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1159 THE BELGIAN DOCTORS’ AND PHARMACISTS’ RELIEF FUND: ADDRESS BY DR. PECHÈRE. A MEETING of the constituents of the Belgian Doctors’ and Pharmacists’ Relief Fund was held on Monday last, Dec. 15th, at the house of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1, Wimpole-street, London, to hear an address from Dr. V. PECHERE, the President of the National Relief Com- mittee (Aide et Protection aux Medecins et Pharmaciens Belges Sinistres), the body which, sitting in Brussels throughout the war, distributed the money received from the British Fund and other analogous organisa- tions. The meeting was necessarily small as Dr. Pechere’s arrival was unexpected, and but little notice of it could be given publicly. Sir RICKMAN GODLEE, the chairman of the British Fund, introduced Dr. Pechere in a few words, saying that the audience, which knew by the regular accounts in the press all the details of the collection of the Fund, would hear from the speaker how the money had been distributed at the other end. He referred to his personal knowledge of the good that had been done, which was derived from the perusal of many grateful letters from beneficiaries. Dr. Pechere addressed the meeting as follows :- A Belgian writer has said during the war : " 1 would give a good part of my life to see a happy man." Well, ladies and gentlemen, you can see one without giving anything. Look at me. I am that man. Yes, I am quite happy, because I am realising a dream that I have dreamt many times during the war and many more times since. This dream was to cross to England and thank the whole English nation, and specially you, for all you have done for us during the terrible years we had to live in Belgium. And now, I am here, on this old English earth which was so hospitable to so many of my countrymen; I am now before those women and those men who have given without counting not only of their goods but also of their time and their trouble, and, above all, of their hearts to the Belgian soldiers, refugees, and exiles; to the first because they had so well defended their country, to the others because they had been driven out therefrom by a brutal invader. The Gratitude of Belgium. How should I not be happy-? Among those unhappy people were many who belonged to the medical and pharma- ceutical professions, and it is specially to these that you have extended your sympathy and your succour. In addition, I it is a great pleasure, and not less an honour, for me to be I here as their representative to say "Thank you." Thank you, Mr. President, who have given to the Committee the honour of your authority. Thank you, Dr. Des Voeux and Dr. Squire Sprigge, who were the mainstay of this work, and whose perpetual devotion has assured its complete develop- ment. Thank you, gentlemen of the Committee, those whom I know and those whom I do not know, who were always at the side of these indefatigable officers to help them in their charitable mission. Thank you, also, ladies and gentlemen, present or absent, English, Welsh, Irish, Scotch, or of the Dominions overseas, who were as united in this philanthropic crusade as you were on the battlefields, and without whom the goodwill of the workers would have remained inoperative. As long as the war remains in the mind of the Belgians-and it will live eternally-neither the medical nor the pharmaceutical pro- fession will ever forget what you have done for us. Your generosity is the greater in that you have given without any mental reservation, without knowing, most of the time, what was being done with your gifts. For that lack of information I have to apologise. I may assure you that in our committee, which we have always considered as a branch of yours, we have done all in our power to give you details of our actions. The Situation in Belgium after the Invasion. We have tried many times to send you our regular reports; we know that often you did not get them. We appealed for the assistance of the American Relief Com- mittee, and they told us that the Germans did not allow our papers to reach England. So you remained quite ignorant of our work, and for that reason I thought that you would be interested now to hear something of it. As a matter of fact I am unexpected here to-dav. I shall have to come officially at the end of December or the beginning of January. But since I was obliged to come now as well, 1 realised that my first duty on reaching England was to meet you and tell you of my personal gratitude and that of my friends. We hope that one of us may pay you an official visit in the future. But if you will allow me I will take this opportunity to say a few words on the situation in which you have given us your kind support. At the end of August, 1914, when we heard of the destruction and the atrocities committed in Eastern Belgium by the Germans, we tried to establish a committee of salvation for our