« AnteriorContinuar »
By René Viviani
Premier of France
Premier Viviani delivered to Parliament an address upon the war which attracted worldwide attention. He served notice on Germany and Austria that France would not lay down her arms until she and her allies had won such a victory that they could dictate terms. Premier Viviani delivered his speech in the Chamber of Deputies on Dec. 22, 1914, while on the same day the speech was read in the Senate by M. Briand, Minister of Justice. It is as follows:
This is not the
usual communication in which a Government presenting itself for the first time before Parliament sets forth its policy. Just now there is only one policy-a relentless fight until we attain definite freedom for Europe by gaining a victory which shall guarantee peace.
Gentlemen, that was the cry uttered by all when, in the sitting of Aug. 4, a sacred union arose, as the President of the republic has so well said, which will throughout history remain an honor to the country. It is the cry which all Frenchmen will repeat after having put an end to the disagreements that have so often embittered our hearts and which a blind enemy took for irremediable division. It is the cry that rises from the glorious trenches into which France has thrown all her youth, all her manhood.
Before this unexpected uprising of national feeling, Germany has been troubled in the intoxication of her dream of victory. On the first day of the conflict she denied right, appealed to force, flouted history, and, in order to violate the neutrality of Belgium and to invade France, invoked the law of self-interest alone.
Since then her Government, learning that it had to reckon with the opinion of the world, has recently attempted to put her conduct in a better light by trying to throw the responsibility for the war upon the Allies. But through all the gross falsehoods, which fail to deceive even the most credulous, the truth has become apparent.
All the documents published by the nations interested, and the remarkable speech made the other day at Rome by one of the most illustrious representatives of the noble Italian Nation, demonstrate that for a long time our enemy has intended a coup de force. If it were necessary, a single one of these documents would suffice to enlighten the world.
When, on July 31, 1914, at the suggestion of the English Government all the nations concerned were asked to suspend their military preparations and enter into negotiations in London, France and Russia adhered to this proposal. But Germany precipitated matters. She declared war on Russia on Aug. 1, and made an appeal to arms inevitable. And if Germany by her diplomacy killed the germ of peace it is because for more than forty years she had untiringly pursued her aim, which was to crush France in order to achieve the enslavement of the world.
All the revelations are brought before the tribunal of history, where corruption has no place, and as France and her allies, despite their attachment to peace, have been obliged to endure war they will pursue it to the uttermost.
Faithful to the signature which she attached to the treaty of Sept. 4, 1914, and by which she engaged her honor, that is to say, her life, France, in accord with her allies, will not lay down her arms until she has avenged outraged right and regained forever the provinces which were torn from her by force, restored heroic Belgium to the fullness of her material prosperity and political in
dependence, and broken Prussian militarism so that the Allies may eventually reconstruct a regenerated Europe founded upon justice and right.
We are not inspired, gentlemen, in this plan of war and of peace by any presumptuous hope, for we have the certainty of success. We owe this certitude to our army of all ranks and to our sailors, who, joined to the British Navy, secure for us the control of the seas, and to the troops who have repulsed in Morocco incessant aggressions.
We owe it also to the soldiers who defend our flag in those far-off French colonies, who from the very first outbreak of the war hastened back with their tender solicitude for the mother country.
We owe it to our army, whose heroism has been guided by incomparable leaders throughout the victory of the Marne, the victory of Flanders, and in many fights, and we owe it to the nation, which has equaled this heroism by a corresponding demonstration of silence and serenity during the critical hours through which the country has passed.
Thus we have shown to the world that an organized democracy can serve by its vigorous action the ideal of liberty and equality which constitute its greatness. Thus we have shown to the world, to use the words of our Commander in Chief, who is both a great soldier and a noble citizen, that "the republic may well be proud of the army that she has prepared." And thus this impious war has brought out all the virtues of our race, both those with which we were credited-of initiative, élan, bravery, and fearlessness-and those which we were not supposed to possess-endurance, patience, and stoicism.
Let us do honor to all these heroes. Glory to those who have fallen before the victory, and to those also who through it will avenge them tomorrow! A nation which can arouse such enthusiasm can never perish.
Sheltered by this heroism the nation has lived and labored, accepting all the consequences of the war, and domestic tranquillity has never been troubled.
