I have seen many who have lost their sight because of rifle bullets or shell fire. The story is a fable."
The Weser-Zeitung has a moving story of a hospital at Potsdam for soldiers wounded by the francs-tireurs, where lie officers with their eyes put out. "Young Belgian girls, of from fourteen to fifteen years of age, at the incitement of Catholic priests, have committed the crimes."
The commander at Potsdam writes:
"There is no special hospital here for soldiers wounded by the francs-tireurs. There are no officers here with eyes put out. The commander has taken measures to correct the article under dispute, and also in other publications."
So perish the lies used against Belgium. Lies manufactured by the General Staff and taught to their officers, to be used among the soldiers, in order to whip them to hate, because in that hate they would carry out the cold cruelty of those officers and of that General Staff. Lies put out in order to blind the eyes of neutrals, like the government at Washington, to the pillage, the burning and the murder which the German army was perpetrating as it marched through Belgium and Lorraine. Lies that later had to be officially denied by the same military power that had manufactured them, because those lies were stirring up civil strife at home, and because the Roman Catholic Germans investigated the sources and silenced the liars.
The Kaiser cabled to our country:
"The cruelties committed in this guerilla warfare by women, children and priests on wounded soldiers, members of the medical staff and ambulance workers have been such that my generals have at last been obliged to resort to the most rigorous measures. My heart bleeds to see that such measures have been made necessary and to think of the countless innocents who have lost their life and property because of the barbarous conduct of those criminals."
Now that he knows that those stories are lies he must feel sorrier yet that his army killed those countless innocents and burned those peasant homes.
THE LOST VILLAGES
I was standing in what was once the pleasant village of Sommeilles. It has been burned house by house, and only the crumbled rock was left in piles along the roadside. I looked at the church tower. On a September morning, at fourteen minutes of nine o'clock, an incendiary shell had cut through the steeple of the church, disemboweled the great clock, and set the roof blazing. There, facing the cross-roads, the hands of the clock once so busy with their time-keeping, are frozen. For twenty-three months, they have registered the instant of their own stoppage. On the minute hand, which holds a line parallel with that of the earth, a linnet has built its nest of straw. The hour-hand, outpaced by its companion at the moment of arrest, was marking time at a slant too perilous for the home of little birds. Together, the hands had traveled steadily through the hours which make the years for almost a century. High over the village street, they had sent the plowman to his field, and the girl to her milking. Children, late from their play, had scrambled home to supper, frightened by that lofty record of their guilt. And how many lovers, straying back from the deep, protecting meadows, have quickened their step, when the revealing moon lighted that face. Now it marks only cessation. It tells of the time when a village ceased to live. Something came down out of the distance, and destroyed the activities of generations—something that made an end of play and love. Only the life of the linnet goes on as if the world was still untroubled. Northern France is held in that cessation. Suddenly death came, and touched seven hundred villages. Nor can there ever be a renewal of the old charm. The art of the builders is gone, and the old sense of security in a quiet, continuing world.
I have been spending the recent days with these peasants in the ruins of their shattered world. Little wooden baraquements are springing up, as neat and bare as the bungalows of summer visitors on the shore of a Maine lake. Brisk brick houses and stores lift out of crumpled rock with the rawness of a mining camp. It is all very brave and spirited. But it reminded me of the new wooden legs, with shining leather supports, and bright metal joints, which maimed soldiers are wearing. Everything is there which a mechanism can give, but the life-giving currents no longer flow. A spiritual mutilation has been wrought on these peasant people in destroying the familiar setting of their life. They had reached out filaments of habit and love to the deep-set hearth and ancient rafters. The curve of the village street was familiar to their eye, and the profile of the staunch time-resisting houses.
From a new wooden structure, with one fair-sized, very neat room in it, a girl came out to talk with us. She was about twenty years old, with a settled sadness in her face. Her old home had stood on what was now a vegetable garden. A fragment of wall was still jutting up out of the potatoes. Everything that was dear to her had been carefully burned by the Germans.
"All the same, it is my own home," she said, pointing to the new shack, "it does very well. But my mother could not stand it that everything was gone. We ran away for the few days that the Germans were here. My mother died eight days after we came back."
The 51st Regiment of German Infantry entered the village, and burned it by squirting petrol on piles of straw in the houses. The machine they used was like a bicycle pump—a huge syringe. Of the Town Hall simply the front is standing, carrying its date of 1836. Seventeen steps go up its exterior, leading to nothing but a pit of rubbish.
"For three days I lay hidden without bread to eat," said a passer-by.
An old peasant talked with us. He told us that the Germans had come down in the night, and burned the village between four and six in the morning. A little later, they fired on the church. With petrol on hay they had burned his own home.
"Tout brûlé," he kept repeating, as he sent his gaze around the wrecked village. He gestured with his stout wooden stick, swinging it around in a circle to show the completeness of the destruction. Five small boys had joined our group. The old man swung his cane high enough to clear the heads of the youngsters. One of them ran off to switch a wandering cow into the home path.
"Doucement," said the old man. ("Gently.")
We went to his home, his new home, a brick house, built by the English Quakers, who have helped in much of this reconstruction work. He and his wife live looking out on the ruin of their old home.
"Here was my bed," he said, "and here the chimney plate."
He showed the location and the size of each familiar thing by gestures and measurements of his hands. Nine of the neighbors had lain out in the field, while the Germans burned the village. He took me down into the cave, where he had later hidden; the stout vaulted cellar under the ruined house.
"It is fine and dry," I suggested.
"Not dry," he answered, pointing to the roof. I felt it. It was wet and cold.
"I slept here," he said, "away from the entrance where I could be seen."
His wife was made easier by talking with us.
"How many milliards will bring us back our happiness?" she asked. "War is hard on civilians. My husband is seventy-eight years old."
The cupboard in her new home stood gaping, because it had no doors.
"I have asked the carpenter in Revigny to come and make those doors," she explained, "but he is always too busy with coffins; twenty-five and thirty coffins a day."
These are for the dead of Verdun.
When the Germans left Sommeilles, French officers found in one of the cellars seven bodies: those of Monsieur and Madame Alcide Adnot, a woman, thirty-five years old, and her four children, eleven years, five, four, and a year and a half old. The man had been shot, the young mother with the right forearm cut off, and the body violated, the little girl violated, one of the children with his head cut off. All were lying in a pool of blood, with the splatter reaching a distance of ninety centimeters. The Germans had burned the house, thinking that the fire would destroy the evidence of their severity, but the flames had not penetrated to the cellar.
Sommeilles is in one of the loveliest sections of Europe, where the fields lie fertile under a temperate sun, and the little rivers glide under green willow trees. Villages of peasants have clustered here through centuries. One or two of the hundreds of builders that lifted Rheims and Chartres would wander from the larger work to the village church and give their skill to the portal, adding a choiceness of stone carving and some bit of grotesquerie. Scattered through the valleys of the Marne, and Meuse, and Moselle, you come on these snatches of the great accent, all the lovelier for their quiet setting and unfulfilled renown.
The peasant knew he was part of a natural process, a slow, long-continuing growth, whose beginnings were not yesterday, and whose purpose would not end with his little life. And the aspect of the visible world which reinforced this inner sense was the look of his Town Hall and his church, his own home and the homes of his neighbors—the work of no hasty builders. In the stout stone house, with its gray slabs of solidity, he and his father had lived, and his grandfather, and on back through the generations. There his son would grow up, and one day inherit the house and its goods, the gay garden and the unfailing fields.
Things are dear to them, for time has touched them with affectionate association. The baker's wife at Florent in the Argonne is a strapping ruddy woman of thirty years of age, instinct with fun and pluck, and contemptuous of German bombs. But the entrance to her cellar is protected by sand-bags and enormous logs.
"You are often shelled?" asked my friend.
"A little, nearly every day," she answered. "But it's all right in the cellar. For instance, I have removed my lovely furniture down there. It is safe in the shelter."
"Oh, then, you care more for your furniture than you do for your own safety?"
"Why," she answered, "you can't get another set of furniture so easily as all that." And she spoke of a clock and other wedding-presents as precious to her.
A family group in Vassincourt welcomed us in the room they had built out of tile and beams in what was once the shed. The man was blue-eyed and fair of hair, the woman with a burning brown eye, the daughter with loosely hanging hair and a touch of wildness. The family had gone to the hill at the south and watched their village and their home burn. They had returned to find the pigs ripped open. The destruction of live stock was something more to them than lost property, than dead meat. There is an intimate sense of kinship between a peasant and his live stock—the horse that carries him to market, his cows and pigs, the ducks that bathe in the pool of his barnyard and the hens that bathe in the roadside dust. No other property is so personal. They had lost their two sons in the war. The woman in speaking of the French soldiers called them "Ces Messieurs," "these gentlemen."
In this village is a bran-new wooden shed, "Café des Amis," with the motto, "A la Renaissance," "To the Rebirth."
In Sermaize, nearly five hundred men marched away to fight. When the Germans fell on the town, 2,200 were living there. Of these 1,700 have returned. There are 150 wooden sheds for them, and a score of new brick dwellings, and twenty-four brick houses are now being built. Six hundred are living in the big hotel, once used in connection with the mineral springs for which the place was famous: its full name is Sermaize-les-Bains. Eight hundred of the 840 houses were shelled and burned—one-third by bombardment, two-thirds by a house to house burning.
The Hotel des Voyageurs is a clean new wooden shed, with a small dining-room. This is built on the ruins of the old hotel. The woman proprietor said to me:
"We had a grand hotel, with twelve great bedrooms and two dining-rooms. It was a fine large place."
The Café des Alliés is a small wooden shed, looking like the store-room of a logging camp. We talked with the proprietor and his wife. They used to be manufacturers of springs, but their business was burned, their son is dead in the war, and they are too old to get together money and resume the old work. So they are running a counter of soft drinks, beer and post cards. The burning of their store has ended their life for them.
We talked with the acting Mayor of Sermaize, Paul François Grosbois-Constant. He is a merchant, fifty-four years old. The Germans burned his six houses, which represented his lifetime of savings.
"The Germans used pastilles in burning our houses," he said, "little round lozenges, the size of a twenty-five-centime piece (this is the same size as an American quarter of a dollar). These hop about and spurt out fire. They took fifty of our inhabitants and put them under arrest, some for one day, others for three days. Five or six of our people were made to dress in soldiers' coats and casques, and were then forced to mount guard at the bridges. The pillage was widespread. The wife and the daughter of Auguste Brocard were so frightened by the Germans that they jumped into the river, the river Saulx. Brocard tried to save them, but was held back by the Germans. Later, when he took out the dead bodies from the river, he found a bullet hole in the head of each."
As we drove away from Sermaize, I saw in the village square that a fountain was feebly playing, lifting a thin jet of water a few inches above the basin.
We are a nomadic race, thriving on change. Apartment houses are our tents: many of us preempt a new flat every moving day. This is in part an inheritance from our pioneer readiness to strike camp and go further. It is the adaptability of a restless seeking. It is also the gift made by limitless supplies of immigrants, who, having torn up their roots from places where their family line had lived for a thousand years, pass from street to street, and from city to city, of the new country, with no heavy investment of affection in the local habitation. Once the silver cord of ancestral memory is loosened, there is little in the new life to bind it together. The wanderer flows on with the flowing life about him. To many of us it would be an effort of memory to tell where we were living ten years ago. The outline of the building is already dim.
The peasant of France has found a truth of life in planting himself solidly in one place, with an abiding love for his own people, for the house and the village where he was born. Four centuries ago the French poet wrote:
Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage
Ou comme cestuy-là qui conquit la Toison
Et puis est retourné plein d'usage et raison
Vivre entre ses parents le reste de son âge.
Quand revoiray-je hélas! de mon petit village
Fumer la cheminée, et en quelle saison
Revoiray-je le clos de ma pauvre maison
Qui m'est une province, et beaucoup davantage.
Plus me plaist le sejour qu'out basty mes ayeux
Que des palais romains le front audacieux
Plus que le marbre dur me plaist l'ardoise fine.
Plus mon Loyre gaulois que le Tybre latin
Plus mon petit Liré que le mont Palatin
Et plus que l'air marin la douceur Angevine.
Happy the man who like Ulysses has traveled far and wide,
Or like that other who won the Golden Fleece,
And then wended home full worn and full wise,
To spend among his own folk the remainder of his days.
When shall I see once more alack! above my little hamlet
Rise the chimney smoke, and in what season of the year
Shall I see once more the garden of my humble home,
Which is a wide province in my eyes, and even more.
Dearer to my heart is the home my forefathers built
Than the cloud-capped tops of haughty Roman palaces.
Dearer than hardest marble the fine slate of my roof.
Dearer my Gaulish Loire than Tiber's Latin stream.
Dearer my little hill of Liré than Mount Palatinus,
And than sea-airs the sweet air of Anjou.
Till yesterday that voice still spoke for the unchanging life of France. The peasant remained where his forefathers had broken the fields and loaded the wains. Why should he be seeking strange lands, like the troubled races? He found his place of peace long ago. To what country can he travel where the sun is pleasanter on happy fields? What people can he visit who have the dignity and simplicity of his neighbors?
Then the hordes from the north came down, eager to win this sunny quietness, curious to surprise the secret of this Latin race, with its sense of form and style, its charm, its sweet reasonableness. Why are these Southerners loved? Why do their accomplishments conquer the world so gently, so irresistibly? Surely this hidden beauty will yield to violence. So it came, that dark flood from the north, pouring over the fertile provinces, breaking the peace of these peasants. Something was destroyed where the human spirit had made its home for a longer time than the individual life: a channel for the generations. Their fields are still red with the poppy, but their young men who reaped are busy on redder fields. Their village street is crumbled stone, through which the thistle thrusts. The altar of their church is sour with rain water, and the goodness of life is a legend that was slain in a moment of time. A modern city can be rebuilt. An ancient village can never be rebuilt. That soft rhythm of its days was caught from old buildings and a slowly ripening tradition. Something distinguished has passed out of life. What perished at Rheims in the matchless unreturning light of its windows was only a larger loss. A quiet radiance was on these villages, too.
Still the peasants return to the place they know. Even their dead are more living than the faces of strangers in cities. The rocks in the gutter once held their home. There is sadness in a place where people have lived and been happy, and now count their dead. It is desolate in a way wild nature never is, for the raw wilderness groups itself into beauty and order. It would have been better to let the forest thicken through centuries, than to inherit the home where one day the roof-tree is razed by the invader. These peasants are not hysterical. They are only broken-hearted. They tell their story in a quiet key, in simple words, with a kind of grayness of recital. There are certain experiences so appalling to the consciousness that it can never reveal the elements of its distress, because what was done killed what could tell. But the light of the day is never seen again with the same eyes after the moment that witnessed a child tortured, or one's dearest shot down like a clay pigeon. The girl, who was made for happiness, when she is wife and mother, will pass on a consciousness of pain which had never been in her line before. The thing that happened in a moment will echo in the troubled voices of her children, and a familiar music is broken.
One day when I was in Lorraine, a woman came to me carrying in her hands a boy's cap, and a piece of rope. She was a peasant woman about forty years of age, named Madame Plaid. She said:
"You see, Monsieur, I found him in the fields. He was not in the house when the Germans came here. I thought that my little scamp (mon gamin) was in danger, so I looked everywhere for him. He was fourteen years old, only that, at least he would have been in September, but he seemed to be all of nineteen with his height and his size.
