September 8, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Evidence that the German advance into France had stalled begins to show in the headlines from the Capital Journal:

BATTLING MAY LAST FOR DAYS
For First Time Since German Invasion Allies Are Taking the Offensive
CLAIM GERMANS HAVE FALLEN BACK 7 MILES
Battle of Such Extent it Will Be Days Before Decisive Results Are Reached

GERMAN RIGHT WING RETIRING SLOWLY IS PARIS REPORT
Von Kluck Fights Stubbornly While Waiting Aid from Von Buelow
CONTEST OF SPEED AS WELL AS STRENGTH
If Right Wing Gives Way Germans Must Retreat to Escape Annihilation

BELGIANS REPORT THE DEFEAT OF GERMANS
Presence of Sailors and Landsturm Indicated Full German Strength

FIGHTING TODAY IS TERRIFIC
Thousands of Wounded Pour Into City – Say Fighting Is Hand to Hand
GERMANS SAID TO BE SLOWLY GIVING WAY
French Claim German Right Has Crumbled – Losses on Both Sides Enormous

Commenting editorially, the editor writes about “The World’s Greatest Battle”:

According to the dispatches yesterday, the greatest battle of the present war, and therefore of history, was being fought and is still raging today. The forces engaged are so enormous and the line of battle so long that it will be probably several days before the result is known. The Kaiser has, it is claimed, a million soldiers arrayed against the allies, who have perhaps almost as many.

The editor then speculates on Allied motives that the strategy is to hold the Germans back as events unfold on the Eastern Front, unaware that the Germans have already inflicted a punishing blow on the Tsar’s forces:

With so long a line of battle it is probable each side will get the better of it at some points, but, judging by the results heretofore, the Germans will not be driven back and the chances are they will continue to advance. The policy of the allies has been to fight and fall back slowly, keeping the entire German army busy and awaiting the advance of the Russians into Germany, which they think will force the Germans to abandon France and protect their own country.

The reality was that inept leadership by the French and British generals nearly resulted in disaster. Reflecting on the battle in the East, the editor continues:

This sounds plausible, but that Germany has forces not yet called upon that will give the Russians a hard fight is conceded. The scene of the present battle is the same as that where Atilla and his Huns met defeat in 451. At that time or up to that time he had swept the “Scourge of God” across the world, and on the field where today the Christian nations wage “civilized” war he met his first defeat. It is idle to speculate on what the ultimate results of the decisive battle will be, and yet it is one of the most vital questions for which the world has ever waited in trembling for the answer. It seems probable that, whatever the results of the war may be, among them will be a discarding forever of the futile idea that being armed and ready to fight tends toward universal peace. For years the nations of Europe have been trying to outdo each other in the way of preparedness for war, and the struggle has reached a point where none dared stop and yet to on was impossible. They were all loaded and worked up to a high pitch of excitement, and when one magazine exploded the others were fired by the concussion, just like so much dynamite.

Looking to the future the editor correctly foresees that no one will win in the end:

When it is all over and the wreckage cleared away so that the toiler can go back to his labor and take up the burden of paying the enormous load of debt the war lords and militarists have forced upon him, there will be time enough to examine the havoc, the sorrow and death all this preparedness for war has brought on unhappy Europe.

The jingoists have sown the fields of their countries with dragon’s teeth and the rich harvest of death has followed. They were sown with envy, hatred, jealousy, malice, wickedness; and they are being reaped in tears, sorrow, anguish, death.

The very flower of Europe’s manhood will vanish from earth. Wives wait in vain the returning footsteps of the fathers of their children and on their weak shoulders is laid the task of caring and providing for their fatherless broods. This is the result, the grand accomplishment of the feverish activity and ceaseless preparation for war. That it will put an end to it is devoutly hoped, and praise be, there is some chance for this hope being realized.

On a fashion note, the German embargo on dyes affected the colors available to “milady”:

IT’S ALL RIGHT, GIRLS; EMBARGO ON PRETTY HOSE OFF

Emperor William’s embargo on the exportation of dyes is off, and the outlook is now brighter for good quality hose at the old price.

According to a press dispatch, Secretary Bryan received a message from Rotterdam advising this government that Germany is willing for the United States to have the dyes as soon as transportation facilities are restored.

If ships can be found to transport the commodity milady will find no difficulty in buying the choicest pink ones, blue ones, not to say black, at the old time prices.

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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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