Current History, Vol. VIII, No. 3, June 1918 online

. (page 2 of 30)
Online LibraryVariousCurrent History, Vol. VIII, No. 3, June 1918 → online text (page 2 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

being acknowledged. In this way the strip of Bessarabia which had been
Russian for half a century became not Turkish, but Rumanian. When Russia
declared war against Turkey in 1877 she announced to Rumania that she
sought the restoration of her strip of Bessarabian land; and, knowing
this, Rumania became Russia's ally in the war against Turkey, with
Prince Carol as commander of her forces, he being of the Roman Catholic
branch of the Hohenzollerns. In 1881 he took the title of King, to which
his nephew Ferdinand succeeded in 1914.


Writing in 1818, Byron described Mazeppa as "the Ukraine Hetman, calm
and bold," and it is to the period of Mazeppa and even earlier that this
title and office goes back. The word Hetman is of uncertain origin, but
is probably derived from the Bohemian Heitman, a modification of
Hauptmann or Headman. When the Ukraine, the "borderland," was under
Polish suzerainty, in the period from 1592 to 1654, the epoch of "Fire
and Sword," "Pan Michael," and "The Deluge," the Hetman of the
Cossacks, (a Tartar word, kazak, meaning warrior,) was a
semi-independent viceroy.

After the acceptance of Russian suzerainty by the Ukraine under the
great Hetman, Khmelnitski, in 1654, the title and authority of the
Hetman were at first continued, but his power and privileges were
gradually curtailed and finally abolished. It is not certain whether the
word Ataman is a modification of Hetman or a Tartar title; at any rate,
we find the title, "Ataman of all the Cossacks," coming into use as an
appanage of the Czarevitch, or heir apparent of Russia, somewhat as the
title of Prince of Wales is an appanage of the heir apparent of England.
The Czarevitch was represented by Hetmans by delegation, for each
division of the Cossacks, these divisions being military colonies
westward as far as the Caspian, like that described by Tolstoy in his
novel, "The Cossacks."

Writing in 1799, W. Tooke, in his "View of the Russian Empire,"
described the insignia of the Hetman as being the truncheon, the
national standard, the horsetail, kettledrums and signet, a group of
emblems strongly suggesting Tartar influence; the dress of the Cossacks
was, likewise, borrowed from that of the Caucasus Mohammedan tribes, and
in this Caucasian dress the new Hetman of the Ukraine, Skoropadski, took
office at Kiev. His name indicates that he is not a Ruthenian, (Little
Russian,) but a Pole. It has been a consistent element of Austrian
policy to favor the Poles at the expense of the Ruthenians, with the
result that many Poles are strongly pro-Austrian, and hold high office
under the Austrian crown.


When the Dominion of Canada was formed by the British North America act
of 1867, it included only four provinces, Upper and Lower Canada,
(Ontario and Quebec,) Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Provision was made
in the act for the voluntary admission of Prince Edward's Island, the
Northwest Territories and Newfoundland into the Dominion. While the
Northwest Territories took advantage of this provision, and are now
organized as the Provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, Newfoundland, with
Labrador, the latter 120,000 square miles in area, preferred to remain
outside the Dominion of Canada, and has a wholly distinct Constitution
and administration, as independent of Canada as is that, for example, of
British Guiana. Compulsion was never suggested to bring Newfoundland and
Labrador within the Dominion of Canada, though Labrador is
geographically a part of the Canadian mainland.

In Australia likewise the union of the colonies was entirely voluntary.
Five of these, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia,
and Tasmania, by legislative enactments, approved by the direct vote of
the electors, declared their desire for a federal union, and the
Imperial Parliament gave effect to this by the act of July 9, 1900. This
act provided for the inclusion of Western Australia in the Australian
Commonwealth, if that colony so desired; and Western Australia shortly
expressed and carried out that desire.