confreres . sinistrés. But at that moment it was very difficult, if not quite impossible, to get any exact information about what had happened. The difficulties of leaving Brussels were enormous, for one had first to get a permit from the occupation ’authorities. A passport could only be obtained if it were for official purposes specified in detail. If a man were happy enough to get one, he was subjected to an incessant personal supervision. Railways were not available; the trains were commandeered by the German military forces. Moreover, the battle was raging between Brussels and Antwerp, between Brussels and Namur. All the roads were picketed, and Red Cross cars only were allowed to pass, with special licence, of course. Even then one was obliged to stop every moment to exhibit papers. It very often took two hours to travel six miles. In each village a report had to be made to the Commandantur. Moreover, a traveller was always in suspicion, the officer or his attendant kept him under supervision, and very often he was sent back. Of course, no explanations were ever given. Entrance into or exit from destroyed towns, such as Andenne, Dinant, Tamines, Aerschot, was formally forbidden. There was no postal service, much less telegraph or telephone. It was the beginning of the prison régime. Briefly, it was impossible for us to realise our plan to keep in touch with you. Those whom the Fund Succoured: a Tale of Horror. I pass on to the day when we heard from Dr. Jacobs of your establishment of the Belgian Doctors and Phar-. macists’ Relief Fund. I need not now explain to you how we have managed our work. I think you know it from our reports and letters. We got by subscrip- tions in our country about 180,000 francs (£7500), we got from foreign lands about 100,000 francs (£4000) and from your fund about 27,000. With this sum we were able to save about 140 families; that means more than 400 persons, among whom were many children. Now, what are the reasons that called for our intervention? Firstly, the disappearance of the head of the family. Among those killed by the Germans were five doctors. One in Andenne, Dr. Camus, was the burgomaster of that little city. When the German regiments took possession of the town they began to plunder, and, as was their custom, they took all the men, the burgomaster first of all. He was made responsible for all that subsequently happened. The soldiers were not in the place more than an hour when a fusillade took place. It was the beginning of the massacre. Why? Because "Man hat geschossen." You know it was the mot d’ordre. Let me tell you it was never true. There have never at any moment been any franc-tireurs in Belgium. In the first days of the war the authorities had enjoined the civil popu- lation, by notices, by posters, and so on, not to cause any trouble and not to make use of firearms. It is possible that perhaps, in isolated areas, a shot was fired. I say it is possible, but it was never proved. " Man hat geschossen " was the signal of the massacre, which had actually been prepared in cold blood by the staffs; also of the plunder and the fires. Many such plans were made and the same excuse was given. In other places there had been Belgian soldiers, or even French ones, who, while defending the place, had killed some of the enemy. In many of these cases the inhabitants were accused of having participated in the battle, and that was the reason given for the subsequent murders. This occurred in Dinant and Tamines, for you must know that hundreds of people in each of these little towns were put against the wall and shot-old people, men, women, and children, all together. Among those at Dinant were two pharmacists and two at Tamines, of whom one died ten days later from his wounds. As for Dr. Camus, he was fired on, kicked, lashed. His corpse was drawn round the streets, hoisted on the bridge of the Meuse, and, as it is said, thrown in the river. Another doctor was killed in Canthee, one in Hastiere, one near Dinant, and one in Spontin, a little village not very far from Dinant. Eight pharmacists were killed in the same way. I know the story of all of them, because I have heard it from their relatives or other eye-witnesses. One of them was told me by the widow of the victim, the pharmacist, Guilitte, of Andenne. May I tell it to you in few words? When the searching for the men began M. Guilitte, his brother-in-law, and his son, aged about 18, succeeded in escaping and in reaching the office, where his wife and another son, a boy of about 6, had been taken, paralysed by fear. The men shut themselves up in the cellar. Some minutes after came three German soldiers. " There is somebody hiding here." No, was the answer of the poor woman. They covered her face with their revolvers. No, she said again. Then one of those beasts held the woman on a chair while the two others
Transcript
Page 1: THE BELGIAN DOCTORS' AND PHARMACISTS' RELIEF FUND:

