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Title: Falsehood in War-time: Propaganda Lies of the First World War
Author: Arthur Ponsonby
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Title: Falsehood in War-time: Propaganda Lies of the First World War
Author: Arthur Ponsonby

Published 1928


     (A) GERMANY
     (B) FRANCE
     (D) ITALY


In compiling and collecting material for this volume, I am indebted to
Lord Tavistock for his sympathetic help and useful suggestions.
Professor Salvemini, Mr. Francis Nielson, Mr. T. Dixon, Mrs. C. R.
Buxton, Mrs. Urie, Miss Durham, and Mrs. Wallis have also assisted me
with contributions and in making investigations. My thanks are due to
various correspondents who have furnished me with material. I am
specially grateful to Miss Margaret Digby for her research work and for
the revision of the proofs.

A. P.


"A lie never lives to be old."

"When war is declared, Truth is the first casualty."

"Kommt der Krieg ins Land
Gibt Lügen wie Sand."

"You will find wars are supported by a class of argument which, after
the war is over, the people find were arguments they should never have
listened to."


"In the arena of international rivalry and conflict men have placed
patriotism above truthfulness as the indispensable virtue of statesmen."


"It is easier to make money by lies than by truth. Truth has only one
power, it can kindle souls. But, after all, a soul is a greater force
than a crowd."


"And when war did come we told youth, who had to get us out of it, tall
tales of what it really is and of the cloverbeds to which it leads."



The object of this volume is not to cast fresh blame on authorities and
individuals, nor is it to expose one nation more than another to
accusations of deceit. Falsehood is a recognized and extremely useful
weapon in warfare, and every country uses it quite deliberately to
deceive its own people, to attract neutrals, and to mislead the enemy.
The ignorant and innocent masses in each country are unaware at the time
that they are being misled, and when it is all over only here and there
are the falsehoods discovered and exposed. As it is all past history and
the desired effect has been produced by the stories and statements, no
one troubles to investigate the facts and establish the truth.

Lying, as we all know, does not take place only in war-time. Man, it has
been said, is not "a veridical animal," but his habit of lying is not
nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe. It is,
indeed, because of human credulity that lies flourish. But in war-time
the authoritative organization of lying is not sufficiently recognized.
The deception of whole peoples is not a matter which can be lightly

A useful purpose can therefore be served in the interval of so-called
peace by a warning which people can examine with dispassionate calm,
that the authorities in each country do, and indeed must, resort to this
practice in order, first, to justify themselves by depicting the enemy
as an undiluted criminal; and secondly, to inflame popular passion
sufficiently to secure recruits for the continuance of the struggle.
They cannot afford to tell the truth. In some cases it must be admitted
that at the moment they do not know what the truth is.

The psychological factor in war is just as important as the military
factor. The _morale_ of civilians, as well as of soldiers, must be kept up
to the mark. The War Offices, Admiralties, and Air Ministries look after
the military side. Departments have to be created to see to the
psychological side. People must never be allowed to become despondent;
so victories must be exaggerated and defeats, if not concealed, at any
rate minimized, and the stimulus of indignation, horror, and hatred must
be assiduously and continuously pumped into the public mind by means of

As Mr. Bonar Law said in an interview to the United Press of America,
referring to patriotism, "It is well to have it properly stirred by
German frightfulness"; and a sort of general confirmation of atrocities
is given by vague phrases which avoid responsibility for the
authenticity of any particular story, as when Mr. Asquith said (_House of
Commons, April 27, 1915_): "We shall not forget this horrible record of
calculated cruelty and crime."

The use of the weapon of falsehood is more necessary in a country where
military conscription is not the law of the land than in countries where
the manhood of the nation is automatically drafted into the Army, Navy,
or Air Service. The public can be worked up emotionally by sham ideals.
A sort of collective hysteria spreads and rises until finally it gets
the better of sober people and reputable newspapers.

With a warning before them, the common people may be more on their guard
when the war cloud next appears on the horizon and less disposed to
accept as truth the rumours, explanations, and pronouncements issued for
their consumption. They should realize that a Government which has
decided on embarking on the hazardous and terrible enterprise of war
must at the outset present a one-sided case in justification of its
action, and cannot afford to admit in any particular whatever the
smallest degree of right or reason on the part of the people it has made
up its mind to fight. Facts must be distorted, relevant circumstances
concealed and a picture presented which by its crude colouring will
persuade the ignorant people that their Government is blameless, their
cause is righteous, and that the indisputable wickedness of the enemy
has been proved beyond question. A moment's reflection would tell any
reasonable person that such obvious bias cannot possibly represent the
truth. But the moment's reflection is not allowed; lies are circulated
with great rapidity. The unthinking mass accept them and by their
excitement sway the rest. The amount of rubbish and humbug that pass
under the name of patriotism in war-time in all countries is sufficient
to make decent people blush when they are subsequently disillusioned.

At the outset the solemn asseverations of monarchs and leading statesmen
in each nation that they did not want war must be placed on a par with
the declarations of men who pour paraffin about a house knowing they are
continually striking matches and yet assert they do not want a
conflagration. This form of self-deception, which involves the deception
of others, is fundamentally dishonest.

War being established as a recognized institution to be resorted to when
Governments quarrel, the people are more or less prepared. They quite
willingly delude themselves in order to justify their own actions. They
are anxious to find an excuse for displaying their patriotism, or they
are disposed to seize the opportunity for the excitement and new life of
adventure which war opens out to them. So there is a sort of national
wink, everyone goes forward, and the individual, in his turn, takes up
lying as a patriotic duty. In the low standard of morality which
prevails in war-time, such a practice appears almost innocent. His
efforts are sometimes a little crude, but he does his best to follow the
example set. Agents are employed by authority and encouraged in
so-called propaganda work. The type which came prominently to the front
in the broadcasting of falsehood at recruiting meetings is now well
known. The fate which overtook at least one of the most popular of them
in this country exemplifies the depth of degradation to which public
opinion sinks in a war atmosphere.

With eavesdroppers, letter-openers, decipherers, telephone tappers,
spies, an intercept department, a forgery department, a criminal
investigation department, a propaganda department, an intelligence
department, a censorship department, a ministry of information, a Press
bureau, etc., the various Governments were well equipped to "instruct"
their peoples.

The British official propaganda department at Crewe House, under Lord
Northcliffe, was highly successful. Their methods, more especially the
raining down of millions of leaflets on to the German Army, far
surpassed anything undertaken by the enemy. In "The Secrets of Crewe
House" by Sir Campbell Stuart, K.B.E., the methods are described for our
satisfaction and approval. The declaration that only "truthful
statements" were used is repeated just too often, and does not quite
tally with the description of the faked letters and bogus titles and
book covers, of which use was made. But, of course, we know that such
clever propagandists are equally clever in dealing with us after the
event as in dealing with the enemy at the time. In the apparently candid
description of their activities we know we are hearing only part of the
story. The circulators of base metal know how to use the right amount of
alloy for us as well as for the enemy.

In the many tributes to the success of our propaganda from German
Generals and the German Press, there is no evidence that our statements
were always strictly truthful. To quote one: General von Hutier, of the
Sixth German Army, sent a message in which the following passage

"The method of Northcliffe at the Front is to distribute through
airmen a constantly increasing number of leaflets and pamphlets; the
letters of German prisoners are falsified in the most outrageous way;
tracts and pamphlets are concocted, to which the names of German poets,
writers, and statesmen are forged, or which present the appearance of
having been printed in Germany, and bear, for example, the title of the
Reclam series, when they really come from the Northcliffe press, which
is working day and night for this same purpose. His thought and aim are
that these forgeries, however obvious they may appear to the man who
thinks twice, may suggest a doubt, even for a moment, in the minds of
those who do not think for themselves, and that their confidence in
their leaders, in their own strength, and in the inexhaustible resources
of Germany may be shattered."

The Propaganda, to begin with, was founded on the shifting sand of the
myth of Germany's sole responsibility. Later it became slightly confused
owing to the inability of our statesmen to declare what our aims were,
and towards the end it was fortified by descriptions of the magnificent,
just, and righteous peace which was going to be "established on lasting
foundations." This unfortunately proved to be the greatest falsehood of

In calm retrospect we can appreciate better the disastrous effects of
the poison of falsehood, whether officially, semi-officially, or
privately manufactured. It has been rightly said that the injection of
the poison of hatred into men's minds by means of falsehood is a greater
evil in wartime than the actual loss of life. The defilement of the
human soul is worse than the destruction of the human body. A fuller
realization of this is essential.

Another effect of the continual appearance of false and biased statement
and the absorption of the lie atmosphere is that deeds of real valour,
heroism, and physical endurance and genuine cases of inevitable torture
and suffering are contaminated and desecrated; the wonderful comradeship
of the battlefield becomes almost polluted. Lying tongues cannot speak
of deeds of sacrifice to show their beauty or value. So it is that the
praise bestowed on heroism by Government and Press always jars, more
especially when, as is generally the case with the latter, it is
accompanied by cheap and vulgar sentimentality. That is why one
instinctively wishes the real heroes to remain unrecognized, so that
their record may not be smirched by cynical tongues and pens so well
versed in falsehood.

When war reaches such dimensions as to involve the whole nation, and
when the people at its conclusion find they have gained nothing but only
observe widespread calamity around them, they are inclined to become
more sceptical and desire to investigate the foundations of the
arguments which inspired their patriotism, inflamed their passions, and
prepared them to offer the supreme sacrifice. They are curious to know
why the ostensible objects for which they fought have none of them been
attained, more especially if they are the victors. They are inclined to
believe, with Lord Fisher, that "The nation was fooled into the war"
("_London Magazine_," January 1920). They begin to wonder whether it
does not rest with them to make one saying true of which they heard so
much, that it was "a war to end war."

When the generation that has known war is still alive, it is well that
they should be given chapter and verse with regard to some of the
best-known cries, catchwords, and exhortations by which they were so
greatly influenced. As a warning, therefore, this collection is made. It
constitutes only the exposure of a few samples. To cover the whole
ground would be impossible. There must have been more deliberate lying
in the world from 1914 to 1918 than in any other period of the world's

There are several different sorts of disguises which falsehood can take.
There is the deliberate official lie, issued either to delude the people
at home or to mislead the enemy abroad; of this, several instances are
given. As a Frenchman has said: "Tant que les peuples seront armés, les
uns contre les autres, ils auront des hommes d'état menteurs, comme ils
auront des canons et des mitrailleuses." ("As long as the peoples are
armed against each other, there will be lying statesmen, just as there
will be cannons and machine guns.")

A circular was issued by the War Office inviting reports on war
incidents from officers with regard to the enemy and stating that strict
accuracy was not essential so long as there was inherent probability.

There is the deliberate lie concocted by an ingenious mind which may
only reach a small circle, but which, if sufficiently graphic and
picturesque, may be caught up and spread broadcast; and there is the
hysterical hallucination on the part of weak-minded individuals.

There is the lie heard and not denied, although lacking in evidence, and
then repeated or allowed to circulate.

There is the mistranslation, occasionally originating in a genuine
mistake, but more often deliberate. Two minor instances of this may be

_The Times_ (agony column), July 9, 1915:

   Jack F. G.--If you are not in khaki by the 20th, I shall cut you
   dead.--ETHEL M.

The Berlin correspondent of the _Cologne Gazette_ transmitted this:

   If you are not in khaki by the 20th, _hacke ich dich zu Tode_ (I will
   hack you to death).

During the blockade of Germany, it was suggested that the diseases from
which children suffered had been called _Die englische Krankheit_, as a
permanent reflection on English inhumanity. As a matter of fact, _die
englische Krankheit_ is, and always has been, the common German name for

There is the general obsession, started by rumour and magnified by
repetition and elaborated by hysteria, which at last gains general

There is the deliberate forgery which has to be very carefully
manufactured but serves its purpose at the moment, even though it be
eventually exposed.

There is the omission of passages from official documents of which only
a few of the many instances are given; and the "correctness" of words
and commas in parliamentary answers which conceal evasions of the truth.

There is deliberate exaggeration, such, for instance, as the reports of
the destruction of Louvain:

   "The intellectual metropolis of the Low Countries since the
   fifteenth century is now no more than a heap of ashes" (Press
   Bureau, August 29, 1914),

   "Louvain has ceased to exist" ("_The Times_," August 29th, 1914).

As a matter of fact, it was estimated that about an eighth of the town
had suffered.

There is the concealment of truth, which has to be resorted to so as to
prevent anything to the credit of the enemy reaching the public. A war
correspondent who mentioned some chivalrous act that a German had done
to an Englishman during an action received a rebuking telegram from his
employer: "Don't want to hear about any good Germans"; and Sir Philip
Gibbs, in Realities of War, says: "At the close of the day the Germans
acted with chivalry, which I was not allowed to tell at the time."

There is the faked photograph ("the camera cannot lie "). These were
more popular in France than here. In Vienna an enterprising firm
supplied atrocity photographs with blanks for the headings so that they
might be used for propaganda purposes by either side.

The cinema also played a very important part, especially in neutral
countries, and helped considerably in turning opinion in America in
favour of coming in on the side of the Allies. To this day in this
country attempts are made by means of films to keep the wound raw.

There is the "Russian scandal," the best instance of which during the
war, curiously enough, was the rumour of the passage of Russian troops
through Britain. Some trivial and imperfectly understood statement of
fact becomes magnified into enormous proportions by constant repetition
from one person to another.

Atrocity lies were the most popular of all, especially in this country
and America; no war can be without them. Slander of the enemy is
esteemed a patriotic duty. An English soldier wrote ("_The Times_,"
September 15, 1914): "The stories in our papers are only exceptions.
There are people like them in every army." But at the earliest possible
moment stories of the maltreatment of prisoners have to be circulated
deliberately in order to prevent surrenders. This is done, of course, on
both sides. Whereas naturally each side tries to treat its prisoners as
well as possible so as to attract others.

The repetition of a single instance of cruelty and its exaggeration can
be distorted into a prevailing habit on the part of the enemy.
Unconsciously each one passes it on with trimmings and yet tries to
persuade himself that he is speaking the truth.

There are lies emanating from the inherent unreliability and fallibility
of human testimony. No two people can relate the occurrence of a street
accident so as to make the two stories tally. When bias and emotion are
introduced, human testimony becomes quite valueless. In war-time such
testimony is accepted as conclusive. The scrappiest and most unreliable
evidence is sufficient--"the friend of the brother of a man who was
killed." or, as a German investigator of his own liars puts it,
"somebody who had seen it," or, "an extremely respectable old woman."

There is pure romance. Letters of soldiers who whiled away the days and
weeks of intolerable waiting by writing home sometimes contained
thrilling descriptions of engagements and adventures which had never

There are evasions, concealments, and half-truths which are more subtly
misleading and gradually become a governmental habit.

There is official secrecy which must necessarily mislead public opinion.
For instance, a popular English author, who was perhaps better informed
than the majority of the public, wrote a letter to an American author,
which was reproduced in the Press on May 21st, 1918, stating:

   "There are no Secret Treaties of any kind in which this country is
   concerned. It has been publicly and clearly stated more than once by
   our Foreign Minister, and apart from honour it would be political
   suicide for any British official to make a false statement of the kind."

Yet a series of Secret Treaties existed. It is only fair to say that the
author, not the Foreign Secretary, is the liar here. Nevertheless the
official pamphlet, _The Truth about the Secret Treaties_, compiled by
Mr. McCurdy, was published with a number of un-acknowledged excisions,
and both Lord Robert Cecil, in 1917 and Mr. Lloyd George in 1918
declared (the latter to a deputation from the Trade Union Congress) that
our policy was not directed to the disruption of Austro-Hungary,
although they both knew that under the Secret Treaty concluded with
Italy in April 1918 portions of Austria-Hungary were to be handed over
to Italy and she was to be cut off from the sea. Secret Treaties
naturally involve constant denials of the truth.

There is sham official indignation depending on genuine popular
indignation which is a form of falsehood sometimes resorted to in an
unguarded moment and subsequently regretted. The first use of gas by the
Germans and the submarine warfare are good instances of this.

Contempt for the enemy, if illustrated, can prove to be an unwise form
of falsehood. There was a time when German soldiers were popularly
represented cringing, with their arms in the air and crying "Kamerad,"
until it occurred to Press and propaganda authorities that people were
asking why, if this was the sort of material we were fighting against,
had we not wiped them off the field in a few weeks.

There are personal accusations and false charges made in a prejudiced
war atmosphere to discredit persons who refuse to adopt the orthodox
attitude towards war.

There are lying recriminations between one country and another. For
instance, the Germans were accused of having engineered the Armenian
massacres, and they, on their side, declared the Armenians, stimulated
by the Russians, had killed 150,000 Mohammedans (_Germania_, October 9,

Other varieties of falsehood more subtle and elusive might be found, but
the above pretty well cover the ground.

A good deal depends on the quality of the lie. You must have
intellectual lies for intellectual people and crude lies for popular
consumption, but if your popular lies are too blatant and your more
intellectual section are shocked and see through them, they may (and
indeed they did) begin to be suspicious as to whether they were not
being hoodwinked too. Nevertheless, the inmates of colleges are just as
credulous as the inmates of the slums.

Perhaps nothing did more to impress the public mind--and this is true
in all countries--than the assistance given in propaganda by
intellectuals and literary notables. They were able to clothe the tough
tissue of falsehood with phrases of literary merit and passages of
eloquence better than the statesmen. Sometimes by expressions of
spurious impartiality, at other times by rhetorical indignation, they
could by their literary skill give this or that lie the stamp of
indubitable authenticity, even without the shadow of a proof, or
incidentally refer to it as an accepted fact. The narrowest patriotism
could be made to appear noble, the foulest accusations could be
represented as an indignant outburst of humanitarianism, and the meanest
and most vindictive aims falsely disguised as idealism. Everything was
legitimate which could make the soldiers go on fighting.

The frantic activity of ecclesiastics in recruiting by means of war
propaganda made so deep an impression on the public mind that little
comment on it is needed here. The few who courageously stood out became
marked men. The resultant and significant loss of spiritual influence by
the Churches is, in itself, sufficient evidence of the reaction against
the betrayal in time of stress of the most elementary precepts of
Christianity by those specially entrusted with the moral welfare of the

War is fought in this fog of falsehood, a great deal of it undiscovered
and accepted as truth. The fog arises from fear and is fed by panic. Any
attempt to doubt or deny even the most fantastic story has to be
condemned at once as unpatriotic, if not traitorous. This allows a free
field for the rapid spread of lies. If they were only used to deceive
the enemy in the game of war it would not be worth troubling about. But,
as the purpose of most of them is to fan indignation and induce the
flower of the country's youth to be ready to make the supreme sacrifice,
it becomes a serious matter. Exposure, therefore, may be useful, even
when the struggle is over, in order to show up the fraud, hypocrisy, and
humbug on which all war rests, and the blatant and vulgar devices which
have been used for so long to prevent the poor ignorant people from
realizing the true meaning of war.

It must be admitted that many people were conscious and willing dupes.
But many more were unconscious and were sincere in their patriotic zeal.
Finding now that elaborately and carefully staged deceptions were
practised on them, they feel a resentment which has not only served to
open their eyes but may induce them to make their children keep their
eyes open when next the bugle sounds.

Let us attempt a very faint and inadequate analogy between the conduct
of nations and the conduct of individuals.

Imagine two large country houses containing large families with friends
and relations. When the members of the family of the one house stay in
the other, the butler is instructed to open all the letters they receive
and send and inform the host of their contents, to listen at the
keyhole, and tap the telephone. When a great match, say a cricket match,
which excites the whole district, is played between them, those who are
present are given false reports of the game to them think the side they
favour is winning, the other side is accused of cheating and foul play,
and scandalous reports are circulated about the head of the family the
hideous goings on in the other house.

All this, of course, is very mild, and there would no specially dire
consequences if people were to be in such an inconceivably caddish, low,
and underhand way, except that they would at once be expelled from
decent society.

But between nations, where the consequences are vital, where the destiny
of countries and provinces hangs in the balance, the lives and fortunes
of millions are affected and civilization itself is menaced, the most
upright men honestly believe that there is no depth of duplicity to
which they may not legitimately stoop. They have got to do it. The thing
cannot go on without the help of lies.

This is no plea that lies should not be used in time, but a
demonstration of how lies must be us in war-time. If the truth were told
from the start there would be no reason and no will for war.

Anyone declaring the truth: "Whether you are right or wrong, whether you
win or lose, in no circumstances can war help you or your country,"
would find himself in gaol very quickly. In wartime, failure of a lie is
negligence, the doubting of a lie a misdemeanour, the declaration of the
truth a crime.

In future wars we have now to look forward to a new and far more
efficient instrument of propaganda--the Government control of
broadcasting. Whereas therefore, in the past we have used the word
"broadcast" symbolically as meaning the efforts of the Press and
individual reporters, in future we must use the word literally, since
falsehood can now be circulated universally, scientifically, and

Many of the samples given in the assortment are international, but some
are exclusively British, as these are more easily found and
investigated, and, after all, we are more concerned with our own
Government and Press methods and our own national honour than with the
duplicity of other Governments.

Lies told in other countries are also dealt with in cases where it has
been possible to collect sufficient data. Without special investigation
on the spot, the career of particular lies cannot be fully set out.

When the people of one country understand how the people in another
country are duped, like themselves, in wartime, they will be more
disposed to sympathize with them as victims than condemn them as
criminals, because they will understand that their crime only consisted
in obedience to the dictates of authority and acceptance of what their
Government and Press represented to them as the truth.

The period covered is roughly the four years of the war. The intensity
of the lying was mitigated after 1918, although fresh crops came up in
connection with other of our international relations. The mischief done
by the false cry "Make Germany pay" continued after 1918 and led, more
especially in France, to high expectations and consequent indignation
when it was found that the people who raised this slogan knew all the
time it was a fantastic impossibility. Many of the old war lies survived
for several years, and some survive even to this day.

There is nothing sensational in the way of revelations contained in
these pages. All the cases mentioned are well known to those who were in
authority, less well known to those primarily affected, and unknown,
unfortunately, to the millions who fell. Although only a small part of
the vast field of falsehood is covered, it may suffice to show how the
unsuspecting innocence of the masses in all countries was ruthlessly and
systematically exploited.

There are some who object to war because of its immorality, there are
some who shrink from the arbitrament of arms because of its increased
cruelty and barbarity; there are a growing number who protest against
this method, at the outset known to be unsuccessful, of attempting to
settle international disputes because of its imbecility and futility.
But there is not a living soul in any country who does not deeply resent
having his passions roused, his indignation inflamed, his patriotism
exploited, and his highest ideals desecrated by concealment, subterfuge,
fraud, falsehood, trickery, and deliberate lying on the part of those in
whom he is taught to repose confidence and to whom he is enjoined to pay

None of the heroes prepared for suffering and sacrifice, none of the
common herd ready for service and obedience, will be inclined to listen
to the call of their country once they discover the polluted sources
from whence that call proceeds and recognize the monstrous finger of
falsehood which beckons them to the battlefield.


Our prompt entry into the European War in 1914 was necessitated by our
commitment to France. This commitment was not known to the people; it
was not known to Parliament; it was not even known to all the members
of the Cabinet. More than this, its existence was denied. How binding
the moral engagement was soon became clear. The fact that it was not a
signed treaty had nothing whatever to do with the binding nature of an
understanding come to as a result of military and naval conversations
conducted over a number of years. Not only was it referred to as "an
obligation of honour" (Lord Lansdowne), "A compact" (Mr. Lloyd George),
"An honourable expectation" (Sir Eyre Crowe), "the closest negotiations
and arrangements between the two Governments" (Mr. Austen Chamberlain),
but Lord Grey himself has admitted that had we not gone in on France's
side (quite apart from the infringement of Belgian neutrality), he would
have resigned. That he should have pretended that we were not "bound"
has been a matter of amazement to his warmest admirers, that the
understanding should have been kept secret has been a subject of sharp
criticism from statesmen of all parties. No more vital point stands out
in the whole of pre-war diplomacy, and the bare recital of the denials,
evasions, and subterfuges forms a tragic illustration of the low
standard of national honour, where war is concerned, which is accepted
by statesmen whose personal honour is beyond reproach.

It will be remembered that the conversations which involved close
consultations between military and naval staffs began before 1906. The
first explicit denial came in 1911. The subsequent extracts can be given
with little further comment.

   "MR. Jowett asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if,
   during his term of office, any undertaking, promise, or
   understanding had been given to France that, in certain
   eventualities, British troops would be sent to assist the operations
   of the French Army."

   MR. McKINNON WOOD (Under-Secretary, for Foreign Affairs): "The
   answer is in the negative." (House of Commons, March 9, 1911.)

   SIR E. GREY "First of all let me try to put an end to some of the
   suspicions with regard to secrecy--suspicions with which it seems
   to me some people are torturing themselves, and certainly worrying
   others. We have laid before the House the Secret Articles of the
   Agreement with France of 1904. There are no other secret
   engagements. The late Government made that agreement in 1904. They
   kept those articles secret and I think to everybody the reason will
   be obvious why they did so. It would have been invidious to make
   those articles public. In my opinion they were entirely justified in
   keeping those articles secret because they were not articles which
   commit this House to serious obligations. I saw a comment made the
   other day, when these articles were published, that if a Government
   would keep little things secret, a fortiori, they would keep big
   things secret. That is absolutely untrue. There may be reasons why a
   Government should make secret arrangements of that kind if they are
   not things of first rate importance, if they are subsidiary to
   matters of great importance. But that is the very reason why the
   British Government should not make secret engagements which commit
   Parliament to obligations of war. It would be foolish to do it. No
   British Government could embark upon a war without public opinion
   behind it, and such engagements as there are which really commit
   Parliament to anything of the kind are contained in treaties or
   agreements which have been laid before the House. For ourselves, we
   have not made a single secret article of any kind since we came into
   office." (House of Commons, November 27, 1911).

The whole of this is a careful and deliberate evasion of the real point.

Nothing was clearer to everyone in Great Britain in August 1914 than
that our understanding with France was a "secret engagement which
committed Parliament to obligations of war."

Mr. Winston Churchill, in a memorandum to Sir E. Grey and the Prime
Minister, August 23, 1912, wrote: "Everyone must feel who knows the
facts that we have the obligations of an alliance without its advantages
and, above all, without its precise definitions" (The World Crisis,
vol. i, p. 115).

In 1912 M. Sazonov, the Russian Foreign Minister, reported to the Czar:

   "England promised to support France on land by sending an expedition
   of 100.000 to the Belgian border to repel the invasion of France by
   the German Army through Belgium, expected by the French General Staff."

   LORD HUGH CECIL:...There is a very general belief that this
   country is under an obligation, not a treaty obligation, but an
   obligation arising owing to an assurance given by the Ministry. in
   the course of diplomatic negotiations, to send a very large force
   out of this country to operate in Europe.

   MR. ASQUITH: "I ought to say that it is not true". (House of
   Commons, March 10th 1903.)

   SIR WILLIAM BYLES asked the Prime Minister "whether he will say if
   this country is under any, and if so, what, obligation to France to
   send an armed force in certain contingencies to operate in Europe;
   and if so, what are the limits of our agreements, whether by
   assurance or Treaty with the French nation".

   MR. KING asked the Prime Minister "(i) whether the foreign policy of
   this country is at the present time unhampered by any treaties,
   agreements, or obligations under which British military forces
   would, in certain eventualities, be called upon to be landed on the
   Continent and join there in military operations; and (2) whether in
   1905, 1908, or 1911 this country spontaneously offered to France the
   assistance of a British army to be landed on the Continent to
   support France in the event of European hostilities."

   MR. ASQUITH: As has been repeatedly stated, this country is not
   under any obligation not public and known to Parliament which
   compels it to take part in any war. In other words, if war arises
   between European Powers, there are no unpublished agreements which
   will restrict or hamper the freedom of the Government or of
   Parliament to decide whether or not Great Britain should participate
   in a war. The use that would be made of the naval and military
   forces if the Government or Parliament decided to take part in a war
   is, for obvious reasons, not a matter about which public statements
   can be made beforehand. (House of Commons, March 24, 1913).

