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Newspaper Page Text
Here Is one typical example of the
1 great Belgian strike of today.
This is a wire war. Millions of
miles of wire barbed and "live" have
been strung as entanglements along
the thousand-mile firing-.fronts. All
the iron mongeries in the Teuton em
pires could not supply that great de
mand. And at Sagveghem, almost
within the battle zone, is a great wire
factory which 400 workmen refuse
"Put them to work," ordered a
jackbooted commander, determined
to conquer indomitable stubbornness.
But patriots on strike are not easily
forced to yield.
Sturdy and "sullen" 50 ringleaders
are marched into the local barrack's
"Fetch the children of these men,"
decrees the German commander.
"The sight of them must influence
Presently the little ones are at the
gate, an awed and silent band,
dressed all in black, with golden hair
brushed out like spun silk, each wear
ing above a palpitating heart a blood
red rose. A group of courageous
mothers whisper a few last words to
They file forward, hand in hand, a
pathetic processipn, each little girl
determined to be brave, all of them
very much afraid. But as they enter
the grim courtyard they hum a word
"Sovereign people, in thy might
Steadfast yet and valiant be,
On thy ancient banner write
Land and Law and Liberty."
Too late the German commander
realized that living flag, recognizes
the music of the national anthem,
knows that the sight of the children
he summoned must indeed influence
their fathers to bravery even to the
Americans do not need to be told
that there is nothing more unchange
able than the determination of a free
people to be free. In Liege, the little J
hill city which was captured but not
conquered, the military government
proclaimed that Belgian engine driv
ers should work for the invaders.
Four hundred railway servants ac
customed to the dangerous gradients
or the Meuse valley assembled in the
great railway yards to hear that com
mand. "Anton Claeys!"
A stocky little engine driver turns
toward the German officer. This time
last year Anton Claey's home on Rue
St Jean was destroyed in a night by
the invaders' bombardment Today
his new cottage is heavily mortgag
ed, he knows none better that
tood sells at famine prices and that
work is hard to find.
"Claeys, I offer you $10 a day. You
accept, of course?"
An engine driver steps from the
ranks. "Then I will," he says with
the desperate determination of a
man who has lost son and brother,
happiness and home. But the me
nace in his glance will keep his hand
from the throttle. Even a Prussian
officer might well fear for a train at
the mercy of such an engineer.
"Men," the officer expostulates,
"you will be asked to handle only
traffic and good trains. Wages will
be paid nightly. Let every man who
accepts take a step forward."
As one man the fearless 400 take
two steps backwards shouting: "No!
No! So help us God. Vive la Bel
gique. Yivant nos gallant soldats."
The German officers are helpless in
the midst of a national strike.
Prussia's persistent persecution of
unarmed workingmen extends over
the whole of Belgium, but the fight
of the Belgian workers is not confin
ed to the frontiers of Belgium nor
Prussia. Welsh miners left their pits
in defiance of a war act which would
inevitably have made them wage
slaves. Krupp workmen downed
tools to protest their right to strike.
Thus, we see the beginning of what
will be an epoch following the war.