Part 1 out of 5
Produced by Al Haines
THE LAND OF DEEPENING SHADOW
D. THOMAS CURTIN
I GETTING IN
II WHEN SKIES WERE BLUE
III THE CRIME AGAINST THE CHILDREN
IV PULPITS OF HATE
V PUPPET PROFESSORS
VI THE LIE ON THE FILM
VII THE IDEA FACTORY
VIII CORRESPONDENTS IN SHACKLES
IX ANTON LANG OF OBERAMMERGAU
X SUBMARINE MOTIVES
XI THE EAGLE AND THE VULTURE
XII IN THE GRIP OF THE FLEET
XIII A LAND OF SUBSTITUTES
XIV THE GAGGING OF LIEBKNECHT
XV PREVENTIVE ARREST
XVI POLICE RULE IN BOHEMIA
XVII SPIES AND SEMI-SPIES
XVIII THE IRON HAND IN ALSACE-LORRAINE
XIX THE WOMAN IN THE SHADOW
XX THE WAR SLAVES OF ESSEN
XXI TOMMY IN GERMANY
XXII HOW THE PRUSSIAN GUARD CAME HOME FROM THE SOMME
XXIII HOW GERMANY DENIES
XXIV GERMANY'S HUMAN RESOURCES
XXV BERLIN'S EAST-END
XXVI IN THE DEEPENING SHADOW
XXVII ACROSS THE NORTH SEA
XXVIII THE LITTLE SHIPS
THE LAND OF DEEPENING SHADOW
Early in November, 1915, I sailed from New York to Rotterdam.
I spent nearly a month in Holland completing my preparations, and
at length one grey winter morning I took the step that I dreaded.
I had left Germany six months before with a feeling that to enter
it again and get safely out was hopeless, foolish, dangerous,
impossible. But at any rate I was going to try.
At Zevenaar, while the Dutch customs officials were examining my
baggage, I patronised the youth selling apple cakes and coffee, for
after several months' absence from Germany my imagination had been
kindled to contemplate living uncomfortably on short rations for
some time as the least of my troubles. Furthermore, the editorial
opinion vouchsafed in the Dutch newspaper which I had bought at
Arnhem was that Austria's reply to the "Ancona" Note made a break
with America almost a certainty. Consequently as the train rolled
over the few remaining miles to the frontier I crammed down my
apple cakes, resolved to face the unknown on a full stomach.
The wheels ground under the brakes, I pulled down the window with a
bang and looked out no longer upon the soft rolled military cap of
Holland but upon the business-like spiked helmet of Germany. I
steeled myself. There was no backing out now. I had crossed the
The few passengers filed into the customs room, where a corps of
skilled mechanics prised open the contents of bags and trunks.
Each man was an expert in his profession. A hand plunged into one
of my bags and emerged with several bars of chocolate, the wrappers
of which were shorn off before the chocolate was well out of the
bag. A bottle of liniment, the brand that made us forget our
sprains and bruises in college days, was brought to light, and with
commendable dexterity the innocent label was removed in a twinkling
with a specially constructed piece of steel. The label had a
picture of a man with a very extensive moustache--the man who had
made the liniment famous, or _vice versa_--but the trade name and
proprietor must go unsung in the Fatherland, for the Government has
decreed that travellers entering Germany may bring only three
things containing printed matter, viz.: railroad tickets, money and
When the baggage squad had finished its task and replaced all
unsuspected articles, the bags were sealed and sent on to await the
owner, whose real troubles now began.
I stepped into a small room where I was asked to hand over all
printed matter on my person. Two reference books necessary for my
work were tried and found not guilty, after which they were
enclosed in a large envelope and sent through the regular censor.
Switched into a third room before I had a chance even to bid
good-bye to the examiners in the second, I found myself standing
before a small desk answering questions about myself and my
business asked tersely by an inquisitor who read from a lengthy
paper which had to be filled in, and behind whom stood three
officers in uniform. These occasionally interpolated questions and
always glared into my very heart. When I momentarily looked away
from their riveted eyes it was only to be held transfixed by the
scrutinising orbs of a sharp, neatly dressed man who had been a
passenger on the train. He plays the double role of
detective-interpreter, and he plays it in first-class fashion.
While the man behind the desk was writing my biography, the
detective--or rather the interpreter, as I prefer to think of him,
because he spoke such perfect English--cross-examined me in his own
way. As the grilling went on I did not know whether to be anxious
about the future or to glow with pride over the profound interest
which the land of Goethe and Schiller was displaying in my life and
Had I not a letter from Count Bernstorff?
I was not thus blessed.
Did I not have a birth certificate? Whom did I know in Germany?
Where did they live? On what occasions had I visited Germany
during my past life? On what fronts had I already seen fighting?
What languages did I speak, and the degree of proficiency in each?
Many of my answers to these and similar questions were carefully
written down by the man at the desk, while his companions in the
inquisition glared, always glared, and the room danced with
soldiers passing through it.
At length my passport was folded and returned to me, but my
credentials and reference books were sealed in an envelope. They
would be returned to me later, I was told.
I was shunted along into an adjoining small room where nimble
fingers dexterously ran through my clothing to find out if I had
overlooked declaring anything.
Another shunting and I was in a large room. I rubbed elbows with
more soldiers along the way, but nobody spoke. Miraculously I came
to a halt before a huge desk, much as a bar of glowing iron, after
gliding like a living thing along the floor of a rolling mill,
halts suddenly at the bidding of a distant hand.
Behind the desk stood men in active service uniforms--men who had
undoubtedly faced death for the land which I was seeking to enter.
They fired further questions at me and took down the data on my
passport, after which I wrote my signature for the official files.
Attacks came hard and fast from the front and both flanks, while a
silent soldier thumbed through a formidable card file, apparently
to see if I were a _persona non grata_, or worse, in the records.
I became conscious of a silent power to my left, and turning my
glance momentarily from the rapid-fire questioners at the desk, I
looked into a pair of lynx eyes flashing up and down my person.
Another detective, with probably the added role of interpreter, but
as I was answering all questions in German he said not a word. Yet
he looked volumes.
Through more soldiers to the platform, and then a swift and
comparatively comfortable journey to Emmerich, accompanied by a
soldier who carried my sealed envelope, the contents of which were
subsequently returned to me after an examination by the censor.
At last I was alone! or rather I thought I was, for my innocent
stroll about Emmerich was duly observed by a man who bore the
unmistakable air of his profession, and who stepped into my
compartment on the Cologne train as I sat mopping my brow waiting
for it to start. He flashed his badge of detective authority,
asked to see my papers, returned them to me politely, and bowed
My journey was through the heart of industrial Germany, a heart
which throbs feverishly night and day, month in and month out, to
drive the Teuton power east, west, north, and south.
Forests of lofty chimney-stacks in Wesel, Duisburg, Krefeld, Essen,
Elberfeld and Dusseldorf belched smoke which hazed the landscape
far and wide: smoke which made cities, villages, lone brick
farmhouses, trees, and cattle appear blurred and indistinct, and
which filtered into one's very clothing and into locked travelling
But there was a strength and virility about everything, from the
vulcanic pounding and crashing in mills and arsenals to the sturdy
uniformed women who were pushing heavy trucks along railroad
platforms or polishing railings and door knobs on the long lines of
cars in the train yards.
Freight trains, military trains and passenger trains were speeding
over the network of rails without a hitch, soldiers and officers
were crowding station platforms, and if there was any faltering of
victory hopes among these men--as the atmosphere of the outside
world may have at that time led one to believe--I utterly failed to
detect it in their faces. They were either doggedly and
determinedly moving in the direction of duty, or going happily home
for a brief holiday respite, as an unmistakable brightness of
expression, even when their faces were drawn from the strain of the
trenches, clearly showed.
But it is the humming, beehive activity of these
Rhenish-Westphalian cities and towns which crowd one another for
space that impresses the traveller in this workshop section of
Germany. He knows that the sea of smoke, the clirr and crash of
countless foundries are the impelling force behind Germany's
soldier millions, whether they are holding far-thrown lines in
Russia, or smashing through the Near East, or desperately
counter-attacking in the West.
In harmony with the scene the winter sun sank like a molten metal
ball behind the smoke-stack forest, to set blood-red an hour later
beyond the zigzag lines in France.
Maximilian Harden had just been widely reported as having said that
Germany's great military conquests were in no way due to planning
in higher circles, but are the work of the rank and file---of the
Schultzs and the Schmidts. I liked to think of this as the train
sped on at the close of the short winter afternoon, for my first
business was to call upon a middle-class family on behalf of a
German-American in New York, who wished me to take 100 pounds to
his relatives in a small Rhenish town.
Thus my first evening in Germany found me in a dark little town on
the Rhine groping my way through crooked streets to a home, the
threshold of which I no sooner crossed than I was made to feel that
the arm of the police is long and that it stretches out into the
remotest villages and hamlets.
The following incident, which was exactly typical of what would
happen in nineteen German households out of twenty, may reveal one
small aspect of German character to British and American people,
who are as a rule completely unable to understand German psychology.
Although I had come far out of my way to bring what was for them a
considerable sum of money, as well as some portraits of their
long-absent relatives in the United States and interesting family
news, my reception was as cold as the snow-blown air outside. I
was not allowed to finish explaining my business when I was at
first petulantly and then violently and angrily interrupted with:--
"Have you been to the police?"
"No," I said. "I did not think it was necessary to go to the
police, as I am merely passing through here, and am not going to
The lady of the house replied coldly, "Go to the police," and shut
the door in my face.
I mastered my temper by reminding myself that whereas such
treatment at home would have been sufficiently insulting to break
off further relations, it was not intended as such in Germany.
It was a long walk for a tired man to the _Polizeiamt_. When I got
there I was fortunate in encountering a lank, easy-going old fellow
who had been commandeered for the job owing to the departure of all
the local police for the war. He was clearly more interested in
trying to find out something of _his_ relations in some remote
village in America, which he said was named after them, than in my
I returned to pay the 100 pounds and deliver the photographs, and
now that I had been officially "policed" was received with great
cordiality and pressed to spend the evening.
