Posted 01 November 2007 - 03:27 pm
Despite the 1899 Hague Convention's prohibition on using ammunition designed to flatten in the body, the Germans believed that British and French troops used dum-dum bullets. I came across the text of a letter written by the Kaiser to American President Woodrow Wilson in which he accuses the allies of flouting the rules of war in this fashion. Was there any truth in his allegations?
As a nipper back in the early 1960's, our neighbour, Albert Tattersall, used to tell me stories of his time in the trenches. He said that German snipers were fond of using dum dum bullets (that's where I first heard the term) to pick off allied soldiers. Anyway, here's the text of the Kaiser's letter and I'd welcome some discussion on this topic:
I feel it my duty, Mr. President, to inform you as the most prominent representative of principles of humanity, that after taking the French fortress of Longwy, my troops discovered there thousands of dumdum cartridges made by special government machinery.
The same kind of ammunition was found on killed and wounded troops and prisoners, also on the British troops. You know what terrible wounds and suffering these bullets inflict and that their use is strictly forbidden by the established rules of international law.
I therefore address a solemn protest to you against this kind of warfare, which, owing to the methods of our adversaries, has become one of the most barbarous known in history. Not only have they employed these atrocious weapons, but the Belgian Government has openly encouraged and, since long, carefully prepared the participation of the Belgian civil population in the fighting.
The atrocities committed even by women and priests in this guerrilla warfare, also on wounded soldiers, medical staff and nurses, doctors killed, hospitals attacked by rifle fire, were such that my generals finally were compelled to take the most drastic measures in order to punish the guilty and to frighten the bloodthirsty population from continuing their work of vile murder and horror.
Some villages and even the old town of Loewen, excepting the fine hotel de ville, had to be destroyed in self-defence and for the protection of my troops. My heart bleeds when I see that such measures have become unavoidable and when I think of the numerous innocent people who lose their home and property as a consequence of the barbarous behaviour of those criminals.
WILLIAM, EMPEROR AND KING