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Of this total number 15 of our employees were originally taken, but some of them were later returned, so that the list of those who were finally taken is as follows:. Brichaut, Victor, No. Cantigneua, Maurice, 11 Cite Balasse, Mons 3.
At the time these men were taken it was directly stated to the officer by our representative that the men were not chomeurs, but were actually employed in the ravitaillement service. Six of the men taken were dock-hands, who are now badly needed in Mons and the last two mentioned were members of the office force at Mons and badly needed. Care was taken to assure the officer that every man on the list was essential to the ravitaillement. They do say that the officials of the civil government were most courteous and endeavored during the entire proceedings to assist them, but were repeatedly overruled by the military officers.
As soon as Messrs. Tuck and Gade saw that their further efforts would be of no avail they withdrew. As I have stated to you, I fear that this proceeding may be a precedent by which large numbers of our men may be taken. I hope sincerely that this may be avoided, especially in view of the fact that at the selections which have taken place prior to the 17th I am advised that our cards were recognized at once and without difficulty.
I regret also that I am obliged to protest against the taking of men in the ravitaillement service simply because they may have been formerly engaged in skilled employments, such as railroading, blacksmithing, etc. It would seem that this is contrary to our understanding that only those who are chomeurs shall be taken. If a man is known to be working for us in good faith and has been so working for some time, then we have necessarily shown that he is not a chomeur, regardless of his former occupation.
We have the additional ground that he is necessary for the ravitaillement service which is protected by a guarantee. I greatly fear that these exceptions will cause endless difficulties, because it departs from the simple principle laid down as above noted. I am not advised as to the number of these so-called skilled men engaged in our services but no doubt there are numbers of them. We did not attempt to make any exceptions when the cards were issued, but if it now results that these cards are recognized only in certain cases, then it will break down the system.
When a man is taken not because he is a chomeur but because he is skilful in a particular line it must result on the basis of selection that it is not his present inability to find work but the necessities of the military authorities. I am sure you will agree with me that this is a fundamental difference in the principle of selecting men. It will therefore be greatly appreciated by this Commission if the full and free exemption of men who are actually and bona fide engaged in the ravitaillement service could be made and we should be most pleased if instructions could be given accordingly.
Am informed German authorities they expect to take two hundred fifty thousand work people from Belgium and Northern France. The whole operation is accompanied by the greatest suffering. German authorities apparently carefully weighed the possibility that this might result in breaking down Relief but determined to proceed in any event. We can see no hope in its suppression except pressure public opinion and protest by neutral governments. German procedure does not conflict with any actual guarantees in connection with Relief and we believe Allied Governments are so sympathetic to the welfare of the people left behind that we hope no drastic retaliation will ensue.
Our impression is that press reports of actual incidents are rather understated than overdrawn. Am issuing a short statement as to our position through Associated Press. Do not believe it is in the interest of the Relief for us to offer any opinions in our own name. I venture to ask Your Excellency to transmit a message from me personally to Your Excellency's Government in regard to a matter of which you have fuller knowledge and which you can more fully explain than would be possible for His Majesty's Ambassador at Washington to do, were I to transmit the message through him.
The recent deportations from Belgium and the reported recrudescence of seizures and exports of Belgian foodstuffs cut at the root of the guarantees on which the whole relief work in Belgium is based, and while His Majesty's Government are no less keenly anxious than in the past to fulfil their duties toward the populations of the occupied territories, it will be clear to Your Excellency that it may at any moment become materially impossible to continue a work the basic guarantees of which have been destroyed.
I should therefore be grateful if you could communicate by telegraph to your Government a personal appeal from me that they will exert themselves at Berlin and Brussels to see that this great work of international benevolence and co-operation which I think Your Excellency will be able to assure your Government has never been used by His Majesty's Government for any but purely neutral purposes, and which they have indeed regarded as of inevitable military advantage to their enemies, shall not be endangered or destroyed by acts which it is impossible for the Allied peoples to countenance or tolerate.
The constant efforts and valuable services rendered by yourself and the United States Minister at Brussels on behalf of this work emboldens me to hope that your Government will not allow an undertaking to be imperilled with which they have become so closely identified in the eyes of the world. We feel deeply that all questions involving the opinion of the Americans in relief or otherwise are entirely apart from any service which you or we can perform to Belgian people in amelioration of forced labor questions.
It is a violation of the most elementary principles of human liberty and upon which America through the President should take a determined stand in protest. You will realize the impossibility of any open action from us as such would jeopardize other protection which we can give the Belgian people through the Relief. We are gratified by your support. We do not think time arrived to take up matter Washington until all efforts this side been exhausted which will require further ten days.
Matter is now before Belgian Government. The British Government assures us that there will be a solution to the matter which will satisfy responsibility and dignity of all Americans engaged in the work. Page authorizes me to say that unless Belgium will welcome full acceptance of all proposals as to administrative measures in Belgium he will advise the withdrawal of the Commission. Grew is directed to obtain an interview with the German Chancellor as soon as possible and repeat to him the following:.
Furthermore, the Government of the United States is convinced that the effect of this policy, if pursued, will in all probability be fatal to the Belgian relief work, so humanely planned and so successfully carried out, a result which would be generally deplored and which, it is assumed, would seriously embarrass the German Government.