Father, mother, grown-up daughters and brother-in-law all assured
me that it was not owing to my personal appearance that I had been
so coldly received, but that war is war and law is law and that
everything must be done as the authorities decree.
Cigars and cigarettes were showered upon me and my glass was never
allowed to be empty of Rhine wine. Good food was set before me and
the stock generously replenished whenever necessary. It will be
remembered that I had come unexpectedly and that I was not being
entertained in a wealthy home, and this at a time when the only
counter-attack on Germany's success in the Balkans was an increased
amount of stories that she was starving.
Evidently the Schultzs and the Schmidts were not taking all the
credit for Germany's position to themselves. They pointed with
pride to a picture of the Emperor adorning one wall and then smiled
with satisfaction as they indicated the portrait of von Hindenburg
on the wall opposite. One of the daughters wore a huge silver
medallion of the same renowned general on her neck. After nearly a
year and a half of war these bard-working Germans were proud of
their leaders and had absolute faith in them.
But this family had felt the war. One son had just been wounded,
they knew not how severely, in France. If some unknown English,
soldier on the Yser had raised his rifle just a hairbreadth higher
the other son would be sleeping in the blood-soaked soil of
Flanders instead of doing garrison duty in Hanover while recovering
from a bullet which had passed through his head just under the eyes.
WHEN SKIES WERE BLUE
There was one more passenger, making three, in our first-class
compartment in the all-day express train from Cologne to Berlin
after it left Hanover. He was a naval officer of about forty-five,
clean-cut, alert, clearly an intelligent man. His manner was
proud, but not objectionably so.
The same might be said of the manner of the major who had sat
opposite me since the train left Dusseldorf. I had been in Germany
less than thirty hours and was feeling my way carefully, so I made
no attempt to enter into conversation. Just before lunch the
jolting of the train deposited the major's coat at my feet. I
picked it up and handed it to him. He received it with thanks and
a trace of a smile. He was polite, but icily so. I was an
American, he was a German officer. In his way of reasoning my
country was unneutrally making ammunition to kill himself and his
men. But for my country the war would have been over long ago.
Therefore he hated me, but his training made him polite in his
hate. That is the difference between the better class of army and
naval officers and diplomats and the rest of the Germans.
When he left the compartment for the dining-car he saluted and
bowed stiffly. When we met in the narrow corridor after our return
from lunch, each stepped aside to let the other pass in first. I
exchanged with him heel-click for heel-click, salute for salute,
waist-bow for waist-bow, and after-you-my-dear-Alphonse sweep of
the arm for you-go-first-my-dear-Gaston motion from him. The
result was that we both started at once, collided, backed away and
indulged in all the protestations and gymnastics necessary to beg
another's pardon, in military Germany. At length we entered,
erected a screen of ice between us, and alternately looked from one
another to the scenery hour after hour.
The entrance of the naval officer relieved the strain, for the two
branches of the Kaisers armed might were soon--after the usual
gymnastics--engaged in conversation. They were not men to discuss
their business before a stranger. Once I caught the word
Amerikaner uttered in a low voice, but though their looks told that
they regarded me as an intruder in their country they said nothing
on that point.
At Stendal we got the Berlin evening papers, which had little of
interest except a few lines about the _Ancona_ affair between
Washington and Vienna.
"Do you think Austria will grant the American demands?" the man in
grey asked the man in blue.
"Austria will do what Germany thinks best. Personally, I hope that
we take a firm stand. I do not believe in letting the United
States tell us how to conduct the war. We are quite capable of
conducting it and completing it in a manner satisfactory to
The man in grey agreed with the man in blue.
Past the blazing munition works at Spandau, across the Havel,
through the Tiergarten, running slowly now, to the
A bewildering swirl of thoughts rushed through my head as I stepped
out on the platform. More than three months ago I had left London
for my long, circuitous journey to Berlin. I had planned and
feared, planned and hoped. The German spy system is the most
elaborate in the world. Only through a miracle could the
Wilhelmstrasse be ignorant of the fact that I had travelled all
over Europe during the war for the hated British Press. I could
only hope that the age of miracles had not passed.
The crowd was great, porters were as scarce as they used to be
plentiful, I was waiting for somebody, so I stood still and took
note of my surroundings.
Across the platform was a long train ready to start west, and from
each window leaned officers and soldiers bidding good-bye to groups
of friends. The train was marked _Hannover_, _Koln_, _Lille_. As
though I had never known it before, I found myself saying, "Lille
is in France, and those men ride there straight from here."
The train on which I had arrived had pulled out and another had
taken its place. This was marked _Posen_, _Thorn_, _Insterburg_,
_Stalluponen_, _Alexandrovo_, _Vilna_. As I stood on that platform
I felt Germany's power in a peculiar but convincing way. I had
been in Germany, in East Prussia, when the Russians were not only
in possession of the last four places named, but about to threaten
the first two.
Now the simple printed list of stations on the heavy train about to
start from the capital of Germany to Vilna, deep in Russia, was an
awe-inspiring tribute to the great military machine of the
Fatherland. For a moment I believed in von Bethmann-Holweg's talk
about the "map of Europe."
I was eager to see how much Berlin had changed, for I knew it at
various stages of the war, but I cannot honestly say that the
changes which I detected later, and which I shall deal with in
subsequent chapters of this book--changes which are absorbingly
interesting to study on the spot and vitally important in the
progress and outcome of the war--were very apparent then.
In the dying days of 1915 I found the people of Berlin almost as
supremely confident of victory, especially now since Bulgaria's
entrance had made such sweeping changes in the Balkans, as they
were on that day of cloudless blue, the first of August, 1914, when
the dense mass swayed before the Royal Palace, to see William II
come out upon the balcony to bid his people rise to arms. Eyes
sparkled, cheeks flushed, the buzz changed to cheering, the
cheering swelled to a roar. The army which had been brought to the
highest perfection, the army which would sweep Europe--at last the
German people could see what it would do, would show the world what
it would do. The anticipation intoxicated them.
An American friend told me of how he struggled toward the
_Schloss_, but in the jam of humanity got only as far as the
monument of Frederick the Great. There a youth threw his hat in
the air and cried: "_Hock der Krieg, Hock der Krieg_!" (Hurrah for
That was the spirit that raged like a prairie fire.
An old man next to him looked him full in the eyes. "_Der Krieg
ist eine ernste Sache, Junge_!" (War is a serious matter, young
man), he said and turned away. He was in the crowd, but not of it.
His note was discordant. They snarled at him and pushed him
roughly. They gloried in the thought of war. They were certain
that they were invincible. All that they bad been taught, all the
influences on their lives convinced them that nothing could stand
before the _furor teutonicus_ once it was turned loose.
Delirious days when military bands blared regiment after regiment
through lines of cheering thousands; whole companies deluged with
flowers, long military trains festooned with blossoms and greenery
rolling with clock-like regularity from the stations amid
thunderous cheers. Sad partings were almost unknown, for, of
course, no earthly power could withstand the onslaughts of the
Kaiser's troops. God was with them--even their belts and helmets
showed that. So, "Good-bye for six weeks!"
The 2nd of September is Sedan Day, and in 1914 it was celebrated as
never before. A great parade was scheduled, a parade which would
show German prowess. Though I arrived in "Unter den Linden" two
hours before the procession was due, I could not get anywhere near
the broad central avenue down which it would pass. I chartered a
taxi which had foundered in the throng, and perched on top. The
Government, always attentive to the patriotic education of the
children, had given special orders for such occasions. The little
ones were brought to the front by the police, and boys were even
permitted to climb the sacred Linden trees that they might better
see what the Fatherland had done.
The triumphal column entered through the Kaiser Arch of the
Brandenburger Tor, and bedlam broke loose during the passing of the
captured cannon of Russia, France, and Belgium--these last cast by
German workmen at Essen and fired by Belgian artillerists against
German soldiers at Liege.
The gates of Paris! Then the clear-cut German official reports
became vague for a few days about the West, but had much of
Hindenburg and victory in the East. Democracies wash their dirty
linen in public, while absolute governments tuck theirs out of
sight, where it usually disappears, but sometimes unexpectedly
develops spontaneous combustion.
Nobody--outside of the little circle--questioned the delay in
entering Paris. Everything was going according to plan, was the
saying. I suppose sheep entertain a somewhat similar attitude when
their leader conducts them over a precipice. Antwerp must be taken
first--that was the key to Paris and London. Such was the gossip
when the scene was once more set in Belgium, and the great Skoda
mortars pulverised forts which on paper were impregnable. Many a
time during the first days of October I left my glass of beer or
cup of tea half finished and rushed from cafe and restaurant with
the crowd to see if the newspaper criers of headlines were
announcing the fall of the fortress on the Scheldt, How those
people discussed the terms of the coming early peace, terms which
were not by any means easy! Berlin certainly had its thumbs turned
down on the rest of Europe.
With two other Americans I sat with a group of prosperous Berliners
in their luxurious club. Waiters moved noiselessly over costly
rugs and glasses clinked, while these men seriously discussed the
probable terms Germany would soon impose on a conquered continent.
Belgium would, of course, be incorporated into the German Empire,
and Antwerp would be the chief outlet for Germany's commerce--and
how that commerce would soon boom at the expense of Great Britain!
France would now have an opportunity to develop her socialistic
experiments, as she would be permitted to maintain only a very
small army. The mistake of 1870 must not be repeated. This time
there would be no paltry levy of five billion francs. A great
German Empire would rise on the ruins of the British. Commercial
gain was the theme. I did not gather from the conversation that
anybody but Germany would be a party to the peace.
A man in close touch with things military entered at midnight. His
eyes danced as he gave us new information about Antwerp. Clearly
the city was doomed.