"I asked the Prussians if they had not seen my little scamp. They were leading me off and I feared that they would take me away with them. The Prussians said that somebody had fired on them from my house.
"Your son had a rifle with him and he fired on us, just like the others," they said.
"I answered: 'My little scamp did not do anything, I am sure.'
"'What shirt did he have on?' they asked.
"'A little white shirt with red stripes,' I replied.
"They insisted that he was the one that had fired.
"When the cannonading stopped, the people who had been with me told me that they had seen a young man lying stretched out in the field, but they could not tell who it was. I wanted to see who it was that was lying there dead, and yet I drew back.
"'No,' I said to myself, 'I am too much afraid.'
"But I crossed the field. I saw his cap which had fallen in front of him. I came closer. It was he. He had his hands tied behind his back.
"See. Here is the cord with which he had been killed. For he had not been shot. He had been hanged.
(She held out to us the cord—a coil of small but strong rope.)
"And here is the cap.
(She was holding the gray cap in her two hands.)
"When I saw him, I said to the Prussians:
"'Do the same thing to me now. Without my little scamp I cannot go on. So do the same to me.'
"Three weeks later, I went again to search for my little scamp. I did not find him any more. The French soldiers had buried him with their dead."
THE MAYOR ON THE HILLTOP
We were searching for the Mayor of Clermont, not the official Mayor, but the real Mayor. This war has been a selector of persons. When the Germans came down on the villages, timid officials sometimes ran and left their people to be murdered. Then some quiet curé, or village storekeeper, or nun, took over the leadership. Wherever one of these strong souls has lived in the region of death, in that village he has saved life. When the weak and aged were wild with terror, and hunted to their death, he has spoken bravely and acted resolutely. The sudden rise to power of obscure persons throughout Northern France reminds an American of the life history of Ulysses Grant. So at Clermont, the Mayor took to his heels, but Edouard Jacquemet, then sixty-eight years old, and his wife, stayed through the bonfire of their village and their home. And ever since, they have stayed and administered affairs.
Clermont was a village of one thousand inhabitants. Thirty-eight persons remained—old people, religious sisters and the Jacquemets. The Germans burned 195 houses. The credit falls equally to a corps of Uhlans with the Prince of Wittgenstein at their head, and to the XIII corps from Württemberg, commanded by General von Urach. The particular regiments were the 121st and 122d Infantry.
We inquired of soldiers where we could find the Mayor.
"He is up above," they said. We were glad to leave the hot little village, with its swarms of flies, its white dust that lay on top of the roadbed in thick, puffy heaps, and its huddles of ruined houses. Each whirring camion, minute by minute, grinding its heavy wheels into the crumbling road, lifted white mists of dust, which slowly drifted upon the leaves of trees, the grass of the meadows, and the faces of soldiers. Eyebrows were dusted, hair went white, mustaches grew fanciful. Nature and man had lost all variety, all individuality. They were powdered as if for a Colonial ball. The human eye and the eyes of cattle and horses were the only things that burned with their native color through that veil of white that lay on Clermont.
We went up a steep, shaded hill, where the clay still held the summer rains. The wheels of our car buzzed on the slush—"All out," and we did the last few hundred yards on foot. We were bringing the Mayor good news. The Rosette of the Legion of Honor had just been granted him.
We found him in a little vine-covered old stone house on the hilltop, where he took refuge after his village was burned. He wept when my friend told him that the emblem of the highest honor in France was on its way.
"It means I have done something for my country," he said.
He is a cripple with one leg short. He goes on crutches, but he goes actively. He has fulfilled his life. His sons are fighting for France, and he, too, has served, and his service has been found acceptable in her sight. He is bright and cheery, very patient and sweet, with that gentleness which only goes with high courage. But underneath that kindliness and utter acceptance of fate, I felt that "deep lake of sadness," which comes to one whose experience has been over-full.
So we came through the dust of the plain and the clay of the climb to a good green place. It is a tiny community set on a hill. That hill was covered with stately trees—a lane of them ran down the center of the plateau, as richly green and fragrant as the choicest pine grove of New England. The head of the lane lost itself in a smother of low-lying bushes and grasses, lush-green and wild. But just before it broke into lawlessness, one stout tree, standing alone, shot up; and tacked to its stalwart trunk, this notice fronts the armies of France:
"Cantonnement de Clermont.
"Il est formellement interdit aux visiteurs ou autres d'attacher des chevaux aux arbres. Toute dégradation aux arbres sera sevèrement reprimée.
"Ordre du Commandant de Cantonnement.
"It is absolutely forbidden to visitors or anybody else to tie their horses to the trees. Any damage to the trees will be severely punished.
"By order of the Commander."
Little strips of bark from the protected tree framed the notice.
There was the voice of France, mindful of the eternal compulsions of beauty, even under the guns. No military necessity must destroy a grove. In the wreckage of almost every precious value in that Argonne village, the one perfect thing remaining must be cherished.
Nowhere else have I ever seen that combination of wildness and stateliness, caught together in one little area, except on some hill crest of New Hampshire. For the first time in two years I felt utterly at home. This was the thing I knew from childhood. Nothing that happened here could seem strange. Nothing spoken in that grove of firs would fall in an alien tongue. The lane was doubly flanked by great growths, planted in 1848—the inner line of cypresses, the outer windshield of fir trees. One lordly fir had been blown down by a shell, and cut up for kindling. Other shell-holes pitted the grove. We were standing on an historic spot. In the XIV century, Yolande of Flanders built her castle here, high above danger. She was the Countess of Bar-le-Duc, the Catherine de Medici of her district. When a little village to the North protested at her heavy taxes, she burned the village. The Bishop sent two vicars to expostulate. She drowned the two vicars, then built three churches in expiation, one more for good measure than the number of vicars, and died in the odor of sanctity. One of her chapels is on the plateau where we were standing. On the outer wall is a sun dial in colors, with a Latin inscription around the rim.
"As many darts as there are hours. Fear only one dart, the last one."
So the old illuminator had written on this Chapel of Saint Anne.
"Only one shell will get you—your own shell. No need to worry till that comes, and then you won't worry," how often the soldiers of France have said that to me, as they go forward in their blithe fatalism.
Little did the hand that groined that chapel aisle and fashioned that inscription in soft blue and gold know in what sad sincerity his words would fall true. When he lettered in his message for the hidden years, he never thought it would speak centuries away to the intimate experience of fighting men on the very spot, and that his hilltop would be gashed with shell-pits where the great 220's had come searching, till the one fated shell should find its mark.
The Mayor led me down the grove, his crutches sinking into the conifer bed of the lane. From the rim of the plateau, we looked out on one of the great panoramas of France. The famous roads from Varenne and Verdun come into Clermont and pass out to Chalons and Paris. Clermont is the channel through the heart of France. From here the way lies straight through Verdun to Metz and Mayence. We could see rolling fields, and mounting hills, ridge on ridge, for distances of from twelve to twenty-five miles. To the South-East, the East, and the North and the West, the sweep of land lay under us and in front of us: an immense brown and green bountiful farm country. There we were, lifted over the dust and strife. In a practice field, grenades clattered beneath us. From over the horizon line, the guns that nest from Verdun to the Somme grumbled like summer thunder.
"I have four sons in the war," said the Mayor. "One is a doctor. He is now a prisoner with the Germans. The other three are Hussar, Infantry and Artillery."
We turned back toward the house. His wife was walking a little ahead of us, talking vivaciously with a couple of officers.
"My wife," he went on, "has the blood of four races in her, English, Greek, Spanish and French. She is a very energetic woman, and brave. She is a soul. She is a somebody. (Elle est une âme. Elle est quelqu'un.)"
We talked with her. She is brown-eyed and of an olive skin, with gayety and ever-changing expression in the face. But she is near the breaking-point with the grief of her loss, and the constant effort to choke down the hurt. Her laughter goes a little wild. I felt that tears lay close to the lightest thing she said. Her maiden name was Marie-Amélie-Anne Barker.
"When the Germans began to bombard our village," she told me, "my husband and I went down into the cellar. He stayed there a few minutes.
"'Too damp,' he said. He climbed upstairs and sat in the drawing-room through the rest of the bombardment. Every little while I went up to see him, and then came back into the cellar.
"After their bombardment they came in person. In the twilight of early morning they marched in, a very splendid sight, with their great coats thrown over the shoulder. I heard them smash the doors of my neighbors. The people had fled in fright. The soldiers piled the household stuff out in the street. I saw them load a camion with furniture taken from the home of M. Desforges and with material taken from Nordmann, our merchant of novelties.
"A doctor, with the rank of Major, seized the surgical dressings of our hospital, although it was under the Red Cross flag.
"I stood in my door, watching the men go by.
"You are not afraid?" asked one.
"I am not afraid of you," I replied.
"I believed my house would not be burned. It was the house where the German Emperor William the First spent four days in 1870. It was the house where he and Bismarck and Von Moltke mapped out the plan of Sedan. You see it was the finest house in this part of France. Each year since 1871, three or four German officers have come to visit it, taking photographs of it, because of the part it played in their history. I was sure it would not be burned by them.
"I left all my things in it—the silverware, the little trinkets and souvenirs, handed down in my family, and gathered through my lifetime. I said to myself, if I take them out, they will treat it as a deserted house. I will show them we are living there, with everything in sight. I was working through the day at the hospital, caring for the German wounded.
"The soldiers began their burning with the house of a watchmaker. They burned my house. I saw it destroyed bit by bit (morceau par morceau). I saw my husband's study go, and then the drawing-room, and the dining-room. The ivories, the pictures, the bibelots, everything that was dear to me, everything that time had brought me, was burned.
"I said to the German doctor that it was very hard.
"He replied: 'If I had known it was Madame's house, I should have ordered it to be spared.'"
We were silent for a moment. Then Madame Jacquemet said:
"Come and see what we have now."
She led us upstairs to a room which the two beds nearly filled.
"All that I own I keep under the beds," she explained. "See, there are two chairs, two beds. Nothing more. And we had such a beautiful room."
"Why did you burn our homes?" I asked a German officer, after the village was in ruins.
"We didn't burn the place," he answered. "It was French shells that destroyed it."
"I was here," I answered. "There were no French shells."
"The village people fired on our troops," he said.
"I was here," I told him. "The village people did not fire on your troops. The village people ran away."
"An empty town is a town to be pillaged," he explained.
The Mayor took up the story.
"A German officer took me into his room, one day," he said. "He closed the door, and began:
"I am French at heart. I believe that your village was burned as a spectacle for the Crown Prince who has his headquarters over yonder at a village a few kilometers away."
The picture he summoned was so vivid that I said, "Nero—Nero, for whom the destruction of a city and its people was a spectacle. Only this is a little Nero. Out of date and comic, not grandiose and convincing."
Monsieur Jacquemet went on:
"They burned our houses with pastilles, the little round ones with a hole in the middle that jump as they burn. In the Maison Maucolin we found three liters of them. The Thirty-first French Regiment picked them up when they came through, so that no further damage should come of them. The Germans left a sackful in the park belonging to M. Desforges. The sack contained 500 little bags, and each bag had 100 pastilles. Monsieur Grasset threw the sack into water, as a measure of safety."
The Mayor had saved a few pastilles as evidence, and passed one of them around. He has an exact turn of mind. He made out a map of his hilltop, marking with spots and dates the shells that seek his home.
Under one of the oldest of the linden trees—the historian of our party, Lieutenant Madelin, wondered how old: "four, five centuries, perhaps"—we ate an open-air luncheon. Our hosts were the Mayor and his wife. Our fellow-guests were the Captain and the Major—the Major a compact, ruddy, sailor type of man, with the far-seeing look in his blue eyes of one whose gaze comes to focus at the horizon line.
It seemed to me like the simple farm-meals I had so often eaten on the New England hills, in just that rapid sunlight playing through the leaves of great trees, in just that remote clean lift above the dust and hurt of things. I thought to myself, I shall always see the beauty of this little hill rising clear of the ruin of its village.
Then we said good-by, and I saw on the doorstep, sitting motionless and dumb, the mother of a soldier. Her white hair was almost vivid against the decent somber black of her hood, and dress. There was a great patience in her figure, as she sat resting her chin on her hand and looking off into the trees, as if time was nothing any more. For many days the carpenters had not been able to work fast enough to make coffins for the dead of Clermont. She was waiting on the Mayor's doorstep for the coffin of her son.
THE LITTLE CORPORAL
We were in the barracks of the Eighth Regiment of Artillery. They have been converted into a home for refugees, but the old insignia of famous victories still adorn the walls. We were talking with Madame Derlon. She is a refugee from Pont-à-Mousson, widowed by German severity. But unlike so many women of Lorraine whom I met, she still could look to her line continuing. For while she sat, slightly bent over and tired, Charles, her fifteen-year-old son ("fifteen and a half, Monsieur"), stood tall and straight at her side. While the mother told me her story, I looked up from her and saw on the wall the escutcheon of the Regiment, and I read in illuminated letters the names of the battles in which it had fought:
At the beginning of the war, her husband was ferryman of the Moselle, she said. He carried civilians and soldiers across. Their little son, then thirteen years old, liked to be near him, and watch the river and the passing of people. The boy had discovered a cellar under the bridge—a fine underground room, well-vaulted, where boy-like he had hidden tobacco and where he often stayed for hours, dreaming of the bold things he would do when his time came, and he would be permitted to enlist. His day was closer than he guessed. A cave is as wonderful to a French boy as it was to Tom Sawyer. Sometimes he made a full adventure of it and slept the night through there.
During the early battles, the bridge had been blown up. So Father Derlon was kept very busy ferrying peasants and stray soldiers from bank to bank. One day three German patrols came along. Charles was standing by the bridge, watching his father sitting in the wherry. The boy stepped down into his underground room to get some tobacco. He was gone only five minutes. When he came back, the three Germans said to him:
"Your father is dead."
It was so. They had climbed the bridge, and fired three times; one explosive bullet had entered the ferryman's head, and two had shattered his arm. The Germans said he had been carrying soldiers across, and that it was wrong to carry soldiers.
"The little one came home crying," said Madame Derlon. "Since that moment, the little one left home without telling me. He did not send me any news of himself. I searched everywhere to try to find a trace of him. Monsieur Louis Marin, the Deputy, told me he had seen a boy like my little one following the soldiers. Actually he had been adopted by the 95th Territorial Regiment."
He told the soldiers that he had just seen his father killed by the Germans. One of the captains took him under his protection. The boy insisted on becoming a fighter. He was brave and they made him Corporal. He fell wounded in action, winning the Croix de Guerre.
Charles Derlon, the little Corporal of the 95th Infantry, has a bright open face, but it is a face into which has passed the look of responsibility. In one moment, he became a man, and he has that quiet dignity of a boy whom older men respect and make a comrade of. He holds himself with the trim shoulders and straight carriage of a little soldier of France.
One of us asked him:
"And weren't you afraid, my boy, of the fight?"
"It is all the same to me," he replied, "when I get used to it."
"And why," we pressed him, "did you run away without going to your mother? Didn't you think she might be anxious?"
"Because I knew very well," he said, "that she would not want to let me go."
"And you are away from the army now, 'on permission'?" we asked.
