« PrejšnjaNaprej »
not the whole village, but enough houses for adequate shelter. In some of the six districts in which the American Red Cross has taken on relief work for the refugees, its own plants to make the brick and to burn the lime for rebuilding are being constructed. Clean, new clothing, bedding and household necessities to replace those destroyed by the Boche; farm implements; perhaps some chickens or larger live-stock; baths; medical attention; word of the soldat at the front, these are these people's needs, and these the services our Red Cross is giving, sometimes directly and sometimes in coöperation with the French Red Cross and the French Government, sometimes through other agencies, like the Society of
Friends, that is doing wonderful work in helping the French peasant, uprooted by the great catastrophe, to get his roots back into the soil. And it helps-helps not only materially, but has helped spiritually-to cheer these people up and give them courage to wait, patiently, for victory.
AMERICA'S AID NOW A REALITY Tuberculosis-half a million cases among the returned soldiers and their families. America's help through the Red Cross is putting new life, new hope into its victims and their dependents; a million dollars of Red Cross money given to General Petain to be used for the relief of the families of sick and wounded
French soldiers; the reception and care of repatriated women and children sent back from behind the German lines; welfare work among all the children of France, to save every possible baby in the face of the dwindling birthrate these are only items in the constantly growing catalogue of activities that tells the story of the Red Cross' intimate touch with the very heart and fiber of the life of France, a touch that beyond all belief has helped to cheer and hearten her people.
I need not go into detail here about the wonderful medical and surgical work the Red Cross has done, and is doing, for the French soldier, directly and through coöperation with the French army medical department;
the more than 3,500 hospitals to which it is contributing medical and surgical supplies; the string of warehouses stretching from the English Channel to the Adriatic, filled with medical supplies in reserve for these and the possible emergency requirements of our own Army. That is the most familiar side of the many-sided story of the work of the American Red Cross in France. It has a bearing, and an important bearing, however, on the upbuilding of the French morale; it was and is a real help in a way and at a time when France needed all the help that could be given.
Let us go back to our poilu from the trenches for a moment. We think, unconsciously, of this war on the Western front, at least-as
something static, fixed, its actors more or less permanently placed, so slightly have the front lines shifted since the issue was joined. On the contrary, there is constant movement, activity; troops are being shifted from this sector of the Front to that; injured and ill being transported to hospitals; soldiers who have served their appointed round in the trenches being sent back to rest camps and billets; others going home on leave, and in the opposite directions as many more travelling to take their places; day and night, week in, week out, many millions of men travelling ceaselessly in an area about the size of New York State. It is traffic unprecedented, unheard of in volume and density. And freight-munitions and food for the soldiers-must have the right of way.
More than any other single cause, the unavoidable delays, wearisome waits on the tracks or at junction, points, the irksome confinement to cars for perhaps days on end still uncleansed of the filth and the vermin of the trenches, all tend to make the soldier discontented, dissatisfied with his lot-to eat into his morale.