The Minister of Finance has laid before you in a masterly statement the financial situation and has explained the resources that we have obtained from the issue of Treasury bonds and advances from the Bank of France, which have enabled us to bear the expenditure imposed by the war, so that we have not had any need to resort to a loan. The Bank of France is in a position, thanks to its excellent condition, to furnish resources to the Treasury and to aid in the resumption of the economic life of the country.
Everything serves to demonstrate the vitality of France, the security of her credit, the confidence which she inspires in all, despite the war which is shaking and impoverishing the world. The state of her finances is such that she can continue the war until the day when the necessary reparation has been obtained.
Gentlemen, it is not sufficient for us to salute the victims who have fallen on the field of battle. We must uncover also before the civil noncombatants and innocent victims who up to now have been protected by the laws of war, but whom, in order to terrify a nation which is and will ever remain unshaken, the enemy either captured or massacred. The Government has done its duty toward their families, but the debt of the country is not yet discharged.
Under the force of invasion, departments have been occupied and the ruins in them have accumulated. The Government solemnly undertakes before you -it has already partly carried it out, and has asked for a first credit of $70,000,000-that France will rebuild again those ruins, and the carrying out of this work will certainly be borne in mind in the indemnities which we shall exact.
The day of a definite victory has not yet come. Our task until then will be heavy, and it may be long. Let us bring all our strength to bear in the carrying out of this task. Our allies know that we will do so, as well as the neutral nations, and it is in vain that a wild campaign of false news has been set on foot. If Germany at the outset pre
tended to have any doubt as to the attitude of France, she no longer doubts.
Let Germany bear witness now that when the French Parliament reopened after over four months of war, it has renewed before the world the spectacle it offered on the day when, in the name of the nation, it took up the challenge.
To conquer, heroism at the frontier will not suffice. It is necessary also to have internal union. Let us continue to preserve this sacred union from any blemish today, as in the past, and in the future. Let us keep before our minds the one cry of victory, the vision of our motherland, and the ideal of right.
That is what we are fighting for and what Belgium is still fighting for, Belgium, who is giving to this ideal all the blood in her veins, and what also unshakable England is fighting for, as also faithful Russia, intrepid Servia, and the audacious Japanese Navy.
Nothing more sublime has ever presented itself before the eyes of men than this struggle against barbarism and despotism, against a system of provocation and continual threats, which Germany called peace, against a system of murders and collective pillage, which Germany called war, against the insolent hegemony of a military caste. France with her allies has let loose the Scourge of war against all these. France the emancipator and avenger has sprung up at one bound.
That is the issue at stake. It goes beyond the life of the present generation. Let us continue to have but one soul and one mind, and tomorrow, when peace is restored and when our opinions, now voluntarily enthralled, are again given their liberty, we will recall with pride these tragic days, for they have tended to make us more valiant and better men.
The diminishing of lights in Paris houses as a precaution against a raid by the enemy's aeroplanes is the new rule.-Cable Dispatch.
The gaslights cast a saffron glow,
Story of Two Months' Combat with 2,000,000 Invaders
Two million men were engaged on the German side in October and November when the Kaiser's forces hammered at the Allies' lines in an attempt to break through to Dunkirk and Calais. Around Ypres alone the invaders' losses were more than 120,000 men. These statements are made in a semi-official account of the fighting in Flanders, which takes up three pages of the Bulletin Français, copies of which reached New York on Jan. 11, 1915. As translated, the article in the December Bulletin appears below.
HE hour has arrived when the balance of these last weeks can be established and the results clearly seen. The formidable attempt by the Germans, first to turn the left of ourselves and our allies, and then, that having been prevented, to break through, has entirely failed. By the effort the enemy tried to repair the defeats of the Marne, and they have only added another check to the failure of September.
Meanwhile, in order to invade our territory, according to their old plans the Germans have neglected nothing. On the front that extends from Lys to the sea they massed, in the beginning of October, fifteen army corps, including four divisions of cavalry. Their army heads, the Crown Prince of Bavaria, Gen. Deemling, the Duke of Württemburg, have multiplied their exhortations and appeals to the troops in the effort to maintain the morale of their men.
