German Barbarism_ A Neutral's Indictment
A NEUTRAL’S INDICTMENT
DOCTOR OF LAW OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS
WITH PREFACE BY
M. PAUL GIRARD
OF THE INSTITUT DE FRANCE
HODDER AND STOUGHTON
LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO
Printed in Great Britain by
Richard Clay & Sons, Limited,
BRUNSWICK ST., STAMFORD ST., S.E.,
AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.
This new volume on Germany’s conception andpractice of war is the work of a neutral, a fact whichwould alone suffice to secure it our sympathies. Moreover,it is a book which is systematically arranged,based on documentary evidence, serious and obviouslysincere, qualities too weighty not to compel the respectnot only of the French public, but of all those, towhatever nationality they may belong, who may careto read it or merely to glance through it with anunprejudiced eye.
The author is a Greek, who loves France and whoknows her. He knows her because he has lived there;he is not blind to her weak points, but having beenearly captured by her, he knows the profound mistakeinto which a stranger falls who is content to judgeher by appearances: he has fathomed the depths ofher character and discovered the inexhaustible resourcesof will and energy concealed beneath an apparent, yetmuch exaggerated, levity. It is for this reason thatin the dread crisis through which she is passing, andfrom which, as he well knows, she will emerge victorious,he has been willing to fight on our side, at leastwith the pen. Let us thank him, and may our gratitudeextend beyond him to his noble country, to thatGreece whose feelings have long been known to us,who has not changed them, notwithstanding the ebb[vi]and flow of her domestic policy or of transitory influences,and who will not change them, we areconvinced: otherwise she would not be Greece.
So much for the author of these pages which weare about to read. When I add that M. Léon Maccasbelongs to the best society in Athens: that while stillvery young he won the degree of doctor of law in hisown country by a remarkable thesis; that he came tous with the intention of pursuing further, thanks tothe assistance which we can give him, his studies ininternational law and diplomatic history, I shall haveconcluded a very inadequate introduction of authorto reader.
As for the contents of this volume, what is the goodof dwelling upon them? It is an established fact, atthe present moment, that the Germans have introducedinto war a new law, a new morality. This lawand this morality are obviously contrary to the ideaswhich humanity has hitherto formed of these greatsubjects and to the impulses which urged and still urgehumanity to endeavour to mitigate the permissiblesufferings and horrors which war between civilisednations entails. The Germans have taken quite adifferent line. They appear to have made it theirbusiness to practise everywhere, in different forms, theabuse of force. It is a method, and one, too, whichhas something spacious about it. But a method issomething which confesses or proclaims itself. Wedo not blush for a method, we blush for an unpremeditated,precipitate act, not for conduct coldlycalculated with the purpose of attaining a supremeend, the righteousness of which justifies everythingin the thought of those who aim at it. What is themeaning, then, of all these shufflings, these denials,[vii]disputings or flimsy vindications of facts? Why theseshameless apologies among neutrals? Why thesepamphlets, these articles scattered broadcast over twohemispheres, these idyllic pictures of movements ofGerman troops to whom the peasants, peasants ofFrance, express (in a language which betrays clumsyfalsehood) their good wishes for a safe return to theirnative land. Why all this effort, if not from thenecessity to justify themselves, a necessity which inthese souls who profess to be emancipated from thevain prejudices of the world is even stronger andmore deeply rooted than the desire to compel everythingby force? Is not this necessity the clearest andmost invaluable of admissions?
But that is not the whole story. By a contradictionwhich would have something grotesque about it ifthe tale of bloodshed and destruction made such anexpression permissible, those who every day shamelesslyviolate the law of nations are the first to protestwith impassioned vehemence against what in theiropponents they assert to be a violation of the law ofnations, as if the right to trample right under footwas a privilege of Germany. I am well aware thaton that point also we are critical, but even thoughthere were some motive for being critical, a thingwhich is by no means proven, we must admit that anation which has signed certain declarations designedto mitigate as far as possible the severities of war,and which, as soon as it becomes belligerent, no longerholds itself bound by these same declarations, is notjustified in trying to pose as punctilious in the matter.
The only result of all this is hatred, stubborn invinciblehatred, which neither peace nor victory willdestroy. Some Germans, it is said, are beginning to[viii]be anxious about it; others are getting used to it,provided that with hate they reap the harvest offear; but it is a mistaken calculation, because love,or, if you like, a minimum of sympathy, is necessaryfor the daily round of that common life which we callinternational relations. Force, admitting that thosewho have it at their disposal can always count uponit, is powerless to bind nations together, and by forceI understand not merely material force, but a spiritualforce, such as is, for example, science, of which Germanyis so justly proud. If hatred persists, fostered as areligious duty, kindled in the sacred fire of memory,there is no security possible for him who is the objectof it: it is the flaw which silently threatens withsudden destruction the steel upon which so muchreliance is placed.
Woe to the nation which makes itself hated!
