Thomas Herbert Russell.

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streets, the city was in absolute darkness, and near the quay I lost my
way trying to get to the Hotel Wagner. For the second time that day I
narrowly escaped death by shell. One burst with terrific force about
twenty-five yards from me. I heard its warning whirr and rushed into a
neighboring porch. Whether it was from the concussion of the shell or in
my anxiety to escape I caromed against the door and tumbled down, and
as I lay on the ground a house on the opposite side crashed in ruins. I
remained still for several minutes, feeling quite sick and unable to get
up. Then I pulled myself together and ran at full speed until I came to
a street which I recognized.


"How many of the inhabitants of Antwerp remained in the city that night
it is impossible to say, but they were all in the cellars of their
houses or shops. The Burgomaster, M. De Vos, had in one of his several
proclamations made many suggestions for safety during the bombardment,
for the benefit of those who took refuge in cellars. Among the most
useful of them, perhaps, was that which recommended means of escape to
an adjoining cellar. The power of modern artillery is so tremendous that
a cellar might very well become a tomb if a shell fell on the building

"Sleep was impossible that night, in the noise caused by the explosion
of shells in twenty different quarters of the town. About 6 o'clock I
was told that it was time we got out, as the Germans were entering
the city. We hurried from the hotel and found the streets completely
deserted. I walked down to the quay-side, and there I came across many
wounded soldiers, who had been unable to get away in the hospital boat.

"On the quay piles of equipment had been abandoned. A broken-down
motor-car, kit-bags, helmets, rifles and knapsacks were littered in
heaps. Ammunition had been dumped there and rendered useless. The
Belgians had evidently attempted to set fire to the whole lot. The pile
of stuff was still smoldering. I waited there for half an hour, and
during that time hundreds of Belgian soldiers passed in the retreat.
Just about this time a pontoon bridge which had been the means of the
Belgian retreat was blown up to prevent pursuit by the Germans.

"At 8 o'clock a shell struck the Town Hall, and about 8:15 another shell
shattered the upper story and broke every window in the place.


"That was the German way of telling the Burgomaster to hurry up. A
quarter of an hour later M. De Vos went out in his motor-car toward
the German line to discuss the conditions on which the city should be

"At 9:30 o'clock the bombardment of the city suddenly ceased, and we
understood that the Burgomaster had by this time reached the German
headquarters. Still we waited, painfully anxious to learn what would be
the ultimate fate of Antwerp. Belgian soldiers hurried by and at 10:
proclamations were posted on the walls of the Town Hall urging all in
the city to surrender any arms in their possession and begging all to
remain calm in the event of the Germans' occupation. A list was also
posted of several prominent citizens who were appointed to look after
the interests of those Belgians who remained.

"The 'impregnable' city of Antwerp had fallen, but without dishonor to
its gallant defenders."


On October 10 Baron von der Schutz was appointed military governor
of Antwerp. It was expected that the city would become the base for
Zeppelin attacks upon England and also for a German naval campaign
in which mines and submarines would play an important part. This was
intimated in dispatches from Berlin following the German occupation of
the city.

The German General Staff, in announcing the capture, added that they
could not estimate the number of prisoners taken. "We took enormous
quantities of supplies of all kinds," said the official statement.



_Typical Precautions Used by the German Army_ - _The Soldiers' First-Aid
Outfit_ - _System in Hospital Arrangements_ - _How Prisoners of War Are
Treated_ - _Are Humane and Fair to All Concerned_.

Modern armies take the best possible care of their wounded and none
has brought this department of warfare to greater perfection than the
Germany army. One detail of this work shows the German army at its best.

Every soldier has sewn under a corner of his coat a strip of rubber
cloth. Under this strip is a piece of antiseptic gauze, a strip of
bandage and plaster and cloth for the outer bandage. This cloth bears in
simple pictures directions for dressing every sort of wound.

