Editorial: Scapa Flow
The comic element for the month has undoubtedly been supplied by the scuttling of the interned German fleet at Scapa Flow. One’s first thoughts, naturally, upon hearing the news, were to congratulate the naval authorities upon the arrangements they had made for the safe-keeping of the “enemy” ships. It seemed so child like to leave the vessels in the hands of German crews, under the command of German officers, without any sort of a guard on board — so like the simple sailor of tradition!
But the simple sailor won’t have it. He with eager promptitude reminds the world at large that he never had the opportunity of preventing the scuttling, that the German war-ships were not surrendered, but interned, and as such had certain rights under international law which precluded the proper safe-guarding of them, and he throws the blame on the statesmen who failed to secure the surrender instead of the internment of the “enemy” fleet.
The incident and its sequel reveals again the sordid reality behind the mask of undying and fervid loyalty with which the Allies have endeavoured to hide their countenances, must as, all through the war, or at least until their prospects of getting licked properly “put the wind up ’em,” the Allied nations have been grasping each at its own coveted share of the spoils, striving to occupy “enemy” territory on the principle that possession is nine points of the international law, and because they could not trust each other, in spite of all the secret treaties —secret because they were too foul with filthy traffiking to stand the light of day—so they could not trust each other with the German ships. All the talk of the “honour of our gallant Allies” has been so much tosh. They have known each other for the thieves they are, and that is why they choose rather to trust the German fleet to German crews than have them surrendered, with the prospect that those to whom they were surrendered might find it too painful to part with them again.
And that is why the German ships lie at the bottom of the ocean.