"JOINING HANDS WITH THE ENEMY."
The spirit produced by reprisals of good is well shown in the following extracts from an article in The Friend. (April 20, 1917):—
There have been fresh evidences lately of the response from Germany to our efforts here, and of the likeness between our work and that of the Berlin Committee. The animating spirit is evidently so much the same that a wife left behind in England wrote to her repatriated husband in Germany, "Just write your letter and send it to St. Stephen's House at Berlin, and they'll send it for you." The italics are ours.
Dr. Rotten wrote March 8:
"Just a few lines to tell you that a second parcel from Berne arrived to-day, containing the remainder of the reports about your work, namely, 25 copies of your Fourth Report and 100 copies of "A Day at St. Stephen's House." We are much pleased to make these vivid descriptions of your assistance to the Germans in England accessible to so many, as our experience has taught us that direct information has a much greater effect than our own full or abbreviated translations. But we try again and again with the latter, and at the present moment two different sketches of our endeavours in England and Germany for mutual help have been accepted by various papers, so we may hope to be able to send you a copy before long. Grateful as ever, with kindest greetings in the name of all."
The same idea is carried further in a letter received by one of our helpers from a personal friend in Germany:
"Your printed report which came into my hands a few days ago has made me very happy. I was not surprised, but it only strengthened my belief in you and in the good of humanity. What you have done and are still doing brings nearer the goal that now seems so far off—everlasting peace grounded in respect and mutual understanding."
From Dr. Rotten:
THE RELATIVES OF MEN IN RUHLEBEN.
When in April of last year, after repeated applications by us, regular visits by the wives and children were at last permitted, the regulations were at first rather strict. The separation of husband and wife by a table was felt to be a special hardship. The visits taking a satisfactory course, however, this was altered in a few weeks, and since then visitors have been allowed in the camp itself and may walk around and converse freely with their relatives. Permission was, indeed, soon extended to mothers and sisters, and also fiancees of those interned, provided the engagement had taken place before internment. At the present time wives living in and around Berlin are allowed to visit once a month, the time permitted being nominally one hour, but this is fortunately not interpreted very strictly, so that in actual practice two hours are often allowed. Wives coming from a distance receive permission every three months; and it was for a long time a concern of these women and of their husbands—a concern shared by us—that these visits had to be made in a single period of two hours. Over and over again one found that the joy of reunion after so long a separation was so unnerving that they could scarcely unburden themselves on a single occasion of all the important matters reserved for discussion, and that only afterwards did they remember all that they had intended to say. We repeatedly made representations on this score in the proper quarter, appealing for a change in the regulation, and in December last we had the joy of obtaining permission for the wives from outside to stay in Berlin for a week and to make two visits of two hours during this period. In special cases a third visit might be allowed. All wives coming from a distance, at the same time as they receive the permit, are instructed by the Commandant to apply to us in the event of their needing any advice in respect of accommodation in Berlin. And so we are visited by many, whose reception in Berlin we either arrange for at their request in advance, or who, though acquainted with Berlin, yet come for information. They are so well satisfied with the conditions of their visits that at the present time there is no occasion to ask for further concessions.
GETTING MEN OUT OF RUHLEBEN.
Apart from our interest in the repatriation of the "over forty-fivers," our principal concern for Ruhleben consists for the present in finding work outside the camp for the younger prisoners, for, thanks to the recent decision of the Commandant, resulting from our repeated applications, such prisoners may obtain leave of absence provided they find situations. It is, of course, very difficult for those in the camp to seek situations, and we are therefore making special efforts to find opportunities for work, induce employers to engage an alien, and then conduct negotiations. There are among those desiring to exchange their forced idleness at Ruhleben for productive work many who are concerned to remain loyal British subjects.
