[Illustration: Figure 9.]
We arrested three civilians, and a bright idea struck me. We furnished them with chairs and made them seat themselves in the middle of the street. There were supplications on one part, and some blows with the stocks of our guns on the other. One, little by little, gets terribly hardened. Finally, there they were sitting in the street. How many anguished prayers they may have muttered, I cannot say, but during the whole time their hands were joined in nervous contraction. I am sorry for them, but the stratagem was of immediate effect. The enfilading directed from the houses diminished at once; we were able then to take possession of the house opposite, and thus became masters of the principal street. From that moment every one that showed his face in the street was shot. And the artillery meanwhile kept up vigorous work, so that at about 7 o’clock in the evening, when the brigade advanced to rescue us, I could report “Saint-Die has been emptied of all enemies.”
As I learned later, the —— Regiment of Reserves, which came into Saint-Die further north, had experiences entirely similar to our own. The four civilians whom they had placed on chairs in the middle of the street were killed by French bullets. I saw them myself stretched out in the street near the hospital.
Article 28 of The Hague Convention of 1907, subscribed to by Germany, uses this language: “The sacking of any town or locality, even when taken by assault, is prohibited.” And Article 47 runs: “[in occupied territory] pillage is forbidden.”
We shall see how the German armies interpret these articles.
Private Handschuhmacher (Eleventh Battalion of Chasseurs Reserves) writes in his notebook:
Aug. 8, 1914, Gouvy, (Belgium.)—There, the Belgians having fired on some German soldiers, we started at once pillaging the merchandise warehouse. Several cases—eggs, shirts, and everything that could be eaten was carried off. The safe was forced and the gold distributed among the men. As to the securities, they were torn up.
This happened as early as the fourth day of the war, and it helps us to understand a technical article on the operations of the military treasury (Der Zahlmeister im Felde) in the Berliner Tageblatt of the 26th of November, 1914, in which an economic phenomenon of rather unusual import is recited as a simple incident: “Experience has demonstrated that very much more money is forwarded by postal orders from the theatre of operations to the interior of the country than vice versa.”