The Robe of Christ

 

 

 

 

THE ROBE OF CHRIST
(For Cecil Chesterton)

AT the foot of the Cross on Calvary
Three soldiers sat and diced,
And one of them was the Devil
And he won the Robe of Christ.

When the Devil comes in his proper form
To the chamber where I dwell,
I know him and make the Sign of the Cross
Which drives him back to Hell.

And when he comes like a friendly man
And puts his hand in mine,
The fervour in his voice is not
From love or joy or wine.

And when he comes like a woman,
With lovely, smiling eyes,
Black dreams float over his golden head
Like a swarm of carrion flies.

Now many a million tortured souls
In his red halls there be:
Why does he spend his subtle craft
In hunting after me?

Kings, queens and crested warriors
Whose memory rings through time,
These are his prey, and what to him
Is this poor man of rhyme,

That he, with such laborious skill,
Should change from role to role,
Should daily act so many a part
To get my little soul?

Oh, he can be the forest,
And he can be the sun,
Or a buttercup, or an hour of rest
When the weary day is done.

I saw him through a thousand veils,
And has not this sufficed?
Now, must I look on the Devil robed
In the radiant Robe of Christ?

He comes, and his face is sad and mild,
With thorns his head is crowned;
There are great bleeding wounds in his feet,
And in each hand a wound.

How can I tell, who am a fool,
If this be Christ or no?
Those bleeding hands outstretched to me!
Those eyes that love me so!

I see the Robe—I look—I hope—
I fear—but there is one
Who will direct my troubled mind;
Christ’s Mother knows her Son.

O Mother of Good Counsel, lend
Intelligence to me!
Encompass me with wisdom,
Thou Tower of Ivory!

“This is the Man of Lies,” she says,
“Disguised with fearful art:
He has the wounded hands and feet,
But not the wounded heart.”

Beside the Cross on Calvary
She watched them as they diced.
She saw the Devil join the game
And win the Robe of Christ.

Joyce Kilmer

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Published in: on July 20, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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July 18, 1918: Marine Mustang From Croatia Earns Medal of Honor

“I am Cukela. I attack.”

Louis Cukela immigrated to the US from what is now Croatia in 1913 at the age of 25.  His English would always be somewhat broken, but that did not prevent from becoming a Marine legend.  Initially he served in the US Army as a trooper, being honorably discharged in 1916.  He enlisted in the Marines on January 31, 1917.  By July 18, 1918 he was a Gunnery Sergeant with the Fifth Marines.  He would come out of the War with a Second Lieutenant’s Commission and a chestful of medals, including the Medal of Honor, four Silver Star citations;  from France he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, the Médaille militaire and the Croix de guerre 1914–18 with two palms and one silver star;  Italy decorated him with the Croce al Merito di Guerra;   and the newly formed state of Yugoslavia remembered their native son after the War with the Commander’s Cross of the Royal Order of the Crown of Yugoslavia.

He fought in every engagement in which the Fifth Marines were involved in France.  He earned the Medal of Honor on July 18, 1918 near Villers-Cotterets, France.  Here is his Medal of Honor Citation:

 

 

When his company, advancing through a wood, met with strong resistance from an enemy strong point, Sgt. Cukela crawled out from the flank and made his way toward the German lines in the face of heavy fire, disregarding the warnings of his comrades. He succeeded in getting behind the enemy position and rushed a machinegun emplacement, killing or driving off the crew with his bayonet. With German handgrenades he then bombed out the remaining portion of the strong point, capturing 4 men and 2 damaged machineguns.

Technically he received two Medals of Honor, one from the Army and one from the Navy.  Cukela stayed in the Corps, rising to the rank of Major and retiring in 1946.  He became famous in the Corps for his eccentricities, his mangling of English and his rough and ready humor.  Go here to read more about him.  He was buried with full military honors at Arlington in 1956, his beloved wife joining him a few months after his death.  Apparently there was a lot to love about the old warrior.