The following quotation from Dr. Rotten refers to a specially interesting intercommunication:
We are delighted and thankful to see from your letter of January 31 that an unnamed gentleman in America has sent you the sum of L400 with instructions to assign half of it to our work for foreigners in Germany, and saying that the British Government at once gave their consent to the payment of the amount to us. It will be a great help to our work and will be conscientiously used for British subjects and for the subjects of nations allied with England. For a considerable time our work has been such that we can take advantage of the relief agencies of other countries for the assistance of Germans abroad, and for that reason can apply the means placed at our disposal for the support of foreigners in Germany only. So our help is now practically confined to "alien enemies," because the subjects of neutral States, should they be in need, can obtain other assistance, and it is our uppermost wish to relieve those who, but for us, would perhaps be utterly friendless. It is, moreover, a great satisfaction and encouragement to us that outside your and our spheres the community of our work is so strongly felt that people desire to further the efforts of the two societies simultaneously. The confidence so kindly felt in our efforts even abroad incites us to an ever increasing devotion to our work, to the undertaking of new tasks, and to the fulfilling of the old ones with more and more care in every detail.
THE SPECTROSCOPE STORY.
The spectroscope story is a particularly good example of the way reprisals of good work out. I take the following account from a leaflet signed W.R.H., and already known to many workers in the cause of fellowship.
A spectroscope, I believe, is an instrument which takes a ray of light and proceeds to spread it abroad. At all events, the description seems to suit in this case.
The spectroscope game was started by Bishop Bury. After his return from his visit to Ruhleben Camp he mentioned in a lecture that some of the science students interned there were very anxious to obtain the use of a spectroscope. The report of this lecture was read by one of the camp visitors of the Friends' Emergency Committee, who was a schoolmaster and a scientist. Moreover, he possessed a spectroscope. So he joined in the game and played his piece. But instead of trying to send the instrument to Germany, he wrote to St. Stephen's House and suggested that inquiries should be made as to whether any of the schools in the internment camps in England were in need of such an apparatus. If so, he would lend his, and ask our friends of the Berlin Committee for assisting alien enemies to try to do the same for Ruhleben. It was soon discovered that a group of men in Douglas Camp would welcome the spectroscope, which was at once sent them, and the corresponding message written to Berlin. It was not long before a reply was received telling us, as we expected, that every effort would be made, as usual, to carry out such a proposal for reciprocal service to prisoners.
A little later another player came into the game in the shape of the German War Office. (There seems to be a War Office player in every game that takes place in these days.) The German War Office was reluctant to permit valuable lenses to enter the internment camp without being quite sure first of all that the corresponding privilege had been allowed in England. Would we, therefore, obtain and forward a written certificate from the Commandant of the camp to say that the instrument had been allowed. This was soon done, and we next hear that the Berlin Committee, being unable to find a spectroscope themselves, had collected the sum of 900 marks for the purchase of one, and has asked permission for two of the leaders of the "University" of Ruhleben to be allowed out of camp to inspect instruments before purchase. This permission seems to have been readily granted, and Dr. Higgins and Mr. Chadwick met Dr. Rotten, the secretary of the Berlin Committee, in order to choose the most suitable apparatus. They finally decided upon one offered by Herr H., the head of an optical instrument firm.
At this point the game became specially interesting. Dr. Rotten was aware that Herr H.'s brother and his family had been closely in touch with the Emergency Committee, and had received considerable help in difficult and distressing circumstances. In recognition of the assistance given to his brother, he at once offered to lend to the camp, for the period of the war, a spectrometer and prisms valued together at 1,650 marks. The 900 marks collected were thus released to be used for other enterprises. Herr H. also sent a warm message offering to receive his brother's children, who had lost their mother during the war, and to welcome his brother as soon as he was free to cross to Germany. He also offered to provide him with anything he might desire to help him pass away the weary hours in camp. We learnt that the brother had been studying French, and now wish to take up Spanish, and he has therefore chosen a set of Spanish instruction books as what he would like best.
The game still continues. Other well-known scientific firms in Berlin have been approached and interested in an effort to provide material for scientific work in Ruhleben, and we have received a request from Dr. Higgins to follow up an effort he is making to provide similar assistance for some men at Knockaloe, about whom he has written to various University professors and business friends in England. Herr H. has also sent us a list of nine firms whose principals he is acquainted with, to see if they also will help in like manner.
