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distributing ammunition, who can conceive them labelling each package, like a Christmas present, with the name of the recipient ? The case of Acoz is one of scores which seem to show that Mr Bennett must have chloroformed his critical faculty in order not to perceive the hopeless insufficiency of the German evidence. Here his partisanship even betrays him into a positive mistrans. lation. Among the reasons alleged for the shooting of the parish priest, Mr Bennett gives the following: There was found on the priest an invoice for the receipt of an English revolver,' whatever that may mean. The German, on the other hand, is perfectly plain : 'Eine Quittung über einen abgegebenen englischen Revolver'a receipt for an English revolver which had been given up.' It seems to have been as criminal in German eyes to give up weapons as to retain them.
Let us now state briefly the conclusions to which careful study has led us. In a good many cases the shots attributed to francs-tireurs came in reality from Belgian or French soldiers engaged in the immediate neighbourhood of the incriminated village.
In some cases (there is reason to think) the back-firing of an engine, the bursting of a tyre, or some similar incident of mechanical traction, occasioned a panic and random shooting. But in the great majority of instances the mischief arose from the simple fact that thousands of the invading hordes were really unfit to be entrusted with firearms. One or two would let off their rifles inadvertently or in sheer wantonness; others would follow suit; and instantly every house or thicket in the neighbourhood would be peopled with ghostly sharpshooters, conjured up out of the child-like credulity with which the whole army accepted the franc-tireur legend, and the monstrous fables which (as we have seen) it engendered in the very first hours of the war. Drunkenness and the lust of pillage also played a very large part. Even Mr Bennett cannot quite blind himself to the enormous mass of evidence (much of it in German handwriting) for the gross inebriety prevailing among · the most sternly disciplined and best educated soldiers in the world.' Now this prevailing alcoholism would have four main effects : (1) It would tend to multiply (3) It
mistakes, confusions, and inadvertent or panicky discharges of firearms. (2) It would inhibit the critical sense, and enhance the dominion of the franc-tireur superstition over credulous and agitated minds. would render the half-drunken soldiers peculiarly incompetent witnesses as to the nature and order of events. (4) It would supply a motive for deliberate lying, in order to cloak the fact that, on this or that occasion, a witness and his comrades had not been responsible.
Mr Bennett cannot but have noticed that the White Book contains not a single admission of mistake or misconduct on the part of a single German soldier. It records, with almost pathetic naïveté, some six or eight cases in which Germans acted with common humanity, and for the rest it assumes as a matter of course the perfect sobriety and chivalry of every German soldier. In other words, it presents a deliberately cooked case, designed for the consumption, not only of neutral countries, but of the home-grown idealists, the pastors and professors, the wives and mothers, to whom life would not be worth living if they doubted the immaculate virtue and honour of the German hosts. It may be said, of course, that no one is obliged to incriminate himself; but, when a litigant voluntarily enters the witness-box, he must tell some approach to the whole truth, or submit to being called a liar. Quite possibly the authorities in Berlin did not fully realise how false the evidence was. Like Mr Bennett, they may, by dint of keeping their critical faculty in strict abeyance, have persuaded themselves that it was in the main true. But in their heart of hearts they must have suspected the tragi-comic difference between the German soldier of patriotic fancy and the actual German soldier as he went carousing and murdering, pillaging and burning, through Belgium. It was only in human nature that they should seek to disguise this difference; and Mr Bennett's book unfortunately proves that it is in English human nature to do its best to be deceived by the disguise.