Published in: on July 18, 2018 at 11:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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American Expeditionary Forces

 

A good overview of the growth of the American Expeditionary Forces in France during World War I.  The narrator seems to have a German accent which does give a slight surreal quality to the video.

Published in: on July 17, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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July 15, 1918: Second Battle of the Marne Begins

 

On July 15, 1918, the Germans began what would be their final offensive on the Western front in World War I.  The attack on the French Fourth Army east of Reims was stopped on the first day by fierce French in depth resistance.  The attack on the Sixth Army west of Reims fared better, making a breakthrough across the south bank of the River Marne.  Reinforced by British forces and 85,000 American troops, the French Sixth Army brought the German  offensive to a grinding halt on July 17.

 

 

The Germans had shot their bolt and now it was time for the Allies to launch a counteroffensive with twenty-four French divisions, four British divisions, two Italian divisions and eight American divisions.  (The American divisions were twice the size of British and French divisions and thus were the equivalent of sixteen French divisions.)  The counter-offensive was a complete success capturing 800 artillery pieces, 30,000 German troops and inflicting an additional 139,000 German casualties.  French observers highly praised the American troops for their elan and their willingness to accept high casualties in order to take ground.  German reports noted defects in American attacks due to inexperience, but also routinely mentioned that the Americans fought with great tenacity and courage.  Here is an extract from General Pershing’s report on the battle:

 

 

The enemy had encouraged his soldiers to believe that the July 15th attack would conclude the war with a German peace.

Although he made elaborate plans for the operation, he failed to conceal fully his intentions, and the front of attack was suspected at least one week ahead.

On the Champagne front the actual hour for the assault was known and the enemy was checked with heavy losses. The 42nd Division entered the line near Somme Py immediately, and five of its infantry battalions and all its artillery became engaged.

Southwest of Rheims and along the Marne to the east of Chateau-Thierry the Germans were at first somewhat successful, a penetration of eight kilometres beyond the river being effected against the French immediately to the right of our 3rd Division.

The following quotation from the report of the Commanding General 3rd Division gives the result of the fighting on his front:

Although the rush of the German troops overwhelmed some of the front-line positions, causing the infantry and machine-gun companies to suffer, in some cases a 50 per cent loss, no German soldier crossed the road from Fossoy to Crezancy, except as a prisoner of war, and by noon of the following day (July 16th) there were no Germans in the foreground of the 3rd Division sector except the dead.

On this occasion a single regiment of the 3rd Division wrote one of the most brilliant pages in our military annals. It prevented the crossing at certain points on its front, while on either flank the Germans who had gained a footing pressed forward. Our men, firing in three sections, met the German attacks with counter-attacks at critical points and succeeded in throwing two German divisions into complete confusion, capturing 600 prisoners.

The Marne salient was inherently weak and offered an opportunity for a counter-offensive that was obvious. If successful, such an operation would afford immediate relief to the Allied defence, would remove the threat against Paris and free the Paris-Nancy railroad.

But, more important than all else, it would restore the morale of the Allies and remove the profound depression and fear then existing.

Up to this time our units had been put in here and there at critical points, as emergency troops to stop the terrific German advance. In every trial, whether on the defensive or offensive, they had proved themselves equal to any troops in Europe.

As early as June 23rd and again on July 10th at Bombon, I had very strongly urged that our best divisions be concentrated under American command, if possible, for use as a striking force against the Marne salient.

Although the prevailing view among the Allies was that American units were suitable only for the defensive, and that at all events they could be used to better advantage under Allied command, the suggestion was accepted in principle, and my estimate of their offensive fighting qualities was soon put to the test.

The selection by the Germans of the Champagne sector and the eastern and southern faces of the Marne pocket on which to make their offensive was fortunate for the Allies, as it favoured the launching of the counter-attack already planned. There were now over 1,200,000 American troops in France, which provided a considerable force of reserves.