Very proudly he answered:
"No, Monsieur. I am on leave of convalescence for three months. I have been wounded in three places, two wounds in my arm, and one in my leg."
THE GOOD CURÉ
What was true of Joan of Arc is true to-day. There is no leadership like the power of a holy spirit. It lends an edge to the tongue in dealing with unworthy enemies. It gives dignity to sudden death. Religion, where it is sincere, is still a mighty power in the lives of simple folk to lift them to greatness. Out beyond Rheims, at the front line trenches, the tiny village of Bétheny is knocked to pieces. The parish church is entirely destroyed except for the front wall. Against that wall, an altar has been built, where the men of the front line gather for service. Over the altar I read the words
Que le Cœur de Jésus sauve la France.
In that name many in France are working. Such a one is Paul Viller, curé of Triaucourt. The burning of the village is the world's end for a peasant, because the village was his world. When the peasants of Triaucourt saw their little local world rocking, they turned to the curé. He was ready.
"It is better to run," said the Mayor; "they kill, those Germans."
As the curé said to the German lieutenant who tried to force him up the bell-tower, "That ascension will give me the vertigo," so he felt about running away: his legs were not built for it. He would like to "oblige," but he was not fashioned for such flights.
Curé Viller is 55 years old, short and ruddy and sturdy. In his books and his travel, and wellgrounded Latin education, he is far removed from the simple villagers he serves. But he has learned much from them. He has taken on their little ways. He has their simplicity which is more distinguished than the manners of cities. With them and with him I felt at home. That is because he was at home with himself, at home in life. His house was full of travel pictures—Brittany fishermen and nooks of scenery. He had the magazine litter, scattered through all the rooms, of a reading man who cannot bear to destroy one printed thing that has served a happy hour. His volumes ranged through theology up to the history of Thiers. His desk was the desk of an executive, orderly, pigeon-holed, over which the transactions of a village flow each day. A young priest entered and stated a case of need. The curé opened a little drawer, peeled off five franc notes from a bundle, and saw the young man to the door. It was as clean-cut as the fingering of a bank-cashier. The only difference was the fine courtesy exchanged by the men.
The curé talked with us about the Germans. We asked him how the peasants felt toward them, after the burning and the murders.
"I will tell you how the village electrician felt," replied he. "He came back after the troops had left and took a look about the village.
"'If I ever get hold of those Germans, I'll chew them up,' he said to me.
"'Some of them are still here,' I replied.
"'Show them to me quick,' he demanded.
"'They are in the church—grievously wounded.'
"We went there. A German was lying too high on his stretcher, groaning from his wound and the uncomfortable position.
"'Here, you, what are you groaning about?' thundered the electrician. He lit a cigarette and puffed at it, as he glared at his enemy.
"'Uncomfortable, are you? I'll fix you,' he went on, sternly. Very gently he eased the German down into the softer part of the stretcher, and tucked in his blankets.
"'Now, stop your groaning,' he commanded. He stood there a moment in silence, then burst out again angrily:
"'What are you eyeing me for? Want a cigarette, do you?'
"He pulled out a cigarette, put it in the lips of the wounded man and lit it. Then he came home with me and installed electric lights for me. That was the way he chewed up the Germans.
"As for me, I lost twenty pounds of weight because of those fellows. After they have been in a room, it is a chaos: men's clothing, women's undergarments, petticoats, skirts, shoes, napkins, cloths, hats, papers, boxes, trunks, curtains, carpets, furniture overturned and broken, communicants' robes—everything in a mess. I have seen them take bottles of gherkins, cherries, conserves of vegetables, pots of grease, lard, hams, everything they could eat or drink. What they couldn't carry, they destroyed. They opened the taps of wine casks, barrels of oil and vinegar, and set flowing the juice of fruits ready for distillation.
"The official pillage of precious objects which are to be sent to Germany is directed by an officer. He has a motor car and men. I have sometimes asked for vouchers for the objects, stolen in that way. The vouchers are marked with the signature of the officer doing the requisitioning, and with the stamp of the regiment. But who will do the paying, and when will they do it? The plunderer who takes bottles of wine gives vouchers. I have seen some of them which were playfully written in German, reading:
"'Thanks, good people, we will drink to your health.'
"They don't always have good luck with their pillage. A Boche, who is an amateur of honey, rummages a hive. The valiant little bees hurl themselves on the thief and give him such a face that he can't open his mouth or his eyes for a couple of days. A Boche once held out to me a handful of papers which he took for checks of great value. They were receipts filched from the drawers of Madame Albert Fautellier. The biter was well bitten.
"When the Germans entered my house they held revolvers in their hand. It is so always and everywhere. If all they are asking of you is a match, or a word of advice, the Boche takes out his revolver from its holster, and plunges it back in, when he has got what he wishes. With a revolver bullet he shoots a steer, and knocks down a pig with the butt of his rifle. The animals are skinned. He doesn't take anything but the choice morsels. He leaves the rest in the middle of the street, or a court or garden, the head, the carcass and the hide."
No man in France had a busier time during the German occupation than this village curé. He went on with his recital:
"On Sunday morning, the Germans set our church clock by German time, but the bell was recalcitrant and continued to sound the French hour, while the hands galloped on according to their whim. While they were here, the hour didn't matter. We lost all notion of time. We hardly knew what day it was. My cellar is deep and well vaulted. I placed there a pick-ax, spades and a large shovel. Every precaution was taken. I placed chairs, and brought down water. Wax tapers, jammed in the necks of empty bottles, gave us light enough. That Sunday and the days following I had the pleasure of offering hospitality to 76 persons. My parishioners knew that my home was wide open to them. When you are in numbers, you have less fear.
"The men went into the garden to listen and see whether the battle was coming closer. I recited the rosary in a loud tone. The little children knelt on their knees on the pavement and prayed. Cavalry and infantry passed my door in silence. Once only, I heard the Teutons chanting; it was the third day of the battle: a regiment, muddy and frightened, reentered Friaucourt chanting.
"The hours go slowly. Suddenly we saw to the East a high column of smoke. Can that be the village of Evres on fire? I think it is, but to reassure my people I tell them that it is a flax-mill burning, or the smoke of cannon. At night we sleep on chairs. The children lie down on an immense carpet, which I fold over them, and in that portfolio they are able to sleep.
"Monday was a day of glorious sunshine. Nature seemed to be en fête. After I had buried seven French and German dead, and was walking home, I saw coming toward me Madame Procès, her daughter Hélène, in tears, a German officer and a soldier. The officer asked me:
"'Do you know these ladies?'
"'Very well,' I answered, 'they are honest people of my parish.'
"'All right. This soldier has not shown proper respect to the young lady. He will be rebuked. If he had gone further he would be shot.'
"The officer then reprimanded the soldier in my presence. The man, stiff at attention, listened to the rebuke in such a resentful, hateful way that I thought to myself there is going to be trouble. The soldier, his rifle over his shoulder, went toward the Mayor's office.
"About twenty minutes later I heard firing from the direction of the Mayor's office, two shots, several shots, then a regular fusilade. The sullen soldier had gone down there, clapped his hand to his head, said he was wounded, and fired. When I heard the first firing, I thought it was only one more of their performances. I had seen them kill a cow and a pig in the street by shooting them.
"But at the sound of these shots the Germans ran out from the houses and the streets, rifle and revolver in hand, shouting to me:
"'Your people have fired on us.'
"I protested with all my power, saying that all our arms had been put in the Mayor's office, and that no one of us had done the firing. But they only shouted the louder:
"'Your people have fired on us.'
"Flames broke out in the homes of Mr. Edouard Gand, and Mr. Gabriel Géminel. We saw the Boches set them on fire with incendiary fuses. Later on, we found the remnants of those fuses.
"Women began running to me, weeping and saying:
"'Curé, save my father.' 'My child is in the flames.' 'They are killing my children.'
"The shooting went on. The fire spread and made a hot cauldron of two streets. Cattle and crops and houses burned.
"Then a strange thing happened. Some Germans aided in saving clothing and furniture from two or three of the houses. But most of them watched the destruction, standing silent and showing neither pleasure nor regret. I could tell it was no new sight for them. In two hours, there was nothing left of the thirty-five houses on two streets.
"Our people ran out, chased by angry Germans who fired on them as if they were hunter's game. Jules Gand, 58 years old, was shot down at the threshold of his door. A seventeen-year-old boy named Georges Lecourtier, taking refuge with me, was shot. Alfred Lallemand hid himself in a kitchen. His body was riddled with bullets. We found it burned and lying in the rubbish, eight days later. He was 54 years old. Men, women and children fled into the gardens and the fields. They forded the river without using the bridge which was right there. They ran as far as Brizeaux and Senard. My cook ran. She had a packet of my bonds, which I had given her for safe-keeping, and she had a basket of her own valuables. In her fear she threw away her basket, and kept my bonds.
"The daughter of one of our women, shot in this panic, came to me and said:
"'My mother had fifty thousand francs, somewhere about her.'
"The body had been buried in haste, with none of the usual rites paid the dead, of washing and undressing. So no examination had been made. We dug the body up and found a bag.
"'Is that the bag?' I asked the daughter.
"'It looks like it,' she replied. It was empty.
"A day later we found another bag in the dead woman's room, and in it were the bonds for fifty thousand francs. That shows the haste and panic in which our people had fled, picking up the wrong thing, leaving the thing of most value.
"It was in the garden of the Procès family that the worst was done. It was Hélène Procès, you remember, who was insulted by the German soldier. The grandmother, 78 years old, Miss Laure Mennehand, the aunt, who was 81 years old, the mother, 40 years old, and Hélène, who was 18, ran down the garden. They placed a little ladder against the low wire fence which separated their back yard from their neighbor's. Hélène was the first one over, and turned to help the older women. The Germans had followed them, and riddled the three women with bullets. They fell one on the other. Hélène hid herself in the cabbages.
"That same evening some of the villagers went with me to the garden. The women looked as if they were sleeping. They had no trace of suffering in the face. Miss Mennehand had her little toilet bag, containing 1,000 francs, fastened to her left wrist, and was still holding her umbrella in her right hand. Her brains had fallen out. I collected them on a salad leaf and buried them in the garden.
"We carried the three bodies to their beds in their home. In one bed, as I opened it, I saw a gold watch lying. From Monday evening till Wednesday morning, the bodies lay there, with no wax taper burning, and no one to watch and pray. By night the Germans played the piano, close by.
"'Your people fired on our soldiers,' said a Captain to me next day. 'I'll show you the window.'
"He led me down the street, and pointed.
"'It is unfortunate you have chosen that window,' I replied to him; 'at the time you started burning our village the only person in the house was a paralytic man, who was burned in his bed.'
"It was the house of Jean Lecourtier, 70 years old.
"In front of the Poincaré house, I met a General, who, they said, was the Duke of Württemberg. He said to me:
"'I am glad to see you, Curé. I congratulate you. You are the first chaplain I have seen. Generally, when we get to a village, the mayor and the curé have run away. We officers are angry at what has taken place here. You have treated us well.'
"'Perhaps you will be able to stop the horror,' I said to him.
"'Ah, what can you expect? It is war. There are bad soldiers in your army and in ours.'
"The next day I saw him getting ready to enter a magnificent car. His arm was bandaged.
"'You are wounded, General?' I asked him.
"'No, not that,' he answered.
"'A strained ligament (entorse)?' I asked.
"'No,' he said, 'don't tell me the French word,' He opened a pocket dictionary with his unhurt hand, wetting his finger and turning the pages.
"'It is a sprain (luxation),' he said.
"That is the way they learn a language as they go along.
"'You are leaving us?' I asked.
"Yes, I am going to my own country to rest."
The afternoon had passed while we were talking. We rose to make our good-bys.
"Come with me," said the curé. He led us down the village street, to a small house, whose backyard is a little garden on the little river. All the setting was small and homelike and simple, like the village itself and the curé. A young woman stepped out from the kitchen to greet us.
"This is the girl," said Father Viller. Hélène Procès is twenty years old, with the dark coloring, soft, slightly olive skin, brown eyes, of a thousand other young women in the valley of the Meuse. But the look in her eyes was the same look that a friend of mine carries, though it is now twelve years since the hour when her mother was burned to death on board the General Slocum. Sudden horror has fixed itself on the face of this girl of Triacourt, whose mother and grandmother and aunt were shot in front of her in one moment.
She led us through the garden. There were only a few yards of it: just a little homely place. She brought us to the fence—a low wire affair, cheaply made, and easy to get over.
"The bullets were splashing around me," she said.
The tiny river, which had hardly outgrown its beginnings as a brook, went sliding past. It seemed a quiet place for a tragedy.
THE THREE-YEAR-OLD WITNESS
Two persons came in the room at Lunéville where I was sitting. One was Madame Dujon, and the other was her granddaughter. Madame Dujon had a strong umbrella, with a crook handle. Her tiny granddaughter had a tiny umbrella which came as high as her chin. As the grandmother talked, the sadness of the remembrance filled her eyes with tears. Her voice had pain in it, and sometimes the pain, in spite of her control, came through in sobbing. The little girl's face was burned, and the wounds had healed with scars of ridged flesh on the little nose and cheek. The emotion of the grandmother passed over into the child. With a child's sensitiveness she caught each turn of the suffering. Troubled by the voice overhead, she looked up and saw the grandmother's eyes filled with tears. Her eyes filled. When her grandmother, telling of the dying boy, sobbed, the tiny girl sobbed. The story of the murder tired the grandmother, and she leaned on her umbrella. The little girl put her chin on her tiny umbrella, and rested it there.
Madame Dujon said:
"I will try to tell you the beginning of what I have passed through, Monsieur, but I do not promise that I shall arrive at the end. It is too hard. The day of the twenty-fifth of August, which was a Monday——"
As she spoke her words were cut by sobs. She went on:
"When the Germans came to our house, my son had to go all over the house to find things that they wanted. I did not understand them, and they were becoming menacing. I said to them:
"'I am not able to do any better. Fix things yourself. I give you everything here. I am going to a neighbor's house.'"
She went with the tiny grand-girl, who was three years old, her son, Lucien, fourteen years old, and another son, sixteen. The Germans came here too, breaking in the windows, and firing their rifles. The house was by this time on fire. The face of the little girl was burned.
"My poor boys wished to make their escape, but the fourteen-year-old was more slow than the other, because the little fellow was a bit paralyzed, and he already had his hands and body burned. He tried to come out as far as the pantry. I saw the poor little thing stretched on the ground, dying.
"'My God,' he said, 'leave me. I am done for. Mamma, see my bowels.'
"I saw his bowels. They were hanging like two pears from the sides of his stomach. Just then the Germans came, shooting. I said to them:
"'He has had enough.'
"The little one turned over and tried to get the strength to cry out to them:
"'Gang of dirty——' ("Bande de sal——")
"Every one called to us to come out of the fire. The fire was spreading all over the house. I did not want to understand what they were saying. I went upstairs again where the little girl was, to try to save her (see still the marks which she received). I succeeded, not without hurt, in carrying away the little girl out of the flames.
"I had to leave my boy in the flames, and, like a mad person, save myself with the little girl.
"I have two sons-in-law, of whom one is the father of this little girl here. Look at her face marked with scars."
"Yes. They burned me," said the tiny girl. She held up her hand to the scars on her face.
