RELIEF FOR POLAND AND RUSSIA
Poland's pathetic appeal---Madame Helena Paderewski joins her husband in relief for native land---Polish Central Relief---Americans seek to relieve distress in Russia--Lithuanian War Relief Committee---Armenian and Syrian Relief---Serbian Relief Committee.
No appeal has seemed to strike more deeply into the great, sympathetic heart of America than that of war-stricken Poland, where all the children under seven years of age have died; where a territory filled with people at peace with all the world was suddenly transformed into one great battlefield of tramping millions; where 300 towns, and over 2,000 churches consecrated to peace, love, and the worship of God, are in ashes; where 14,000,000 people have died since the war began. These tragic facts have been brought home to the people of America by the great Paderewski who founded the National American Committee for the Polish Victims' Relief Fund Mr. Paderewski frequently reminded us that on November 5, 1916, Germany and Austria offered freedom and independence to those parts of devastated Poland which they had reconquered from Russia and in exchange for its liberation the miniature Kingdom of Poland was to contribute 1,012,000 volunteer soldiers to fight the battles of the Central Powers; and that this magnanimous and strategic ruse resulted in utter failure-only 680 men, half of them former convicts, having responded to Germany's call to arms and, according to reports, 30,000 Poles were hanged for refusing to enlist. Mr. Paderewski reminded us also that, although politically inexistent, Poland has contributed to the cause of the Allies more soldiers than either Poland or Servia; 1,300,000 to the Russian Army, 7,000 to the French Army, 2,000 to the Canadian Army, and in response to the appeal of President Wilson, the Poles in the United States offered this Government 100,000 volunteer soldiers and 500 officers. It is not surprising that such an appeal from a man who has made tremendous personal sacrifices should have reached America's heart, and that the contributions for Polish relief work have been substantial ones.
Of special interest to American women will be the work of Madame Paderewski , who has consecrated her life to the work of relief in her beloved and devastated land. Madame Paderewski while in Paris late in 1915 conceived the idea of selling dolls for the benefit of the Polish Relief Fund. These wonderful dolls are made by the Polish refugees in Paris-artists, sculptors, writers-all people of talent and many of them well-known; by engaging them to make the dolls Madame Paderewski has not only been able to provide support for these gifted workers, but she has been able to raise in this way more than $25,000, having sold about 10,000 dolls. Her doll atelier in Paris has been a refuge for all sorts of people, professors of universities, newspaper men, lawyers, blind and maimed soldiers, children, all have found bread and shelter until a better opportunity presented itself. "I am very happy," said Madame Paderewski , "that because of these dolls the flower of Polish youth has been able to survive and the lives of many Polish babies have been saved." But there is a much more important work now to which Madame Paderewski is devoting her life. This is an American refuge for suffering womanhood-a home for Polish girls in Warsaw, Poland. Of this work Madame Paderewski says, "More than five hundred thousand young girls of my country, Poland, have had their lives shattered by the greatest tragedy that can come to a woman. Victims of the conquering and retiring armies that have incessantly swept over Poland since the beginning of the war, these unfortunate young mothers, the majority of whose babies have died for want of food, clothing and shelter, find themselves outcasts-helpless, alone. They come from all classes. That which made them the most pitiable of war victims does not respect rank nor recognize virtue. Their physical suffering, unspeakably severe as it has been, is exceeded by mental agony that increases with the realization of their condition as they face the future. A home must be provided for these unfortunate ones. They must be put into an atmosphere of hope and courage. From this center, as an outgrowth, other branch institutions similar in aim and character, but entirely self-supporting will be established in Galicia, Lithuania and all over Poland. By this means I hope not only to give aid to my needy countrywomen but through them to revive the ancient arts for which Poland has been so justly famous, including tapestry weaving, lace making, metallic and silken embroidery, wood carving and the world famous art products of Zakopane. Sympathy is the sweetest gift God has given to our sex, and I am sure American women will devise ways and means at once to have a share in this noble work. "
The Polish Central Relief Committee of America, was founded shortly after the outbreak of the war, October 2, 1914. "This, "writes one of the officers, "is the first Polish war relief organization not only in America, but also in the world, as the General Committee for Polish Relief in Vevey was organized later, on January 9, 1915.