One can understand his being taken in by some of the stories relating to the villages; but that he should accept as even superficially plausible the sections devoted to Aerschot, Andenne, and Louvain, passes all comprehension. The White Book alone, without the smallest reference to Belgian evidence, is sufficient to assure a careful reader that the Burgomaster of Aerschot, his son, his brother, and 152 other citizens were foully murdered. The case of Andenne is equally atrocious. As for Louvain, it is inconceivable that an Englishman can translate without comment, and as if he believed it, such evidence as that of Captain Karl Friedrich von Esmarch and several other heroes of the night of massacre. The masterly Belgian Grey Book "L'Armée allemande à Louvain' merely completes the destruction of the manifestly tottering fabric of delusion and mendacity presented in the White Book. Only on one point is the Belgian story inacceptable. The writers are determined to believe that the German outbreak was a planned and purposeful piece of terrorism ; but of that there is no adequate evidence. In all probability it arose from a fortuitous panic. Here, as at Aerschot and elsewhere, the moment the Germans saw shots proceeding from the houses, they assumed that .Belgian beasts' were attacking them. They forgot that, in Louvain at any rate, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of German soldiers were quartered upon the population,
A word must be said as to the alleged Belgian Atrocities' for which the White Book produced 16 witnesses. Three are officers, who speak (two of them from hearsay) of comparatively unimportant outrages. The remaining thirteen are non-commissioned officers or privates who report ghastly and abominable mutilations of the eye-gouging type, crimes of the class with which rumour was busy in the early days of the war, and which always melted away on investigation. Now as to the evidence of these thirteen soldiers, it must surely strike even Mr Bennett as strange that not one of them called an officer's attention to his hideous discovery, and that not one of the mutilated men was brought, alive or dead, to a hospital or dressing-station, where his injuries could be medically examined, described, and attested. Here is one of the more quotable cases.
Musketeer Paul Blankenburg declares :
'I myself saw girls of some 8 or 10 years of age busying themselves with severely wounded men in the Belgian village (unnamed). The girls had steel instruments in their hands
but they were not knives or scissors—and with these instruments, which were sharp on one side, they busied themselves among the wounded. We took the instruments from them. The wounded had fresh wounds on their ears, from which the lobes and upper portions had evidently been just cut off. One of the wounded told me that he had been mutilated by the girls in the way here described.'
The mysterious instrument is not produced; not one of the earless victims is summoned to speak for himself ; not one of them came within the cognisance of a surgeon. The whole incident, which, if it occurred, must have been known to a large number of people, rests upon the evidence of one musketeer. Who can doubt that the man has simply been retailing, as a personal experience, one of the old hyenas of the battle-field" stories, and, being brought to book about it, has gallantly sworn to a statement which he doubtless believed to be true, except for the trifling detail that he had converted an on dit into a chose vue. When we come to such cases as that of a German hussar nailed to a tree by 'two large, long nails driven through his eyes and his head, is it possible to conceive that the man who discovered him-Reservist Ernst Baldeweg-should not have called a single officer's attention to the ghastly spectacle, or, if no officer was to be found, should not have got a number of his comrades to give, there and then, their signed attestation to the horror ?
It remains to be said that Mr Bennett's motive for the resurrection at the present moment of the German apologia is to point the following question : The civilised world was invited to condemn the German reprisals of 1914 in Belgium, What verdict will it record with reference to British reprisals in Ireland six years later?' The present writer is bound to confessspeaking for himself alone—that the self-righteous spirit in which he studied the White Book in 1917 has been considerably dashed by recent events. But there is this difference between the two cases. Reprisals in Ireland are undeniably reprisals for something; in Belgium they were, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, reprisals for nothing at all.
1. A Monograph on Plebiscites, with a Collection of Official
Documents. By Sarah Wambaugh. Oxford Univ. Press. 2. Plebiscites-Peace Handbooks, Volume XXV. Issued
by the Historical Section of the Foreign Office. H.M.
Stationery Office, 1920. 3. The Treaty of Versailles. H.M. Stationery Office, 1919.
And other documents. Of all the functions which fell to the Paris Conference, none was more important than that of settling the territorial status of Europe, for nothing is more essential to the preservation of peace than the determination of frontiers which, because they are just and can thereby be commended to the universal common sense of mankind, will be permanent. In the past the struggle for territory has been the chief cause of war, and the history of Europe since 1815 has turned upon the boundaries of the National States which were in process of creation. It is difficult for us in England to understand how deeply this struggle has eaten into the whole political life of the Continent. Whatever wars we have waged, there has never hung over us the apprehension that defeat in war would imply the alienation and seizure by a foreign country of English territory. England is England; every part of the country, land, and people go together, and no Englishman is in danger of losing his birthright.
There are other countries which approximate geographically to insular conditions. The mountains which separate Spain from France, Norway from Sweden, are natural barriers. But where there is no such physical barrier the only thing to do is to build up a moral barrier. The artificial frontier, which is the work of man, must be made one which is maintained by every political sanction known, until it becomes so interwoven with the life of the peoples that any violation of it will be repudiated by the common sense of mankind, and until among civilised peoples the very conception of the right of conquest will disappear. In such frontiers the wishes of the people must be an important, though, as we shall see, they cannot be the sole, element, and the