1159

THE BELGIAN DOCTORS’ ANDPHARMACISTS’ RELIEF FUND:

ADDRESS BY DR. PECHÈRE.

A MEETING of the constituents of the Belgian Doctors’and Pharmacists’ Relief Fund was held on Monday last,Dec. 15th, at the house of the Royal Society of Medicine,1, Wimpole-street, London, to hear an address from Dr.V. PECHERE, the President of the National Relief Com-mittee (Aide et Protection aux Medecins et PharmaciensBelges Sinistres), the body which, sitting in Brusselsthroughout the war, distributed the money receivedfrom the British Fund and other analogous organisa-tions. The meeting was necessarily small as Dr.Pechere’s arrival was unexpected, and but little noticeof it could be given publicly.

Sir RICKMAN GODLEE, the chairman of the BritishFund, introduced Dr. Pechere in a few words, sayingthat the audience, which knew by the regular accountsin the press all the details of the collection of the Fund,would hear from the speaker how the money had beendistributed at the other end. He referred to hispersonal knowledge of the good that had been done,which was derived from the perusal of many gratefulletters from beneficiaries.

Dr. Pechere addressed the meeting as follows :-A Belgian writer has said during the war : " 1 would give

a good part of my life to see a happy man." Well, ladiesand gentlemen, you can see one without giving anything.Look at me. I am that man. Yes, I am quite happy,because I am realising a dream that I have dreamt manytimes during the war and many more times since. Thisdream was to cross to England and thank the whole Englishnation, and specially you, for all you have done for us duringthe terrible years we had to live in Belgium. And now, Iam here, on this old English earth which was so hospitable toso many of my countrymen; I am now before those womenand those men who have given without counting not onlyof their goods but also of their time and their trouble, and,above all, of their hearts to the Belgian soldiers, refugees,and exiles; to the first because they had so well defendedtheir country, to the others because they had been drivenout therefrom by a brutal invader.

The Gratitude of Belgium.How should I not be happy-? Among those unhappy

people were many who belonged to the medical and pharma-ceutical professions, and it is specially to these that youhave extended your sympathy and your succour. In addition, Iit is a great pleasure, and not less an honour, for me to be Ihere as their representative to say "Thank you." Thankyou, Mr. President, who have given to the Committee thehonour of your authority. Thank you, Dr. Des Voeux andDr. Squire Sprigge, who were the mainstay of this work, andwhose perpetual devotion has assured its complete develop-ment. Thank you, gentlemen of the Committee, thosewhom I know and those whom I do not know, whowere always at the side of these indefatigable officersto help them in their charitable mission. Thank you,also, ladies and gentlemen, present or absent, English,Welsh, Irish, Scotch, or of the Dominions overseas, whowere as united in this philanthropic crusade as you were onthe battlefields, and without whom the goodwill of theworkers would have remained inoperative. As long as thewar remains in the mind of the Belgians-and it will liveeternally-neither the medical nor the pharmaceutical pro-fession will ever forget what you have done for us. Yourgenerosity is the greater in that you have given without anymental reservation, without knowing, most of the time, whatwas being done with your gifts. For that lack of informationI have to apologise. I may assure you that in our committee,which we have always considered as a branch of yours, wehave done all in our power to give you details of our actions.