   SIR EDWARD GREY: "I have assured the House, and the Prime Minister
   has assured the House more than once, that if any crisis such as
   this arose we should come before the House of Commons and be able to
   say to the House that it was free to decide what the attitude of the
   House should be; that we have no secret engagement which we should
   spring upon the House and tell the House that because we had entered
   upon that engagement there was an obligation of honour on the
   country...I think [the letter] makes it perfectly clear that
   what the Prime Minister and I have said in the House of Commons was
   perfectly justified as regards our freedom to decide in a crisis
   what our line should be, whether we should intervene or whether we
   should abstain. The Government remained perfectly free and a
   fortiori the House of Commons remained perfectly free". (House of
   Commons, August 3rd, 1914).

Yet all preparations to the last detail had been made, as shown by the
prompt, secret, and well-organized dispatch of the Expeditionary Force.

As far back as January 31st, 1906, Sir Edward Grey had written to our
Ambassador at Paris describing a conversation with M. Cambon.

   "In the first place, since the Ambassador had spoken to me, a good
   deal of progress had been made. Our military and naval authorities
   had been in communication with the French, and I assumed that all
   preparations were ready, so that, if a crisis arose, no time would
   have been lost for want of a formal engagement."

Lord Grey writes in his book, _Twenty-Five Years_ (published in 1925),
with regard to his declaration in August 1914:

   "It will appear, if the reader looks back to the conversations with
   Cambon in 1906, that not only British and French military, but also
   naval, authorities were in consultation. But naval consultations had
   been put on a footing satisfactory to France in 1905, before the
   Liberal Government had come into office. The new step taken by us in
   January 1906 had been to authorize military conversations on the
   same footing as the naval ones. It was felt to be essential to make
   clear to the House that its liberty of decision was not hampered by
   any engagements entered into previously without its knowledge.
   Whatever obligation there was to France arose from what those must
   feel who had welcomed, approved, and sustained the Anglo-French
   friendship, that was open and known to all. In this connection there
   was nothing to disclose, except the engagement about the north and
   west coasts of France taken a few hours before, and the letters
   exchanged with Cambon in 1912, the letter that expressly stipulated
   there was no engagement. One of the things which contributed
   materially to the unanimity of the country (on the outbreak of war)
   was that the Cabinet were able to come before Parliament and say
   that they had not made a secret agreement behind their backs.
   Viscount Grey, receiving the Freedom of Glasgow January 4, 1921.
   Reported in "_The Times_."

His constant repetition of this assurance is the best proof of his
natural and obvious doubt that it was true.

But he continues the attempt at self-exculpation years after in his
book, "_Twenty-Five Years_". Outlining the considerations in his mind
prior to the outbreak of war:

   (3) That, if war came, the interest of Britain required that we
   should not stand aside while France fought alone in the west, but
   must support her. I knew it to be very doubtful whether the Cabinet,
   Parliament, and the country would take this view on the outbreak of
   war, and through the whole of this week I had in view the probable
   contingency that we should not decide at the critical moment to
   support France. In that event I should have to resign...

   (4) A clear view that no pledge must be given, no hope even held out
   to France and Russia which it was doubtful whether this country
   would fulfil. One danger I saw...It was that France and Russia
   might face the ordeal of war with Germany relying on our support;
   that this support might not be forthcoming, and that we might then,
   when it was too late, be held responsible by them for having let
   them in for a disastrous war. Of course I could resign if I gave
   them hopes which it turned out that the Cabinet and Parliament would
   not sanction. But what good would my resignation be to them in their

After quoting the King-Byles questions, June 11th, 1914, he says:

   "The answer given is absolutely true. The criticism to which it is
   open is that it does not answer the question put to me. That is
   undeniable. Parliament has unqualified right to know of agreements
   or arrangements that bind the country to action or restrain its
   freedom. But it cannot be told of military and naval measures to
   meet possible contingencies. So long as Governments are compelled to
   contemplate the possibility of war, they are under a necessity to
   take precautionary measures, the object of which would be defeated
   if they were made public...If the question had been pressed, I
   must have declined to answer it and have given these reasons for
   doing so. Questions in the previous year about military arrangements
   with France had been put aside by the Prime Minister with a similar

   "Neither the Franco-British military nor the Anglo-Russian naval
   conversations compromised the freedom of this country, but the
   latter were less intimate and important than the former. I was
   therefore quite justified in saying that the assurances given by the
   Prime Minister still held good. Nothing had been done that in any
   way weakened them, and this was the assurance that Parliament was
   entitled to have. Political engagements ought not to be kept secret;
   naval or military preparations for contingencies of war are
   necessary, but must be kept secret. In these instances care had been
   taken to ensure that such preparations did not involve any political

In the recently published official papers Sir Eyre Crowe, in a
memorandum to Sir Edward Grey, July 31, 1914 says:

   "The argument that there is no written bond binding us to France is
   strictly correct. There is no contractual obligation. But the
   Entente has been made, strengthened, put to the test, and celebrated
   in a manner justifying the belief that a moral bond was being
   forged. The whole of the Entente can have no meaning if it does not
   signify that in a just quarrel England would stand by her friends.
   This honourable expectation has been raised. We cannot repudiate it
   without exposing our good name to grave criticism.

   "I venture to think that the contention that England cannot in any
   circumstances go to war is not true, and that any endorsement of it
   would be political suicide."

This is the plain common-sense official view which Sir E. Grey had
before him. To insist that Parliament was free because the "honourable
expectation" was not in writing was a deplorable subterfuge.

Lord Lansdowne, in the House of Lords on August 6, 1914, after referring
to "Treaty obligations and those other obligations which are not less
sacred because they are not embodied in signed and sealed documents," said:

   "Under the one category fall our Treaty obligations to Belgium...
   To the other category belong our obligations to France--obligations
   of honour which have grown up in consequence of the close intimacy by
   which the two nations have been united during the last few years."

The idea that Parliament was free and was consulted on August 3rd also
falls to the ground as a sham, owing to the fact that on August 2nd the
naval protection of the French coast and shipping had been guaranteed by
the Government. Parliament was not free in any case, owing to the
commitments, but this made "consultation" and parliamentary sanction an
absolute farce.

As _The Times_ said on August 5th, by this guarantee Great Britain was

   "definitely committed to the side of France"; and M. Cambon, the
   French Ambassador, in an interview with M. Recouly, said: "A great
   country cannot make war half-way. The moment it has decided to fight
   on the sea it has fatally obligated itself to fight also on land."

A Press opinion of the commitment may be given:

   "Take yet another instance which is fresh in everyone's
   recollection, viz. the arrangements as to the co-operation of the
   military staffs of Great Britain and France before the war. It was
   not until the very eve of hostilities that the House of Commons
   learned anything as to the nature of those arrangements. It was then
   explained by Sir Edward Grey that Great Britain was not definitely
   committed to go to the military assistance of France. There was no
   treaty. There was no convention. Great Britain, therefore, was free
   to give help or to withhold it, and yet, though there had been no
   formal commitment, we were fast bound by every consideration of
   honour, and the national conscience felt this instinctively, though
   it was only the invasion of Belgium which brought in the waverers
   and doubters. That situation arose out of secret diplomacy, and it
   is one which must never be allowed to spring again from the same
   cause. For we can conceive nothing more dangerous than for a
   Government to commit itself in honour, though not in technical fact,
   and then to make no adequate military preparations on the ground
   that the technical commitment has not been entered into." ("_Daily
   Telegraph_", September 1917.)

Lord Haldane frankly admits, in "_Before the War_", what he was doing in
1906. He says that the problem which presented itself to him in 1906 was
"how to mobilize and concentrate at a place of assembly to be opposite
the Belgian frontier, a British expeditionary force of 160,000."

   MR. LLOYD GEORGE (speaking of the beginning of the war): We had a
   compact with France that if she were wantonly attacked, the United
   Kingdom would go to her support.

   MR. HOGGE: We did not know that!

   MR. LLOYD GEORGE: If France were wantonly attacked.

   AN HON. MEMBER: That is news.

   MR. LLOYD GEORGE: There was no compact as to what force we should
   bring into the arena...Whatever arrangements we come to, I
   think history will show that we have more than kept faith.

   (House of Commons, August 7, 1913.)

In spite, then, of Lord Grey's assurances of the freedom of Parliament,
it becomes clear that had Parliament taken the other course, Great
Britain would have broken faith with France.

Some foreign opinions may be given:

   In the French Chamber, September 3, 1919, M. Franklin Bouillon,
   criticizing the Triple Alliance, suggested in 1919 between French,
   British, and American Governments, declared that France was better
   protected by the Anglo-French understanding of 1912, "which assured
   us the support of six divisions," and--upon an interruption by M.
   Tardieu--agreed that the "text" of the understanding did not
   specify six divisions, but that staff collaboration had "prearranged
   everything for the mobilization and immediate embarkation of six

In April 1913 M. Sazonov reported to the Czar:

   "Without hesitating, Grey stated that should the conditions under
   discussion arise, England would stake everything in order to inflict
   the most serious blow to German power...Arising out of this,
   Grey, upon his own initiative, corroborated what I already knew from
   Poincaré, the existence of an agreement between France and Great
   Britain, according to which England engaged itself, in case of a war
   with Germany, not only to come to the assistance of France on the
   sea, but also on the Continent by landing troops.

   "The intervention of England in the war had been anticipated. A
   military convention existed with England which could not he divulged
   as it bore a secret character. We relied upon six English divisions
   and upon the assistance of the Belgians". (Marshall Joffre before a
   Paris Commission, July 5, 1919).

A comparison of the successive plans of campaign of the French General
Staff enables us to determine the exact moment when English
co-operation, in consequence of these promises, became part of our
military strategy. Plan 16 did not allow for it; Plan 16a, drawn up in
September 1911, takes into account the presence of an English Army on
our left wing. The Minister of War (Messimy) said:

   "Our conversations with General Wilson, representing the British
   General Staff at the time of the Agadir affair, enabled us to have
   the certainty of English intervention in the event of a conflict."
   The representative of the British General Staff had promise of the
   help of 100,000 men, but stipulating that they should land in France
   because, as he argued, a landing at Antwerp would take much longer".
   (From "_La Victoire_" by Fabre Luce).

   "The British and French General Staffs had for years been in close
   consultation with one another on this subject. The area of
   concentration for the British forces had been fixed on the left
   flank of the French and the actual detraining stations of the
   various units were all laid down in terrain lying between Maubeuge
   and Le Cateau. The headquarters of the army were fixed at the latter
   place". (Lord French's book on the war, 1919.)

As to the danger of the secrecy which was the cause of the denials and
evasions, three quotations may be given.

   MR. BONAR LAW:...It has been said--and I think it is very
   likely true--that if Germany had known for certain that Great
   Britain would have taken part in the war, the war would never have
   occurred. (House of Commons, July 18, 1918).

   LORD LOREBURN, in "_How the War Came_", says: "The concealment from
   the Cabinet was protracted and must have been deliberate."

   MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN:..."We found ourselves on a certain
   Monday listening to a speech by Lord Grey at this box which brought
   us face to face with war and upon which followed our declaration.
   That was the first public notification to the country, or to anyone
   by the Government of the day, of the position of the British
   Government and of the obligations which it had assumed...Was
   the House of Commons free to decide? Relying upon the arrangements
   made between the two Governments, the French coast was undefended--I
   am not speaking of Belgium, but of France. There had been the
   closest negotiations and arrangements between our two Governments
   and our two staffs. There was not a word on paper binding this
   country, but in honour it was bound as it had never been bound
   before---I do not say wrongfully; I think rightly".

   MR. T. P. O'CONNOR: "It should not have been secret".

   MR. CHAMBERLAIN: "I agree. That is my whole point, and I am coming
   to it. Can we ever be indifferent to the French frontier or to the
   fortunes of France? A friendly Power in possession of the Channel
   ports is a British interest, treaty or no treaty.... Suppose that
   engagement had been made publicly in the light of day. Suppose it
   had been laid before this House and approved by this House, might
   not the events of those August days have been different?...If
   we had had that, if our obligations had been known and definite, it
   is at least possible, and I think it is probable, that war would
   have been avoided in 1914". (House of Commons, February 8, 1922).

There can be no question, therefore, that the deliberate denials and
subterfuges, kept up till the last moment and fraught as they were with
consequences of such magnitude, constitute a page in the history of
secret diplomacy which is without parallel and afford a signal
illustration of the slippery slope of official concealments.


The murder at Serajevo of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew of the
Emperor Franz Joseph, and the consequent Austrian ultimatum, are
sometimes referred to as the cause of the war, whereas, of course, they
were only the occasion--the match which set fire to the well-stored
powder magazine. The incident was by no means a good one for propaganda
purposes. Fortunately for the Government, the Serajevo assassination,
together with the secret commitment to France, was allowed to fall into
the background after the invasion of Belgium. It was extremely difficult
to make the Serbian cause popular. "John Bull" exploded at once with "To
Hell with Serbia," and most people were naturally averse to being
dragged into a European war for such a cause. Some wondered what the
attitude of our own Government would have been had the Prince of Wales
been murdered in similar circumstances, and a doubtful frame of mind
existed. The Serbian case, therefore, had to be written up, and "poor
little Serbia" had to be presented as an innocent small nationality
subjected to the offensive brutality of the Austrians.

The following extract from _The Times_ leader, September 15, 1914, is a
good sample of how public opinion was worked up:

   "The letter which we publish this morning from Sir Valentine Chirol
   is a welcome reminder of the duty we owe to the gallant army and
   people.... We are too apt to overlook the splendid heroism of the
   Servian people and the sacrifices they have incurred.... And Servia
   has amply deserved support...Nor ought we to forget that this
   European war of liberation was precipitated by Austro-German
   aggression upon Servia. The accusations of complicity in the
   Sarajevo crime launched against Servia as a pretext for aggression
   have not been proved. It is more than doubtful whether they are
   susceptible of proof...While there is thus every reason for not
   accepting Austrian charges, there are the strongest reasons for
   giving effective help to a gallant ally who has fought for a century
   in defence of the principle of the independence of little States
   which we ourselves are now fighting to vindicate with all the
   resources of our Empire.

Mr. Lloyd George, speaking at the Queen's Hall on September 21, 1914,
said: "If any Servians were mixed up with the murder of the Archduke,
they ought to be punished for it. Servia admits that. The Servian
Government had nothing to do with it, not even Austria claimed that. The
Servian Prime Minister is one of the most capable and honoured men in
Europe. Servia was willing to punish any of her subjects who had been
proved to have any complicity in that assassination. What more could you

"_Punch_" gave us "Heroic Serbia," a gallant Serb defending himself on a
mountain pass.

Between June 28 and July 23, 1914, no arrests were made or explanation
given by the Serbian Government. The Austrian representative, Von
Storck, was told:

   "The police have not concerned themselves with the affair. The
   impression given was that entirely irresponsible individuals,
   unknown to anyone in authority, were the criminals. As the war
   proceeded the matter was lost sight of, and our Serbian ally and its
   Government were universally, accepted as one of the small outraged
   nationalities for whose liberation and rights British soldiers were
   willingly prepared to sacrifice their lives."

The revelations as to the complicity of the Serbian Government in the
crime did not appear till 1924, when an article was published entitled,
"After Vidovdan, 1914," by Ljuba Jovanovitch, President of the Serbian
Parliament, who had been Minister of Education in the Cabinet of M.
Pashitch in 1914. The relevant extracts from this article may be given.

   "I do not remember if it were the end of May or the beginning of
   June when, one day, M. Pashitch told us that certain persons were
   preparing to go to Serajevo, in order to kill Franz Ferdinand, who
   was expected there on. Vidovdan. (Sunday, June 28th). He told this
   much to us others, but he acted further in the affair only with
   Stojan Protitch, then Minister of the Interior. As they told me
   afterwards, this was prepared by a society of secretly organized
   men, and by the societies of patriotic students of
   Bosnia-Herzegovina, in Belgrade. M. Pashitch and we others said (and
   Stojan Protitch agreed) that he, Stojan, should order the
   authorities on the Drin frontier to prevent the crossing of the
   youths who had left Belgrade for the purpose. But these frontier
   authorities were themselves members of the organization, and did not
   execute Stolan's order, and told him, and he afterwards told us,
   that the order had come too late, for the youths had already crossed
   over. Thus failed the Government attempt to prevent the outrage
   (atentat) that had been prepared.

   "This makes it clear that the whole Cabinet knew of the plot some
   time before the murder took place; that the Prime Minister and
   Minister of the Interior knew in which societies it had been
   prepared; that the frontier guard was deeply implicated and working
   under the orders of those who were arranging the crime. There failed
   also the attempt of our Minister of Vienna, made on his own
   initiative, to the Minister Bilinski, to turn the Archduke from the
   fatal path which had been planned. Thus the death of the Archduke
   was accomplished in circumstances more awful than had been foreseen
   and with consequences no one could have even dreamed of."

No official instruction was sent to Vienna to warn the Archduke. The
Minister acted on his own initiative. This is further substantiated by a
statement of M. Pashitch quoted in the _Standard_, July 21, 1914.

   "Had we known of the plot against the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand,
   assuredly we should have informed the Austro-Hungarian Government."

He did know of the plot, but gave no warning to the Austro-Hungarian

In an article in the _Neues Wiener Tageblatt_, June 28, 1924, Jovan
Jovanovitch, the Serbian Minister in Vienna, explained that the warning
he gave was in the form of a personal and unprompted opinion that the
manoeuvres were provocative and the Archduke might be shot by one of his
own troops.

Ljuba Javanovitch describes his reception of the news:

   "On Vidoydan (Sunday, June 2.8, 1914) in the afternoon I was at my
   country house at Senjak. About 5 P.M. an official telephoned to me
   from the Press Bureau telling what had happened at Serajevo. And
   although I knew what was being prepared there, yet, as I held the
   receiver, it was as though someone had unexpectedly dealt me a heavy
   blow. When later the news was confirmed from other quarters a heavy
   anxiety oppressed me...I saw that the position of our
   Government with regard to other Governments would be very difficult,
   far worse than after May 29, 1903" (the murder of King Alexander).

In _La Fédération Balcanique_ Nicola Nenadovitch asserts that King
Alexander, the Russian Minister Hartwig, and the Russian military
attaché Artmanov, as well as Pashitch, were privy to the plot.

The Austrian Government, in its ultimatum, demanded the arrest of one
Ciganovitch. He was found, but mysteriously disappeared. This man played
an important part. Colonel Simitch, in _Clarti_, May 1925, describes him
as a link between Pashitch and the conspirators, and says: "M. Pashitch
sent his agent into Albania." The report of the Salonika trial shows
that he was a spy and agent provocateur to the Serb Government. He was
"Number 412" in the list of "the Black Hand," a revolutionary society
known to and encouraged by the Government (M. Pashitch's nephew was a
member). Its head was Dimitrijevitch, the chief officer of the
Intelligence Staff, an outstanding figure who led the assassination of
King Alexander and his Queen in 1903. The agent of the Black Hand in
Serajevo was Gatchinovitch, who organized the murder, plans having been
laid months beforehand. The first attempt with a bomb was made by
Chabrinovitch, who was in the Serbian State printing office. Printzip, a
wild young man who was simply a tool, actually committed the murder.
When he and the other murderers were arrested they confessed that it was
through Ciganovitch that they had been introduced to Major Tankositch,
supplied with weapons and given shooting lessons. After the Salonika
trial the Pashitch Government sent Ciganovitch, as a reward for his
services, to America with a false passport under the name of
Danilovitch. After the war was over Ciganovitch returned, and the
Government gave him some land near Uskub, where he then resided.

That the Austrian Government should have recognized that refusal to
either find Ciganovitch or permit others to look for him meant guilt on
the part of the Serbian Government and therefore resorted to war is not

A postcard was found at Belgrade "poste restante," written from Serajevo
by one of the criminals to one of his comrades in Belgrade. But this was
not followed up. As Ljuba says:

   "On the whole it could be expected that Vienna would not succeed in
   proving any connection between official Serbia and the event on the

The remark of a Serbian student sums up the case: "You see, the plan was
quite successful. We have made Great Serbia." And M. Pashitch himself,
on August 13, 1915, declared:

   "Never in history has there been a better outlook for the Serbian
   nation than has arisen since the outbreak of war."

It came as a surprise to the Serbian Government that any excitement
should have been caused by the revelation of Ljuba. They thought that
Great Britain understood what had happened, and in her eagerness to
fight Germany had jumped at the excuse. When, however, the truth came
out, proceedings were instituted to expel Ljuba from the Radical Party.
Nothing which transpired on this occasion, however, produced a
categorical denial from M. Pashitch of the charge made by Ljuba. He
evaded the issue so far as possible.

There appears to be no doubt that before the end of the war the British
War Office was officially informed that Dimitrijevitch, of the Serbian
Intelligence Staff, was the prime author of the murder. He was executed
at Salonika in 1917, his existence having been found to be inconvenient.
But when it came to the framing of the Peace Treaties at Versailles,
there was a conspiracy of silence on the whole subject.

This terrible instance of deception should be classed as a Serbian lie,
but its acceptance was so widespread that half Europe became guilty of
complicity in it, and even if the truth did reach other Chancelleries
and Foreign Offices of the Allied Powers during the war, it would have
been quite impossible for them to reveal it. Had the truth been known,
however, in July 1914, the opinion of the British people with regard to
the Austrian ultimatum would have been very different from what it was.


Whatever may have been the causes of the Great War, the German invasion
of Belgium was certainly not one of them. It was one of the first
consequences of war. Nor was it even the reason of our entry into the
war. But the Government, realizing how doubtful it was whether they
could rouse public enthusiasm over a secret obligation to France, was,
able, owing to Germany's fatal blunder, to represent the invasion of
Belgium and the infringement of the Treaty of Neutrality as the cause of
our participation in it.

We know now that we were committed to France by an obligation of honour,
we know now that Sir Edward Grey would have resigned had we not gone in
on the side of France, and we also know that Mr. Bonar Law committed the
Conservative Party to the support of war before the question of the
invasion of Belgium arose.

   "The Government already know, but I give them now the assurance on
   behalf of the party of which I am Leader in this House, that in
   whatever steps they think it necessary to take for the honour and
   security of this country, they can rely on the unhesitating support
   of the Opposition". (Quoted in "_Twenty-Five Years_" by Viscount

The invasion of Belgium came as a godsend to the Government and the
Press, and they jumped to take advantage of this pretext, fully
appreciating its value from the point of view of rallying public opinion.

   "We are going into a war that is forced upon us as the defenders of
   the weak and the champions of the liberties of Europe". ("_The
   Times_," August 5, 1914).

   "It should be clearly understood when it was and why it was we
   intervened. It was only when we were confronted with the choice
   between keeping and breaking solemn obligations; between the
   discharge of a binding trust and of shameless subservience to naked
   force, that we threw away the, scabbard.... We were bound by our
   obligations, plain and paramount, to assert and maintain the
   threatened independence of a small and neutral State" [Belgium].
   (Mr. Asquith, House of Commons, August 27, 1914.)

   "The treaty obligations of Great Britain to that little land
   (Belgium) brought us into the war". (Mr Lloyd George, January 5th 1918)

Neither of these, statements by successive Prime Ministers is true. We
were drawn into the war because of our commitment to France. The attack
on Belgium was used to excite national enthusiasm. A phrase to the same
effect was inserted in the King's Speech of September 18, 1914.

   "I was compelled in the assertion of treaty obligations deliberately
   set at naught ... to go to war".

The two following extracts put the matter correctly:

   "They do not reflect that our honour and our interest must have
   compelled us to join France and Russia even if Germany had
   scrupulously respected the rights of her small neighbours, and had
   sought to hack her way into France through the Eastern fortresses".
   ("_The Times_" March 15, 1915).

   SIR D. MACLEAN: "We went into the war on account of Belgium."

   MR. CHAMBERLAIN: "We had such a treaty with Belgium. Had it been
   France only, we could not have stayed out after the conversations
   that had taken place. It would not have been in our interests to
   stay out, and we could not have stayed out without loss of security
   and honour". (House of Commons, February 8, 1922.)

But in addition to the attack on Belgium being declared to be the cause
of the war, it was also represented as an unprecedented and
unwarrantable breach of a treaty. To this day "the Scrap of Paper" (a
facsimile of the treaty) is framed on the walls of some elementary schools.

There is no nation which has not been guilty of the breach of a treaty.
After war is declared, treaties are scrapped right and left. There were
other infringements of neutrality during the war. The infringement of a
treaty is unfortunately a matter of expediency, not a matter of
international morality. In 1887, when there was a scare of an outbreak
of war between France and Germany, the Press, including the _Standard_,
which was regarded at that time more or less as a Government organ,
discussed dispassionately and with calm equanimity the possibility of
allowing Germany to pass through Belgium in order to attack France. The
_Standard_ argued that it would be madness for Great Britain to oppose
the passage of German troops through Belgium, and the _Spectator_ said:
"We shall not bar, as indeed we cannot bar, the traversing of her soil."
We were not more sensitive to our treaty obligations in 1914 than we
were in 1887. But it happened that in 1887 we were on good terms with
Germany and on strained terms with France. The opposite policy,
therefore, suited our book better.

Moreover, the attack on Belgium did not come as a surprise. All our
plans were made in preparation for it. The Belgian documents which were
published disclosed the fact that the "conversations" of 1906 concerned
very full plans for military co-operation in the event of a German
invasion of Belgium, but similar plans were not drawn up between Belgium
and Germany. The French and British are referred to as the Allied
armies, Germany as "the enemy." Full and elaborate plans were made for
the landing of British troops.

Politically the invasion of Belgium was a gross error. Strategically it
was the natural and obvious course to take. Further, we know now that
had Germany not violated Belgian neutrality, France would have. The
authority for this information, which from the point of view of military
strategy is perfectly intelligible, is General Percin, whose articles in
'Ere Nouvelle' in 1925 are thus quoted and commented on in the
_Manchester Guardian_ of January 27, 1925.


   "From our own Correspondent.

   "PARIS, Monday."

   "Immediately before Great Britain's entry into the war in 1914 the
   British Government inquired both in Berlin and Paris whether Belgian
   neutrality was going to be respected. Was the addressing of this
   inquiry to France a pure matter of form?

   "If General Percin, the well-known Radical non-Catholic French
   General, is to be believed, apparently not, for he declares
   authoritatively in a series of articles that he has begun in the
   _Ere Nouvelle_ that the violation of Belgian neutrality had for many
   years been an integral part of the war plans of the French General
   Staff and even of the French Government.

   "The controversy that has started, it need hardly be said, is of
   world importance, for it disposes in a large moral degree of the
   Scrap of Paper stigma against Germany.

   "General Percin, it must be admitted, is an embittered man, though
   no one has yet been found to question his honour or capacity. He is
   a Protestant--a rare thing in the high ranks of the French Army--and
   has always been at loggerheads with the military hierarchy
   of the General Staff. That is little wonder, for he was chief of the
   Cabinet to General André, Minister of War in the Combes Cabinet,
   when in the Dreyfus affair a more or less vain effort was made to
   purge the High Command. General Percin's principal interest was in
   artillery, and the German papers during the war credited him with
   having been principally responsible for the adoption of the famous
   .75. The deposition of General Percin from the military command at
   Lisle in the first few weeks of the war has never been clearly
   explained. It seems to have been part of a vendetta. At any rate,
   that no disgrace was implied was shown by the later grant to him of
   the Grand Cordon of the Legion of Honour".


General Percin's evidence in '_Ere Nouvelle_' dates from the time when
he was one of the chiefs of the Superior Council of War.

