Photograph of French war orphan "adopted" by the Americans. Ramburvillars, October 27, 1918. There were 899,500 war orphans in France, many of whom had also lost their mothers. The story of the plight of the children in the war area is one of the most tragic chapters in the history of modem civilization.

Colonel Homer Folks, director, Civil American Red Cross, France, 1917-18, and chief, Red Cross Survey Mission in war areas 1918-19, says in "Human Costs of the War":

"We may enter in some slight degree into the misfortunes of one fatherless child. It is to a slight degree only, for no one of us really knows the child's soul. But it is absolutely beyond the range of our powers of imagination and sympathy to form any notion whatever of what fatherlessness means to 899,500 children. Long before we had comprehended more than a minute fraction, we should cry out in distress and beg for any other fate rather than that of wholly understanding what such figures mean.

"These children must prematurely assume responsibilities and must be without the guidance, companionship, inspiration, and education which can come only from daily contact with both parents. Such losses are not all of today or tomorrow. They project themselves through many years of the future. Not until well after the twenty-first century has begun to write its record will there be none in France to look back and say. 'How different my life might have been had I not lost my father in the Great War!'

"How many children were made orphans by the war, God only knows. There are millions and millions. Probably nearer ten million than five. They are not only in Europe but in all parts of Asia, to the remote parts of China and in many widely scattered areas of the Black Continent. They have been hungry literally for years and that means an under-nourishment that is bound to stunt their growth, to weaken their resistance to disease, and to make them easier victims of the epidemics which they must face from time to time. For years they have been, many of them, living in an atmosphere of fear, which must color their whole lives. They have been denied the restraining companionship of their fathers and older brother's and in great numbers of families, of their mothers. They have been in an atmosphere of killing, destruction and hate during the most impressionable years of their lives, leaving an impress which nothing can erase.

"One should stop a moment in passing, too, to think of the sufferings of the fathers and other poor men who died. Otherwise our picture would be hopelessly incomplete. Some of them were hardly conscious that they were wounded, death came so instantaneously. For huge numbers of others, who knows how many hundreds of thousands, there were hours or days or weeks of mental anguish and of physical torture. In all the earlier period, and all through the war, for that matter, only a small proportion in any of the armies could receive that immediate attention upon the battlefield which would have relieved their sufferings and increased their chances of recovery. They had to lie in the open field, perhaps under the hot sun, without drink or food, or walk or crawl or wriggle over fields or through woods or swamps, often for long distances, to find help, and then possibly could find none, for in such battles the individual counts for naught. Everything is disorganized, everything is insufficient, and he is lucky indeed who receives prompt and adequate attention. We must think, too, of their mental sufferings as they thought of their dear ones at home—of their wives, their children, their fathers, and mothers. They were dying gloriously for France, but they were human. They loved their homes, their children, and all the places to which they were accustomed. They loved life, believed in its promises, looked to its future. Not unwillingly they risked all and lost, but that did not diminish the bitterness of their grief when they realized that they were among those who were to pay the full price."*


After the signing of the Armistice, relief agencies made heroic efforts to alleviate the suffering of starvation and disease.

The European Children's Relief Bureau, organized February, 1919, Herbert Hoover, Chairman, distributed food and supplies to the value of $6,625,051.36.

The European Relief Council a consolidation of nine American social organizations, distributed supplies amounting to $29,556,071.90.

In addition to the above groups, the following American organizations furnished relief supplies valued at $96,506,869.36:

U. S. Grain Corporation $76,444,298.20
U. S. Government (surplus medical supplies). 4,267,392.88
American Red Cross 5,516.813,10
American Friends' Service 7,056,966.68
Commonwealth Fund 890,642.46
Joint Distribution Com 273,555.00
Near East Relief 1,944,119.91
Serbian Child Welfare Assn 77,869.94
American Women's Hospital 35,211.19

The total American relief deliveries, devoted mainly to the relief of children during the reconstruction period (1919-1923), was $220,704,581.78. Despite this generous contribution, millions perished.

American relief agencies carried on during the entire war as well as during reconstruction. Major relief operations for both periods:

Commission for Relief in Belgium, 1914-1919. $ 861,340.244.21
U. S. Food Administration, 1917-1919 3,050,496,599.23
Armistice Period (Director General of Relief). 1918-19191,101,486,783.34
Reconstruction Period, 1919-1923 220,704,581.78
Grand Total, November, 1914 to July, 1923 $5,234,028,208.56

In addition to these five billion dollars sent through accredited agencies, private individuals and families sent to distressed relatives in the war areas thousands of dollars, the total of which can not be estimated with any degree of accuracy.

*Human Costs of the War, by Homer Folks. By special permission of Harper & Brothers.

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