I did not sleep that night. I packed. Next evening I was in
Holland. I saw a big story, hired a car, picked up a _Times_
courier, and, after "fixing" things with the Dutch guards, dashed
for Antwerp. The long story of a retreat with the rearguard of the
Belgian Army has no place here. But there were scenes which
contrasted with the boasting, confident, joyous capital I had left.
Belgian horses drawing dejected families, weeping on their
household goods, other families with everything they had saved
bundled in a tablecloth or a handkerchief. Some had their
belongings tied on a bicycle, others trundled wheel-barrows.
Valuable draught dogs, harnessed, but drawing no cart, were led by
their masters, while other dogs that nobody thought of just
followed along. And tear-drenched faces everywhere. Back in
Bergen-op-Zoom and Putten I had seen chalk writing on brick walls
saying that members of certain families had gone that way and would
wait in certain designated places for other members who chanced to
pass. On the road, now dark, and fringed with pines, I saw a faint
light flicker. A group passed, four very old women tottering after
a very old man, he holding a candle before him to light the way.
As I jotted down these things and handed them to my courier I
thought of the happy faces back in Berlin, of jubilant crowds
dashing from restaurants and cafes as each newspaper edition was
shouted out, and I knew that the men in the luxurious club were
figuring out to what extent they could mulct Belgium.
I pressed on in the dark and joined the Belgian army and the
British Naval Brigade falling back before the Germans. I came upon
an American, now captain of a Belgian company. "It's a damn shame,
and I hate to admit it," he said, "but the Allies are done for."
That is the way it looked to us in the black hours of the retreat.
Soldiers were walking in their sleep. Some sank, too exhausted to
continue. An English sailor, a tireless young giant, trudged on
mile after mile with a Belgian soldier on his back. Both the
Belgian's feet had been shot off and tightly bound handkerchiefs
failed to check the crimson trail.
London and Paris were gloomy, but Berlin was basking in the bright
morning sunshine of the war.
Although the fronts were locked during the winter, the German
authorities had good reason to feel optimistic about the coming
spring campaign. They knew that they had increased their munition
output enormously, and their spies told them that Russia had
practically run out of ammunition, while England had not yet
awakened to the realisation that this is a war of shells.
The public saw the result in the spring. The armies of the Tsar
fell back all along the line, while in Germany the flags were
waving and the bells of victory were pealing.
All through this there was unity in Germany, a unity that the
Germans felt and gloried in. "No other nation acts as one man in
this wonderful time as do we Germans," they told the stranger again
and again. Unity and Germany became synonymous in my mind.
Love of country and bitterness against the enemy are intensified in
a nation going to war. It is something more than this, however,
which has imbued and sustained the flaming spirit of Germany during
this war. In July, 1914, the Government deliberately set out to
overcome two great forces. The first was the growing section of
her anti-militaristic citizens, and the second was the combination
of Great Powers which she made up her mind she must fight sooner or
later if she would gain that place in the sun which had dazzled her
Her success against the opposition within her was phenomenal.
Germany was defending herself against treacherous attack--that was
the watchword. The Social Democrats climbed upon the band-waggon
along with the rest for the joy-ride to victory, and they remained
on the band-waggon for more than a year--then some of them dropped
The story of how all Germans were made to think as one man is a
story of one of the greatest phenomena of history. It is my
purpose in the next few chapters to show how the German Government
creates unity. Then, in later chapters, I will describe the forces
tending to disintegrate that wonderful unity.
Germany entered the war with the Government in control of all the
forces affecting public opinion. The only way in which newspaper
editors, reporters, lecturers, professors, teachers, theatre
managers, and pulpit preachers could hope to accomplish, anything
in the world was to do something to please the Government. To
displease the Government meant to be silenced or to experience
THE CRIME AGAINST THE CHILDREN
The boys and girls of Germany play an important part in _die grosse
Zeit_ (this great wartime). Every atom of energy that can be
dragged out of the children has been put to practical purpose.
Their little souls, cursed by "incubated hate," have been so worked
upon by the State schoolmasters that they have redoubled their
energies in the tasks imposed upon them of collecting gold, copper,
nickel, brass, paper, acorns, blackberries, blueberries, rubber,
woollen and war loan money.
All this summer on release from school, which commences at seven
and closes at three in most parts of Germany, the hours varying in
some districts, the children, in organised squads, have been put to
these important purposes of State. They had much to do with the
getting in of the harvest.
The schoolmaster has played his part in the training of the child
to militarism, State worship, and enemy hatred as effectively as
the professor and the clergyman.
Here are two German children's school songs, that are being sung
daily. Both of them are creations of the war: both written by
schoolmasters. The particularly offensive song about King Edward
and England is principally sung by girls--the future mothers of
O England, O England,
Wie gross sind Deine Lugen!
Ist Dein Verbrechen noch so gross,
Du schwindelst Dich vom Galgen los.
O Eduard, O Eduard, du Muster aller Fursten,
Nichts hattest Du von einem Rex,
Du eitler Schlips--und Westenfex.
[Oh, England, oh, England, how great are thy lies! However great
thy crimes, thou cheatest the gallows. Oh, Edward, oh, Edward,
thou model Prince! Thou hadst nothing kindly in thee, thou vain
Da druben, da druben liegt der Feind,
In feigen Schutzengraben,
Wir greifen ihn an, und ein Hund, wer meint,
Heut' wurde Pardon gegeben.
Schlagt alles tot, was um Gnade fleht,
Schiesst alles nieder wie Hunde,
Mehr Feinde, mehr Feinde! sei euer Gebet
In dieser Vergeltungsstunde.
[Over there in the cowardly trenches lies the enemy. We attack
him, and only a dog will say that pardon should be given to-day.
Strike dead everything which prays for mercy. Shoot everything
down like dogs. "More enemies, more enemies," be your prayer in
this hour of retribution.]
The elementary schools, or _Volksschulen_, are free, and attendance
is compulsory from six to fourteen. There are some 61,000 free
public elementary schools with over 10,000,000 pupils, and over 600
private elementary schools, with 42,000 pupils who pay fees.
Germany is a land of civil service; to enter which a certificate
from a secondary school is necessary. Some authorities maintain
that the only way to prevent being flooded with candidates is to
make the examinations crushingly severe. Children are early made
to realise that all hope of succeeding in life rests upon the
passing of these examinations. Thus the despair which often leads
to suicide on the one hand and knowledge without keenness on the
Hardly any class has suffered more heavily in the war than the
masters of the State schools, which are equivalent to English
Council schools and American public schools. The thinning of
their ranks is an eloquent proof of the heaviness of the German
death toll. Their places have been taken by elderly men, but
principally by women. It is a kind of Nemesis that they should
have fallen in the very cause they have been propagating for at
least a generation.
Those who knew only the old and pleasant Germany do not realise the
speeding up of the hate machine that has taken place in the last
decade. The protests against this State creation of hate grow less
and less as the war proceeds. To-day only comparatively few
members of the Social-Democrat Party raise objection to this
horrible contamination of the minds of the coming generation of
German men and women. Not much reflection is needed to see on what
fruitful soil the great National Liberal Party, with its backing of
capitalists, greedy merchants, chemists, bankers, ship and mine
owners, is planting its seeds for the future. There is no cure for
this evil state of affairs, but the practical proof, inflicted by
big cannon, that the world will not tolerate a nation of which the
very children are trained to hate the rest of the world, and taught
that German _Kultur_ must be spread by bloodshed and terror.
With the change in Germany has come a change in the family life.
The good influence of some churches has gone completely. They are
part of the great war machine. The position of the mother is not
what it was. The old German Hausfrau of the three K's, which I
will roughly translate by "Kids, Kitchen, and Kirk," has become
even more a servant of the master of the house than she was. The
State has taken control of the souls of her children, and she has
not even that authority that she had twenty years ago. The father
has become even more important than of yore. The natural tendency
of a nation of which almost every man is a soldier, is to elevate
the man at the expense of the woman, and the German woman has taken
to her new position very readily. She plays her wonderful part in
the production of munitions, not as in Britain in a spirit of
equality, but with a sort of admitted inferiority difficult to
At four years of age the German male child begins to be a soldier.
At six he is accustomed to walk in military formation. This system
has a few advantages, but many disadvantages. A great concourse of
infants can, for example, be marshalled through the streets of a
city without any trouble at all. But that useful discipline is
more than counterbalanced by the killing of individuality. German
children, especially during the war, try to grow up to be little
men and women as quickly as possible. They have shared the long
working hours of the grown-ups, and late in the hot summer nights I
have seen little Bavarian boys and girls who have been at school
from seven and worked in the fields from three o'clock till dark,
drinking their beer in the beer garden with a relish that showed
they needed some stimulant. The beer is not Bass's ale, but it
contains from two to five per cent. of alcohol. Unhealthy-looking
little men are these German boys of from twelve to fifteen during
the war. The overwork, and the lowering of the diet, has given
them pasty faces and dark rings round their eyes. All games and
amusements have been abandoned, and the only relaxation is corps
marching through the streets at night, singing their hate songs and
"Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles."
The girls, in like fashion, often spend their school interval in
marching in columns of four, singing the same horrible chants.
Up to the time of the scarcity of woollen materials, the millions
of little German schoolgirls produced their full output of comforts
for the troops.
The practical result, from a military point of view, of training
children to venerate the All-Highest War Lord and his family,
together with his ancestors, was shown at the beginning of the war,
when there came a great rush of volunteers (_Freiwillige_), many of
them beneath the military age, many of them beyond it. In most of
the calculations of German man-power, some ally and neutral
military writers seem to have forgotten these volunteers, estimated
at two millions.
A significant change in Germany is the cessation of the volunteer
movement. Parents who gladly sent forth their boys as volunteers,
are now endeavouring by every means in their power to postpone the
evil day in the firm belief that peace will come before the age of
military service has been reached. It is a change at least as
significant as that which, lies between the German's "We have
won--the more enemies the better" of two years back, and the "We
must hold out" of to-day.