"My other little boy escaped from the fire. He was hidden all one day in a heap of manure. He did not wish to make me sad by telling how his brother had cried out to die."
Madame Dujon sobbed quietly and could not go on for a moment. The little girl put her chin on her little umbrella, and her eyes filled with tears. The Mayor of Lunéville, Monsieur Keller, said to us:
"Madame has not told you—the Germans finished off the poor child. Seeing that he was nearly dead, they threw him into the fire and closed the door."
MIRMAN AND "MES ENFANTS"
When I went across to France there was one man whom I wished to meet. It was the Prefect of the Meurthe-et-Moselle. I wanted to meet him because he is in charge of the region where German frightfulness reached its climax. Leon Mirman has maintained a high morale in that section of France which has suffered most, and which has cause for despair. Here it was that the Germans found nothing that is human alien to their hate. When they encountered a nun, a priest, or a church, they reacted to the sacred thing and to the religious person with desecration, violation and murder. But that was only because there were many Roman Catholics in the district. They had no race or religious prejudice. When they came to Lunéville there was a synagogue and a rabbi. They burned the synagogue and killed the rabbi. As the sun falling round a helpless thing, their hate embraced all grades of weakness in Lorraine. In Nomeny they distinguished themselves by a fury against women. In some of the villages they specialized in pillage. Others they burned with zeal. Badonviller, Nonhigny, Parux, Crevic, Nomeny, Gerbéviller—the list of the villages of Meurthe-et-Moselle is a tale of the shame of Germany and of the suffering of France.
But not of suffering only. At no place is France stronger than at this point of greatest strain. The district is dotted with great names of the humble—names unknown before the war, and now to be known for as long as France is France. Here Sister Julie held back the German Army and saved her wounded from the bayonet. Here the staunch Mayor of Lunéville and his good wife stayed with their people through the German occupation.
Leon Mirman is the Prefect of all this region. He was Director of Public Charities in Paris, but when war broke out he asked to be sent to the post of danger. So he was sent to the city of Nancy to rule the Department of Meurthe-et-Moselle. The Prefect of a Department in France is the same as the Governor of a State in America. But his office in peace is as nothing compared to his power in time of war. He can suspend a Mayor and remove an entire population from one village to another. The morale of France for that section is dependent on the reaction he makes to danger and stress.
The answer of the ravaged region to the murder and the burning is a steadiness of courage, a busy and sane life of normal activity. Beautiful Nancy still lifts her gates of gold in the Place of Stanislaus. The lovely light of France falls softly on the white stone front of the municipal buildings, and from their interior comes a throbbing energy that spreads through the hurt district. The Prefect's houses for refugees are admirably conducted. School "keeps" for the children of Pont-à-Mousson on a quiet country road, while their mothers still live in cellars in the bombarded town, busy with the sewing which has made their home famous. They are embroidering table cloths and napkins, and Americans are buying their work. They are not allowed any longer to be happy, but they can go on creating beauty. None of their trouble need escape into the clean white linen and the delicate needle-work, and the Bridge of Pont-à-Mousson embosses the centerpiece as proudly as if the town had not been pounded by heavy shells for two years.
But the parents were agreed on one thing: it was no place for children. So these and other hundreds of little ones have been brought together. The Prefect means that these children, some of whom have seen their homes burned, their mothers hunted by armed men, shall have the evil memory wiped out. He is working that they shall have a better chance than if the long peace had continued. The simple homely things are going on, as if the big guns could not reach in.
I attended the classes of domestic science, where little girls plan menus for the family meal. Overhead, the aeroplanes spot the sky. Three times in my days in the district they came and "laid their eggs," in the phrase of the soldiers. Sometimes a mother is killed, sometimes a sister, but the peaceful work goes on. The blackboard is scribbled over with chalk. Piping voices repeat their lesson. I saw the tiny boys at school. I saw the older boys working at trades. Some of them were busy at carpentry, remaking the material for their own village, bureaus, tables and chairs. We talked with boys and girls from Nomeny, where the slaughter fell on women with peculiar severity. These children had seen the Germans come in. Wherever I went I met children who had seen the hand grenades thrown, their homes burning. I visited many hundreds of these children at school. They are orderly and busy. It will take more than fire and murder from unjust men to spoil life for the new generation of France. For that insolence has released a good will in a greater race than the race that sought to offend these little ones.
And the same care has been put on the older refugees. I saw the barracks of the famous Twentieth Army Corps—the Iron Divisions—and of the Eighth Artillery used for this welfare work. Mirman has taken these poor herds of refugees and restored their community life in the new temporary quarters. Here they have a hospital, a church and a cinema. He is turning the evil purpose of the Germans into an instrument for lifting his people higher than if they had known only happiness. Beyond the great power and authority of his office he is loved. The Prefect is a good man, simple and high-minded.
He has given me the statement that follows for the American people. Let us remember in reading it that it comes from the highest official in France in charge of the region where systematic atrocity was practiced in an all-inclusive way. On this chance section of the world's great area, a supreme and undeserved suffering fell. Monsieur Mirman makes here the first official statement of the war on the subject of reprisals. There is something touching in his desire for our understanding. France hoped we would see her agony with the eyes she once turned toward us. She still hopes on, and sends this message of her representative:
"I wish you to understand in what spirit we began the war in France, and especially in this district. It was our intention to follow the rules of what you call in English 'Fair Play.' We wished to carry on the war as we had carried on other wars, to our risk and peril, with all the loyalties of fighting men. But from the start we have been faced with men whom we are unable to consider as soldiers, who have conducted themselves in a section of our Department as veritable outlaws. You are not going, unfortunately, to Nomeny, which is a town of this Department where the Germans have committed the worst of their atrocities. At least you will go to Gerbéviller, where they burned the houses, one by one, and put to death old men, women and children.
"Mention is often made of these two townships where the inhabitants suffered the most severely from the invasion of the enemy, but in many other townships, a long list, the Germans acted in the same way. They burned the streets, they killed men, women and children without cause. Always they gave the pretext, to excuse themselves, that the civilian population had fired on them. On that point, I bring you my personal testimony: I say to you on my honor that this German allegation is absolutely false.
"At my request I was appointed the Prefect of Meurthe-et-Moselle on August 9, 1914. In all the townships of this Department, on my arrival, I requested in the most urgent terms that the inhabitants should not give way to restlessness, and should not resort to a single act which I called an unruly act, by themselves taking direct part in the war. I made those requests in perfect agreement with all the population, approved by the most ardent patriots. I held inquiries, frequent and detailed, to find out if my instructions had been respected. Not once have I been able to establish the fact that a civilian fired on the Germans.
"If isolated instances of that sort did take place, they could not be admitted as justifying the total of systematic crimes committed by the Germans, but I have not been able to lay hold of a single instance.
"I will cite two incidents which will mark out for you, in a clear-cut way, what I believe to be "the French method."
"At the beginning of the war a German aviator threw bombs on a town near Nancy. The Mayor, revolted, went to the town-hall, where the arms had been deposited, and took a hunting rifle and fired at the aviator. It is clear that the German aviator was committing a crime contrary to all the laws of war, but I held that the Mayor of that town, by himself firing in that way on a criminal, was disobeying the laws of his country. I proceeded to disciplinary measures against the Mayor: I suspended him from office for many weeks.
"Another incident: In the first days of August, 1914, the Germans entering Badonviller, exasperated perhaps by the resistance which our soldiers of the rear-guard gave them, or simply wishing to leave a token of their Kultur, and to terrorize the population, burned part of the village, and fired on the inhabitants as if they were rabbits.
"I arrived the next day. The French troops had reentered Badonviller and had taken some German soldiers prisoner. The prisoners were being led to the town-hall. The fires had not yet been put out, and the women whom the Germans had murdered were still unburied.
"The Mayor had seen the terrible spectacle. He had seen his young wife murdered at his doorstep in front of her little children. He himself had suffered violence. But he had stuck to his post, and had continued to carry on the affairs of his town. While the prisoners were being led along the inhabitants of Badonviller, who had seen these crimes, recognized the prisoners and surrounded them, threatening them and crying out against them. The Mayor threw himself resolutely between the prisoners and his people. This Mayor, who had had his own flesh and blood murdered and his heart torn, declared with emphasis that those prisoners, no matter what crimes they had committed, were protected by the law, and that it was not permitted to any civilian to touch a hair of their head.
"Because he had called to order some of his people whose anger was natural enough, because he had respected the law under trying conditions, I asked that this Mayor should be decorated, and the French Government decreed for him the cross of the Legion of Honor. He was rewarded in this way, not for having carried out criminal violence according to the German method, but on the contrary for preventing, by coolness and force of will, reprisals made against enemy prisoners.
"By these examples, and I could cite many others, you will be able to estimate the ideas with which the French began the war.
"The French in more than one instance have run against, not armies, but veritable bands organized for crime. I say 'organized,' and that is the significant fact. In a war when individual accidental excesses are committed, tragic situations, to be sure, arise, but we ought not to conclude that we have found ourselves face to face with a general organization of cruelty and destruction.
"In the townships of which I am speaking, it is by the order of the heads that the crimes have been committed. They are not the crimes of individuals: there has been a genuine organization of murder. It is that which will be thrown into the light by the testimony which you will gather—notably at Gerbéviller.
"Then I call your attention to what the city of Nancy has suffered in violation of the laws of humanity since the beginning of the war.
"From the beginning of August, 1914, Nancy has been empty of troops, the numerous barracks have been converted into hospitals; some were used as asylums for our refugees. Nothing remained at Nancy, nothing has come since then. You won't find at the present time a single cannon, a single depot of ammunition, no fortification, no military work. For a garrison there are some dozens of old territorials, barely sufficient in number to keep order.
"On the Fourth of September an enemy aviator threw bombs on the square where the Cathedral stands, killing a little girl and an old man.
"A few days later, knowing that they were not going to be able to enter Nancy, furious at the thought that they would soon be forced to retire and that they must give up their cherished dreams, in the night of the ninth and tenth of September, those unfortunate men advanced two pieces of artillery under cover of a storm, bombarded our peaceful city, and ripped to pieces houses in various quarters of the town, murdering women and children.
"A military point to that bombardment? I challenge any one to state it. Act of cruelty, simply, an act of outlawry.
"Ever since then acts against Nancy are multiplied. The list is long of victims stricken in Nancy by the bombs of Zeppelins, of aeroplanes, and by the shells of the 380, shot for now many months by a long-range gun. All the victims are civilians, mostly women and children. I repeat to you that the city of Nancy is empty of soldiers.
"And what I say of Nancy is true of the other towns, particularly at Lunéville, where a bomb falling in the full market killed 45 persons, of whom 40 were women.
"Adding childishness to violence, with a craving for the histrionic, obsessed by the desire to strike the imagination (or let us say more simply having the souls of 'cabotins'), these outlaws have conceived the bombardment of Nancy by a 380 cannon on the first of January—New Year's, the day of gifts—and on the first of July. In that New Year bombardment they so arranged it that the first shell fell on Nancy at the last stroke of midnight. I will show the little furnished house which that shell crushed, killing six persons, of whom four were women.
"For a long while we were content to suffer those crimes, protesting in the name of law. We did not wish to defend ourselves. We shrink from the thought of reprisals. But public opinion ended by forcing the hand of the Government. Unanimously the nation has demanded that, each time an undefended French town is bombarded by the Germans by aeroplane, Zeppelin or cannon, a reply shall be made to that violation of the laws of war and of the rights of humanity by the bombardment of a German town.
"I wish to say to you, and I beg you to make it known to your noble nation: it is not with serenity that we see our French soldiers do that work. It is with profound sadness that we resign ourselves to those reprisals. Those methods of defense are imposed upon us. Since all considerations of humanity are to-day alien to the German soul, we are reduced for the protection of our wives and our children to the policy of reprisals and to the assassination in our turn of the children and the women in Germany. The Germans have vociferously rejoiced in the crimes committed by their soldiers; they have made an illumination for the day of the Lusitania crime; they have delighted in the thought that on the first of January the children of Nancy received, as New Year's presents, shells from a 380 cannon. The acts of reprisal to which we are forced do not rejoice us in the least; they sadden us. We speak of them with soberness. And we have here reason for hating Kultur all the more. We French hate the Germans less for the crimes which they have committed on us than for the acts of violence contrary to the laws of war which they have forced us to commit in our turn, and for the reprisals on their children and their women.
"I thank you for having come here. You will look about you, you will ask questions, you will easily see the truth. That truth you will make known to your great and free nation. We shall await with confidence the judgment of its conscience."
AN APPEAL TO THE SMALLER AMERICAN COMMUNITIES
Burned villages are like ruins of an ancient civilization. To wander through them was as if I were stepping among the bones of a dead age. Only the green fields that flowed up to the wrecked cottages and the handful of sober-faced peasants—only these were living in that belt of death that cuts across the face of France, like the scar from a whip on a prisoner's cheek. French soil is sacred to a Frenchman. I saw a little shop with pottery and earthenware in the window: vases, and jars, and toilet cases. The sign read:
"La terre de nos Grés—c'est la même terre que défendent nos soldats dans les tranchées."
("The earth which made these wares is the same earth which our soldiers defend in the trenches.")
I want the people at home to understand this war. So I am telling of it in terms that are homely. I asked the authorities to let me wander through the villages and talk with the inhabitants. What a village suffers, what a storekeeper suffers, will mean something to my friends in Iowa and Connecticut. Talk of artillery duels with big guns and bayonet charges through barbed wire falls strangely on peaceful ears. But what a druggist's wife has seen, what a school-teacher tells, will come home to Americans in Eliot, Maine, and down the Mississippi Valley. What one cares very much to reach is the solid silent public opinion of the smaller cities, the towns and villages. The local storekeeper, the village doctor, the farmer, these are the men who make the real America—the America which responds slowly but irresistibly to a sound presentation of facts. The alert newspaper editor, the hustling real-estate man, the booster for a better-planned town, these citizens shape our public opinion. If once our loyal Middle Westerners know the wrong that has been done people just like themselves, they will resent it as each of us resents it that has seen it. This is no dim distant thing. This is a piece of cold-planned injustice by murder and fire done to our friends in the sister republic. I should like a representative committee from South Norwalk, Conn., Emporia, Kansas, and Sherman, Texas, to see Gerbéviller as I have seen it, to walk past its 475 burned houses, to talk with its impoverished but spirited residents. I should like them to catch the spirit of Sermaize, building its fresh little red-brick homes out of the rubble of the wrecked place.
I had thought that I had some slight idea of French spirit. I had thought that five months with their soldiers at Melle, Dixmude, and Nieuport had given me a hint of France in her hour of greatness. But I found that not even the cheery first line men, not even the democratic officers, are the best of France. They are lovable and wonderful. But the choicest persons in France are the women in the devastated districts. They can make or break morale. What the people back of the trenches are feeling, the talk that they make in the village inn—these are the decisive factors that give heart to an army or that crumble its resistance. No government, no military staff can continue an unpopular war. But by these people who have lost their goods by fire, and their relatives by assassination, the spirit of France is reinforced. The war is safe in their hands.