A spectroscope I believe, is an instrument which takes a ray of light and proceeds to spread it abroad. A fine instrument!
The ray of light is spread by reprisals of good. When the nephew of a friend of mine was let out from Ruhleben on a fortnight's leave, and received "overwhelming kindness" from his German hosts, what was it that so specially drew out their kindness? The fact that their own son, interned in this country, has been befriended here. (P. 105.)
A BABY CASE VISITOR.
Yet, in spite of all the efforts of sympathy, suffering, in camp and out, grows ever greater as the war continues. Here are two short stories of February, 1915, as reported to the Committee on this side. If, for a moment we can forget our passions, the sufferings of these, our fellows, must touch our hearts. Nearly four more years have passed and we know that greater loneliness and sorrow must have come to these hearts, as to so many more.
Our first call is in a horrid little street off Tottenham Court Road. Four knocks on a very shaky door brings Bertha, the wife of a German, a ships' cook, who has never been long enough on shore to become a naturalised Englishman. Bertha was a servant for many years before she married, and had collected many precious possessions, and she and Friedrich had a comfortable home with plenty of furniture and full of all the useless and hideous knicknack which apparently make so many people happy. Only a few remain, for nearly all have "had to go"—the term we know so well to mean that they are now in pawn, and that it will probably never be possible to redeem them. When first we visited them they were living in a basement room where rats made it difficult for them to sleep, and where, on the many unexpected calls I paid, I never once found a fire.
"We are not people wot feel the cold like some, Miss," they told me; "and the room's so small it likely wouldn't be 'ealthy to have a fire all day" so the "bit of washing" used to hang on a string for days and days before it dried, and they did their "bit of cooking" on a small gas ring. One day I called and found Friedrich still in bed; he was quite well, he said, "but we take turns to stay in bed, Miss, for it's warmer there and you don't seem to feel so hungry in bed as when you're up."
They were trying to save something out of a weekly 12s. 6d., after 6s. had been paid for rent, for the time when Bertha would have to go into hospital, and to buy some clothes that her little babe would need. Then you sent me, and let me tell her you would remember her when that time came, and you sent her flannel and wool to make the little clothes: after that a shilling a week could be spent on coals, and each time I went they sent you thanks and blessed you for your love.
We say good-bye here and go north to Camden Town where we call on Ludwig and Marie and their five children, the eldest of whom is six. He is Austrian and she is Irish, and they live in two rooms for which they pay 8s. 6d. a week. He was a waiter for thirteen years in a well known London restaurant, and his master has told him many times he would take him back if only the public or the newspapers would let him. But they won't. So Ludwig had nothing to do, and tells me he thinks he shall go out of his mind sitting in idleness in his miserable surroundings. Marie has been in hospital, too, and then Ludwig had plenty to do looking after his four little children alone for two weeks, and says it was the hardest work he ever had to do, and is glad his lot in life is not to be a woman!
The doctor in the hospital told Marie she must have plenty of milk every day, and we smiled together, for we knew their weekly income left no margin for milk for her—the children must be fed first. So you are helping, and Marie has her milk each day, and she and her babe are growing strong and well again.
The work done by the Friends' Emergency Committee, Dr. K. E. Markel and others on this side, and by Dr. Rotten, Siegmund Schulze, Prof. Stange and their fellows on the other, is indeed as "a clear flame of truth in a dark and haunted night."
To the great work of Prof. Stange, of Goettingen, I have once or twice alluded. He directs all the instruction given in the Goettingen camp, attends daily, gives lectures and superintends the library. He experienced the usual difficulties of any civilian who tries to practice Christianity in war-time. "One great German newspaper wrote with indignation that the prisoners in the Goettingen Camp had as good a time as if they were at a health resort." Doubtless this paper, like some others, contrasted the (rumoured) abominable treatment of German prisoners by their enemies with the too great indulgence shown to prisoners in Germany. But Prof. Stange is not abashed. "No internment camp," he writes, "can be compared with a 'holiday resort.' In spite of everything that may be done for the prisoners, internment is and remains always a very hard lot. In the Goettingen camp, too, many a prisoner needs not only the exertion of his whole strength, but help as well to make the endurance of his lot physically and spiritually possible." Stange is one of those who have learned to envisage the anxieties, the loneliness, the uncertainty, the ennui of the prisoner, and the terrible enervation of long months, and, alas, years of confinement. In this, as in so many circumstances of the war, it is the more sensitive and developed minds that suffer most, and are most easily destroyed, those minds that are indispensable in the building of any worthy future.
Prof. Stange quite frankly acknowledges to a war prejudice against the English. But when he found their great need of help, his prejudices melted away, and he soon engaged in helping them too with books classes, and other means of activity.
Prof. Stange recognises that such work for enemy prisoners helps towards better treatment of their own prisoners abroad, but, he adds, "It must certainly be emphatically stated that we in Goettingen never took up our work for the prisoners with this object. What compelled us to work was simply and entirely the great distress and need of the prisoners themselves." (P. 36. The extracts are from Prof. Stange's pamphlet on Goettingen Camp.)
THE LAST RESTING PLACE.
At last, rest. To many weary hearts it must have become a pitiful consolation that this at least is sure. "After life's fitful fever he sleeps well." And in that sleep no fevered passion can even "ruffle one corner of the folded shroud." At last, rest; where the enmities and the ambitions are forgotten. In the presence of this stillness of death, even to the living their disputes seem small. If the mood could endure, death might not be needed to bring peace.
"In a corner of the bonny little churchyard of Frongoch, adjoining the extended camp, there are two solitary graves. Here, in a strange land, the land of their captivity, two German prisoner soldiers lie at rest, as in many a plot of ground in France and Flanders, German and British lie together, strife hushed in the last sleep. Here there are no grim sounds and sights of battle, but instead there is all the peace and beauty of a lovely spring. Immediately beyond the graves a wooded bank descends to the stream, and over and through the fresh green foliage, amidst which the birds are happily melodious this bright April morning, and all around can be seen the mountains of Wales, the 'land of freedom.' Over the grave of one of these liberated captives is a tombstone erected at the expense of, and engraved by, his fellow prisoners. It marks the place where Hugo Schroeter, Under-Officer of one of the Crown Prince's Infantry Regiments, who died on April 9, 1915, as the result of wounds received in the cause of his country, was laid to rest by his grateful comrades.
"The other grave has no stone as yet, but one is being prepared. It is that of a prisoner who died of consumption, after many months of lingering suffering in the hospital, where every care was bestowed upon him. It was in reference to this man that the Chief Officer wrote me: 'To our regret died last Thursday the patient in the isolation hospital. If only he could have seen the two beautiful bunches of violets you sent! The funeral took place yesterday at 10-30. It was an impressive sight but a very sad one, too.'
"My daughter laid a little offering of white flowers on the grave, and then I photographed them in order to send copies to the families of the poor men, which I hope may prove little winged messengers of sympathy and goodwill."
"A British officer, of whom one can truly say that he had not been afraid to speak the truth about his treatment in Germany, and in the Cologne hospital, was carried to his last resting-place yesterday.
"It was Captain Wilfred Beckett Birt, of the East Surrey Regiment No. 31, who, on the occasion of the attack in September, 1915, had his thigh shattered and was taken prisoner. Since January, 1916, he had been nursed in the fortress hospital, No. 6, situated in the Empress Augusta School. His chivalrous character and his conscientious impartiality made him respected and popular with his French and English fellow sufferers and the German Hospital Staff. Gratefully he acknowledged what the surgical art of assistant-surgeon Dr. Meyer had done to lessen his sufferings, and the loving care the German nurses, male and female, had bestowed on him and his comrades.
