In this way we destroyed eight dwellings and their inhabitants. In one of the houses we bayoneted two men, with their wives and a young girl 18 years old. The young: one almost unmanned me, her look was so innocent! But we could not master the excited troop, for at such times they are no longer men—they are beasts.
[Illustration: Figure 6.]
Let me add a few texts which will attest that these assassinations of women and children are customary tasks set to German soldiers:
(a) The writer in a notebook, unsigned, reports that at Orchies (Nord) “a woman was shot for not having obeyed the command to halt!” whereupon he adds, “the whole locality was set on fire.” (Fig. 7.)
[Illustration: Figure 7.]
(b) The officer of the 178th Saxon Regiment, mentioned above, reports that in the vicinity of Lisognes (Belgian Ardennes) “the Chasseur of Marburg, having placed three women in line, killed them all with one shot.”
(c) A few lines more, taken from the notebook of the Reservist Schlauter (Third Battery, Fourth Regiment, Field Artillery of the Guard,) (Fig. 8:)
Aug. 25, (in Belgium.)—We shot 300 of the inhabitants of the town. Those that survived the salvo were requisitioned as grave diggers. You should have seen the women at that time! But it was impossible to do otherwise. In our march upon Wilot things went better; the inhabitants who wished to leave were allowed to do so. But whoever fired was shot. Upon our leaving Owele the rifles rang out, and with that, flames, women, and all the rest.
[Illustration: Figure 8.]
Frequently when a German troop want to carry a position, they place before them civilians—men, women, and children—and find shelter behind these ramparts of living flesh. As such a stratagem is essentially playing upon the nobility of heart of the adversary, and saying to him “you won’t fire upon these unfortunates, I know it, and I hold you at my mercy, unarmed, because you are not as craven as I am,” as it implies a homage to the enemy and the self-degradation of the one employing it, it is almost inconceivable that soldiers should resort to it; it represents a new invention in the long story of human vileness, which even the dreadful Penitentiels of the Middle Ages had not discovered. In reading the stories from French, Belgian, and English sources, attributing such practices to the Germans, it has made me doubt, if not the truthfulness, at least the detailed exactness of the stories. It seemed to me that the tales must be of crimes by men who would be disavowed, individual lapses, which do not dishonor the nation, because the nation on ascertaining them would repudiate them. But how can we doubt that the German Nation has, on the contrary, accepted these acts as exploits worthy of herself, that in them she recognizes her own aptitudes, and finds pleasure in