Declaration of Allied Governments with regard to German policy of forced labor and deportations with an appeal to the neutral world. The German slave raids in Belgium and the deliberate paralyzation of local industries, on which Germany has entered in order to excuse the most barbaric infamy of which she has yet been guilty, threaten to put an end to the great work of the neutral Relief Commission, which has saved the Belgians from starvation. The following declaration by the Allies, regarding the present state of Belgium was issued by the British Government last night, with the approval and concurrence of the French, Russian, and Italian Governments, who are issuing declarations to the same effect:.
The Allies must warn the world of what is about to take place. As their own situation grows more desperate, the Central Empires intend to tear up every guarantee on which the work of the Relief Commission rests. They intend to cast aside all their promises, and to use Belgian foodstuffs and Belgian labor to support their own failing strength. The work of the relief which neutrals have built up for two years is about to lose its foundation, and is in danger of falling.
As soon as the financial resources of the Belgian Government were exhausted the Allies provided sums for the continuation of the work. They have furnished the Commission with shipping and all other necessary facilities. Further, they have done their utmost through the neutral Commission to protect Belgian industry from the disastrous consequence of invasion.
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The Allies have only stipulated that the Germans should equally draw no advantage from the operations of the Commission; that they should not seize either imported or native supplies, and that the distribution of relief should not be used for the purpose of coercing Belgian workmen against their conscience. These conditions which the Germans have pledged themselves to obey, have in the past been frequently violated. Belgian cattle have been driven out of Belgium to feed the German armies at the front, Belgian workmen are being coerced, and seizures and requisitions of foodstuffs have taken place throughout the occupied territories.
The Germans have also seized raw materials, machinery, and all the property of Belgian factories, essential to the maintenance of the national industry and have thus deliberately created unemployment and misery.
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These infractions of the German guarantees have in the past been disavowed in many cases by the German Government, and the Allies were content to rely on the neutral Commission to watch over and enforce the fulfilment of the conditions under which it worked. Now, however, the situation is changing. The Germans have abandoned all pretense of respecting personal freedom in Belgium.
They have deliberately ordered the suspension of public relief works supported by the neutral Commission and have openly, in spite of all their professions to the contrary, aimed at creating the unemployment which would furnish them with an excuse for deportations. They have become themselves the "organizers of and co-operators with man-hunts" which they solemnly pledged themselves by the Brussels Convention of to put down in Africa. Further, the machinery of Belgian industry has now been totally destroyed and the export from Belgium of foodstuffs essential for the maintenance of the population has begun again on a large scale.
The Allies do not intend to change their policy or to desert the oppressed people of Belgium in this most critical moment of the war, but as it will be impossible for the relief work to continue if its basic guarantees are destroyed, they appeal to the civilized world, not on their own behalf, but on that of the innocent civilians who cannot protect themselves to see that this great work of international benevolence and co-operation which has grown up in the midst of war, and for which the Allies have advanced the money, shall not be endangered by treachery or destroyed by violence.
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General Report, by C. The requisition of men in Belgium has been carried out under the announced intention of furnishing work for the "sans-travail. It should be borne in mind that the requisition of men is justified by the occupying authorities as a measure intended to relieve that part of the Belgian population which is out of work. La Belgique of 15th November prints a statement of von Bissing, the Governor-General of Belgium, which leaves no doubt as to the intentions of the occupying authorities.
From this we shall quote. After discussing the cause of chomage in Belgium, which he attributes to the English blockade, the Governor-General says:.
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Hundreds of people being without work in Belgium, and work abounding in Germany, the occupation of Belgian workmen in Germany has therefore become an economic and social necessity. It would be useless to enter into the details of the entire argument, but the substance of it is a justification of requisition of men on the grounds of lack of work in Belgium. After this the question naturally arises: are C. The object of this paper is to outline the situation in regard to the requisition of men in Belgium with special regard to the seizure of C.
When the requisitions commenced, the C. It thought this for very good reasons, which are ably presented by the Minister of the United States in a letter to His Excellency Baron von der Lancken dated 27th November , a quotation from which follows:. As a complement to these guarantees it has recently been agreed between the Deutsche Vermittlungsstelle C. The results which have come to us to date have been very discouraging.
It is interesting to note the form of procedure which was followed throughout Belgium, and for this the attached letter of John A. Gade will give an excellent idea. It is applicable to all the provinces except to Antwerp, where the guarantees were observed. This letter of Mr. Gade's, dated 17th November , follows in toto. The selection of "chomeurs" from the city of Mons took place yesterday morning in the suburb of Nimy. In order that there might be no confusion as to the employment of the C.
Samples of both cards had likewise earlier been forwarded to the office of Mr. Haniel, President of the Civil Administration. At the office of the Kreischef, Mr. Tuck and I were instructed to present our men in a unit, and at the beginning of proceedings. Tuck and I marched our men to Nimy, and accompanied by Dr. Hilbert, presented them, cards in hand, in a unit for early inspection. Among our employees, some sixteen were taken, the exact names of whom will at once be submitted.
We remonstrated vigorously, especially when six dock hands badly needed at this moment were taken from us.