Read CHAPTER III - THE BLACK SOUL OF THE HUN of The Blot on the Kaiser's 'Scutcheon , free online book, by Newell Dwight Hillis, on ReadCentral.com.

1. German Barbarism Not Barbarism to the German

Strictly speaking, the only man who thoroughly understands the cruelty of the Germans is the German himself. No American or Englishman, no Belgian or Frenchman has the gift of telepathy that enables him to know what is going on in the German mind that guides the German’s hand in committing his horrible atrocities. Now and then, in a moment when he is off guard, an occasional German reveals the explanation, and we look in, just as John Bunyan’s pilgrim saw the door into Hades opened by a little crack, through which he looked upon the flames. Not otherwise was it with that German in Baltimore, who recently exposed the German mind, and from the German view-point explained the Germans in their hour of brutality.

During a most intimate and personal conversation with a banker, this German, the other day, explained his people’s atrocities by saying that what is barbarism and atrocities to England, France or the United States is not barbarism at all to the Germans. In proof of this astounding statement the German gave this personal incident of his boyhood. He said that in his gymnasium there was another boy who had something that he wanted. When the opportunity came, being the stronger, he jumped upon the other boy, beat him up terribly and made him a cripple for life. On reaching his home he showed his parents what he had stolen, and he was patted on the back, praised for his might with his fists, and told that that was the method he was to follow in after life.

He insisted that this sort of thing was drilled into every German boy, and for that reason it never once even occurred to him that he had done wrong. “After I became a man I settled in America, and as I came to understand the spirit of American civilization it grew upon me that I had committed a crime, and now for twenty-two years, as some atonement for my sin, I have been supporting that crippled man and his widowed mother.”

The modern banker has become a sort of confessor, and to the banker many sins are revealed as once to the priest. Nothing is more significant than this German confession and his philosophy of the German atrocity. In his own written letter concerning that crime of his boyhood this German adds: “Had I remained in Germany no one would ever have thought of suggesting to me that I had done wrong, and it would never have entered into my head that I was under any obligation to the man I had maimed. In the light of American civilization I understand the difference, and I am seeking to atone for my sin, but all Germans have been taught, as I was taught. The Germans, therefore, in their campaign of frightfulness, are committing deeds which from the view-point of American civilization are barbarous, but from the view-point of Germans are not crimes at all.”

The significance of this frank confession of a German, his story of how America had redeemed his soul out of the spirit of force and cruelty into the spirit of kindness, humanity and justice, reveals more of the real nature of the German beast and the Potsdam gang than a thousand volumes on the philosophy of German atrocities. The simple fact is that the crimes of the Germans are abominable atrocities to us, but that intellectually and morally the German officer and soldier simply do not know what we mean by our horror and the wave of moral indignation that has swept over the earth. Jesse Pomeroy used to pull canary birds apart, and tortured children to death. But the boy was deficient in the nerve of humanity. He simply stared with blank eyes when the judge and the jury condemned him. He was incapable of knowing what the excitement over the dead body was about. On the side of compassion and humanity the German is, as it were, colour blind, is without musical sense, and the nerves of kindness and humanity are atrophied. The ordinary German prisoner when shown the bodies left behind after the flight of the German army simply looks blankly at the mutilated corpse and exclaims: “Well, what of it? Why not? Why shouldn’t we?” and shrugs his shoulders, taking it as a matter of course. That is another reason why a great number of American business men, bankers, merchants, manufacturers, scholars, statesmen, have reluctantly been forced to the conviction that the ten millions of German soldiers should be painlessly sterilized, that the German people (saving only the remnant who accept Jesus’ idea of compassion and kindness towards God’s poor and weak) should be allowed to die out of the world. Re-read, therefore, what this German has said about the teaching of his German parents and the German people in praise of cruelty, and how for twenty years now, redeemed by life in the United States, he has tried to make atonement by supporting the man whom he had crippled, and also his mother. Who shall explain to us the reason why German barbarism is not barbarism to the Germans? Why, this German shall explain it, through his personal experience as a criminal. But the day will come when the Potsdam gang and ten million German soldiers will stand before the judgment seat of God. And what shall be the verdict then pronounced? You will find it in the New Testament: “‘Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee,’ thou wicked and cruel German!”

