3621 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY- THE GREAT WAR.
"Warsaw, which had not been destroyed,
once a proud city of a million people, was
utterly stricken. Poor folk by thousands
lined the streets, leaning against the
buildings, shivering in snow and rain, too
weak to lift a hand, dying of cold and
hunger. Though the rich gave all they
had and the poor shared their last crust,
they were starving there in the streets in
"In the stricken city, the German governor of Warsaw issued a proclamation.
All able-bodied Poles were bidden to go
to Germany to work. If any refused,
let no other Pole give him to eat, not so
much as a mouthful, under penalty of
German military law.
"It was more than the mind could grasp.
To the husband and father of broken
families, the High Command gave this
decree: Leave your families to starve if you stay, we shall see that you do
starve-this to a high-strung, sensitive,
highly organized people, this from the
authorities of a nation professing civilization and religion to millions of fellow
Christians captive and starving.
"General von Kries, the governor, was
kind enough to explain. Candidly, they
preferred not quite so much starvation;
it might get on the nerves of the German
soldiers. But, starvation being present,
it must work for German purpose. Taking
advantage of this wretchedness, the working men of Poland were to be removed;
the country was to be restocked with
Germans. It was country Germany needed
-rich alluvial soil-better suited to German expansion than distant possessions.
If the Poland that was had to perish,
so much the better for Germany.
"Remove the men, let the young and
weak die, graft German stock on the
women. See how simple it is: with a
crafty smile, General von Kries concluded,
'By and by we 'must give back freedom
to Poland. Very good; it will reappear
as a German province.'
"Slowly, I came to realize that this monstrous, incredible thing was the Prussian
System, deliberately chosen by the circle
around the All-Highest, and kneaded into
the German people till it became part of
During these winter months the military
situation from the Baltic to Roumania
resembled the deadlock that existed in
Flanders and France. The Teutonic forces
contented themselves with attempting to
hold what they had won, and the aggressive
movements undertaken were almost solely
begun by the Russians. The Russian successes in October and November in the
south have already been mentioned. In
January and February, 1916, the Muscovites again launched furious attacks in the
same quarter and made material progress
not only in recovering some of their own
territory but also in reconquering districts
in Galicia and Bukowina. In some quarters
it was believed that the drafts which these
attacks made upon Teutonic strength
prevented an attempt to drive the French
and British out of Salonica. Following
the tremendous German attack upon Verdun, General Kuropatkin, who was now
in command along the Northern Front,
launched an offensive against the Germans
in this quarter, but the gains were slight,
and Russian losses, according to German
reports, were heavy.
These Russian activities gave notice
to the world, and particularly to the
Central Powers, that the Russian armies
were still to be reckoned with. It seemed
probable that when the spring campaign
opened, the Russians would, in fact, be
more numerous and better equipped despite their losses-than they had been
the year before. And the Russian victories in Asiatic Turkey, described elsewhere, bore out this view of the matter.
So vast was Russia's reservoir of men
that some observers believed that defeat
would prove less exhausting to her than
was victory to her enemies.