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1. Verdenskrig
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Tekst 37

"The Most Damnable Invention", artikel i The Times, 8. maj 1915

I april 1915 anvendte den tyske hær for første gang gas på vestfront omkring Ieper. Englænderne forsøgte sig i september ved Loos, men med mindre held. Ved de første gasangreb i 1915 var det primært gas af typen klorgas, der blev anvendt. De færreste soldater døde af gas på slagmarkerne, en del døde i den efterfølgende tid, men langs de fleste levede med følgevirkningerne af gas, og døde efter krigen i en meget tidlig alder.

Nedenstående tekst er et læserbrev i avisen, The Times, fra den 8. maj 1915. Under overskriften "Strong words from a South African bishop in the first recorded account of the use of poison gas in war." beskriver biskoppen af Pretoria om sine oplevelser.

 

"THE MOST DAMNABLE INVENTION".

To the editor of The Times

Sir, - I have just come in from visiting some of our men I a clearing hospital at the front who have been "gassed" by this latest and most damnable invention of the German Imperial Staff, of which the Kaiser is the head. A more cruel and diabolical method of conducting war it would be impossible to conceive.

If the gas used merely knocked the men out for the time being, so that the Germans could walk over their unconscious bodies with impunity, it would be a sufficiently cowardly method of making war: but when it kills men by a slow and torturing death, no language that I am master of can express what I am convinced every man, woman and child would feel who saw what I have seen of the obvious agonies of great, fine, healthy men and lads under the ghastly effects of this poisonous gas.

There in that one clearing hospital were scores of men (and they only a small percentage of the total number who had been "gassed") suffering in varying degrees from suffocation – the worst cases fighting desperately for every breath in ghastly pain, and many of them had been going through this torture for days.

Every doctor in the place had tried every possible means of counteracting this cruel poison, but without avail; they could do nothing either to relieve the pain or save the life; they just had to stand by and watch the men who had gone out to fight cleanly and die if need be for their King and country, lying there slowly dying in agony.

No atrocities which have so far been committed by those brutes can compare to this latest devilish contrivance; the only thing which can be said for it is that it has shown up as nothing else could the sort of principles which actuate the military authorities of the nation against which we are fighting. If now, at last, these sufferings of some of the most gallant fellows that have ever stepped this earth cannot rouse England and the Empire to unite together as one man to teach the German nation such a lesson as they will never forget, then God knows what will.

There is only one way to counter this sort of devilry and avenge the lives of the men who have thus been murdered, and that is for the Empire to concentrate its whole energies to supply every man and every legitimate munition of war that is necessary to smash this enemy, and that, too, right away, without one week's unnecessary delay.

I am yours &c.,

MICHAEL FURSE, Bishop of Pretoria.

 

Tekst 36 | Oversigten over kildetekster | Tekst 38

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