The population of Ulster in 1911 was 1,581,696, (that of Belfast being
386,947;) the population of Newfoundland with Labrador in 1914 was
251,726; the population of Western Australia when it exercised the
option of inclusion in the Commonwealth of Australia was 184,114; it has
since nearly doubled. A similar case of separate treatment, this time
within the United States, is that of West Virginia, which, in 1862,
determined to remain within the Union when the rest of Virginia seceded.
West Virginia became a State on Dec. 31, 1862, and was not re-integrated
in the Old Dominion at the close of the civil war.


Four principal Directors of the Genoese Electrical Power Company, named
Königsheim, Ampt, Martelli, and Hess, early in April were sentenced to
death by court-martial at Milan by being "shot in the spine," and a
decoy girl was doomed to twenty years' imprisonment, while three
associates were relegated to the galleys for life. It was proved that
the condemned men received from Germany wireless messages, to be
forwarded to North and South America for the purposes of its underseas
campaign, and incriminating letters of their treasonable acts were
discovered. Ampt and his three co-Directors received a decoration from
the Imperial Government, but were so successful in deceiving the Italian
Government that they were subsequently decorated as Cavalieres of the
Crown of Italy.


The signing of a general commercial agreement between the United States
and Norway - the first agreement of the kind to be entered into by
America with one of the North European neutrals - was announced by the
War Trade Board on May 3, 1918. It was signed by Vance McCormick,
Chairman of the War Trade Board, and Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, the famous
explorer, who was sent to the United States at the head of a special

Under the agreement Norway is assured of supplies to cover her estimated
needs so far as they can be furnished without detriment to the war needs
of the United States and its allies, and Norway, on her part, agrees to
permit the exportation to America and its allies of all Norwegian
products not needed for home consumption. It is provided that none of
the supplies imported from the United States or its allies or forwarded
with the aid of American bunker coal shall go directly or indirectly to
the Central Powers or be used to replace commodities exported to those
countries. This applies to anything produced by any auxiliaries to
production obtained under the agreement. In consequence of the agreement
the War Trade Board announced on May 9 that exports to Norway were about
to be resumed.

Another result of the improved relations between the two countries was
the chartering by the United States Shipping Board of 400,000 tons of
Norwegian sailing ships, to be put in non-hazardous trades, thereby
releasing other ships for traffic in the danger zones. This was one of
the most substantial increases which the American-controlled merchant
fleet has received since its inception.


In the May issue of the Fortnightly Review of London appears the
following analysis of the gains and losses of the British merchant navy
since the outbreak of the war:

1914 (August to December.)

Tons. Tons.

Built 675,010? Total losses 468,728

Captured from
enemy 753,500 Total gains 1,429,110
- - - - - - - - - -
Total gains. 1,429,110 Balance +960,382


Built 650,919 Total losses 1,103,379

Captured from Total gains 662,419
enemy 11,500 - - - - -
- - - - Balance in
Total gains. 662,419 1915 -440,000

Brought down
from 1914 +960,382
- - - - -
Balance at
end of 1915 +519,422


Built 541,552 Total losses 1,497,848

Captured from Total gains 545,052
enemy 3,500 - - - - -
- - - - Balance in
Total gains. 545,052 1916 -952,796

Brought down
from 1915 +519,422
- - - - -
Balance at
end of 1916 -433,374


Built 1,163,474 Total losses 4,000,537

Captured from Total gains 1,174,974
enemy 11,500 - - - - -

- - - - - Balance in
Total gains 1,174,974 1917 -2,834,563

Brought down
from 1916 -433,374
- - - - -
Balance at
end of 1917 -3,267,937

During the first three months of 1918 the net losses were 367,296 tons;
320,280 tons were built and 687,576 were lost, bringing the adverse
balance on April 1, 1918, to 3,635,233 tons.


