Famine on the Continent

15 March 2019

March 14th, 1919.

THERE is no getting away from the fact that Europe is not merely threatened but actually distressed with famine. From Austria, Rumania, Serbia, Hungary, Poland, Bohemia come trustworthy reports of a terrible lack of the necessaries of life. The frightful excesses in Russia of Bolshevism, partly the cause and partly the outcome of a shortage of food, are being reproduced in Germany, where the people, being on the verge of starvation, are in danger of yielding to the persuasion of revolutionary arguments. The Allies have it in their power to give or to withhold supplies of food, but they make it a condition that the German merchant fleet must first put out to sea in accordance with the terms of the armistice. Meanwhile, however, General Plumer, whom, Mr Lloyd George said on Monday in Paris, no one would accuse of pro-Germanism, has addressed to the Council of Ten an urgent plea for the re-victualling of Germany. He described the effect which the spectacle of hungry women and children in the occupied area was actually having on the troops under his command. Food, he said, should be immediately supplied to the German civil population in order to arrest the spread of Bolshevism. It is tempting to think that, having caused the shortage of food, the Germans justly are feeling the pinch of hunger. Before yielding to that temptation it would be well to reflect that, if Germany is allowed to lapse into a state of social and political chaos, the Allies cannot hope to get the indemnities they have demanded. If pity will not give the needed relief, policy at any rate suggests that it should be given.

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