Of the school structures in modern Germany it would be idle to
pretend that they are not excellent in every respect--perfect
ventilation, sanitation, plenty of space, large numbers of
class-rooms, and halls for the choral singing, which is part of the
German system of education, and by which the "hate" songs have been
so readily spread. The same halls are used for evening lectures
for adults and night improvement schools.
It is significant that all the schools built between 1911 and 1914
were so arranged, not only in Germany, but throughout Austria, that
they could be turned into hospitals with hardly any alteration.
For this purpose, temporary partitions divided portions of the
buildings, and an unusually large supply of water was laid on.
Special entrances for ambulances were already in existence, baths
had already been fitted in the wounded reception rooms, and in many
cases sterilising sheds were already installed. The walls were
made of a material that could he quickly whitewashed for the
extermination of germs. If this obvious preparation for war is
named to the average German, his reply is, "The growing jealousy of
German culture and commerce throughout the world rendered necessary
A total lack of sense of humour and sense of proportion among the
Germans can be gathered from the fact that Mr. Haselden's famous
cartoons of Big and Little Willie, which have a vogue among
Americana and other neutrals in Germany, and are by no means
unkind, are regarded by Germans as a sort of sacrilege. These same
people do not hesitate to circulate the most horrible and indecent
pictures of President Wilson, King George, President Poincare, and
especially of Viscount Grey of Falloden. The Tsar is usually
depicted covered with vermin. The King of Italy as an evil-looking
dwarf with a dagger in his hand. Only those who have seen the
virulence of the caricatures, circulated by picture postcard, can
have any idea of the horrible material on which the German child is
fed. The only protest I ever heard came from the Artists' Society
of Munich, who objected to these loathsome educational efforts as
being injurious to the reputation of artistic Germany and
calculated to produce permanent damage to the juvenile mind.
The atmosphere of the German home is so different from that in
which I have been brought up in the United States, and have seen in
England, that the Germans are not at all shocked by topics of
conversation never referred to in other countries. Subjects are
discussed before German girls of eleven and twelve, and German boys
of the same age, that make an Anglo-Saxon anxious to get out of the
room. I do not know whether it is this or the over-education that
leads to the notorious child suicides of Germany, upon which so
many learned treatises have been written.
Just before the war it looked as though the German young man and
woman were going to improve. Lawn tennis was spreading, despite
old-fashioned prejudice. Football was coming in. Rowing was
making some progress, as you may have learned at Henley. It was
not the spontaneous sport of Anglo-Saxon countries, but a more
concentrated effort to imitate and to excel.
Running races had become lately a German school amusement, but the
results, as a rule, were that if there were five competitors, the
four losers entered a protest against the winner. In any case,
each of the four produced excellent excuses why he had lost, other
than the fact that he had been properly beaten.
A learned American "exchange professor," who had returned from a
German university, whom I met in Boston last year on my way from
England to Germany, truly summed up the situation of athletics in
German schools by saying, "German boys are bad-tempered losers and
Upon what kinds of history is the German child being brought up?
The basis of it is the history of the House of Hohenzollern, with
volumes devoted to the Danish and Austrian campaigns and minute
descriptions of every phase of all the battles with France in 1870,
written in a curious hysterical fashion.
The admixture of Biblical references and German boasting are
typical of the lessons taught at German Sunday Schools, which play
a great role in war propaganda. The schoolmaster having done his
work for six days of the week, the pastor gives an extra virulent
dose on the Sabbath. Sedan Day, which before the war was the
culmination of hate lessons, often formed the occasion of Sunday
School picnics, at which the children sang new anti-French songs.
There are some traits in German children most likeable. There are,
for example, the respect for, and courtesy and kindness towards,
anybody older than themselves. There are admiration for learning
and ambition to excel in any particular task. There is a genuine
love of music. On the other hand, there is much dishonesty, as may
be witnessed by the proceedings in the German police courts, and
has been proved in the gold and other collections.
The elimination of real religion in the education of children and
the substitution of worship of the State is, in the minds of many
impartial observers, something approaching a national catastrophe.
In any other community it would probably be accompanied by anarchy.
It certainly has swelled the calendar of German crime. German
statistics prove that every sort of horror has been greatly on the
increase in the last quarter of a century.
I went to Germany the first time under the impression that the
Anglo-Saxon had much to learn from German education. I do not
think that any observer in Germany itself to-day would find
anything valuable to learn in the field of education, except when
the German student comes to the time he takes up scientific
research, to which the German mind, with its intense industry and
regard for detail, is so eminently suited. The German Government
gives these young students every advantage. They are not, as with
us, obliged to start money-making as soon as they leave school. As
a rule a German boy's career is marked out for him by his parents
and the schoolmaster at a very early age. If he is to follow out
any one of the thousand branches of chemical research dealing with
coal-tar products, for example, he knows his fate at fourteen or
fifteen, and his eye is rarely averted from his goal until he has
achieved knowledge and experience likely to help him in the great
German trade success which has followed their utilisation of
PULPITS OF HATE
The unpleasant part played by the clergy, and especially the
Lutheran pastors, needs to be explained to those who regard clerics
as necessarily men of peace.
The claim that the Almighty is on the side of Germany is not a new
one. It was made as far back as the time of Frederick the Great.
It was advanced in the war of 1870. It found strong voice at the
time of the Boer War, when the pastors issued a united manifesto
virulently attacking Great Britain.
These pastors are in communication with the German-American
Lutherans in the United States, who exerted their influence to the
utmost against the election of President Wilson, taking their
instructions indirectly from the German Foreign Office.
The state of affairs in the German churches is so different from
anything on the other side of the Atlantic, and in Great Britain,
that it is almost as difficult to make people in England understand
war-preaching ministers as it is to make them comprehend
My description of the poisoning by hate songs of the child mind of
Germany at its most impressionable age came as a shock to many of
my readers. But the hate songs of the children are not as fierce
as the hate hymns and prayers of the pastors. Do the public here
realise that of the original Zeppelin fund hundreds of thousands of
marks were subscribed in churches and chapels, and that models of
Zeppelins have formed portions of church decorations at festivals?
The pastors of the Prussian State Church are in one important
respect the exact opposite of Martin Luther. He was thoroughly
independent in spirit and rebelled against authority; they are
abjectly submissive to it. As with the professor, so with the
pastor, it is no mere accident that he is a puppet-tool of the
State. The German Government leaves nothing to chance, and
realising to the fullest the importance of docile and unified
subjects both for interior rule and exterior conquest, it
deliberately and artfully regulates those who create public opinion.
There are some Lutheran pastors in Germany who work for an ideal,
who detest the propagation of hate. Why, one may naturally ask, do
they not cry out against such a pernicious practice? They cannot,
for they are muzzled. When a pastor enters this Church of which
the Supreme War Lord is the head, his first oath is unqualified
allegiance to his King and State. If he keeps his oath he can
preach no reform, for the State, being a perfect institution, can
have no flaw. If he breaks his oath, which happens when he raises
his voice in the slightest criticism, he is silenced. This means
that he must seek other means of earning a livelihood--a thing
almost impossible in a land where training casts a man in a rigid
mould. Thus these parsons have their choice between going on
quietly with their work and being nonentities in the public eye or
bespattering the non-Germanic section of the world with the mire of
hate. I regret to say that most of them choose the latter course.
While I was in Germany I read a lengthy and solicitous letter from
Pastor Winter, of Bruch, addressed to Admiral von Tirpitz, who had
just retired for the ostensible reason that he was unwell, but
whose illness was patently only diplomatic. The good pastor
expressed the hope that his early recovery would permit the admiral
to continue his noble work of obliterating England. Pastor Falk,
of Berlin, is a typical fire-eater. His Whitsuntide address was an
attack upon Anglo-Saxon civilisation and the urgent German mission
of smashing Britain and America. The Easter sermons of hate, one
of which I heard at Stettin, were especially bloodthirsty.
Congregations are larger than usual on that day, which is intended
to commemorate a spirit quite the opposite to hate. The clergy are
instructed not to attack Prance or Russia, and so it comes about
that, as I have previously pointed out, in Prussia, Hanover,
Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, and Saxony, the pastors of the
State Church preach hatred of Britain, as violently in their
pulpits as in their pastoral visits.
The pulpit orators, taking their tip from the Government, are also
exhorting their congregations to "hold out and win the war." I
know of one pastor in a good section of Berlin, however, who has
recently lost considerable influence in his congregation. Sunday
after Sunday his text has been, "Wir mussen durchhalten!" (We must
hold out!) "No sacrifice should be too great for the Fatherland,
no privation, too arduous to be endured if one but has the spirit
to conquer." He paid particular attention to the rapidly
increasing number of people who grumble incessantly over the
shortage of food. The good man was clearly losing patience with
those who complained.
One day thieves broke into his home and got away with an enormous
amount of hams and other edibles. I remind the reader that ham had
ere this become unknown in Berlin. Less than three hundred pigs
were being killed there per week where formerly twenty-five
thousand were slaughtered. The Government had more-over taken a
house-to-house inventory of food, and hoarding had been made
punishable by law.
The story, of course, never appeared in the papers, since such
divines are useful implements of the State, but the whole
congregation heard of it, with the disastrous consequence that the
good man's future sermons on self-denial fell upon stony ground.
One dear old lady, a widow, whose two sons had fallen in the war,
told me that she had not gone to church for years, but after her
second son fell she sought spiritual comfort in attending services
every Sunday. "I am so lonesome now," she said, "and somehow I
feel that when I hear the word of God I shall be nearer to my boys."
I met her some weeks later on her way home from church. "It is no
use," she sighed, shaking her head sadly, "the church does not
satisfy the longing in my heart. It is not for such as me.
Nothing but war, war, war, and hate, hate, hate!"
The German Navy League, an aggressive body which had gathered
around it more than a million members previous to the war, stirred
up anti-British feeling by means of leaflets, newspaper articles,
kinematograph exhibitions, and sermons. Among the bitterest of the
preachers are returned missionaries from British possessions.
Although the social position of the pastor in a German village is
less than that of a minor Government official, yet he and his wife
wield considerable influence. The leading pastors receive each
week many of the Government propaganda documents, including a
digest carefully prepared for them by the foreign Press Department.