2. The German “Science of Lying”

For the first time in history a nation has organized lying into a science and taught deceit as an art.

At the very time when the diplomats of the world have refused any form of secrecy and insist upon publishing all international treaties and doing everything in the open, Germany has organized lying into a national science. Even Maximilian Harden, editor of Zukunft, openly acknowledges this in one of his editorials reproduced in the papers of Denmark and Holland.

Harden comes right out in the open. He tells the German people that at the beginning of the war it was necessary to say to the world that Germany was fighting a defensive war, that her back was against the wall, that those wicked enemies named England and France, Russia and Belgium were leaping upon her like wolves.

Of course, says Harden, at first that was good diplomacy, but now that we are successful, “Why say this any longer? Let the Kaiser and his Chancellor tell the world plainly that we decided upon this war twenty-five years ago; that during all of these years we were preparing cannons and shells; that we drilled ten million men against ‘Der Tag’; that we wanted this war, that we planned this war, that we forced this war and that we are proud of it.”

With one stroke Harden has torn off the mask. He exhibits the Kaiser as the prince of liars. If his words mean anything, they mean that what has long been surmised is absolutely true, namely, that Germany wished some one would kill the Austrian Prince and Princess so as to start the war, for which Berlin had prepared everything, down to the last buckle on the harness of the horses.

General von Bissing is not less open. Dying men are not apt to tell lies. When he saw that the end was coming the Governor-General of Belgium prepared what he called his “last will and testament.”

As a close and intimate friend of the Kaiser, he left a letter with his will asking the German Government carefully to consider his wishes. He says plainly that all of the statements that Berlin never intended to annex Belgium were pure camouflage. He urges the Berlin office to flatly declare its purpose never to give up a foot of the Belgian coast nor an acre of the conquered territory of north France and Belgium.

“It is of no consequence,” he says, “that we have given a solemn pledge not to annex Belgium. Why not tell the world that we will have failed in the one thing for which we set out if we evacuate Belgium? We need Belgium’s coast line for our shipping.”

He adds that Germany has used twenty-three million tons of Belgian coal and has taken as much more iron ore out of France’s basin in Briey. “We cannot live and compete with France and England if we give up the coal and iron mines that we have conquered and the harbours that we have won.”

Having affirmed, therefore, that the German Government lied at the beginning in claiming that they entered Belgium fighting a defensive warfare, General von Bissing cast about for some one behind whom he can hide as a screen and who can be used as an authority for lying. He finds his guide and leader in “The Prince,” written by Machiavelli. That book has often been called the treatise on the art of lying. Never was such cunning exhibited. Never was the father of lies invoked with such skill as by the German leaders. In their sight truth is contemptible, kindness is weakness, honour is a figment.

But the individual, the city, or the empire that builds its life on lies builds its house on sand. Soon the rains will descend and the floods come, the winds will blow, and the house will fall, and great will be the fall of it.

The German is like a thirsty man who tries to quench his thirst by drinking scalding water. He is like a hungry man who tries to satisfy his appetite by eating red-hot coals.

3. The Malignity of the German Spies

Disturbed by many events in their city, the Secret Service men guard very carefully the speakers for the Liberty Loan, the Red Cross or the Y. M. C. A. hut work. Fearing lest some German agent might injure the good name of their town, the Secret Service men of a certain community recently told the following incident, merely as a warning to all public speakers who might, by their words, arouse the enmity of half-balanced German fanatics. Because it was intended to put us all upon our guard, and because no interest could possibly be injured, but many persons be benefited, the incident is here set forth in detail. The speaker was a young lawyer, of position, influence and fine education, who was serving his country during the period of the war.

