Official German Dispatch from Berlin, Received in Amsterdam, Sept. 23.
The Cathedral of Rheims was not used as a mark for a systematic bombardment. During the last few days the French had strengthened the fortress to defend their present position, and consequently the German bombardment became necessary. Orders had been given to spare the cathedral.
If it should prove true that during the fire the cathedral suffered, which cannot be yet ascertained, nobody would deplore it more than ourselves, but the French who made Rheims a fortress in support of their defense line are alone to blame.
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Official Report Made by Whitney Warren to the French Government, Sept. 28.
On Friday, Sept. 25, I received word from the embassy that the French Government had made arrangements to take me to Rheims in order that I might make a report on general conditions and especially upon the cathedral. So at 8 o’clock the next morning I started off with two automobiles under the escort of Capt. Henri Charbonnel, accompanied by two soldiers; one automobile, conducted by Mr. Hall of New York, containing Major Morton Henry, Major Cosby, and Lieut. Boyd of the embassy.
We followed the route direct to Meaux, then to La Ferte-sur-Jouarre, from there to Chateau-Thierry, where we picked up a third automobile containing Capt. Perrin, with authority from Gen. Joffre to conduct us anywhere we chose to go, providing it was safe.
From there to Epernay, where we had luncheon, and then to Chalons-sur-Marne, where was stationed the chef d’etat-major. There they told us it was possible to go to Rheims, although the bombardment had been rather severe the day before. So we turned northwest and proceeded to Rheims, passing by Conde-sur-Marne and Verzy. Here we passed many troops, who, although fagged, seemed to be in very good condition, and we arrived at Rheims at 4:30, proceeding directly to the cathedral, where I remained until dark, talking and visiting the monument with the Cure Landrieux and the Abbe Thinot, who had been in charge of the cathedral from the commencement.
The next day I was again at the cathedral, from 7:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon, visiting it in every particular, endeavoring to realize the damage done, whether intentionally inflicted or not. The following is as near as I am able to ascertain the different phases of the bombardment:
Four Bombs on First Day.
On Sept. 4, when the Germans first entered Rheims, there was a first bombardment by their guns, interpreted by the Germans themselves as either a mistake or caused by the jealousy of some corps not allowed that privilege. Four bombs fell upon the cathedral—one on the north transept—doing but little damage, however.
On Sept. 14 and 15, after the Germans had evacuated the city and the French had entered, the bombardment recommenced, but without touching the cathedral. On Sept. 17 two bombs struck, one on the apse and the other on the north transept.