German Atrocities - William Le Queux - ebook
Opis

THIS fearful and disgraceful record of a Nation’s shame and of an Emperor’s complicity in atrocious crimes against God and man is no work of fiction, but a plain unvarnished statement of the grim and terrible work of the Kaiser’s Huns of Attila which I have considered it a duty to lay before the British public.Modern Germany, frothing with military Nietzschism, seems to have returned to a primitive barbarism. Belgium, a peaceful modern nation, has been swept by fire and sword, and its honest, pious inhabitants tortured and massacred, not because the German soldiery desired to wreak such vengeance upon a people with whom they could have no quarrel, but because they had been encouraged “to act with unrelenting severity, to create examples which by their frightfulness would be a warning to the whole country.”The wild orgies of blood and debauchery, the atrocious outrages, murders, and mutilations, the ruthless violation and killing of defenceless women, girls, and children of tender age, have been, it is now admitted by the Germans themselves, carried out with their full knowledge, and even as part of the actual plan of campaign of their War-Lords.Germany, though boasting of her culture, her refinement, her honest home-life, and the peaceful efforts of her Emperor, has for ever lost her place among civilized nations.

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Table of contents

PREFACE

FOREWORD

AUTHOR’S NOTE

INTRODUCTION.

I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

X.

XI.

XII.

XIII.

XIV.

XV.

XVI.

XVII.

THE DAY

PREFACE

THIS fearful and disgraceful record of a Nation’s shame and of an Emperor’s complicity in atrocious crimes against God and man is no work of fiction, but a plain unvarnished statement of the grim and terrible work of the Kaiser’s Huns of Attila which I have considered it a duty to lay before the British public.Modern Germany, frothing with military Nietzschism, seems to have returned to a primitive barbarism. Belgium, a peaceful modern nation, has been swept by fire and sword, and its honest, pious inhabitants tortured and massacred, not because the German soldiery desired to wreak such vengeance upon a people with whom they could have no quarrel, but because they had been encouraged “to act with unrelenting severity, to create examples which by their frightfulness would be a warning to the whole country.”The wild orgies of blood and debauchery, the atrocious outrages, murders, and mutilations, the ruthless violation and killing of defenceless women, girls, and children of tender age, have been, it is now admitted by the Germans themselves, carried out with their full knowledge, and even as part of the actual plan of campaign of their War-Lords.Germany, though boasting of her culture, her refinement, her honest home-life, and the peaceful efforts of her Emperor, has for ever lost her place among civilized nations. It now stands revealed that when her diplomatic methods of base chicanery and lying fail then she does not hesitate to resort to acts so dastardly and inhuman as to have no parallel. Not only has she broken her most solemn treaties and moral engagements, but all the rules of civilized warfare to which she was a signatory at The Hague she has also violated, merely regarding them as “a scrap of paper.”Not content with resorting to every act of savagery and every refinement of cruelty which degenerated minds, filled with the blood-lust of war, could conceive, her troops, by order of her generals, have made a practice all along the line of placing before them innocent women and children to act as a living screen, in the hope that the Allies would not, from motives of humanity, fire upon them.One cannot read a single page of this awful record—the German Black Book—without being thrilled with horror at unspeakable acts of civilized troops, who, at the behest of their Kaiser, and the exposed yet still ruling camarilla at Berlin, have become simply as the Huns of Attila.The contents of this book are no hearsay stories, but hard facts officially recorded in dossiers in the French and Belgian Ministries of War, most of them, indeed, sworn statements taken before burgomasters, mayors, prefects, and magistrates. Even our brave fellows wounded in the Kaiser’s savage attack upon Europe have brought back from the front similar narratives of the most appalling crimes. Evidence of German trickery and savagery we have, too, in our midst, for trains, sentries, and policemen have been shot at under cover of darkness by men who mean to emulate the methods of their compatriots.The frightful deeds which have been done over the face of Belgium and in France are, no doubt, intended to be repeated in Great Britain, and, if it were possible, the Red Hand of Destruction would certainly be laid very heavy upon us—more heavily, perhaps, because we, by our honesty of purpose, have incurred the hatred of Kaiserdom.I would bid all sufferers in Belgium and France to remember that when Attila of old came to Chalons, full of ostentation as the great War-Lord, he came to his own undoing, and his dominion at once disappeared to the winds. There is One with Whom vengeance lies for wrongs, and most assuredly will He mete out the same dread Fate of death and obscurity to the unblushing War-Lord of Germany, who, daily, with his blasphemous impiety, lifts his bloodstained hands and thanks his Maker for his shameful “successes.”WILLIAM LE QUEUX.WHAT THE KAISER SAID: “When you meet the foe you will defeat him. No quarter will be given, no prisoners will be taken. Let all who fall into your hands be at your mercy. Gain a reputation like the Huns under Attila.”This quotation from an address of the Kaiser to German troops, before they were dispatched to Peking in 1900, was circulated on post cards throughout Germany.