"Upon organization of the Committee at Vevey, the Polish Central Relief Committee of America immediately, upon invitation, joined this organization as a branch committee for work in America and named its representatives thereto, recognizing the Vevey Committee as the central organization for Polish war relief in the world.
"The real branch agency of the General Committee for Polish Relief of Vevey and central agency for Polish relief work in America, is therefore, the Polish Central Relief Committee of America with offices in Chicago, embracing all the largest and most important Polish organizations in America, namely: Polish National Alliance, 130,000; Polish Roman Catholic Union, 115,000; Polish Clergy Union, 800; Polish Falcons Alliance, 25,000; Polish Women's Alliance, 25,000; Polish Alma Mater, 6,000; Polish Association of America, 8,000; Polish Brotherhood of St. Joseph, 6,000; Polish Union of Buffalo, 15,000; Polish Union of Wilkes-Barre, 15,000; Alliance of Poles in America, 8,000; Polish Uniformed Societies of America, 5,000 and Polish Singers Alliance, 3,000,
"All these organizations have submitted themselves, in the matter of war relief, to the direction and control of the Polish Central Relief Committee of America, which, on the other hand, holds the right to control the proper distribution of funds by the General Polish Relief Committee at Vevey through its representatives, and receives from there regular reports as to this distribution. "
The relief funds collected by all the organization constituting the Polish Relief Committee of America amount to about $2,000,000-of which the largest sum, around $300,000, was collected by the Executive Committee of the P.C.R.C. of A.
The Polish University Grants Committee of the Polish Victims' Relief Fund was organized in the spring of 1916 by Madame Jane Arctowska as a result of letters received from Polish friends stating the misery existing among the Polish intellectuals who were refuges and without a means of livelihood because of the war, and the great need there was of help.
A number of prominent men and women who sympathized with this work consented to serve on the committee together with Madame Pierre Curie,Mrs. Robert Bliss.
At the beginning all money collected was distributed among the refugees, but as soon as it was found that help could be extended to Poland a committee of three persons was formed in Warsaw for the supervision of the distribution of the fund. The money sent to Warsaw is taken by carrier from Switzerland and in this way more than $6,000 has been sent into Poland. This fund has sent to Europe more than $16,000 of which $6,000 has gone into Poland and the remaining $10,000 has been distributed by the Paris Committee to refugees in France, Switzerland, Holland and Italy.
Among other organizations doing relief work for Poland are the following: Friends of Poland, Boston, Mass.; Emergency Aid Committee, Philadelphia; Polish Relief Committee, Los Angeles; Polish Sufferers' War Relief Fund, Utica, N.Y.; Polish Relief Committee, Rochester; Polish Victims' Relief Fund, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
The Russian War Relief Committee was formed for the purpose of evidencing the long-existing friendship of Americans for Russia. Starvation upon a scale more widespread than in any other country, because of the immensity of its population, is existent in Russia. Five million men, women and children, driven from Poland and Galicia into the provinces of Russia, were without food, clothing and shelter, in the first years of the war, and there was also a dangerous dearth of hospital supplies and equipment. It was to aid in relieving these needs that the Russian War Relief Committee was formed to support the Wynne-Bevan Ambulance Unit. Mrs. William Astor Chanler been prominently identified with this work.