When a soldier is wounded either he or some comrade rips open this
package and applies at once the life saving dressing, which will last
at any rate until the soldier is brought to a station, where the first
scientific attention is given.

Through this simple and inexpensive device thousands upon thousands of
German soldiers, who have been slightly wounded in battle, have returned
to their comrades within a few days completely well and have taken their
places in the ranks once more. Without this care a large percentage of
the wounds would become inflamed, as has been the case with hundreds of
wounded French prisoners captured by the Germans.

The ordinary procedure of caring for the wounded in the German army
is for the sanitary corps, which is well provided with stretchers and
bandages, to gather up the wounded on or near the firing lines and bring
them to a gathering point a little way behind the lines.

Here the army surgeons are ready to begin work at once upon the most
urgent cases. They are assisted by members of the corps, who remove
the temporary bandages, and put on dressings which will last until the
soldier reaches a hospital. Then from this first gathering point the
wounded soldiers are put on stretchers in Red Cross wagons and carried
to the field hospitals a few miles farther back, where doctors and
nurses are at work.


These hospitals are usually established in village churches or town
halls. One room is cleared and arranged for an operating room, where
bullets and pieces of shell are removed and amputations are made if

"I have just visited such a field hospital," said a correspondent with
the right wing of the German army in France, writing on September 28.
"It was in a little whitewashed village church heated by a stove.
Everywhere were white beds made of straw and covered with sheets.
Perhaps twenty wounded were here, including two captured Irishmen. They
lay quite still when the army doctor ushered us in, for they were too
seriously wounded to pay much attention to anything.

"Near this hospital was another in a town hall. While we were there a
consulting surgeon arrived to investigate the condition of a seriously
wounded lieutenant, whose leg might need amputation. Two orderlies put
the patient on a stretcher, and he was taken into the next room for
examination. Later in the day the amputation was performed.


"From these little field hospitals, as soon as the men can be moved,
they are taken to some general hospital in the nearest large city, where
several thousands can be cared for. Such a hospital exists in this
neighborhood in the building of a normal college, where every corner is
used in housing wounded men.

"I made a quick trip through this building and the memory of it is one
of the most heartrending pictures I have of the war. Room after room
was filled with the victims of the conflict. Every man was seriously
wounded. Some had suffered amputations and the heads of others were
so bandaged that no feature could be seen, only a tube to the nose
permitting breathing.


"In one room a surgeon had a soldier on the operating table and was
pulling pieces of shell from a huge hole in the inner side of one of his
legs. On a stretcher on the floor, waiting for his turn to come under
the surgeon's care, was an officer. His face was covered with blood,
he was waving his arms wildly and gasping for air. This scene left an
impression of the utmost horror upon me.

"Slightly wounded soldiers, whom it is not necessary to leave for
a while in the field hospitals, are sent directly to these larger
hospitals and thence, after a short convalescence, are loaded into Red
Cross trains and sent home for recovery. Later they return to take their
places in the regiments. Such trains can be seen daily along any main
line of railroad. In some cases freight cars with straw bedding are

"One of the finest examples of charity given during the war is a
splendid Red Cross train entirely equipped as a modern hospital, even
having a first class operating room. This was given to the German army
by the citizens of Wilmersdorff, who also employed an excellent surgeon.
Scores of lives will be saved through a small outlay of money.


"Near the large hospital I visited was a graveyard where there were
scores of neatly marked fresh graves, each bearing a cross or tablet
with the name of the soldier and his regiment, division and corps marked
on it. In some cases comrades had added a word or two of scripture. The
deaths are too numerous for an imposing ceremony at each burial, but for
every one an army chaplain reads scripture and offers a short prayer,
while a few comrades stand by with bared heads.

"The identity of each soldier is easily determined from the name plate
which he wears in a little leather purse suspended from around the neck.
After a battle these plates are gathered from the dead and from these
the death lists are made out. [It was said that after the battle of
the Marne no fewer than 68,000 of these name plates or tags were found
collected in one place. - Ed.]

"After a battle where the deaths mount into the thousands some field
will be shut off for a cemetery and there the bodies are buried, each
grave receiving some kind of a cross wherever it is possible, but here
no names can be attached. There will be many homes in which there will
be vacant places and where it will not even be known where the absent
ones are buried.


"While here I heard a touching story about a lieutenant who was dying in
the hospital, while the Kaiser was inspecting it. The Kaiser came to the
room where the officer lay and the attendants asked him not to enter, as
a man was dying. The Kaiser immediately pushed his way in, went up to
the lieutenant, put his hand on the officer's shoulder, and said in
German: 'Hello, here I am!'

"The lieutenant began murmuring with his eyes closed.

"'I have been dreaming and I dreamed that my Kaiser came to me, put his
hand on my shoulder and spoke to me.'

"'Open your eyes,' said the Kaiser.

"The lieutenant obeyed, smiled a smile of recognition, and then closed
his eyes in the final sleep.


"So far, according to official announcement, there have been between
50,000 and 60,000 wounded and immediately after a great battle the
sanitary corps has been unable to cope quickly enough with the work,
but under ordinary circumstances the provision made has been ample. The
number of the sanitary corps was determined upon the experience in the
Russo-Japanese war, in which the losses were by no means so heavy as
they have been in this war, but where in a few cases numbers have been
lacking the surgeons and their assistants have put forth herculean
efforts. Many surgeons are now wearing the iron cross for bravery,
winning the insignia by dragging out wounded from the rain of bullets.

The prisoner of war has been a conspicuous figure in the news that has
come from the seething caldron of Europe. Many thousands of prisoners
have been taken from the contending armies by their adversaries. For
them the average American reader, perusing "war news" in the comfort of
his security from the great conflict, has felt perhaps a grain of sorrow
and wondered vaguely what horrors befell them after capture.

Early in September the German war department sent broadcast a statement
that 30,000 Russians had been taken prisoners by the German soldiers
after heavy battles in East Prussia, particularly around Ortelsburg,
Hohenstein and Tannenburg. The statement mentioned the fact that among
the prisoners were many Russian officers of high rank.

What is done with these prisoners, how they are handled and treated and
whether high officials are punished more severely than mere privates,
are questions frequently asked and seldom answered, for the procedure
followed in such matters is but little known.


The international laws of warfare, embodied in The Hague conventions,
the Geneva convention and the declaration of London, contain provisions
that provide expressly what manner of treatment shall be accorded
prisoners of hostile nations who are taken in battle. If these
provisions of international law are lived up to, the lot of the prisoner
of war is not so hard as many people have been led to believe.

After the first year of the war, however, stories of ill-treatment of
prisoners in German prison camps began to be told, and before long there
were many well-authenticated cases of the kind. Inhuman treatment was
reported by English and Canadian prisoners, and protests were duly made
by the British government through neutral channels. The growing shortage
of food in Germany was alleged as the cause of some of the complaints,
but cases of actual brutality, involving cowardly physical abuse and
even killing were also reported. The nation which captures its enemy's
soldiers and makes prisoners of them is held entirely responsible
for whatever happens and shoulders at once a responsibility that is
commensurate with the number of prisoners who are taken and detained.

The law of warfare says that a prisoner must be as fair with his
captors as they are with him. He must be "humanely treated," so it is
prescribed, and when he is questioned by his captors he must give his
true name and the rank he holds in the army which has been defeated
and of which he was once a part. Contrary to general belief, he is not
stripped of "everything" and thrown into a dungeon and fed on a crust of
bread and a mug of stale water. His captors do not deprive him of his
personal possessions, except weapons, horses and military papers.

Furthermore, they must give him complete religious liberty, and it is
specifically decreed that he must be given opportunity to attend a
church of the denomination to which he belongs. And there he may pray as
much for the success of his own nation or the much-desired relief from
detention as the state of his mind dictates.


The prisoner of war may be interned in a town or a fort, or even a camp,
according to the convenience of his captors, but the enemy may not
confine him, except, the law says, as "an indispensable measure of
safety," and then only as long as the circumstances make it necessary.
Of course the law gives the commanding officer considerable leeway in
such matters, for he is left to determine when the "indispensable"
occasion arises.

At other times when the prisoner is at liberty, he is subject to all the
rules and regulations of the army of the government that captured him,
and if he refuses to obey the rules or acts in an insubordinate manner
toward the officers in command, he may be punished and disciplined
according to his offense. And here it is again left to the discretion
of his captors as to what measure of punishment shall be inflicted upon


If a prisoner of war attempts to escape and his captors are vigilant to
the extent of retaking him before he leaves the territory they occupy,
or before he has a chance to rejoin his own army, he may be severely
punished. On the other hand, if he eludes his captors and makes a clean
getaway and his army is again unfortunate, and he is captured the
second time, the perfectly good escape from previous captivity must go
unpunished and he must be treated as a prisoner of war, just as though
he had not made the successful dash for liberty and further glory.

The government that holds prisoners of war is chargeable with their
maintenance and must provide them with food, clothing and shelter as
good as that provided for its own troops. The officers of the captors
are required to keep records of all the prisoners under their charge,
and if relief societies, which have been extensively formed by the women
of Europe and many American women as well, wish to minister to their
needs and comforts, the officers in command must afford them every
possible facility. And if the friends of prisoners or the welfare
societies see fit to send them presents and clothing, medicine and other
necessities, such goods must be admitted to them free of any war duty
that might be imposed by the nation holding them, and the railroads
owned by the government are bound to carry such supplies free of
transportation charges.


Prisoners of war may be put to work by the government that captures them
and the duties must be assigned with a view to their aptitude, fitness
and rank. The tasks must not be unduly severe, so as to border on
cruelty, and they must have no bearing whatever on the operations of the
war. The prisoners must be paid for the work they do, moreover, at a
rate equal to that being paid to the soldiers of the national army, and
prisoners may be authorized to work for the public service, for private
persons or on their own account.

The wages of these prisoners, the law says, must go toward improving
their condition, and the balance must be paid them after their release,
with the proper deduction for their board and keep. When officers of
hostile armies who are captured are put to work they must get the same
wage rate as is paid to the corresponding officers of the government
whose captives they are. All these moneys must be ultimately refunded by
their own governments to their captors after the war is over, peace is
declared and the intricate problems of indemnities come up for solution.

A prisoner of war may even be paroled by his captors, and this is done
sometimes when he is disabled or there are circumstances that prompt his
enemies to let him go to those who are near and dear to him. When parole
is granted to a prisoner he makes a solemn pledge and promise that he
will live up to the terms under which he is released, and even his own
nation may not ask him to perform a service that is inconsistent with
that pledge.


It goes hard with the prisoner on parole who is caught fighting against
the nation that released him, for he is not entitled to be treated as a
prisoner of war, and the judgment meted out to him is as terrible as
it is sure. Certain codes of honor are supposed to be observed even in
international warfare, and a soldier who breaks his word of honor is
considered the most despicable of men.



_American Relief for War-Stricken Peoples of Europe_ - _Millions
of Dollars Contributed in Cash and Gifts_ - Canada Aids the
Belgians_ - Devastation of Poland Even Greater and More Terrible them
that of Belgium_.

Soon after the world became aware of the fact that the German army's
progress through Belgium on its dash to Paris in August of 1914 had
resulted in the absolute devastation of the little buffer state, an
enterprising and sympathetic American citizen, Mr. James Keeley, editor
of the Chicago Herald, penned a remarkable open letter "to the Children
of America," in which he suggested the sending of a "Christmas ship" to
Europe, filled with gifts of a useful character for the little ones of
all the belligerent nations. The response was immediate and most truly
generous. Newspapers and civic organizations all over the United States
joined in gathering from young and old the contributions that freighted
a United States warship with a cargo of gifts worth over two million
dollars, and at Yuletide these gifts were systematically distributed
among the innocent victims of the war in all the countries concerned.