FOREWORD

WHO WERETHE HUNS OF ATTILA?The Kaiser, we read, has exhorted his soldiers to make themselves as much dreaded as the Huns of Attila. It is worth while to recall the methods of this savage, for he was nothing better. In one expedition across Greece and in another across Italy he reduced seventy of the finest cities to smoking ruins and to shambles. The inhabitants were either slaughtered on the spot or marched away in chains to end their lives as slaves. Men, women, children, babies—all came alike to this black demon of outrage and destruction. Briefly, the Monarch of the Huns may be best described as the worthy leader of one vast gang of Jack-the-Rippers.And this is the blood-guilty ruffian whom the Kaiser now holds up as his exemplar! Judging by Louvain, he is no unworthy follower of his Master.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

In addition to the sworn facts and statements supplied officially to me by the Belgian Government, I have here included some others which have been recounted by wounded men who have returned from the front, by doctors who have attended them, and by the special correspondents of Reuter’s, the Central News, and other news agencies, and of the London and provincial newspapers.German Atrocities.Mr. Asquith has described the sacking of Louvain as “the greatest crime committed against civilization and culture since the Thirty Years’ War. With its buildings, its pictures, its unique library, its unrivalled associations, a shameless holocaust of irreparable treasures lit up by blind barbarian vengeance.”

INTRODUCTION.