I obtained some copies of this weekly digest, but was unable to
bring them out of Germany. What purport to be extracts from the
London newspapers are ingenious distortions. Sometimes a portion
of an article is reprinted with the omission of the context, thus
entirely altering its meaning. The recipients of this carefully
prepared sheet believe implicitly in its authenticity. Any chance
remark of a political nobody in the House of Commons that seems
favourable to Germany is quoted extensively. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald,
in the eyes of the German village clergyman, ranks as one of the
most important men in the British Empire. Mr. Stanton, M.P., in
their view, is a low hireling of the British Government, doing
dirty work in the hope of getting political preferment. The
_Labour Leader_, which I have not seen in any house or hotel or on
any newspaper stall, is, according to this digest, one of the
leading English newspapers, and almost the only truth-telling organ
of the Allies.
These people really believe this. When home-staying Englishmen
talk to me about the German War party, I find it difficult to
explain to them that the German War party is practically the whole
One or two better-travelled and better-educated pastors have
expressed mild regret at the bloodthirsty attitude of their
brethren in private conversation. But I never heard of one who had
the courage to "speak out in open meeting."
The modern, material Germany has not much use for religion except
as a factor in government. The notorious spread of extreme
agnosticism in the last quarter of a century renders it essential
for the clergy to hold their places by stooping to the violence of
the Professors. Mixed with their attitude of hostility to Britain
is a considerable amount of professional jealousy and envy. A
number of German pastors paid a visit to London some two or three
years before the outbreak of war, and I happened to meet one of
them recently in Germany. So far from being impressed by what he
had seen there, he had come to the conclusion that the English
clergy, and especially the Nonconformists, were an overpaid, and
undisciplined body, with no other aim than their personal comfort.
He had visited Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's, Spurgeon's
Tabernacle, the City Temple, and had studied--so he told
me--English Wesleyanism and, Congregationalism in several
provincial centres. He was particularly bitter about one
Nonconformist who had accepted a large salary to go to the United
States. He returned to Germany impressed with the idea that the
Nonconformist and State Churches alike were a body of sycophants,
sharing the general decadent state of the English. What struck him
principally was what he referred to continually as the lack of
discipline and uniformity. Each man seemed to take his own point
of view, without any regard to the opinions of the particular
religious denomination to which he belonged. All were grossly
ignorant of science and chemistry, and all were very much overpaid.
Here, I think, lay the sting of his envy, and it is part of the
general jealousy of England, a country where everybody is supposed
to be underworked and overpaid.
The only worse country in this respect from the German point of
view is the United States, "where even the American Lutheran
pastors have fallen victims to the lust for money." The particular
Lutheran of whom I am speaking had been the guest of an English
Nonconformist minister and his wife, who had evidently tried to be
as hospitable as possible, and had no doubt put themselves out to
take him for excursions and outings in the Shakespeare country.
"It was nothing but eating and drinking and sightseeing," remarked
the Herr Pastor.
I suggested that he was a guest, to be looked after.
"I can assure you," he replied, "that Mr. ------ had nothing to do
all day but read the newspapers, and drink tea with his
congregation. He did not take the trouble to grow his own
vegetables, and all he had to do was to preach on Sundays and
attend a very unruly Sunday school. His wife, too, was not dressed
as one of ours."
He explained to me that his own life was very different. He eked
out his minute salary by a small scientifically managed farm, and I
gathered the impression that he was much more of a farmer than a
pastor, for he deplored his inability to obtain imported nitrates
owing to the blockade. The only question on which he was at all
unorthodox was that of the Junkers and their regrettable power of
holding potatoes, pigs, and other supplies while small men like him
had been obliged to sell. He had a good collection of modern
scientific agricultural works, of which the Germans have an
But while admiring the energy of the great capitalists and the
rational Liberal Party, the average clergyman tends towards
sympathy with the Agrarians. The pastor of the small towns and
villages, who is very much under the thumb of the local Junker or
rich manufacturer, has as his highest ambition the hope that he and
his wife may be invited to coffee at least twice a year. The
pastor's wife is delighted to be condescendingly received by the
great lady. Herr Pastor talks agriculture with Herr Baron, and
Frau Pastor discusses past and coming incidents in the local birth
rate with Frau Baron. Snobbery has no greater exemplification than
in the relations of the local Lutheran pastor and the local
landlord or millionaire.
A sidelight on German mentality is contained in a little
conversation which I had with a clergyman in the Province of Posen.
He knew England well, by residence and by matrimonial connections.
This is how he explained the battle of the Somme. I give his own
"Many wounded men are coming back to our Church from the dreadful
Western front. They have been fighting the British, and they find
that so ignorant are the British of warfare that the British
soldiers on the Somme refuse to surrender, not knowing that they
are really beaten, with the result that terrible losses are
inflicted upon our brave troops."
In this exact report of a conversation is summed up a great deal of
For the Salvation Army a number of Germans have genuine respect,
because it seems to be organised on some military basis. The
Church of England they consider as degenerate as the Nonconformist.
Both, they think, are mere refuges for money-making ecclesiastics.
The professor, like the army officer, has long been a semi-deity in
Germany. Not only in his university lectures does he influence the
students, and particularly the prospective teachers of secondary
schools who hang on his words, but he writes the bulk of the
historical, economic and political literature of the daily Press,
the magazines and the tons of pamphlets which flood the country.
Years before the war the Government corralled him for its own. It
gave him social status, in return for which he would do his part to
make the citizen an unquestioning, faithful and obedient servant of
the State. As soon as he enters on his duties he becomes a civil
servant, since the universities are State institutions. He takes
an oath in which it is stipulated that he will not write or preach
or do anything questioning the ways of the State. His only way to
make progress in life, then, is to serve the State, to preach what
it wishes preached, to teach history as it wishes history taught.
The history of Prussia is the history of the House of Hohenzollern,
and the members of the House, generation after generation, must all
be portrayed a& heroes. There was a striking illustration of this
in 1913 when the Kaiser had Hauptmann's historical play suppressed
because it represented Frederick William III. in true light, as
putty in the hands of Napoleon.
There is a small group of German professors interested solely in
scientific research, such as Professor Roentgen and the late
Professor Ehrlich, which we exclude from the "puppet professors."
Such men succeed through sheer ability and their results are their
diplomas before the world. Neither shoulder-knots nor medals
pinned in rows across their breasts would contribute one iota to
their success, nor make that success the more glittering once it is
One of these, a Bavarian of the old school, a thoughtful, liberal
man who had travelled widely, told me that he deplored the depths
of mental slavery to which the mass of the German professors had
sunk. "They are living on the reputation made by us scientists,"
he declared. "They write volumes and they go about preaching
through the land, but they contribute nothing, absolutely nothing,
to the uplifting of humanity and of the country." He told me of
how Government spies before the war and during it watch professors
who are suspected of having independent ways of thought, and for
the slightest "offence" such as being in the audience of a Social
Democratic lecture (this before the war, of course; such meetings
are forbidden now) they are put on the official black-list and
promotion is closed to them for ever.
In warring Germany I found professors vying with one another to sow
hatred among the people, to show that Germany is always right, and
that she is fighting a war of defence, which she tried to avoid by
every means in her power, and that any methods employed to crush
Great Britain, the real instigator of the attack on Germany, are
With the pastors, they spread the idea that "Germany is the rock
selected by Almighty God upon which to build His Empire." J. P.
Bang, the able Danish Professor of Theology at the University of
Copenhagen, writes clearly on this point. He says, when describing
"He has succeeded in finding the classical formula for the German
arrogance, which of necessity demands that Germanism shall be
placed above everything else in the world, and at the same time in
giving this arrogance such an expression that it shall not conflict
with the German demand for moral justification. This has been
achieved in the lines which have been quoted times without number
in the newest German war literature:
Und es mag am deutschen Wesen
Einmal noch die Welt genesen!
(The world may yet again be healed by Germanism.)
"The hope here expressed has become a certainty for modern Germany,
and the Germans see in this the moral basis for all their demands.
Why must Germany be victorious, why must she have her place in the
sun, why must her frontiers be extended, why is all opposition to
Germany shameful, not to say devilish, why must Germany become a
world-empire, why ought Germany and not Great Britain to become the
great Colonial Power? Why, because it is through the medium of
Germanism that the world is to be healed; it is upon Germanism that
the salvation of the world depends. That is why all attacks
against Germanism are against God's plans, in opposition to His
designs for the world; in short, a sin against God. The Germans do
not seem to be able to understand that other nations cannot be
particularly delighted at being described as sickly shoots which
can only be healed by coming under the influence of German
fountains of health. Yet one would think that, if they would only
reflect a little upon what the two lines quoted above imply, they
would be able in some measure to understand the dislike for them,
which they declare to be so incomprehensible.
"He also prophesied about the great master who would arise and
create the unity of Germany. This prophecy was brilliantly
fulfilled in Bismarck. After 1866 he loudly clamours for
Alsace-Lorraine. This he cannot reasonably have expected to obtain
without war; but when the war comes we hear exactly the same tale
as now of the Germans' love of peace and the despicable
deceitfulness of their enemies. 'And the peace shall be a _German
peace_; now tremble before the sword of God and of Germany ye who
are strong in impiety and fruitful in bloodguiltiness.'"
Hate lectures have been both fashionable and popular in Germany
during the war. I was attracted to one in Munich by flaming red
and yellow posters which announced that Professor Werner Sombart of
the University of Berlin would speak at the Vierjahreszeiten Hall
on "Unser Hass gegen England" (Our Hatred of England).
I sat among the elite of the Bavarian capital in a large hall with
even the standing room filled, when a black-bearded professor
stepped upon the stage amid a flutter of handclapping and proceeded
to his task without any introduction. He was a Professor of
Hatred, and it soon became quite clear that he was full of his
subject. His lank frame leaned over the footlights and he wound
and unwound his long, thin fingers, while his lips sneered and his
sharp black eyes gleamed venom as he instructed business men,
bankers, smart young officers, lorgnetted dowagers and sweet-faced
girls, in the duty of hating with the whole heart and the whole
mind. I soon felt that if Lissauer is the Horace of Hate, Sombart
is its Demosthenes.