“One morning I received my assignment through a sealed envelope. Experience told me that I was to take up the work of some other Secret Service man and complete the task. Of course, one Secret Service man does not know who else is in the service. Since the war began we go by numbers, rather than by our names. When I opened my envelope I found these directions: ’Go to No. . Wait until there is no customer in the tobacco store. Then put down on the counter two ten-cent pieces, and say to the woman, “I want that package of green leaf tobacco.” When you have left the store, open the package, and you will find full directions therein.’ I followed the instructions strictly, and out on the street I opened the package, and found a large key and a small one, with these words written: ’Go to No. so-and-so (mentioning a third-class little apartment house in one of the worst districts in the city). The large key will open room N. The small key will open a little writing table in the room. In the drawer of that table you will find full directions.’

“I soon found the apartment house, climbed to the second floor, found my large key turning in the lock, and the small key opened the drawer in the desk. In that drawer I found these words: ’The man we want is in the adjoining room. He will come in about seven o’clock, but he may not come until eleven or twelve. It is important that we have his testimony. Don’t wound him seriously or kill him. You will find a hole bored through the door between your room and his. That hole is filled with putty, but underneath the putty is wax. Warm the wire in the drawer in the gas jet and melt the wax.’

“I waited until eleven o’clock for the man to come in. For a while he sat on the bed, with his back towards me. He was reading. Finally he lifted his pillow to shake it up, and I caught sight of a big revolver under the pillow. For several reasons I decided to do nothing until he had fallen asleep. I kept my ear glued to that little hole for one hour after he turned out his light. When he was sleeping soundly I went into the hall, with my skeleton key turned the lock in the door, and then with my lantern in the left hand and my revolver in the right made one bound into the room, struck my light and my revolver into his face under the light and shouted: ‘Hands up!’ Within three minutes I had him handcuffed and within ten had him bound. In that room, when the police came at my call, we found enough chemicals and powerful explosives to have blown up the entire block. In his satchel were found incriminating letters, secret documents, and, with their help, we soon landed the entire crowd. All have now been taken care of. Their flames were stamped out before they were kindled.” That one incident was only one of a series of closely-related dramatic events. Outwardly, life in that city is very safe, simple and straightforward, but as to the forces of evil, the anarchists, the I. W. W.’s and German plotters the patriot can only say that but for the Secret Service and the police and the Department of Justice, society could not go on for one single month.

4. The Cancer in the Body-Politic of Germany

To-day, physicians and surgeons count the cancer man’s deadliest enemy. Every year this baffling disease takes large and larger toll of human life. From time to time experts come together to plan its limitation, but meanwhile the terrible disease increases. Addressing a company of experts recently, a great physician exclaimed: “Even if we can stop its growth by radium, it still remains for us to get rid of the growth itself. There seems to be no way to lift the evil cells out save through the knife, after which nature must heal the wound. Science knows no other way.” Plainly, no magic can be invoked. No miracle assists the surgeon. His one recourse is to the knife, and after that the healing forces of nature.

Let us confess that the knife has a large place in the extermination of social diseases. Militarism is a cancer on the German body-politic, just as slavery was once a cancer fastened on the fair body of the great South. That disease had fastened itself upon the South many years before the Civil War. Like a cancer, it spread its roots throughout the whole social and economic structure of the Southern States. It poisoned trade. Its virus was in the body of law. It destroyed kindness and sympathy for the weak. Slavery debased the poor white working-man. It made the white fathers of mulatto children so cruel that they sold their own flesh and blood. Overseers became brutes. Slave drivers stood up and bid upon their own children in the auction markets. Slowly the disease spread. Men became alarmed. They tried everything excepting the knife held in the hand of war surgeons. Clay recognized the cancer in the body politic. He proposed compromise as a poultice. Garrison and Phillips proposed the amputation of the diseased limb. John Brown tried to put sulphuric acid upon the sore spots and eat it out through the flames of insurrection. Lincoln knew that it was a case of life or death. The Republic could not endure half slave and half free. All measures failed. Finally the god of war went forth and lifted a knife heated red hot and cut the foul cancer out of the body and saved the fair South. When many years had passed nature healed the wound and saved the life of the Republic.

