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184   DAYS OF PREPARATION

Four funds which may be grouped together owing to the similar nature of their appeal are those for the relief of the victims of the war in the invaded sections of Belgium, Serbia, Poland, and France. Of these the fund for Belgian Relief undoubtedly met the widest and most instant response. No single incident of the war so roused indignation and sympathy as the cynical violation of Belgian neutrality and the ruthless trampling down of the Belgian people. Within a few months the neutral commission for relief, formed under the auspices of the American and Spanish diplomatic representatives in Brussels and London, with Mr. Hoover as Chairman, had arranged, in the face of unparalleled difficulties, for the importation into Belgium of food supplies valued at over £10,000,000. Their appeal during the winter of 1915-16 rang around the world:

"Unless we get more assistance hundreds of thousands of the seven million people still in Belgium will actually starve. At least a million and a half Belgians are now entirely destitute. With the rapid exhaustion of the meat and vegetable supplies there will probably be, before harvest time, 2,500,000 in Belgium who must be fed solely by charity. The remaining 4,500,000 will get their pitiful daily allowance of bread through the commission and will pay for it. Will you help us to keep the destitute alive?"

Though the fund drew support from every quarter of the world, the fact that it was the invasion of Belgium that brought Great Britain into the conflict gave it precedence for a time over almost every other cause in the British Empire. The Lord Mayor of London became chairman of the British Relief committee. His memorable message to the British peoples re-echoed the cry of the Commission:

"The desolating hand of war has throttled Belgium's industries and pauperized almost a third of her population. In Liege, 30,000 women, old men, children, and cripples . . . in Malines, 25,000, in Brussels, nearly 250,000


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