On the whole, there is distinct evidence of the Red Cross having been deliberately misused for offensive purposes, and seemingly under orders, on some, though not many, occasions.
ABUSE OF THE WHITE FLAG.
Cases of this kind are numerous. It is possible that a small group of men may show a white flag without authority from any proper officer, in which case their action is, of course, not binding on the rest of the platoon or other unit. But this will not apply to the case of a whole unit advancing as if to surrender, or letting the other side advance to receive the pretended surrender and then opening fire. Under this head we find many depositions by British soldiers and several by officers. In some cases the firing was from a machine gun brought up under cover of the white flag.
The depositions taken by Professor Morgan in France strongly corroborate the evidence collected in this country.
The case numbered h 70 may be noted as very clearly stated. The Germans, who had “put up a white flag on a lance and ceased fire,” and thereby induced a company to advance in order to take them prisoners, “dropped the white flag and opened fire at a distance of 100 yards.” This was near Nesle, on Sept. 6, 1914. It seems clearly proved that in some divisions at least of the German Army this practice is very common. The incidents as reported cannot be explained by unauthorized surrenders of small groups.
There is, in our opinion, sufficient evidence that these offenses have been frequent, deliberate, and in many cases committed by whole units under orders. All the acts mentioned in this part of the report are in contravention of The Hague Convention, signed by the great powers, including France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, in 1907, as may be seen by a reference to Appendix D, in which the provisions of that convention relating to the conduct of war on land are set forth.
From the foregoing pages it will be seen that the committee have come to a definite conclusion upon each of the heads under which the evidence has been classified.
It is proved—
(i.) That there were
in many parts of Belgium deliberate and
systematically organized massacres of the civil population,
accompanied by many isolated murders and other outrages.
(ii.) That in the conduct
of the war generally innocent
civilians, both men and women, were murdered in large numbers,
women violated, and children murdered.