Monday, September 01, 2014

Today -100: September 1, 1914: There are two sides to the atrocity question


Belgium is sending a commission to the United States to tell the American people all about German atrocities, real and imagined.  Which now include taking Belgians as slaves to harvest crops in Germany (that one is real).

Headline of the Day -100:  “Germans Singing As Ship Went Down.”  The cruiser Ariadne, sunk by the British off Heligoland.  They were singing “The Flag and Germany Above All,” which is perhaps a poor choice under the circumstances.  Perhaps it was intended ironically.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The LAT reports that Galician prisoners of war say that Austria announced that it has annexed Serbia.

Montana Gov. Sam Stewart calls on the federal government to send troops to the mine-strike districts.  Miners are threatening to burn Butte if the state militia comes and have blown up the employment office of one of Anaconda’s mines.  The guardsmen are only waiting for their Gatling guns to arrive, so this should end well.

British Prime Minister Asquith complains in the House of Commons about a Sunday Times dispatch from Amiens which was pessimistic about the Allies’ chances.  He says this story is a “regrettable exception to the patriotic reticence which the press as a whole has shown up to the present”.  Only the British could coin a phrase like “patriotic reticence.”

Germany will now allow citizens of countries with which it’s at war to leave Germany, if it’s reciprocal.  Which means it will hold on to Russian males of military age, as Russia is holding on to Germans.

The Berlin Social Democratic Party newspaper Vorwärts says that the stories in more militaristic newspapers about alleged atrocities inflicted on poor German invading troops by mean French and Belgian civilians, which are being used as an excuse for reprisals, may not be entirely accurate (indeed, they are not).  It points out that under Prussian law, it is legal for Prussians to resist invading armies by sniping and other such means, so it’s hypocritical to complain when others do the same.

The German ambassador to the US, Count von Bernstorff, says “there are two sides to the ‘atrocity’ question” in Louvain, equating supposed attacks by Louvainhoovians on German troops (which didn’t happen) with the German massacre and burning and looting of the town.  He says it’s just like the atrocities Belgians committed in the Congo. Or something.  I’m not sure exactly what his point is.  A reporter points out that the Mexicans sniped at US marines in Vera Cruz without their town being burned down; Bernstorff says Louvain is entirely different from Vera Cruz because “Germany is fighting for her very existence”.  He justifies the air attack on Paris (one bomb dropped, didn’t go off), saying if art works in the Louvre or wherever are damaged, it’s the fault of the French for turning Paris into a fortress.

Republicans on the House Insular Affairs Committee say that further consideration of Wilson’s measure to give slightly greater autonomy to the Philippines would drag the US into the European war, because it would lead nations such as Germany and Japan to believe the US would not go to war to defend Philippines, Guam, Hawaii & Samoa.



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