French Kicks Two Thousand
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The last night in August I had a hard timefreeing the approaches of the gate I was guarding.There were only women, but there were thousandsof them and neither prayer nor argumentcould persuade them to make up their minds to gohome.
But other houses, which had been spared byshell fire, had not been spared by the Kaiser'ssoldiery. The Barbarians had placed their clawson them. Everything had been taken out of thehouses and scattered to the four winds of heaven.Here is a portrait that has been wrenched from itsframe and trampled on. A baby's bathtub hasbeen carried into the garden, and the soldiers have[Pg 28]deposited their excrement in it. There are chairsthat have been smashed by the kicks of heavy bootsand wardrobes that have been disemboweled. Hereis a fine old mahogany table that has been carriedinto the fields for five hundred meters and thenbroken in two. An old red damask armchair,with wings at the sides, one of those old armchairsin which the grandmothers of France sit by thefire in the evening has been torn in shreds by knifethrusts. Linen is mixed with mud; the white veilsome girl wore at her first communion is defiledwith excrement.... An old man is wanderingamong the ruins. He has just come back to thedevastated village. He says to me simply:
But all the German prisoners repeated what hehad said to me as a set phrase. On the whole, whenyou have seen ten German prisoners you have[Pg 34]seen a thousand; when you have questioned oneGerman officer you have questioned fifty. Thecharacteristic of the race is that they have abolishedall individuality. You find yourself in anamorphous mass, cast in a uniform mold, not inthe presence of human beings who think their ownthoughts.
The modest postmistress and telegraph operatorwas a Frenchwoman and a fighter, who, in the littlevillage of Houpelines, in the north of the country,[Pg 67]deserved this citation in the orders of the day,of which thousands of soldiers would be proud:
Those wonderful words have been handed down[Pg 81]from generation to generation as a symbol ofwhat ancient Rome was. Those words thousandsof French women have uttered for the last fouryears, and they still utter them today. Othervoices answer them. They rise from the trenches,and they say:
Add to that the cultivation that has been destroyed,the soil that has been made untillable, thetrees that have been cut down, the roads that havebeen torn up and the bridges that have been destroyed.All the misery, all the mourning, all thesickness: a million wounded and injured men whohave been lost as living forces by a nation whichdid not have too many inhabitants. Add the [Pg 96]hundredthousand prisoners Germany sends back tous who have been made tuberculous, paralytics,nervous wrecks or lunatics because they have beenphysically maltreated. Yes, France is suffering.
In the matter of heavy artillery, in August,1914, we had only three hundred guns distributedamong the various regiments. In June, 1917, wehad six thousand heavy guns, all of them modern.During our spring offensive in 1917, we had roughlyone heavy gun for every twenty-six meters offront. If we had brought together all our heavyartillery and all our trench artillery, we wouldhave had one gun for every eight meters in thebattle sector.
In August, 1914, we were making twelve thousandshells for the .75's per day, now we are makingtwo hundred and fifty thousand shells for the.75's and one hundred thousand shells for theheavy guns per day.
And during the first three months of the year1918, from the first of January to the thirty-firstof March, the surplus deposits made by the peasantsand the working classes in the National SavingBank was seventy-five millions of francs, anexcess of more than eight hundred thousand francsdaily.
M. Ernest Roume, Governor General of theColonies, in charge at the war's beginning of thegovernment of Indo-China, sent to France morethan sixty thousand native soldiers and militaryworkers in eighteen months. They were recruited[Pg 115]from the Asiatic possessions of France. In Senegal,in Soudan and in Morocco men volunteered byhundreds of thousands. Moroccans, Kabyles andblacks came to fight by the side of the Frenchtroops on the Champagne and Lorraine fronts.
In 1914 the cereal crop had been notably deficientin Algiers and especially in Tunis. However,Algeria did not hesitate to give the motherland all the grain she asked for; 50,000 quintalsof wheat and 500,000 quintals of barley and oatswere thus hastened to continental France, and inaddition, 40,000 quintals of wheat went to Corsicaand 130,000 to Paris. In 1915 the coloniesmade an even better showing: Algeria furnishedFrance with 1,625,000 quintals of wheat, 918,000quintals of barley, and 77,000 quintals ofoats. In 1916 this figure was passed and thetotal exports amounted to four million quintalsof grains. As for Morocco, it exported in 1914,90,000 quintals of wheat and 130,000 quintals ofbarley; in 1915 it exported 200,000 quintals of[Pg 116]wheat and a million quintals of barley; in 1916it exported more than two million quintals ofgrains. Add to that the 900,000 sheep Algeriafurnished for the French commissariat and morethan 40,000 sheep furnished to the English commissariatto feed the Hindoo troops stationed atMarseilles. Then add in the cattle exported fromAlgeria and Morocco by the thousands, add forAlgeria the wines and the vegetables, and forTunis the olive oil. In 1916 the confederationof Algerian winegrowers gave the French poilusfifty thousand hectoliters of wine.