The Situation in Belgium after the Invasion.We have tried many times to send you our regular

reports; we know that often you did not get them. Weappealed for the assistance of the American Relief Com-mittee, and they told us that the Germans did not allow ourpapers to reach England. So you remained quite ignorantof our work, and for that reason I thought that you wouldbe interested now to hear something of it. As a matter offact I am unexpected here to-dav. I shall have to comeofficially at the end of December or the beginning ofJanuary. But since I was obliged to come now as well, 1realised that my first duty on reaching England was to meetyou and tell you of my personal gratitude and that of my

friends. We hope that one of us may pay you an officialvisit in the future. But if you will allow me I will takethis opportunity to say a few words on the situation inwhich you have given us your kind support. At the end ofAugust, 1914, when we heard of the destruction and theatrocities committed in Eastern Belgium by the Germans,we tried to establish a committee of salvation for our confreres .sinistrés. But at that moment it was very difficult, ifnot quite impossible, to get any exact information aboutwhat had happened. The difficulties of leaving Brusselswere enormous, for one had first to get a permit from theoccupation ’authorities. A passport could only be obtained ifit were for official purposes specified in detail. If a man werehappy enough to get one, he was subjected to an incessantpersonal supervision. Railways were not available; thetrains were commandeered by the German military forces.Moreover, the battle was raging between Brussels andAntwerp, between Brussels and Namur. All the roads werepicketed, and Red Cross cars only were allowed to pass,with special licence, of course. Even then one was obligedto stop every moment to exhibit papers. It very often tooktwo hours to travel six miles. In each village a report hadto be made to the Commandantur. Moreover, a traveller wasalways in suspicion, the officer or his attendant kept himunder supervision, and very often he was sent back.Of course, no explanations were ever given. Entrance intoor exit from destroyed towns, such as Andenne, Dinant,Tamines, Aerschot, was formally forbidden. There was nopostal service, much less telegraph or telephone. It wasthe beginning of the prison régime. Briefly, it wasimpossible for us to realise our plan to keep in touch withyou.Those whom the Fund Succoured: a Tale of Horror.

I pass on to the day when we heard from Dr. Jacobsof your establishment of the Belgian Doctors and Phar-.macists’ Relief Fund. I need not now explain to youhow we have managed our work. I think you knowit from our reports and letters. We got by subscrip-tions in our country about 180,000 francs (£7500), we gotfrom foreign lands about 100,000 francs (£4000) andfrom your fund about 27,000. With this sum we wereable to save about 140 families; that means more than400 persons, among whom were many children. Now,what are the reasons that called for our intervention?Firstly, the disappearance of the head of the family.Among those killed by the Germans were five doctors. Onein Andenne, Dr. Camus, was the burgomaster of that littlecity. When the German regiments took possession of thetown they began to plunder, and, as was their custom, theytook all the men, the burgomaster first of all. He was maderesponsible for all that subsequently happened. The soldierswere not in the place more than an hour when a fusillade tookplace. It was the beginning of the massacre. Why? Because"Man hat geschossen." You know it was the mot d’ordre.Let me tell you it was never true. There have never atany moment been any franc-tireurs in Belgium. In the firstdays of the war the authorities had enjoined the civil popu-lation, by notices, by posters, and so on, not to cause

any trouble and not to make use of firearms. Itis possible that perhaps, in isolated areas, a shot wasfired. I say it is possible, but it was never proved. " Manhat geschossen " was the signal of the massacre, whichhad actually been prepared in cold blood by the staffs;also of the plunder and the fires. Many such planswere made and the same excuse was given. In other placesthere had been Belgian soldiers, or even French ones, who,while defending the place, had killed some of the enemy.In many of these cases the inhabitants were accused ofhaving participated in the battle, and that was the reasongiven for the subsequent murders. This occurred in Dinantand Tamines, for you must know that hundreds ofpeople in each of these little towns were put against thewall and shot-old people, men, women, and children, alltogether. Among those at Dinant were two pharmacistsand two at Tamines, of whom one died ten days later fromhis wounds. As for Dr. Camus, he was fired on, kicked,lashed. His corpse was drawn round the streets, hoisted onthe bridge of the Meuse, and, as it is said, thrown in the river.Another doctor was killed in Canthee, one in Hastiere, one nearDinant, and one in Spontin, a little village not very far fromDinant. Eight pharmacists were killed in the same way. Iknow the story of all of them, because I have heard it fromtheir relatives or other eye-witnesses. One of them was toldme by the widow of the victim, the pharmacist, Guilitte, ofAndenne. May I tell it to you in few words? When thesearching for the men began M. Guilitte, his brother-in-law,and his son, aged about 18, succeeded in escaping and inreaching the office, where his wife and another son, a boy ofabout 6, had been taken, paralysed by fear. The men shutthemselves up in the cellar. Some minutes after camethree German soldiers. " There is somebody hiding here."No, was the answer of the poor woman. They covered herface with their revolvers. No, she said again. Then one ofthose beasts held the woman on a chair while the two others