The British Government has issued a White Paper estimating the cost of
the war for Great Britain in the year ending March 31, 1919, at
$12,750,000,000, of which $9,305,000,000 is allocated to navy, army, air
service, munition and ordnance factories, $205,000,000 to pensions,
$750,000 to National War Aims Committee; services not specified,
(presumed to include shipping,) $500,000,000; Treasury loans,
$1,750,000,000; Board of Trade, $265,000,000; wheat supplies,
$230,000,000, of which $200,000,000 is the estimated loss on the sale of
the 18-cent loaf of bread. Subsidies toward the sale of potatoes are
estimated at $25,000,000; purchases of wool and other raw materials are
put at $40,000,000, payment to railways at $175,000,000, and $25,000,000
for timber.


THE implacable hatred which has developed between Italians and Austrians
is illustrated by the following Italian _communiqué_, issued in Rome on
Feb. 11, in reply to the Austrian Supreme Command's denial that the
Austro-Germans were first to bombard cities from airplanes. It points
out that the Austro-Germans first bombarded Udine, Treviso, Padua,
Verona, Venice, Ravenna, &c., massacring defenseless and innocent
populations and ruining valuable art treasures, and adds:

The Italians went to Trieste not to bombard citizens and private
houses, but the hydroplane stations in which are sheltered the
assassins of Venice, and the two vessels of the Monarch type which
were kept by the Imperial and Royal Navy behind the dyke, in the
hope that the Italian elements of the city would help to protect
them and afterward enable them to set out on some heroic enterprise
against the defenseless localities on the Adriatic Coast.
Immediately the hydroplanes, yielding to the indignation of the
whole world, ceased bombarding Venice, and immediately the two
vessels of the Monarch type were removed from Trieste, our aerial
raids ceased, since an understanding was proposed.

We wage war against the enemy's armed forces, and not against women,
children, monuments, and hospitals. In spite of the most solemn
denial issued by the Austrians of the acts which, after the first
bombardments of Padua, Treviso, and Vicenza at the end of December
and the beginning of January, they declared to be a question of
reprisals for bombardments, carried out by Franco-British aviators

German towns, the Germans, in substance, gave to be understood what
the Austrians hypocritically wished to hide, that is, that the
pretext of reprisals enabled them to persevere with their nameless
atrocities, which had been imposed upon them by some of their
leaders having yielded to the impulses of a criminal mentality. Thus
it happened that the Austrian Catholic command, bowing to the orders
of the German Lutheran pastors, bombarded Catholic churches in the
Italian cities. And so we see the Austro-Hungarian Government - so
solicitous for peace and love between nations - sowing hatred which
nothing can quench.


Perhaps some light may be shed on the internal divisions which make the
solution of the Irish question so nearly impossible by a realization of
the fact that the population of Ireland consists of an unassimilated
congeries of races, every element of which except one represents foreign
invasion and conquest.

The earliest race, short, round-headed, dark, appears to be akin to the
Ligurian race of the Mediterranean; this race hunted the huge Irish elks
with flint arrows and axes, and may claim to be the real indigenous
stock, still surviving in the west. The second race, tall, dark,
long-headed, was akin to the Iberians (Basques) of Spain, who also
invaded Western France, and who probably built the cromlechs and stone
circles, since these are also found in Iberian Spain and Western France,
as at Carnac in Brittany. The third race, tall, golden-haired,
blue-eyed, came from the Baltic, bringing amber beads, and building
chambered pyramids, such as are also found in Denmark. The fourth race
to arrive included the Gaels, tall, round-headed, with red hair and gray
eyes; they came from Central Europe, probably by way of France.

Each new arrival was followed by wars of conquest, the Gaels finally
making themselves predominant, but not exterminating the older
races, examples of whom may still be found, with unchanged race
characteristics. In 1169 Norman French and Welsh came, as mercenaries in
the army of the King of Leinster. The Burkes are descended from the
Normans, the Fitzgeralds from the Welsh.

Battles in Picardy and Flanders

Military Review of All Fronts from April 17 to May 18, 1918.

