[Illustration: Figure 12.]
H.M. the Emperor of Germany, by ratifying The Hague Convention of 1907, covenanted (Article 24) that “it is forbidden (c) to kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or being without means of defense, has surrendered unconditionally. (d) To declare that no quarter shall be given.”
Have the German armies respected these covenants? Throughout Belgian and French reports depositions such as the following abound. This is taken from a French Captain of the 288th Infantry:
On the 22d, in the evening, I learned that in the woods, about one hundred and fifty meters north of the square formed by the intersection of the great Calonne trench with the road from Vaux-les-Palameis to Saint-Remy, there were corpses of French soldiers shot by the Germans. I went to the spot and found the bodies of about thirty soldiers within a small space, most of them prone, but several still kneeling, and all having a precisely similar wound—a bullet through the ear. One only, seriously wounded in his lower parts, could still speak, and told me that the Germans before leaving had ordered them to lie down and that then had them shot through the head; that he, already wounded had secured indulgence by stating that he was the father of three small children. The skulls of these unfortunates were scattered; the guns, broken at the stock, were scattered here and there; and the blood had besprinkled the bushes to such an extent that in coming out of the woods my cape was spattered with it; it was a veritable shambles.
I quote this testimony, not to base any accusations upon it, but simply to give precision to our indictment. I will not lay stress upon it as evidence, for I wish to keep to the rule which I have laid down—to have records of nothing but German sources of information.
I will quote here the text of an order of the day addressed by General Stenger, in command of the Fifty-eighth German Brigade, on the 26th of August, to the troops under his orders: