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 German frontier.
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 passports.
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 literary efforts.
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 himself out.
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 bags.
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 stay."
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 business.
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 ourselves."
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 Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof.
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 the war).
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 so long.
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 off.
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 something worse.
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 Germany:—
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 fop!]
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 other.
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 describe exactly.
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 protective measures."
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 boastful winners."
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 applied science.
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 war-teaching schoolmasters.
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 country.
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 abundance.
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 words:—
"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 German psychology.
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 achieved.
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 good methods.
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 Emanuel Geibel:—
"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 faculty.
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 war.
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 German people.
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 operator announced.
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 luck.
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 there.
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 on.
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 the night.
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 matter.
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 back?
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 the campaign.
"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 warrior!"
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 three.
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 somewhat uneasy.
"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 coincidence.
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."