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BELGIAN HORRORS, Issue 15637, 30 October 1914
DELEGATION TO AMERICA. The Belgian Commission, who come to protest against alleged German atrocities in Belgium, were received in the east room oF the White House on September 16 (says a Washington telegram) by President Wilson. Accompanied by Minister Havenith, the Commissioners assembled at the State Department just before 2 p.m., and were received by Secretary Bryan, who took them over to the White House, where President Wilson said to the Commission : Permit me to say with what sincere pleaaurc I receive you as representatives of the King of the Belgians, a people for whom the people of the United States feel so strong a friendship and admiration, a King for whom they entertain so sincere a respect, and express my hope that we may have many opportunities of earning and deserving their regard. You are not mistaken in believing that the people of this country love justice, seek the true paths of progress, and have a passionate regard for the rights of humanity. It is a matter of profound pride to me that I am permitted for a time to represent such a people and to be their spokesman, and X am honored that your King should have turned to me in time of distress as to one who would wish on behalf of the people he represents to consider the claims to the impartial sympathy of mankind of a nation which deems itself wronged. I thank your for the document vcu have put in* my hands containing the result of an investigation made by a judicial committee appointed by the Belgian Government to look into the matter of which, you have come to speak. It shall have my most attentive perusal and my most thoughtful consideration. You will, I am sure, not expect me to say more. Presently, I pray God very soon, this war will be over. The day of accounting will then come, when, I take it for granted, the nations of Europe will assemble to determine a settlement. Where wrongs have been committed their consequences and the relative responsibility involved will be assessed. The nations of the, world have fortunately, by agreement, made a plan for such reckoning and settlement. What such a plan cannot compass the opinion of mankind, the final arbiter in such matters, will supply. It would be unwise, it would be premature, for a single Government, however fortunately separated from the present struggle, it would be inconsistent with the neutral position of any nation, which, like this, has no part in the contest, to form or express a final judgment. I need not assure you that this conclusion, in which I instinctively fee 1 , that you will yourselves concur, in spoken frankly, because in warm friendship, and as the best means of perfect understanding between us, an understanding based on mutual respect, admiration, and cordiality. You are most welcome, and we are greatly honored that you should have chosen us as the friends before whom you could lay any matter of vital consequence to yourselves, in the confidence that your causa would be understood and met in the same spirit in which ii, was conceived and intended.
The text of the statement of the Belgian Commission presented lo President Wilson by Carton de Wkrt was an follows :
Excellency,—His Majesty the King of the Belgians has charged us with a special mission to the President} of the United States. Let me say to you how much we feel ourselves honored to have been called to express the sentiments of our King and of our whole nation to the illustrious statesman whom the American people have called to the highest dignity of the commonwealth. As far as I am'concerned, I have already
been able, during my previous trip, to fully appreciate the noble virtues of tha American nation, and I am happy tn take this opportunity to express the admiration with which they inspired me.
Ever since her independence was first established Belgium has been declared neutral in perpetuity. This neutrality, guaranteed by the Powers, has recently been violated by one of them. Had we consented to abandon our neutrality for the benefit of one of the belligerents wo would have betrayed our obligations towards the others, and it was the sense of our international obligations, as well as that of our dignity and honor, that lias driven us to resistance. The consequences suffered by the Belgian nation were not confined purely to the harm occasioned by the forced march cf an invading army. This army not only seized a great portion of our territory, but it committed incredible acts of violence. the nature of which is contrary 1o the rights of mankind. Peaceful inhabitants were massacred, defenceless women and children were outraged, open and undefended towns were destroyed, historical and religions monuments were reduced to dust, and the famous library of the University of Louvain was given to tlie flames. "Our Government nave appointed a Judicial Commission to make an official investigation and determine the responsibility, and I will have Urn boner, Excellency, to hand over to von the proceedings of the inquiry. In this frightful holocaust, which is sweeping all over Europe, the United Mates has adopted a neutral attitude. And it is for this reason that your country. standing apart from either one of the belligerents, is in the best position to jedge without bias and partialitv the conditions under which the war is being we a" d hj was n? (he r""ue't. even at the initiative, of the. United States that all civilised nations have formulated and adopted at The Hague, a law regulating the rights end usages of war. Wn refuse to believe that war has abolished the family r-f civilised Powers or the regulate to whmh they have freely con sented. The American people have always displayed their respect- for justice, their searrh for progress, and an instinctive attachment for the laws of humanity. I hen lore it has been a moral influence the* is recognised by the entire world. It i= for this reason that Belgium, bound as ii is with yon hv ties of commerce and increasing friendship, turnd to the American people at this time to let it know (he real truth of the present situation, Resolved to continue their tinlb- ■hhig defence of it* sovereignty and indavienden -e, it deems it a d”tv to bvi>,' to the attention of the civilised ■world the innumerable grave breaches o? ngbt of mankind of which she has been v'- iibn. At the very moment we were I O'log Belgium the King recalled to us hi* nip to the United States and the vivid and strong impression vour powerful -mi vJri'e civilisation left on his mind. Our faith in your fairness, out courideiii <■ in you)' justice, in your spirit of generosity and sympathy—all these dii rated our present mission. (‘•arton De Wiart banded to President Wilson the results of the official inquiry instituted by the Belgian (Government, showing in detail the destruction in Belgium.
BELGIAN HORRORS, Issue 15637, 30 October 1914
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