Germany, Austria and Turkey to-day are patients in a world hospital. It is plain that they are stricken with death. The foul cancer of militarism has fastened itself upon Germany. The cancer of autocracy is eating into the vitals of Austria. The cancer of polygamy is enmeshed in the life of Turkey. Of late the disease has been spreading. Now these surgeons, named Foch, Haig and Pershing, have been anointed by the ointment of war black and sulphurous, and, lifting their scalpel, these men have been ordained to cut out the foul growth from the body-politic of Germany. Perchance there is still enough vital force left therein to heal the wound after the disease has been removed. Meanwhile, the sick man of Turkey struggles. The patient hates the knife. The diseased body will not have the only instrument that holds possible cure, and yet, despite all his struggle, the disease must come out. Slowly the surgical process goes on. One root at Verdun was cut, and now another is being sundered in the West. Much blood flows, but the blood is black and foul. Every cell in the German body-politic seems to be diseased. Medicines must be found. The stimulants of sound ethics and morals must be invoked after that it is a question of the recuperative forces of intellect and conscience in the German people. These forces alone can heal the wound left after the foul cancer has been cut away. To-day, men with a large mind, blessed with magnanimity, kindness and good-will must stay their hearts upon history, that shows us that in the past in our own country slavery was a cancer cut out by the surgeons of war, and that after a long time the great South recovered its health, its beauty and its usefulness.

5. Polygamy and the Collapse of the Family in Germany

The unexpected influences of this war upon Germany herself is a striking consideration. Few men anticipated the far-off results of the Kaiser’s alliance with the Sultan and his polygamous philosophy. During the past two years the German newspapers, magazines and debates in the Reichstag have been filled with startling suggestions concerning the family. The Berliner Lokalanzeiger, on March 7, 1916, published a statement urging that “every girl should be given the right on reaching twenty-five years to have one child born out of wedlock, for which she should receive from the state an annual allowance.”

Dr. Krohne, in his address before the House, says: “The decline of the birth rate in Germany has proceeded three times as fast as in the preceding twenty-five years. No civilized nation has hitherto experienced so large a decline in so short a time. Our annual number of births falls already to-day by 560,000 below what we had a right to expect. We should have to-day 2,500,000 more inhabitants than we have.” Commenting thereupon, the Berliner Lokalanzeiger demands that “illegitimate children should be put socially and morally on a level with the legitimate.”

When, therefore, the Kaiser cast about for an alliance with some man who could be his bosom friend and could love what he loves, the Kaiser chose the Sultan with his polygamy and the Moslem teaching with its harem. No British or French officer, therefore, was surprised when documents like the following began to be found on the dead bodies of young German officers. This document is a verbatim and absolutely accurate copy of one of the many now deposited in the various departments of Justice and the War Departments in Havre and Paris:

“Soldiers, a danger assails the Fatherland by reason of its dwindling birth rate. The cradles of Germany are empty to-day; it is your duty to see that they are filled. You bachelors, when your leave comes, marry at once the girl of your choice. Make her your wife without delay. The Fatherland needs healthy children. You married men and your wives should put jealousy from your minds and consider whether you have not also a duty to the Fatherland. You should consider whether you may not honourably contract an alliance with one of the million of bachelor women. See if your wife will not sanction the relation. Remember, all of you, the empty cradles of Germany must be filled.

“Your name has been given us as a capable man, and you are herewith requested to take on this office of honour, and to do your duty in a proper German way. It must here be pointed out that your wife or fiancee will not be able to claim a divorce. It is, in fact, hoped that the women will bear this discomfort heroically for the sake of the war. You will be given the district of . Should you not feel capable of carrying on the task allotted to you, you will be given three days on which to name some one in your place. On the other hand, if you are prepared to take on a second district as well you will become ‘drekoffizier’ and receive a pension. An exhibition of photographs of women and maidens in the district allotted to you is to be seen at the office of . You are requested to bring this letter with you.”

This is an amazing document. Plainly the German family has broken down. But no household can be built on free love in 1918, just as no stone building can be erected on hay, stubble or sand. The German family has gone, and German society is tottering towards its final ruin.

6. The Red-Hot Swords in Sister Julie’s Eyes

The history of heroism holds nothing finer than the story of Sister Julie, decorated by the French Government with the Cross of the Legion of Honour. She lived in the little village of Gerbeviller, now called “Gerbeviller the Martyred.” On August 27th the French army broke the line of the German Crown Prince and compelled the Huns’ retreat. General Clauss was ordered to go northeast and dig in on the top of the ridge some twelve miles north of Gerbeviller. The Germans reached the village at nine o’clock in the morning, and by half-past twelve they had looted all the houses and were ready to burn the doomed city. The incendiary wagons were filled with the firebrands stamped 1912. Beginning at the southern end of the village, the German officers and soldiers looted every house, shop, store and public building, and then set fire to the town. At last they came to the extreme northern end, where a few houses and the little hospital over which Sister Julie had charge, were still standing.

About noon a German colonel with the blazing firebrand in his right hand stood in front of Sister Julie’s house. It has been said that there are flaming swords in the eyes of every good woman. In that terrible hour the face of Sister Julie proved the proverb. She told the German officer that these few houses that were left were filled with wounded French soldiers, with here and there a wounded German. The Hun answered that his men would remove the Germans who were wounded, but that the buildings must be fired. Behind him were several hundred buildings blazing like one fiery furnace. Sister Julie stood squarely across the path of the Hun. “While I live you shall not enter. You shall not kill these dying men. I swear it by this crucifix! Your hands are already red with blood. God dwells within this house. Look at this figure of Jesus, who said, ’Woe unto him that offends against one of my little ones. These shall go away into everlasting hell.’ I myself will bear witness against you. You have murdered our fifteen old men. All their lives long these old men did us good and not evil. Look at the little girls you have slain. God Himself will strike you dead.” General Clauss stood dumb. He was embarrassed beyond all words. Fear also got hold upon him. He turned and disappeared into a group of his soldiers. Two or three minutes passed by. A German colonel came to Sister Julie. He told her that the houses used for wounded soldiers would be spared by General Clauss provided Sister Julie would agree to continue her ministrations to the wounded Germans lying in her hospital. As General Clauss already knew that this had already been done, and would be, the Germans marched away, leaving the hospital buildings uninjured. It was a victory of the soul of a noble woman.

One morning last summer Sister Julie showed her decorations. Her face was kind, gentle and motherly. Her atmosphere was peace and serenity. She seemed a tower of strength. It must have been easy for dying French boys in those rooms to have identified Sister Julie with Mary the Mother, who saw her son dying on the cross. Later on we met an aged woman of martyred Gerbeviller. She had been nursing in the hospital and had stood behind Sister Julie when she forbade General Clauss to light the firebrands. “What did Sister Julie say?” we asked the old woman. “Oh, sir, I do not know, and yet I do know. She told them that she would ask God to strike them dead. In that moment I was afraid of her. She seemed to me more to be feared than General Clauss and all his wicked army. I can tell you what our good priest says about Sister Julie.” “And what is that?” The old woman could not quote the verse accurately, but from what she said we were soon guided to a chapter in the old Bible, and there was the verse that described Sister Julie, with arms uplifted at the door of her hospital and denying access to General Clauss. The verse was this: “And lo! an angel with a flaming sword stood at the gate and kept the garden.”

7. The Hidden Dynamite; the Hun’s Destruction of Cathedrals

In one group of ruined cellars that was once a splendid French city, there is a beautiful building standing. It is rich with the art and architecture of the sixteenth century. The lines are most graceful and the structure is the fulfillment of Keats’ line: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Such a building belongs not to the French nation, but to the whole human race. An architect like the man who planned this noble building is born only once in a thousand years. Every visitor to that ruined town asks himself this question: “Why did the Germans allow this building to remain?” An incident of the story of Bapaume throws a flood of light upon the problem.

One year ago, when the Germans were retreating from Bapaume, they looted every house, burned or dynamited every building save the Hotel de Ville. That city hall the Germans left standing in all its majesty and beauty. In front of the building they placed a placard containing in substance the statement that they left this building as a monument to Germany’s love of art and architecture.

Secretly, however, in the cellar of this noble building the Germans buried several tons of dynamite. To this dynamite they attached a seven-day clock. They set the seven-day clock to explode at eleven o’clock one week after the Germans had retreated. These beasts worked out the theory that the largest possible number of British and French officers and public men would be inspecting the building at that hour of the day.

