Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Today -100: September 17, 1914: Of dum-dums, liberty and the realization of national views, and stacks of corpses
Woodrow Wilson responds to Kaiser Wilhelm’s complaints about the alleged use of dum-dum bullets by the French and British, refusing to express any opinion at this time, saying it would be unwise, premature and inconsistent with American neutrality to do so. He gives an identically phrased response to Belgian complaints about German atrocities.
When the Germans thought they had captured parts of France, they set about proclaiming themselves the new governors and putting up placards saying that if there was any sabotage, the commune (town) in which it occurred would face severe collective punishment. Also, “Any locality where persons of the German Army are traitorously wounded, poisoned, or killed will be immediately burnt.”
A Russia proclamation being distributed in the parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire its troops are occupying says that Russia “brings liberty and the realization of your national views” to oppressed nationalities. Who knew? Perhaps the Poles of Austrian Galicia can ask the Poles of the Russian Empire about that liberty and realization of national views.
One thing we’re not hearing much about is war goals. That proclamation suggests that Russia intends the dismantling of the Habsburg Empire, but it’s short on specifics and obviously more propaganda than policy statement. The rest of what we hear about war aims is mostly speculation and rumor: Germany wants to annex Belgium, Britain wants the complete dismantling of the German Navy. Obviously France wants Alsace and Lorraine back and Serbia wants Bosnia, but even those aren’t being openly announced.
Rioters in Italy demand that Italy enter the war on the allies’ side. The Radicals seem especially bloodthirsty, but everyone wants to get Italy’s claims for new territory (at Austria’s expense) in before everyone else divides up all the good bits.
French Gen. Joffre supposedly escapes an artillery ambush, thanks to fast driving by his chauffeur, a race-car driver.
Irish Nationalist leader John Redmond, evidently satisfied with postponed Home Rule (and postponed civil war), calls for Irish men to join the army.
The London Times says that during the battle of the Marne, at one spot German soldiers built a barricade of corpses six feet high.
The US resumes deporting illegal aliens, which was stopped at the start of the war.
The Colorado miners’ convention accepts Woodrow Wilson proposed three-year truce.