Every American division with any sort of training was made available for use in a counter-offensive.

General Petain’s initial plan for the counter-attack involved the entire western face of the Marne salient. The First and Second American Divisions, with the First French Moroccan Division between them, were employed as the spearhead of the main attack, driving directly eastward, through the most sensitive portion of the German lines, to the heights south of Soissons.

The advance began on July 18th, without the usual brief warning of a preliminary bombardment, and these three divisions at a single bound broke through the enemy’s infantry defences and overran his artillery, cutting or interrupting the German communications leading into the salient.

A general withdrawal from the Marne was immediately begun by the enemy, who still fought stubbornly to prevent disaster.

The First Division, throughout four days of constant fighting, advanced 11 kilometres, capturing Berzy-le-Sec and the heights above Soissons and taking some 3,500 prisoners and 68 field guns from the 7 German divisions employed against it. It was relieved by a British division.

The Second Division advanced 8 kilometres in the first 26 hours, and by the end of the second day was facing Tigny, having captured 3,000 prisoners and 66 field guns. It was relieved the night of the 19th by a French division.

The result of this counter-offensive was of decisive importance. Due to the magnificent dash and power displayed on the field of Soissons by our First and Second Divisions the tide of war was definitely turned in favour of the Allies.

Other American divisions participated in the Marne counter-offensive. A little to the south of the Second Division, the Fourth was in line with the French and was engaged until July 22nd. The First American Corps, Maj. Gen. Hunter Liggett commanding, with the Twenty-sixth Division and a French division, acted as a pivot of the movement toward Soissons, capturing Torcy on the 18th and reaching the Chateau-Thierry-Soissons road on the 21st.

At the same time the Third Division crossed the Marne and took the heights of Mont St. Pere and the villages of Charteves and Jaulgonne.

In the First Corps, the Forty-second Division relieved the Twenty-sixth on July 25th and extended its front, on the 26th relieving the French division. From this time until August 2nd it fought its way through the Forest de Fere and across the Ourcq, advancing toward the Vesle until relieved by the Fourth Division on August 3rd.

Early in this period elements of the Twenty-eighth Division participated in the advance.

Farther to the east the Third Division forced the enemy back to Roncheres Wood, where it was relieved on July 30th by the Thirty-second Division from the Vosges front. The Thirty-second, after relieving the Third and some elements of the Twenty-eighth on the line of the Ourcq River, advanced abreast of the Forty-second toward the Vesle.

On August 3rd it passed under control of our Third Corps, Maj. Gen. Robert L. Bullard commanding, which made its first appearance in battle at this time, while the Fourth Division took up the task of the Forty-second Division and advanced with the Thirty-second to the Vesle River, where, on August 6th, the operation for the reduction of the Marne salient terminated.

In the hard fighting from July 18th to August 6th the Germans were not only halted in their advance but were driven back from the Marne to the Vesle and committed wholly to the defensive.

The force of American arms had been brought to bear in time to enable the last offensive of the enemy to be crushed.

 

Published in: on July 15, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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High Flight

 

Something for the weekend.  High Flight.  One hundred years ago on Bastille Day 1918, Lieutenant Quentin Roosevelt, youngest child of President Theodore Roosevelt, died in combat at 20 years old.  He shared with his father a brilliant mind, an exuberant spirit and the ability to make countless friends wherever he went.  All of Roosevelt’s  four sons served in combat in World War I, a true Lion’s Brood.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, America’s World War I Ace of Aces, knew Roosevelt and described him in his memoirs:

 

“As President Roosevelt’s son he had rather a difficult task to fit himself in with the democratic style of living which is necessary in the intimate life of an aviation camp. Every one who met him for the first time expected him to have the airs and superciliousness of a spoiled boy. This notion was quickly lost after the first glimpse one had of Quentin. Gay, hearty and absolutely square in everything he said or did, Quentin Roosevelt was one of the most popular fellows in the group. We loved him purely for his own natural self.