The heaviest of all the charges that rests against Germany is that of preparedness in equipment for incendiary destruction. They had not only prepared an army for fighting the enemy troops with rifle, machine-gun and howitzer. They had supplied that army with a full set of incendiary material for making war on non-combatants. Immediately on crossing the frontier, they laid waste peaceful villages by fire. And that wholesale burning was not accomplished by extemporized means. It was done by instruments "made in Germany" before the war, instruments of no value for battle, but only for property destruction, house by house. Their manufacture and distribution to that first German army of invasion show the premeditation of the destruction visited on the invaded country. On his arm the soldier carried a rifle, in his sack the stuff for fires. He marched against troops and against non-combatants. His war was a war of extermination. The army carried a chemical mixture which caught fire on exposure to the air, by being broken open; another chemical which fired up from a charge of powder; incendiary bombs which spread flames when exploded; pellets like lozenges which were charged with powders, and which slipped easily into the bag. These were thrown by the handful into the house, after being started by match or the gun. When the Germans came to a village, where they wished to spread terror, they burned it house by house. I have seen their chalk-writing on the doors of unburned houses. One of their phrases which they scribbled on those friendly doors was "Nicht anzünden." Now "anzünden" does not mean simply "Do not burn." It means "Do not burn with incendiary methods." Wherever a spy lived, or a peasant innkeeper friendly with drinks, or wherever there was a house which an officer chose for his night's rest, there the Germans wrote the phrase that saved the house. The other houses to right and left were "burned with incendiary methods." That phrase is as revealing as if in a village where there were dead bodies of children with bayonet wounds upon them, you discovered one child walking around with a tag hung round her neck reading "Do not murder this little girl by bayonet."
That military hierarchy which extends from the sergeant to the Emperor, controlling every male in Germany, came down upon Belgium and France, prepared to crush, not alone the military power, but every spiritual resource of those nations. I have a bag of German incendiary pastilles given me by Jules Gaxotte, Mayor of Revigny. On one side is inked
On the other side
indicating the company and the regiment and the division. The pellets are square, the size of a fingernail. They burn with intensity, like a Fourth of July torch. That little bag has enough bits of lively flame in it, to burn an ancient church and destroy a village of homes. Packets like it have seared the northern provinces of France. Not one of those millions of pellets that came down from Germany was used against a soldier. Not one was used against a military defense. All were used against public buildings and homes. All were used against non-combatants, old men, women and children. The clever chemist had coöperated with the General Staff in perfecting a novel warfare. The admirable organization had equipped its men for the new task of a soldier. In their haste the Germans left these pellets everywhere along the route. The Mayor of Revigny has a collection. So has the Mayor of Clermont. Monsieur Georges Payelle, premier president de la Cour des Comptes, and head of the French Government Inquiry, has a still larger collection. These three gentlemen have not told me, but have shown me this evidence. The purpose of the German military can be reconstructed from that one little bag which I hold.
But not only have the Germans dropped their scraps of evidence as they went along, as if they were playing hare-and-hounds. They have put into words what they mean. The German War Book, issued to officers, outlines their new enlarged warfare.
Madame Dehan of Gerbéviller said to me:
"A high officer arrived this same day (when she was prisoner) and said:
"'It is necessary to put to death the people here. They must be shot. This nation must disappear.'"
Monsieur Guilley of Nomeny told me how Charles Michel, a boy of seventeen, was killed. He said: "A patrol of scouts, composed of six Bavarians, said: 'We are going down there to kill, yes, kill all the people of Nomeny.'
"Arrived at Nomeny, they asked where the farm was. They then came along the side of the farm where there was a little door. Three entered there, the other three came around by the big door. We were ready for supper, sitting around a table. We heard blows on blows of the bayonets before the doors, with cries and exclamations in German. They came into the place where we were sitting to eat, and placed themselves facing us, with nothing to say. They took all that they wanted from the table. Five of them left, going by a way in front of the farm. The sixth stayed there, ruminating and thinking. I believed that he was meditating to himself a crime, but I thought to myself, 'They wouldn't kill a man as they would kill a rabbit.'
"We went into the kitchen. The man was always there. I closed the door. Two men of my farm were eating in the kitchen. Now, from the kitchen leading into the stable there was a door. The little Michel went out by this door. He did not see the German who was there. The soldier fired at him. I heard the rifle shot go. Then I saw the man following the same way that the others had taken, to rejoin them at a trot."
"How long did he remain there thinking before he accomplished his crime?" we asked.
"Plenty long, a good quarter of an hour. He was a Bavarian, big and strong."
I find that strange racial brooding and melancholy in the diary of a sub-officer of the Landwehr. On September 3, 1914, he writes:
"It is well enough that Germany has the advantage everywhere up to the present; I am not able to conquer a singular impression, a presentiment that, in spite of all that, the end will be bad."
In his case it is accompanied by horror at the wrong-doing of his comrades, a noble pity for wasted France. But in others, that brooding turned to sudden cruelty. Any act, however savage, is a relief from that dark inner burden.
Madame Dauger of Gondrecourt-Aix (Meuse) said to me:
"On the night of Christmas, 1914, with fixed bayonets they came to get us to dance with them—the dances were entirely unseemly. Ten persons were forced out to dance. We danced from five in the evening till half past six."
"Were they soldiers or officers?"
"Only officers; and when they were sufficiently drunk, we made the most of that advantage to save ourselves."
It was Christmas night—the time to dance. So they chose partners, by the compulsion of the bayonet, with the women of an invaded and outraged race. The same rich, childlike sentiment floods their eyes with tears at thought of the mother at home. Cruel, sentimental, melancholy, methodical, they are a race that needs wise leadership. And they have not received that. They have been led by men who do not believe in them. Every evil trait has been played upon, to the betrayal of the simple rather primitive personality, which in other hands would have gone gently all its days. But the homely goodness has been stultified, and we have a race, of our own stock, behaving like savages under the cool guidance of its masters.
The next piece of testimony was given me by a woman who was within a few days of giving birth to a child by a German father. I withhold her name and the name of her village.
"I was maltreated by them, Monsieur. They abused me. Last year in the month of October, 1915, they arrived. I was learning how to take care of the cattle, to help my father, who already had enough with what the Germans required him to do outside in the fields. My father had not returned; I was entirely alone. I was in the bottom of the barn; my children were in the house with my mother. They were upon me; I did not see them. They threw me down and held me. They were the soldiers who lodged with my parents. I cried out three or four times for some one to come, but it was finished. I got up from the straw."
"Have you told your parents or any one?"
"No. Never to a person, Monsieur. I am too much ashamed. But I always think of it. My eldest child is eleven years old, the next seven years, the third six years, and the last I have had since the war. The one I wait for now, of course, I do not count on bringing up."
Monsieur Mirman, the Prefect, replied:
"Since you must have him, you will tell me at the time, so that I may take action and give you assistance."
Through the courtesy of Mrs. Charles Prince, I spent an afternoon with a French nurse, Marie Louise Vincent, of Launois, in the Ardenne.
The Germans came. She was on the road, one hundred yards away, when she saw this:
"I saw an old French beggar, whom everybody knew, hobbling down the road. He passed through our village every week. He was called "Père Noël" (Father Christmas) because of his big beard. He was seventy-five years old. It was the 29th of August, about 8 o'clock in the morning. Officers ordered twelve men to step out from the ranks. They took the old man and tied him to a tree. An officer ordered the men to shoot. One or two of the sous-officers fired when the men fired. So they shot Père Noël. The villagers found thirteen bullet holes in him.
"That day the soldiers burned the first four houses of our village. They made a big blaze, and if the wind had turned the whole village would have burned.
"The commander came to our hospital. He patted me on the cheek and said he had a big daughter at home like me, and she was in Red Cross work like me."
"He said he was very thirsty. I gave him three glasses of water. I had good wine in the cellar, but not for him. He talked with the doctor and me. He asked for the Burgomaster. We said he had gone away. He asked for those next in authority to the Burgomaster. We said they had gone away.
"'Why? Why?' asked the commander. 'The Belgians have told you we are barbarians, that is why. We have done things a little regrettable, but we were forced to it by the Belgians. The colonel whose place I took was killed by a little girl, fourteen years old. She fired at him point-blank. We shot the girl and burned the village.'
"Then the French doctor with me asked the commander why his men had burned the four farmhouses. They were making a bright blaze with their barns of hay. We could see it.
"'Why, that—that's nothing,' said the commander. ('Ce n'est rien. C'est tout petit peu.')
"A sous-officer came in to our hospital. He showed us a bottle of Bordeaux which he had taken from the cellar of one of our houses. He said:
"'I know it is good wine. I sold it myself to the woman a couple of months ago. I thought she wouldn't have had time to drink it all up.'
"'You know France?' asked the doctor.
"'I know it better than many Frenchmen,' replied the officer. 'For eight years I have been a wine agent in the Marne district.'
"'For the house of Pommery?'
"'No, no. Not that house.'
"After the fighting of August 27 and 28, some of the peasants began to come back to their homes. Near us at the little village of Thin-le-Moutier a few returned. Nine old men and boys came back on the morning of the 29th. The Germans put them against a wall and shot them. I saw traces of blood on the wall and bullet marks. The youngest boy was too frightened to stand quietly against the wall. He struggled. So they tied him to a signpost. I saw traces of his blood on the post. The old sacristan of the village church was forced to witness the shooting. The bodies were guarded by a sentinel for three days. On the third day, August 31, a German officer ordered an old man and his wife, of the place, to bring a cart. They carried the bodies to the graveyard. The officer had the two old people dig one deep hole. The old man asked permission to take out the bodies, one by one. But the officer had the cart upturned, and the bodies, all together, dumped into the hole.
"A few days later a poor woman came along the road, asking every one she met if anybody had seen her boys. They were among the nine that had been shot.
"A sous-officer, a Jew named Goldstein, a second lieutenant, came to our hospital. While our French doctor was held downstairs Lieutenant Goldstein took out the medical notes about the cases from the pocket of the doctor's military coat. I protested. I said that it was not permitted by international law.
"'What do you make of the convention of Geneva?' I asked him.
"'Ah, I laugh at it" he answered. "He was a professor of philosophy at Darmstadt."
With all the methodical work of murder and destruction the figure of the officer in command is always in the foreground.
The Curé of Gerbéviller said to me:
"They ordered me to go on my knees before the major. As I did not go down on the ground, an officer, who was there, quickly gave me a blow with the bayonet in the groin.
"'Your parishioners are the traitors, the assassins; they have fired on our soldiers with rifles; they are going to get fire, all of your people,' the major said to me.
"I replied, No, that was not possible, that at Gerbéviller there were only old men, women, and children.
"'No, I have seen them; the civilians have fired. Without doubt, it is not you who have fired, but it is you who have organized the resistance; it is you who have excited the patriotism of your parishioners, above all, among your young men. Why have you taught your young men the use of arms?'
"Without giving me time to respond, they led me away. They took me to the middle of the street in front of my house, with five of my poor old ones. A soldier was going to find a tent cord and tie us all together. They did not permit me to go into my house. They brought out afterwards before me five other of my parishioners, as well as three little chasseurs à pied that they were going to make prisoners. We waited there an hour. I saw passing a group of five of my people tied. I thought: What is going to happen to them?
"At that moment a captain on horseback arrived in front of us, reined up his horse in excitement, pulled his foot out of the stirrup and kicked our chasseurs in the groin. One of my people who was with me cried out: 'Oh, the pigs....'"
The Great German Staff believe these things are buried deep in burned cottages and village graves. They believe an early peace will wipe out the memory of that insolence. They have forgotten the thousands of eye-witnesses, of whom I have met some dozens, and of whom I am one. They cannot kill us who live to tell what we have seen them do. They cannot destroy a thousand diaries of German soldiers that tell the abominations they committed. This record will become a part of history. They thought to wipe out their cruelty in success. But the names of their victims are known, and the circumstance of their death. Not in China alone have they made their face a horror for a thousand years, but wherever there is respect for weakness and pity for little children.
I have told in these chapters of the peasants of Northern France, and I have given their life in war in their own words. I want to tell here how this material was gathered, because the power of its appeal rests on the recognition of its accuracy. A small part of the testimony I followed in long hand as it was spoken. The rest, three-quarters of the total testimony, was taken down in short-hand by one or the other of two stenographers. I have used about one-fifth of the collected material.
My companions were the well-known American writers, Will Irwin and Herbert Corey. Other companions have been Lieutenant Louis Madelin, the distinguished historian, whose work on the French Revolution was crowned by the French Academy; Lieutenant Jules Basdevant, Professor of International Law at the University of Grenoble; Lieutenant Monod, once of Columbia University, and always a friend of our country; Captain Callet, Professor of Geography at Saint-Cyr, now of the Etat Major of the Third Army; and the Baron de la Chaise. I don't wish to imply that the French Army is exclusively composed of scholarly gentlemen with an established position in the world of letters. But it happened to be the good pleasure of the French Minister of War and of the Foreign Office to make of our trips a delightful social experience. Most important, these men are worthy witnesses of the things I have seen, and the statements I have recorded.
In the civil world the corroborating witnesses are equally authoritative. I was accompanied, for much of the territory visited, by Leon Mirman, Prefect of the Department of Meurthe-et-Moselle.
It is no easy job to penetrate the war zone, wander through villages at leisure, and establish relations of confidence with the peasants. The whole experience would have been impossible but for the help of Émile Hovelaque. This distinguished essayist, Director of Public Education, went with us to all the villages. The success of the visit was due to him. He understands American public opinion more accurately than any other man whom I have met abroad. His human sympathy wins the peasants. A woman brought me her burned granddaughter, five years old. A mother brought me the cap of her fourteen-year-old son, and the rope with which the Germans had hanged him. A woman told me how her mother, seventy-eight years old, was shot before her eyes. I could not have had their stories, I should not have been permitted to enter these secret places of their suffering, if it had not been for Monsieur Hovelaque.
The pain it cost them to tell these things I shall not forget. There was one decent married woman, within a few weeks of the birth of her child by a German father, who had been outraged by German soldiers. She had never before told her story, because of the shame of it. She had not told her parents nor her sister. I cannot forget that she told it to me. I cannot rest easily till her suffering and the suffering of the others with whom I have been living for two years means something to my people at home. I have kept all personal feeling out of my record. It would have been unforgivable if, in rendering the ruin of Lorraine, I had given way to anger. But this I have not done. I have only added many days of detailed work on evidence that was already conclusive. But this coolness of reporting does not mean that I think these details of cruelty should leave us detached spectators.
Let us remember these peasants when the Allies advance to the Rhine. Let us remember them when Belgium is indemnified, when Alsace and Lorraine are cut loose, when the German military power is crushed, when the individual officers who ordered these acts are singled out for the extremity of punishment. We must teach our memory not to forget.
Certain German officers must be executed. General Clauss must be executed. He has left a trail of blood. The officers in command of the 17th and the 60th Bavarian Regiments, who slaughtered the women, the children and the old men of Gerbéviller, must be executed. The officers of the 2nd and 4th Regiments of Bavarian Infantry, who murdered fifty men, women and children of Nomeny, in a cold, methodical hate, with a peculiar care for the women, must be executed.
In the closing passages of Browning's "Ring and the Book," the aged prelate, about to go before his maker, is confronted with the task of giving judgment. Count Guido, intelligent and powerful, had murdered Pompilia and her parents. He did it by the aid of four assassins. Pope Innocent, eighty-six years old, is called on to decide whether the five guilty men shall be killed for their evil doings. Friends urge him to be merciful. The aged Pope replies:
How it trips
Silvery o'er the tongue. "Remit the death!