The idea of the Christmas ship was nobly conceived and splendidly
executed. Rulers of the belligerent nations recognized the beauty of the
idea and paused awhile in their martial activities to welcome and thank
the American commissioner who enacted the role of an international Santa
Claus. But the slaughter on the fighting lines of eastern and western
Europe went on unabated and the peaceful symbolism of the Christmas ship
was soon forgotten in the daily recurrence of battle and bloodshed.

While the frightful state of Belgium commanded the sympathy of the
civilized world in the winter of 1914-15, the conditions in Poland
were even worse. At the end of March the great Polish pianist, Ignace
Paderewski, paid a visit to London on behalf of the suffering Poles
and his efforts resulted in the formation of an influential relief
committee. Among the members were such men as Premier Asquith,
ex-Premier Balfour, Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd-George, Cardinal
Bourne, archbishop of Westminster; Admiral Lord Charles Beresford and
the Russian and French ambassadors. An American woman, Lady Randolph
Churchill, also took an active part in the work of the committee, which
soon succeeded in raising a large sum for the relief of the most urgent
distress in Poland. While in London on his mission of mercy, Mr.
Paderewski said:

"Is it the death agony or only the birth pangs? That is the question
which every Pole throughout the world is asking himself as tragedy
follows tragedy in the long martyrdom of our beloved nation. You have
only heard the details of Belgium, but I tell you they are as nothing
with what has happened in Poland.

"The scene of operations in Poland is seven times larger than that of
Belgium, and she has had to endure seven times the torture. Remember,
the battle of Europe is being fought in the east, not in the west, and
while the tide of battle has reached a sort of ebb along the trenches
about the frontiers of Alsace and Flanders, the great waves roll
backward and forward from Germany to Russia and break always on Poland.

"Our country, in fact, is just as Belgium was called - the cockpit of
Europe, and it may now be called the battlefield of the world, if not of

"It is only perhaps we Poles who have known to its utmost depths what
this war has really meant. It is not only that there are 10,000,
human beings on the verge of starvation, nay, actually perishing; there
is worse than that.

"Remember that both Belgium and Poland are still under the yoke. The
Russians, it is true, occupy some fifteen thousand miles of our country,
but this is really nothing, for the Germans occupy five-sixths of it,
and the desolation passes all comprehension.


"As to actual battles, I can hardly speak of them. It is torture even to
think of them. Only consider! Our one nation is divided as it were into
three sections, which were thrust each against the others to work out
their destruction. It is parricide! It is fratricide, nay suicide!
Compulsory suicide! That is what it is!

"Listen to what it means to us all. I was told by a man from Austria
that an army doctor, a Pole by birth, who was deputed to go over the
Austrian battlefields and verify identification marks on the bodies,
found among the 14,000 dead hardly any but Polish names. He looked in
vain for any others, and in the end went mad with horror at the thought
of it. Another story that came to me the other day told of another case
of the tragedy of Poland which is almost too terrible for the human mind
to contain. The incident took place during a charge. Both armies had
been ordered to attack, and the Poles, as usual, were in the front
lines. As they met in the shock they recognized each other.

"One poor fellow, as he was struck through by a bayonet, cried out in
his death agony, 'Jesu Maria! I have five children! Jesu Maria!' The
words went as straight to the brain of his conqueror as a dagger to the
heart, and killed his reason. Somewhere among the madhouses of Europe
there is a lunatic. He is not violent, but he never laughs. He only
wanders about with the words of his dying victim, 'Ah, Jesu Maria! I
have five children. Jesu Maria!'

"The promise of Grand Duke Nicholas that Poland shall be a nation once

Online LibraryThomas Herbert RussellAmerica's War for Humanity → online text (page 30 of 49)