“He was reckless to such a degree that his commanding officers had to caution him repeatedly about the senselessness of his lack of caution. His bravery was so notorious that we all knew he would either achieve some great spectacular success or be killed in the attempt. Even the pilots in his own flight would beg him to conserve himself and wait for a fair opportunity for a victory. But Quentin would merely laugh away all serious advice.”

 

 

He had his crowded hour, he died at the crest of life, in the glory of the dawn.

Theodore Roosevelt on his son Quentin

 

 

On July 14, Roosevelt and three other American flyers were jumped by seven German planes:

 

September 5, 1918

FATHER DEAR,: –

You asked me if I knew Quentin Roosevelt. Yes, I knew him very well indeed, and had been associated with him ever since I came to France and he was one of the finest and most courageous boys I ever knew. I was in the fight when he was shot down and saw the whole thing.

Four of us were out on an early patrol and we had just crossed the lines looking for Boche observation machines, when we ran into seven Fokker Chasse planes. They had the altitude and the advantage of the Sun on us. It was very cloudy and there was a strong wind blowing us farther across the lines all the time. The leader of our formation turned and tried to get back out, but they attacked before we reached the lines, and in a few seconds had completely broken up our formation and the fight developed into a general free-for-all. I tried to keep an eye on all our fellows but we were hopelessly separated and out-numbered nearly two to one. About a half a mile away I saw one of our planes with three Boche on him, and he seemed to be having a pretty hard time with them, so I shook the two I was maneuvering with and tried to get over to him, but before I could reach him, his machine turned over on its back and plunged down out of control. I realized it was too late to be of any assistance and as none of our machines were in sight, I made for a bank of clouds to try to gain altitude on the Huns, and when I came back out, they had reformed, but there were only six of them, so I believe we must have gotten one.

I waited around about ten minutes to see if I could pickup any of our fellows, but they had disappeared, so I came on home, dodging from cloud to cloud for fear of running into another Boche formation. Of course, at the time of the fight I did not know who the pilot was I had seen go down, but as Quentin did not come back, it must have been him. His loss was one of the severest blows we have ever had in the Squadron, but he certainly died fighting, for any one of us could have gotten away as soon as the scrap started with the clouds as they were that morning. I have tried several times to write to Col. Roosevelt but it is practically impossible for me to write a letter of condolence, but if I am lucky enough to get back to the States, I expect to go to see him.

Edward Buford

His German foes buried him with full military honors and paid tribute to his valor:

 

“The aviator of the American Squadron, Quentin Roosevelt, in trying to break through the airzone over the Marne, met the death of a hero. A formation of seven German airplanes, while crossing the Marne, saw in the neighborhood of Dormans a group of twelve American fighting airplanes and attacked them. A lively air battle began, in which one American (Quentin) in particular persisted in attacking. The principal feature of the battle consisted in an air duel between the American and a German fighting pilot named Sergeant Greper. After a short struggle, Greper succeeded in bringing the brave American just before his gun-sights. After a few shots the plane apparently got out of his control; the American began to fall and struck the ground near the village of Chamery, about ten kilometers north of the Marne. The American flier was killed by two shots through the head. Papers in his pocket showed him to be Quentin Roosevelt, of the United States army. His effects are being taken care of in order to be sent to his relatives. He was buried by German aviators with military honors.”

His parents were of course devastated.  Theodore Roosevelt never completely recovered from the shock and it may have hastened his death.  However, he kept his private grief private and issued this statement to the press:  “Quentin’s mother and I are very glad that he got to the front and had the chance to render some service to his country and to show the stuff that was in him before his fate befell him.”  Quentin’s mother summed up Quentin’s life when he went off to the War:  “It was hard when Quentin went. But you can’t bring up boys to be eagles, and expect them to turn out sparrows.”