The plot was successful. Their devilish cunning was rewarded and their hate glutted. The clock struck the detonator, the dynamite exploded, blew the building and the visitors into atoms. Standing in the ruined public square, one sees nothing but that great shell pit where the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed a monument builded to beauty and grandeur. This other building, therefore, that stands in the city fifty miles to the south of Bapaume is there for the sole reason that the seven-day clock failed to explode the dynamite not because of any love of architecture that possessed the Germans. It is there to tell us that some part of the mechanism of death failed to connect.

In analyzing the German mind nothing is more certain than the fact that they lack a fine sense of humour and are often quite devoid of imagination.

As for sculpture, nothing can be more hideous than the statues of the fifteen Prussian kings that do not decorate, but simply vulgarize, the avenue leading towards Magdeburg. The vast broad statue of Hindenburg, to which the Germans come to drive nails and scratch their names in lead pencils, reminds one of the occasional public buildings in this country defaced by thoughtless and vulgar boys. Nor is there anything in the world as ugly as the German sculptor’s statue of the present Kaiser out at Potsdam Palace, unless it be the statue of an Indian in front of a tobacco store down in Smithville, Indian Territory, though even this is doubtful. It hardly seems possible that one earth only 7,000 miles in diameter could hold two statues as ugly as that of the Kaiser!

It is this singular lack of imagination and failure to understand the beautiful that explains the systematic destruction by the German army of the glorious cathedrals, the fourteenth century churches, libraries, chateaux and hotels des villes that were the glory and beauty of France.

“If we cannot have these vineyards and orchards,” said the Germans, “Frenchmen shall not have them.”

So they turned the land into a desert. Not otherwise the German seems to feel that if he cannot build structures as beautiful as these glorious buildings in France that he will not leave one of them standing.

Next to the Parthenon in Athens and St. Peter’s in Rome, perhaps the world’s best loved and most admired building was the Cathedral of Rheims. There Joan of Arc crowned Charles IX; there for centuries the noblest men of France had gone to receive their offices and their honours. A building that belonged to the world. What treasures of beauty for the whole human race in the thousand and more statues in the cathedral! How priceless the twelfth-century stained glass! What paintings which have come down from the masters of Italy! Whoever visited the library and the Cardinal’s palace without exclaiming: “What beautiful missals! What illuminated manuscripts?”

Fully conscious of the fact that they were impotent to produce such treasures the Germans, unable to get closer to the cathedral than four miles, determined to destroy them. Day after day they bombed the noble cathedral. Gone now, too, the great stone roof! Fallen the flying buttresses, ruined the chapels. Perished all the tapestries, the rugs and the laces. Water stands in puddles on the floor. The cathedral is a blackened shell.

The victim of grievous ingratitude, King Lear, was turned out into the snow and hail by his wicked daughters; and the white-haired old king wandered through the blackness of the night beneath the falling hail. And, lo! the Cathedral of Rheims is a King Lear in architecture broken, wounded, exposed to the hails of the autumn and the snow of the winter, through the coarseness and vandalism of the Germans.

The German Foreign Minister put it all in one word: “Let the neutrals cease their everlasting chatter about the destruction of Rheims Cathedral. All the paintings, statues and cathedrals in the world are not so much as one straw to the Germans over against the gaining of our goal and the conquest of their land.”

Never was a truer word spoken. The German lacks the imagination and the gift of the love of the beautiful. He would prefer one bologna sausage factory and one brewery to the Parthenon, with St. Peter’s and Rheims Cathedral thrown in.

8. The German Sniper Who Hid Behind the Crucifix

For hundreds of years the French peasants have loved the crucifix. Many a beautiful woman carries a little gold cross with the figure of Jesus fastened thereto, and from time to time draws it out to press the crucifix to her lips. Even in the harvest fields and beside the road, travellers find the carved figure of the Saviour lifted up to draw poor, ignorant and sinful men to His own level.

One of the most glorious pieces of carving in France was wrought in walnut by a great sculptor and lifted up on a tree in the midst of an estate, where the peasants, resting from their work, could refresh their souls by love and faith and prayer.