"The great affection in which he was held by friend and foe alike showed itself in the mourning over his death, which took place a few days ago. His wound, a short time before, had shown improvement, but the heart was no longer equal to the terrible strain. Those of his comrades who were not confined to bed rallied round his coffin yesterday, which had been put upon a bier in the hospital garden surrounded by flowers and palms.
"The principal mourners were his countrymen, who were seated on benches at the foot of the coffin; around it were the French and Belgians, the German doctors and hospital staff. Large lighted candles stood at the head of the coffin, which was covered with wreaths decorated with the English, French, Belgian, and German colours.
"Garrison Pastor Hartmann, in a moving speech, which went straight to the heart of the hearers, spoke about the deceased as a chivalrous fighter for his native land, as a good Christian and a truly noble character. It was touching to hear the parting hymn sung by the sonorous voices of the British wounded, accompanied solemnly on the harmonium by a British performer. All escorted the coffin to the gates. Once outside, it was reverently lifted on to the funeral car, which German gunners escorted to the cemetery. Four British and one French officer, as well as the German doctors who could be spared, followed in motor cars.
"At the gates of the cemetery, Lieutenant-General Schach, Colonel Lindemann, as representative of the Governor of the fortress, Major Esser, Dr. Lamberts, the chief medical officer of the garrison, deputations of the Officers' and Medical Corps, the Band of the Reserve Battalion Pioneer Regiment No. 25, awaited the cortege.
"Pastor Hartmann spoke again, and, in words which made a deep impression on all, closed with prayer and benediction. Dr. Rademacher, the Catholic priest of the garrison, then made a funeral oration in English, affecting all who heard it.
"In the name of the hospital staff, Dr. Meyer expressed his heartfelt sorrow to the British officers present, the band played the hymn, 'How gently they rest, those who are with the Lord,' and, profoundly touched, Englishmen and Frenchmen shook hands with the clergy and the German officers.
"Three handfuls of earth on to the coffin of one who had found eternal rest, and the mourners dispersed." Koelnische Zeitung.
[Footnote 37: Now at 27, Chancery Lane, W.C.2.]
[Footnote 38: Unoccupied, that is, by the Germans.]
[Footnote 39: Such a regulation is a hardship. It may, however, prove unavoidable, as in some camps here. Friends of prisoners are not always wise.]
WHAT THE GERMAN MAY BE.
A WITNESS FROM SERBIA.
The following letter may not inappropriately open this section. Dr. Ella Scarlett-Synge is the daughter of the third Baron Abinger. She has a long medical experience, and served by Government appointment with Mrs. Fawcett on the Concentration Camps Commission in the Boer War. Dr. Scarlett-Synge was present in Serbia during the Austro-German invasion, she was in Germany afterwards and visited various prisoners' camps. On her return she wrote the brief letter which follows. Of her bona fides there was no doubt, and she had introductions to various editors. Yet only one daily paper (The Manchester Guardian) would publish her letter. This is a small illustration of the methods of war-time. Belligerent nations manage to convince themselves that by suppression of disconcerting evidence one arrives at truth. It is easy to understand, for all of us who are frank with ourselves know the difficulty of complete fairness even in ordinary controversy. But the consequences of arguing for mere victory are in war sometimes as grave and sad as the consequences of fighting for mere victory. Dr. Synge tells us simply what she saw:
Having just returned from Serbia, via Berlin, I have one great wish, the desire to bring home to my own country the things that I have seen with my own eyes, and the truths that I have personally realised.
After the South African War, I was a doctor in Canada for ten years and when, during the second year of this war, the call came from Serbia for doctors, I was one of those responding, and was stationed by the Serbian Government as Medical Officer of Health for Batochina and district, where I was in residence at the time of the German invasion in October, and was with my wounded men when the German army entered northern Serbia, and saw the whole campaign.
Contrary to all my expectations, the conduct of the German army was excellent in every respect. The men entered no occupied house without the permission of the owner, they took nothing without payment or a requisition paper. Never did I ask a German soldier in vain for half of his bread for a wounded Serbian soldier. Generally it was all given to me and I cut the portion and returned half.
