April 11, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Writing in the Oregon Statesman, Miriam Russell reports on “The Babies of Mars:”

Pitiful babies whose only father is the god of war! France is waiting for them in the thousands.

The hospitals are filled with wounded soldiers. Doctors and nurses are already worked to exhaustion. Who will take care of the mothers of these poor little babies of Mars?

Some of these expectant mothers are but children themselves. Girls as young as 12 years are among them. Women of more than 40 share the unbearable burden. There are families where one man, disciple of the war-god, is responsible for the condition of mother and daughters. Nuns, vowed to celibacy, whose convents have been desecrated, will be the mothers of babies of war.

Miriam Russell contrasts motherhood in this country, where despite “nine long months of discomfort,” the American woman has “the best husband in the world, tender and considerate always, more than ever in the hard months whose promise means so much to them both . . .” with that of “the unwilling mothers of the unwelcome babies of the war-god:”

The conception of those children was no climax of pure and prophetic love; it was an intolerable outrage, an horror ineffable. The long waiting is no period of sweet hope, it is only fear and misery.

What will bemuse of these babies conceived in loathing, borne in bitterness?

Russell reports that the French government will “do its best to furnish comfort to the mothers. And any woman who wishes can carry her child secretly to a government institution and be relieved of all further responsibility for it. The mother’s name will be kept on secret records. Poor little children, in no wise to blame – war their father and some government orphanage their home!”


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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