3620 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
against Napoleon and turned the country
into a waste before relinquishing it. Many
of the inhabitants fled to the heart of
Russia as the war neared their homes,
but great numbers remained. In a country
ravaged by war, with food supplies commandeered by both armies, with the homes
of most of the people in ashes, it required
no great prescience to see that the coming
winter would be one of great suffering.
Such, in fact, proved to be the case, and
it is beyond question that the winter of
1915-16 witnessed far greater horrors in
Poland than in Belgium. But it was
more remote from the New World, and
Americans heard less of this suffering than
of that of the little country nearer home.
An American, Frederick C. Walcott,
who visited Poland in 1916, gave the
following description of conditions there
and of the German policy toward the
"Poland-Russian Poland-is perishing.
And the German high command, imbued
with the Prussian system, is coolly reckoning on the necessities of a starving people
to promote its imperial ends.
"West Poland, which has been Prussian
territory more than a hundred years, is
a disappointment to Germany; its people
obstinately remain Poles. This time they
propose swifter measures. In two or
three years, by grace of starvation and
frightfulness, they calculate East Poland
will be thoroughly made over into a German province.
"In the great Hindenburg drive one
year ago, the country was completely
devastated by the retreating Russian
army and the oncoming Germans. A
million people were driven from their
homes. Half of them perished by the
roadside. For miles and miles, when I
saw the country, the way was littered
with mud soaked garments and bones picked
clean by the crows-though the larger
bones had been gathered by the thrifty
Germans to be ground into fertilizer.
Wicker baskets-the little basket in which
the baby swings from the rafters in every
peasant home-were scattered along the
way, hundreds and hundreds, until one
could not count them, each one telling