The American Ambulance in Russia, of which Miss Elsa Maxwell, assistant secretary and Miss Ethel D. Hamilton, assistant treasurer, had collected up to July, 1917, approximately $130,000 and had 50
American ambulances in Russia doing active service directly behind the lines in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. In the fall of 1917 the committee undertook to raise sufficient funds to install a complete American Ambulance Hospital in Russia at a cost of $200,000, which sum was required to establish the hospital and to maintain it for one year. The committee has sent forward large quantities of gauze, bandages, chloroform and other hospital supplies in addition to the ambulances, and Dr. Philip Newton was sent by the committee to Russia as Chief Surgeon of the ambulance units operating there. The ambulances have been endeavoring to care for the wounded of an entire army corps of 55,000 men, and in his 1917 report Dr. Newton stated that every time there was a big battle the unit was overwhelmed and the wounded that could not be carried in the ambulances had to be transported in carts and hay wagons. During one battle the American ambulances in Russia carried over 2,200 wounded soldiers within a period of six days. The American ambulance in Russia is the only American organization working with the Russian Army.
The Refugees in Russia Fund was formed to succor the millions of children and aged, homeless in Russia, forced to flee before the invading armies. The disbursements of money collected in the United States are supervised by a committee in Petrograd and by Thomas Whittimore, who represents the committee in the field in Russia.
The Lithuanian Central War Relief Committee was organized in 1916, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for the purpose of collecting funds and clothing for the relief of Lithuanians in the war-stricken zone. Its first most important work was the directing of the universal "Lithuanian Day "proclaimed by President Wilson as November 1, 1916. Shortly afterward, owing to its rapid growth, the Central War Relief Committee moved its main office from Wilkes-Barre to New York City, where it also overtook the work of the absolving Lithuanian American Relief Committee. With a system of branches, in charge of volunteer workers, in all of the largest cities of the Union and in a great many smaller ones, the Lithuanian Central War Relief Committee next instituted a monthly subscription plan by which Lithuanians in the various cities are enabled to contribute a small amount per month toward relief of their kindred in Europe.
Later the Lithuanian Central War Relief Committee established close relationship with the Lithuanian relief committee in Lithuania, Switzerland, Russia, and Sweden. With information received from these countries explaining the situation of the Lithuanian sufferers, the Lithuanian Central War Relief Committee has successfully carried on its work of relief through monthly subscriptions and various other donations raised by means of fairs, bazaars, balls, and other benefits. These European organizations have also sent their representatives to this country, and under the auspices of the Lithuanian Central War Relief Committee these men have collected large amounts of money for the ever-increasing number of Lithuanian orphans, widows and crippled soldiers in the various European allied or neutral countries.
A junior league has been formed to which belong all children who donate a small monthly sum to the fund for orphan children.
Among the prominent men interested in the organization are M. Ycas, member of the former Russian Duma and at present vice president of the Department of Education in Russia; Dr. J. Basanavicius, president of the Society of Science, Vilna and Dr. J. Szliupas, leader of the American Lithuanians.
From November 1,1816, to October, 1917, the total of the donations received by the Lithuanian Central War Relief Committee amounted to $193,065.56.
The executive board consists of: President, J. S. Lopatto, treasurer, M. W. Bush, vice president, V. F. Yanlovsky, vice president, P. S. Vilmont, secretary, V. K. Rackauskas, executive secretary, V. Vencius.
The American Committee for Armenian and Syrian relief was formed in October, 1915, and in less than two years total contributions aggregated $3,400,00. The purpose of the committee has been to save the lives of the members of the Christian Races threatened with extermination through the war in Western Asia. Many base relief hospitals have been established at various centers, from which help has been distributed through wide areas. In the Russian Caucasus, thousands of orphaned children are under the care of agents of the organization. The committee has solicited funds to support these children at a cost of three dollars per month per capita, and is also aiding older people. All contributions have gone directly for relief in Western Asia, the expense of administration having been met privately. Many auxiliary branches have been organizing through the United States, the aim being to have a branch in every state in the Union. Many people bought Liberty bonds and donated them to this fund, and at a Billy Sunday meeting held in New York City $120,000 was subscribed While this committee was not organized by women nor do they take chief part in the administrative part of the work, many women are rendering splendid service at the relief centers abroad, in the Russian Caucasus and even in Syria and Turkey. The majority of relief given by the committee is to women refugees and their children. Among the various committees in this country engaged in raising relief funds there are several women of marked ability. These are missionaries who have spent many years in the East but who were forced home at the beginning of the war.