   "I took a personal part," he writes, "in the winter of 1910-11 in a
   great campaign organized in the Superior Council of War, of which I
   was then a member. The campaign lasted a week. It showed that a
   German attack on the Alsace-Lorraine front had no chance of success;
   that it would inevitably be smashed against the barriers accumulated
   in that region, and that (Germany would) be obliged to violate
   Belgian neutrality.

   "The question was not discussed whether we should follow the German
   lead in such violation and if necessary anticipate it ourselves, or
   whether we should await the enemy on this side of the Belgian
   frontier. That was a question of a Governmental rather than of a
   military kind. But any commander of troops who in time of war learns
   that the enemy has the intention of occupying a point the position
   of which gives him tactical advantage has the imperative duty to try
   to occupy that point first himself, and as soon as ever he can. If
   any of us had said that out of respect for the treaty of 1839 he
   would on his own initiative have remained on this side of the
   Belgian frontier, thus bringing the war on to French territory, he
   would have been scorned by his comrades and by the Minister of War

   "We were all of us in the French army partisans of the tactical
   offensive. It implied the violation of Belgian neutrality, for we
   knew the intentions of the Germans. I shall be told that on our part
   it would not have been a French crime, but a retort, a riposte to a
   German crime. No doubt. But every entry into war professes to be
   such a riposte. You attack the enemy because you attribute to him
   the intention of attacking you."

   "On August 31, 1911, the Chiefs of the French and Russian General
   Staffs signed an agreement that the words 'defensive war' should not
   be taken literally, and then affirmed 'the absolute necessity for
   the French and Russian armies of taking a vigorous offensive as far
   as possible simultaneously.'"

   "According to General Percin, that vigorous offensive meant French
   violation of Belgian neutrality. Could we take a vigorous offensive
   without the violation of Belgian neutrality? Could we really deploy
   our 1,300,000 on the narrow front of Alsace-Lorraine?"


He asserts categorically that in the mind of the French General Staff
the war was to take place in Belgium, and, indeed, six months after the
signature of the agreement between the French and Russian General Staffs
quoted above, Artillery-Colonel Picard, at the head of a group of
officers of the General Staff, made a tour in Belgium to study
utilization, when the time should come, of this field of operations.

General Percin concludes: "The treaty of 1839 could not help but be
violated either by the Germans or by us. It had been invented to make
war impossible. The question that we have to judge upon, then, is this:
Which of the two, France or Germany, wanted war the most? Not which
showed most contempt for this treaty. The one that willed war more than
the other could not help but will the violation of Belgian territory."

A number of extracts might be given to show that the invasion of Belgium
was expected. Yet no steps were taken in the years before the war to
reaffirm the obligations under the old treaty of 1839 and make them a
great deal more binding than in actual fact they were.

The invasion of Belgium was not the cause of the war; the invasion of
Belgium was not unexpected; the invasion of Belgium did not shock the
moral susceptibilities of either the British or French Governments. But
it may be admitted that, finding themselves in the position which they
had themselves largely contributed to create, the British and French
Governments in the first stages of the Great War were fully justified,
and indeed urgently compelled, to arrange the facts and, distort the
implications as they did, given always the standard of morality which
war involves. To colour the picture with the pigment of falsehood so as
to excite popular indignation was imperative, and it was done with
complete success.


The accusation against the enemy of sole responsibility for the war is
common form in every nation and in every war. So far as we are
concerned, the Russians (in the Crimean War), the Afghans, the Arabs,
the Zulus, and the Boers, were each in their turn unprovoked aggressors,
to take only some recent instances. It is a necessary falsehood based on
a momentary biased opinion of one side in a dispute, and it becomes the
indispensable basis of all subsequent propaganda. Leading articles in
the newspapers at the outbreak of every war ring the changes on this
theme, and are so similarly worded as to make it almost appear as if
standard articles are set up in readiness and the name of the enemy,
whoever he may be, inserted when the moment comes. Gradually the
accusation is dropped officially, when reason returns and the
consolidation of peace becomes an imperative necessity for all nations.

It is hardly necessary to give many instances of the universal
declaration of Germany's sole responsibility, criminality, and evil
intention. Similar declarations might be collected in each country on
both sides in the war.

   It [the declaration of war] is hardly surprising news, for a long
   chain of facts goes to show that Germany has deliberately brought on
   the crisis which now hangs over Europe. "_The Times_." August 5. 1914.

   Germany and Austria have alone wanted this war. (Sir Valentine
   Chirol, "_The Times_," August 6, 1914.)

   And with whom does this responsibility rest? ... One Power, and one
   Power only, and that Power is Germany. (Mr. Asquith at the
   Guildhall, September 4, 1914.)

   (We are fighting) to defeat the most dangerous conspiracy ever
   plotted against the liberty of nations, carefully, skilfully,
   insidiously, clandestinely planned in every detail with ruthless,
   cynical determination. (Mr. Lloyd George, August 4, 1917.)

Lord Northcliffe, who was in charge of war propaganda, saw how essential
it was to make the accusation the basis of all his activities. "The
whole situation of the Allies in regard to Germany is governed by the
fact that Germany is responsible for the war," and again, "The Allies
must never be tired of insisting that they were the victims of a
deliberate aggression" (Secrets of Crewe House).

Among the few moderate voices in August 1914 was Lord Rosebery, who wrote:

   "It was really a spark in the midst of the great powder magazine
   which the nations of Europe have been building up for the last
   twenty or thirty years .... I do not know if there was some great
   organizer .... Without evidence I should be loath to lay such a
   burthen on the head of any man."

So violently and repeatedly, however, had the accusation been made in
all the Allied countries, that the Government were forced to introduce
it into the Peace Treaty. "Article 231. The Allied and Associated
Governments affirm and Germany accepts the responsibility of Germany and
her allies for causing all the loss and damage to which the Allied and
Associated Governments and their nationals have been subjected as a
consequence of the war imposed upon them by the aggression of Germany
and her allies."

When war passions began to subside, the accusation was gradually
dropped. The statesmen themselves even withdrew it.

   "The more one reads memoirs and books written in the various
   countries of what happened before August 1, 1914, the more one
   realizes that no one at the head of affairs quite meant war at that
   stage. It was something into which they glided, or rather staggered
   and stumbled, perhaps through folly, and a discussion, I have no
   doubt, would have averted it." (Mr. Lloyd George, December 23, 1920.)

   "I cannot say that Germany and her allies were solely responsible
   for the war which devastated Europe...That statement, which we
   all made during the war, was a weapon to be used at the time; now
   that the war is over it cannot be used as a serious argument...
   When it will be possible to examine carefully the diplomatic
   documents of the war, and time will allow us to judge them calmly,
   it will be seen that Russia's attitude was the real and underlying
   cause of the world conflict." (Signor Francesco Nitti, former
   Premier of Italy.)

   "Is there any man or woman let me say, is there any child who does
   not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and
   commercial rivalry?...This was an industrial and commercial
   war." (President Woodrow Wilson, September 5, 1919.)

   "I do not claim that Austria or Germany in the first place had a
   conscious thought-out intention of provoking a general war. No
   existing documents give us the right to suppose that at that time
   they had planned anything so systematic." M. Raymond Poincaré, 1925.

   "I dare say that the belief in the sole guilt of Germany is not
   possible even to M. Poincaré. But if one can construct a policy
   based upon the theory of Germany's sole guilt, it is clear that one
   should grimly stick to this theory, or at least give oneself the
   appearance of conviction." (General Subhomlinoff (Russian Minister
   of War). Quoted by M. Vaillant Conturier in the Chamber of Deputies
   ("_Journal Officiel_," July 5th 1922).

The Press and publicists also changed their tone.

   "To saddle Germany with the sole responsibility for the war is from
   what we already know--and more will come--an absurdity. To
   frame a treaty on an absurdity is an injustice. Humanly, morally,
   and historically the Treaty of Versailles stands condemned, quite
   apart from its economic monstrosities" (Austin Harrison, Editor
   "_English Review_")

   "Did vindictive nations ever do anything meaner, falser, or more
   cruel than when the Allies, by means of the Versailles Treaty,
   forced Germany to be the scapegoat to bear the guilt which belonged
   to all? What nation carries clean hands and a pure heart?" (Charles
   F. Dole.)

In 1923 the representatives of the nations assembled on a Temporary
Mixed Commission to draft a Treaty of Mutual Assistance under the
auspices of the League of Nations. Fully aware of what had been declared
to be by their Governments a flagrant and indisputable instance of
unprovoked aggression on the part of Germany, they found themselves
quite unable to define "unprovoked aggression." The Belgian, Brazilian,
French, and Swedish delegations said, in the course of a memorandum:

   "It is not enough merely to repeat the formula 'unprovoked
   aggression,' for under the conditions of modern warfare it would
   seem impossible to decide even in theory what constitutes a case of

This view was practically adopted and the Committee of Jurists, when
consulted, suggested that the term "aggression" should be dropped. The
future case under the Covenant of the League of Nations of a nation
which refused the recommendation of the Council or the verdict of the
Court and resorted to arms was substituted as constituting a war of

In 1925, in the preamble of the Locarno Pact drawn up between Germany,
France, and Great Britain, there is not the faintest echo of the
accusation; on the contrary, a phrase is actually inserted as follows:

   "Anxious to satisfy the desire for security and protection which
   animates the peoples upon whom fell the scourge of the war 1914-1918
   (les nations qui ont eu à subir le fléau de la guerre)."

This is no place to enter into the question of responsibility, to shift
the blame from one nation to another, or to show the degree in which
Germany was indeed responsible. Sole responsibility is a very different
thing from some responsibility. The Germans and Austrians were busy, not
without good evidence, in accusing Russia. But the disputes and
entanglements and the deplorable ineptitude of diplomacy on all sides in
the last few weeks were not, any more than the murder of the Archduke,
the cause of the war, although special documents are always produced to
give the false impression.

The causes were precedent and far-reaching, and it is doubtful if even
the historians of the future will be able to apportion the blame between
the Powers concerned with any degree of accuracy.

Lord Cecil of Chelwood recently put his finger on the most undoubted of
all the contributory and immediate causes. Speaking in the City in 1927,
he referred to "the gigantic competition in armaments before the war,"
and said:

   "No one could deny that the state of mind produced by armament
   competitions prepared the soil on which grew up the terrible plant
   which ultimately fruited in the Great War."

The above series of quotations will suffice to show how the sole
culpability of the enemy is, as always, a war-time myth. The great
success of the propaganda, however, leaves the impression fixed for a
long time on the minds of those who want to justify to themselves their
action in supporting the war and of those who have not taken the trouble
to follow the subsequent withdrawals and denials. Moreover, the myth is
allowed to remain, so far as possible, in the public mind in the shape
of fear of "unprovoked aggression," and becomes the chief, and indeed
the sole, justification for preparations for another war.


No obsession was more widespread through the war than the belief in the
last months of 1914 that Russian troops were passing through Great
Britain to the Western Front. Nothing illustrates better the credulity
of the public mind in war-time and what favourable soil it becomes for
the cultivation of falsehood.

How the rumour actually originated it is difficult to say. There were
subsequently several more or less humorous suggestions made: of a
telegram announcing the arrival of a large number of Russian eggs,
referred to as "Russians "; of the tall, bearded individual who
declared from the window of a train that he came from "Ross-shire"; and
of the excited French officer with imperfect English pronunciation who
went about near the front, exclaiming, "Where are de rations." But
General Sukhomlinoff, in his memoirs, states that Sir George Buchanan,
the British Ambassador in Russia, actually requested the dispatch of "a
complete Russian army corps" to England, and English ships were to be
brought to Archangel for the transport of these troops. The Russian
General Staff, he adds, came to the conclusion that "Buchanan had lost
his reason."

Whatever the origin may have been, the rumour spread like wild-fire, and
testimony came from every part of the country from people who had seen
the Russians. They were in trains with the blinds down, on platforms
stamping the snow off their boots; they called hoarsely for "vodka" at
Carlisle and Berwick-on-Tweed, and they jammed the penny-in-the-slot
machine with a rouble at Durham. The number of troops varied according
to the imaginative powers of the witness.

As the rumour had undoubted military value, the authorities took no
steps to deny it. A telegram from Rome appeared giving "the official
news of the concentration of 250,000' Russian troops in France." With
regard to this telegram the official Press Bureau stated: "That there
was no confirmation of the statements contained in it, but that there
was no objection to them being published." As there was a strict
censorship of news, the release of this telegram served to confirm the
rumour and kept the false witnesses busy.

On September 9, 1914, the following appeared in the _Daily News_:

   "The official sanction to the publication of the above (the telegram
   from Rome) removes the newspaper reserve with regard to the rumours
   which for the last fortnight have coursed with such astonishing
   persistency through the length and breadth of England. Whatever be
   the unvarnished truth about the Russian forces in the West, so
   extraordinary has been the ubiquity of the rumours in question, that
   they are almost more amazing if they are false than if they are
   true. Either a baseless rumour has obtained a currency and a
   credence perhaps unprecedented in history, or, incredible as it may
   appear, it is a fact that Russian troops, whatever the number may
   be, have been disembarked and passed through this country, while not
   one man in ten thousand was able to say with certainty whether their
   very existence was not a myth."

The Press on the whole, was reserved, fearing a trap, and the _Daily
Mail_ suggested that the Russian Consul-General's statement that "about
5,000 Russian .reservists have permission to serve the Allies" might be
at the bottom of the rumour. Like a popular book, the rumour spread more
from verbal personal communications than on account of Press notices.

On September 14, 1914, the _Daily News_ again returned to the subject:

   "As will be seen from the long dispatch of Mr. P. J. Philip, our
   special correspondent, Russian troops are now cooperating with the
   Belgians. This information proves the correctness of the general
   impression that Russian troops have been moved through England."
   ("_Daily News_," September 14, 1914).


   "To-night, in an evening paper, I find the statement 'de bonne
   source' that the German Army in Belgium has been the
   Belgian Army reinforced by Russian troops. The last phrase unseals
   my pen. For two days I have been on a long trek looking for the
   Russians, and now I have found them--where and how it would not
   be discreet to tell, but the published statement that they are here
   is sufficient, and of my own knowledge I can answer for their presence."

An official War Office denial of the rumour was noted by the _Daily
News_ on September 16, 1914.

The _Daily Mail_, September 9, 1914, contained a facetious article on
the Russian rumour, concluding:

   "But now we are told from Rome that the Russians are in France. How are
   we all going to apologize to the Bernets, Brocklers, and Pendles--if
   they were right, after all ?"

   MR. KING asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he can
   state, without injury to the military interests of the Allies,
   whether any Russian troops have been conveyed through Great Britain
   to the Western area of the European War?

   THE UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mt. Tennant): I am uncertain
   whether it will gratify or displease my hon. friend to learn that no
   Russian troops have been conveyed through Great Britain to the
   Western area of the European War. (House of Commons, November 18, 1914.)


Many atrocity stories were circulated which were impossible to prove or
disprove, but in the early months of the war the public was shocked by a
horrible story of barbarous cruelty, of which a complete record can be
given. It is a curious instance of the ingenuity of the deliberate
individual liar.

   From "The _Star_," September 16th, 1914.


   "News has reached Dumfries of the shocking death of a Dumfries young
   woman, Nurse Grace Hume, who went out to Belgium at the outbreak of
   war. Nurse Hume was engaged at the camp hospital at Vilvorde, and
   she was the victim of horrible cruelty at the hands of German
   soldiers. Her breasts were cut off and she died in great agony.
   Nurse Hume's family received a note written shortly before she died.
   It was dated September 6th, and ran: 'Dear Kate, this is to say
   good-bye. Have not long to live. Hospital has been set on fire.
   Germans cruel. A man here had his head cut off. My right breast has
   been taken away. Give my love to ---- Good-bye. GRACE.'"

   "Nurse Hume's left breast was cut away after she had written the
   note. She was a young woman of twenty-three and was formerly a nurse
   in Huddersfield Hospital.

   "Nurse Mullard, of Inverness, delivered the note personally to Nurse
   Hume's sister at Dumfries. She was also at Vilvorde, and she states
   that Nurse Hume acted the part of a heroine. A German attacked a
   wounded soldier whom Nurse Hume was taking to hospital. The nurse
   took his gun and shot the German dead." ("The _Star_," September
   16th, 1914.)


   "I have been asked by your sister, Nurse Grace Hume, to hand the
   enclosed letter to you. My name My name is Nurse Mullard, and I was
   with your sister when she died. Our camp hospital at Vilvorde was
   burned to the ground, and out of 1,517 men and 23 nurses, only 19
   nurses were saved, but 149 men managed to get away. Grace requested
   me to tell you that her last thoughts were of--and you and that
   you were not to worry over her, as she would be going to meet her
   Jack. These were her last words. She endured great agony in her last
   hours. One of the soldiers (our men) caught two German soldiers in
   the act of cutting off her left breast, her right one having been
   already cut off. They were killed instantly by our soldiers. Grace
   managed to scrawl the enclosed note before I found her, but we all
   say that your sister was a heroine. She was out on the fields
   looking for wounded soldiers, and on one occasion, when bringing in
   a wounded soldier, a German attacked her. She threw the soldier's
   gun at him and shot him with her rifle. Of course, all nurses here
   are armed. I have just received word this moment to pack to
   Scotland. Will try and get this handed to you, as there is no post
   from here, and we are making the best of a broken-down wagon truck
   for a shelter. Will give you fuller details when I see you. We are
   all quite safe now, as there have been reinforcements."

A condensed account appeared in the _Evening Standard_ with the note:
"This message has been submitted to the Press Bureau, which does not
object to the publication and takes no responsibility for the
correctness of the statement."

   "A story which attracted particular attention both because of its
   peculiar atrocity and because of the circumstantial details which
   accompanied it, was told in several of the evening papers on
   Wednesday. It was first published, we believe, in the '_Dumfries
   Standard_' on Wednesday morning and related to an English nurse, who
   was said to have been killed by Germans in Belgium with the most
   revolting cruelty. This nurse came from Dumfries and, according to
   the '_Dumfries Standard'_, the story was told to the nurse's sister
   in Dumfries by another nurse from Belgium, who also gave an account
   of it in a letter. Further, the '_Dumfries Standard_' published a
   facsimile of a letter said to been written by the murdered nurse
   when dying to her sister in Dumfries. The story therefore appeared
   to be particularly well authenticated and, as we say, it was
   published by a number of London evening papers of repute, including
   the _Pall Mall_ and _Westminster Gazette_, the _Globe_, the _Star_,
   and the _Evening Standard_. But late on Wednesday night it was
   discovered to be entirely untrue, since the nurse in question was
   actually in Huddersfield and had never been to Belgium, though she
   volunteered for the front. The remaining fact is that her sister in
   Dumfries states, according to the Yorkshire Post, that she was
   visited by a 'Nurse Mullard,' professing to be a nurse from Belgium,
   who told her the story and gave her the letter from her sister in a
   handwriting that resembled her sister's. ("_Times_" Leader,
   September 18, 1914.)

_The Times_ goes on to call for an inquiry and to suggest that the story
may have been invented by German agents in order to discredit all
atrocity stories.

   "Kate Hume, seventeen, was charged at Dumfries yesterday, before
   Sheriff Substitute Primrose, with having uttered a forged letter
   purporting to have been written by her sister, Nurse Grace Hume in
   Huddersfield. She declined to make any statement, on the advice of
   her agent, and was committed to prison to await trial. ("_The
   Times_," September 30, 1914.)

   The case came before the High Court at Dumfries, and it was proved
   that Kate Hume, (the sister), had fabricated the whole story and
   forged both the letter from her sister and that from "Nurse Mullard"
   and had communicated them to the Press. ("_The Times_" December 29th
   and 30th, 1914.)


HAVING declared the enemy the sole culprit and originator of the war,
the next step is to personify the enemy. As a nation consists of
millions of people and the absurd analogy of an individual criminal and
a nation may become apparent even to moderately intelligent people, it
is necessary to detach an individual on whom may be concentrated all the
vials of the wrath of an innocent people who are only defending
themselves from "unprovoked aggression." The sovereign is the obvious
person to choose. While the Kaiser on many occasions, by his bluster and
boasting, had been a subject of ridicule and offence, nevertheless, not
many years before, his portrait had appeared in the _Daily Mail_ with
"A friend in need is a friend indeed" under it. And as late as October
17, 1913, the _Evening News_ wrote:

   "We all acknowledge the Kaiser as a very gallant gentleman whose
   word is better than many another's bond, a guest whom we are always
   glad to welcome and sorry to lose, a ruler whose ambitions for his
   own people are founded on as good right as our own."

When the signal was given, however, all this could be forgotten and the
direct contrary line taken. The Kaiser turned out to be a most promising
target for concentrated abuse. So successfully was it done that
exaggeration soon became impossible; every crime in the calendar was
laid at his door authoritatively, publicly and privately; and this was
kept up all through the war. His past was reviewed, greatly to his
discredit. Over his desire to fight Great Britain while we were engaged
in the Boer War, however, there was an unfortunate contradiction in
point of fact, as the following two extracts show:

   "Delcassé, with the help of the Czar, thrust aside German proposals
   for a Continental combination against us during the Boer War."--_The
   Times_, October 14, 1915 (editorial on Delcassé's resignation).

   "At the time of the South African War, other nations were prepared
   to assist the Boers, but they stipulated that Germany should do
   likewise. The Kaiser refused." (General Botha, reported in the
   "_Daily News_," September 3rd 1915.)

But over his criminality in the Great War there was no difference of
opinion. He had called a secret Council of the Central Powers at Potsdam
early in July 1914, at which it was decided to enforce war on Europe.
This secret plot was first divulged by a Dutch newspaper in September
1914. The story was revived by _The Times_ on July 28, 1917, and again
in November 1919. It was believed even in Germany, until reports were
received from various officers in touch with the Kaiser showing how he
spent these days, and it was finally disposed of and proved to be a myth
by the testimony of all those supposed to have taken part in it. This
was in 1919, after the story had served its purpose.

Only a few of the thousand references to the Kaiser's personal
criminality need be given.

   "He (the enemy) is beginning to realize the desperate character of
   the adventure on which the Kaiser embarked when he made this wanton
   war." ("_Daily Mail_," October 1st 1914.)

The following letter from the late Sir W. B. Richmond, in the _Daily
Mail_ of September 22, 1914, is a forcibly expressed example of the
accepted opinion:

   "Neither England nor civilized Europe and Asia is going to be set
   trembling by lunatic William, even though by his order Rheims
   Cathedral has been destroyed.

   "This last act of the barbarian chief will only draw us all closer
   together to be rid of a scourge the like of which the civilized
   world has never seen before.

   "The madman is piling up the logs of his own pyre. We can have no
   terror of the monster; we shall clench our teeth in determination
   that if we die to the last man the modern Judas and his hell-begotten
   brood shall be wiped out.

   "To achieve this righteous purpose we must be patient and plodding
   as well as energetic.

   "Our great England will shed its blood willingly to help rid
   civilization of a criminal monarch and a criminal court which have
   succeeded in creating out of a docile people a herd of savages. Sir
   James Crichton Browne has said, in Dumfries: 'A halter for the
   Kaiser'; shooting him would be to give him the honourable death of
   a soldier. The halter is the shrift for this criminal."

   "Lord Robert Cecil said that for the terrible outrages, the
   wholesale breaches of every law and custom of civilized warfare
   which the Germans had committed, the people who were responsible
   were the German rulers, the Emperor and those who were closely
   advising him, and it was upon them, if possible, that our punishment
   and wrath should fall." ("_The Times_," May 15, 1915.)

   "Cities have been burned, old men and children have been murdered,
   women and young girls have been outraged, harmless fishermen have
   been drowned, at this crowned criminal's orders. He will have to
   answer 'at that great day when all the world is judged' for the
   victims of the _Falaba_ and the _Lusitania_." (Leader on depriving
   the Kaiser of the Order of the Garter, "_Daily Express_" May 14, 1915.)

A _Punch_ cartoon in 1818 depicted the Kaiser as Cain. Under it was put:
"More than 14,000 non-combatants have been murdered by the Kaiser's

There was a poster portrait of the Kaiser, his face composed of corpses,
his mouth streaming with blood, which could be seen on the hoardings.
The equivalent of this in France was "Guillaume le Boucher," the Kaiser
in an apron with a huge knife dripping with blood. Throughout he was a
good subject for the caricaturist, as he was so easy to draw.

The fiction having become popular and being universally accepted in the
Allied countries, it became imperative for the Allied statesmen to
insert a special clause in the Peace Treaty beginning:

   "The Allied and Associated Powers publicly arraign William II, of
   Hohenzollern, formerly German Emperor, for a supreme offence against
   international morality and the sanctity of treaties..."

and going on to describe the constitution of "the special tribunal"
before which he was to be tried.

Having committed themselves to the trial of the Kaiser by a clause in
the Peace Treaty, the Allies were obliged to go through the formality of
addressing a note to the Netherlands Government on January 16, 1920,
dwelling on the Kaiser's "immense responsibility" and asking for him to
be handed over "in order that he may be sent for trial." The refusal of
the Netherlands Government on January 23rd was at once accepted and
saved the Allied Governments from making hopeless fools of themselves.
But before the decision was publicly known, and after it had been
privately ascertained that the Government of Holland, whither the Kaiser
had fled, would not give him up, the "Hang the Kaiser" campaign was
launched, and in the General Election of 1918 candidates lost votes who
would not commit themselves to this policy.

But the campaign had been launched before the decision of the
Netherlands Government was made public.

   "The ruler (the Kaiser), who spoke for her pride and her majesty and
   her might for thirty years, is now a fugitive, soon to be placed on
   his trial (loud cheers) before the tribunals of lands which, on
   behalf of his country, he sought to intimidate." (Mr. Lloyd George,
   House of Commons, Julv 3, 1919.)

As a matter of fact, there was not the smallest intention of doing
anything so absurd as try the Kaiser. Nor did anyone with knowledge of
the facts believe him to be in any way personally responsible for
starting the war. He was, and always had been, a tinsel figure-head of
no account, with neither the courage to make a war nor the power to stop

His biographer, Emil Ludwig, ('_Kaiser William II_', by Emil Ludwig.)
has written the most slashing indictment of William II that has appeared
in any language, showing up his vanity, his megalomania, and his
incompetence. But so far from accusing him of wanting or engineering the
war, the author insists, time after time, on the Emperor's pacific
attitude. "In all the European developments between 1908 and 1914, the
Emperor was more pacific, was even more far-sighted, than his advisers."
At the time of the Morocco crisis "the Emperor was peacefully inclined,"
and in the last days of July 1914, speaking of Germany, Austria, and
Russia, Ludwig says:

   "Three Emperors avowedly opposed to war were driven by the ambition,
   vindictiveness, and incompetence of their Ministers into a conflict
   whose danger for their thrones they all three recognized from the
   first and, if only for that reason, tried to avoid."

Even Lord Grey says, now that it is all over:

   "If matters had rested with him (the Kaiser) there would have been
   no European War arising out of the Austro-Serbian dispute."
   ('_Twenty-Five Years_,' vol ii, P.25.)

Nevertheless, up to 1919 the Kaiser, as the villain of the piece, was
set up in the Allied countries as the incarnation of all iniquity.

This very simple form of propaganda had a great influence on the
people's feelings. There can be no question that thousands who joined up
were under the impression that the primary object of the war was to
catch this monster, little knowing that war is like chess: you cannot
take the King while the game is going on; it is against the rules. It
would spoil the game. In the same way G.H.Q. on both sides was never
bombed because, as a soldier bluntly put it, "Don't you see, it would
put an end to the whole bloody business." Finding he had unfortunately
not been caught or killed during, the war, the people put their faith in
his being tried and hanged when the war was over. If he was all that had
been described to them, this was the least that could be expected.

When, as months and years passed, it was discovered that no responsible
person really believed, or had ever believed, in his personal guilt,
that the cry, "Hang the Kaiser," was a piece of deliberate bluff, and
that when all was over and millions of innocent people had been killed,
he, the criminal, the monster, the plotter and initiator of the whole
catastrophe, was allowed to live comfortably and peacefully in Holland,
the disillusionment to simple, uninformed people was far greater than
was ever realized. It was the exposure of this crude falsehood that
first led many humble individuals to inquire whether, in other
connections, they had not also been duped.


