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The Case of Edith Cavell A Study of the Rights of Non-Combatants   By: (1861-1936)

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THE Case of Edith Cavell.

A Study of the Rights of Non Combatants.

BY

JAMES M. BECK,

Former Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and Author of "The Evidence in the Case."

( Reprinted from "New York Times." )

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS, NEW YORK AND LONDON.

THE CASE OF EDITH CAVELL.

A Reply to Dr. Albert Zimmermann, Germany's Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs.

By JAMES M. BECK,

Former Assistant Attorney General of the United States, and Author of "The Dual Alliance v. The Triple Entente," and "The Evidence in the Case."

Mr. Beck, who is one of the leaders of the New York Bar, is the author of the most widely read article written since the war began, entitled: "The Dual Alliance v. The Triple Entente," which was subsequently expanded into a book, called "The Evidence in the Case," pronounced by a distinguished publicist to be "the classic of the war." After its publication in THE NEW YORK TIMES this article was reprinted in nearly every language of the civilized nations and over a million copies of it were published.

Those who have regarded the Supreme Court of Civilization meaning thereby the moral sentiment of the world as a mere rhetorical phrase or an idle illusion should take note how swiftly that court sitting now as one of criminal assize has pronounced sentence upon the murderers of Edith Cavell. The swift vengeance of the world's opinion has called to the bar General Baron von Bissing, and in executing him with the lightning of universal execration has forever degraded him.

Baron von der Lancken may possibly escape general obloquy, for his part in the crime was no greater than that of Pilate, who sought to wash his hands of innocent blood; but von Bissing will enjoy "until the last syllable of recorded time" the unenviable fame of Judge Jeffreys. He, too, was an able Judge and probably believed that he was executing justice, but because he did not execute it in mercy, but with a ferocity that has made his name a synonym for judicial tyranny, the world has condemned him to lasting infamy, and this notwithstanding the fact that he was made Chief Justice of the King's Bench, Lord High Chancellor of England, and a peer of the realm. All these titles are forgotten. Only that of "Bloody Jeffreys" remains.

Similarly, if his master shall be pleased to honor General Baron von Bissing with the iron cross for his action in the case of Miss Cavell, as the Kaiser honored the Captain of the submarine which destroyed the Lusitania and what order could be more appropriate in both cases than the cross, which recalls how another innocent victim of judicial tyranny was sacrificed? then even the Order of the Iron Cross will not save von Bissing from lasting obloquy. I do not question that he acted according to his lights and shared with Dr. Albert Zimmermann great "surprise" that the world should make such a sensation about the murder of one woman. Trajan once said that the possession of absolute power had a tendency to transform even the most humane man into a wild beast, and Judge Black in his great argument in the case of ex parte Milligan recalled the fact that Robespierre in his early life resigned his commission as Judge rather than pronounce the sentence of death, and that Caligula passed as a very amiable young man before he assumed the imperial purple. The story is as old as humanity that the appetite for blood, or at least the habit of murder, "grows by what it feeds upon."

The murder of Miss Cavell was one of exceptional brutality and stupidity. It never occurred to her judges that her murder would add an army corps to the forces of the Allies and that every English soldier will fight more bravely because of her shining example. So little was this appreciated either in Brussels or Berlin that the German Foreign Office, in its official apology for the crime, issued over the signature of Herr Doctor Albert Zimmermann, Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, expresses its surprise

that the shooting of an Englishwoman and the condemnation of several women in Brussels for treason have caused a sensation... Continue reading book >>




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