September 2, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

“The Soldiers Are Human” read an editorial in this day’s Statesman:

It isn’t wise to believe all the stories of wanton barbarity that come from the front. War is more hellish than ever, but only in the pitiless cruelty of the machinery that man has invented for destruction. In the personal conduct of the soldiery we may take it for granted that the present war will reveal less real inhumanity than any of the great wars of the past.

A civilized man does not deteriorate into a brute the moment was is declared. He tries to kill the enemy, according to the rules of the brutal game, because that is is his job. But it is a rare, man, be he French, German, English, Belgian, Cossack or Servian, who finds the killing a genuine pleasure. In the heat of combat, as in a private fist fight, there may come a blood-lust that is a species of temporary insanity; but mostly a soldier shoots without anger, and slashes or stabs with a shrinking soul. Ask any veteran.

However, the next edition of the paper reported the following:

Circus Manager Tells Sights in Austria
Servians Charged With Poisoning Wells Are Executed – Indians Are
Badly Mauled in Munich

London, Sept. 2 – William Arthur of Lauder, Wyoming, accompanied by numerous Indians who were attached to a circus which was performing in Trieste when the war broke out, reached London today after many exciting adventures.

In relating his experiences Mr. Arthur said that in crossing Austria he had seen many persons accused of being spies killed by infuriated mobs. Among them were some women. At one town he witnessed the arrest of 300 Servians who were charged with poisoning wells. They were lined up before walls and shot.

At Munich, according to Mr. Arthur, the Indians were arrested as spies and badly mauled by a mob before the police were able to afford them adequate protection


About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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