None Is Without Shame -nyt19151008a

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A Plea for Proportion in the Judgment of Atrocities

OCTOBER 8, 1915

New York, Oct. 6, 1915 To the Editor of The New York Times.

In view of the fact that have been treated for the last few weeks with almost daily tales of atrocities among the Armenians, it is interesting to quote from a letter by Freiherr Fr. W. von Bissing son of the Governor General of Belgium written more than two months ago. He refers to an article in the Journal de Geneva of July 10 in which mention is made of the persecution of the Armenians. He writes: "I have always waited for him, for he belongs to the necessary armaments of the enemies of the Turks. At last he is there the poor ! * * * Three Jews so an oriental proverb says, are as slick as one Greek, but three Greeks are only equal to one Armenian. It is worth while to remember this saying at the present time when a new ally of the Entente has made its appearance--the poor Armenian. I am waiting impatiently for the moment when other billons will follow, and I am curious to see successfully be switched from Russian pogroms and Galician cruelties to the poor Armenian."

In the first few months of the European cataclysm newspaper reports and more or less unconnected articles were widely circulated which told of the cruelties of warfare against combatants and noncombatants. Occasionally one or the other of the belligerent Governments took official notice of such alleged cruelties, but only in special instances into a more permanent form. Belgium, of course, has been the hotbed of contentions, although in France a book has been edited by Professor Bedier containing documents strongly anti-German. Probably no publication has been as frequently commented upon as the so-called "Belgian Atrocity Report," sponsored by Viscount Bryce. The German Government has delayed publications of a similar nature. But recently a report was published on the conduct of the Russians in East Prussia and now elaborate documents have appeared bearing on the Belgian situation. These documents chiefly deal with Franco-Tireur war in Belgium. In these papers many of the German actions in Belgium which have brought about strong resentment in this country are directly traced to the Franco-Tireur war. In the completeness and in the character of the affidavits, the German publication exhibits the same thoroughness which has proved its effectiveness in many other directions. The bulk of the affidavits have apparently been taken within a short time after the occurrence and certainly a long time before the Bryce report was published. The neutral observer, as a consequence, would be inclined to balance these two reports against each other.

It is not our intention to decry or to commend the publication of such reports. They are there for everybody to read who cares to do so, and they are recognized as expertpresentations of occurrences that everybody is unquestionably sorry for. When this German report reached us, we thought that it might be discussed in somewhat the same form as the Bedier and Bryce pamphlets have recently been commented upon. But on second thought we are persuaded that it can serve no purpose to meet accusation with accusation, or denial with denial, or assertion with assertion. We have rather concluded that the interest of our common humanity would better be served by not spreading the charges made from every side.

May we therefore be permitted to say that we do not believe that at this time one should single out any of the belligerent nations for accusations of atrocities and excesses, unfortunately always incidental to considering that nearly 12,000,000 men are now active on various battlefields, that we have heard so little about outrages. In times of peace, when no accessible and when passions are largely controlled, the yearly cases of lawless conduct amount, according to generally accepted statistical figures, to about 3 1/2 per cent. of the total population. It appears, at least to us, that the sense of responsibility constantly impressed upon their soldiers by the leaders of all modern armies had decreased or lessened even that percentage of excesses which we, of necessity, should have to reckon with is armies so vast in numbers.

O.J.MERKEL Executive Secretary German University League.

A hard copy of this article or hundreds of others from the time of the Armenian Genocide can be found in The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts From The American Press: 1915-1922

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