Herein lies the crowning cogency
That in this case the spirit of culture speaks,
Civilization is imperative.
Give thine own better feeling play for once!
Mercy is safe and graceful....
Pronounce, then, for our breath and patience fail."
"I will, sirs: but a voice other than yours
Quickens my spirit. Quis pro Domino?
'Who is upon the Lord's side?'"
So he orders that Count Guido and his henchmen be killed on the morrow.
"Enough, for I may die this very night
And how should I dare die, this man let live?"
This is the story of Sister Julie. The Germans entered her village of Gerbéviller, where she was head of the poor-house and hospital. As they came southward through the place they burned every house on every street, 475 houses. In a day they wiped out seven centuries of humble village history. In her little street they burned Numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12, but they did not burn Number 14, the house where Sister Julie lived. There they stopped, for she stopped them. And the twenty houses beyond her hospital still stand, because that August day there was a great woman in that little village. They killed men, women and children throughout the village, but they did not kill the thirteen French wounded soldiers whom she was nursing, nor the five Roman Catholic sisters whom she directed as Mother Superior. Outside of a half dozen generals, she is perhaps the most famous character whom the war has revealed, and one of the greatest personages whom France has produced: even France in her long history. The last days of Gerbéviller live in her story. I write her account word for word as she gives it. Her recital is touched with humor in spite of the horror that lay heaped around her. She raises the poignard of the German Colonel: you see it held over her head ready to strike. By pantomime she creates the old paralytic men, the hobbling women, the man who went "fou."
Because she remained through the days of fire and blood, and succored his troops, General Castelnau cited her in an Order of the Day. The Legion of Honor has placed its scarlet ribbon on the black of her religious dress. The great of France—the President and the Premier, senators and poets—have come to see her where she still lives on in the ruins of the little village.
Amélie Rigard, whose religious name is Sister Julie, is a peasant woman, sixty-two years old, belonging to the Order of Saint Charles of Nancy. She is of the solid peasant type, with square chin and wide brown eyes. Everything about her is compact, deep-centered, close-growing; the fingers are stubby, the arms held closely to the body, and when the gesture comes it is a strong pushing out from the frame, as if pushing away a weight. Whenever she puts out power, she seems to be delivering a straight blow with the full weight of the body. With Sister Julie it is not only a genius of simple goodness. She carries a native shrewdness, with a salient tang. She knows life. This is no meek person, easily deceived by people, thinking every one good and harmless. She reads motives. Power is what I feel in her—direct, sheer power. The wonder is not that she rose to one of the supreme crises of history, and did a work which has passed into the consciousness of France. The wonder is that she remained hidden in a country village for sixty-two years. Her gift of language, her strength of nature, had vitality enough to burn through obscurity. The person she made me think of was that great man whom I once knew, Dwight Moody. Here was the same breadth of beam, the simplicity, the knowledge of human nature, the same native instinct for the fitting word that comes from being fed on the greatest literature in the world, and from using the speech of powerful, uneducated persons. When she entered the room, the room was filled. When she left, there was a vacancy.
Here follows the account in her own words, of the last days of Gerbéviller. The phrase that speaks through all her recital is "feu et sang," "fire and blood." The Germans said on entering that they would give "fire and blood" to the village. The reason was this: A handful of French chasseurs, about sixty in number, had held up the German Army for several hours, in order to give the French Army time to retreat. This battle had taken place at the bridge outside the village. When at last the Germans broke through, they were irritated by the firm resistance which had delayed their plans. So they vented their ill-will by burning the houses and murdering the peasants.
SISTER JULIE'S STORY
The Germans reached the Lunéville road at the entrance of Gerbéviller at 10 minutes after seven in the morning. They saw the barricades, for our troops had built a barricade, and they said to a woman, Madame Barthélemy:
"Madame, remove the barricades." As she waited undecided for a few seconds, they said:
"You refuse. Then fire and blood."
They then began to set fire to all the houses and they shot six men. They threw a man into an oven, a baker, Joseph Jacques, a fine fellow of fifty years of age, married, with children. It was necessary to eat, even at Gerbéviller, and it was necessary to work out a way to make bread. The former baker had been mobilized, and his good old papa was infirm and unable to work. So Monsieur Jacques was busy at this time with the baking. They killed him when they came. It was about eight o'clock in the morning. The fires of the oven had already started.
For a long time I did not believe it, but I have had a confirmation since. You will see how by what follows. When there was an attack in Champagne, a youth of Gerbéviller, Florentin, whose father was the gardener at the chateau, found himself in front of certain Germans who wished to give themselves up as prisoners. He looked at them, and said:
"You are not 'Comrades' ('Kamerade' is the word the German calls out when he surrenders). You know what you did at Gerbéviller. So don't call yourselves 'Comrades.'"
A German said to him, "It was I who flung the man into the oven. I was ordered to do it, or else I should have been 'kaput.'" (This is slang for a "dead one").
A search was then made, and in the oven was found the thigh bone of the unfortunate baker.
I have seen many other things. I have seen a man, Barthélemy of Chanteheux. I have seen that man spread out spitted on the ground by a bayonet.
Here is what they have done. It was half-past six in the evening. I heard their fifes. Our little chasseurs had retreated. The Germans had made fire and blood all the day long. I saw them and watched them well in this street. I was at the door. Yes, there were six of us at this door. They put fire to the houses, house by house, shouting as they burned them. Picture to yourself a human wave, where the bank has been broken down. They poured into the street precipitately, with their "lightning conductors," which shone brilliant in the sun (the point of their helmets). They sat down, seven and eight in front of a house. They kept going by in great numbers, but these who were ordered remained behind in front of each house. There these sat before the houses, while those others went past without a word. They put their knapsacks on the ground. They took out something that looked like macaroni. They hurled it into the house. There wasn't a pane of glass left in our windows, because of the pom-pom of cannon on the Fraimbois road. I saw them ordered to go on with their work of firing the houses, when they coolly stopped for a tiny minute to talk. Then, afresh, I saw them look in their knapsacks, and next I heard a detonation. But it was not a detonation like that of the report of a rifle or revolver. This was like the crackle of powder priming, of crackers, if you prefer. They were incendiary pastilles which they had thrown into the fire to hasten the destruction. At the end of a few minutes the fire picked up with greater intensity, and directly the roofs broke in one after the other with a crash. Many of our people did not see the burning, because they stayed in the cellars, lying hidden there, frightened, under the rubbish.
In one of the burning houses a woman was living in her room on the first floor. Two Germans came to our house and said:
"My sister, come quick and look for a woman who is in the fire."
The woman was Madame Zinius. It is our sisters who went there at their risk and peril.
The Germans had their destruction organized. In all the well-to-do houses they began by plundering. They did not burn these as they passed.
A few minutes later we saw five or six vehicles draw up, the "Guimbardes," vans, for plundering and carrying away the linen and the clothing. Women came with these vans, young women, well dressed, rich enough. They were not "bad."
[When the Germans captured a town, their organization of loot was sometimes carried out by women, who brought up motor lorries, which the soldiers filled with the plunder from the larger houses, and which the women then drove away. Sometimes these women were dressed as Red Cross nurses. I can continue the proof by other witnesses elsewhere than in Gerbéviller. The organization of murder, arson and pillage is participated in by German men and women.]
Monsieur Martin had at his place many sewing-machines, with the trade-mark Victoria. The Germans carried them away.
I have told you that they threw persons into the fire. Monsieur Pottier was forced back into the fire. His wife moaned and called for help.
"Help me get my husband out of the fire," she cried.
"Go die with him," they answered her, and she, too, was pushed into the flames.
"They" kept coming on, playing the fife. We awaited them at the door. Only thirteen wounded French soldiers had stayed with us. They had been scattered through the different rooms. But we put them up in one room in order to simplify the service and give them a bit of "coddling."
We saw four officers on horseback approach. They dismounted in front of our town-hall, twenty meters away. They entered the building, and there they put everything upside down. They tumbled out all the waste paper, the entire office desk, determined to find the records.
They remounted and rode up in front of our house. They sat there looking at us for a moment. They had the manner guttural and hard, which is the German way. They began speaking German. When they showed signs of listening to my reply, I said to them:
"Speak French. That is the least courtesy you can show me. Speak French, I beg of you, and I will answer you."
"You have French soldiers hidden in your house with their arms," said one of them.
And he tramped hither and thither like a madman, and he sputtered and clattered. (Et il se promenait de long en large comme un fou, et il bavait et degoisait.)
"We have no French soldiers here———"
The German: "You have French soldiers."
"Yes, we have French soldiers, but they are wounded. They have no arms."
One of them, mighty, with a truculent air, pulled out his sword.
"They have their arms," he shouted, and he brandished his sword.
"They won't hurt you. Enter," I said.
A Lorraine to say to a German "Enter," that means mischief. (Un Lorraine dire à un Allemand "Entrez": Que cela fait mal!)
Two of the officers dismounted. Each of them hid a dagger somewhere in his breast. That thought that they could harm my poor little wounded men made me turn my look a few seconds on the action. And as they took out their revolvers at the same time, I did not see where they had hidden the daggers.
The finger on the trigger, they nodded their head for me to go on in front of them. I went in front and led the way into this room where there was nothing but four walls, and no furniture except the thirteen beds of my wounded. I entered by this door, not knowing in the least what they wanted to do. Imagine this room with the first bed here, and then the second here, et cetera, et cetera. I went automatically to the first and, more involuntarily still, placed my hand on the bed of wounded Number One, a dragoon wounded by a horse.
See, now, what took place: the imposing one of them walked in with his dagger in his left hand (son poignard, la gauche); the other man with his revolver was there, ready. With his dagger in his left hand, the first man stripped the bed for its full length, lifting the sheet, the coverlet and the bedclothes. He looked down in a manner evil, malevolent, ill-natured (méchante, malveillante, mauvaise).
No response from the wounded men.
He did not say anything when he had seen what he wished to see. He stepped up to the head of the wounded man. I made a half turn toward him. I was separated from him by our wounded man who was between the two of us.
He said to my poor unfortunate, with a harsh gesture:
"You and your men, you make our wounded suffer on the battlefield. You cut off their ears. You put out their eyes. You make them suffer."
Still no response. (Pas réponse encore.)
When I saw the state of mind he was in, I went round at once on the left side of the wounded, and I said:
"This is a wounded man, and this place is the Red Cross. Here we do well for all and ill for none, and if you mean well, do not hurt us. Leave us in peace as you do everywhere else. We will nurse your wounded and nurse them well."
He had turned around to watch the smoke of the fires which was pouring into the room through that opening, and he stood there several seconds with set face.
My little wounded men hardly ventured to breathe. Seeing that calm, that brooding which did not bode anything good, I exerted myself to repeat once more:
"If you mean well, do not hurt us. We will nurse your wounded."
And, at last, to help him come out of his speechlessness:
"See, there, everything is on fire over there."
He answered me:
"We are not barbarians. No, we are not barbarians. And if the civilians had not fired on us with rifles, we should not have had any burning here."
"Those were not civilians. Those were soldiers."
"Civilians," he said.
"No. No. No. Soldiers."
"Civilians," he repeated; "I know well what I am saying. I saw them."
He made a gesture to show me that men had fired, while he cried in my ears with all his might "Civilians."
He went in front of me, and stripped the second bed. I feared that he might speak to my wounded, and I thought I should do well if I placed myself at the head of each of the beds as he uncovered them. I stepped between the two beds, and I feared what would come of it all. In this way I made the round of the room with them, standing at each of the thirteen points, always placing myself at the pillow of each wounded man, while "they" advanced bed by bed, and cautiously.
I did not know how they had arranged their weapons, but it seemed to me that they always had their finger placed on the trigger.
The second man with his revolver held his gun a little low.
I followed them, shutting the door, when they went to the Infirmary of the old men. They did not say anything and they did not promise that they would not set fire to us. How should I go about getting that promise?
A third time I asked them:
"It is clearly understood that we shall nurse your wounded, and that you will not burn this house."
"They" start to leave, and go toward the door, walking slowly. When the chief was just leaving, I said again to him:
"It is clearly understood that you will not harm us nor burn our house."
I looked to see if he gave the order to any of his soldiers. I didn't see that, but I noticed one of our sisters who was drawing a wheelbarrow with an old man in it, who weighed at least seventy-five kilos and who was paralyzed.
"Where are you going?" I asked her.
"Over there; the soldiers tell me that they are coming to set fire to the hospital," she replied. "One of our old men cried out to me, 'My sister, do not make us stay here. Let us go and die in peace, since they are killing everybody here. We would rather leave and die of hunger in the fields.' So I said, 'Come along, then.'"
For the moment I am all alone in this room with my thirteen wounded men. I said to myself, "My God, what will become of me all alone in the midst of fire and blood."
I stood a few seconds in the doorway and then went in to see our little soldiers.
"My poor children, I ask your forgiveness for bringing in such a visitation, but I assure you that I thought my last quarter hour had come. I thought they were going to kill us all."
"My sister, stay with us," they said; "stay with us."
"I will bear the impossible, my children, to save your life."
I remained there a few minutes, and then two German soldiers presented themselves with fixed bayonets. I stepped down the two stairs; see what an escort was there for me!
"Why is this house shut up? There are French in it, lying hidden with their arms."
"The owner has been mobilized, and so has gone away. His wife and children have gone away."
They kept on insisting: "The French. Hidden. In there."
They indicated the place with a gesture.
I thought to myself, What is happening? What will they do? Here are the men who will set fire to the house.
"Why will you set fire to this house?" I asked. "Your chiefs don't wish it. They have promised me that they won't burn here. You want to set fire here out of excitement (par contagion). Will you put out the fire?"
I said again to them:
"It is wicked to set fire here, because we shall nurse your wounded."
While this was going on, our sisters upstairs were not able to subdue the poor father Prévost. He is an old man of eighty-eight years, partly paralyzed in leg and arm. I was at the doorway. I heard him call out:
"They shoved me into the fire. They have gone away and left me. I am going to fall out of the window."
I climbed to the fourth floor of the house where he was, to try to attract him away, but he did not wish to come. He was foolish. I knew that he was fond of white sugar. I went up to him and showed him the sugar. I took his jacket and put his snowboots on him, so that he could get away more quickly. You know those boots which fasten by means of two or three buckles, very primitive, and which are so speedily put on. At last I led him to the edge of the doorway here.
The Germans saw him and said: "It is a lunatic asylum, don't you see?" so they said to each other. "They want to kill the sisters. There is no need of going into that house. It is a lunatic asylum."
That is the reason, I believe, why they didn't come into the house during the night. They entered the chapel of the hospital.
While I was with the Germans, some of their like had come to our Infirmary to say:
"You must leave here because we are going to set fire."
They then said to the old people:
"We have orders to burn the Infirmary."
Among the number we had the poor mother André, Monsieur Porté, who walked hobbling like this; Monsieur Georget, who is hung on only one wire, and Monsieur Leroy, who isn't hung on any (qui ne tenait qu'à un fil, Monsieur Leroy qui ne tenait plus non plus).
[Sister Julie limped across the room. She bent her back double. She went feeble. In swift pantomime she revealed each infirmity of the aged people. She created the picture of a flock of sick and crippled sheep driven before wolves.]