Come with me to one of the railway junctions of France. Here from 12,000 to 20,000 troops pass through daily; a quarter of them change cars here, or are held in trains waiting for a clear right of way. Sometimes the wait is for many hours; a day and a night, perhaps. The little railway station will hold fifty at the most. The rest must do as they can; if they sleep, it is in the field by the tracks; if it rains or snows, so much the worse for them. That is as it was here and at many other junctions in France. Now-voila-a great new building, the canteen of la Croix Rouge Américaine. Outside it is plain though substantial enough-the French Army built it from the utilitarian designs of the Red Cross. Inside it is decorated, perhaps by a famous artist who has shown his paintings in the Paris Salon and is now serving his country in the camouflage corps. Here is light and warmth and good cheer. Shower baths with copious hot water and plenty of soap; a sterilizer where clothes may be freed from vermin while one bathes; a barber shop, that one may be made presentable on arrival at one's domicile. Here is a dining-room, seating hundreds; one eats his fill; such food! And the cost? For the dinner alone, seventy centimes-fourteen cents; for the other services nothing. And if one has no money nobody goes
hungry. If there is time one may, also without the expense of a sou, attend the cinematograph; excellent films, the latest obtainable, comic by choice. Charlie Chaplin is as great a favorite with the poilu as with any American audience; moreover, the theatre is bombproof a distinct advantage in the war zone. Here is a huge reception hall, where one may sit and smoke, read, write, or play games with one's comrades. If the wait is to be a long one, here is a barracks with bunks like a logging camp where one may sleep-never fear, the call to arise will come in time to catch the train. And if one wishes, here are tinned foods, chocolate, fruit, tobacco that one may buy to take with him. And even if one's train is merely passing through and it is not permitted to descend, from the platform this same Croix Rouge Américaine serves one with hot coffee. One million meals a month are actually being served to French soldiers in these junction canteens. Little wonder, then, that the poilus often sit up all night talking about the great things America is doing for them, or that the French general detailed by General Petain to coöperate with the Red Cross in the establishment of these recreation halls wrote to Major Murphy:
MORALE SPELLS VICTORY
"The only thing that matters in this war is to beat the Boche, and to accomplish this the all-important factor is the morale of the men. This you have done much to uphold, and the atmosphere you create is more valuable than even you can realize. Your canteens are well managed. The men find there not only a good meal but the friendliness that means so much to them. We feel that they are being cared for not only as men but as friends, and that makes them prefer your canteens to wine-shops and other places, and they are grateful. The morale has rarely been better than it is now, and we count on you to help us keep it where it is."
What it means to the poilu to return home after his tour of duty in the trenches clean, dry, vermin-free, shaved and well fed, and to find his family comfortably housed, well cared for, free from worry, is something that can hardly be put into words. hardly be put into words. It means, though, to France and to the cause of the Allies, the difference between morale and the lack of it; in the long run the difference, perhaps, between victory and defeat.
propaganda accomplished its object and a false impression of the Red Cross become a permanent conception in many people's minds? To any one acquainted with all the workings of the Red Cross it is inconceivable that one
of the finest monuments mankind has yet
raised to its better instincts can be torn down, half finished, to satisfy the human craving for gossip and evil tidings—a lasting victory for German thought and propaganda. With a campaign for a second war fund in May, however, no stone should be left un
turned in our endeavor to set forth the facts.
OME months ago, the national headquarters of the Red Cross in Washington was the target for many hundreds of letters every day-letters which voiced the gossip of a nation. This gossip took the form of misstatements regarding the Red Cross aims and accomplishments: "The Red Cross war fund cost 15 per cent. to raise and collect; the Red Cross paid large salaries to numberless employees; the Red Cross sold its sweaters to the soldiers in camp; the Red Cross was sending unfit workers to France"-these were some on the list of misstatements.
It is the duty of every member of the Red Cross, in the immediate future, indeed, not only to spread abroad the truth regarding the Red Cross accomplishments but to knock on the head immediately every lie which may show itself, and then nail the hide of the liar to the wall.
The letters asked for information. Were these things true? Did the Red Cross do such things? The Red Cross at that time had just been appointed sole agent for relief in France by the French Government in order to coördinate all relief agencies and to solve the problem of shipping space. The various societies which
had been affected by this order were just Garding the finances and administration
ENUINE seekers after information re
beginning to accustom themselves to a new order of things. Their questions were almost endless; the problems of adjustment and personal relations ones of great difficulty. A new giant with five million members had arisen to take the lead in work in which other devoted societies had been pioneers. Despite the acknowledgment that such a step was necessary, and acknowledgment of the worth of the choice of leadership, the inevitable human feelings incidental to any such adjustment prevailed.
of the Red Cross are referred to the report of the War Council, published on another page. To any one who has knowledge of conditions in Europe, the figures concerning the work abroad bring up a picture of effort and achievement which time will not easily dim. Nearly fifty million dollars have been spent, over twenty-five hundred workers employed, many of them volunteers. The organization which has resulted cannot be measured in terms of expenditure. Its personnel, its vision, its accomplishments have rendered it the most potent single agency in Europe to-day, outside of the actual armies. From South Devon and the English Channel down through France and Italy and across the Mediterranean to Palestine and Egypt its activities extend, changing with the necessities of war, growing more and more important as the burden of war weighs heavier on the Western nations.
