50 Years Ago: German Atrocities
The last raid on London gave opportunity for an almost unprecedented flood of feeling, mostly cant. It is not the agony of the parents who lost little ones, the wives who have lost husbands, the husbands whose mates have been cruelly butchered, the mutilated remains moaning in the hospitals that finds expression in the horrified Press. No. They are horrified to order, and with a set purpose, and that purpose is not to deter the Germans from making such raids, but simply to inflame popular feeling against ‘the enemy’.
Having embarked on war; having consented to this most serious business in life, having adventured thousands and perhaps millions of human lives in the trial by brute strength, it is folly to talk of putting any limit on the appeal to brute strength.
Much has been made of the fact that women and children have been numbered among the victims of the German air raids. But it is no worse to kill a man, notwithstanding all the sloppy nonsense that has been written on the subject. As a matter of fact the mental torture of a man dying in consciousness is probably far greater than that of a child similarly placed, while as for women, the fact that they find themselves brought within the range of actual hostilities may help them to realise their responsibility for the war—and it is not a little.
A harsh judgement this may seem to be, but then every phase of war must be judged by harsh standards, and the only ones who have any grounds for complaint are those who are opposed to the conflict, or at all events are not consenting parties to it.
From the Socialist Standard August 1917.