At four o'clock they were led away to Maréville. Those of whom I tell you died in the course of the year. Death came likewise to seven others who would not have died but for that.
The next morning we had German wounded. No one to care for them. What to do? I said to a wounded Lieutenant-Colonel:
"You have given us many wounded to tend. Where are your majors?"
See what he answered me. "They have abandoned us."
That evening this Lieutenant-Colonel said to me in a rough voice:
"Some bread, my sister."
"You haven't any bread?" I said. "You have burned our bakery and killed our baker in it. You have burned our butcher shop with our butcher in it. And now you have no bread and no meat. Eat potatoes as we have to."
He was hit in the calf of the leg, but the leg bone was not touched, nor the femur; it was not a severe wound. He unrolled his bandage and showed me his treatment, assuming an air of pain.
"Aie! Aie!" he cried.
Ah! "They" are more soft (douillets) than our poor little French. I began to dress his leg.
"It is terrible, my sister, this war. Terrible for you and for us also. If the French were the least bit intelligent, they would ask for peace at once. Belgium is ours. In three days we shall be at Paris."
The bandage tightened on his wound. "Ah," he said.
I replied to him: "It is your Kaiser who is the cause of all this."
"Oh, no. Not the Kaiser. The Kaiser. Oh, the Kaiser." As he pronounced the word "Kaiser," he seemed to be letting something very good come out of his mouth, as if he were savoring it.
The bandage went round once more. "Ah," he said.
"It is then his son, the Crown Prince, who is responsible?" I continued.
"Not at all. Not at all; it is France."
"France is peace-loving," I replied.
"It is Serbia, because the Austrian Archduke was killed by a Serbian."
The 29th or 30th of the month shells fell occasionally over our roof. My famous wounded German was frightened.
"My sister, I must be carried to the cellar at once."
"There's no danger. The French never fire on the Red Cross," I said to him.
"I am a poor wounded man. So carry me to the cellar."
I gave in. I carried him to the cellar, and he stayed there some days.
During the days of fire and blood Sister Julie was acting mayor of Gerbéviller. It was no light job, for she had to steer an invading army away from her hospital of wounded men, and she was the source of courage for the village of peasants, who were being hunted and tortured. Many months have passed, and nothing is left of those days but crumbled stone and village graves and an everlasting memory. But she is still the soul of Gerbéviller. Pilgrims come to her from the provinces of France, and give her money for her poor and sick. The village still has need of her. I saw her with the woman whose aged mother was shot before her eyes, and with the mother whose little boy was murdered.
She went on with her story:
SISTER JULIE'S STORY
As soon as the Germans came they began their work by taking hostages, the same number as that of the municipal councilors. They led them all away to the end of town by the bridge, on the road which leads to Rambervillers. A German passed, and when he saw them he shouted out:
"See the flock of sheep. They are taking you away to be shot." And he pointed out to them with his fingers the place of their torment.
In the morning four or five officers arrived to hear testimony from some of the men. It was Leonard, the grocer, who told me that four persons were questioned.
"Stand there," They said to them.
"Which is the one who lives next door to the hospital?" an officer asked.
Leonard stepped forward.
"Is it not true that the Lady Superior of the Hospital organized her people for the purpose of firing on our wounded with rifles?"
"I am sure that it is not so. And even if she were to order it, they would not obey."
"Do you know what you are in danger of in telling lies? We have seen the bullets come from the hospital. We are sure. Go write your deposition."
"I can't do it," answered Leonard.
He was forced to write his deposition. When he had finished it, he presented it to the chief.
"Sign it, and follow me. I am sure that I saw bullets come from that part of the street. Certainly men were there who fired on our chiefs."
They also said to him that our chasseurs had fired on them from the chateau of Madame de Lambertye, and they themselves went to get a statement at the spot to see if it was possible to hit a man from the chateau and kill him.
I had seen the turrets of the chateau of Lambertye burning about half-past nine in the morning and all the upper part. That was by incendiary bombs. The day after the fires we saw empty cans, about sixty of them, the kind used for motor-car gasoline, lying about in the garden of the chateau.
Besides all that, there are still the bodily indignities which must not be passed over in silence. The twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth, "they" used fire and blood. The following days "they" amused themselves by teasing everybody. The poor Monsieur Jacob, who makes lemonade, was struck and thrown to the ground. Then they spit in his face, and threatened to shoot him, without any reason.
They were drunk with the wine of Gerbéviller, if one is to judge from their helmets, which had lost their lightning conductors.
The sacred images of the church were not respected. It was the evening of the twenty-ninth. A soldier-priest, Monsieur the Abbé Bernard, went to see a tiny bit of what was taking place.
"Do you know, my sister, what has been done to the ciborium (sacred vessel for the sacrament)?"
I went with him. We came to the church. We entered with difficulty. A bell blocked us from passing, and shells had broken down the vaulting in many places. We went on our way, but always with difficulty. We saw the crucifix which had the feet broken by blow on blow from the butt-end of rifles. We still went on, and saw the pipes of the organ lying on the ground. We came in front of the tabernacle (the box which holds the sacred vessels). There we counted eighteen bullet holes which had perforated the door around the lock. The displacement of air produced by the bursting of the bullet had forced the screws to jump out. "They" had not thought that this little dwelling-place was a strongbox and that it had flat bolts, both vertical and horizontal. We were now agitated to see if anything else had taken place in the tabernacle.
Monsieur, the Abbé Bernard, took a hammer, and as gently as he could he succeeded in making a little opening just large enough for one to see that there was something else inside. With the barrel of an unloaded gun, he then made a full opening. The ciborium, the sacred vessel, was uncovered and had been projected against the bottom. The cover, fallen to one side, had a number of bullet marks, as the ciborium itself had.
The bullets in penetrating the front of the tabernacle had made everywhere little holes, and these holes were in a shape nearly symmetrical around the lock. At the rear there were many much larger holes.
Monsieur, the Abbé, took those sacred things and the cover of the altar and carried them to the chapel.
The 17th and the 60th Bavarian Regiments were the ones that did this work. One-third at least of these men were protestant, and among them were many returned convicts.
One of our sisters saw a book of a German officer who was nursed here, and noticed that he was from Bitsch.
(Bitsch is a Roman Catholic town in Lorraine which long belonged to France, and which held out against the Germans almost to the end of the Franco-Prussian War).
"How is this?" she asked. "You are from Bitsch, and yet it is you who dare to do the things that you have done."
"We are under orders," he answered. "The further we go into France, the worse we shall do. It is commanded. Otherwise we shall be killed ourselves."
Let us return to the Germans who were applying fire and blood. They led away fifteen men, old men, to a shed at about quarter past ten. Later they made them leave the shed. General Clauss, who was in command of two regiments, was sitting under the oak tree which you will be able to see on your return trip. He was in front of a table charged with champagne, and was drinking, during the time that his soldiers were arranging the poor unhappy old men, getting them ready to be shot. They had bound them in groups of five, and they shot them in three batches. They now lie buried in the same spot.
The General said: "When I have filled my cup and as I raise it to my lips, give them fire and blood."
We said good-by to Sister Julie. I walked down the street to the ruins of the chateau of Lambertye. Sister Julie has told of the empty gasoline cans that were left in the garden of the chateau. They had served their purpose well: I stepped through the litter that was once a beautiful home. But there was one work which flaming oil could not do. I went into the garden, and came to the grotto of the chateau. It is a lovely secret place, hidden behind a grove, and under the shadow of a great rock. It glows red from the fundamental stone of its structure, with jewel-like splinters of many-colored pebbles sunk in the parent stone. Fire, the favorite German instrument for creating a new world, could not mar the stout stone and pebbles of the little place, but such beauty must somehow be obliterated. So the careful soldiers mounted ladders and chipped to pieces some of the ceiling, painfully with hammers. The dent of the hammers is visible throughout the vaulting. The mosaic was too tough even for their patience, and they had to leave it mutilated but not destroyed.
Several times in Gerbéviller we see this infinite capacity for taking pains. The thrusting of the baker into his own oven is a touch that a less thoughtful race could never have devised. When they attacked the tabernacle containing the sacramental vessel of the Roman Catholic church, Sister Julie has told how they placed the eighteen bullets that defiled it in pattern. The honest methodical brain is behind each atrocity, and the mind of the race leaves its mark even on ruins.
Finally, when they shot the fifteen white-haired old men, the murders were done in series, in sets of five, with a regular rhythm. I can produce photographs of the dead bodies of these fifteen old men as they lay grouped on the meadow. We stood under the oak tree where the officer sat as he drank his toasts to death. We looked over to the little spot where the old men were herded together and murdered. Leon Mirman, Prefect of Meurthe-et-Moselle, said to us as we stood there:
"I, myself, came here at the beginning of September, 1914. Fifteen old men were here, lying one upon the other, in groups of five. I saw them, their clothes drooping. One was able to see also by their attitude that two or three had been smoking their pipes just before dying. Others held their packets of tobacco in their hands. I saw these fifteen hostages, fifteen old men, some ten days after they had been killed; the youngest must have been sixty years of age.
"We shall set up here a commemorative monument which will tell to future generations the thing that has taken place here."
For centuries the race has lived on a few episodes, short as the turn of a sunset. The glancing helmet of Hector that frightened one tiny child, the toothless hound of Ulysses that knew the beggar man—always it is the little lonely things that shake us. Vast masses of men and acres of guns blur into unreality. The battle hides itself in thick clouds, swaying in the night. But the cry that rang through Gerbéviller does not die away in our ears. Sister Julie has given episodes of a bitter brevity which the imagination of the race will not shake off. It is impossible to look out on the world with the same eyes after those flashes of a new bravery, a new horror. I find this sudden revelation in the lifting of the cup with the toast that signed the death of the old men. The officer was drinking a sacrament of death by murder. It is as if there in that act under the lonely tree in the pleasant fields of Gerbéviller the new religion of the Germans had perfected its rite.
That rite of the social cup, held aloft in the eyes of comrades, has been a symbol for good will in all the ages. Brotherhood was being proclaimed as the host of the feast looked out on a table of comrades. At last in the fullness of time the rite, always honored, was lifted into the unassailable realm of poetry, when one greater man came who went to his death blithely from the cup that he drank with his friends. There it has remained homely and sacred in the thought of the race.
Suddenly under the oak tree of Gerbéviller the rite has received a fresh meaning. The cup has been torn from the hands of the Nazarene. By one gesture the German officer reversed the course of history. He sat there very lonely, and he drank alone. The cup that he tasted was the death of men.
It is no longer the lifting of all to a common fellowship. It no longer means "I who stand here am prepared to die for you": pledge of a union stronger even than death. It is suddenly made the symbol of a greater gospel: "I drink to your death. I drink alone."
In the month of November, 1915, the "American Hostels for Refugees" were founded by Mrs. Wharton and a group of American friends in Paris to provide lodgings and a restaurant for the Belgians and French streaming in from burning villages and bombarded towns. These people were destitute, starving, helpless and in need of immediate aid. The work developed into an organization which cares permanently for over 4,000 refugees, chiefly French from the invaded regions. A system of household visiting has been organized, and not even temporary assistance is now given to any refugee whose case has not been previously investigated. The refugees on arrival are carefully registered and visited. Assistance is either in the form of money toward paying rent, of clothing, medical care, tickets for groceries and coal, tickets for one of the restaurants of the Hostels, or lodgings in one of the Model Lodging Houses. Over 6,000 refugees have been provided with employment.
There are six centers for the work. One house has a restaurant where 500 meals a day are served at a charge of 10 centimes a meal, and an "Ouvroir" where about 50 women are employed under a dressmaker, with a day-nursery, an infant-school, a library and recreation room. Another center is a Rest-house for women and children requiring rest and careful feeding. Young mothers are received here after the birth of their children, and children whose mothers are in hospital. Sixty meals a day are served here with a special diet for invalids. Another center contains a clothing depot, which has distributed nearly 100,000 garments, including suits of strong working clothes for the men placed in factories; layettes, and boots. In the same building are Dispensary and Consultation rooms. Twenty to thirty patients are cared for daily at the Dispensary. Another house contains the Grocery Depot, and another the office for coal-tickets. An apartment house, and two other houses have been made into lodging houses. The apartment lets out rooms at rents varying from 8 to 15 francs a month. One of the houses contains free furnished lodgings for very poor women with large families of young children. These three houses have met the need of cheap sanitary lodgings in place of damp, dirty rooms at high rents, where sick and well were herded together, often in one filthy bed.
Such is the work of the "American Hostels for Refugees." The present cost of maintaining all the branches of this well-organized charity is about five thousand dollars a month.
Mrs. Wharton has also established "American Convalescent Homes for Refugees." Many refugees come broken in health, with chronic bronchitis and incipient tuberculosis and even severer maladies. Seventy-one beds are provided. There is also a house where 30 children, suffering from tuberculosis of the bone and of the glands are being cared for. Four thousand dollars a month should be provided at once for this work.
At the request of the Belgian Government Mrs. Wharton has founded the "Children of Flanders Rescue Committee." The bombardment of Furnes, Ypres, Poperinghe and the villages along the Yser drove the inhabitants south. The Belgian Government asked Mrs. Wharton if she could receive 60 children at 48 hours' notice. The answer was "yes," and a home established. Soon after, the Belgian Government asked Mrs. Wharton to receive five or six hundred children. Houses were at once established, and these houses are under the management of the Flemish Sisters who brought the children from the cellars of village-homes, from lonely farmhouses, in two cases from the arms of the father, killed by a fragment of shell. Lace-schools, sewing and dress-making classes, agriculture and gardening are carried on. Seven hundred and thirty-five children are cared for. The monthly expense is 8,000 francs.
One of the most important charities in which Mrs. Wharton, Mrs. Edward Tuck, and Judge Walter Berry are interested, is that for "French Tuberculous War Victims," in direct connection with the Health Department of the French Ministry of War. Nearly 100,000 tuberculous soldiers have already been sent back from the French front. They must be shown how to get well and receive the chance to get well. One hospital is already in operation, and three large sanatoria are nearing completion, with 100 beds each. The object is not only to cure the sufferers, but to teach them a trade enabling them to earn their living in the country. Tuberculous soldiers are coming daily to the offices of this charity in ever-increasing numbers asking to be taken in. The answer will depend on American generosity.
A group of Americans, headed by Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss, whose husband is First Secretary of the American Embassy in Paris, have instituted and carried on a "Distributing Service" in France. The name of the organization is "Service de Distribution Américaine." It was established on its present basis in December, 1914, and grew out of personal work done by Mrs. Bliss since the beginning of the war. The purpose has been to supply hospitals throughout France with whatever they need. By the end of 1916, the results were these:
|Number of towns visited||1,290|
|Number of hospitals inspected and supplied||3,026|
|Number of articles distributed||4,839,902|
The Director of the organization is Russell Greeley, the secretary of Geoffrey Dodge. The service has a garage outside the gates of Paris with ten cars and a lorry. All the staff, except the stenographers and packers, are volunteers.
This work for the French is connected with the American Distributing Service for the Serbians, which was begun by sending the late Charles R. Cross, Jr., to Serbia as a member of the American Sanitary Commission headed by Dr. R. P. Strong, in the spring of 1915. Mr. Cross made an investigation of the situation in Serbia at that time from the point of view of the American Distributing Service.