Published in: on July 14, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Last Roll of the Dice for Germany

 

As the above video indicates, a century ago some German civilian leaders, notably the German foreign minister, were beginning to realize that the Western Allies could not be militarily defeated by the Germans.  Hindenburg and Ludendorff begged to differ, but they understood that if the War was to be won it had to be won quickly.  A million American troops were now in France and their ranks were swelling fast.  The German High Command busily were completing plans for yet another German offensive to being on July 15, 1818.  If this offensive did not succeed in placing Germany into a war winning position, then they might as well start planning for the next World War.

Published in: on July 9, 2018 at 5:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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July 4, 1918 Speech of President Wilson at Mount Vernon

 

Gentlemen of the Diplomatic Corps and My Fellow Citizens:

I am happy to draw apart with you to this quiet place of old counsel in order to speak a little of the meaning of this day of our nation’s independence. The place seems very still and remote. It is as serene and untouched by the hurry of the world as it was in those great days long ago when General Washington was here and held leisurely conference with the men who were to be associated with him in the creation of a nation. From these gentle slopes they looked out upon the world and saw it whole, saw it with the light of the future upon it, saw it with modern eyes that turned away from a past which men of liberated spirits could no longer endure. It is for that reason that we cannot feel, even here, in the immediate presence of this sacred tomb, that this is a place of death. It was a place of achievement. A great promise that was meant for all mankind was here given plan and reality. The associations by which we are here surrounded are the inspiriting associations of that noble death which is only a glorious consummation. From this green hillside we also ought to be able to see with comprehending eyes the world that lies about us and should conceive anew the purposes that must set men free.

It is significant,—significant of their own character and purpose and of the influences they were setting afoot,—that Washington and his associates, like the barons at Runnymede, spoke and acted, not for a class, but for a people. It has been left for us to see to it that it shall be understood that they spoke and acted, not for a single people only, but for all mankind. They were thinking, not of themselves and of the material interests which centred in the little groups of landholders and merchants and men of affairs with whom they were accustomed to act, in Virginia and the colonies to the north and south of her, but of a people which wished to be done with classes and special interests and the authority of men whom they had not themselves chosen to rule over them. They entertained no private purpose, desired no peculiar privilege. They were consciously planning that men of every class should be free and America a place to which men out of every nation might resort who wished to share with them the rights and privileges of free men. And we take our cue from them,—do we not? We intend what they intended. We here in America believe our participation in this present war to be only the fruitage of what they planted. Our case differs from theirs only in this, that it is our inestimable privilege to concert with men out of every nation what shall make not only the liberties of America secure but the liberties of every other people as well. We are happy in the thought that we are permitted to do what they would have done had they been in our place. There must now be settled once for all what was settled for America in the great age upon whose inspiration we draw to-day. This is surely a fitting place from which calmly to look out upon our task, that we may fortify our spirits for its accomplishment. And this is the appropriate place from which to avow, alike to the friends who look on and to the friends with whom we have the happiness to be associated in action, the faith and purpose with which we act.

This, then, is our conception of the great struggle in which we are engaged. The plot is written plain upon every scene and every act of the supreme tragedy. On the one hand stand the peoples of the world,—not only the peoples actually engaged, but many others also who suffer under mastery but cannot act; peoples of many races and in every part of the world,—the people of stricken Russia still, among the rest, though they are for the moment unorganized and helpless. Opposed to them, masters of many armies, stand an isolated, friendless group of governments who speak no common purpose but only selfish ambitions of their own by which none can profit but themselves, and whose peoples are fuel in their hands; governments which fear their people and yet are for the time their sovereign lords, making every choice for them and disposing of their lives and fortunes as they will, as well as of the lives and fortunes of every people who fall under their power,—governments clothed with the strange trappings and the primitive authority of an age that is altogether alien and hostile to our own. The Past and the Present are in deadly grapple and the peoples of the world are being done to death between them.