In order to obtain a view of the situation of the German offensive on
April 17, which forms a background for the events to be related in this
review, it is necessary to point out a few controlling facts and
conditions - some long obvious, some recently revealed.

Ludendorff's major plan, based on the assumed shortness of vision on the
part of the Allies, to separate the British from the French and, by
isolating the former in the north and driving the latter toward their
bases in the south, thereby reach the mouth of the Somme, had failed. It
had failed, just as did the plan of Napoleon at Charleroi in 1815 to
separate the English from the Prussians. It failed because the military
genius of the British General Carey and the French General Fayolle on
two separate occasions had closed up gaps in the line of the Allies, and
because the vast masses of German troops were incapable, on account of
their demoralization, of making the fractures permanent.

It is now evident that the demoralization of General Gough's 5th Army,
which began on March 23, not only threatened his junction with Byng's 3d
Army, by forming an eight-mile gap between the two - into which, as has
already been related, Carey moved his hastily gathered nondescript
detachment - but as the 5th Army retreated another gap, gradually
lengthening to nearly thirty miles, was opened between its right wing
and the 6th French Army. Here General Fayolle, who had just appeared on
the field from Italy, did with organized divisions what Carey had done
with his scratch volunteers further north.

From statements made before the Reichstag Main Committee, but more
especially from letters and diaries found on captured German officers,
it appears that both Carey and Fayolle stopped an armed mob, utterly
incapable of taking advantage of the situation it had created as a
disciplined force. Regiments thrown together, officers separated from
their commands, detachments without control, all due to the impetuous
rush forward, could not recover in time to prevent Carey and Fayolle
from completing their work.


But Ludendorff's major plan, having failed in the first month of his
offensive, could not be repeated in the second. Since April 30 there has
been no French, British, Belgian, Portuguese, or American front in
Flanders or Picardy - only the front of the Allies, with the troops of
their several nations used wherever needed by the supreme commander,

During the first month of the offensive two angles had been developed by
Ludendorff: The first, the great one, in the south, from a base of sixty
miles with a forty-mile perpendicular and its vertex near the Somme; the
second in the north, from a base of twenty miles with a fifteen-mile
perpendicular and its vertex on the edge of the Forest of Nieppe.
Between these two angles the original front of Lens, from Bailleul north
to Givenchy, still held, fifteen miles in length. There had been
voluntary or forced changes made by the Allies east of Ypres and east of


The corollary in Flanders, unless it could be demonstrated, would be
as great a failure as the main proposition in Picardy. And the still
possible successful issue of the latter depended absolutely, as we shall
see, on a complete demonstration of the former. Both have been so far
handicapped by the augmenting mobility of the Allies, their growing
numbers, their centralized command, and their successful insistence to
control the air.

Such was the situation in Flanders and Picardy which confronted
Ludendorff at the dawn of the second month of the German offensive. The
whole problem to be solved was just as apparent to the Allies as it was
to him - to gain the barriers which threatened his angles of penetration,
in order again to utilize his preponderant forces of men and guns on a
broad front. To attempt to extend the vertices without broadening the
sides would mean to court danger, even destruction, at their weakest

His frontal attacks upon Ypres and Arras, respectively from the
Passchendaele Ridge and against the Vimy Ridge, having failed, it became
necessary to attempt to flank the Allies by the occupation of their
defensive ridges. This explains his successful assaults upon Mont
Kemmel, 325 feet high, and his desire to envelop Mont Rouge, 423 feet
high, and his persistent attacks along the La Bassée Canal against the
heights of Béthune, 141 feet, all preceded by diversions between the
Somme and Avre, with concentrations at Villers-Bretonneux, Hangard, and