After I had been for some weeks with the German Red Cross doctors and began to realise how wrong an impression all in England had concerning our enemies, I decided to ask permission to go to Germany and see for myself whether equally wrong ideas existed concerning the treatment of British prisoners in the detention camps. This permission was accorded me, and I went to Berlin where I waited a fortnight while the War Office decided upon the matter. I was then given a long list of camps to choose from and permitted to go with an officer to inspect and report upon the same.
In this short letter I can only say that I was justified in my belief that all was well with our men, and, as a fine Canadian sergeant at Giessen said to me (whose regiment I had seen march out of Vancouver a year ago), "If a man behaves himself, he will have nothing to complain of."
Now, to my sorrow, I am forced to confess that the nations do not yet incline towards peace, and to my regret I have to state that Germany's resources at the present drain will last another four or five years. Also there is no lack of food, and one may also say of luxuries in the land. The people are united to fight as long as England wishes to continue in the useless struggle in which neither can win, for while we hold the sea, they are equally powerful on land. I can see that this is going to be a drawn war, but neither nation has yet had enough.
The object of this letter is not to encourage a premature peace which would be ultimately worse than war, but to plead for a fairer treatment for our foe. Let the truth, and the truth only, be known. "Let us fight if we must fight—but not with lies."
No one, in time of peace, respects the British Press more than I do. It is the greatest power in the land. And, let me to-day appeal to that mighty influence for weal or for woe, according to whether it decides wisely or not, to play the game fairly and let the same spirit prevail that we have in our great public schools: "win if you can—but only by fair play."—I beg to remain, Yours faithfully, ELLA SCARLETT-SYNGE, M.D., D.P.H.
Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge.
Dr. Scarlett-Synge was, at the outset, intensely anti-German. Her personal experience of Germans (both military and civilian) in war-time has profoundly modified her views. Dr. Scarlett-Synge went out from Canada to take over a position as Medical Officer of Health in the north of Serbia. She had twelve villages under her care, and found the absolute lack of sanitation or sanitary knowledge in that country very trying. At the time of the invasion, Dr. Synge was strongly urged to leave, but decided to stop with her wounded men. Strangely enough the only soldiers from whom she had to flee were the Serbians. The Serbian Army in its retreat through Batochina was absolutely drunk, officers as well as men, and while the soldiers were forcing the doors of the priest's house, where Dr. Synge resided, she fled with the priest's wife (at the latter's terror-struck entreaty) through a back window. The house was rifled by the soldiers, and next day the German patrol arrived. Dr. Synge was asked by the sergeant to assure the people of Batochina that if there was no shooting, they would be perfectly safe. She was urged to collect any firearms, and the patrol then withdrew. The doctor, with the help of the people, collected 17 rifles. There was, however, one obstinate Serbian soldier who had apparently not been able to keep up with the retreat, who threatened to retain his rifle, and seemed quite capable of endangering the whole population. "Your thumb needs attention, does it not?" asked the doctor. "Just let me look at it?" The man opened his hand and she snatched his rifle away. A joyful crowd accompanied her with the rifle to the dispensary, where it was locked up.
Had there been firing by the populace, there would undoubtedly have been reprisals. Our own action in the Boer War, and the action of the military in every invasion, illustrates this fundamental rule. As it was, there was absolutely no destruction and the soldiers were scrupulously honest. When the owners had fled, their houses and their cattle were certainly made use of, but whenever the owner was present the soldiers "were not allowed to touch a single thing." The exception proves the rule; Dr. Scarlett-Synge's hostess had her pig stolen, but a German soldier caught her an unowned pig of larger size. She was very pleased with the exchange!
"May we use your schoolhouse for our wounded?" said the German doctors, "it seems the best place." Dr. Scarlett-Synge was amazed. She had expected anything but this kind of politeness. Only once in her three months' experience of the Germans was she treated rudely, and that was by an extremely anti-English doctor of the Deutsche Kriegshospital No. 58, Belgrade. This particular man corresponded to a certain type of anti-German here, and a private soldier present afterwards apologised for his rudeness.