Nothing in the thrilling story of American relief work is more filled with heart-interest than is the record of achievement of the Serbian Relief Committee of America. The committee was formed in 1914, and in March, 1915, the sum of $20,000 was cabled to Serbia for seed corn and flour for replanting the district devastated by the unsuccessful Austrian invasion of the previous autumn. This was followed with a shipment of 1,000 American plows, harrows and hand tools, and $30,000 worth of clothing for the needy, including 148,000 yards of material for clothing and bedding, 80 sewing machines, 200,000 needles, 5,000 spools of thread, and 200 pounds of pins. When these things arrived the farmers were all at the front, but the women planted the fields and the crop was good. The Serbian Government sent its warmest thanks for the excellent "foreign tools," and for the generosity that prompted them. It was then that the typhus epidemic swept over the country, bringing its untold misery, and the contributions to the anti-typhus campaign amounted to more than $68,000. No sooner was the typhus overcome, and the nation convalescent, than Serbia was invaded simultaneously by Germany, Bulgaria and Austria. Help was promised by the Allies but, unfortunately, it could not be given in time, and the Serbian Army, fighting and retreating with a strategy that will be deathless in history, accompanied by all the population who could march, retired over the snow-clad mountains of Albania and Montenegro, till the sea barred their further retreat. They were then in a destitute country, without food, exhausted, and dying by hundreds. Again the Serbian Relief Committee of America and its associates chartered a small ship, and removed as many of them as possible, continuing the work until the Allied Governments were able to take it up. The Committee's share of this expense was $11,000. The sick were taken to Corsica where the Scottish Women's Hospital did excellent work for them. Under the auspices of the American Committee Mrs. Farnam,Miss Burke raised a fund of over $30,000 for this work. Those who were physically able to go were taken to France, where the Committee contributed for the work $1,000. Two later appropriations amounting to $59,000 were for food for the poor in Serbia.
This Commission is authorized by the Teuton and Bulgar Military Government. Supplies are purchased in Roumania at a fair rate, and are easily forwarded by a short railway journey to Belgrade, where they are received by the Commission and distributed exclusively by them. What makes this particularly interesting to Americans is that the Swiss-Serbian Relief Committee, as well as all Serbian relief committees in existence, are uniting in sending their help through the Americans. Thus America stands as a leader in this great work.
The Serbian Relief Committee of America was formed with the sanction of the Royal Serbian Government and is under the patronage of Her Royal Highness, Princess Helen of Serbia, Madame Jusserand, Madame Bakhmeteff, Lady Spring Rice, and the Honorable Consul General of Serbia, M. I. Pupin, LL.D., Sc. D. The president of the organization is Charles W. Eliot, L.L..D. M.D., Ph.D., M.A., and among the American women who have bee prominently identified with the work are Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, Mrs. Charles S. Fairchild, Mrs. W. S. Cowles,, Mrs. F. W. Whitbridge, Mrs. Douglas Robinson, Mrs. Robert P. Huntington, Mrs. H. H. Jenkins, Mrs. Robert Burnside Potter, Mrs. Alfred Coats, Mrs. Goodhue Livingston, Mrs. T. Tileston Wells, Mrs. John Henry Hammond, Mrs. George S. Brewster, Mrs. Breck Trowbridge Mrs. Thomas Jex Preston, Princess Pierre Troubetskoy, Miss Annie B. Jennings, Mrs. L. H. McCormick, and Mrs. R. S. Pierrepont. The organization has headquarters at 70 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
The Serbian Hospitals' Fund, through which so much that is generous and beautiful has been done, was conceived and organized by Madame Slako Grovitch. Since the outbreak of the war she has devoted herself to relief work for Serbia. In August, 1914, she took a party of nurses and hospital equipment with her to Serbia, and herself assisted in the work of the hospital where they were installed. In January, 1915, Madame Grovitch arrived in America and, with the help of friends organized the Serbian Agricultural Relief Committee (70 Fifth Avenue, New York City) now called the Serbian Relief Committee, for which she raised over $100,000; a Serbian Relief Committee in New Haven, under the leadership of Professor Beebe,Yale University; the Serbian Distress Fund of Boston, of which Dr. Morton Prince,chairman. Madame Grovitch then made a lecture tour of some months, speaking in most of the large cities and organizing committees in various places.