Not only did the Belgian baby whose hands had been cut off by the
Germans travel through the towns and villages of Great Britain, but it
went through Western Europe and America, even into the Far West. No one
paused to ask how long a baby would live were its hands cut off unless
expert surgical aid were at hand to tie up the arteries (the answer
being a very few minutes). Everyone wanted to believe the story, and
many went so far as to say they had seen the baby. The lie was as
universally accepted as the passage of the Russian troops through Britain.

   "One man whom I did not see told an official of the Catholic Society
   that he had seen with his own eyes German soldiery chop off the arms
   of a baby which clung to its mother's skirts." ("_The Times_"
   Correspondent in Paris, August 27, 1914.)

On September 2, 1914, _The Times_ Correspondent quotes French refugees
declaring: "They cut the hands off the little boys so that there shall
be no more soldiers for France."

Pictures of the baby without hands were very popular on the Continent,
both in France and in Italy. _Le Rive Rouge_ had a picture on September
18, 1915, and on July 26, 1916, made it still more lurid by depicting
German soldiers eating the hands. _Le Journal_ gave, on April 30, 1915,
a photograph of a statue of a child without hands, but the most savage
of all, which contained in it no elements of caricature, was issued by
the Allies for propaganda purposes and published in _Critica_, in Buenos
Ayres (reproduced in the _Sphere_, January 30, 1925). The heading of the
picture was, "The Bible before All," and under it was written: "Suffer
little children to come unto Me." The Kaiser is depicted standing behind
a huge block with an axe, his hands darkly stained with blood. Round the
block are piles of hands. He is beckoning to a woman to bring a number
of children, who are clinging to her, some having had their hands cut
off already.

Babies not only had their hands cut off, but they were impaled on
bayonets, and in one case nailed to a door. But everyone will remember
the handless Belgian baby. It was loudly spoken of in buses and other
public places, had been seen in a hospital, was now in the next parish,
etc., and it was paraded, not as an isolated instance of an atrocity,
but as a typical instance of a common practice.

In Parliament there was the usual evasion, which suggested the story was
true, although the only evidence given was "seen by witnesses."

   Mr. A. K. LLOYD asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether
   materials are available for identifying and tracing the survivors of
   those children whose hands were cut of by the Germans, and whose
   cases are referred to by letter and number in the Report of the
   Bryce Committee; and, if so, whether he will consider the
   possibility of making the information accessible, confidentially or
   otherwise, to persons interested in the future of these survivors?

   Sir G. CAVE: My Right Hon. Friend has asked me to reply to this
   question. In all but two of the individual cases in which children
   were seen by witnesses mutilated in this manner, the child was
   either dead or dying from the treatment it had received. In view of
   the fact that these children were in Belgium, which is still in
   German occupation, it is unlikely that they could now be traced, and
   any attempt to do so at this time might lead to the further
   persecution of the victims or their relatives.

   MR. LLOYD: Were there not other cases brought over here to hospital?

   Sir G. CAVE: Not the cases to which the Hon. Member's question refers.

   (House of Commons, December 16, 1916).

Sometimes the handless person was grown up. A Mr. Tyler, at a
Brotherhood meeting in Glasgow on April 17, 1915, said he had a friend
in Harrogate who had seen a nurse with both her hands cut off by
Germans. He gave the address of his informant. A letter was at once
addressed to the friend at Harrogate, asking if the statement was
correct, but no reply was ever received.

But the most harrowing and artistically dressed version of the handless
child story appeared in the _Sunday Chronicle_ on May 2, 1915.

   "Some days ago a charitable great lady was visiting a building in
   Paris where have been housed for several months a number of Belgian
   refugees. During her visit she noticed a child, a girl of ten, who,
   though the room was hot rather than otherwise, kept her hands in a
   pitiful little worn muff. Suddenly the child said to the mother:
   'Mamma, please blow my nose for me.'"

   "Shocking," said the charitable lady, half-laughing, half-severe, "A
   big girl like you, who can't use her own handkerchief"

   The child said nothing, and the mother spoke in a dull,
   matter-of-fact tone. "She has not any hands now, ma'am," she said.
   The grand dame looked, shuddered, understood. "Can it be," she said,
   "that the Germans--?" The mother burst into tears. That was her answer."

Signor Nitti, who was Italian Prime Minister during the war, states in
his memoirs:

   "To bring the truth of the present European crisis home to the world
   it is necessary to destroy again and again the vicious legends
   created by war propaganda. During the war France, in common with
   other Allies, including our own Government in Italy, circulated the
   most absurd inventions to arouse the fighting spirit of our people.
   The cruelties attributed to the Germans were such as to curdle our
   blood. We heard the story of poor little Belgian children whose
   hands were cut off by the Huns. After the war a rich American, who
   was deeply touched by the French propaganda, sent an emissary to
   Belgium with the intention of providing a livelihood for the
   children whose poor little hands had been cut off. He was unable to
   discover one. Mr. Lloyd George and myself, when at the head of the
   Italian Government, carried on extensive investigations as to the
   truth of these horrible accusations, some of which, at least, were
   told specifically as to names and places. Every case investigated
   proved to be a myth."

Colonel Repington, in his 'Diary of the World War', vol. ii, p. 447, says:

   "I was told by Cardinal Gasquet that the Pope promised to make a
   great protest to the world if a single case could be proved of the
   violation of Belgian nuns or cutting off of children's hands. An
   inquiry was instituted and many cases examined with the help of the
   Belgian Cardinal Mercier. Not one case could be proved."

The former French Minister of Finance, Klotz, to whom at the beginning
of the war the censorship of the Press was entrusted, says, in his
memoirs (_De la Guerre à la Paix_, Paris, Payot, 1924):

   "One evening I was shown a proof of the _Figaro_, in which two
   scientists of repute asserted and endorsed by their signatures that
   they had seen with their own eyes about a hundred children whose
   hands had been chopped off by the Germans."

In spite of the evidence of these scientists I entertained doubts as to
the accuracy of the report and forbade the publication of it. When the
editor of the _Figaro_ expressed his indignation, I declared myself
ready to investigate, in the presence of the American Ambassador, the
matter that would stir the world. I required, however, that the name of
the place where these investigations had to take place should be given
by the two scientists. I insisted on having these details supplied
immediately. I am still without their reply or visit.

But this he obtained such a hold on people's imagination that it is by
no means dead yet. Quite recently a Liverpool poet, in a volume called
'A Medley of Song', has written the following lines in a "patriotic" poem:

   "They stemmed the first mad onrush
   Of the cultured German Hun,
   Who'd outraged every female Belgian
   And maimed every mother's son."


At the Peace Conference the Belgian representatives claimed the wings of
Dietrick Bouts's altar-piece in compensation for the famous altar-piece
from Louvain, a valuable work of art which they declared had been
wantonly thrown into the flames of the burning library by a German
officer. The story was accepted and the two pictures transferred. But it
was not true.

The _New Statesman_ of April 12, 1924, gives the facts:

   "The Dietrick Bouts altar-piece was not thrown into the flames by
   the Germans or by anyone else. The picture is still in existence at
   Louvain, perfectly intact, and the Germans were not its destroyers
   but its preservers. A German officer saved it from the flames and
   gave it to the burgomaster, who had it taken for safe custody to the
   vaults of the Town Hall and walled in there. It has been duly


There can be no question that the most successful slogan for recruiting
purposes issued during the whole course of the war was the phrase "The
contemptible little army," said to have been used by the Kaiser in
reference to the British Expeditionary Force. It very naturally created
a passionate feeling of resentment throughout the country. The history
of this lie and of its exposure is extremely interesting.

In an annexe to B.E.F. Routine Orders of September 24, 1914, the
following was issued:

'The following is a copy of Orders issued by the German Emperor on
August 19th':

   "It is my Royal. and Imperial command that you concentrate your
   energies for the immediate present upon one single purpose, and that
   is that you address all your skill and all the valour of my soldiers
   to exterminate first, the treacherous English, walk over General
   French's contemptible little army..." (HEADQUARTERS, Aix-La-Chapelle,
   August 19th.)

   "The results of the order were the operations commencing with Mons,
   and the advance of the seemingly overwhelming masses against us. The
   answer of the British Army on the subject of extermination has
   already been given." (Printing Co., R.E.69.)

The authenticity of this official military declaration was naturally
never questioned, although one attempt was made to pretend that it was
an incorrect translation. The indignation roused throughout the country
was heartfelt and widespread.

_The Times_ Military Correspondent referred to the Kaiser as being in "a
high state of agitation and excitability," and the leader-writer in _The
Times_ (October 1, 1914), referring to the statement, said: "In spite of
the ferocious order of the French's contemptible
little army" is not yet exterminated."

On the same day _The Times_ printed a poem entitled French's
Contemptible Little Army."

   "The Kaiser scoffed at the British Army and labelled it
   'contemptible' because it was small. He felt grossly insulted that
   any army that did not count its men in millions should dare to
   assail the might of the Hollenzollerns, and against this small
   British David, in a pronouncement which will certainly be historic,
   he directed his Goliath legions to concentrate their energies."
   (_Daily Express_, October 2, 1914.)

Mr. Churchill made great play with it in a recruiting speech at the
London Opera House on September 11th 1914.

In March 1915 _Punch_ had a cartoon of the German Eagle in conversation
with the Kaiser: "It's like this, then; you told me the British Lion was
contemptible--well---he wasn't."

And again, in 1917 (after the entry of America into the war), a cartoon
depicted the Crown Prince saying to the Kaiser (who is drafting his next
speech): "For Gott's sake, father, be careful and don't call the
American Army 'contemptible' !"

There was not a village in the land where the expression was not known
and not a provincial newspaper in which it was not quoted, until at last
the word was used as the designation of the officers and men who were in
the original Expeditionary Force. They became known as "The old

A thorough investigation of the authenticity of this order, "issued by
the Kaiser," was undertaken in 1925 with the assistance of a German
General, who had the archives in Berlin carefully searched, and of a
British General, Sir F. Maurice, who was able to throw a good deal of
light on the subject.

While the Kaiser's proverbially foolish indiscretion might account for
any preposterous utterance, it was known that he did not issue orders of
his own volition; they were prepared for him by his Staff, which was
certainly not so ignorant of its business as to tell the German Generals
to concentrate their energies upon the extermination of an army when
they could not tell them where that army was. Their ignorance of the
whereabouts of the British Army was proved by a telegram sent by the
German Chief of the Staff to Von Kluck on August 20th (the day after the
issue of the supposed order): "Disembarkation of English at Boulogne
must be reckoned with. The opinion here, however, is that large
disembarkations have not yet taken place."

It was further discovered that German Headquarters were never at Aix la
Chapelle. Headquarters moved from Berlin about August 15th. and went to
Coblenz, later to Luxemburg, from whence they moved to Charleville on
September 27th.

A careful search in the archives proved fruitless. No such order or
anything like it could be discovered. Not content with this, however,
the German General had inquiries made of the ex-Kaiser himself at Doorn.
In, a marginal note the ex-Kaiser declared he had never used such an
expression, adding: "On the contrary, I continually emphasized the high
value of the British Army, and often, indeed, in peace-time gave warning
against underestimating it."

General Sir F. Maurice had the German newspaper files searched for the
alleged speech or order of the Kaiser, but without success. In an
article exposing the fabrication (_Daily News_, November 6, 1925), he
remarks that G.H.Q. hit on the idea of using routine orders to issue
statements which it was believed would encourage and inspirit our men."
Most of these took the form of casting ridicule on the German Army....
These efforts were seen to be absurd by the men in the trenches, and
were soon dropped."

We may laugh now at this lie and some may be inclined to give some
credit to the officer who concocted it, although he made a careless
mistake about the whereabouts of the German G.H.Q. There can be no doubt
as to its immense success, nevertheless there are many who will share
the opinion of a gentleman who wrote to the Press (_Nation_ and
_Athenaeum_, August 8, 1925), who, having heard that doubt was cast on
the authenticity of the well-known and almost hackneyed phrase, remarked
on "its extreme seriousness to our national honour or to that of the
British officer originally responsible," were it proved to be an invention.


A great deal of play was made throughout the war with the opening lines
of a German patriotic song: "Deutschland über Alles auf der ganzen
Welt".--(Germany above all things in the whole world.)

There must have been many people who knew sufficient German to
understand the meaning of the phrase, but no protest was made at the
mistranslation, which was habitually used to illustrate Germany's
aggressive imperialist ambitions. It was popularly accepted as meaning,
"(Let) Germany (rule) over everywhere in the whole world," i.e. the
German domination of the world.

Mr. Lloyd George used it on September 20, 1914, at Queen's Hall:

   "Treaties are gone, the honour of nations gone, liberty gone. What
   is left? Germany, Germany is left.

   "Deutschland über Alles".

   '_Punch_' kept it to the front in various cartoons:

   "The Kaiser, playing on a flute, having abandoned a broken big drum
   labelled 'Deutschland über Alles.'

   "The Kaiser trying to blow up a pricked balloon labelled 'Deutschland
   über Alles'."

The Kaiser as the High Priest of Moloch. Moloch labelled "Deutschland
über Alles."

It was constantly quoted in numberless articles in the press. When a
prominent Member of parliament used the expression in a letter to _The
Times_, the incorrect meaning he attributed to it was pointed out to
him. He admitted the error, but seemed to consider that the accepted
meaning of it justified his using it as he did.

The false meaning spread through the country and the Empire, and the
Department of Education in Ontario went so far as to order the song to
he eliminated from German school books throughout the province (_The
Times_. March 19, 1915).

Even after the war, in November 1921, a leader writer in a prominent
newspaper declared that as long as the Germans stuck to their national
anthem, "Deutschland über Alles auf der ganzen Welt," there would be no
peace in Europe.


It is not often that we have a confession of falsehood, but the story of
the baby of Courbeck Loo is an illuminating example of an invention
related by its author.

Captain F. W. Wilson, formerly editor of the _Sunday Times_, related the
story in America in 1922. The following account appeared in the _New
York Times_ (reproduced in the _Crusader_, February 24, 1922):

   "A correspondent of the London _Daily Mail_, Captain Wilson, found
   himself in Brussels at the time the war broke out. They telegraphed
   out that they wanted stories of atrocities. Well, there weren't any
   atrocities at that time. So then they telegraphed out that they
   wanted stories of refugees. So I said to myself, 'That's fine, I
   won't have to move.' There was a little town outside Brussels where
   one went to get dinner a very good dinner, too. I heard the Hun had
   been there. I supposed there must have been a baby there. So I wrote
   a heartrending story about the baby of Courbeck Loo being rescued
   from the Hun in the light of the burning homesteads.

   "The next day they telegraphed out to me to send the baby along, as
   they had about five thousand letters offering to adopt it. The day
   after that baby clothes began to pour into the office. Even Queen
   Alexandra wired her sympathy and sent some clothes. Well, I couldn't
   wire back to them that there wasn't a baby. So I finally arranged
   with the doctor that took care of the refugees that the blessed baby
   died of some very contagious disease, so it couldn't even have a
   public burial."

   "And we got Lady Northcliffe to start a crêche with all the


Like so many other stories, this one underwent considerable changes and
variations. The crucified person was at one time a girl, at another an
American, but most often a Canadian.

   "Last week a large number of Canadian soldiers, wounded in the
   fighting round Ypres, arrived at the base hospital at Versculles.
   They all told a story of how one of their officers had been
   crucified by the Germans. He had been pinned to a wall by bayonets
   thrust through his hands and feet, another bayonet had then been
   driven through his throat, and, finally, he was riddled with
   bullets. The wounded Canadians said that the Dublin Fusiliers had
   seen this done with their own eyes, and they had heard the Officers
   of the Dublin Fusiliers talking about it." ("_The Times_," May 10,
   1915. Paris Correspondent.)

   "There is, unhappily, good reason to believe that the story related
   by your Paris Correspondent of the crucifixion of a Canadian officer
   during the fighting at Ypres on April 22, 1923, is in substance
   true. The story was current here at the time, but, in the absence of
   direct evidence and absolute proof, men were unwilling to believe
   that a civilized foe be guilty of an act so cruel and savage.

   "Now, I have reason to believe, written depositions testifying to
   the fact of the discovery of the body are in possession of British
   Headquarters Staff. The unfortunate victim was a sergeant. As the
   story was told to me, he was found transfixed to the wooden fence of
   a farm building. Bayonets were thrust through the palms of his hands
   and his feet, pinning him to the fence. He had been repeatedly
   stabbed with bayonets, and there were many punctured wounds in his
   body. I have not heard that any of our men actually saw the crime
   committed. There is room for the supposition that the man was dead
   before he was pinned to the fence and that the enemy, in his
   insensate rage and hate of the English, wreaked his vengeance on the
   lifeless body of his foe.

   "That is the most charitable complexion that can be put on the deed,
   ghastly as it is.

   "There is not a man in the ranks of the Canadians who fought at
   Ypres who is not firmly convinced that this vile thing has been
   done. They know, too, that the enemy bayoneted their wounded and
   helpless comrades in the trenches." (_The Times_, May 15, 1915.
   Correspondent, North France).

   MR. HOUSTON asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he has
   any information regarding the crucifixion of three Canadian soldiers
   recently captured by the Germans, who nailed them with bayonets to
   the side of a wooden structure.

   MR. TENNANT: "No, sir; no information of such an atrocity having
   been perpetrated has yet reached the War Office."

   MR. HOUSTON: "Is the Right Hon. Gentleman aware that Canadian
   officers and Canadian soldiers who were eyewitnesses of these
   fiendish outrages have made affidavits? Has the officer in command
   at the base at Boulogne not called the attention of the War Office
   to them?"

   MR. HARCOURT: "No, sir; we have no record of it." (House of Commons,
   May 12, 1915.)

   Mr. HOUSTON asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he
   has any official information showing that during the recent
   fighting, when the Canadians were temporarily driven back, they were
   compelled to leave about forty of their wounded comrades in a barn,
   and that on recapturing the position they found the Germans had
   bayoneted all the wounded with the exception of a sergeant, and that
   the Germans had removed the figure of Christ from the large village
   crucifix and fastened the sergeant, while alive, to the cross; and
   whether he is aware that the crucifixion of our soldiers is becoming
   a practice of Germans.

   MR. TENNANT: The military authorities in France have standing
   instructions to send particulars of any authenticated cases of
   atrocities committed against our troops by the Germans. No official
   information in the sense of the Hon. Member's question has been
   received, but, owing to the information conveyed by the Hon.
   Member's previous question, inquiry is being made and is not yet
   complete. (House of Commons, May 19, 1925).

The story went the round of the Press here and in Canada, and was used
by Members of Parliament on the platform. Its authenticity, however, was
eventually denied by General March at Washington.

It cropped up again in 1919, when a letter was published by the _Nation_
(April 12th) from Private E. Loader, 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment, who
declared he had seen the crucified Canadian. The _'Nation'_ was informed
in a subsequent letter from Captain E. N. Bennett that there was no such
private on the rolls of the Royal West Kents, and that the 2nd Battalion
was in India during the whole war.


This is one of the lies which arose from a mistranslation. On September
30, 1914, a communication was issued by the Press Bureau, which was
published by _The Times_ the following day. It was said to be a copy of
the _Kriegschronik_ "seized by the Custom House authorities at ports of
landing." The extract given was as follows:

   "A traitor has just been shot (in the Vosges), a little French lad
   (ein Französling) belonging to one of those gymnastic societies
   which wear tricolour ribbons (i.e. the Éclaireurs, or boy Scouts), a
   poor young fellow who, in his infatuation, wanted to be a hero. The
   German column was passing along a wooded defile, and he was caught
   and asked whether the French were about. He refused to give
   information. Fifty yards further on there was fire from the cover of
   a wood. The prisoner was asked in French if he had known that the
   enemy was in the forest, and did not deny it. He went with a firm
   step to a telegraph post and stood up against it, with the green
   vineyard at his back, and received the volley of the firing party
   with a proud smile on his face. Infatuated wretch! It was a pity to
   see such wasted courage."

Mr. J. A. Hobson wrote, in _The Times_ of October 5, 1914, to point out
an inaccuracy in the account of German atrocities issued by the Press
Bureau and published by _The Times_.

The passage describes how "a little French lad (ein Französling)" was
shot for refusing to disclose the proximity of some French soldiers. The
word "Französling," Mr. Hobson wrote, "does not mean a little French
boy," but is "used exclusively to describe German subjects with French
proclivities. In Alsace and Lorraine there exist societies of these
Französlings, who wear the French colours. They are not boys but grown

"Constant Reader" wrote to _The Times_ on October 6, 1914:

   "You publish on page 6 of your issue of this morning a note
   communicated by a Mr. J. A. Hobson, which insinuates that the young
   victim of a German firing party in the Vosges, whose fate was
   described in a German soldier's letter printed last week, may have
   been a grown man 'and not a lad.' At least, Mr. Hobson says that
   "The societies of these Französlings; who wear the French colours
   are not boys but grown men." But he has evidently not seen the
   original letter, which calls the victim an 'armer junger Kerl'--a
   poor lad; and a 'Junge Verräter'--a young traitor. Moreover, it is
   clear that if this had been a grown man of military age, he would
   have been doing military service and not have been at large upon the

This letter must have been from the Press Bureau, as _The Times_
original note made no reference to its being from a German soldier's
letter, nor quoted the. German text. "Constant Reader" had evidently
been reading elsewhere.

Mr. J. A. Hobson wrote to _The Times_ on October 8, 1914

   "In reply to 'Constant Reader,' may I point out that the object of
   my note upon the 'Französling' incident was to state that the word
   meant a 'pro-French German' and not, as translated by the Press
   Bureau, 'a little French lad?' That he was 'a young fellow' is not
   in dispute, but that affords no justification for calling him a Boy

It does not seem to have been pointed out that no body of Boy Scouts
called Éclaireurs, and wearing tricolour ribbons, could have existed in
German Alsace.

The Press Bureau tells us that an official paper circulated among the
German troops chuckled with satisfaction at the killing of a French boy
who refused to divulge to the enemy the whereabouts of French forces.
("_Daily Express_," October, 1914).

The Press Bureau story headed "Little French Hero" was printed in the
same issue. The whole object of the Press Bureau was to incense public
opinion against the Germans for shooting a boy. The shooting of spies
was not condemned, as _The Times_ itself reported also from the Vosges
that Germans caught red-handed in acts of espionage were
court-marshalled. Among others were the mayor and postmaster of Thann,
who were shot.

People may be further mystified in looking up this case by finding it in
_The Times_ index under the heading "Shooting of Franz Osling."


A clergyman, while lunching in a restaurant in 1918, was informed by a
stranger that the son of a friend of his was interned in a camp in
Germany. A recent letter, he said, had contained the passage, "The stamp
on this letter is a rare one; soak it off for little Alf's collection."
Though there was no one in the family called Alf, and no one who
collected stamps, they did as they were told. Underneath the stamp were
the words, "They have torn out my tongue; I could not put it in the
letter" (the news presumably, not the tongue). The clergyman told the
man the story was absurd, and that he ought to be ashamed of himself for
repeating it, as everyone knew that prisoners' letters did not bear
stamps. If his friend had managed to put a stamp on his letter, it was
the best possible way of attracting attention to what he was trying to
hide. But the stranger, no doubt from patriotic motives, indignantly
refused to have his story spoiled, and it was widely circulated in
Manchester. ("Artifex," in the _Manchester Guardian_.)

The interesting point about this lie is that it was also used in Germany
with variations. A lady in Munich received a letter from her son, who
was a prisoner in Russia. He told her to take the stamp off his letter
"as it was a rare one." She did so, and discovered written underneath,
"They have cut off both my feet, so that I cannot escape." The story was
eventually killed by ridicule, but not before it had travelled to
Augsburg and other towns.

It was probably one of the stories that are used in every war.


Towards the end of 1918 a statement was circulated, supported by
photographs, that English prisoners had been tattooed with the German
Eagle, a cobra, or other devices on their faces. The interesting.
feature in this lie is that it seems to have emanated from quite a
number of different individuals, each one eager to embroider some
entirely unsubstantiated rumour which had spread.


   "On December 7th a statement appeared in the Press that a ship's
   fireman named Burton Mayberry had arrived at Newcastle bearing on
   his cheeks tattoo marks representing heads of cobras, which he
   alleged had been inflicted by two sailors by order of a German
   submarine commander in mid-Atlantic, on the occasion of the
   torpedoing of Mayberry's ship in April 1917. Pictures of Mayberry,
   showing the head of a cobra on each cheek, have also appeared in
   various illustrated papers.

   "The matter has been investigated, and it has been ascertained that
   on November 13th Mayberry applied for registration as a seaman
   preparatory to offering himself for employment in the British
   mercantile marine, and that, in making his application, he stated
   that he had had no previous sea service. He has now disappeared, and
   it seems that his disappearance took place after receiving a request
   to attend in order to receive his registration certificate. Former
   associates of Mayberry state that he never made any allusion to the
   alleged outrage.

   "Frequent statements have recently appeared in the Press with regard
   to the alleged branding of British soldiers by the Germans, but the
   responsible authorities have been unable to obtain any confirmation
   of these allegations." ("_The Times_" December 23rd 1918)

The following extract from the _Manchester Guardian_ and the statement
of "Artifex" (the pseudonym of a well-known Manchester ecclesiastic)
give other versions of the story more fully.

   "Our contributor "Artifex" ventured to suggest last week that the
   story of the prisoner who had been tattooed on the cheek by the
   Germans, which had gained through a section of the Press a wide
   currency among simple people, was not established by any credible
   evidence. He tells us today that he has since been deluged with
   letters enclosing accounts of just how the man was tattooed, and
   giving details of his former history and of his present occupation
   and domestic relations. Each of the correspondents who sent these
   letters was no doubt confirmed, by the cutting he sent, in his
   belief in the truth of the tale and in the wilful blindness of
   "Artifex." Unfortunately for their authors, the stories vary so
   profoundly in essential facts as to make it clear to anyone who
   correlates them, as "Artifex" has done, that they are born of a
   myth, rapidly spread, and gathering variety as it goes. If that were
   not enough, there is yet more irrefutable evidence. The camera, it
   is said, cannot lie. Yet on December 9th two different newspapers
   published photographs of the victim. Each picture represents his
   whole right profile. The one shows his cheek marked with a
   full-length snake, in black, the other decorates it with a snake's
   head in outline. But a tattoo is a permanent mark which years cannot
   alter or deface. Any jury confronted with these conflicting pictures
   would be forced to agree that the disfigurement was daily reapplied
   by the sufferer, and that he had omitted the precaution of having
   the same device repeated. Now this story must have added vastly to
   the anxieties of many families who have prisoners in enemy hands.
   Early in the war the authorities did not hesitate to recommend the
   suppression of the many reports of chivalrous treatment of our
   soldiers by the Turks. That, in the light of the Turkish
   Government's record as a whole, may have been reasonable, we suggest
   that they should be at least not less active to prevent the spread
   of stories about the treatment of prisoners which are as dubious as
   this one. ("_Manchester Guardian_," December 19, 1918)

Extract from 'Artifex' comments:

   Not indeed that I ought to complain, in this case, of lack of
   corroborative evidence. I have been assured the man, while working
   in a dockyard on the Tyne, has

   (1) undergone skin-grafting in Salford Royal Hospital,

   (2) gone mad with horror in Leaf Square Hospital,

   (3) by his awful appearance the premature confinement and death of
   his young wife at Levenshulme,

   (4) thrown delicate twelve-year-old daughter into fits at Stockport

   (5) lived for nine months in a house in Weaste without coming out
   except after dark, which is why none of neighbours have ever seen
   him, and

   (6) resided for whole time also at Gorton, Swinton, Pendlebury and


A series of extracts will give the record of one of the most revolting
lies invented during the war, the dissemination of which throughout not
only this country but the world was encouraged and connived at by both
the Government and the Press. It started in 1917, and was not finally
disposed of till 1925.

