December 12, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The headlines from The Daily Capital Journal reported on the problems of accurately reporting the war and of the trial of Leo Frank:

DAY’S STORY OF WAR FROM ALL SOURCES; ALLIES STILL GAINING

London, Dec. 12. – Warsaw’s fate was believed today to depend on the result of anew engagement reported from Petrograd tone developing between the Germans and Russians in the eastern theatre of war.

CAPTURE OF LIEGE TOLD BY ITS CAPTOR
General Says Force Engaged Was Not So Large as the List of Fatalities

(By Karl H. Von Wiegand)

The story of Liege’s capture has just been told to me by General Von Emmich, whose German forces took the city and made a prisoner of General Leman, its Belgian defender. It was the first time the general’s account has been given to the public.

Liege – the city proper – fell within 36 hours after the German troops’ actual assault had begin.

The losses which foreign newspaper declared the Germans suffered in taking the city exceeded the numerical strength of the entire force actually engaged.

Von Emmich smiled as he made this statement. Just what the German loss really was he said he could not state.

FRESH ASSAULTS EASILY REPULSED IS BERLIN REPORT
Dispatches from Berlin Say Allies Are Checked and Prisoners Taken
HAVE MADE GAINS IN MANY PLACES
In Russian Poland Russians Are Driven Back by German Cavalry

LEO FRANK’S CASE NOW BEFORE HIGHEST COURT IN THE NATION

Leo Frank, a Jewish-American factory manager in Atlanta, Georgia was tried and convicted for the murder of Mary Phagan, one of his employees. Frank was found guilty in a trial notorious for the absence of due process. The US Supreme Court would reject Frank’s appeal. Sentenced to hang, the Governor commuted his sentence to life imprisonment. Elements of the citizenry, outraged at what they felt to be a travesty of justice, would take matters into their own hands. Tom Watson, a well-known white supremacist and populist firebrand, wrote “Lynch law is a good sign: it shows that a sense of justice yet lives among the people.”

Living up to the populist rhetoric of Tom Watson, these outraged citizens, with a fervor that can be seen on television almost any evening, kidnapped Frank and lynched him on August 16, 1915.

On the editorial page of the Oregon Statesman, the paper asked “Does Peace Bring Effeminacy?:

One of the principal contentions of people who believe in European militarism, is that continued peace leads to softness and effeminacy. This is a materialistic age, it is argued, and in our hustle for money making power to endure suffering and danger are lost.

Yet little Belgium has had peace for practically a century. During that time it had grown rich and powerful industrially. Several generations had lived and died, without the sufferings of war. Yet nowhere in history is there a story of greater heroism than that of the Belgian people since last August. Similarly, the other nations of Europe have been at peace for many years, apparently without deterioration of courage.

Ordinary daily life is full of struggle. Sickness, death, pain, loneliness, the support of a family under hard industrial conditions, these are conditions producing resolution and courage. Here is one consolation of the tragic losses of the war, that it shows that the human race, despite growing prosperity, has not lost its physical fiber.

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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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