Supplies were first landed at San Giovanni diMedua and Antivari in the smaller French boats.But it was soon evident that these supplies wouldbe insufficient and that the Serbs could not maintaintheir positions in the Adriatic ports evenwith French help from the sea. The completeevacuation of an entire army, piece by piece, hadto be undertaken. The transporting of entireSerbia beyond the seas, to another country, hadto be considered. Where were they to go? Wherewere the thousands of worn out soldiers, of sickand wounded men, to be transported?
Once again France answered. France heldTunis, France held Bizerta. Tunis and Bizertawould shield temporarily the remains of Serbia.From the end of November, 1915, the smallerFrench ships, torpedo boats, trawlers and transportsmade the trip from Durazzo to San Giovannidi Medua to embark the Serbian Army.Great steamers, such as the Natal, Sinai, andArménie, and a flotilla of armored cruisers [Pg 120]followedthem. Thirteen thousand men were transportedin this fashion.
Furthermore, fresh water in sufficient quantitieshad to be procured. For if the springs on theisland could supply eighty thousand inhabitants,they now had to triple their output and give outa far greater supply to meet the demand of onehundred and fifty thousand more mouths. Everybit of flour had to come from outside, from Italy,France or England since Corfu has very few resourcesand we did not wish to encounter the hostilityof a population to which it was necessaryfor us to show firmness more than once. The mostrecalcitrant were forced to give in, not withoutceasing to rob us very much in the dealings theyhad with us. Oranges went up to ten francs adozen, and small shopkeepers realized fortunes bydoing money changing at fantastic rates.
On the ninth of January, 1916, the situationof the Serbian Army was precisely as follows:In the neighborhood of San Giovanni di Meduathere were twelve hundred officers, twenty-sixthousand foot soldiers, seven thousand horses and[Pg 127]two thousand cattle; at Durazzo there were thirty-sixhundred officers, sixty-nine thousand soldiers,twenty thousand horses and four thousand cattle;on the roads that led to Valona some fiftythousand men including officers, two thousandhorses and three hundred cattle.
Add to that twenty-two thousand Austrianprisoners whom the Serbs carried along with themin their exodus towards the coast and also thepitiable troop of refugees, sick men, old men,women, children who, desiring at any cost to escapeslavery and servitude, followed the retreatingarmy.
However, on the twentieth of January, abouttwo thousand men still remained at San Giovannidi Medua. There were also a certain number offield pieces. After so many men and guns hadbeen saved, were these to be abandoned? No.Everything must be saved. The last man mustbe saved and the last gun must be saved, whatevermay be the risk, the fatigue and the hard work.
They worked with feverish haste. The hope ofnot being abandoned gave wings to the weak. Byfour o'clock in the afternoon everything was [Pg 135]practicallyready ... four "seventy-fives," ten artillerycaissons, two radio outfits, a thousand newrifles, hundreds of cases of shells, cartridges andgrenades and likewise large quantities of harnesswere loaded on the trawlers. All the men who werein the town, its outskirts or on the beach were assembledand embarked on the boats. Not onewas left behind. This time, safe from the riflesin the distant mountains, everyone was saved.
Some people have spoken of a referendum. Whya referendum? Was there any referendum in1871? And how could there be a referendum?How could you include in this referendum the hundredsof thousands of Alsatians who have fled fromGerman domination? How could you exclude fromthis referendum the hundreds of thousands ofGermans who have come to Alsace?
Germany can never make reparation for all theruin, all the destruction, all the sacrilege she haswrought. There can be no reparation for theCathedral of Rheims, for the Hotel de Ville atArras, for the deaths of thousands of innocentbeings, for the slaughter of women and children.
Germany needs two things to continue her nationalexistence. She must import from othercountries certain products necessary to her existence.For example, there is wool, of whichshe was obliged to import 1,888,481 metric quintalsin order to manufacture her sixteen thousandgrades of woolen fabrics. There is copper, ofwhich Germany imported 250,000 tons in 1913(200,000 tons came from America), in order tosell the merchandise she finds has a good marketin foreign countries. Considering all Germany'sexports for the period from 1903-1913, we findthat their total has passed from 6,400 millions to[Pg 175]12,600 millions, an increase of nearly one hundredper cent. 2b1af7f3a8