We have found their orders on dead officers and prisoners, and always they are the same. It is a question of "a decisive action against the French left" or a question of "piercing the line at Dupres or Ypres," for, as one of these orders stated, " the decisive coup remains to be struck, and to accomplish this the allied line must be pierced." This, the orders stated, had to be accomplished at any price and in all haste. They wanted
a decision in the western theatre of war before turning to the east.
Then the Emperor himself was with his troops, hoping to animate the German soldiers with his presence. He announced to them that he would be at Ypres on Nov. 1, and that was the date fixed for the annexation of Belgium. In fact, everything had been taken into account, except, of course, the victorious resistance of the allied armies.
To make possible this effective resistance it was necessary for the Allies to oppose the enemy with a force which if not equal to theirs was nevertheless sufficient for the purpose in view.
What was the situation at the beginning of Oct. 1? The Belgian Army came out of Antwerp intact, but too exhausted to participate in the actions then pending. The English Army had left the Aisne to operate in the north. The army of Gen. de Castelnau did not extend on its left south of Arras. The army of Gen. Maudhuy stretched out from that point to the south of Lille. Further on were the territorial cavalry and the marines. This was not a sufficient force to meet the German advance.
Gen. Joffre, the Commander in Chief, ordered Gen. Foch to the command of the armies of the north. Reinforcements were sent him in the ensuing three weeks, and during that period the rail and auto
mobile services operated day and night, hurrying up reinforcements. They arrived on time by divisions and by corps, every man being animated by an admirable spirit.
About Oct. 20 our battle line was from Nieuport to Dixmunde, between which places one of our divisions and the marines held the railroad. Meanwhile, just back of them, the Belgian Army was being reorganized. South of Dixmunde, and along the canal, our line stretched to the east, forming before Ypres a vast half circle. occupied by four French and one British army corps. The line then descended toward the south of Messines to Armentières, forming two sections, the first held by the English and the second by the French.
The German attack had as its object the seizure of Dunkirk, which was necessary if Calais and Boulogne were to be reached. The purpose was to envelop us and cut the British lines of communiIcation to the sea. All the heavy artillery was brought up from Antwerp and made ready for use against the Allies. What happened?
On Nov. 3 the attack was made and repulsed, crushing the enemy, who had managed to gain the left bank of the river. We then pushed the German rear guard into the water, and to this day German cannon and the carcasses of their animals can be seen half buried in the water and mud.
Finding it impossible to turn our left, the enemy tried to break through our lines. This was the battle of Ypres, a furious and savage struggle, with the German commanders hurling their organizations in enormous masses, regardless of the life of their men, sacrificing all for the end they hoped to attain.
This end was not attained. During the following three weeks we suffered and withstood their repeated and frantic attacks. All these attacks were repulsed, and this despite the fact that our front, with its circular form, was not easy to maintain.
In these actions about Ypres the armies of France and England worked
in the closest union, and this union, in which co-operation was so splendidly maintained, is worthy to be recorded on the brightest pages of military history.
On Nov. 12 the Germans were successful to the north of Ypres, and crossed the canal in two places. A day passed and they were thrown back to the other side. On the 12th also they gained a little ground south of Ypres, but this loss was quickly regained, and by the 15th their attacks had become fewer and our position by then was practically impregnable.
Subsequent actions by the Germans were likewise repulsed, and in these encounters we were brilliantly supported by our Allies. These actions have sealed the fraternity of the allied troops, and the energy of our resistance has likewise encouraged and strengthened the confidence of the Belgians.
The losses of the Germans certainly exceed 120,000 men. In certain trenches of 1,200 meters' length as many as 2,000 bodies have been found, and this is impressive when we take into consideration that the Germans take advantage of every opportunity to remove their dead from the fields of battle. These great losses explain the recent formation of new army corps in Germany.
The numerous artillery commands that we have put in action south of Ypres have opened great chasms in the German masses. All this marks the importance of our successes, and significance is added by the fact that the Germans have always regarded the taking of Ypres as one of the decisive features of the campaign.
If Dunkirk, Calais, and Boulogne had been taken, England would have found her lines of communication with her armies in France gravely endangered. In maintaining her lines from the sea to Arras we have obtained at the same time the best guarantee against the return of the enemy to Paris.
To measure the extent of the allied successes we must compare the line occupied by our left and the German right at the beginning of September and since the middle of November. When we consider this, it is plain that our successes