In London during August the usual cheap evening orchestra concerts, so-called promenade concerts, were announced in a patriotic manner, with the comment that no German musician would be represented on the program. Everybody applauded this announcement, but nobody attended the concerts. A week later a program of Beethoven, Wagner, and Richard Strauss was announced. Everybody was indignant, and everybody went to hear it. It was a complete and decisive German victory, without a single man being killed.
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This article is taken
from Conan Doyle’s book “The German
War,” and is reproduced by permission of the author.
When one writes with a hot heart upon events which are still recent one is apt to lose one’s sense of proportion. At every step one should check one’s self by the reflection as to how this may appear ten years hence, and how far events which seem shocking and abnormal may prove themselves to be a necessary accompaniment of every condition of war. But a time has now come when in cold blood, with every possible restraint, one is justified in saying that since the most barbarous campaigns of Alva in the Lowlands, or the excesses of the Thirty Years’ War, there has been no such deliberate policy of murder as has been adopted in this struggle by the German forces. This is the more terrible since these forces are not, like those of Alva, Parma, or Tilly, bands of turbulent and mercenary soldiers, but they are the nation itself, and their deeds are condoned or even applauded by the entire national press. It is not on the chiefs of the army that the whole guilt of this terrible crime must rest, but it is upon the whole German Nation, which for generations to come must stand condemned before the civilized world for this reversion to those barbarous practices from which Christianity, civilization, and chivalry had gradually rescued the human race. They may, and do, plead the excuse that they are “earnest” in war, but all nations are earnest in war, which is the most desperately earnest thing of which we have any knowledge. How earnest we are will be shown when the question of endurance begins to tell. But no earnestness can condone the crime of the nation which deliberately breaks those laws which have been indorsed by the common consent of humanity.
War may have a beautiful as well as a terrible side, and be full of touches of human sympathy and restraint which mitigate its unavoidable horror. Such have been the characteristics always of the secular wars between the British and the French. From the old glittering days of knighthood, with their high and gallant courtesy, through the eighteenth century campaigns where the debonair guards of France and England exchanged salutations before their volleys, down to the last great Napoleonic struggle, the tradition of chivalry has always survived. We read how in the Peninsula