(Most of the quotations given are from _The Times_. The references in
the lower strata of the Press, it will be remembered, were far more lurid.)

   "One of the United States consuls, on leaving Germany in February
   1917, stated in Switzerland that the Germans were distilling
   glycerine from the bodies of their dead". (_The Times_, April 16,

   "Herr Karl Rosner, the Correspondent of the _Berlin Lokalanzeiger_,
   on the Western front...published last Tuesday the first definite
   German admission concerning the way in which the Germans use dead

   "We pass through Everingcourt. There is a dull smell in the air as
   if lime were being burnt. We are passing the great Corpse
   Exploitation Establishment (Kadaververwertungsanstalt) of this Army
   Group. The fat that is won here is turned into lubricating oils, and
   everything else is ground down in the bone mill into a powder which
   is used for mixing with pig's food and as manure---nothing can be
   permitted to go to waste". ("_The Times_," April 16, 1917).

There was a report in _The Times_ of April 17, 1917, from _La Belgique_
(Leyden), via _L'Indépendance Belge_, for April 10, giving a very long
and detailed account of a Deutsche Abfallverwertungs-gesellschaft
factory near Coblenz, where train-loads of the stripped bodies of German
soldiers, wired into bundles, arrive and are simmered down in cauldrons,
the products being stearine and refined oil.

In _The Times_ of April 18, 1917, there was a letter from C. E. Bunbury
commenting and suggesting the use of the story for propaganda purposes,
in neutral countries and the East, where it would be especially
calculated to horrify Buddhists, Hindus, and Mohammedans. He suggested
broadcasting by the Foreign Office, India Office, and Colonial Office;
there were other letters to the same effect on April 18th.

In _The Times_ of April 20, 1917, there was a story told by Sergeant
B-----, of the Kents, that a prisoner had told him that the Germans boil
down their dead for munitions and pig and poultry food. This fellow told
me that Fritz calls his margarine 'corpse fat' because they suspect
that's what it comes from.

_The Times_ stated that it had received a number of letters "questioning
the translation of the German word Kadaver, and suggesting that it is
not used of human bodies. As to this, the best authorities are agreed
that it is also used of the bodies of animals." Other letters were
received confirming the story from Belgian and Dutch sources (later from

There was an article in the Lancet discussing the "business aspect" (or
rather the technical one) of the industry. An expression of horror
appeared from the Chinese Minister in London, and also from the
Maharajah of Bikanir, in _The Times_ of April 21, 1917.

_The Times_ of April 23, 1917, quotes a German statement that the report
is "loathsome and ridiculous," and that Kadaver is never used of a human
body. _The Times_ produces dictionary quotations to show that it is.
Also that both Tierkörpermehl and Kadavermehl appear in German official
catalogues, the implication being that they must be something different.

In _The Times_ of April 24, 1917, there was a letter, signed E. H.
Parker, enclosing copy of the _North China Herald_, March 3, 1917,
recounting an interview between the German Minister and the Chinese
Premier in Pekin:

   "But the matter was clinched when Admiral von Hinke was dilating
   upon the ingenious methods by which German scientists were obtaining
   chemicals necessary for the manufacture of munitions. The admiral
   triumphantly stated that they were extracting glycerine out of their
   dead soldiers! From that moment onward the horrified Premier had no
   more use for Germany, and the business of persuading him to turn
   against her became comparatively easy."

The following questions in Parliament show the Government evading the
issue, although they knew there was not a particle of authentic evidence
for the report--a good instance of the official method of spreading

   MR. RONALD McNEILL asked the Prime Minister "if he will take steps
   to make it known as widely as possible in Egypt, India, and the East
   generally, that the Germans use the dead bodies of their own
   soldiers and of their enemies when they obtain possession of them,
   as food for swine."

   MR. DILLON asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer "whether his
   attention has been called to the reports widely circulated in this
   country that the German Government have set up factories for
   extracting fat from the bodies of soldiers killed in battle;
   whether these reports have been endorsed by many prominent men in
   this country, including Lord Curzon of Kedleston; whether the
   Government have any solid grounds for believing that these
   statements are well-founded; and if so, whether he will communicate
   the information at the disposal of the Government to the House."

   LORD R. CECIL: "With respect to this question and that standing in
   the name of the Hon. Member for East Mayo, the Government have no
   information at present beyond that contained in extracts from the
   German Press which have been published in the Press here. In view of
   other actions by German military authorities, there is nothing
   incredible in the present charge against them. His Majesty's
   Government have allowed the circulation of facts as they have
   appeared through the usual channels."

   MR. McNEILL: "Can the Right Hon. Gentleman answer whether the
   Government will take any steps to give wide publicity in the East
   to this story emanating from German sources?"

   LORD R. CECIL: "I think at present it is not desirable to take any
   other steps than those that have been taken."

   MR. DILLON: "May I ask whether we are to conclude from that answer
   that the Government have no solid evidence whatever in proof of the
   truth of this charge, and they have taken no steps to investigate
   it; and has their attention been turned to the fact that it is not
   only a gross scandal, but a very great evil to this country to allow
   the circulation of such statements, authorized by Ministers of the
   Crown, if they are, as I believe them to be, absolutely false?"

   LORD R. CECIL: "The Hon. Member has, perhaps, information that we
   have not. I can only speak from statements that have been published
   in the Press. I have already told the House that we have no other
   information whatever. The information is the statement that has been
   published and that I have before me (quoting _'Times'_ quotation
   from _'Lokalanzeiger'_). This statement has been published in the
   Press, and that is the whole of the information that I have."

   MR. DILLON: "Has the Noble Lord's attention been drawn to the fact
   that there have been published in the _Frankfurter Zeitung_ and
   other leading German newspapers descriptions of this whole process,
   in which the word 'Kadaver' is used, and from which it is perfectly
   manifest that these factories are for the purpose of boiling down
   the dead bodies of horses and other animals which are lying on the
   battlefield--(an HON. MEMBER: "Human animals!")--and I ask the
   Right Hon. Gentleman whether the Government propose to take any
   steps to obtain authentic information whether this story that has
   been circulated is true or absolutely false. For the credit of human
   nature, he ought to."

   LORD R. CECIL: "It is not any part of the duties of the Government,
   nor is it possible for the Government, to institute inquiries as to
   what goes on in Germany. The Hon. Member is surely very unreasonable
   in making the suggestion, and as for his quotations from the
   _Frankfurter Zeitung_, I have not seen them, but I have seen
   statements made by the German Government after the publication of
   this, and I confess that I am not able to attach very great
   importance to any statements made by the German Government."

   MR. DILLON: "I beg to ask the Right Hon. Gentleman whether, before
   a Minister of the Crown, a member of the War Cabinet, gives
   authorization to these rumours, he ought not to have obtained
   accurate information as to whether they are true or not."

   LORD R. CECIL: "I think any Minister of the Crown is entitled to
   comment on and refer to something which has been published in one of
   the leading papers of the country. He only purported to do that, and
   did not make himself responsible for the statement (an HON. MEMBER:
   "He did!"). I am informed that he did not. He said: "As has been
   stated in the papers."

   MR. OUTHWAITE: "May I ask if the Noble Lord is aware that the
   circulation of these reports (interruption) has caused anxiety and
   misery to British people who have lost their sons on the
   battlefield, and who think that their bodies may be put to this
   purpose, and does not that give a reason why he should try to find
   out the truth of what is happening in Germany?" (House of Commons,
   April 30, 1917).

In _The Times_ of May 3, 1917, there were quotations from the
_Frankfurter Zeitung_ stating that the French Press is now treating the
Kadaver story as a "misunderstanding."

_The Times_ of May 17, 107, reported that Herr Zinimermann denied in the
Reichstag that human bodies were used; and stated that the story
appeared first in the French Press.

In reply to a question in the House of Commons on May 23rd, Mr. A.
Chamberlain stated that the report would be "available to the public in
India through the usual channels."

A corpse factory cartoon appeared in _Punch_.

   KAISER (to 1917 recruit): "And don't forget that your Kaiser will
   find a use for you alive or dead." (At the enemy's establishment for
   the utilization of corpses the dead bodies of German soldiers are
   treated chemically, the chief commercial products being lubricant
   oils and pig food.)

View of the corpse factory out of the window.

The story had a world-wide circulation and had considerable propaganda
value in the East. Not till 1925 did the truth emerge.

   "A painful impression has been produced here by an unfortunate
   speech of Brigadier-General Charteris at the dinner of the National
   Arts Club, in which he professed to tell the true story of the
   war-time report that Germany was boiling down the bodies of her dead
   soldiers in order to get fats for munitions and fertilizers.

   "According to General Charteris, the story began as propaganda for
   China. By transposing the caption from one of two photographs found
   on German prisoners to the other he gave the impression that the
   Germans were making a dreadful use of their own dead soldiers. This
   photograph he sent to a Chinese newspaper in Shanghai. He told the
   familiar story of its later republication in England and of the
   discussion it created there. He told, too, how, when a question put
   in the House was referred to him, he answered it by saying that from
   what he knew of German mentality, he was prepared for anything.

   "Later, said General Charteris, in order to support the story, what
   purported to be the diary of a German soldier was forged in his
   office. It was planned to have this discovered on a dead German by a
   war correspondent with a passion for German diaries, but the plan
   was never carried out. The diary was now in the war museum in
   London". ("_The Times_," October 22, 1925. From New York Correspondent.)

Some opinions of politicians may be given.

   LLOYD GEORGE: "The story came under my notice in various ways at the
   time. I did not believe it then; I do not believe it now. It was
   never adopted as part of the armoury of the British Propaganda
   Department. It was, in fact, "turned down" by that department."

   MR. MASTERMAN: "We certainly did not accept the story as true, and I
   know nobody in official positions at the time who credited it.
   Nothing as suspect as this was made use of in our propaganda. Only
   such information as had been properly verified was circulated."

   MR. I. MacPHERSON: "I was at the War Office at the time. We had no
   reason to doubt the authenticity of the story when it came through.
   It was supported by the captured divisional orders of the German
   Army in France, and I have an impression it was also backed up by
   the Foreign Office on the strength of extracts from the German
   Press. We did not know that it had been invented by anybody, and had
   we known there was the slightest doubt about the truth of the story,
   it would not have been used in any way by us."

A New York correspondent describes how he rang General Charteris up, and
inquired the truth of the report and suggested that, if untrue, he
should take it up with the _New York Times_. On this he protested
vigorously that he could not think of challenging the report, as the
mistakes were only of minor importance. ("_Daily News_." November 5. 1925.)

There was a _Times_ article on the same subject quoting the _New York
Times_' assertion of the truth of their version of the speech.

   "This paper makes the significant observation that in the course of
   his denial he offered no comment on his reported admission that he
   avoided telling the truth when questioned about the matter in the
   House of Commons, or on his own description of a scheme to support
   the Corpse Factory story by "planting" a forged diary in the
   clothing of a dead German prisoner--a proposal which he only
   abandoned lest the deception might be discovered.

   "Brigadier-General Charteris, who returned from America at the
   week-end, visited the War Office yesterday and had an interview with
   the Secretary of State for War (Sir Laming Worthington-Evans)
   concerning the reports of his speech on war propaganda in New York.
   It is understood that the War Office now regard the incident as
   closed and that no further inquiry is likely to be held.

   "General Charteris left for Scotland later in the day, and on
   arrival in Glasgow issued the following statement:

   "On arrival in Scotland I was surprised to find that, in spite of
   the repudiation issued by me at New York through Reuter's agency,
   some public interest was still excited in the entirely incorrect
   report of my remarks at a private dinner in New York. I feel it
   necessary therefore to give again a categorical denial to the
   statement attributed to me. Certain suggestions and speculations as
   regards the origins of the 'Kadaver' story, which have already been
   published in 'These Eventful Years' (British Encyclopaedia Press)
   and elsewhere, which I repeated, are, doubtless unintentionally, but
   nevertheless unfortunately, turned into definite statements of fact
   and attributed to me.

   "Lest there should still be any doubt, let me say that I neither
   invented the Kadaver story nor did I alter the captions in any
   photographs, nor did I use faked material for propaganda purposes.
   The allegations that, I did so are not only incorrect but absurd, as
   propaganda was in no way under G.H.Q. France, where I had charge of
   the Intelligence Services. I should be as interested as the general
   public to know what was the true origin of the Kadaver story. G.H.Q.
   France only came in when a fictitious diary supporting the Kadaver
   story was submitted. When this diary was discovered to be
   fictitious, it was at once rejected.

   "I have seen the Secretary of State this morning and have explained
   the whole circumstances to him, and have his authority to say that
   he is perfectly satisfied." (_The Times_, November 4, 1925).

   LIEUT.-COMMANDER KENWORTHY asked the Secretary of State for War if,
   in view of the feeling aroused in Germany by the recrudescence of
   the rumours of the so-called corpse conversion factory behind the
   German lines in the late war, he can give any information as to the
   source of the original rumour and the extent to which it was
   accepted by the War Office at the time.

   SIR L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS: "At this distance of time I do not think
   that the source of the rumour can be traced with any certainty. The
   statement that the Germans had set up a factory for the conversion
   of dead bodies first appeared on April 10, 1917, in the
   _Lokalanzeiger_, published in Berlin, and in _L'Independance Belge_
   and _La Belgique_, two Belgian newspapers published in France and
   Holland. The statements were reproduced in the Press here, with the
   comment that it was the first German admission concerning the way in
   which the Germans used their dead bodies.

   "Questions were asked in the House of Commons on April 30, 1917, and
   the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs replied on behalf
   of the Government that he had then no information beyond that
   contained in the extract from the German Press. But shortly
   afterwards a German Army Order containing instructions for the
   delivery of dead bodies to the establishments described in the
   _Lokalanzeiger_ was captured in France and forwarded to the War
   Office, who, after careful consideration, permitted it to be published.

   "The terms of this order were such that, taken in conjunction with
   the articles in the _Lokalanzeiger_ and in the two Belgian papers
   and the previously existing rumours, it appeared to the War Office
   to afford corroborative evidence of the story. Evidence that the
   word Kadaver was used to mean human bodies, and not only carcasses
   of animals, was found in German dictionaries and anatomical and
   other works, and the German assertion that the story was disposed of
   by reference to the meaning of the word Kadaver was not accepted. On
   the information before them at the time, the War Office appear to
   have seen no reason to disbelieve the truth of the story".

   LIEUT.-COMMANDER KENWORTHY: "I am much obliged to the Right Hon.
   Gentleman for his very full answer. Does he not think it desirable
   now that the War Office should finally disavow the story and their
   present belief in it ?"

   SIR L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS: I cannot believe any public interest is
   served by further questions on this story. I have given the House
   the fullest information in my possession in the hope that the Hon.
   Members will be satisfied with what I have said. (HON. MEMBERS:
   Hear, hear.)

   LIEUT.-COMMANDER KENWORTHY: "Does not the Right Hon. Gentleman think
   it desirable, even now, to finally admit the inaccuracy of the
   original story, in view of Locarno and other things ?"

   SIR L. WORTHINGTON-EVANS: "It is not a question of whether it was
   accurate or inaccurate. What I was concerned with was the
   information upon which the War Office acted at the time. Of course,
   the fact that there has been no corroboration since necessarily
   alters the complexion of the case, but I was dealing with the
   information in the possession of the authorities at the time."

   (House of Commons, November 24, 1925.)

This was a continued attempt to avoid making a complete denial, and it
was left to Sir Austen Chamberlain to nail the lie finally to the
counter. In reply to Mr. Arthur Henderson on December 2, 1925, asking if
he had any statement to make as to the Kadaver story, he said:

   "Yes, sir; my Right Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War told
   the House last week how the story reached His Majesty's Government
   in 1917. The Chancellor of the German Reich has authorized me to
   say, on the authority of the German Government, that there was never
   any foundation for it. I need scarcely add that on behalf of its
   Majesty's Government I accept this denial, and I trust that this
   false report will not again he revived."

The painful impression made by this episode and similar propaganda
efforts in America is well illustrated by an editorial in
_Times-Dispatch_, of Richmond, U.S.A., on December 6, 1925.

   "Not the least of the horrors of modern warfare is the propaganda
   bureau, which is an important item in the military establishment of
   every nation. Neither is it the least of the many encouraging signs
   which each year add to the probability of eventual peace on earth.
   The famous Kadaver story, which aroused hatred against the German to
   the boiling point in this and other Allied nations during the war,
   has been denounced as a lie in the British House of Commons. Months
   ago the world learned the details of how this lie was planned and
   broadcasted by the efficient officer in the British Intelligence
   Service. Now we are told that, imbued with the spirit of the Locarno
   pact, Sir Austen Chamberlain rose in the House, said that the German
   Chancellor had denied the truth of the story, and that the denial
   had been accepted by the British Government.

   "A few years ago the story of how the Kaiser was reducing human
   corpses to fat aroused the citizens of this and other enlightened
   nations to a fury of hatred. Normally sane men doubled their fists
   and rushed off to the nearest recruiting sergeant. Now they are
   being told, in effect, that they were dupes and fools; that their
   own officers deliberately goaded them to the desired boiling-point,
   using an infamous lie to arouse them, just as a grown bully whispers
   to one little boy that another little boy said he could lick him.

   "The encouraging sign found in this revolting admission of how,
   modern war is waged is the natural inference that the modern man is
   not overeager to throw himself at his brother's throat at the simple
   word of command. His passions must be played upon, so the propaganda
   bureau has taken its place as one of the chief weapons.

   "In the next war, the propaganda must be more subtle and clever than
   the best the World War produced. These frank admissions of wholesale
   lying on the part of trusted Governments in the last war will not
   soon be forgotten."


There are two things which cannot be permitted during war. Firstly,
favourable comment on the enemy--instances of this have been given in
the Introduction. Secondly, criticism of the country to which you belong
cannot be publicly expressed. Suppression of opinion of this kind is all
very well, but the deliberate distortion of it is a peculiarly malicious
form of falsehood.

The late Dr. Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar, a great champion of the African
natives, wrote an open letter to General Smuts, in which he said:

   "It is political madness at this time of day to try and subject a
   weaker people to serfdom, or to slavery...It is moral madness....
   Thirdly, it is so definitely an anti-Christian policy that no one
   who adopts it can any longer justify the Gospel of Christ to the
   African peoples...."

In a pamphlet quoted in the Church Times, October 8, 1920, the Bishop of
Zanzibar wrote:

   "When I wrote my open letter to General Smuts I called it 'Great
   Britain's Scrap of Paper: Will She Honour It?' I was alluding to her
   promise of justice to the weaker peoples. The Imperial Government
   took my letter, cut out some inconvenient passages, and published it
   under the title, 'The Black Slaves of Prussia.' I suggest that East
   Africans have now become the 'Black Serfs of Great Britain.'"

In the Life of the Bishop of Zanzibar, published in 1926, the letter
appears in its garbled form as the Bishop's opinion of the German
treatment of their "black slaves."

This is a good instance of a quite deliberate perversion by the
Government and also an instance of how difficult it is for the truth,
even when published, to overtake a lie and to reach the people most


A monstrous story of fiendish cruelty on the part of a German U-boat
commander was circulated in the Press in July 1918. It is an instance of
how people in positions of semi-official authority were either ready
deliberately to invent or to elaborate some vague rumour and give it the
stamp of authentic information.

It appeared in more or less the same form in all the newspapers:

   "Staff-Paymaster Collingwood Hughes, R.N.V.R., of the Naval
   Intelligence Division of the Admiralty, lecturing yesterday at the
   Royal Club, St. James's Square, said that one of our patrol boats in
   the Atlantic found a derelict U-boat. After rescuing the crew our
   commander inquired of the Hun captain if all were safely aboard, as
   it was intended to blow up the U-boat.

   "Yes," came the reply, "they are here. Call the roll." Every German
   answered. The British commander was about to push off before
   dropping a depth charge, when tapping was heard.

   "Are you quite sure there is no one on board your boat?" he repeated.

   "Yes," declared the Hun captain.

   But the tapping continued, and the British officer ordered a search
   of the U-boat. There were found in it, tied up as prisoners, four
   British seamen. The rescued Germans were going to allow their
   prisoners to be drowned. ("_Daily Mail_," July 12, 1918)

The story was repeated by Commander Sir Edward Nicholl at a public
meeting at Colston Hall, in Bristol, at which the Parliamentary
Secretary to the Admiralty was present.

   COLONEL WEDGWOOD asked the First Lord of the Admiralty "Whether one
   of our patrol boats recently rescued the crew of a derelict U-boat,
   the captain of which deliberately left on board four British seamen,
   who would have been drowned if they had not been heard knocking and
   been rescued; and if this is so, what steps have been taken to deal
   with the captain of the U-boat."

   Admiralty have officially stated in the public Press that they have
   no knowledge of this reported incident and that the statement was
   made without their authority."

   COLONEL WEDGWOOD: "Are we to understand that this statement is
   absolutely without any basis of fact and is, in fact, a lie?"

   DR. MACNAMARA: "We have stated that we have no information in
   confirmation of the statement which was made." (House of Commons,
   July 15, 1918.)

In reply to subsequent questions Dr. Macnamara stated he was getting
into communication with the officer responsible for the statement.

   COLONEL WEDGWOOD asked the First Lord of the Admiralty "whether the
   story about the derelict U-boat has yet been reported on, and, if
   so, what conclusion has been come to; and whether the story was
   first told by a naval officer at a meeting at the Colston Hall about
   five weeks ago, at which the Parliamentary Secretary himself was

   DR. MACNAMARA "We have endeavoured to trace this story to its
   origin. Fleet-Paymaster Collingwood Hughes appears to have heard it
   from more than one source. He should certainly have taken the
   opportunity afforded him in his official position to verify it. In
   our opinion the story is without foundation. As regards the second
   part of the question, Commander Sir Edward Nicholl, Royal Naval
   Reserve, certainly told the story in the course of a speech at a
   meeting at Bristol, at which I was present. I learn from him that he
   was present at an earlier meeting addressed by Mr. Collingwood
   Hughes in South Wales and heard the story recited by him on that
   occasion." (House of Commons July 23, 1918.)

But, of course, in this, as in other cases, for one person who noticed
the denial there were a thousand who only heard the lie.


The evasions and concealments necessitated by the existence of the
Secret Treaties cover too large a ground to be dealt with here. Evasion
is a more insidious form of falsehood than the deliberate lie. One
point, however, which was of considerable interest to the people of
Great Britain may serve as an illustration. It concerned the fate of

Asked in the House of Commons on May 30, 1916, whether Professor
Miliukoff's statement in the Duma was correct, that "our supreme aim in
this war is to get possession of Constantinople, which must belong to
Russia entirely and without reserve," Sir Edward Grey replied that "It
is not necessary or desirable to make official comments on unofficial
statements," and being further pressed, added, "The Honourable Member is
asking for a statement which I do not think it desirable to make."

From the point of view of the Government, the Foreign Secretary was
quite right to evade the question. In the first place we had not taken
Constantinople, and in the second place it must have appeared doubtful
to the Government whether the British soldiers and sailors would be
enthusiastic in sacrificing their lives in order to give Constantinople
to Russia, the strains of the old jingo song of 1878 not having quite
died away:

   "We've fought the Bear before, we can fight the Bear again,
   But the Russians shall not have Constantinople."

But on March 7, 1915, a year before Sir E. Grey gave this answer in
Parliament, M. Sazonov had telegraphed to the Russian Ambassador in London:

   "Will you please express to Grey the profound gratitude of the
   Imperial Government for the complete and final assent of Great
   Britain to the solution of the question of the Straits and
   Constantinople in accordance with Russian desires."

On December 2, 1916 M. Trepoff declared in the Duma:

   "An agreement, which we concluded in 1915 with Great Britain and
   France and to which Italy has adhered, established in the most
   definite fashion the right of Russia to the Straits and
   Constantinople...I repeat that absolute agreement on this point
   is firmly established among the Allies."

On January 5, 1918 (National War Aims Pamphlet No. 33), the Prime
Minister declared that we were not fighting "to deprive Turkey of its
capital." He could say this because the Russian Revolution had taken place.

By subterfuges and evasions the British Government were anxious to
screen the truth from the country, because they knew how unpopular it
would be.


The sinking of the _Lusitania_ was a hideous tragedy and one of the most
terrible examples of the barbarity of modern warfare, but, from the
point of view, suffering and loss of life, was not to be compared with
many other episodes in the war. The very crucial political significance
of the catastrophe, however, gave it special propaganda value in
inflaming popular indignation, especially in America. Here obviously was
the necessary lever at last to bring America into the war. That Germany
should not have recognized this would be the result of such action on
her part was one of the many illustrations of her total inability to
grasp the psychology of other peoples.

From the point of view of propaganda it was necessary to show that the
Germans had blown up a defenceless, passenger ship flying the American
flag and bearing only civilian passengers and an ordinary cargo. This
was represented as a breach of international law and act of piracy. The
unsuccessful attempt to suppress certain facts which emerged leads
naturally to the conclusion that other attempts were successful. No
inquiry such as the Mersey inquiry, conducted in war-time with regard to
the action of the enemy, can in such circumstances be regarded as

The whole truth with regard to the sinking of the _Lusitania _will
probably never be cleared up. Four points may be considered here:

   (a) Whether she was armed.

   (b) Whether she was carrying Canadian troops.

   (c) Whether she had munitions on board.

   (d) Whether a medal was issued in Germany to commemorate the sinking
   of the Lusitania.

(a) On this point there was a conflict of evidence.

   The _Lusitania_ was registered as an auxiliary cruiser. The Germans
   declared she was carrying concealed guns. This was categorically
   denied by the captain in the inquiry. "She had no weapons of offence
   or defence and no masked guns." Lord Mersey therefore found this
   charge to be untrue.

(b) The same may be said about the charge made by the Germans that she
was transporting Canadian troops.

(c) These two denials would be readily acceptable, were it not for the
fact that at first a denial and then a suppression of the fact that she
was carrying munitions was attempted.

   It is equally untrue that the _Lusitania_ was carrying ammunition on
   its final voyage. ("_Daily Express_," May 11, 1915).

   In America there was a threat to expel Senator La Follette from the
   Senate because he had stated that the _Lusitania_ carried munitions.
   But Mr. Dudley Field Malone, collector at the port of New York,
   confirmed this charge as true.

   D. F. Malone revealed that the _Lusitania_ carried large quantities
   of ammunition consigned to the British Government, including 4,200
   cases of Springfield cartridges. The Wilson administration refused
   to permit the publication of the fact. One of the principal charges
   upon which the attempt to expel R. M. La Follette from the Senate
   was based was that he had falsely declared that the _Lusitania_
   carried ammunition, and the prosecution of the Senator was dropped
   when Mr. Malone offered to testify on his behalf. (_The Nation_
   (New York), November 20 1920)

   It was eventually admitted that the _Lusitania_ carried 5400 cases
   of ammunition. The Captain at the inquest at Kinsale said: "There
   was a second report, but that might possibly have been an internal
   explosion." The foreman of the Queenstown jury protested that all
   the victims were not drowned. "I have seen many of the bodies, and
   the people were killed; they were blown to pieces."

   The ship sank in eighteen minutes, which accounted for the loss of
   so many lives. The Germans, in their reply to the American note,
   referred to this point and stated:

   "It is impossible to decide, for instance, the question whether the
   necessary opportunity was given to the passengers and crew to
   escape, until it has been determine whether or not the _Lusitania_
   provided bulkheads and boat as ordered by the Titanic Conference for
   corresponding emergencies in peace-time, and whether or not
   ammunition or explosives carried in defiance of the American laws
   accelerated the sinking of the ship, which might otherwise have been
   expected either to get out the boats safely or reach the coast."

   Included in her cargo was a small consignment of rifle ammunition
   and shrapnel shells weighing about 173 tons, Warnings that the
   vessel would be sunk, afterwards traced to the German Government,
   were circulated in New York before she sailed. ("_The World
   Crisis_," by the Right Hon. Winston Churchill, M.P.).

(d) The event having been condemned as a barbarous act of piracy, it
became necessary to show that the Germans gloried in it.

   The first rumour was that a special medal had been bestowed on the
   crew of the U-boat which sunk the _Lusitania_ as a reward for
   gallantry. This was dropped when the medal turned out to be a
   commemoration medal, not a decoration.

   It was then stated that the German Government had had a medal struck
   in commemoration of the event, but after the armistice had it
   withdrawn from circulation. In 1919 it was found in a shop in
   Berlin. In 1920 a traveller in Berlin, Frankfurt, and other parts of
   Germany could find no one who had ever heard of it or seen it,
   whereas in England the medals were well known and very easily
   obtained. It turned out that the medal was originally designed in
   Munich by a man of the name of Goetz and represents the _Lusitania_
   as carrying arms. Goetz may be described as a cartoonist in metal;
   his work was not official, and his _Lusitania_ medal had a very
   limited circulation. Few Germans appear to have heard of its
   existence. The large number of casts of the medal, which gave the
   impression here that they must be as common as pence in Germany, was
   explained by Lord Newton, who was in charge of propaganda at the
   Foreign Office in 1916.

   "I asked a West End store if they could undertake the reproduction
   of it for propaganda purposes. They agreed to do so, and the medals
   were sold all over the world in neutral countries, especially in
   America and South America.

   "After some initial difficulty a great success was achieved. I
   believe it to have been one of the best pieces of propaganda."
   ("_Evening Standard_," November 1, 1926).

   The Honorary Secretary of the Medal Committee stated that 250,000 of
   the medals were sold, and the proceeds were given to the Red Cross
   and St. Dunstan's. Each medal was enclosed in a box on which it was
   stated that the medals were replicas or, the medal distributed in
   Germany "to commemorate the sinking of the Lusitania." But many of
   them in England could be purchased without any box.

   In addition to the medal, leaflets were circulated with pictures of
   the medal. In one case in Sweden a sentence was printed from the
   _Kölnische Völkzeitung_: "We regard with joyous pride this newest
   exploit of our fleet." This sentence had been torn from its context
   and had been originally used in quite another connection.

   It therefore became clear that:

   (1) No medal was given to the crew of the German U-boat.

   (2) No medal was struck in commemoration of the event by the German

   (3) The German Government could not have withdrawn a medal it never

   (4) A metal-worker in Munich designed the medal which was always
   rare in Germany.

   (5)The large number of medals in circulation was due to the
   reproduction of Goetz's medal in Great Britain.

   The propaganda value of the medal was great, as Lord Newton
   admitted. The impression it created was absolutely and intentionally


There were official eavesdroppers, telephone-tappers, letter-openers,
etc., by the score. We are not concerned with their activities here. But
it may be imagined what a large crop of spy stories and "authentic"
tales they originated. An amusing instance may be given of an official
who was sent to attend and report on a meeting of the Union of
Democratic Control, held at the Memorial Hall in November 1915. Major R.
M. Mackay (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) was Assistant
Provost-Marshal, and sent in a report, most of which was read out in the
House of Commons by Mr. Tennant, Under-Secretary at the War Office, on
December 7th. Attention was called to the meeting, because it was broken
up by soldiers who had obtained forged tickets. The Assistant
Provost-Marshal's report was so fantastic that it almost appeared as if
he could not have been at the meeting at all. But, of course, the
evidence of such a high-placed official was accepted as conclusive. He
accused Mr. Ramsay MacDonald of having provoked the soldiers by sending
a message to have some of them ejected. There was not a shred of truth
in this. He reported that someone "whose name I could not ascertain"
had used provocative language. He described stewardesses "who not only
appeared to be Teutonic but could be classified as such from their
accents," whose remarks he overheard. Needless to say, there was no
Teuton or anyone with a Teutonic accent in the building.

On a subsequent occasion, when Mr. Tennant attempted to explain away
parts of the report he had read out, the following comment appeared in
the _Westminster Gazette_:

   "Mr. Tennant explained that his answer, with its references to
   stewardesses with 'Teutonic accents' and its attribution to Mr.
   Ramsay MacDonald of words which were never used, was read hurriedly
   from a report made to him. Ministers are compelled to depend on such
   reports, but the language ought to be severely edited before it
   comes before the House of Commons. If that precaution is neglected,
   Ministers lay up for themselves an amount of irritation and
   resentment which is wholly unnecessary."

In 1917 the reliable Provost-Marshal was accused of wrongful arrest. In
May 1918 he was charged with "lending" soldiers as gardeners, etc., to
his personal friends, misuse of public money, etc. Some of the many
charges against him were dismissed, but later n the same year it was
announced that he was "Dismissed the service by sentence of General
Court Martial" (London Gazette Supplement, August 12, 1918).

It came out in evidence that he had been deaf for years.


War is, in itself, an atrocity. Cruelty and suffering are inherent in
it. Deeds of violence and barbarity occur, as everyone knows. Mankind is
goaded by authority to indulge every elemental animal passion, but the
exaggeration and invention of atrocities soon becomes the main staple of
propaganda. Stories of German "frightfulness" in Belgium were circulated
in such numbers as to give ample proof of the abominable cruelty of the
German Army and so to infuriate popular opinion against them. A Belgian
commission was appointed, and subsequently a commission, under the
chairmanship of Lord Bryce, who was chosen in order that opinion in
America, where he had been a very popular ambassador, might be
impressed. Affidavits of single witnesses were accepted as conclusive

At best, human testimony is unreliable, even in ordinary occurrences of
no consequence, but where bias, sentiment, passion, and so-called
patriotism disturb the emotions, a personal affirmation becomes of no
value whatsoever.

To cover the whole ground on atrocity stories would be impossible. They
were circulated in leaflets, pamphlets, letters, and speeches day after
day. Prominent people of repute, who would have shrunk from condemning
their bitterest personal enemy on the evidence, or rather lack of
evidence, they had before them, did not hesitate to lead the way in
charging a whole nation with every conceivable brutality and unnatural
crime. _The Times_ issued "Marching Songs," written by a prominent Eton
master, in which such lines as these occurred:

   He shot the wives and children,
   The wives and little children;
   He shot the wives and children,
   And laughed to see them die.

One or two instances of the proved falsity of statements made by people
under the stress of excitement and indignation may be given.

It was reported that some thirty to thirty-five German soldiers entered
the house of David Tordens, a carter, in Sempst; they bound him, and
then five or six of them assaulted and ravished in his presence his
thirteen-year-old daughter, and afterwards fixed her on bayonets. After
this horrible deed, they bayoneted his nine-year-old boy and then shot
his wife. His life was saved through the timely arrival of Belgian
soldiers. It was further asserted that all the girls in Sempst were
assaulted and ravished by the Germans.

The secretary of the commune, Paul van Boeckpourt, the mayor, Peter van
Asbroeck, and his son Louis van Asbroeck, in a sworn statement made on
April 4, 1915, at Sempst, declared that the name given to the carter,
David Tordens, was quite unknown to them; that such a person did not
live in Sempst before the war and was quite unknown in the commune; that
during the war no woman or child under fourteen was killed in Sempst,
and if such an occurrence had taken place they would certainly have
heard of it.

Another report published was that at Ternath the Germans met a boy and
asked him the way to Thurt. As the boy did not understand them, they
chopped off both his hands. (Quoted in _Truth: "A Path to justice and
Reconciliation,"_ by 'Verax').

Statement by the Mayor of Ternath, Dr. Poodt, on February 11, 1915:

   "I declare there is not a word of truth in it. I have been in
   Ternath since the beginning of the war, and it is impossible that
   such an occurrence should not have been reported to me; it is a pure

After the publication of the various reports, five American war
correspondents issued the following declaration:

   "To let the truth be known, we unanimously declare the stories of
   German cruelties, from what we have been able to observe, were
   untrue. After having been with the German Army for two weeks, and
   having accompanied the troops for over one hundred miles, we are not
   able to report one single case of undeserved punishment or measure
   of retribution. We are neither able to confirm any rumours as
   regards maltreatment of prisoners and non-combatants. Having been
   with the German troops through Landen, Brussels, Nivelles,
   Buissière, Haute-Wiherie, Merbes-le-Château, Sorle-sur-Sambre,
   Beaumont, we have not the slightest basis for making up a case of
   excess. We found numerous rumours after investigation to be without
   foundation. German soldiers paid everywhere for what they bought,
   and respected private property and civil rights. We found Belgian
   women and children after the battle of Buissière to feel absolutely
   safe. A citizen was shot in Merbes-le-Chateau, but nobody could
   prove his innocence. Refugees, who told about cruelties and
   brutalities, could bring absolutely no proof. The discipline of the
   German soldiers is excellent; no drunkenness. The Burgomaster of
   Sorle-sur-Sambre voluntarily disclaimed all rumours of cruelties in
   that district. For the truth of the above we pledge our word of
   honour as journalists."

   (Signed) Roger Lewis, Associated Press; Irwin Cobb, _Saturday
   Evening Post, Philadelphia Public Ledger,_ Philadelphia; Harry
   Hansen, _Chicago Daily News_, Chicago; James, O'Donnell Bennett,
   _Chicago Tribune_; John T. McCutcheon, _Chicago Tribune_, Chicago.

In the issue of the _New York World_ of January 28 1915, appeared the
following dispatch:

   "Washington, January 27th.--Of the thousands of Belgian refugees
   who are now in England, not one has been subjected to atrocities by
   German soldiers. This, in effect, is the substance of a report
   received at the State Department. The report states that the British
   Government had investigated thousands of reports to the effect that
   German soldier had perpetrated outrages on fleeing Belgians. During
   the early period of the war columns of British newspapers were
   filled with the accusation. Agents of the British Government,
   according to the report of the American Embassy in London, carefully
   investigated all these charges; they interviewed the alleged
   victims and sifted all the evidence. As a result of the
   investigation, the British Foreign Office notified the American
   Embassy that the charges appeared to be based upon hysteria and
   natural prejudice. The report added that many of the Belgians had
   suffered hardships, but they should be charged up against the
   exigence of war rather than to brutality of the individual German

The following passage occurs in a review by the _New York Times_
Literary Supplement of March 19, 1918, of "Brave Belgians," by Baron C.
Buttin, to which Baron de Brocqueville, the Belgian Minister of War,
contributed a preface commending its truth and fairness:

   "The work gives eye-witness accounts of the first three months of
   the invasion of Belgium, and is made up of reports told by various
   people who did their share in that extraordinary
   resistance---colonels, majors, and army chaplains, lieutenants, etc.
   There is scarcely a hint of that "bugbear," German atrocities, or
   the nameless or needless horrors described in the report of the
   Bryce Commission."

An amazing instance of the way atrocity lies may still remain fixed in
some people's minds, and how an attempt may be made to propagate them
even now, is afforded by a letter which appeared as recently as April
12, 1927, in the _Evening Star_, Dunedin, New Zealand. The writer, Mr.
Gordon Catto, answering another correspondent on the subject of
atrocities, wrote:

   "My wife, who in 1914-15 was a nurse in the Ramsgate General
   Hospital, England, actually nursed Belgian women and children
   refugees who were the victims of Hun rapacity and fiendishness, the
   women having had their breasts cut off and the children with their
   hands backed off at the wrists".

Here was almost first-hand evidence noting both time and place. An
inquiry was accordingly addressed by a lady investigator to the
Secretary of the Ramsgate General Hospital, and the following reply was

   "Ramsgate General Hospital, 4, Cannon Road, Ramsgate, 11.6. 27.


   "I am at a loss to know how the information about atrocities to
   women and children, committed by the German soldiers, could have
   originated in respect to Ramsgate, as there were no such cases

   "Yours faithfully,

   "(Signed) SYDNEY W. SMITH."

An instance of a man being genuinely misled by the information given
him, not having any desire himself to propagate lies, can be given in
the case of a Baptist minister of Sheffield, who preached on atrocities.
On February 28, 1915, preaching in Wash Lane Baptist Chapel, Letchford,
Warrington, he told the congregation that there was a Belgian girl in
Sheffield, about twelve years old, who had had her nose cut off and her
stomach ripped open by the Germans, but she was still living and getting

On inquiry being made as to whether he had made this statement, he replied:

   "I have written to our Belgian Consul here for the name and address
   of the girl whose case I quoted at Letchford. If all I hear is true,
   it is far worse than I stated.

   "I am also asking for another similar instance, which I shall be
   glad to transmit to you if, and as soon as, I can secure the facts."

The Belgian Consul, in a letter of March 11th, wrote:

   "Although I have heard of a number of cases of Belgian girls being
   maltreated in one way and another, I have on investigation not found
   a particle of truth in one of them, and I know of no girl in
   Sheffield who has had her nose cut off and her stomach ripped open.

   "I have also investigated cases in other towns, but have not yet
   succeeded in getting hold of any tangible confirmation."

The minister accordingly informed his correspondent:

   "I am writing a letter to my old church at Letchford to be read on
   Sunday next, contradicting the story which I told on what seemed to
   be unimpeachable authority. I am glad I did not give the whole
   alleged facts as they were given to me.

   "With many thanks for your note and inquiry".

It is to be feared, however, that his first congregation, satisfied with
pulpit confirmation of the story, circulated it beyond the reach of the
subsequent denial.

Atrocity stories from the foreign Press could scarcely be collected in a
library. A glance through any foreign newspaper will show that hardly a
page in hardly an issue is free from them. In Eastern Europe they were
particularly horrible. They were the almost conventional form of
journalistic expression on all sides. The brutalization of the European
mind was very thoroughly carried out. But moral indignation and even
physical nausea were checked by the surfeit of horrors and the blatant
exaggerations. There can be no more discreditable period in the history
of journalism than the four years of the Great War.

A neutral paper (_Nieuwe Courant)_, published at The Hague, summed up
the effect of propaganda on January 17, 1916:

   "...The paper war-propaganda is a poison, which outsiders can
   only stand in very small doses. If the belligerents continue to
   administer it the effect will be the opposite to that expected. So
   it goes with the stream of literature on the Cavell case, and the
   varied forms in which the Baralong poison is presented to us. We
   leave it with a certain disgust, after tasting it, and are only
   annoyed at the bitter after taste--the promised reprisals..."


To the uninitiated there is something substantially reliable in a
picture obviously taken from a photograph. Nothing would seem to be more
authentic than a snapshot. It does not occur to anyone to question
photograph, and faked pictures therefore have special value, as they get
a much better start than any mere statement, which may be criticized or
denied. Only long time after, if ever, can their falsity be detected.
The faking of photographs must have amounted almost to an industry
during the war. All countries were concerned, but the French were the
most expert. Some of the originals have been collected and reproduced:
("How the World Madness was Engineered," by Ferdinand Avenarius).

Descriptions of a few of them may be given here:

In _Das Echo_, October 29, 1914, there was a photograph of the German
troops marching along a country road in Belgium. This was reproduced by
_Le Journal_ on November 21, 1914, under the title: "LES ALLEMANDS EN
RETRAITE. Cette photographie fournit une vision saississante de ce que
fut la retraite de L'armée du général von Hindenburg après la bataille
de la Vistule."

A photograph taken by Karl Delius, of Berlin, showed the delivery of
mailbags in front of the Field Post Office in Kavevara.

This was reproduced in the Daily Mirror of December 3, 1915, with the
title: "MADE TO WASH THE HUNS' DIRTY LINEN. The blond beasts are
sweating the Serbians, who are made to do the washing for the invaders.
Like most customers who do not settle their bills, they are full of
grumbles and complaints. Here a pile has just arrived from the wash."

Several photographs were taken during the pogrom in Russia in 1905;
some of these were circulated by Jews in America. One of these
photographs represented a row of corpses with a crowd round them, and
was reproduced in _Le Miroir,_ November 14, 1915, with the title:


Several others of these were similarly reproduced in newspapers. The
_Critica_, a newspaper in the Argentine, exposed German atrocities by
this means.

A photograph was taken in Berlin of a crowd before the royal palace on
July 13, 1914 (before the outbreak of war). This was reproduced in _Le
Monde Illustré_, August 21, 1915, with the heading: "ENTHOUSIASME ET
JOIE DE BARBARES", with an explanation that it was a demonstration to
celebrate the sinking of the _Lusitania_.

A photograph which appeared in the Berlin _'Tag'_, on August 13, 1914,
represented a long queue of men with basins. Under it was written: "How
we treat interned Russian and French; lining up the interned before the
distribution of food". This was reproduced in the _Daily News_ on April
2, 1915, with the title: "GERMAN WORKERS FEEL THE PINCH. The above crowd
lining up for rations is a familiar sight in Germany. It reveals one
aspect of our naval power."

A photograph of German officers inspecting munition cases was reproduced
by _War Illustrated_, January 30,1915, as "German officers pillaging
chests in a French chateau."

A photograph of a German soldier bending over fallen German comrade was
reproduced in _War Illustrated_, April 17, 1915, with the title:
"Definite proof of the Hun's abuse of the rules of war, German ghoul
actually caught in the act of robbing a Russian."

In the _Berlin Lokalanzeiger_ of June 9, 1914, a photograph was
published of three cavalry officers who had won cups and other trophies,
which they are holding at the Army steeplechase in the Grunewald. This
was first reproduced in _Wes Mir_, a Russian newspaper, with the title
"The German Looters in Warsaw," and also, on August 8, 1915, by the

Faked photographs were, of course, sent in great numbers to neutral

A German photograph of the town of Schwirwindt after the Russian
occupation, was reproduced in _Illustreret Familieblad_ (Denmark) as, "A
French City after a German Bombardment."

A photograph from '_Das Leben in Bild_', in 1917, of three young German
soldiers laughing, was entitled: "Home again. Three sturdy young Germans
who succeeded in escaping from French imprisonment."

This came out in a Danish family paper on May 2, 1917, as:

   "Escaped from drumfire hell. Three German soldiers apparently very
   happy to have become French prisoners of war."

The citadel at Brest-Litovsk was fired by the retreating Russians, and a
photograph appeared in _Zeitbilder_, September 5, 1915, showing Germans
carrying out the corn in sacks.

This was reproduced in the _Graphic_, September 18, 1915, as, "German
soldiers plundering a factory at Brest Litovsk, which was fired by the
retreating Russians."

_Illustrated War News_, December 29, 1915, gave a photograph of war
trophies. A sergeant is holding up a sort of cat-o'-nine-tails whip.
These war trophies captured from the Germans in Flanders have been
presented to the Irish Rifles by a sergeant. The presence of the whip is
of curious significance."

The "whip," as a matter of fact, was an ordinary German carpet-beater.

A Russian film represented German nurses in the garb of religious
sisters stabbing the wounded on the battlefield.

A picture, not a photograph, which had a great circulation, was called
"Chemin de la gloire" (the Road of Glory) in the "Choses Vues" (Things
Seen) series.

In the background is a cathedral in flames, a long road is strewn with
bottles, and in the foreground is the body of a little boy impaled to
the ground by a bayonet.

But if pictures and caricatures were to be described, there would be no
end of it. Undoubtedly the cartoonist had a great influence in all
countries, especially Raemakers and _Punch_. The unfortunate neutral
countries were bombarded with them from both sides.

A remarkable series of photographs was taken by a Mr. F. J. Mortimer,
Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, and published in 1912. They
were widely reproduced in illustrated periodicals. Among them was a
photograph of the 'Arden Craig' sinking off the Scilly Isles in January
1911. On March 31, 1917, a popular illustrated weekly devoted a page to
"Camera Records of Prussian Piracy," and this particular photograph was
reproduced in a succession of pictures to illustrate "a windjammer
torpedoed off the English coast by the criminally indiscriminate U-boat

Mr. Mortimer's photographs of British ships were also reproduced in
Germany under the heading of "Scenes from the German Navy."

On September 28, 1916, the _Daily Sketch_ gave a photograph of a crowd
of German prisoners under the heading "Still They Come!" "Between 3,000
and 4,000 prisoners have been taken in the past forty-eight hours."

On October 10, 1918, the _Daily Mirror_ reproduced precisely the same
photograph, under which was printed: "Just a very small portion of the
Allies' unique collection of Hun war prisoners of the 1918 season."


Press lies and private lies may in certain circumstances carry much
weight. At the same time there are often sections of the public who are
less credulous, and therefore more suspicious. But when printed
documents appear with an official imprimatur--in this country the
royal arms and the superscription "Presented to Parliament by command of
His Majesty," or "Printed by order of the House of Commons"--everyone
believes that in these papers, at any rate, they have got the whole
truth and nothing but the truth. Only a minority, perhaps, study them,
but this minority writes and furnishes the Press with indisputably
authentic information from "command papers." The blue books, yellow
books, white books, orange books, etc., become the basis of all propaganda.

It comes as a shock therefore to those who patriotically accept their
Government's story to find that instances of suppression abound in the
form of passages carefully and intentionally suppressed from published
official documents.

This practice, of course, did not originate during the Great War. It is
an old diplomatic tradition, justified conceivably in cases where the
concealment of injudicious language on the part of a foreign statesman
may prevent the inflammation of public opinion, but carried to
unjustifiable lengths when a concealment or distortion of the facts of
the case is aimed at.

Sir Edward Grey's speech on August 3rd was a very meagre and incomplete
recital of events given to a House which had been deliberately kept
ignorant for years. But it was well framed to have the desired effect.
Amongst the omissions was the German Ambassador's proposal of August
1st, in which he suggest that Germany might be willing to guarantee not
only Belgian neutrality but also the integrity of France and that of her
colonies, and the Foreign Secretary further omitted to mention that in
this interview he had definitely refused to formulate any conditions on
which neutrality of the country might be guaranteed, though the
Ambassador requested him to do so. But by far the most serious omission
was his failure to read to the House the last sentence in his letter to
M. Cambon, a sentence of vital importance. The sentence ran:

   "If these measures involved action, the plans of the General Staff
   would at once be taken into consideration, and the Government would
   then decide what effect should be given to them."

This omission is far from being satisfactorily explain in _Twenty-Five
Years_ by the casual statement, "Perhaps I thought the last sentence

The speeches of Ministers in the other Europe Governments concerned at
the time were, of course, patriotically distorted, and any information
with regard to facts which might qualify or mitigate the iniquity of the
opposite party was carefully suppressed.

The omission of dispatches or suppressions of passages in the official
books of all the Governments concerned were far too numerous even to
give as a list.

Some of the British suppressions are now apparent since the publication
by the Foreign Office of further diplomatic documents. Only a couple of
examples need be given.

In a telegram of July 24, 1914, from our Ambassador at St. Petersburg, a
passage was completely suppressed, in which he indicated the agreement
arrived at between France and Russia during the visit of the President,
according to which they settled not to tolerate any interference on the
part of Austria in the interior affairs of Serbia. In view of what was
going on in Serbia, this was highly significant.

A telegram appeared in the White Paper of 1914 from the French
Government, dated July 20th, saying that "reservists have been called up
by tens of thousands in Germany." But a telegram from the British
Ambassador in Berlin of August 1st, saying that no calling up of
reserves had yet taken place (404), was suppressed.

Special official reports had to be given the necessary war bias. Here is
an instance from one of the Dominions:

   "A unanimous resolution was adopted on June 29, 1926, by the Council
   of South-West Africa. This body consider the Blue Book of the South
   African Union directed against the administration of German
   South-West Africa merely as an instrument of war, and asked the
   Government to destroy copies of the book existing among official
   documents or in the bookshops. In his reply, the Prime Minister of
   South Africa, General Hertzog, declared that he and his colleagues
   in the Government could appreciate the causes of the Council's
   resolution, and that he was prepared to fall in as far as possible
   with its wishes. In his opinion, the unreliable and unworthy
   character of this document condemned it to dishonourable burial,
   together with all kindred publications of the war period." (Dr.
   Schnee's complaint re mandated African territories. "_The Times_,"
   May 16. 1927).

The French Yellow Book was a mass of suppressions, mutilations, and even
falsifications. As a French writer _(L'Évangile du Quai d'Orsay_, by
George Demartial). who has carefully examined this whole question writes:

   "The Government cut out of the Yellow Book everything which
   concerned the Russian mobilization, like a criminal obliterates all
   traces of his crime."

M. Demartial devotes a volume to the various ways in which this official
record was tampered with in order to deceive the French people, and he
asks: "If the French Government is innocent with regard to the war, why
has it falsified the collection of diplomatic documents which expose the

There were omissions, too, in the German official White Book, as, for
instance, a telegram from the Czar in which he proposed to submit the
Austro-Serbia dispute to arbitration.

A famous case of falsification was the report issue by the Kurt Eisner
revolutionary Government in Munich in November 1918 which purported to
give the text of a dispatch from the Bavarian Minister at Berlin. As
published, this report showed the German Government cynically
contemplating the explosion of world war as the result of Austria's
proposed coercive measures against Serbia. The incident gave rise to a
libel action. Twelve foreign authorities examined the document, and all
of them came to the conclusion that there had been falsification. The
French Professor of the Sorbonne, M. Edouard Dujardin, declared:

   "I am of opinion that the text such as published by the _Bayerische
   Staatzeitung_ is one of the most manifest and most criminal
   falsifications known to history."

The full text showed that the German Government was contemplating not a
world war but a localized war between Austria and Serbia.

But whatever may be said about suppressions by other Governments, there
is nothing to equal the doctoring and garbling of the Russian Orange
Book. The omission not only of passages but of a whole series of
important telegrams and dispatches which passed between the Russian
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sazonov, and the Russian Ambassador in
Paris, Isvolsky, shows the determination to conceal the real attitude of
Russia and France during the critical days, and the insertion of these
suppressed documents, which was subsequently made possible, puts a very
different complexion on the origins of the outbreak of war than that
which was accepted at the time. (The text of the suppressed documents is
given in "Duty to Civilization", by Francis Nielson).

Among the suppressions were a telegram stating that "Germany ardently
desired the localization of the conflict" (July 24th)--"Counsels of
moderation...We have to reject all these at the outset"; telegrams
showing the German Ambassador's anxiety for peace; telegrams showing the
warlike spirit of France and instructions to the Russians to continue
their preparations as quickly as possible (July 30-31). "The French
Government have firmly decided upon war and begged me to confirm the
hope of the French General Staff that all our efforts will be directed
against Germany and that Austria will be treated as a 'quantité
négligeable.'" In some cases sentences were omitted and in many cases the
whole telegram was suppressed.

Statesmen in all countries, whom it would be foolish to describe as
dishonourable men, would shrink with disgust from falsifying their own
private or business correspondence. Were they to do so, they would be
convicted by their own law courts as criminals and condemned by public
opinion. Yet, acting on behalf of their country, with issues at stake of
such vast significance, they do not hesitate to lend themselves to a
deliberate attempt to mislead their people and the world, and to
endeavour to justify their attitude by resorting to the meanest tricks.


Gas warfare and submarine warfare offered instances of violent outbursts
of indignation on the on the part of the Press, which events showed were
gross hypocrisy.

This is an attitude rather than an expression of falsehood.

   "We must expect the Germans to fight like savages who have acquired
   a knowledge of chemistry." (_Daily Express_, April 27, 1915.)

   "This atrocious method of warfare...this diabolical contrivance...
   The wilful and systematic attempt to choke and poison our
   soldiers can have but one effect upon the British peoples and upon
   all the non-German peoples of the earth. It will deepen our
   indignation and our resolution, and it will fill all races with a
   horror of the German name". ("_The Times_," April 29, 1915).

But it turned out that the Germans had not been the first to use poison
gas. M. Turpin's discoveries in poison explosives had been advertised in
the French Press before this date, and the French War Ministry's
official instructions with regard to the use of gas hand grenades had
been issued in the autumn of 1914.