There can be but one issue. The settlement must be final. There can be no compromise. No halfway decision would be tolerable. No halfway decision is conceivable. These are the ends for which the associated peoples of the world are fighting and which must be conceded them before there can be peace:

I. The destruction of every arbitrary power anywhere that can separately, secretly, and of its single choice disturb the peace of the world; or, if it cannot be presently destroyed, at the least its reduction to virtual impotence.

II. The settlement of every question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, or of political relationship, upon the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery.

III. The consent of all nations to be governed in their conduct towards each other by the same principles of honour and of respect for the common law of civilized society that govern the individual citizens of all modern states in their relations with one another; to the end that all promises and covenants may be sacredly observed, no private plots or conspiracies hatched, no selfish injuries wrought with impunity, and a mutual trust established upon the handsome foundation of a mutual respect for right.

IV. The establishment of an organization of peace which shall make it certain that the combined power of free nations will check every invasion of right and serve to make peace and justice the more secure by affording a definite tribunal of opinion to which all must submit and by which every international readjustment that cannot be amicably agreed upon by the peoples directly concerned shall be sanctioned.

These great objects can be put into a single sentence. What we seek is the reign of law, based upon the consent of the governed and sustained by the organized opinion of mankind.

These great ends can not be achieved by debating and seeking to reconcile and accommodate what statesmen may wish, with their projects for balances of power and of national opportunity. They can be realized only by the determination of what the thinking peoples of the world desire, with their longing hope for justice and for social freedom and opportunity.

I can fancy that the air of this place carries the accents of such principles with a peculiar kindness. Here were started forces which the great nation against which they were primarily directed at first regarded as a revolt against its rightful authority but which it has long since seen to have been a step in the liberation of its own people as well as of the people of the United States; and I stand here now to speak,—speak proudly and with confident hope,—of the spread of this revolt, this liberation, to the great stage of the world itself! The blinded rulers of Prussia have roused forces they knew little of,—forces which, once roused, can never be crushed to earth again; for they have at their heart an inspiration and a purpose which are deathless and of the very stuff of triumph!

Published in: on July 6, 2018 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Winston Churchill: July 4, 1918

churchill-great-war-375x500

 

 

A speech given by the half-American Winston Churchill at a celebration of the Fourth of July at the city of Westminster, England on July 4, 1918:

 

We are, as the Chairman has stated, met here to-day in the City of Westminster to celebrate the hundred and forty-second anniversary of American Independence. We are met also, as he has reminded you, as brothers in arms, facing together grave injuries and perils, and passing through a period of exceptional anxiety and suffering. Therefore we seek to draw from the past history of our race inspiration and encouragement which will cheer our hearts and fortify and purify our resolution and our comradeship. A great harmony exists between the Declaration of Independence and all we are fighting for now. A similar harmony exists between the principles of that Declaration and what the British Empire has wished to stand for and has at last achieved, not only here at home, but in the great self-governing Dominions through the world. The Declaration of Independence is not only an American document; it follows on Magna Charta and the Petition of Right as the third of the great title deeds on which the liberties of the English-speaking race are founded. By it we lost an Empire, but by it we also preserved an Empire. By applying these principles and learning this lesson we have maintained unbroken communion with those powerful Commonwealths which our children have founded and have developed beyond the seas, and which, in this time of stress, have rallied spontaneously to our aid. The political conceptions embodied in the Declaration of Independence are the same as those which were consistently expressed at the time by Lord Chatham and Mr. Burke and by many others who had in turn received them from John Hampden and Algernon Sidney. They spring from the same source; they come from the same well of practical truth, and that well, ladies and gentlemen, is here, by the banks of the Thames in this famous Island, which we have guarded all these years, and which is the birthplace and the cradle of the British and the American race. It is English wisdom, it is that peculiar political sagacity and sense of practical truth, which animates the great document in the minds of all Americans to-day. Wherever men seek to frame polities or constitutions which are intended to safeguard the citizen, be he rich or be he poor, on the one hand from the shame of despotism, on the other from the misery of anarchy, which are devised to combine personal liberty with respect for law and love of country — wherever these desires are sincerely before the makers of constitutions or laws, it is to this original inspiration, this inspiration which was the product of English soil, which was the outcome of the Anglo-Saxon mind, that they will inevitably be drawn. (more…)

