Sunday, 10 August 2014

US General to punish atrocity propagandist

On the right-hand side of U.S. president Woodrow Wilson is General John Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War One; a man who
wouldn't stand for false claims—such as giving poison sweets to children, cutting off a boy's ears, and feeding tuberculosis germs to U.S. PoWs—being made about the Germans

Seven months before the November 11, 1918, armistice that brought fighting to an end in the Great War, the U.S. government issued another batch of Liberty Loans, the third lot they'd issued during World War One. The American public were once again encouraged to do their patriotic duty and purchase the interest bearing bonds to support the war effort, and a huge publicity drive accompanied the launch, with celebrities and newspapers all reminding the citizenry of the need to bash the bosch. A group of U.S. soldiers on leave from the fighting in Europe—known as 'Pershing Veterans', after the American military chief—were also enlisted to promote Liberty Loans.

Rockford Morning Star (Rockford, IL), Thursday, May 2, 1918, p. 1.  

One of the "Pershing veterans", a sergeant, was credited with having claimed before American audiences:

"The Germans gave poisoned candy to the children to eat and hand grenades to play with. They show glee at the children's dying writhings and laugh aloud when the grenades explode. I saw one American boy about 17 years old who had been captured by the Germans, come back to our trenches. He had cotton in and about his ears. I asked some one what the cotton was for. The Germans cut off his ears and sent him back to tell us they want to fight men, was his answer. They feed Americans tuberculosis germs." 

Over in France, General Pershing got wind of this claim, and sent a telegram back home stating:

"As there is no foundation whatever for such statements based on any experience we have had, I recommend that this sergeant, if the statements quoted above were made by him, be immediately returned for duty here and that the statements be contradicted."

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