One day last summer, during the Teuton advance, a German officer stood beneath that divine figure. Mentally he marked the place. That night when the darkness fell a company of German officers returned to that spot. One of them climbed up on the tree. He found that the carved figure of Jesus was life size.

With the end of a rope a little platform was drawn up level with the foot of the crucifix. Two ropes were fastened to the outstretched arms of the Saviour. Another rope was fastened around the neck of Jesus, until the platform was made safe. Then a German sniper with his gun climbed up on the platform. He laid his rifle upon the shoulders of the Divine Figure, hiding his body behind that of Jesus. The German officer must have chuckled with satisfaction, for he knew that he had found a screen behind which a murderer might hide, and the German villain was quite right in his psychology.

It was true that the French soldiers loved that beautiful figure. To them the crucifix was sacred. So beautiful were their ideals, so lofty their spirit, so pure and high their imagination, that they were incapable of conceiving that a German could use the sacred crucifix as a screen from which to send forth his murderous hail.

The green boughs of that tree hid the little puff of smoke. From time to time a French soldier would fall dead with a hole through his forehead. Once a French officer threw up his hands while the blood streamed from his mouth and he pitched forward dead.

At last the French soldiers understood. There was a sniper behind Christ’s cross. The French could have turned their cannon against that tree, but instead they simply kept below the trench until the night fell. Then in the darkness some French boys took their lives in their hands and crawled on hands and knees across No Man’s Land. Lying on their backs they cut the wires above their heads.

By some strange providence they dropped safely into the German trench and crawled ten yards beyond. Then they climbed into the tree, removed that glorious crucifix with the carved figure, brought it back in safety and at daybreak turned their cannon on the tree and blew the platform to pieces.

Foul Huns had made a screen of that sacred figure, but the French were not willing to injure their ideals by shooting the crucifix to pieces.

To-day all the world despises the Germans. Nothing is sacred to them. Their souls are dead within them and when the soul dies, everything dies.

The German’s body may live on for twenty years, but you might as well pronounce the funeral address to-day, for the soul of Germany is dead. Nothing but a physical fighting machine now remains.

Meanwhile, France lives. Never were her ideals so lofty and pure. That is why the world loves France. She has kept faith with her ideals.

9. The Ruined Studio

I have in my possession several photographs of a ruined studio. Some twenty or thirty Germans dashed into a little French village one day, and demanded at the point of their automatic pistols the surrender by the women of their rings, jewelry, money and their varied treasure. At the edge of the village was a simple little summer-house, in which one of the French artists had his studio. He had been in that valley for three months, sketching, and working very hard. Knowing that they had but a little time in which to do their work as vandals, the Huns started to ruin the studio. With big knives they cut the fine canvases into ruins. They knocked down the marbles, and the bronzes; the little bust from the hand of Rodin was smashed with a hammer. The bronze brought from Rome was pounded until the face was ruined. One blow of the hammer smashed the Chinese pottery, another broke the plates and the porcelain into fragments. Then every corner of the room was defiled, and the pigs fled from their filthy stye. Across one of the canvases the German officer wrote the words, “This is my trademark.” And every other part of the canvas was cut to ribbons with his knife. No more convincing evidence of the real German character can possibly be found than these photographs of the interior of that ruined studio.