In July, 1915, she returned to Serbia where she established the Mabel Grovitch Baby Hospital with funds contributed in America by personal friends. She was accompanied by Miss Elizabeth Shelley,Washington.
Later, Madame Grovitch made the historic retreat across Albania after the invasion of Serbia by the Austro-German army. After arriving in Greece and finding there many women and children of the better classes living in great poverty, she decided to collect a special fund for their relief. On her return to the United States in March, 1917, she founded the Serbian Hospitals' Fund, at the same time carrying on her Fund for the Serbian Families. The total amount collected for the Fund through the lectures and appeals of Madame Grovitch, approximately $104,000 since March, 1916.
In April, 1917, Madame Grovitch went to Berne, as her husband is stationed there as Serbian minister to Switzerland. She has been personally engaged in the work of distributing relief to the refugee families there, to Serbian students in France and Switzerland, and also the prisoners of war both in Austria and Germany, and those interned in Switzerland and France.
She returned to America in November to continue her work. In addition to continuing the Fund for Students and Families, Madame Grovitch came also as the special delegate of the Swiss-American Committee for the Relief of Allied Prisoners of War interned in Switzerland. She conducted the Serbian booth at the Allied Bazaar, "Hero Land," and also an exhibit sent on by the Swiss-American Committee of Articles made by the allied prisoners of war interned in Switzerland and France.
Even the animals have not been forgotten in the war relief work of American women. Mrs. Elphinstone Maitland,at the head of what is known as the Blue Cross Fund, designed to help suffering horses in war time. Mrs. Maitland, also chairman of "Our Dumb Friends' League," a society for the encouragement of kindness to animals. It is interesting to know that dogs are being used in many ways in the war, including sentinels, despatch carriers, ammunition guards, to seek out wounded, as convoys, etc. The dogs must first undergo an examination before a board with a special jury. If they are accepted for service they are placed in centers for instruction, preparation and training. They are intrusted with experienced trainers who make them familiar with their positions as soldiers, and they are taught courage, discipline, sangfroid, prudence and dispatch. It is only after a long course in these schools that the dogs are sent to the front for active service.
As sentinels the dogs are used in the trenches. It is said that some
dogs have saved whole companies of infantry in time of fog by showing by
their growling the near presence of German forces. They carry orders and
instructions from one unit to another across country exposed to shell fire,
and they go swiftly through places inaccessible to man. One dog had its
jaw broken while on such a mission, but in spite of the wound it carried
the message to its destination. Ambulance dogs are required to discover
the wounded and to find the ambulances. They carry to the latter the cap
of the wounded man or some object indicating the unit to which he belongs.
The Blue Cross has established canine infirmaries for these dogs. It gathers
together the wounded, the deaf, the physically overridden and those suffering
from other diseases. The society has founded kennels at the base and at
the front. The former are close to the training centers and the latter are
with the armies. Each establishment consists of a certified veterinary surgeon,
several attendants and grooms. The Blue Cross War Dog Service depends entirely
upon voluntary subscription.
Part IV. A Directory of Women's Organizations Doing Defense Work
Table of Contents