IT was a little over a month after the declaration of war that reports of great events began to crowd in upon us. Much had happened in that short space of time. The enormous forces of the Kaiser had forced back the line of the Allies well into France. We admired the huge machine at work. From a military point of view the rapidity of the advance of such an enormous body of men was something unique in warfare. It was not this wonderful achievement of the German army, however, it was not the equally wonderful resistance made by the Allies against overwhelming numbers, it was not the glorious record of Belgian, French, and British heroism—which resulted in practically nothing being gained by their adversary—it was none of these things that aroused and amazed the nations of the civilized world. It was something very different which arrested their horrified wonder, something which, in the words of the Times, “will turn the hand of every civilized nation in the world against them” (the German nation).The atrocious acts committed by the troops of the Kaiser have staggered the civilized world, and it must now be plain to the meanest intelligence that these atrocities and acts of inhuman barbarity were not the doings of soldiers intoxicated with the excitement of success in battle, or maddened to the point of avenging defeat, or to be ascribed to an unbridled license of irresponsible troops out of hand. There is no longer any doubt, even in minds slow to believe them, that deeds which bring the blush of shame to the cheek as we read of them have been perpetrated; there is as little doubt where the responsibility for them rests. It is with the Kaiser and the men around him.Plain Speaking. “Until now we have maintained an attitude of deliberate reserve upon the innumerable stories of German atrocities which have reached us,” says the Times. “We published without comment the unanswerable list of shocking excesses committed by the German troops, which was sent to England by the Belgian authorities. When a German Zeppelin cast bombs upon ill-fated women asleep in their beds at Antwerp, we did no more than explain the bearings of international law upon conduct which has met with universal reprobation in Europe and America. But now the real object of German savagery is self-revealed, not only by the effacement of Louvain, but by the shameful admissions sent forth from the wireless station at Berlin. On Thursday night the following official notification regarding Belgium came vibrating through the air:— “ ‘The only means of preventing surprise attacks from the civil population has been to interfere with unrelenting severity and to create examples which by their frightfulness would be a warning to the whole country.’ “Such is the cynical nature of the German apologia for the destruction of Louvain. Such is the character of the warfare of the modern Huns. They seek to strike terror into the hearts of their foes by methods which belong to the days of the old barbaric hosts, who were thought to have vanished from the world for ever. “There must be no mistake about the apportionment of blame for this and numberless other crimes. We have listened too long to the bleatings of professors bemused by the false glamour of a philosophy which the Germans themselves have thrust aside. The Kaiser and his people are alike responsible for the acts of their Government and their troops, and there can be no differentiation when the day of reckoning comes. “The Kaiser could stop these things with a word. Instead, he pronounces impious benedictions upon them. Daily he appeals for the blessing of God upon the dreadful deeds which are staining the face of Western Europe—the ravaged villages, the hapless non-combatants hanged or shot, the women and children torn from their beds by cowards and made to walk before them under fire, all the infamies which have eternally disgraced German ‘valour.’ We are no longer dependent upon hearsay for these stories. Our own men are bringing them back from the front. Let there be no mistake as to where the responsibility rests.”What the Kaiser Said.It was the Kaiser (addressing his troops in June, 1900, on their setting out for Peking) who said:— “When you meet the foe you will defeat him. No quarter will be given, no prisoners will be taken. Let all who fall into your hands be at your mercy. Gain a reputation like the Huns under Attila.”And Who Was Attila?It is worth while to recall the methods of this savage, for he was nothing better. In one expedition across Greece and in another across Italy he reduced seventy of the finest cities to smoking ruins and to shambles. The inhabitants were either slaughtered on the spot or marched away in chains to end their lives as slaves. Men, women, children, babies—all came alike to this black demon of outrage and destruction. Briefly, the Monarch of the Huns may be best described as the worthy leader of one vast gang of Jack the Rippers.And this is the blood-guilty ruffian whom the Kaiser now holds up as his exemplar! Judging by Louvain, he is no unworthy follower of his Master.Then was it not Bismarck who said:— “You must leave the people through whom you march only their eyes to weep with.”It was also the Kaiser who said, addressing his soldiers, “You must only have one will, and it is mine; there is only one law, and it is mine.”And then again, I repeat, it was a Berlin wireless that flashed the official message:— “The only means of preventing surprise attacks from the civil population has been to interfere with unrelenting severity and to create examples which by their frightfulness would be a warning to the whole country.”Need we seek further to fix the responsibility?War Rights.What are the rights of nations in a state of war? There are first of all the unwritten laws of nations and humanity which need, or should need, no defining amongst civilized peoples. There are also the definite and specific Acts laid down at The Hague Convention, which it was declared by the signatories would not be legitimate in war between civilized nations. Germany was a signatory to The Hague Convention. At this Convention the Powers limited the rights of belligerents in the means to be adopted of injuring the enemy. Here are some of them:—By Article XXIII. it was especially forbidden:— “To kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army. “To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion. “To declare that no quarter will be given. “To employ arms, projectiles, or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. “To make improper use of a flag of truce, of the national flag, or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy, as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention. “To destroy or seize the enemy’s property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.”The law of civilized warfare was further made plain as follows:—Article XXV.: “The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended, is prohibited.”Article XXVI.: “The officer in command of an attacking force must, before commencing a bombardment, except in cases of assault, do all in his power to warn the authority.”Article XXVII.: “In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare as far as possible buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes. It is the duty of the besieged to indicate the presence of such buildings or places by distinctive and visible signs which shall be notified to the enemy beforehand.”In other further Articles it was laid down that a belligerent is forbidden to force the inhabitants of territory occupied by him to furnish information about the army of the other belligerent, or about its means of defence. It was forbidden to confiscate private property, and also laid down that family honour and rights, the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected. Pillage was forbidden, and prisoners must be humanely treated.Uncivilized Warfare.Stories of German brutality and ruthless disregard of these rules of civilized warfare as set out above were, from the opening of the war, continually reaching England. At first the public were sceptical about such tales of horror. Unfortunately, however, it was too clearly seen that the Germans made war in a manner which was very far from being civilized. Atrocities were being committed with a definite object—an object which was self-revealed, not only by the effacement of Louvain, “a shameless holocaust of irreparable treasures lit up by blind barbarian vengeance,” but by the disgraceful admissions sent forth from the German wireless station which I have already quoted.The character of the warfare of these modern Huns was to terrorize the inhabitants of a hostile country, so that the invader might proceed on his way without fear of molestation. Therefore, the unspeakable crimes of the Kaiser’s forces have not even the excuse of being outbursts of national savagery. The shameful record contained in these pages are the cold and calculated brutalities of a nation who boasted of its “culture,” whose prayerful Emperor held up his hands to his Maker invoking success for his horde of ruthless barbarians, but who has shown that in war he respects no law of God, and regards the solemn treaties of nations as “scraps of paper.” “We can only pray for a hastening of the day when all that is best in the German people will reassert itself as of old, and when the long reign of an arrogant and ruthless military caste will be looked back to by the countrymen of Schiller and Goethe as a nightmare that never can return.” —From the American Nation.