German Moral Abnormality -- By: W. H. Griffith Thomas

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 076:301 (Jan 1919)
Article: German Moral Abnormality
Author: W. H. Griffith Thomas


German Moral Abnormality

W. H. Griffith Thomas

During the last four years it has been impossible to avoid noticing many surprising utterances, and many still more surprising deeds, which have emanated from German sources. Quite apart from what may be perhaps regarded as political and patriotic prejudices, these words and actions inevitably demand an explanation. We have been accustomed to think of Germany as thoroughly educated and civilized, possessing a respect for the ordinary moral code of humanity, but in the face of many patent violations of civilized ethics an inquiry into the cause of this aberration is at once natural and essential. In this article, care will be taken to limit attention to utterances and acts of the truth of which there is no serious question. They are all based on authority which is sufficient, even if not absolutely undoubted. The words and deeds of military authorities will come first, and then it will be necessary to proceed to the consideration of expressions of opinion by German preachers and teachers. The war has compelled the world to face a moral abnormality which imperatively needs explanation.1

The general military policy of Germany calls for attention first of all. This may be summed up by saying it has included the outrage and murder of women and children, not as the excesses of an army which has become undisciplined, but as part of a definite scheme laid down by the higher command of that army. Then, too, there has been

the destruction of merchant shipping without discrimination; the creation of a new law of the sea in which there is no indication or even profession of equity and justice; the slavery of unoffending civilians in occupied territory; the poisoning of wells; the devastation of evacuated territory without military justification; the torpedoing of hospital ships, notwithstanding moral pledges to regard them as inviolate; the destruction of monuments of great value; and the holding of treaties and promises in supreme contempt. These and other things have been part of the Prussian military policy during this war. An Officer who has had personal experience has suggested that a complete exhibition of the German war-outfit should occupy one of the anterooms of the hall in which the peace negotiations are held. This is how he describes what he has seen and known: —

“It would begin with the oil-sprayers and incendiary tabloids which proved so useful in the organized burning out of the Belgian towns, and end with the flammenwerfer, which is designed to spray burning oil into the eyes, and the ‘lachrymatory shells’ which are mostly used on the villages in the rear of the fighting lin...

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