On April 18 the French made a feint on both banks of the Avre River
south of Hangard, drove in a mile, and picked up some prisoners;
simultaneously the Germans, with a force of 137,000, made a heavy
assault upon the allied front lying across the La Bassée Canal, with a
diversion on the Lys River near St. Venant. Before the day was done
they had switched their attack to the Kemmel sector. In all three places
the Germans suffered repulse, with the loss of a few hundred prisoners.
Four days later the British advanced their lines on the Lys, just as the
French had on the Avre. Then on the 24th came the great enemy diversion
at Villers-Bretonneux, nine miles southeast of Amiens. Here the Germans
used tanks for the first time. The village, lost to the British on the
first day, was recovered on the second, when just to the south the
French and American troops were hotly contesting with the Germans the
possession of Hangard. The sharp salient at this place made it difficult
for the Allies to hold, while its retention, except as a site from which
losses could be inflicted on the Germans, was unnecessary. Consequently
it was evacuated, after the attacking detachment of the Prussian Guards
had been annihilated.



Meanwhile the Germans had been preparing for a decisive assault against
Mont Kemmel with ever-augmenting artillery fire and with the
concentration of vast numbers of troops on the sidings of the railroad
between the villages of Messines and Wytschaete. These troops numbered
nine divisions, or about 120,000 men. From the 24th till the 27th they
incessantly swung around Mont Kemmel in massed front and flank attacks,
until the French and British were forced to give up the height, together
with the village of the same name and the village of Dranoutre, retiring
on La Clytte and Scherpenberg.

The occupation of Mont Kemmel, however, did not, as Ludendorff had
anticipated, force the British out of the Ypres salient, for their
voluntary retirement from part of the Passchendaele Ridge on April 17-19
had strengthened the salient, which could hold as long as the line of
hills west of Kemmel held - Mont Rouge, Mont Diviagne, Mont des Cats, &c.

The Berlin publicity bureau advertised the fact that a direct thrust at
Ypres had brought the Germans to within three miles of the town - an
achievement of no particular military value - while it quite ignored the
capture of Mont Kemmel, for the simple reason that its value was now
discovered to repose in their ability to carry their occupation
throughout the entire range.


This they have since been vainly, except for local advances, trying to
do, often employing great forces of men in mass for two or three days at
a time - striving vainly to broaden the salient in three places: between
Dickebusch and Voormezeele, due south from Ypres; by an envelopment of
Mont Rouge to the southwest; on the south by an advance in the direction
of Béthune.


In the northern part of the salient the attacks reached their climax on
Monday, April 29, when General Sixt von Arnim's army was hurled in wave
after wave between Voormezeele and Scherpenberg and on the latter and
Mont Rouge, only to end in a repulse, which, on account of the number of
men believed to have been lost by the enemy, may be considered a
disastrous defeat. All this time a heavy bombardment had been going on
in the Béthune region in preparation for an infantry attack there; yet
on account of the defeat further north, it could not be delivered.

Henceforth, until May 16, von Arnim was obviously placed on the
defensive, whereas the Allies were locally on the offensive, either
recovering lost strategic points or consolidating their lines. On May 5,
between Locre and Dranoutre, the Franco-British forces advanced on a
1,000-yard front to the depth of 500 yards. On the 8th the Germans made
a half-hearted attack on the sector south of Dickebusch Lake and
entered British trenches, only to be repulsed with heavy loss. A similar
attack the next day between La Clytte and Voormezeele not only met with
a similar repulse, but was followed up by a strong British counterattack
which won considerable ground. On the 12th the French captured Hill 44
on the north flank of Kemmel, between La Clytte and Vierstraat.

On May 13 renewed enemy artillery activity on the lines back of Béthune
seemed to presage that an infantry attack was intended there. Nothing of
this nature ensued, however. On the 15th the Germans made a sudden
attack against Hill 44 but were hurled back by the French. On the
16th-17th they maintained a concentrated fire north of Kemmel.


Online LibraryVariousCurrent History, Vol. VIII, No. 3, June 1918 → online text (page 2 of 30)