Le 18 juillet 2016, 13:11 dans Humeurs • 0
They were the kind of pigmies to whom Christ would have referred, had He been with me, as "These, my little ones." They ranged in age all the way from the merest toddlers to the beginnings of adolescence. No one would have guessed the adolescent part of it, for there wasn't a child in the gathering who looked older than ten. They didn't talk. They didn't laugh. They were terribly intent, for each had a roll and a pannikin of cocoa over which it crouched with an animal eagerness. And the stench from the starveling bodies was nauseating.
The people who attended to their needs were Austrians. There are less than forty American officials in the whole of Europe to superintend the workings of the Relief Administration. The food had been provided one-third by American philanthropy, the other two-thirds by Austrians—which is an answer to those thrifty economists who are so afraid of pauperising Europe. This is the fixed rule of the American Relief Administration's activities, that it contributes one-third of the expense and does the organising, while the country assisted provides the other two-thirds and the personnel of the workers. When the country is able to function for itself, as is the case with Czecho-Slovakia, the machinery remains but the Administration withdraws.
Another useful fact to remember is that one American dollar, at the current rate of exchange, keeps one of these little skeletons alive for a month. And yet another fact is that the whole of each dollar donated is expended on food and nothing is deducted for organisation.
As I stood in that dingy hall and watched the overwhelming tragedy of spoliated childhood, my memory went back three years. The last time I had witnessed a misery so heart-breaking had been at Evian, where the trains entered France from Switzerland, repatriating the little French captives who had existed for three years behind the German lines. It had seemed to me then that those corpselike, unsmiling victims of human hate had represented the foulest vehemence of the crime of war. Yet here today in Vienna, two years after our much prayed for peace, I have been confronted by the same crime against childhood, being enacted with a yet greater shamelessness, for the war is ended, four-fifths of the world has an excess of food and there is no longer any excuse of military necessity. Today our only possible excuse is hard-heartedness and besotted selfishness.