"It is not our duty (_duty_ is always a good catchword in German
appeal) to hate individual Englishmen, such as Sir Edward Grey and
Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George. No, we must go far beyond that.
We must hate the very essence of everything English. We must hate
the very soul of England. An abysmal gulf yawns between the two
nations which can never, and must never, be bridged over. We need
borrow _Kultur_ from no nation on earth, for we ourselves have
developed the highest Kultur in the world."
The professor continued in this strain for an hour and a half, and
concluded with the rather striking statements that _hatred is the
greatest force in the world to overcome tremendous obstacles_, and
that _either one must hate or one must fear_.
The moral is, of course, obvious. Nobody wishes to be a coward,
therefore the only alternative is to hate. Therefore, hate England!
I watched the audience during the lecture and did not fail to note
the close attention shown the professor and the constant nods and
sighs of assent of those about me. I was not, however, prepared
for the wild tumult of applause at the finish. Indeed the admiring
throng rushed to the stage to shower him with admiration.
"Das war aber zu schon!" sighed a dowager near me.
"Ja, ja, wunderbar. Ein Berliner Professor!" And the student with
_Schmissen_ (sabre cuts) across his close-cropped head smacked his
lips with, satisfaction over the words much as he might have done
over his Stein at the Furstenhof.
I investigated Professor Sombart and learned from authority which
is beyond question that he was an out and out Government agent
foisted on to the University of Berlin against the wishes of its
The name of Professor Joseph Kohler is known, all over the world to
men who have the slightest acquaintance with German jurisprudence.
His literary output has been enormous and he has unquestionably
made many valuable contributions to legal science. Even he,
however, cannot do the impossible, and his "_Not kennt kein Gebot_"
(Necessity knows no law), an attempt in the summer of 1915 to
justify the German invasion of Belgium, makes Germany's case on
this particular point appear worse than ever.
The Empire of Rome and the Empire of Napoleon worked upon the
principle that necessity knows no law. Why should not the Empire
of William II.? That is the introductory theme. The reader then
wades through page after page of classical philosophy, biblical
philosophy, and modern German philosophy which support the theory
that a sin may not always be a sin. One may steal, for example, if
by so doing a life he saved. It naturally follows from this that
when a nation is confronted by a problem which involves its very
existence it may do anything which may work to its advantage. Thus
Germany did right in attacking the little country she had solemnly
sworn to defend, and history will later prove that the real
barbarians of the war are the Americans, since they are so abjectly
ignorant as to call the Germans barbarians for acting as they did.
So argues Joseph Kohler, who certainly ranks among the first
half-dozen professors of Germany.
There are a few professors of international law in Germany,
however, who have preserved a legally-balanced attitude despite
their sympathies. One of these wrote an article for a law
periodical, many of the statements of which were in direct
contradiction to statements in the German Press. The German
people, for example, were being instructed--a not difficult
task--that Britain was violating international law when her vessels
hoisted a neutral flag during pursuit. This professor simply
quoted paragraph 81 of the German Prize Code which showed that
orders to German ships were precisely the same. Were this known to
the German population one of the ten thousand hate tricks would be
out of commission. Therefore, this and similar articles must be
suppressed, not because they are not true, but because they would
interfere with the delusion of hate which saturates the mind of the
new Germany. I have seen articles returned to this distinguished
writer with the censor stamp: _Not to be published till after the
When a winning Germany began to grow angry at American munition
deliveries I heard much talk of the indemnity which the United
States would be compelled to pay after Europe had been duly
disposed of. Professor Hermann Oncken, of the University of
Heidelberg, made this his theme in a widely read booklet, entitled,
"_Deutschlands Weltkrieg und die Deutsch-Amerikaner_."
Professor P. von Gast, of the Technical College of Aachen, does
not appear to realise that his country has a sufficient job on her
hands in Europe and Africa, but thinks the midst of a great war a
suitable time to arouse his countrymen against the United States in
Latin America. He explains that the Monroe Doctrine was simply an
attempt on the part of the great Anglo-Saxon Republic to gobble up
the whole continent to the south for herself. "All the world must
oppose America in this attempt," he feels.
Then there is Professor Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who writes on
reprisals in the _Juristenblatt_ of July, 1916. It should be borne
in mind that he is a professor of law and that he is writing in a
book which is read by legal minds and not by the general public;
all the more reason that we should expect something that would
contain common sense. Professor Bartholdy, after expressing his
profound horror over the French raid on Karlsruhe, hastens to
explain that such methods can be of not the slightest military
advantage to the French, but will only arouse Germany to fight all
the harder. He deplores enemy attacks on unfortified districts,
and claims that the French military powers confess that such acts
are not glorious by their failure to pin decorations on the breasts
of the aviators who perpetrate them, in the same way as the German
Staff honours heroes like Boelke and Immelmann, who fight, as do
all German aviators, like men.
There have been many incidents outside of Germany of which the
professor apparently has never heard, or else his sense of humour
is below the zero mark.
My talks with German professors impressed me with how little most
of them keep in touch with the war situation from day to day and
from month to month. A Berlin professor of repute with whom I
sipped coffee one day in the Cafe Bauer expressed the greatest
surprise when he heard that a neutral could actually get from
America to Germany. I heard this opinion very often among the
common people, but had supposed that doctors of philosophy were
somewhat better informed.
During my conversation with another professor, whose war remarks
have been circulated in the neutral countries by the Official News
Service, he remarked that he read the London Times and other
English newspapers regularly.
"Oh, so you get the English papers?" I asked, fully aware that one
may do so in Germany.
"Not exactly," returned the professor. "The Government has a very
nice arrangement by which condensed articles from the English
newspapers are prepared and sent to us professors."
This was the final straw. I had always considered professors to be
men who did research work, and I supposed that professors on
political science and history consulted original sources when
possible. Yet the German professor of the twentieth century, is
content to take what the Government gives him and only what the
Government gives to him.
Thus we find that the professor is a great power in Germany in the
control of the minds of the people, and that the Government
controls the mind of the professor. He is simply one of the
instruments in the German Government's Intellectual Blockade of the
THE LIE ON THE FILM
At the end of an absorbingly interesting reel showing the Kaiser
reviewing his troops, a huge green trade-mark globe revolved with a
streamer fluttering _Berlin_. The lights were turned on and the
operator looked over his assortment of reels.
An American had been granted permission to take war films in
Germany in the autumn of 1914, to be exhibited in the United
States. After he had arrived, however, the authorities had refused
to let him take pictures with the army, but, like the proverbial
druggist, had offered him something "just as good." In London, on
his return journey home, he showed to a few newspaper
correspondents the films which Germany had foisted upon him.
"The next film, gentlemen, will depict scenes in East Prussia," the
Although I had probably seen most of these pictures in Germany, my
interest quickened, for I had been through that devastated province
during and after the first invasion. Familiar scenes of ruined
villages and refugees scudding from the sulphur storm passed before
my eyes. Then came the ruined heap of a once stately church tagged
_Beautiful Church in Allenburg Destroyed by the Russians_. The
destruction seemed the more heinous since a trace of former beauty
lived through the ruins, and you could not view this link of
evidence against the Russians without a feeling of resentment.
This out-of-the-way church was not architecturally important to the
world as is Rheims Cathedral, to be sure, but the destruction
seemed just as wanton.
The next picture flashed on the screen showed a Russian church
intact, with the simple title, _Russian Church at Potetschiki_.
The moral of the sequence was clear. The German Government, up to
the minute in all things, knows the vivid educative force of the
kinema, and realises the effect of such a sequence of pictures upon
her people at home and neutrals throughout the world, It enables
them to see for themselves the difference between the barbarous
Russians and the generous Germans.
The reel buzzed on, but I did not see the succeeding pictures, for
my thoughts were of far-off East Prussia, of Allenburg, and of the
true story of the ruined church by the Alle River.
Tannenberg had been fought, Samsanow had been decisively smashed in
the swamps and plashy streams, and Hindenburg turned north-east to
cut off Rennenkampf's army, which had advanced to the gates of
Konigsberg. The outside world had been horrified by stories of
German crime in Belgium; whereupon Germany counter attacked with
reports of terrible atrocities perpetrated by the Russians, of boys
whose right hands had been cut off so that they could never serve
in the army, of wanton murder, rapine and burnings. I read these
stories in the Berlin papers, and they filled me with a deep
feeling against Russia.
One of the most momentous battles of history was being fought in
the West, and the Kaiser's armies were in full retreat from the
Marne to the Aisne, but Berlin knew nothing of this. Refugees from
East Prussia with white arm-bands filled the streets, Hindenburg
and victory were on every tongue, Paris was forgotten, and all
interest centred in the Eastern theatre of war.
That was in the good old days when the war was young, when armies
were taking up positions, when the management of newspaper
reporters was not developed to a fine art, when Europe was
topsy-turvy, when it was quite the thing for war correspondents to
outwit the authorities and see all they could.
I resolved to make an attempt to get into East Prussia, and as it
was useless to wait for official permission--that is, if I was to
see things while fresh--I determined to play the game and trust to
Danzig seemed the end of my effort, for the railroad running east
was choked with military trains, the transportation of troops and
supplies in one direction and prisoners and wounded in the other.
By good fortune, however, I booked passage on a boat for Konigsberg.
The little steamer nosed its way through a long lock canal amid
scenery decidedly Dutch, with old grey windmills dotting broad fiat
stretches, black and white cows looming large and distinct on the
landscape, and fish nets along the waters edge. To the right the
shore grew bolder after we entered the _Frishes Haff_, a broad
lagoon separated from the Baltic by a narrow strip of pasture land.
Red sails glowed in the clear sunshine, adding an Adriatic touch.