Published in: on July 1, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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No Peace With an Undefeated Germany

 

Looking at World War I a century later we know how it turned out, and perhaps it seems to us that it was destined to turn out that way.  People living through it of course and had no such certainty, the issue of the War remaining in doubt throughout most of 1918.  In the pages of the Kansas City Star on May 12, 1918, former President Roosevelt warned against the dangers of a premature peace.  in that article he took a look at what the world might be like if a premature peace, before the German army had been defeated on the battlefield was made.  The Nazis of course would play to the hilt that the German Army had not been beaten and that Germany had been stabbed in the back by disloyal elements.

 

As now seems likely, if the great German drive fails, it is at least possible that, directly or indirectly, the Germans will then start a peace drive. In such case they will probably endeavor to make such seeming concessions as to put a premium upon pacifist agita tion for peace in the free countries of the West against which they are fighting. To yield to such peace proposals would be fraught with the greatest danger to the Allies, and especially to our own country in the future.

Let us never forget that no promise Germany makes can be trusted. The kultur developed under the Hohenzollerns rests upon shameless treachery and duplicity no less than upon ruthless violence and barbarity.

For example, there are strong indications that Germany may be prepared, if she now fails on the western front, to abandon all that for which she has fought on her western front, provided that in Middle Europe and in the East there is no interference with her. In other words, she would be prepared to give back Alsace and Lorraine to France, to give Italian Austria to Italy, to give Luxemburg to Belgium, and to let the Allies keep the colonies they have conquered, on condition that her dominance in Russia and in the Balkans, her dominance of the subject peoples of Austria through the Austrian Hapsburgs, and her dominance of Western Asia through her vassal state, Turkey, should be left undisturbed. To the average American, and probably to the average Englishman and Frenchman, there is much that is alluring in such a programme. It might be urged as a method of stopping the frightful slaughter of war, while securing every purpose for which the free peoples who still fight are fighting. Yet it would be infinitely better that this war were carried on to the point of exhaustion than that we yield to such terms.

Such terms would mean the definite establishment of Germany s military ascendancy on a scale never hitherto approached in the civilized world. It would mean that perhaps within a dozen years, certainly within the lifetime of the very men now fighting this war, this country and the other free countries would have to choose between bowing their necks to the German yoke or else going into another war under conditions far more disadvantageous to them.

A premature and inconclusive peace now would spell ruin for the world, just as in 1864 a premature and inconclusive peace would have spelled ruin to the United States, and in the present instance the United States would share the ruin of the rest of the free peoples of mankind.

On the face of it Germany would not become a giant empire. Just exactly as on the face of it at present Germany, Austria, Turkey, and Bulgaria call themselves simply four allied nations, standing
on equal terms. But in reality those four powers are merely Germany and her three vassal states, whose military and economic and political powers are all disposed of by the Hohenzollerns. A peace such as that above outlined would leave these as really one huge empire. The population of these four countries, plus the populations of Russian regions recently annexed by Germany, is over two hundred millions. This population would be directed and dominated by the able, powerful, and utterly brutal and unscrupulous German governing class, which the very fact of the peace would put in the saddle, and the huge empire thus dominated and directed would become a greater menace to the free peoples than anything known for the last thousand years.

Short-sighted people will say that this power would only menace Asia, and therefore that we need feel no concern about it. There could be no error greater or more lamentable. Twenty years hence by mere mass and growth Germany would dominate the Western European powers that have now fought her. This would mean that the United States would be left as her victim.