The Serbians shelled Batochina, and so killed some of their own people. While the doctor was passing through the streets, some German soldiers beckoned her to take shelter in a cafe where they were. This she ultimately did. "I could not have had more consideration shown me," she averred. One little incident is singularly expressive. One of the Germans had bought a glass of brandy. Dr. Scarlett-Synge, with the picture of drunken soldiery very vivid in her remembrance, ventured to remonstrate. She pointed out to the man what the Serbians had become under the influence of drink. He said nothing, but presently he got up and threw the brandy out of the door. "There's not much good in that stuff, anyway," he said. It is not surprising that after such experiences the doctor was puzzled at the ordinary British view of the German army. "How do you account for these lies?" she asked a Bavarian soldier. "Ah, without lies there would be no war," he said.
In her travels in Germany Dr. Scarlett-Synge experienced uniform kindness, and brought away with her a deep conviction of the self-sacrificing patriotism of the German people. "Moreover," she said, "I was able to express my views to them, and they were always listened to with tolerance and courtesy."
I give Dr. Scarlett-Synge's experiences as she describes them. Of her own honesty and accuracy there can be no question. It may be said, with reason, that there is another side. Dr. Scarlett-Synge came across the better German and the better Germany. The important fact is that the better Germany exists, and that those who have been in Germany since the war began have found that better element conspicuous. This is much to say for a country at war.
In case Dr. Ella Scarlett-Synge's testimony is thought to need confirmation, I may add the following from a private letter:—"Dr. A.P. was interned in Serbia for some months with about thirty other doctors and nurses. She sent to me over twelve months since saying she would like to be of some use to German prisoners in this country, as a slight return for the consideration and kindness shown by Germans and Austrians whom she had to do with while in Serbia."
A WITNESS FROM FRANCE.
Madame F. L. Cyon was at Lille when it was taken by the Germans, and spent some time there nursing during the German occupation. Madame Cyon's general experiences are printed in an appendix at the end of this volume, but she has given me some further details which are worth recording. I think they will serve to bring out the universal facts of human nature. From her mother, Madame D—— she heard the particulars of her father's arrest. One of the officers who arrested M. D—— was ungentlemanly and rough, the others were polite. The house was searched. Later a second military search was made, the officers on that occasion being most polite, and apologising for the trouble they caused. As he was leaving, the chief officer said to Mme. D——, "We shall carry away with us the memory of your house as a house of peace and quietness, and of you as a very brave woman." After her husband's arrest, Madame D—— asked for permission to take meals to him, and this was accorded without any demur. One day later the officer just mentioned crossed the street to speak to her. "I want to bring you some good news," he said, "the release of your husband is only a matter of time."
M. D—— was at Maubeuge at the time of his arrest. When he and others were brought back to Maubeuge for trial they got drenched with rain on the way, and were put for that night in the old prison, which was dilapidated and without fire. M. D—— complained next day. The officer to whom he complained apologised and said their imprisonment under these conditions was entirely a mistake. During most of his imprisonment M. D—— lived on the food provided, which he described as good, but not plentiful. Two fellow prisoners complained, and were allowed to get food from outside. As narrated in the appendix, M. D—— was released when it was found that there was nothing against him. He had indeed been indiscreet in order to meet the wishes of another, but that was all. After his release he was engaged professionally in forwarding the repairs at Maubeuge, and was repeatedly in touch with the German authorities, with whom he found it quite possible to work.
For some time Madame D——'s house had guards posted outside. There was on one occasion an unpleasant incident with a drunken soldier who came and demanded wine. A sergeant who came along, however, promptly collared the man and turned him out.