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went straight down to the cellar. They broke open thedoor with the butt-end of their rifles and found the threeinmates. Nobody knows exactly what happened then,but the poor woman heard clamours and a noise of flghtingand shots. When she saw the corpses afterwards she foundthem riddled by shot and pierced by bayonet wounds. Thatwas the fate of about 80 doctors and-as many pharmacists,while many were plundered and their houses destroyed bybombs, shells, or fire.

Medicine at its Post.What has now become of most of these poor people ? Nearly

the whole population of the cities or the destroyed villageshad been forced to flee. Only the poorest have remained inthe houses which had not been burned or demolished.But it was the duty of certain men to stay. There were

the doctors and the clergymen and those in authority. Theydid stay, and also those pharmacists who had still some-where to live and had kept some of their materials. Manyof the doctors and chemists had one or more children. Theywere deprived of everything. Very often the only clothesthey had were on their shoulders. Their money had beenstolen, and -they were as poor as their fellows., That is tosay, they had nothing at all. Even had any citizens retainedsome of their possessions, it was surely impossible,, for thedoctors at any rate, to solicit their, aid. The doctors arethere, are they not, to help the people, rich or poor, not tobe helped by them? The doctors were, moreover, not onlydeprived of their possessions, but owing to the generalpoverty they remained unpaid for their work, whichincreased daily. Their position made it impossible forthem to ask for the charity dispensed to the labouringclasses, and their need was in many cases greater. Thesewere the men who were helped by your Fund. OurCommittee supplied them with food, with clothing, andwith coal ; and since the end of the war we have in manycases helped them to rebuild their surgeries and their shops.If I could make you realise jbhe conditions under which theylived and worked during the war you would better appreciatewhat your generosity has done for us.

The Call of Duty to Humanity.I think I have said enough about the material side. I

would like to add one word as to the mental distressin which these poor men lived. They were in mostcases completely isolated from their confreres, and theywere obliged to see the health of the people rapidlydeteriorating owing to the absence of food, drugs, and medicalappliances. For instance, the percentage of deaths fromtuberculosis, which was before the war 16 per 1000 rose in1918 to 34 per 1000. Intellectual life ceased and we wereobliged to live under a rule which was hateful and which wefelt to be degrading. Of the many reasons we had for hatingthe Germans their efforts to debase the population was thestrongest.

Dr. Pechere concluded by saying: ’’ When I wasa little boy, there hung in my room the picture of thedeck of a battleship, under which was written ’Englandexpects every man to do his duty.’ In the great warEngland has done her duty, and done it splendidly, toherself, to Belgium, and to humanity, and Belgium willnever forget it."A vote of thanks to Dr. Pechere for his moving address

was proposed by Dr. SQUIRE SPRIGGE, and seconded byDr. H. A. DES VŒUX, who said that the great exploit ofthe Fund was performed in its last year. In that yearthe Fund received over £4000 from subscribers, althoughthose responsible for its distribution could give no posi-tive assurances to the constituency of how the moneywas being spent. Such information as was now and

again forthcoming-and for a period of 18 months itceased entirely-showed that the money arrived andwas being well spent; so the subscribers trusted and

gave.Sir RICKMAN GODLEE, in putting the vote of thanks

to the meeting, said that the assistance of Mr. C.Hoover in the early stages and of the American RedCross in the closing period had been invaluable to theFund.The vote of thanks being carried with acclamation,

Dr. PECHERE briefly replied, stating that his Committeestill had a little money in hand and many claimantsupon their assistance.Dr. ALFRED Cox proposed a vote of thanks to Sir

Rickman Godlee for presiding, and added that theFund owed a deep debt to its chairman of Committeefor his energy and sagacity in the conduct of business.

