“The German women fight their own battles in keeping back tears and praying for the success of the German arms. Hundreds of titled women are at the front with the Red Cross, sacrificing everything to aid their country. Baroness von Ziegler and her daughter wrote from Wiesbaden that they were en route to the front and were ready to fight if need be.
“Even the stupendous losses which the army is incurring cannot dim the love of the Fatherland nor the desire of the Germans, as a whole nation, to fight on. I speak of vast losses. An officer with whom I talked while en route from Berlin to Rotterdam, told me of his own experience. He was one of 2,000 men on the eastern frontier. They saw a detachment of Russians ahead. The German forces went into battle singing and confident, although the Russian columns numbered 12,000. Of that German force of 2,000 just fifty survived. None surrendered.”
FEARFUL STATE OF BATTLEFIELDS
Dead men and horses, heaped up by thousands, lay putrefying on the battlefields of the Aisne, Colonel Webb C. Hayes, U.S.A., son of former President Hayes, declared in Washington on Oct. 7, on his return from observing the war and its battlefields. He was the bearer of a personal message to President Wilson from the acting burgomaster of Louvain.
“When I left Havre on Sept. 27,” he said, “the Allies were fearful that they would not be able to penetrate to the German line through the mass of putrefying men and horses on the battlefields, which unfortunately the combatants seem not to heed about burying. I don’t see how they could pass through these fields. The stench was horrible, and the idea of climbing over the bodies must be revolting even to brave soldiers.”
Col. Hayes had been on the firing line; he had visited the sacked city of Louvain as the guest of Germans in an armored car; he had been in Aix-la-Chapelle, at the German base, and had seen some of the fighting in the historic Aisne struggle.
“It is a sausage grinder,” he declared.
“On one side are the Allies, apparently willing to sacrifice their last man in defense of France; on the other are the Germans, seemingly prodigal of their millions of men and money and throwing man after man into the war.”
“What about the alleged atrocities in Belgium?” he was asked.
“Well, war is hell; that’s about the only answer I can give you. The real tragic feature of the whole war is Belgium. Its people are wonderful folk—clean, decent, respectable. What this nation should do is to concentrate its efforts to aid the women and children of Belgium. Help for hospitals is not so much needed, but the fate of these people is really pathetic.” Asked for a brief description of what he saw along the battle line, Col. Hayes declared:
“The battle front these days is far different from what it used to be. There are few men to be seen, and practically no guns. All are concealed. Shrapnel flies through the air and bursts. That is the scene most of the time. In the hand-to-hand fighting bayonets are used much by the French, while the Turcos use knives.”