In May 1915 Colonel Maude wrote in '_Land and Water_':

   "All shells, all fires, all mining charges, give out asphyxiating
   gases, and from some shells the fumes are poisonous. The uses of
   these has been discussed for years, because the explosive that
   liberates the deadly gas is said to possess a quite unusual power;
   but the reason why many of these types were not adopted was because
   they were considered too dangerous for our gunners to transport and
   handle, not that when they burst they would have poisoned the enemy.
   At this time this quality of deadliness was defended on the ground
   of humanity, as the death inflicted would be absolutely certain and
   painless, and hence there would be no wounded. In any case, at the
   beginning of this war it was stated in all the French papers that
   the difficulty of handling these shells had been overcome, and that
   they had been employed on certain sectors of the French front with
   admirable results. When the time comes to defend their use, shall we
   really have the effrontery to claim for our shells that they poison
   but do not asphyxiate? Moreover, is not poisoning also covered by
   the Hague Convention? In spirit it undoubtedly is; but as I have not
   the text at hand to refer to, it may possibly leave a loophole on
   this question, through which our international lawyers might escape."

Subsequently, of course, we adopted gas warfare and perfected it.

   MR. BILLING: Is it not a fact...that we have a better gas and a
   better protection and that now the Huns are squealing?

   MR. BONAR LAW: I wish I were as sure of that as the Honourable
   Member. (House of Commons, February 25, 1918.)

   Their (the British and French) gas masks to-day are more efficient
   than the German; their gas is better and is better used. ("_Daily
   Mail_," February 15, 1918.)

The Allies vied with one another in the production of poison gas, and
the following article, by Mr. Ed. Berwick, an American, shows the extent
to which it had reached before the end.

   "There were sixty-three different kinds of poison gas used before
   the war ended, and in November 1918 our chemical warfare service
   (established in June of that year) was engaged in sixty-five 'major
   research problems,' including eight gases more deadly than any used
   up to that date...One kind rendered the soil barren for seven
   years, and a few drops on a tree-trunk causes it to 'wither in an
   hour.' Our arsenal at Edgewood, Maryland, and its tributaries was
   turning out 810 tons weekly against 385 tons by France, 410 tons
   Britain, and only 210 Germany.

   "It was almost ready to increase its output to 3,000 tons a week...
   Congress had appropriated 100,000,000 dollars for this chemical
   warfare service and allotted 48,000 men for its use. The armistice
   rendered needless both allotment and appropriation in such
   magnitude." (_Foreign Affairs_, July 1922.)

Poison gas of incredible malignity, against which only a secret mask
(which the Germans could not obtain in time) was proof, would have
stifled all resistance and paralysed all life on the hostile front
subject to attack. ("What War in 1919 Would Have Meant," by Mr. Winston
Churchill, "Nash's Pall Mall Magazine" September 1924).

Since the war, research and experiments have continued, and Great
Britain is now said to lead the way in this "atrocious method of
warfare, 'this diabolical contrivance,' the weapon of 'savages."

Submarine warfare produced the same effect. "Germany cannot be allowed
to adopt a system of open piracy and murder." (Mr. Churchill, House of
Commons, February 15, 1915).

   "To-day for the first time in history one of the Great Powers in
   Europe proposes to engage in the systematic conduct of maritime war
   by means hitherto condemned by an nations as piratical." ("_The
   Times_," February 18, 1915).

   "It is unnecessary to multiply the instances of violent and
   righteous indignation on the part of the Press and individuals. But
   long before this event the other side of the question had been put
   by no less a person than Sir Percy Scott, who, writing in reply to
   Lord Sydenham in _The Times_ on July 16, 1914, that is, before the
   outbreak of war, gave the following quotation from a letter written
   by a foreign naval officer, and his comment on it:

   "If we went to war with an insular country depending for its food
   supplies from overseas, it would be our business to stop that
   supply. On the declaration of war we should notify the enemy that
   she should warn those of her merchant ships coming home not to
   approach the island, as we were establishing a blockade of mines and

   "Similarly we should notify all neutrals that such a blockade had
   been established, and that if any of their vessels approached the
   island they would be liable to destruction either by mines or
   submarines, and therefore would do so at their own risk."

Commentary furnished by Sir Percy Scott:

   "Such a Proclamation would, in my opinion, be perfectly in order,
   and once it had been made, if any British or neutral ship
   disregarded it they could not be held to be engaged in the peaceful
   avocations referred to by Lord Sydenham, and, it they were sunk in
   the attempt, it could not be described as a relapse into savagery or
   piracy in its blackest form. If Lord Sydenham will look up the
   accounts of what usually happened to the blockade-runners into
   Charleston during the Civil War in America, I think he will find
   that the blockading cruisers seldom had any scruples about firing
   into the vessels they were chasing or driving them ashore, and even
   peppering them, when stranded, with grape and shell. The mine and
   the submarine torpedo will be newer deterrents."

In one of his characteristically facetious letters (addressed to Admiral
Tirpitz on his resignation, March 29, 1916), Lord Fisher wrote:

   "I don't blame you for the submarine business. I'd have done the
   same myself, only our idiots in England wouldn't believe it when I
   told 'em".

There was the same outburst over air-raids. We were given the impression
that the Huns were the first to rain down death from the sky. But among
the lantern lectures for propaganda purposes given in 1918 by the
National War Service Committee, there were slides illustrating
bomb-dropping on German towns. The printed synopsis of one of these
slides ran:

   "These early raids by R.N.A.S. were the first examples of
   bomb-dropping attacks from the air in any war, and the pity is that
   we had not enough aeroplanes at the beginning of the war."

Lord Montagu said in the House of Lords in July 1917 that "It was
absolute humbug to talk of London being an undefended city. The Germans
had a perfect right to raid London. London was defended by guns and
aeroplanes, and it was the chief centre of the production of munitions.
We were therefore but deluding ourselves in talking about London being
an undefended city, and about the Germans in attacking it being guilty
of an act unworthy of a civilized nation. That might be an unpopular
thing to say at the moment, but it was the actual fact of the situation.
The right line for the Government to take was to say to the civil
population: "This is a war of nations, and not alone of armies, and you
must endeavour to bear the casualties you suffer in the same way as the
French and Belgian civil populations are bearing the casualties
incidental to this kind of warfare."

Raids on German towns such as Karlsruhe were undertaken by the Allies,
and all talk of inhumanity was dropped.

   "Who does not remember the fierce indignation in Great Britain at
   the news that the Germans had sunk to such unspeakable depths as to
   use poisonous gases? The British censors gladly passed the most
   horrifying details to the suffering caused by this new method of
   torture. Soon the London censor forbade further reference of a kind
   to the use of gas, which meant, of course that England was going to
   do a little poisoning on her own account. Today the use of gas by
   the British is hailed, not only without shame, but with joyous
   satisfaction. Like the Allied killing of innocent women and children
   in German towns by their fliers, it shows again how rapidly one's
   ideals go by the board in war." ("_New York Evening Post_," June 30,


With such profusion was falsehood sown that it would be impossible at
this already distant date to gather in the whole crop. A mere assertion,
even from a private individual, was often enough to set the ball
rolling. The Press was only too grateful for any suggestion which might
release another flood of lies, and the Government, when it was not
concerned with its own subterfuges, was always ready, by disowning
responsibility, to avoid direct denial of popular lies.

A few cases of some less important and some more ridiculous tales may be


Almost every foreign governess or waiter in the country was under grave
suspicion, and numberless were the stories invented about them. The best
edition of the governess story is given by Sir Basil Thomson ('Queer
People' by Sir Basil Thompson):

   "A classic version was that the governess was missing from the
   midday meal, and that when the family came to open her trunks, they
   discovered under a false bottom, a store of high-explosive bombs.
   Everyone who told this story knew the woman's employer; some had
   even seen the governess herself in happier days: "Such a nice,
   quiet person, so fond of the children; but now one comes to think of
   it, there was something in her face, impossible to describe, but a


A Swiss waiter who had drawn on a menu-card a plan of the tables in the
hotel dining-room where he was in charge was actually brought in hot
haste to Scotland Yard on the urgent representations of a visitor to the
hotel, who was convinced that the plan was of military importance.

A German servant girl at Bearsden, near Glasgow, with a trunk full of
plans and photographs, was another fabrication.


There was a report that enamelled iron advertisements for "Maggi soup,"
which were attached to hoardings in Belgium, were unscrewed by German
officers in order that they might read the information about local
resources which was painted in German on the back by spies who had
preceded them. Whether this was true or not, it was generally accepted,
and screwdriver parties were formed in the London suburbs for the
examination of the backs of enamelled advertisements.


The emplacements laid down for guns at Maubeuge, made in the shape of
tennis-courts, led to an amazingly widespread belief that all hard
courts, paved back gardens, or concrete roofs were designed for this
purpose. Anyone who possessed one of these came under suspicion, not
only in the British Isles but in America, and the scare actually spread
to California.

The 'Bystander' had a cartoon in March 1915 of Bernhardi writing his
books, a sword in his teeth and a revolver in his left hand, on the wall
a plan labelled "proposed concrete bed at Golders Green."


The Tube as a refuge from Zeppelin raids naturally came in for
attention. Sir Basil Thomson gives one of the forms of an invention in
this connection.

   'An English nurse had brought a German officer back from death's
   door. In a burst of gratitude, he said, at parting, "I must not tell
   you more, but beware of the Tubes (in April 1915)." As time wore on
   the date was shifted forward month by month. We took the trouble to
   trace this story from mouth to mouth until we reached the second
   mistress in a London boarding-school. She declared that she had
   heard it from the charwoman who cleaned the school, but that lady
   stoutly denied she had ever told so ridiculous a story.'


In May 1918 the Press was filled with articles of the most violent
indignation at the deliberate bombing of hospitals by the Germans. _The
Times_ (May 24, 1918), said: "It was on a par with all the abominations
that have caused the German name to stink in the nostrils of humanity
since the war began, and will cause it to stink while memory endures,"
and recommended, after they had been vanquished, "ostracism from the
society of civilized nations." There was a _Punch_ cartoon, and the rest
of the Press yelled. The soldiers, however, as usual, did not indulge in
hysterics, and explained the matter of the bombing of the hospitals at
Etaples, after which the following appeared in a leader published by the
'_Manchester Guardian_.'

   "Towards the end of last month and the beginning of this public
   opinion here--and, for the matter of that, we imagine in most
   other countries too--was horrified by messages from
   correspondents in France who described the deliberate bombing of
   British hospitals by German airmen. In one case the correspondent
   asserted categorically that there could have been no mistake; the
   hospitals, and not anything of military value, were the objects at
   whose destruction the raiders aimed. Well might such news cause even
   a fiercer fire of indignation than now burns against the Germans,
   since inhumanity could reach no lower depth than an attack on the
   sick and wounded and those who minister to them. There was no
   apparent room to doubt the accuracy of these reports, for there is a
   censorship in the field which not only prevents the correspondent
   from saying anything that it disapproves, but can overtake an error
   if by some mischance he has fallen, as he may easily do, into
   inaccuracy. So long, then, as these reports arrived and went
   uncorrected, it was right to suppose that they represented the
   facts. But we believe it is the view of the military authorities
   that there is no sufficient evidence to show that these were
   deliberate attacks on hospitals. The military view is that hospitals
   must sometimes, on both sides of the front, be placed near objects
   of military-importance, such as railways or camps or ammunition
   dumps, and that in a night raid hospitals run the risk of being hit
   when the military objects round them are attacked. But if this is
   the authoritative military view, how comes it that correspondents
   were allowed to send misleading messages to this country, or that
   when messages had been sent, steps were not taken to remove the
   impression they had caused? Our case against the Germans is strong
   enough in all conscience, and thoroughly established. We can afford
   to do justice even to them, and we ought to do no less." ("
   _Manchester Guardian_," June 15, 1918.)

The constant assertion that on no occasion were hospital ships used for
the carrying of any war material or soldiers was contrary to fact.


The German Crown Prince, when he was not dead, was always represented as
stealing valuables from French chateaux. The following is a sample of
what it was thought necessary to write on this subject:

   "The Crown Prince of Prussia may yet be immortalized as a prince
   among burglars and a burglar among princes! ... Germany makes war in
   a manner that would have commended itself to Bill Sikes, and the
   Kaiser's eldest son, in his eagerness to secure the "swag." has
   merited the right to be considered an imperial Fagin...This
   modern Germany, whose spirit is epitomized in the Crown Prince,
   fights like a valiant blackguard. It will die like a hero, but it
   will murder like an apache and will steal like a mean pickpocket".
   (Thefts by the Crown Prince," _Daily Express_, November 1, 1914).

An article appeared in _La Nouvelle Revue_ in 1915, written by an Irish
lady whose friend had witnessed a secret ceremony at Menin at which "the
German Crown Prince was crowned King of Belgium in the marketplace."
This was reproduced in the English Press.


The Germans were accused of having inoculated French prisoners with
tuberculosis germs. So emphatic was this assertion that a question was
asked in Parliament on the subject on April 24, 1917. The Government,
however, disclaimed having any information on the subject, and the story
was dropped.


The method of the patriotic liar can be illustrated by the case of a
clergyman, who informed the Manchester Geographical Society on October
7, 1914: "You will hear only one hundredth part of the actual atrocities
this war has produced. The civilized world could not stand the truth. It
will never hear it. There are, up and down England to-day, scores--I
am understating the number--of Belgian girls who have had their hands
cut off. That is nothing to what we could tell you." Later in the same
month the reverend gentleman wrote to the _Daily News_, asking, "Will
anyone who has actually seen such cases here in England send me full

He had made his statement first and was endeavouring to get his evidence


On August 29th the 'Daily Citizen' of Glasgow had a paragraph headed

   "Miners Buried Alive! Enemy Block Shafts of Belgian Pits." On
   December 1st the 'Daily Citizen' (without heading the paragraph)
   gave the statement of M. Lombard (General Secretary of the Belgian
   Miners) to the Executive of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain,
   in which he "denied that there was any truth in the rumour
   circulated so freely in this country that the Germans had shut up
   the pit mouths in various places, thus suffocating miners underground."


A former agent of the Standard Oil Company, living at Crieff, Scotland,
supplied "war news" to the U.S.A. The '_Strathearn Herald_', in December
1914, gave some samples. There was, of course, the handless Belgian baby
who had arrived in Glasgow.

   "Over a hundred Germans were found with cages full of homing pigeons
   in Glasgow and Edinburgh."

But the most elaborate bit of news was that when the British Army had to
retreat in France about a month ago, General French asked for
reinforcements from some of the French Generals, and was refused.
Kitchener went over to the Continent the next day, and the only excuse
was that the French troops were tired. Upon investigation, however, it
was found that two of the French Generals had German wives. Kitchener
ordered two of them to be shot."


At a recent meeting in the North of England, an ex-service man in the
audience related the following experience:

He was wounded and taken prisoner on the Western front, and for some
time was in hospital in Germany. When well on the road to recovery, he
learned that he was to be removed from the hospital, as beds were wanted
for wounded Germans, and that he was being sent to a special camp for
convalescents. In a short note to his relatives he informed them of the

On returning home after the war, he was amazed to find that the local
Press had obtained permission from his people to use the letter, and had
woven around it an "atrocity" story telling how, when at the point of
death, he had been taken from bed in order to make room for a slightly
wounded German, and had been sent on a journey of very many miles to a
camp, where his wounds could not possibly receive proper attention, so
there was practically no chance of his recovery owing to this barbarism
on the part of the Germans.


A private serving in the 24th Divisions relates how, in 1917 in the
Somme area, a typed copy of a translation of an alleged German order was
circulated among the troops. The order required German women to cohabit
with civilians and soldiers on leave so that there might be no shortage
of children to make up for war losses. Rewards were offered for those
who zealously carried out the order. Typed out by official machines, the
circular was posted up in the canteens.


On September 11, 1915, in the '_Evening News_', there were large headlines:



and there was a full description of how, through German spies and
treachery, the Russian Woolwich had been blown to pieces. Ochta was the
Russian Woolwich and much more than the Russian Woolwich. It was the
only munition factory in the whole of Russia.

It subsequently turned out that the Ochta explosion was not at an
arsenal at all, but was due to an accident in a factory which had been
temporarily turned into munition factory. No German spies had had
anything to do with it. It was an inconsiderable affair, and a small
paragraph with the true version was inserted in later issue of the paper.

Amusingly enough, in the same issue and on the very same page, there
appeared a satirical article on "The Rumour Microbe," laughing at a man
who said "That a relative of his had a relation who had seen a Zeppelin
come down on Hampstead Heath, and a man went to some stables and got out
a number of horses, which towed it away."

The careful perusal of the files of newspapers, British and foreign,
during these four years, would yield an amazing harvest of falsehood. As
the public mind is always impressed by anything that appears in print,
the influence of the Press in inflaming one people against the other
must have been very considerable, and in many people's opinion very


"THE FALL OF ANTWERP." November 1914.

   "When the fall of Antwerp got known, the church bells were rung"
   (meaning in Germany). (_Kölnischer Zeitung'_)

According to the _Kölnische Zeitung_, the clergy of Antwerp were
compelled to ring the church bells when the fortress was taken. (_Le

According to what _Le Matin_ has heard from Cologne, the Belgian priests
who refused to ring the church bells when Antwerp was taken have been
driven away from their places. (_The Times_)

According to what _The Times_ has heard from Cologne via Paris, the
unfortunate Belgian priests who refused to ring the church bells when
Antwerp was taken have been sentenced to hard labour. (_Corriere della

According to information to the '_Corriere della Sera_' from Cologne via
London, it is confirmed that the barbaric conquerors of Antwerp punished
the unfortunate Belgian Priests for their heroic refusal to ring the
church bells by them as living clappers to the bells with their heads
down. (_Le Matin_)


As there was great uncertainty how, if victory were achieved, the spoils
would be divided, it was impossible for statesmen, in the Allied
nations, to be precise as to what specific aims with regard to
territorial adjustments and colonial acquisitions could be laid down as
desirable objects, without rousing jealousy and suspicion amongst
themselves. It became necessary therefore to announce some general
high-sounding moral ideals which might give the war the character of an
almost religious crusade. They were particularly unfortunate in
selecting a number of cries everyone of which has proved, in the long
run, to be false.


Everyone knows now that militarism cannot be crushed by war. Even if it
is removed from one quarter it only grows stronger elsewhere. Militarism
can only be crushed by the growth of real democracy in an era of peace.
Only a few figures are required to show how false this cry was if it was
ever believed by anyone. The Morning Post was honest enough to refer to
it as "this absurd talk."


1913-14  £110,375,000
1924-25  £117,525,000

While fully taking into account the fall in the value of money, which
would show a slight decrease in the second figure rather than increase,
no substantial reduction which might be expected as a consequence of a
war to end militarism, is in any way apparent.

For the same period the aggregate totals for the four Allied powers,
France, Italy, the United States, and Japan are:

1913     £194,380,625
1923     £244,864,477

Since the war, that is to say, from 1918 to 1926, Great Britain has
spent over £1,300,000,000 on armaments. To have said therefore that the
war would crush militarism, was the most extravagant and foolish of all
speculations. It would be an insult to the intelligence of any of the
statesmen to suggest that they ever for a moment believed it would be true.


The ultimatum to Serbia and the infringement of Belgian neutrality led
to the widespread cry that we were fighting "for the rights of small

   It means next that room must be found and kept for the independent
   existence and free development of the smaller nationalities, each
   with a corporate consciousness of its own.

   (Mr. Asquith on War Aims, Dublin, September 26, 1914).

There were a host of other declarations from responsible Ministers of a
similar character.

But this was no more true than any of the other cries. Apart from the
minorities placed under alien rule by frontier delimitations drawn for
strategic purposes and not according to race or nationality, Montenegro
was wiped off the map by the Peace Treaties, although the restoration of
Montenegro was specially mentioned by the Prime Minister on January 5,
1918 (National War Aims pamphlet No. 33), the British occupation of
Egypt continues, the Syrians have been subjected to severe repression by
the French (the bombing of Damascus), the attempt of the Riffs at
securing independence led to their being blotted out, Nicaragua and
Panama are being subjected to the political domination of the United
States, and other instances might be given in which the struggle of
"small nationalities" is simply regarded as a revolutionary or
subversive move. There may be good political reasons for the instances
given in the eyes of the Great Powers, but the endeavour to persuade the
people that we were fighting for small nationalities was the purest


The absurdity of this meaningless cry on the part of the Allies, amongst
whom was Czarist Russia is obvious. Its insincerity is proved by
results. There is now the most ruthless dictatorship ever established in
Italy; an imitation of it in Spain; a veiled dictatorship in Poland; a
series of attempted dictatorships in Greece; something which approaches
near to a dictatorship in Hungary; Turkey and Persia are both dominated
by individuals with almost sovereign prerogatives, and the Soviet system
is a form of dictatorship. In fact, except in Great Britain, the United
States, the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland,
parliamentary government has been in grave danger where it has not been
entirely superseded.


This was hardly an original cry. It has been uttered in previous wars,
although every schoolboy knows that war breeds war.

   We have long been deceived by the false counsels of politicians and
   sentimentalists who are even now pretending that this is a war that
   will end war. War will never end as long as human nature continues
   to be human nature. ("_Morning Post_," October 20, 1915).

So far as the Great War is concerned, the _Morning Post_ seems to be
correct up to date. Since 1918 fighting has never ceased in the world.
There has been war on the part of the Allies against Russia, war between
Turkey and Greece, the Black and Tan exploits in Ireland, the armed
occupation of the Ruhr, war of France and Spain against the Riffs, war
of France against the Syrians, military action on the part of the U.S.A.
in Nicaragua, fighting in Mexico, and incessant war in China.


The statement that whatever we were fighting for we desired no fresh
territory was frequently made. Considering that the British Empire
comprised over thirteen million square miles of the earth's surface in
1914, the statement was accepted as wise and sensible. A few of the
chief declarations on the subject may be given.

   "We have no desire to add to our Imperial burdens either in area or
   in responsibility." (Mr. Asquith, October 1914.)

   "Our direct and selfish interests are small." (Mr. Asquith,
   November 1914)

   "We are not fighting for territory." (Mr. Bonar Law, December 1916.)

   "We are not fighting a war of conquest." (Mr. Lloyd George, February

   "Such a victory as will give not aggrandizement of territory nor any
   extension of our Empire." (Mr. Long, February 1917.)

So much for the protestations for public consumption. Now as to the
facts with regard to what "fell to us" when it was all over.

Square Miles.

Egypt, formerly under Turkish suzerainty, became part of the British
Empire 350,000

Cyprus, formerly under Turkish suzerainty, became part of the British
Empire 3,584

German South-West Africa, mandate held by the Union of South
Africa 322,450

German East Africa, mandate held by Great Britain 384,180

Togoland and Cameroons, divided between Great Britain and France (say
half) 112,415

Samoa, mandate held by New Zealand 1,050

German New Guinea and Island south of Equator, mandate held by
Australia 90,000

Palestine, mandate held by Great Britain 9,000

Mesopotamia (Iraq), mandate held by Great Britain 143,250

Total in square miles 1,415,929

This is not a bad total of "conquest" "territory" "addition to Imperial
burdens in area and responsibility," and "extension of Empire." But
surely it would have been better not to make the false declarations
which inevitably bring against us the charge of hypocrisy.



The similarity of the lines on which lying was conducted in Germany to
our own in this country shows well how duping the people is a necessary
adjunct of war all the world over.

Within the nation the censorship was stricter than it was here. No
decent word with regard to the enemy was allowed, and the good treatment
of prisoners in British camps was suppressed. The same amazing stupidity
with regard to concealments was shown as in this country. But a worse
mistake was made in depicting the situation up to the end in rose colour
and with exaggerated optimism. The real truth as to the course of events
was concealed, every enemy success was understated, the effect of
American intervention was minimized, the condition of German resources
exaggerated, so that when the final catastrophe came, many people were
taken by surprise. In this connection the Germans have got a stronger
indictment against their authorities than we have. Cautions and warnings
were not omitted in this country.

The Press Bureau (Pressekonferenz) was presided over by a soldier.
Casualties were, so far as possible, concealed. On November 15, 1914,
the Pressekonferenz stated there were a few hundred casualties, while
the official list contained at the time 55,000 names. One of the members
of the Pressekonferenz echoed our War Office circular, when he said, on
one occasion, in dealing with a false official report: "It is not so
much the accuracy of the news as its effect that matters."

The Turks were embarrassing allies. The massacres of Armenians had to be
concealed, although attempts were made in some papers to defend them.

Our poetwriters and professors had their exact counterparts in Germany
and gave orthodox "patriotism" an intellectual and literary tone.

Abroad, German lying was not very skilful. It was either too subtle or
too clumsy. They had a wide field to cover with so many nations against
them. "Encirclement" was the chief cry and, in the case of Russia and
France, aggression.

In October 1914 Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria declared that England's
ambition "for years had been turned to surround us with a ring of
enemies in order to strangle us" (uns mit einem Ring von Feinden zu
umgeben und uns zu erdrosseln), and there were many similar declarations.

With regard to the deliberate policy of encirclement, so far as Great
Britain is concerned, Herr Rudolf Kircher remarks, in his book
_Engländer_ (1926):

   "Grey's personality is the living proof that a policy of
   encirclement as a war aim, as was imagined in Germany, never
   existed. All these were fantastic suppositions, as fantastic as the
   idea that the German people were ripe and ready for an attack and
   struggle for world supremacy."

The German Government, like all the other Governments, was blameless and
at the mercy of the machinations of enemy Governments. They had no chief
Monster to, depict as the Allies had, but only a number of not very
distinguished statesmen. In the early days of panic they started with
a military report "that French aviators had dropped bombs in the
vicinity of Nuremberg" on August 3, 1914, and flaming headlines appeared
in the newspapers. But the Prussian Minister at Munich telegraphed to
Berlin that there was "no evidence of dropping of bombs and still less,
naturally, that the aviators were French" (Kautsky documents, No. 758).
At the same time there was a report from the Governor of Düsseldorf that
"eighty French officers in the uniform of Prussian officers, in twelve
automobiles, had made a vain attempt to cross the frontier at Walbeck."
Both these reports were telegraphed by Herr Jagow, the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, to the Ministers at Brussels and The Hague, to be
brought to the attention of the Governments as a violation of
international law. Both were no doubt believed, but neither of them had
any foundation. On the other hand, there were several instances of the
violation of French territory by German frontier patrols before August
3, 1914.

Apart from the absurdities of "Gott strafe England and "the Hymn of
Hate," Great Britain was naturally singled out for special attention. On
September 3, 1914, the _Frankfurter Zeitung_ printed a speech by Mr.
John Burns which was purely imaginary. In October, there appeared in the
_New York American_ an interview with a "highly placed representative of
the British Government" which was proved to be entirely false.
Aeroplanes were used to drop on French trenches and billets
picture-postcards of ruined French churches with the legend on them,
"Wrecked by the English." There were the usual exaggerated reports and
startling statements as to what was going on in enemy countries:
despair, demoralization and panic, accusations of abuse of the "white
flag," specially against British troops, and other "necessary" war lies.

Neutral countries, of course, received propaganda from both sides. There
was a German film depicting German soldiers feeding Belgian and French
children, and English prisoners grinning with delight as they worked
under the stern eyes of the Prussian soldiers.

On November 25, 1914, the _Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung_ published in
facsimile a translation of a report written by General Ducarne to the
Belgian War Minister on April 10, 1906, recording the visit of Colonel
Barnardiston with regard to the dispatch of the Expeditionary Force in
the event of war between Germany and France. In the translation which
was reproduced in other newspapers without the facsimile there were
three mistakes.

   (a) An interpolation, which was an integral part of the text, ran as
   follows: "L'entrée des Anglais en Belgique ne se ferait qu'après la
   violation de notre neutralité par l'Allemagne." (The entry of the
   British into Belgium will only take place after the violation of our
   neutrality by Germany.) This was represented as a marginal note and
   given in French, so that many readers would not understand it.