All these things found voice in the vast number of letters asking for information which the national headquarters in Washington received.
To-day, the situation appears to have changed. The complaints are few and far between, the number of letters asking for information on these subjects has fallen to a low ebb, and on the surface the Red Cross is proceeding to its difficult task with the hearty coöperation of the public.
The revival, in New England, however, of the story that 90 per cent. of the war fund goes for administrative expenses casts a doubt on the silence. Has the flood of letters abated because the letterwriters are satisfied or has
RED CROSS ACTIVITY IN ENGLAND
for shipment to France and Belgium, and in beginning hospital work which will be of increasing importance as the American troops take their places on the firing lines. A Red Cross hospital, for instance, has long since been established at an English port to take care of our sailors and soldiers. The bulk of the American expenditure in Great Britain, however, has been in the form of a contribution of nearly a million dollars to the British Red Cross which is spending it to the best mutual advantage. The value of this gift has been far out of proportion to its material purchasing power as a a means of strengthening the understanding between the United States and Great Britain.
IN FRANCE and Belgium, the keystone of the allied defensive arch, the Red Cross has put forth its most tremendous efforts. This has been due in part to the aims upon which the French Red Cross has concentrated, and in part to the terrific burden which the war has thrust upon the French people.
France has not only sustained the full force of the German blow but has had her territory turned into a shambles by the actual operation of war. It has been a natural result that the Red Cross has been able to render the greatest assistance there.
So extensive, indeed, have the Red Cross activities in France become that a description of them usually leaves only a confused picture. Just where the civilian work ends and the military work begins appears to be an exceedingly shadowy line. The reason is not far to seek. The Red Cross is doing only one kind of work in France to-day no matter what its motive-military work. No other kind of work can be done in France; distinctions are merely in name.
AID FOR ITALY
IN ITALY history bids fair to repeat itself. The situation which confronted the Red Cross in France six months ago is being reduplicated in the northern Italian provinces. On the first evening after the disaster to the Italian army, nine thousand refugees arrived in Florence and were taken care of in the church and cloisters of Santa Maria Novella. The condition of the women and children was pitiful, a great many shoeless and in rags,
their few belongings in their arms. Forced by the crush of the mobs to discard their luggage, many still clung to a pet dog, a cat or bird. In the dimly lighted church whose great Cimabue Madonna and other frescoes are hidden behind sandbags, their misery presented a strange contrast to the richly storied background of the walls. Hardly an inch of pavement was unoccupied by wretched human beings who lay on the straw too worn out to care what became of them, while the Red Cross women administered bowls of hot soup and strove to gather up the broken threads of their lives.
In forty-eight hours the city was overwhelmed. The mayor requisitioned theatres, barracks, warehouses in an endeavor to provide an outlet for the tide of wretchedness, while the Red Cross and the authorities turned their attention away from the church where rows of army mattresses and gray folded blankets in regular lines now replaced the previous confusion.
To a great extent, the same conditions prevailed all over northern Italy. Instances like that in the church of Santa Maria Novella were repeated a hundred times-villages like S. Flavia, with a population of fifteen hundred, were choked with seven hundred refugees; mountain towns like Marcerata housed their quotas of misery in gilded ballrooms; Chiaravalle was forced to shelter five hundred refugees in an old paper mill, in indescribable filth, chimneys to carry away the smoke of cook without privacy, sanitary facilities or even stoves. In great centres like Milan, 60,000 refugees flooded the streets. In all, some five hundred thousand men, women, and children were homeless in Italy.
Conditions had in them the possibility of a still greater catastrophe.
That this was avoided was due in great measure to the prompt action of the Red Cross which furnished supplies, money and personnel working under the supervision of the Italian authorities. Outbreaks of disease were quickly checked by swiftly equipped isolation hospitals; barrels of beef, sacks of rice, cases of condensed milk, clothing and medical supplies were hurried from the hastily established warehouses in Rome, Florence, Ancona, Rimini, and Milan; rations were served from barracks, homes found for the homeless, soup kitchens and resthouses put in operation at railway stations and preparations made for aiding all who could be made self supporting.