Cumbersome junk-like boats flying the Red Cross passed west under
full sail. Germany was using every man at her disposal to
transport wounded and prisoners from the battle region which we
were drawing near.
A smoky haze ahead indicated Konigsberg. The mouth of the Pregel
bustled with activity, new fortifications were being everywhere
thrown up, while indistinct field-grey figures swarmed over the
plain like ants. We glided through forests of masts and rigging
and slid up to a pier opposite great sagging warehouses behind
which the sun was setting.
As I picked up my bag to go ashore, a heavy hand fell on my
shoulder and I was asked to wait until we were boarded from the
police boat which was puffing alongside. My detainer, a government
inspector, a man of massive frame with deep set eyes and a shaggy
black beard, refused to say more than that the police wished to see
me. They had been signalled and were coming to the boat expressly
for that purpose.
American ammunition had not begun to play its part in German public
opinion at that time, and, moreover, America was being hailed
everywhere in Germany as a possible ally against Japan. Therefore,
although only a few days previously Russian guns had been booming
less than a dozen miles away, and Konigsburg was now the base
against Rennenkampf, my presence was tolerated, and I finally
managed to get lodgings for the night after I had found two hotels
turned into hospitals,
I spent the following day trying to obtain permission to pass the
cordon of sentries outside the city, but I received only the advice
to go back to Berlin and apply at the _Auswartiges Amt_ (Foreign
Office). I did not wish to wait in Berlin until this campaign was
over; I wished to follow on the heels of the army through the
ruined land and catch up to the fighting if possible. American
correspondents had done this in Belgium. I myself had done it with
the Austrians against the Serbs, and I succeeded in East Prussia,
but not through Berlin.
I was well aware that Germany was making a tremendous bid for
neutral favour. I had furthermore heard so much of Russian
atrocities that I was convinced that the stories were true;
consequently I decided to play the role of an investigator of
Muscovite crime. I won Herr Meyer of the Wolff Telegraph Bureau,
who sent me along with his card to Commandant von Rauch, who at
first refused to let me proceed, but after I had hovered outside
his door for three days, finally gave me a pass to go to Tapiau,
the high-water mark of the Russian invasion.
That night, "by chance," in the _Deutscher Hof_, I met the
black-bearded official who had arrested me on the boat, and I told
him that I had permission to go to Tapiau next morning. When he
became convinced, that I was a professional atrocity hunter who
believed that the Russians had been brutal, his hospitality became
boundless, and over copious steins of Munich beer he described the
invaders in a manner which made Gladstone's expose of the Turks in
Bulgaria, the stories of Captain Kidd, and the tales of the Spanish
Inquisition seem like essays on brotherly love. He was
particularly incensed at the Russians because they had destroyed
Allenburg, for Allenburg was his home. One of the stories on which
he laid great stress was that a band of Cossacks had pillaged the
church just outside of Allenburg on the road to Friedland, after
they had driven sixty innocent maidens into it and outraged them
A train of the _Militar-Personenzug_ variety bore me next morning
through a country of barbed wire, gun emplacements and fields
seamed with trenches to Tapiau, a town withered in the blast of
war. Two ruined bridges in the Pregel bore silent testimony to the
straits of the retreating Germans, for the remaining ends on the
further shore were barricaded with scraps of iron and wood gathered
from the wreckage.
Landsturm guards examined my pass, which was good only for Tapiau
and return. I decided to miss the train back, however, and push on
in the wake of the army to Wehlau. Outside of Tapiau I was
challenged by a sentry, who, to my amazement, did not examine my
now worthless pass when I pulled it from my pocket, but motioned me
The road ran through eye-tiring stretches of meadows pockmarked
with great shell holes full of black water. I came upon the
remains of an old brick farmhouse battered to dust in woods which
were torn to splinters by shell, bullet and shrapnel. The Russians
had bombarded Tapiau from here, and had in turn been shelled in the
trenches which they had dug and chopped in the labyrinth of roots.
Among the debris of tins, cases, knapsacks and cartridge clips were
fragments of uniforms which had been blown off Russian bodies by
German shells, while on a branch above my head a shrivelled human
arm dangled in the light breeze of September.
I left the sickening atmosphere of the woods behind and pushed on
to Wehlau, a primitive little town situated on the meadows where
the Alle flows into the Pregel. Here my troubles began. Soldiers
stared at me as I walked through crooked, narrow streets unevenly
paved with small stones in a manner that would bring joy to the
heart of a shoe manufacturer. The sun sank in a cloudless blaze
behind a line of trenches on a gentle slope above the western shore
when I entered the _Gasthof Rabe_, where I hoped to get a room for
I had no sooner crossed the threshold, however, than I was arrested
and brought to the Etappen-Commandant in the Pregelstrasse. I
fully expected to be placed under arrest or be deported, but I
determined to put up the best bluff possible. A knowledge of
Germans and their respect for any authority above that invested in
their own individual selves led me to decide upon a bold course of
action, so I resolved to play the game with a high hand and with an
absolute exterior confidence of manner.
Instead of waiting to be questioned when I was brought into the
presence of the stern old officer, I told him at once that I had
been looking for him. I informed him that Herr von Meyer and
Commandant Rauch in Konigsberg were in hearty sympathy with my
search for Russian atrocities, but although I succeeded in quieting
any suspicions which the Commandant may have entertained, I found
winning permission to stay in Wehlau an exceedingly difficult
Orders were orders! He explained that the battle was rolling
eastward not far away and that I must go back. To add weight to
what he said he read me a set of typewritten orders which had come
from Berlin the day before. "Journalists are not allowed with the
army or in the wake of the army in East Prussia. . . ." he read, in
a tone which indicated that he considered the last word said.
But I had become so fascinated with this battle-scarred, uncanny,
out-of-the-way land that I resolved to try every means to stay. I
declared that on this particular mission I was more of an
investigator than a journalist, that I had the special task
(self-imposed, to be sure) of investigating Russian atrocities;
that if Berlin reports were to be given credence abroad they must
be substantiated by some impartial observer. If Germany would
supply the atrocities, I would supply the copy. That she wished to
do so was evidenced by the permissions granted me by Herr von Meyer
of the Wolff Telegraph Bureau and Commandant Rauch of the capital
of the devastated province. (I had passed beyond the point where I
was told that I could go, but at any rate their names carried
weight.) Would it not seem strange if the Commandant at Wehlau had
me sent back after these great men had set their seal of approval
upon my investigations? After Germany had made such grave charges
against the Russians, how would it impress American readers that
the German Commandant at Wehlau could not make good and had sent me
Then, as a finishing stroke, I pulled my passport from my pocket
and showed Berlin's approval of me stamped impressively in the
right-hand corner. This vise was not at all unique with me. It
had been affixed to the passports of thousands of Americans of all
grades, and was merely to ensure passage from Germany into Holland.
As I did not wish to impose upon the time of the Commandant I did
not burden him with these extraneous details while he feasted his
eyes on the magic words: _Gesehen, Berlin_. Mount Olympus, Mecca,
Imperial and Ecclesiastical Rome all rolled into one--that is
authoritative Berlin to the German of the province.
"Gesehen, Berlin" he repeated with reverence, carefully folded the
passport and deferentially handed it back to me. I saw that I was
winning, so I sought to rise to the occasion.
"And now, Herr Commandant," I began, "can you suggest where I may
best begin my atrocity work tomorrow? Or first, would it not be
well for me to get a more complete idea of the invasion by seeing
on the map just what routes the Russians took coming in?"
He unfolded a large military map of peerless German accuracy and
regaled me for more than half an hour with the military features of
"Just tell me the worst things that the Russians have done," I
began, "and I will start investigating them tomorrow."
Then he anathematised the Russians and all things Russian, while
his orderly stood stiffly and admiringly at attention and the other
officers stopped in their tracks.
"First you should visit the ruins of the once beautiful old castle
at Labiau destroyed by the beasts," he thundered. "And they also
wantonly destroyed the magnificent old church near by."
He followed with an account of the history of the castle, and it
was clear that he was deeply affected by the loss of these
landscape embellishments which he had learned to love so much that
they became part of his life, and that their destruction deeply
enraged him against the enemy. Though I saw his point of view and
sympathised with him, I questioned him in the hope of learning of
some real atrocities. It was useless. Although he made general
charges against the Russians, he always reverted, when pinned down
to facts, with a fresh burst of anger, to the castle and church of
Labiau as his pet atrocity.
The orderly had just been commanded to take me on a search for
quarters for the night, when an automobile horn tooted beneath the
window. Heavy steps on the stairs; a Staff Officer entered the
room, looked surprised to see me, and asked who I was. The
Commandant justified his permission to let me remain by eulogising
the noble work upon which I was engaged, but though the Staff
Officer's objections were hushed, he did not enthuse over my coming.
With intent to convince him that I was already hard at work I told
him of the terrible destruction of the castle and church at Labiau,
which I would visit on the following day.
"I have a sergeant below who was there, and I will have him come
in," he said.
The sergeant entered, clicked his heels at attention; a doughty old
warrior, small and wiry, not a civilian thrust into field-grey, but
a soldier, every inch of him, a Prussian soldier, turned to stone
in the presence of his superior officers, his sharp clear eyes
strained on some point in space directly ahead. He might have
stepped out of the pages of the Seven Years' War.
Nobody spoke. The pale yellow light of the oil lamp on the
Commandants desk fell on the military faces, figures and trappings
of the men in the room. The shuffling tramp of soldiers in the
dark street below died away in the direction of the river. I felt
the military tenseness of the scene. I realised that I was inside
the German lines on a bluff that was succeeding but might collapse
at any moment.
Feeling that a good investigating committee should display
initiative I broke the silence by questioning the little sergeant,
and I began on a line which I felt would please the Commandant,
"You were at Labiau during the fighting?" I asked.
"I was, sir!"
He did not move a muscle except those necessary for speech. His
eyes were still rigid on that invisible something directly ahead.
He clearly was conscious of the importance of his position, as
informant to a stranger before his superior officers.