   (b) In the passage: "He (Colonel Barnardiston) emphasized that our
   conversation must be absolutely confidential," the word
   "conversation" was translated by "Abkommen", as if it were

   (c) The final date in French, "Fin Septembre 1906," was translated
   "Abgeschlossen September 1906," i.e. "concluded," giving the
   impression of "a convention" having been "concluded"

The mistakes, each taken separately, might have been errors of
carelessness, but taken all three together undoubtedly point to a
deliberate attempt at falsification.

In the early months of the war the Wolff Bureau circulated a report in
the papers: "Today a French doctor, assisted by two French officers in
disguise attempted to infect a well at Metz with plague and cholera
bacillus; the criminals were caught and shot" An official _démenti_ of
this story was subsequently issued.

The greatest tunnel in Germany, at Cochen, on the frontier, was reported
to have been destroyed by innkeeper, Nicolai, of Cochen, and his son,
both whom were shot. The _Rheinisch Westfälische Zeitung_ stated that
after careful investigation it was discovered that Nicolai was a
naturalized German, French by birth, and it was a matter for
congratulation that the criminal was not a genuine German. The following
day the sub-Prefect of Cochen announced that there was not a word of
truth in the supposed plot; Nicolai was alive and a highly respected
citizen, whilst his son was serving in a Prussian regiment.

Atrocity lies abounded in Germany just as in this country. Gouging out
of eyes there seems to have been as great a favourite as the Belgian
babies without hands here.

In September 1914 a lady of Cologne was informed that a whole room was
given up in a hospital at Aix-la-Chapelle to wounded soldiers who had
had their eyes gouged out in Belgium. On inquiry, a leading doctor at
Aix-la-Chapelle declared there was no such room and no single case of
the sort had been observed. But the story wandered from Aix-la-Chapelle
to Bonn, where again the chief doctor of the hospitals had to deny it.
Then it travelled to Sigmaringen. The _Weser Zeitung_ in Bremen took it
up and wrote in a similar way, about a hospital in Berlin. This was
denied by the Kommandatur der Residenz. It reached its climax when it
was reported that a small boy of ten had seen "a whole bucketful of
soldiers' eyes" (ein ganzer Eimer voll Soldatenaugen).

_Die Zeit in Bild_ (January 12, No. 38) gave circumstantial accounts of
a priest who wore a chain round his neck made up of rings taken from
fingers he had cut off.

An official report from Luttich, where this was supposed to have
happened, stated there was no such case.

In the _Kölnische Volkszeitung,_ September 15, 1914, it was related how
a company of German soldiers were marching through a Belgian village
when the priest, who stood before the door of the church, invited the
captain to come in with his soldiers, "for it was good," he said, "even
in these dark times, to think of God," (da es doch in dieser schweren Zeit
gut sei auch an den lieben Gott zu denken). The captain accepted the
invitation. A machine gun was concealed behind the altar. When the
church was full the machine gun was unmasked and the whole company shot

Such stories as these arose chiefly from anti-Catholic bias. Priests
were accused of harbouring French soldiers in their houses, but no case
was proved. An incident of which many and varied versions were given was
that of Demange, priest of Lagarde. He was said to have betrayed the
position of the German troops to the enemy, to have put a machine gun in
the tower of his church with which to shoot down Germans. He was
reported to have been shot, and his body pierced by thirty bayonet
wounds was seen before the church door of Lagarde. Not only was the
whole thing an invention, but it turned out, from official information,
that Demange, who was alive, had behaved with heroism in resisting the
enemy, and had been praised by German officers.

The variations of the story and its exposure as a falsehood appeared in
the _Frankfürter Zeitung_ (September 18, 1914) and the _Kölnische
Volkszeitung_ (October 11,1914).

On August 31, 1914, the _Berliner Lokalanzeiger_ reported that a nurse
in Amsterdam had heard from a German officer how, after Löwen had been
occupied, all was quiet. But later the bodies of fifty German soldiers,
shot by the monks, were found in the cellar of monastery. The inmates
were thereupon arrested and the Superior shot.

This story was widely circulated, and as it was likely to embitter
religious feeling General von Bissing issued a complete denial of the
report and an order that it should not be circulated in the Press
(Münster, September 6, 1914). Nevertheless the story has been
incorporated in several German books on the war.

In September 1914 Sergeant (Unteroffizier) Adolf Schmidt related, in a
letter to his parents, how he and his troop had been invited by a French
priest to have some coffee. Being suspicious, he called a doctor to
examine the coffee, and found it had strychnine mixed with it. The
priest and his cook were shot the next morning (_Schwarzwälder Chronik,_
September 18, 1914). The whole story proved to be an invention of the
sergeant, who retracted it.

In April 1915 the _Vossische Zeitung_ reported the invasion of Egypt by
the Senussi with an army of 70,000 men. This invention was reproduced in
the _Corriére della Sera_ in Italy and denied by the British Embassy.

A letter (August 26, 1914) to the _Hamburger Fremdenblatt_ related how
the Belgians supplied the German troops with cigars filled with
gunpowder, which blinded them when they lit them. Another letter to the
_Berliner Tageblatt_ (August 26th) reported that the Belgians filled
the, letters of the Germans with narcotic powder.

On January 23, 1915, the _Kölnische Zeitung_ gave the most gruesome
description, by an eyewitness, of a scene on the Eastern front in which
a boy of twelve years old had been secured to a table by nails driven
through each of his fingers. Judge Rosenberg, of Essen, took the matter
up and asked the name of the place where this had happened. After delay
and evasions and considerable difficulty in discovering the author of
the tale, he ascertained that it had taken place at Prostken.
Accordingly he wrote to the authorities there, and received a reply on
September 14, 1916, to the effect that nothing was known of any such
incident in the district.

That there were incidents of cruelty and barbarity on the Eastern front
there can be no doubt. But these were exaggerated until wholesale
accusations were made against the Russians for habitually cutting off
men's arms and legs and women's breasts.

Both on the East and West, atrocity stories were circulated without the
names of place or person.

The following is an instance of the kind of story which the German
public was made to accept as typical of the methods of their enemies.

On October 29, 1915, the _Kölnische Volkszeitung_ described the
following incident:

   "In consequence of the proclamation of the Holy War, a number of
   British Askari of Mohammedan religion refused to fight against the
   Germans of East Africa; thereupon these 112 "rebels" were handcuffed
   and thrashed and taken to Nairobi, where they were condemned by
   court martial to be hanged. But a few days later, instead of hanging
   them, a new order was given, according to which the condemned men
   were to be used as living targets for the black recruits in their
   rifle practice. One morning in November of last year ten of these
   prisoners were taken to a place south of Nairobi, where some British
   Askaris were in camp. The condemned men had first of all to dig a
   huge pit, where they were afterwards to be buried. They were then
   bound, hand and foot, gagged, and placed in the bushes, tall grass
   or on trees, so that only a small part of their bodies was visible.
   English officers gave the instructions in shooting. At a distance of
   from 100 to 300 paces the recruits shot at their living targets.
   This practice lasted the whole morning and afternoon, and by the
   evening two men were found to be dead, and the others, who were
   terribly wounded, were then killed. The bodies were then thrown into
   the pit. This shooting practice was continued daily until all the
   condemned men were killed."

An Englishman who was in Berlin in the early days of the war heard, at
the International Trade Union headquarters, continual discussions as to
the possibility of reaching and attacking the British coast. It was
argued that such an attack would shatter the prestige of Great Britain.
The Englishman maintained that it would only greatly assist recruiting.

When the actual bombardment of Hartlepool, Scarborough, and Whitby took
place, the morning Press gave large type to the event. "Fortified Towns
of Hartlepool, Whitby, and Scarborough Bombarded." Then followed the
Wolff Telegraph Bureau description of the nature of the fortifications
on the hill at Scarborough and again at Whitby. The text carried the
implication that it was because these were well-known fortified towns
that they had been selected for bombardment. The matter was discussed on
the day the newspaper was published, and the German Trade Unionists
pointed again and again to the evidence in the Press of the military
nature of these three towns. The Englishman accurately described
Hartlepool and Scarborough as favourite holiday resorts of British
children and Whitby as a place of pilgrimage for visitors both from
England and America. But he made no impression. They were greatly
annoyed and preferred their own lie, which was universally accepted in
Germany. It will be remembered that the _Daily Mail_ replied with a row
of photographs of babies.

A lie exposed by no less a person than the Foreign Secretary must
certainly be recorded. Sir Edward Grey, speaking on May 25, 1916, in the
House of Commons, referred to a statement of the German Chancellor (Herr
von Bethmann-Hollweg) in the following terms:

   "I did find one new thing in the statement of the German Chancellor
   with regard to the terms of peace. That is the statement as to what
   the attitude of the British Government was in the time of diplomatic
   difficulty about Bosnia. That statement is untrue so far as we are
   concerned. The charge that our attitude was bellicose about the
   negotiations concerning Bosnia is a first-class lie. The idea that
   we attempted to urge Russia to war and that we said that this
   country be ready to go to war about Bosnia is directly contrary to
   the truth."


Whatever criticisms may be made of the French, we can never accuse them
of being hypocrites. They realized the great importance of "propaganda"
and went to work with a will. They are neither ashamed of the fact nor
attempt to conceal it. We always mixed our lies up with righteous
indignation and high morality, and tried to make them as statesmanlike
and genteel as possible, although the Kadaver story was perhaps the most
atrocious as well as the most successful lie in the war. The French
authorities were delighted with it, and an English war correspondent has
related how the French correspondents were made to send in reports of
the corpse factory over their own signatures.

It will be remembered that in the eventful days before August 4, 1914,
the French Government declared that they showed their pacific
disposition by retiring all their troops ten kilometres from the
frontier a gesture which was acclaimed here and in France as magnificent
and magnanimous and heroic. The truth, however, was that the French
desired to delay, as long as possible, the declaration of war so as to
give full time for the preparations in Great Britain and Russia. This is
how a Frenchman writes of it:

   "It was evident that if this order were in the least degree to
   compromise the success of our plans, our generals would not have
   tolerated it. One can say with absolute certainty that if there were
   any points where our troops could keep back ten kilometres from the
   frontier, it would be at points where it would not be inconvenient,
   and in the places where it would be necessary for them to be nearer
   they would be nearer. In fact, there were certain points where they
   remained on the frontier, and many, according to M. Messimy
   (Minister for War), where they were withdrawn only four or five
   kilometres. Moreover, after August 2nd, 5.30 p.m., that is, a whole
   day before Germany's declaration of war, the order was suppressed on
   the pretext that three German patrols had in the morning made an
   incursion into our territory.

   "Without doubt the ten kilometre retreat was only a fool's trap
   specially designed to make the English believe that the French
   mobilization was a pacific mobilization." (M. Demartial, in
   "_LÉvangile du Quai d'Orsay_," 1926).

A good many of the lies circulated in Great Britain originated from
across the Channel. The French were adepts at faked photographs;
instances are given under that heading. The insinuations in their
merciless caricatures also had considerable influence with those to whom
pictures appeal.

Lies in France were, many of them, the same as those with which we were
provided here. But their method was more extensive and thorough, as is
shown by the disclosures in "Behind the Scenes of French Journalism", by
"A French Chief Editor," from the eighth chapter of which book the
following extracts are taken.

   "...If you reduce the lie to a scientific system, put it on thick
   and heavy, with great effort and sufficient finances scatter it all
   over the world as the pure truth, you can deceive whole nations for
   a long time and drive them to slaughter for causes in which they
   have not the slightest interest. We have seen that sufficiently
   during the last war, and will see it in the next one, by which a
   kind providence will clumsily try to solve the problem of

   "We concluded immediately, and very correctly, that it is not
   sufficient to inflame the masses for war, and, in order to escape
   the accusation of the warguilt, to represent the enemy as a
   dangerous disturber of the peace and the most terrible enemy of

   "We have not waited for Lord Northcliffe's procedure. On the spur of the
   moment we appreciated the great importance to enthuse public opinion for
   our more or less just cause. As early as three days after the outbreak
   of the war, Viviani promulgated a law which on the same day was passed
   by the House and the Senate, and which provided as the first instalment
   of a powerful propaganda the trifling amount of twenty-five million
   francs in gold for the establishment of LA MAISON DE LA PRESSE, a
   gigantic building, Francois Street 3, five stories high, without the
   basement, where the printing-presses are located, and the groundfloor
   with its large meeting hall. A busy, lively going and coming, as in a
   beehive; trucks arriving, elegant autos with pretentious-looking
   persons. The two hundred rooms contain the workshops, offices, parlours,
   and reception-rooms, where those war-mad heroes are domiciled whose
   courage grows with the degree of distance from the trenches. From the
   basement up to the fifth story covered with a glass roof, all is the
   embodiment of concentrated propaganda. In the basement stood the
   machinery necessary for printing and reproduction, under the glass roof
   operated the photochemigraphic department. Its principal work consisted
   in making photographs and cuts of wooden figures with cut-off hands,
   torn-out tongues, gouged-out eyes, crushed skulls and brains laid bare.
   The pictures thus made were sent as unassailable evidence of German
   atrocities to all parts of the globe, where they did not fail to produce
   the desired effect. In the same rooms fictitious photographs were made
   of bombarded French and Belgian churches, violated graves and monuments
   and scenes of ruin and desolation. The staging and painting of these
   scenes were done by the best scene-painters of the Paris Grand
   Opera...The Press House was the indefatigable geyser which belched forth
   incessantly false war reports and fictitious news from the rear and the
   front, the meanest and most brutal slanders of the opponents, the
   astonishing fictions of infamous acts attributed to them. The insidious
   but efficacious poison thus broadcast has misled and infected a host of
   well-meaning but unsophisticated people...During the war the lie became
   a patriotic virtue. It was forced upon us by the Government and the
   censor, and through the peril of losing the war considered a necessity;
   besides, lying was profitable and often publicly honoured. It would be
   useless to deny the success of the lie, which used the Press as the best
   means of an extended and rapid circulation. The greatest efforts were
   made to stamp every word of the, enemies as a lie and every lie of our
   own as absolute truth. Everything sailed under the flag of

Children's education was not neglected. In _Le Matin_, November 12,
1915, there was a paragraph headed, "To Teachers.

   "All French schools must possess a collection of the cards 'German
   crimes,' in order to impress for ever upon the children the
   atrocities of the barbarians."

It went on to say that an artist of note had created a dozen
compositions relating to the most striking episodes among German crimes.

   "...Teachers, subscribe today and place these pictures in
   your schools."

Press distortions were as common in France as in other countries. As
early as July 25, 1914, M. Berthelot, M. Poincaré's permanent head of
the Foreign Office, caused a gravely distorted account of the Pacific
conversations between Bienvenu Martin and Baron Schoen to be published
in the _Écho de Paris_ and _Le Matin_. Public opinion can be far more
easily dragooned by Government and Press in France than it can be in
this country. There was, therefore, less need for subtlety, more chance
for concealment, and little fear of the crudest lies not being accepted,
provided they had the hallmark of some sort of authority. Moreover, in
France there is less disposition to examine the stories and statements
by which they were deceived and expose their falsity now that it is all
over. Nevertheless, no people is more intelligently aware of the
imbecile futility of war and its senseless barbarity than the common
people of France.


There was no richer field for propaganda than the United States of
America in the first years of the war. The Allied Powers and the Central
Powers were both hard at work competing. The German method began by
being too subtle. A wireless news agency, under German control, gave at
first the best, most authentic, unbiased, and by far the cheapest war
news, and thus attracted a large number of subscribers and fed the
American Press. As the months passed, their news began to be ingeniously
"slanted" in favour of the Central Powers. But they relied too much on
argument. The cruder British methods were far more successful, and
intensive work was done by the British War Mission, which (as Lord
Northcliffe stated in _The Times,_ November 16, 1917) comprised 500
officials with 10,000 assistants. Atrocities, Germany's sole
responsibility, the criminal Kaiser, and all the other fabrications
started in Great Britain, were worked up by American liars with great
effect. The Belgian baby without hands was a special favourite. There
was hardly a household in which it was not discussed all over that vast
continent, and even so ridiculous a scare as the concrete platforms for
German guns was current in California. Spy stories abounded and
effective films were produced by those who were pressing for America to
come into the war. One particularly good one dealt with the pacific
spirit which at first prevailed. Instead of deriding it, the pacifist
hero was depicted as a fine, noble figure standing out against the
excited agitation which surrounded him. The incursions of a foreign army
were graphically and dramatically produced. Villages were burned, women
carried off, and various cruelties perpetrated. The representative of a
foreign Power, with an unmistakably German cast of countenance, was
depicted as a hideous villain plotting and scheming with evil intent.
There was a particularly fine "close up" of him, rolling his eyes with
Mephistophelian cunning, in the gallery of Congress. Finally the
pacifist hero, carried away by his patriotic feelings, succumbs and
supports the war with enthusiasm.

After America entered into the war a number of "actual war picture"
films (prepared at Hollywood) were released. An immense army of speakers
and pamphleteers were employed by the Committee on Public Information,
and the country was flooded with literature describing the iniquities of
the Hun.

The tragedy of the sinking of the _Lusitania_, which was of course the
turning-point, was distorted to the utmost limit. Atrocity stories and
faked films worked more especially on the feelings of the women, so that
when neutrality was abandoned and "Uncle Sam needs you" was substituted,
it took very few days to bring the whole country round. Once America was
in the war, all the propaganda of the Allied nations was used and
further exaggerated.

Among active patriots, John R. Rathom was conspicuous with his articles
in the _Providence Journal_ and with his numerous lectures. During 1917
and 1918 he led the campaign against any who could be suspected of
having German sympathies. His spy stories were sensational, and he was
said to be coached by the British Secret Service. In February 1918 he
was issuing a series of articles on "Germany's Plot Exposed," when the
_New York World_ discontinued them, as they were suspicious and believed
that the articles were faked. In 1920 he was charged by Franklin D.
Roosevelt for circulating false and defamatory libels, and in the course
of examination he admitted "drawing freely on his imagination." He was
finally utterly discredited, but not till after "Rathomania" had
achieved considerable success during the time that it mattered.

Some lies which were little known here seem to have circulated
successfully and been swallowed down in America, such as: poisoned
sugar-candy dropped by German aeroplanes for children to eat; the
outraging of nuns in Belgian convents; the clipping of a chaplain's ears
by Uhlans; and the German deification of Hindenburg by the hymn
"Hindenburg ist unser Gott" (someone with insufficient knowledge of, or
ear for, German having heard Luther's hymn "Ein feste Burg ist unser
Gott"). Persecution of Germans and everything German was undertaken
with zeal; Wagner was unfavourably compared to Sousa. the danger of
sauerkraut was emphasized and people rooted up "bachelors' buttons"
from their gardens, as being a German national flower. The frenzy with
which the whole propaganda was conducted in America surpassed anything
we experienced here. America being a land of extremes, colour and
emphasis have to reach an exceptionally high pitch before anyone takes
much notice.

In October 1918, some of the lies having become too absurdly
preposterous, General Pershing and the War Department of the United
States authorized the publication of the following cablegram:

   "A St. Louis (Missouri) paper recently received here states that a
   sergeant, one of fifty men sent back in connection with the Liberty
   Loan campaign, is making speeches in which he states: "The Germans
   give poisoned candy to the children to eat and hand-grenades for
   them to play with. They show glee at the children's dying writhings
   and laugh aloud when the grenades explode. I saw one American boy,
   about seventeen years old, who had been captured by the Germans,
   come back to our trenches. He had cotton in and about his cars. I
   asked someone what the cotton was for. 'The Germans cut off his ears
   and sent him back to tell us they want to fight men,' was the
   answer. 'They feed Americans on tuberculosis germs.' As there is no
   foundation whatever in fact for such statements, based on any
   experience we have had, I recommend that this sergeant, if the
   statements quoted above were made by him, be immediately returned
   for duty and that the statements be contradicted. PERSHING"

The American version of the crucifixion story arose from the following
statement of an American soldier:

   "It was on October 23, 1918, that our detachment, the Fifth Marines,
   Second Division, entered Suippes, situated north of Châlons and west
   of the Argonnes Forest, the village having just been evacuated by
   the Germans. There we found a naked girl nailed to a barn door. In
   addition about half of the coffins in the village churchyard had
   been torn from the graves and been opened, apparently with the idea
   of despoiling them."

When the soldier was pressed to give more precise details, he referred
to the number of the Pittsburg _Sunday Post_ of February 2, 1919, in
which a description of the alleged incident, accompanied by drawings not
photographs was given.

The matter having been referred to the German State Archives, it was
stated, on September 27, 1924:

   "During the year 1918 no Germans were in Suippes, situated on the
   Suippes and northeast of Châlons. The German front, especially in
   October 1918, ran north of Souain. That village was in possession of
   the French and the village of Suippes lies seven kilometres behind
   to the south."

A Catholic clergyman in Suippes, replying to an dated February 18, 1925,

   "Your American soldier could not have seen that a young girl had
   been crucified, for there is nothing whatever known here about this
   tale. That graves have been despoiled is possible, but not in the
   cemetery of Suippes."

In spite of the denial of the story by General March at Washington, it
was introduced as the basis of a war propaganda drama which had the
blessing of President Wilson. (_Duty to Civilization_ by Francis Nielson)

Hideous cruelties, attributed to German submarine commanders, were also
widely circulated. In April 1923 Admiral Sims stated, in the _New York

   "There exists no authentic report of cruelties ever having been
   committed by the commander or the crew of a German submarine. The
   Press reports about cruelties were only meant for propaganda purposes."

Traces of the deluge of falsehood still linger today among the more
ignorant sections of the population. But far greater is the resentment
of the disillusioned, who recognize now the quagmire of falsehood from
which the whole warfever emanated.

Mr. Kirby Page sums up the activities of the Committee of Public

   "An examination of all this propaganda reveals the exaggerations and
   misrepresentations to which the American public was subjected...
   Every Government systematically planned to deceive its own people,
   and a rigid censorship prevailed everywhere."

An interesting volume on the technique of propaganda has recently been
published by Professor Lasswell, of Chicago; (_Propaganda Technique in
the World War_, by Harold D. Lasswell) from which the following passage
may be quoted:

   "So great are the psychological resistances to war in modern
   nations, that every war must appear to be a war of defence against a
   menacing, murderous aggressor. There must be no ambiguity about whom
   the public is to hate. The war must not be due to a world system of
   conducting international affairs, nor to the stupidity or
   malevolence of all governing classes, but to the rapacity of the
   enemy. Guilt and guilelessness must be assessed geographically, and
   all the guilt must be on the other side of the frontier. If the
   propagandist is to mobilize the hate of the people, he must see to
   it that everything is circulated which establishes the sole
   responsibility of the enemy."

Mr. George Creel was, in the United States, the equivalent to Lord
Northcliffe. His bureau was subsidized by public money, and in the book
in which he relates the amazing activities undertaken, he gives some
idea of the field covered when he says: "The service cost the taxpayers
$4,912,553 and earned $2,825,670.23 to be applied on expenses."


Propaganda in Italy took rather a different form. The task of the
Government was to formulate a policy which would justify Italy's entry
into the war and give the people expectation of definite gain. While,
therefore, certain atrocity stories such as the Belgian baby without
hands were circulated, it was not so much moral indignation which had to
be stirred as political ambition which had to be satisfied.

The future of Dalmatia was the chief point of focus. Round this the
Government and the Press worked up a great campaign of falsehood.

Mazzini once said, "Istria is ours; necessary to Italy just as the forts
(forti) of Dalmatia are necessary to Southern Slavs."

Mazzini's name counted, and this saying was reproduced in Baron Sonino's
paper, the _Giornale d'Italia_ (March 11, 1918), "Istria is ours;
necessary to Italy just as the forts (forti) of Dalmatia are necessary
to Southern Italy."

When the falsity of this statement was pointed out in the Chamber, the
reply given was that it was "a fault of the printer."

Nicolo Tomasso, a patriot of Dalmatian origin, who, till he died in
1873, was in favour of a Southern Slav confederation, was also declared,
without a vestige of evidence, to be in favour of the annexation of
Dalmatia by Italy.

An even more ridiculous fabrication was the publication in a Milanese
newspaper of a long letter from no less a person than Abraham Lincoln,
said to have been written in 1853, in which the American President
assigned to Italy the entire Eastern coast of the Adriatic, as well as
Corsica and Malta. Mazzini, who had been reduced to tears on reading it,
had translated the letter with his own hand, and Carducci and de Amicis
had expressed their admiration of it. It seemed curious that such an
important document should never have been heard of before. But
unfortunately Abraham Lincoln, in specifying the various territories
which should be assigned to Italy, used the expressions "Venezia
Tridentina" and "Venezia Giulia," designations which were used for the
first time in 1866, and individual of very inferior worth who, amid the
universal ridicule of the French, apes the Parisian. He is glad enough
to fish in muddy waters where none of those perils exist which he seeks
to avoid as much as possible, as he has already shown in 1913.

The same newspaper wrote after the declaration of war:

   "The Roumanians have now proved in the most striking manner that
   they are worthy sons of the ancient Romans, from whom they, like
   ourselves, are descended. They are thus our nearest brethren who
   now, with that courage and determination which are their special
   qualities, are taking part in the fight of the Latin and Slav races
   against the German race...Nothing else indeed could be expected
   from a people which has the honour of belonging to that Latin race
   which once ruled the world."

Before Italian intervention, the Press in Italy was, as may well be
imagined, a mass of contradictory reports from belligerents on both
sides, charges, countercharges, atrocity accusations and denials,
scares, spy stories, and every conceivable item of "news", which
percolated through not only from Great Britain, France, Russia, and the
Central Powers, but from the factories of more lurid and sensational
reports in the Balkans.

Utterly unreliable and contradictory reports were published day by day
with regard to the treatment of Cardinal Mercier. The papal authorities
had to deny the existence of a radiotelegraphic station in the Vatican.
Great excitement was caused by the reported existence of a secret bomb
factory in an international school directed by Benedictines on the
Aventine, which was proved by police investigation to be without
foundation (_Corriére della Sera,_ May 11, 1915). A Milan evening paper
reported that German spies had been discovered and arrested by
carabinieri while making maps on the railroad lines. These were found to
be Milanese citizens testing a camera, and they were released at once.

Statements in the Press reporting that French willingness to treat with
Germany had been prevented by British threats of reprisals (January
1915) had to be denied by the British and French Embassies in Rome.

A good instance of suppression producing falsehood can be found in a
garbled report of a Parliamentary question in April 1915.

Mr. Chancellor asked the Under-Secretary for War

   "Whether there was any official information showing that two hundred
   men belonging to one cavalry regiment became seriously ill with
   symptoms of blood-poisoning after inoculation against typhoid; if
   so, will he say whether two or three of them died; whether the two
   doctors who performed the inoculation were, on inquiry, found to be
   Austrians, tried by court martial and sentenced to penal servitude..."

Mr. Tennant replied

   "There is no official information corresponding in any way to the
   statements in the first three parts of the question. No one has
   heard of the Austrian doctors who have been sentenced to penal

The question without the categorical official denial of the story was
reproduced as a statement in the _Corriére della Sera,_ April 18th, the
object being, of course, to fan up anti-Austrian feeling.

Every report of Italy's possible adherence to one side was
authoritatively denied by the other side, and various suggested bribes
of territory were constantly appearing. False reports of engagements and
preparations in the Balkans and elsewhere helped to keep the minds of
the unfortunate Italian people in utter confusion.

War lies from Russia, the Balkans and other parts of the world have
unfortunately been beyond the reach of a collector. While some of them
may have been more lurid and fantastic, they would, if recited, hardly
serve by comparison to mitigate the foulness of the streams of falsehood
which found their source in the great civilized Christian nations of the

Is further proof needed that international war is a monster born of
hypocrisy, fed on falsehood, fattened on humbug, kept alive by
superstition, directed to the death and torture of millions, succeeding
in no high purpose, degrading to humanity, endangering civilization and
bringing forth in its travail a hideous brood of strife, conflict and
war, more war? Yet statesmen still hesitate to draw the sword of their
wits to destroy it.


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