In the first place, she would at once trample the Monroe Doctrine under foot, and treat tropical and south temperate America as her fields for exploitation, domination, and conquest. In the next place, she would surely trample this country under foot and bleed us white, doing to us on a gigantic scale what she has done to Belgium. If such a peace as is above described were at this time made, the United States could by no possibility escape the fate of Belgium and of the Russian territories taken by Germany unless we ourselves became a powerful militarist state with every democratic principle subordinated to the one necessity of turning this Nation into a huge armed camp I do not mean an armed nation, as Switzerland is armed, and as I believe this country ought to be armed. I mean a nation whose sons, every one of them, would have to serve from three to five years in the army, and whose whole activities, external and internal, would be conditioned by the one fact of the necessity of making head, single-handed, against Germany.

I very strongly believe that never again should we be caught unprepared as we have been caught unprepared this time. I believe that all our young men should be trained to arms as the Swiss are
trained. But I would regard it as an unspeakable calamity for this Nation to have to turn its whole energies into the kind of exaggerated militarism which under such circumstances would alone avail for self-defense.

The military power of Germany must be brought low. The subject nations of Austria, the Balkans, and Western Asia must be freed. We ought not to refrain an hour longer from going to war with
Turkey and Bulgaria. They are part of Germany’s military strength. They represent some of the most cruel tyrannies over subject peoples for which Ger many stands. It is idle for us to pretend sympathy with the Armenians unless we war on Turkey, which, with Germany’s assent, has well-nigh crushed the Armenians out of existence.

When President Wilson stated that this war was waged to make democracy safe throughout the world, he properly and definitely committed the American people to the principles above enunciated, and for the American people to accept less than their President has thus announced that he would insist upon would be unworthy. The President has also said that “there is therefore but one response possi ble for us.  Force force to the utmost force with out stint or limit the righteous and triumphant force which shall make right the law of the world and cast every selfish dominion down in the dust.”

The American people must support President Wilson unflinchingly in the stand to which he is committed and must resolutely refuse to accept any other position. We must guard against any slackening of effort. We must refuse to accept any pre mature peace or any peace other than the peace of overwhelming victory.

We must secure such complete freedom for the peoples of Central Europe and Western Asia as will shatter forever the threat of German world domina tion. Our honorable obligations to our allies, our loyalty to our own national principles, the need to protect our American neighbors, the need to defend our own land and people, and our hopes for the peace and happiness of our children s children all forbid us to accept an ignoble and inconclusive peace.

Published in: on June 27, 2018 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Quotes Suitable For Framing: Vera Brittain

 

 

One day) I was leaving quarters to go back to my ward, when I had to wait to let a large contingent of troops march past me… Though the sight of soldiers marching was now too familiar to arouse curiosity, an unusual quality of bold vigour in their swift stride caused me to stare at them with puzzled interest.

They looked larger than ordinary men; their tall straight figures were in vivid contrast to the undersized armies of pale recruits to which we were grown accustomed…Had yet another regiment been conjured out of our depleted Dominions? I wondered, watching them move with such rhythm, such dignity, such serene consciousness of self-respect. But I knew the colonial troops so well, and these were different: they were assured where the Australians were aggressive, self-possessed where the New Zealanders were turbulent.

Then I heard an excited exclamation from a group of Sisters behind me, “Look! Look! Here are the Americans!”

I pressed forward with the others to watch the United States physically entering the War, so god-like, so magnificent, so splendidly unimpaired in comparison with the tired, nerve-wracked men of the British Army. So these were our deliverers at last, marching up the road to Camiers in the spring sunshine! … The coming of relief made me realize all at once how long and how intolerable had been the tension, and with the knowledge that we were not, after all, defeated, I found myself beginning to cry.

Vera Brittain, Testament of Youth

Published in: on June 15, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Quotes Suitable For Framing: Vera Brittain  
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