Page 3621

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

droves.

"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

their mind."

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.