Page 3447

3447 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

individuals to perpetrate many cruel acts

upon their own responsibility. Furthermore, some of the worst crimes were undoubtedly committed by men who had

drunk to excess of looted liquors. The

evidence revealed by captured diaries is

overwhelming that wine cellars were ransacked whenever found, and that the troops

reveled in an excess of such refreshment.

One soldier confided to his diary that of

red wine "there is so much here that one

can literally swim in it."

The acts committed by authority likewise took a wide range. They included

the burning of villages and towns, the

destruction of other property, pillage,

the use of civilians, including women and

children, as shields against the bullets of

their countrymen, and wholesale executions

of the civil population.

The real facts regarding the "German

terror in Belgium" were long a matter

of controversy in America and some other

neutral countries. The Germans issued

lying statements, and bribed or misled

some neutral newspaper correspondents

into issuing statements that no outrages

had taken place. But the truth could

not be concealed forever, and the world

now knows that German behavior in that

unhappy country would have disgraced

savages. Yet all the while Germans were

boasting of the superiority of their Kultur.

Prussian troops had never been distinguished for gentleness. Even in repressing the Revolutionists of 1848, who

were men of their own race, they were

guilty of many atrocities, including the

massacring of civilians, mistreatment of

women, and the bayoneting of babies.

When German troops were about to embark for China, in 1900, to fight the Boxers,

the Kaiser himself had addressed them

and had said:

"As soon as you come to blows with

the enemy he will be beaten. No mercy

will be shown! No prisoners will be taken!

As the Huns, under King Attila, made a

name for themselves, which is still mighty

in traditions and legends today, may

the name of Germany be so fixed in China

by your deeds that no Chinese will ever

again dare even to look at a German

askance. . . .Open the way for Kultur once

for all."

It was this speech which now led to

the Germans being called "Huns."

The German officers were provided in

advance with blank forms to be used in

issuing proclamations to terrorize the

people. Furthermore, officers and men

were supplied with phrase books containing alternate translations in German

and French of sentences most likely to

be useful. The very first sentence in the

book was: "Hands up!" Among others

were: "Carry out all the furniture."

I am thirsty. Bring me some beer, gin,

rum." "You have to supply a barrel of

wine and a keg of beer." "If you lie to

me, I will have you shot immediately."

"Lead me to the wealthiest inhabitants

of this village. I have orders to requisition several barrels of wine." "Show

us the way to -. If you lead us astray,

you will be shot."

All told, many hundreds of Belgians

were executed during the month following

the invasion of the country. The Germans

claimed that these deeds were done by

way of reprisal for unlawful acts of war

committed by the inhabitants, and in

some cases this was probably true. But

in most cases the retaliation was carried

out in a way that was particularly shocking to a world which has come to accept

the view that the innocent must not be

punished for the guilty. Even in those

cases where civilians committed acts of

war against the invaders it was, of course,

frequently impossible to ascertain exactly

who had done the firing. Often such persons escaped scot free. The German

procedure in such cases was to collect a

number of men, preferably men of importance, stand them up in line, and shoot

them down.

The Hague Conventions of 1907 expressly recognized the right of a people,

when suddenly assailed, to conduct an

unorganized warfare against the invader.

But the Germans in their treatment of

the Belgians refused to recognize this

right and treated the unorganized