"I have heard that the beautiful old castle and the magnificent old
church were destroyed," I continued.
"You know of this, of course?"
"Ja, ja, that is true! Our wonderful artillery knocked them to
pieces when we drove the Russians out in panic!"
The sergeant was not the only one looking into space now. The
Staff Officer relieved the situation by dismissing him from the
room, whereupon the Commandant sharply bade the orderly conduct me
to my night lodgings.
"No Iron Cross for the little sergeant," I reflected, as we
stumbled through the cooked old streets in the dark. Is it any
wonder that the German Government insists that neutral
correspondents be chaperoned by someone who can skilfully show them
what is proper for them to see, and let them hear that which is
proper for them to hear?
Everywhere in rooms lighted by oil lamps soldiers sat talking,
drinking and playing cards. They were under every roof, and were
also bivouacked on the flats along the river. In all three inns
there was not even floor space available. The little brick town
hall, too, was crowded with soldiers.
At the pontoon bridge we were sharply challenged by a sentry. The
orderly answered and we passed on to a crowded beer hall above
which I was fortunate to secure a room. By the flickering light of
a candle I was conducted to a dusty attic furnished with
ferruginous junk in one corner and a dilapidated bed in another.
No such luxuries as bed clothing, of course; only a red mattress
which had not been benefited in the least by Russian bayonet
thrusts and sabre slashes in the quest of concealed treasure. I
could not wash unless I would go down to the river, for with the
blowing up of the bridges the water mains had also been destroyed.
The excellent organisation of the Germans was in evidence, however,
for during my stay I witnessed their prompt and efficient measures
to restore sanitation, in order to avert disease.
I went downstairs and entered the large beer room, hazy with
tobacco smoke, and filled for the most part with non-commissioned
officers. They, like everybody else in the room, seemed to have
heard of my arrival. I joined a group at a long table, a jovial
crowd of men who chaffed good naturedly one of their number who
said he wished to be home with his wife and little ones. They
looked at me and laughed, then pointing at him said, "He is no
But it was their talk about the Russians which, interested me most.
There was no hate in their speech, only indifference and contempt
for their Eastern enemy. Hindenburg was their hero, and they drank
toast after toast to his health. The Russian menace was over, they
felt; Britain and France would be easily smashed. They loved their
Army, their Emperor, and Hindenburg, and believed implicitly in all
They sang a song of East Prussia and raised their foaming glasses
at the last two lines:
"Es trinkt der Mensch, es sauft das Pferd,
In Ostpreussen 1st das umgekehrt."
While they were singing a man in civilian clothes entered,
approached me with an air of authority, and announced in a loud
tone of voice that he had heard that I had said that I had come to
East Prussia in search of Russian atrocities.
"My name is Curtin," I began, introducing myself, although I felt
"Thomas!" was all he said.
"Good Heavens!" I thought. "Is this man looking for me? Am I in
for serious trouble now?"
Instead, however, of _Thomas_ being an interrogation as to my first
name, it was his simple introduction of himself--a strange
Although he was addressing his remarks to me, he exclaimed in a
tone which could be heard all over the room that he was Chief of
Police during the Russian occupation of Wehlau for three weeks, and
took great pride in asserting that he was the man who could tell me
all that I wished to know. He was highly elated because the
Russians had employed him, given him a whistle and invested him
with authority to summon aid if he detected any wrong-doing. They
had furthermore paid him for his services. Although he now
roundly tongue-lashed them in general terms, there was no definite
personal accusation that he could make against them.
He told me of a sergeant who went into a house, ordered a meal and
then demanded money, threatening the woman who had served him. A
lieutenant entered at this moment, learned the particulars of the
altercation, and struck the sergeant, whom he reproved for
disobeying commands for good conduct which had come from
Headquarters. "Just think of such lack of respect among officers,"
Thomas concluded. "One officer striking another for something done
against a person in an enemy country. That is bad for discipline.
Such a thing would never happen in the German Army."
The moral of the story as I saw it was quite different from what he
had intended it to be.
A few days later I was again in the crowded beer hall when Herr
Thomas entered. He liked to be in the limelight, and had a most
extraordinary manner of apparently addressing his conversation to
some selected individual, but carried it on in a tone which could
be heard throughout the entire room. The Russian whistle which he
still wore, and of which he was very proud, threatened to become a
millstone about his neck, for returning refugees were accusing him
of inefficiency during his reign, since they asserted that the
Russians had stolen their goods from under his very nose.
After he had hurled the usual invectives against the invaders for
my benefit, two splendid looking officers, captain and lieutenant,
both perfect gentlemen, said that they hoped that I would not
become so saturated with this talk that I would write unfairly
about the Russians. They added that they had been impressed by the
Russian officers in that region and the control which they had
exercised over their men.
Early next morning I met the big man with the black beard who was
either on my trail or had encountered me again by chance. When I
said that I was going to Allenburg, of the destruction of which I
had heard so much, he practically insisted that I go with him in
his carriage. A mysterious stranger in brown was with him, who
also assisted in the sight-seeing.
We road through a gently undulating farming and grazing country to
the Alle River, where we boarded a little Government tug which
threaded its way through dead cows, horses, pigs, dogs, and now and
then a man floating down the stream. Battered trenches, ruined
farmhouses, splintered woods, the hoof marks of Russian horses that
had forded the stream under German fire, showed that the struggle
had been intense along the river. The plan of battle formed in my
mind. It was clear that the Germans had made the western bank a
main line of defence, which, however, had been broken through.
"Just wait until we reach Allenburg," said the man in brown, "and
you will see what beasts the murdering Russians are. Wait until
you see how they have destroyed that innocent town!"
According to the course of the battle and the story of the Russian
destruction of Allenburg, I expected to find it on the western
bank, but to my great surprise it is on the eastern, with a
considerable stretch of road, separating it from the river. We
left the boat and walked along this road, on each side of which lay
willows in perfect rows where they had been skilfully felled by the
Russians. This sight evoked new assaults from my guides upon "the
beasts" whom they accused of wanton and wilful violation of the
arboreal beauty which the Allenburgers had loved.
I put myself in the place of the citizens of Allenburg, returning
to their little town devastated by war; I understood their feelings
and I sympathised with them. I was seeing the other side of
Germany's page of conquest. The war map of Europe shows that she
has done most of the invading, and during all the days I spent in
the Fatherland I never heard a single word of pity for the people
of the regions overrun by her armies--except, of course, the
Pecksniffian variety used by her diplomats. It was now any rare
privilege to return with German refugees to _their_ ruined country,
and they vied with one another when they talked to me in the
presence of my guides in accusing the Russians of every crime under
the sun. The war had been brought home to them, but in the
meantime other Germans had brought the war home even more forcibly
to the citizens of Belgium and northern France, but the thing could
not balance in the minds of those affected.
I was conducted to a combination home and chemist's shop, the upper
part of which had been wrecked by a shell. The Russians had looted
the place of chemicals and had searched through all the letters in
the owner's desk. These they had thrown upon the floor instead of
putting them back neatly in the drawers.
My guides laid great stress on such crimes, but I took mental note
of certain other things which were not pointed out to me. The
beasts--as they always called them--had been quartered here for
three weeks, but not a mirror had been cracked, not a scratch
marred the highly polished black piano, and the well-stocked,
exquisitely carved bookcase was precisely as it had been before the
first Cossack patrol entered the city.
The owner viewed his loss philosophically. "When we have placed a
war indemnity upon Russia I shall be paid in full," he declared in
a voice of supreme confidence.
My guides never gave me an opportunity to talk alone with the few
civilians in the place, and at the sausage and beer lunch the
conversation was based on the "wanton destruction by the beasts of
an innocent town."
After they had drunk so much beer that they both fell asleep I
slipped quietly away and went about amid the ruins. I came upon
human bodies burned to a crisp. Heaps of empty cartridge shells
littered the ground, which I examined with astonishment for they
were Russian, not German, shells, and must have been used by men
defending the town.
I met a pretty girl of seventeen drawing water at a well, who had
remained during the three weeks that the Russians were there to
care for her invalid father, and had not suffered the slightest
insult. Yet all my informants had told me that the Russians had
spared none of the weaker sex who had remained in their path.
Further investigations had revealed that the Russians had not fired
a shot upon the town, but that the Germans had destroyed it driving
I entered a little Roman Catholic church in the undamaged section
of the town and noted with interest that nothing had apparently
been disturbed--this the more significant since the Russians hold a
I walked back towards the river and strolled through the neat,
well-shaded, churchyard to the ruins of the large church, the
dominating feature of the town. It was clear from what was left
that the lines of the body and the spire had been of rare beauty
for such an insignificant place as Allenburg.
"Too bad!" I remarked to a white-haired old man who was sitting on
a bench mournfully contemplating the ruins.
"Sad, so sad!" he said in a voice full of grief. "And it seems
sadder that it had to be done by our own people," he added.
"Were you here during the fighting?" I asked.
"I was," he answered. "I would rather die than leave this place,
where I was born and where I have always lived."
I returned to the anxious guides add told them that I had visited
the ruins of the church.
"A destruction which could serve no military purpose," declared the
man in brown. "You see the methods of the people Germany is
I expressed a desire to seek only one more thing, the church on the
road to Friedland which had been destroyed by the Russians after
the sixty maidens had been driven into it. We went to it, but,
alas! it had not been disturbed in the least. I somehow felt that
my guides saw the lack of destruction with genuine regret. The big
man with the black beard was at a loss to reconcile the story he
told me at Konigsberg with the actual facts found on the spot.
"Somebody must have made a mistake," was all he said.
My last view of Allenburg was from across the river with the long
rays of the setting sun burnishing the ruins of the once beautiful
church, the church I saw months later on the screen in the London
display room, the church that has been shown all over the world as
evidence of Russian methods in war.
I went all through East Prussia studying first hand the effects of
the great campaign. My luck increased from day to day. I secured
a military pass to visit all hospitals in the XXth Army Corps,
which aided my investigations not a little. The prejudice which I