In January, 1916, Mrs. Charles Henry Hawes of the Greek Red Cross, wife of Professor Hawes of Dartmouth College, Hanover, being on her way to Italy and Greece for the purpose of conveying relief into Albania through Janina, offered her services to the Distributing Service for the convoying and distribution of supplies. Mrs. Hawes's offer was accepted and she was furnished with a small fund for the purpose of supplies. Events forestalled her, but she succeeded in landing and distributing to the last Serbians leaving San Giovanni di Medua, a thousand rations. At the same time she took an active part in relief work at Brindisi, and distributed about a thousand dollars' worth of supplies to the Serb refugees passing through that port.
Meanwhile the French Army Medical Service had created the "Mission de Coordination de Secours aux Armées d'Orient" for the purpose of distributing relief supplies to the Serbian and other Allied armies in the Balkans. A member of the Distributing Service was appointed a member of the Mission, and a fund of 100,000 francs placed at the disposal of the Distributing Service which thenceforward coöperated actively in the work of the Mission. Urgent representations of the need of help in Corfou having been made early in February to the Mission by the French Army Medical Service, Mrs. Hawes, representing the Distributing Service and the Mission jointly, was sent to Corfou where she established a soup kitchen and did other valuable relief work at Vido. She was later joined at Corfou by Countess de Reinach-Foussemagne, Infirmière Déléguée of the Mission. Through these two agents the Distributing Service sent to Corfou and distributed 197 cases of foodstuffs, clothing, and various articles needed, 5 cases of medicines and 40 tins of paraffine. The Service disbursed for similar purposes through Mrs. Hawes and Countess de Reinach, fifteen thousand francs in cash. It was also instrumental in erecting a monument at Vido to the Serbs who died there.
When the crisis at Corfou was at an end the field depot of the Mission was moved to Solonica. There the Service distributed to Serbians various shipments of relief and hospital supplies: A total of 454 cases.
The Distributing Service now has ready and is preparing to send forward for the Serbian Army a laundry outfit, a disinfecting outfit and a complete field surgical outfit (portable house for operating room equipment and radiograph plant). A shipment is also going forward for Monastir where the field depot of the Mission was established on November 22nd, of 5,000 francs' worth of foodstuffs and other urgently needed materials, and a larger quantity is being accumulated to be sent forward without delay.
In addition, the Distributing Service has sent about 2,000 kilos of hospital supplies to the Serbs in the Lazaret of Frioul, off Marseille, and a similar quantity of material to the hospitals at Sidi-Abdallah (Tunis), and elsewhere in Tunisia and Algeria, given over to the treatment of Serbians.
Mrs. Bliss and her friends have also conducted a work for "frontier children," dating from August, 1914, which has cared for French, Belgian and Alsatian children to the number of 1,500.
TO THE READER
This book is only a sign post pointing to the place where better men than I have suffered and left a record. For those who wish to go further on this road I give sources of information for facts which I have sketched in outline.
The full authoritative account of the American Ambulance Field Service will be found in a book called "Friends of France," written by the young Americans who drove the cars at the front. It is one of the most heartening books that our country has produced in the last fifty years. Much of our recent writing has been the record of commercial success, of growth in numbers, and of clever mechanical devices. We have been celebrating the things that result in prosperity, as if the value of life lay in comfort and security. But the story of these young men is altogether a record of work done without pay, under conditions of danger that sometimes resulted in wounds and death. Their service was given because France was fighting for an idea. Risk and sacrifice and the dream of equality are more attractive to young men than safety, neutrality and commercial supremacy.
Those who wish to assure themselves that a healthy nationalism is the method by which a people serves humanity will find an exalted statement in Mazzini's "The Duties of Man." A correction of his overemphasis is contained in "Human Nature in Politics," by Graham Wallas. Valuable books on Nationality have been written by Ramsay Muir and Holland Rose. Lord Acton's essay on Nationality in his "The History of Freedom and Other Essays" should be consulted. He shows the defects of the nation-State.
On the American aspects of nationality, Emile Hovelaque and Alfred Zimmern are the two visitors who have shown clear recognition of the spiritual weakness of our country, and at the same time have pushed through to the cause, and so offered opportunity for amendment. Hovelaque's articles in the Revue de Paris of the spring of 1916 I have summarized in the chapter on the Middle West. From Zimmern I have jammed together in what follows isolated sentences of various essays. This is of course unfair to his thought, but will serve to stimulate the reader's interest in looking up the essays themselves.
"There is to-day no American nation. America consists at present of a congeries of nations who happen to be united under a common federal government. America is not a melting pot. It does not assimilate its aliens. It is the old old story of the conflict between human instincts and social institutions. The human soul can strike no roots in the America of to-day. I watched the workings of that ruthless economic process sometimes described as 'the miracle of assimilation.' I watched the steam-roller of American industrialism—so much more terrible to me in its consequences than Prussian or Magyar tyranny—grinding out the spiritual life of the immigrant proletariat, turning honest, primitive peasants into the helpless and degraded tools of the Trust magnate and the Tammany boss. Nowhere in the world as in the United States have false theories of liberty and education persuaded statesmen on so large a scale to make a Babel and call it a nation."
And the remedy?
"Those make the best citizens of a new country who, like the French in Canada and Louisiana, or the Dutch in South Africa, bear with them on their pilgrimage, and religiously treasure in their new homes, the best of the spiritual heritage bequeathed them by their fathers."
Alfred Zimmern is the author of "The Greek Commonwealth," contributor to the "Round Table," and one of the promoters of the Workers Educational Association. Those who wish to get his full thought on Nationality should consult the pamphlet "Education and the Working Class," the volume "International Relationships in the Light of Christianity," and the Sociological Review for July, 1912, and October, 1915.
The most penetrating recent articles on the American democracy as opposed to the cosmopolitanism of the melting pot were written by Horace M. Kallen in issues of the New York Nation of February, 1915. Dr. Kallen is a Jewish pupil of the late William James, of outstanding ability, the spiritual leader of the younger generation of Jews. He has touched off a group of thinkers on the American problem, of whom one is Randolph Bourne.
Those interested in the interweaving of French and early American history should read the book by Ambassador Jusserand, called "With Americans of Past and Present Days."
A careful investigation of the myth-making machinery used by nations in war-time is given by Fernand van Langenhove in "The Growth of a Legend"—a study based upon the German accounts of francs-tireurs and "wicked priests" in Belgium. It is made up of German documents.
A fuller study of the German letters and diaries is contained in the pamphlets of Professor Joseph Bedier, the books of Professor J. H. Morgan, and the volumes by Jacques de Dampierre "L'Allemagne et le Droit des Gens" and "Carnets de Route de Combattants Allemands." After an examination of these German documents, no student will speak of German atrocities as "alleged." The most careful collection of testimony by eye-witnesses is that contained in the report of the French Government Commission, "Rapports et Procès-Verbaux D'Enquête." I have personally examined several of the witnesses to this report. They are responsible witnesses. Their testimony is accurately rendered in the Government record. I trust that some American of high responsibility, such as Professor Stowell, of the Department of International Law at Columbia University, will make an exhaustive study of the German documents held by the French Ministry of War.
For the peasant incidents in the last section of my book, I refer to the book by Will Irwin, "The Latin at War," as independent corroboration.
TO NEUTRAL CRITICS
Certain points in my testimony have been challenged by persons sitting in security, three thousand miles away from the invaded country, where at my own cost and risk I have patiently gathered the facts on which I have based my statements.
I have built my testimony on three classes of evidence.
First: The things I have seen. I have given names, places and dates.
Second: The testimony of eye-witnesses, made to me in the presence of men and women, well-known in France, England and America. These eye-witnesses I have used in precisely the same way in which a case is built up in the courts of law.
Third: The diaries and letters written by Germans in which they describe the atrocities they have committed. I have seen the originals of these documents.
It is noticeable that the specific fact has never been challenged. The date has never been found misplaced, the place has never been confused, the person has never been declared non-existent. The denial has always been in blanket form.
The New York Evening Post says: "After the spy came the invasion, and after the invasion came the 'steam roller,' flattening out Belgium. This is all given in a general way."
It is given with exact specifications.
Clement Wood, in the Socialist paper, The New York Call, writes: "This book attempts more of a summing up of German offenses, and, being written to sustain an opinion rather than to give impartially the facts, correspondingly loses in interest and persuasiveness. Its usefulness to the general reader or the person who desires an unbiased understanding of the conflict is slight." He speaks of "the alleged German atrocities in Belgium."
My statements do not deal with opinion but with things seen. Apparently it is an offense to take sides on this war. One is a trusthworthy witness if one has seen only picturesque incidents that do not reveal the method of warfare practiced by an invading army. One is fair-minded only by shutting the eyes to the burned houses of Melle, Termonde and Lorraine, and the dead bodies of peasants; and by closing the ears to the statements of outraged persons. One is judicial only by defending the Germans against the acts of their soldiers, and the written evidence of their officers and privates.
The Independent says: "He saw the wreck of the convent school, but learned none of the sisters had been harmed."
The critic selects that portion of my testimony on the convent school which relieves the Germans of the charge of rape. As always, I have given every bit of evidence in favor of the Germans that came my way. I have told of the individual soldier who was revolted by his orders. I have published the diaries of German soldiers which revealed nobility. But is that scrupulous care of mine a justification to the Independent for omitting to tell the humiliations visited on that convent school?
My testimony of bayonetted dying peasants is "credible in so far as no testimony from the other side was obtainable."
"Mr. Gleason also saw the ruins of bombarded Belgian cities."
Is it fair of the Independent to be inaccurate? My evidence is not of bombarded Belgian cities. It is of Belgian cities, burned house by house, with certain houses spared where "Do not burn by incendiary methods" was chalked on the door.
"Otherwise his evidence is at second or third hand mainly."
On the contrary, I have quoted witnesses whom I can produce.
The Times, of Los Angeles, says: "He is quite rabid. He writes with the frenzy of a zealot."
I do not think the colorless recitation of facts, fortified by name, place and date, is rabid or frenzied.
The Literary Digest says: "Of the 'atrocities' in Belgium, we find reports of a 'friend,' or a 'friend's friend,' or what 'some one saw or heard.'"
I have told what I myself saw and heard.
"Fair-minded readers will be inclined to reserve judgment."
But in the light cast by eye-witnesses and German diaries, we have reserved judgment too long. Our American Revolution would have been a drearier affair, if the French had reserved judgment. In a crisis the need is to form a judgment in time to make it tell for the cause of justice. Truth-seeking is a living function of the mind.
Another critic says: "By careful reading one sees that, while it pretends to give real evidence, there isn't any that is real except where not essential. Mr. Gleason attempts to belittle the stories of priests inciting girls to deeds of violence."
I do not attempt to belittle those stories. I disprove them on the evidence given by German generals, whose names I cite. Because I defend Roman Catholic priests from slander does not mean that I am anti-Protestant. Because I prove that Belgium and France have suffered injustice does not mean that I am anti-German. I went over to find out whether Belgian and French peasants, old men, women and children, were a lawless, murderous mob, or whether the German military had sinned in burning their homes and shooting the non-combatants. Neutrals can not have it both ways—either the peasants were guilty, or the German Army was guilty. I found it was the German Army that had sinned.
This critic goes on to say: "Only a few years ago the entire world was shocked by the horrible atrocities carried on in the Congo."
Evidently those atrocities were proved to his satisfaction. But was the case not established by the same process I have used—personal observation, documentary proof, and the testimony of eye-witnesses?
The Post-Dispatch, of St. Louis, says: "Gleason in trying to make out a strong case against Germany goes too far. He is too venomous. It will be a hard thing to convince neutral Americans that German soldiers maliciously ran their bayonets through the backs of girl children. The volume would be of much greater historical value if Gleason had used his head more and his heart less." Dr. Hamilton, in The Survey, makes the same point.
In my testimony I detail my evidence, and they who deny it rest on general statements. I assure them it is not in lightness that I record these conclusions about the German Army. I have gone into the zone of fire to bring out German wounded. I have taken the same hazards as thousands of other men have taken to save German life. Does venom act so?
I find in these criticisms an underlying assumption, a mental attitude, toward war, and therefore toward facts about war. Some of these periodicals are sincere pacifists. In the cause of social reform, in their several and very different ways, they have served the common good. But because they believe war is the worst of all evils, they assume that both sides are equally guilty or equally foolish. It is not a mental attitude which leaves them open-minded. I want to ask them on what body of facts they base their criticism. Were they present in Belgium at the moment of impact? Has the German Government provided them with detailed documentary proof that in the villages I have mentioned, on the dates given, the persons I have named were not burned, were not bayonetted? Have they examined the originals of the German diaries and found that I have omitted or altered words? Have they spent many days in Lorraine taking testimony from curé and sister and Mayor and peasant? Has that testimony shown that the destruction and murder did not take place? Has Leon Mirman, Prefect of Meurthe-et-Moselle, given them a statement in which he retracts what he said to me?
Several of these critics happen to be personal friends. It would be impossible to write in resentment of anything they say. I am not interested in making out a case for myself. But I am very much interested in inducing my fellow countrymen to accept the facts of the present world struggle. My books about the war have been written with one purpose only—to bring home to Americans the undeserved suffering of Belgium and France. To do that I need the help of all men of good will. I ask them not to break the force of the facts which I have patiently collected, by the carelessness which calls systematically burned cities "bombarded" cities, and by the mental attitude which finds me "rabid," when I have given every favoring incident to German soldiers that I could find. I have spent nearly two years in observing the facts of this war. Against my desires, my pre-war philosophy, my hopes of internationalism, I was driven by the facts to certain conclusions.
 Some of our people go further even than the giving of banquets to the efficient staff of the Deutschland. They give praise to U-53. In a newspaper, edited and owned by Americans, and published in an American Middle Western city of 40,000 inhabitants, the leading editorial on the exploits of U-53 was headed, "Hats Off to German Seamen," and the writer says:
"The world in general that had educated itself to regard the German as a phlegmatic and plodding citizen will remove its headgear in token of approbation of the sustained series of sensational feats by German commanders and sailors. The entire aspect of affairs has been changed by the events of two years. The Germans have accumulated as much heroic and romantic material in that time as has been gathered by other nations since the date of the American Revolution."
In the second section of this book, I have told why we talk like that. The mixture of races (mixed but not blended), the modern theory of cosmopolitanism, a self-complacency in our attitude toward Europe, an assumption that we alone champion freedom and justice, the fading of our historic tradition—these have caused us to preach internationalism, but fail to defend ourselves or the little nation of Belgium. They have led us to admire successful force.
 Mazzini's idea of neutrality was this:
"A law of Solon decreed that those who in an insurrection abstained from taking part on one side or the other should be degraded. It was a just and holy law, founded on the belief—then instinctive in the heart of Solon, but now comprehended and expressed in a thousand formulæ—in the solidarity of mankind. It would be just now more than ever. What! you are in the midst of the uprising, not of a town, but of the whole human race; you see brute force on the one side, and right on the other ... whole nations are struggling under oppression ... men die in hundreds, by thousands, fighting for or against an idea. This idea is either good or evil; and you continue to call yourselves men and Christians, you claim the right of remaining neutral? You cannot do so without moral degradation. Neutrality—that is to say, indifference between good and evil, the just and the unjust, liberty and oppression—is simply Atheism."