The reader will find in the pages which we herewithoffer him a detailed picture of the cruelties committedby Germany in the war which involves half the nationsof Europe.
In this war, which she let loose upon the world,Germany is not attacking merely armies and fortresses.She takes her victims even from the civil population,and systematically harries even the property of privateindividuals. She revives under our eyes the times ofAttila: to every soldier whom she dispatches againsther enemies she recalls the saying of the Scourge ofGod that “wherever he rode there the grass mustcease to grow.” She devotes herself to pillage anddestruction; aye, and to pollution and desecration.From her captains, her leaders, her diplomats down toher plain citizens and private soldiers she has disclosedher barbarous spirit, her base instincts; underthe blazing light of the devouring flames which shehas kindled she lays broad the infamous groundworkand shameful foundations of what she dares to callher civilisation, and which, on the plea of its superiority,she claims to impose upon the whole universe.
Great towns have perished in the flames by herhands, with all the treasures of science, art and industrywhich they contained; innumerable districts, lesspopulous but no less prosperous, have likewise beenplundered, looted and abandoned to the ravages offire and sword; whole regions have been laid waste[x]without a shadow of military necessity; thousandsof peaceful residents, and harmless citizens of theseareas, priests and women, children and old folk, havebeen shot, killed, executed, martyred; women andyoung girls have been violated and subjected to themost frightful tortures; prisoners have been ill-treatedor even shot; the wounded have been dispatched onthe field of battle; young people below the militaryage have been carried off to Germany and treated asprisoners at common law. In the field, the Germanarmies have been guilty of shameful acts of treachery:weapons forbidden because they cause horrible woundshave been used without scruple and without shame.Towns have had monstrous levies imposed upon them,which they had to pay on penalty of seeing theirinhabitants massacred. And these things were repeatedeverywhere: in Belgium, in France, in Poland,in Galicia, in Serbia. Fire, sword, bloodshed, dishonour,slaughter, murder, torture have been flauntedbefore the eyes of astonished Europe.
That is the story we are going to tell. And withthe evidence in the case ready to hand, we shall drawa picture of German barbarism. We shall appeal tothe civilised world and ask it to reflect upon themonstrous exhibition of the instincts, the characterand the principles of the German nation, which claimedto be gifted with fine feelings and to be punctiliousabout morals. The facts which will be narrated tothe reader will pass judgment upon this claim. Inface of the flattering or mendacious pleas, circulatedfor the last fifty years by Germany herself or by herdupes, this book, the author is fully persuaded, willbut anticipate the verdict of history.
|I||THE GERMAN THEORY OF WAR||1|
|II||GERMAN ACTIONS CANNOT BE JUSTIFIED ON THE PLEA OF REPRISALS||7|
|III||THE GERMAN TREATMENT OF OFFICIALS||17|
|IV||OUTRAGES COMMITTED BY GERMAN AUTHORITIES AND PRIVATE PERSONS AGAINST ENEMY SUBJECTS||30|
|V||OUTRAGES ON NEUTRAL SUBJECTS||35|
|VI||GERMAN USE OF PROHIBITED IMPLEMENTS OF WAR||42|
|VII||GERMAN TREACHERY ON THE BATTLEFIELD||50|
|VIII||BOMBARDMENT OF UNDEFENDED TOWNS. CRIMES COMMITTED DURING BOMBARDMENT. DEFINITION OF BOMBARDMENT||55|
|IX||KILLING OF THE WOUNDED BY GERMANS||83|
|X||ILL-TREATMENT OF PRISONERS OF WAR||97|
|XI||THE MURDER, TORTURE AND VIOLATION OF WOMEN IN INVADED TERRITORY||104|
|XII||OFFENCES AGAINST CHILDREN, OLD PEOPLE AND PRIESTS||117[xii]|
|XIII||OUTRAGES ON CIVILIANS AND FRANCS-TIREURS||134|
|XIV||SYSTEMATIC ARSON. DESECRATION OF CHURCHES||171|
|XV||SYSTEMATIC PILLAGE AND THEFT. ROBBING THE WOUNDED AND THE DEAD||185|
|XVI||DEGREES OF RESPONSIBILITY. CONCLUSION||216|
THE GERMAN THEORY OF WAR
The Custom of War
Eternal peace is a chimera. Whatever pains wemay take to avoid war, there always comes a momentwhen tradition and interest, passion and affectionclash and bring to pass the shock which we desiredto avoid, a shock which, in the conditions withinwhich civilisation evolves, appears not merely inevitable,but salutary. So we see that philosophers andhistorians have generally spoken of war as a necessaryevil.
But just because of the services which war is calledupon to render at certain times, it is important notto keep it apart from all the wholesome, righteousand moral ideas disseminated by civilisation, someof which are an age-long gain to society. The evilswhich war brings with it must be reduced as muchas possible. A state of war, disastrous in itself, mustbe made subject to laws, approved by righteousnessand morality, laws which