3518 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
which the British were compelled to pay
for safeguarding their own foreign trade
and destroying that of their enemies.
What has been said regarding the British
and the Germans applies in general to
the French and Italians on the one side
and the Austrians on the other. The
Austrian navy was kept in port almost
altogether, and its merchant marine did
not appear on the seas. The French and
Italians, however, kept both their navies
and their merchant fleets upon the seas,
with the result that they were able to
continue their trade with the world, but
lost some warships, though not many.
Neither nation lost a ship of the first class,
the losses being confined to cruisers or
smaller vessels and to a few old battleships.
Naval operations in the Adriatic were, in
fact, comparatively unimportant. Before
Italy declared war, French and British
ships bombarded Cattaro and Pola, but
there were no big naval engagements.
After Italy entered the conflict, she took
over most of the task of confining the
Austrians to their harbors. There were
numerous conflicts between small craft,
and the submarines of both Austria and
Italy were active, but again there were no
The German navy controlled the greater
part of the Baltic Sea, and there were
numerous skirmishes between it and Russian ships, but no general battle. Fear
of Russian and British submarines kept
the Germans for the most part away from
the Russian coasts. At the time the
German army was endeavoring to capture
Riga, the German navy tried to gain
control of the Gulf of Riga, but suffered
so severely from gunfire, mines, and submarines, that it gave over the attempt.
The Allies claimed to have sunk one of
the best of the German battle cruisers.
The failure of the attempt to gain possession of the gulf undoubtedly saved Riga
at this time from the Germans.
In the fall of 1915, British submarines
began a campaign in the Baltic against
German shipping, and for a time completely paralyzed traffic between Germany
and the Scandinavian countries. In ten
days in October, they sank a score of ships
with an aggregate tonnage of almost 40,000.
In the Black Sea there were repeated
skirmishes between the Russian and Turkish fleets. The Goeben bore the brunt
of the Russian attacks in some of these
battles and was severely damaged. Ultimately the Turkish navy was so badly
battered that the Russians remained in
practically undisputed control of the sea,
and were able to prevent the Turks from
making use of it in carrying supplies
and troops. In July, 1915, the Russians
announced that since the war began they
had captured or destroyed nearly nine hundred Turkish merchant vessels, but most
of these were very small.
The violation of international law involved in the invasion of Belgium at the
very outbreak of the war was symptomatic
of a state of affairs that was to continue
throughout the contest both on sea and
land. We have already related how the
Koenigin Luise in the first few days of
the war began the promiscuous laying
of mines, a clear violation of the laws of
war as regulated by the Hague Convention,
which provided that, except for defensive
purposes, mines shall only be laid in the
territorial waters of the power that lays
them. The British protested, but themselves soon took up the practice. One
violation followed another, until international law presented as riddled an appearance as the sinking hulks of von Spee's
squadron. And unfortunately the suffering and loss of property resulting from such
actions were not confined to the people of
the belligerent countries but also fell heavily upon neutral peoples.
No law is self-enforcing, and this statement holds as true of international law
as it does of the ordinary private law of
an individual country. In the case of
the laws of a country there are officials
whose duty it is to see that the laws are
enforced; but there existed no such authority to enforce the observance of international law. Unless neutral nations saw
to it that such rules were observed, the
belligerents could violate the rules with
impunity. Unfortunately, also,