Here we have the reason why the Kaiser himself, who knew the German through and through, called his people Huns. Long ago the first Huns entered Italy. They found a city of marble, ivory, and silver. They left it a heap and a ruin. They had no understanding of a palace; they did not know what a picture meant, or a marble; they were irritated by the superiority of the Roman. What they could not understand they determined to destroy. That is one of the reasons why all the marbles and bronzes that we have in Italy are marred and injured. The head of Jupiter is cracked; the Venus di Milo has no arms; Aphrodite has been repaired with plaster; Apollo has lost a part of his neck and one leg. From time to time an old marble is dug up in a field, where some ploughman has chanced upon the treasure. Owners hid their beautiful statues, ivories and bronzes, to save them from the vandals. Unfortunately, the modern Huns rushed into the French towns, riding in automobiles, and sculptors and painters had no time to hide their treasures. The great cathedrals could not be hidden. The Kaiser in one of his recent statements boasted that he had destroyed seventy-three cathedrals in Belgium and France. It is all too true. From the beginning, the Cathedral of Rheims, dear to the whole world, and glorious through the associations of Jeanne d’Arc, was doomed, because the Germans, having no treasure of their own, and incapable of producing such a cathedral, determined that France should not have that treasure. The other day, in Kentucky, a negro jockey came in at the tail end of a race, ten rods behind his rival. That night, the negro bought a pint of whiskey, and determined to have vengeance, so he went out at midnight, and cut the hamstrings of the beautiful horse that had defeated his own beast. Now that is precisely the spirit that animated the German War Staff and the men that have devastated France and Belgium, and every man who has witnessed these German crimes with his own eyes will never be the same person again. His whole attitude towards the Hun is an attitude of horror and revulsion. A certain noble anger burns within him, as burned that noble passion in Dante against those criminals who spoiled Florence of her treasures.

10. Was This Murder Justified?

One raw, December day, in 1914, an American gentleman, widely known as traveller and correspondent, was in a hospital in London, recovering from his wound, received in Belgium. He was startled by the appearance of an old Belgian priest, and a young Belgian woman. The American author was travelling in Belgium at the time of the German invasion. Quite unexpectedly he was caught behind the lines, near Louvain. Having heard his statement, the German officer recognized its truthfulness and sincerity, and insisted that this American scholar should be his guest at the Belgian chateau of which he had just taken possession. The German had already shot the Belgian owner, and one or two of the servants, who defended their master. To the horror and righteous anger of the American, the German officer took his place at the head of the table, waved the American to his seat, and ordered the young Belgian woman to perform her duties as hostess. In that tense moment, it was a matter of life and death to disobey. That German officer had his way, not only with the young Belgian wife, half dazed, half crazed, wholly broken in spirit, but with the American whom he sent forward to Brussels.

Plunged into the midst of many duties in connection with Americans and refugees who had to be gotten out of Belgium into England, this American author had to put aside temporarily any plan for the release of that young Belgian woman held in bondage. Later, when he was wounded, the American crossed to London for medical help. When the old Belgian priest and that young woman stood at the foot of his bed in the hospital in London, all the events of that terrible hour in the dining-room of the Belgian chateau returned, and once more he lived through that frightful scene. The purpose of the visit soon became evident. The old Belgian priest stated the problem. He began by saying that God alone could take human life since God alone could give it. He urged that the sorrow of the young woman’s present was as nothing in comparison to the loss of her soul should she be guilty of infanticide. It was the plea of a man who lived for the old ideals. His white hair, his gentle face, his pure disinterested spirit lent weight to his words. Then came the statement of the young Belgian woman. She told the American author of the dreadful days and weeks that followed after his departure, that every conceivable agony was wrought upon her, and that now within a few months, she must have a child by that wicked German officer. She cried out that the very babe would be unclean, that it would be born a monster, that it was as if she was bringing into the world an evil thing, doomed in advance to direst hell. That every day and every hour she felt that poison was running through her veins. She turned upon the old priest, saying, “You insist that God alone gives life! Nay, no, no, no! It was a German devil that gave me this life that now throbs within my body! And every moment I feel that that life is pollution. German blood is poisoned blood. German blood is like putrefaction and decay, soiling my innermost life.” The young woman wept, prayed, plead, and finally in her desperation cried out, “Then I decide for myself! The responsibility is mine. I alone will bear it.” And out of the hospital she swept with the dignity and beauty of the Lady of Sorrows.

A year later, in Paris, the French judge and court cleared the young girl who choked to death with a string the babe of the German officer who had attacked her. But since that time, all France and Belgium and the lands where there are refugees are discussing the question Where does the right lie? Has the French mother, cruelly wounded, no right? And this foul thing forced upon her a superior right? Which path for the bewildered girl leads to peace? Where does the Lord of Right stand? What chance has a babe born of a beast, abhorred and despised, when it comes into the world? The women of the world alone can answer this question.