This having been seconded by Dr. DE HAVILLAND HALL, the meeting terminated.

BRITISH FEDERATION OF MEDICAL ANDALLIED SOCIETIES :

AN INTERESTING CONFERENCE.

UNDER the auspices of the Federation of Medical andAllied Societies (late Medical Parliamentary Com-mittee) a conference was held in the Steinway Hall,Lower Seymour-street, London, on Dec. 12th, underthe chairmanship of Sir MALCOLM MORRIS, to considerthe draft regulations for insurance practice. In openingthe proceedings the chairman explained that theFederation was not formed in antagonism to any exist-ing society, but marked, for the first time in the historyof medicine, the combination of the three sides of

medicine-namely, practitioners, nurses, and pharma-ceutical chemists. The aim of the Federation was toencourage medical men to take their proper positionin the social work of the nation in the House ofCommons and on municipal bodies. He then read tothe meeting a communication from Sir W. WatsonCheyne, M.P., a former chairman of the Federation,who stated that he was glad to hear that the Federa-tion proposed to discuss the draft regulations, as it wasdifficult to find out how far matters had gone underpiecemeal methods, while the whole situation shouldbe considered together, and any increased paymentsmade retrospective. Sir Watson Cheyne described theidea of legislation as being " to avoid opportunities ofdiscussion in Parliament, and to push things throughby orders and rules which can never be properlycontrolled by the House," and suggested that theconclusions arrived at by the conference might bediscussed with the committee of medical Memberswhom he would summon for the purpose. A com-munication was also received from Captain F. E. Guest,Chief Liberal Whip, who promised a sympatheticattitude on the part of the Prime Minister towards thesuggested deputation.

Criticisnz of the National Health Insurance Act.Dr. E. H. M. STANCOMB said the medical profession had

had some years of experience of service under theNational Health Insurance Act, and was now in aposition to judge it, and, in his opinion, to condemn it,the grounds being the absence of adequate equipment,clinical, surgical, pathological, and ancillary, the formof consultant and nursing service, together with therestrictions as to drugs, appliances, and other thingswhich were necessary for efficiency. The Ministry ofHealtlf had a medical service incapable of securingefficiency on the part of the practitioner with inadequateresults to the community. In such conditions the panelpractitioner was threatened with delegation to an

inferior grade. He was dispossessed of a due share inthe administration of his industry, and was approachingbureaucratic slavery. The Great War had demonstratedwhat organised medical service upon an adequatescale could do, and whoever won the war medicalservice saved it. With this knowledge before them theprofession might expect from the Ministry of Healthsomething better than a perpetuation of past weaknesswith only slight, if favourable, variations. The new

regulations bore no evidence of any grasp on thefundamental question of national health viewed fromthe preservative side. He hoped that the conferencewould voice an insistent demand for efficiency andfreedom. By efficiency he understood proper equip-ment, and endowment for the best scientific service;and by freedom the granting of such administrative .

power to the medical profession in local autonomousareas as would enlist the whole-hearted interest of

practitioners in their task of paramount importance.He believed that along the lines of our .existingeducational system would be found the means ofconferring local autonomy with central control, thussecuring efficiency and freedom.Dr. J. F. GORDON DILL commenced by saying that it

was reasonably certain that a large body of the medicalprofession and of the general public did not find theprovisions for medical treatment under the National


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