It is fair to add that the long German occupation, with its many requisitions and high-handed interference, has embittered M. D. His wife, however, remains quite unembittered. In spite of all the demands, "She seemed to think that, apart from one or two exceptions, the Germans in occupation behaved very much as any army in such circumstances would have done. Indeed, she added that when the English arrived, some of them were so impertinent ... that people thought that they used to get on better with the Germans." I have quoted part of the last clause, as it seems fair to do so. For me it illustrates the general experience that the present discomfort tends by its vividness to seem greater than past discomforts which were really equally great.
One other remark of Mme. D. should be quoted: "I have seen many of the Germans, their doctors for instance, look after the poor and the sick with utter devotion." I have, by request, omitted personal names, except that of Madame Cyon herself.
At the occupation of Lille the Germans at once set about extinguishing fires that had broken out. In order to prevent these spreading, it was necessary to blow up some houses, and the Germans posted bills telling the people not to be alarmed at the explosions. When Madame Cyon returned to England a newspaper-reporter interviewed her. She stipulated that she must see the manuscript before the interview was published, and as she found the tone of the manuscript was not hers, she refused to let it be printed. A later interview with someone else was published in the same newspaper, in which it was made to appear that the Germans had deliberately set fire to the town. This Madame Cyon asserts is directly contrary to the facts. A similar case of exaggeration Madame Cyon noticed while in the occupied districts. There were all kinds of dreadful stories as to what went on about the country, and she was told it would never do to leave Lille. When she did leave, and made her way to Holland, she found no confirmation of these stories. Travelling was uncomfortable and tedious, but there was no peril of any kind.
In the early days of the war there were Belgian refugees at Alexandra Palace. M. Cyon was a journalist, and took his notebook with him to put down interesting facts. He wished to confine himself to facts, however, which not all journalists do. He found the women full of stories about atrocities, but they were always terrible things that had happened to someone else. The student of war atrocities indeed finds this to be a very general feature of the stories told. It by no means follows that atrocities do not occur. Certainly they do, but the number undergoes extraordinary exaggeration in the excited minds of the people. M. Cyon, therefore, as a serious observer, asked for one person who could speak at first hand. One of the refugees, he was told, was a woman whose little boy had been branded on both cheeks by the Germans. He was directed to this woman. He asked for her experiences, but she had nothing startling to tell. "But," he asked, "was not your little boy very badly treated by the Germans?" "Little boy!" she exclaimed, in astonishment, "I have no little boy, I have no son at all."
Madame Cyon had various patients at Lille. Her 24 Germans, she told me, gave her no more trouble than any ordinary patients. She had, however, four French Moroccan soldiers to nurse, and she describes them as extremely savage. She was sometimes afraid of them, and of one especially.
Madame Cyon was often overworked, and patients are not always reasonable. One evening she brought her German patients some mutton stew, and one of the wounded men made a dissatisfied remark about it. Madame Cyon was feeling very tired and the remark hurt her. She remained outside in the corridor instead of coming to the men as usual during their meal. Presently one man who had acted as interpreter came out. "Madame, you are cross." "Yes, I am." "Why are you cross?" "The men have been well treated, I have done all I could, and now they grumble about nothing." The man was very sorry, he went back, and presently all who could walk came out and apologised. How strangely alike, after all, we human beings are! But our rulers could never lead us out in armies to kill each other unless they persuaded us somehow that we only were wonderfully fine chaps, and the others were brutes. Yet the appeal of kindness and devotion tells everywhere. So when the German science student, Albin Claus, mentioned in Madame Cyon's account (p. 262), found her much overworked, he said, "You go to sleep, and I will keep watch," and he helped in all ways to keep things right.
"I have since written to the same science student," writes Madame Cyon; "before leaving the hospital he asked my address and I his. He told me he would always be glad to help me in any way, as he knew that I had five brothers in the French army. At the time one of my brothers was missing. I wrote to this man, then promoted a Lieutenant, and I had two letters from him via Switzerland. The correspondence was concerning my brother, and Lieutenant V. R. Albin Claus did his best to help me, and spoke in his letters of his stay in hospital 105, thanking me for my care."
ANOTHER SORT OF WITNESS.
The soldier on both sides has been told all sorts of horrors about the enemy. Hatred is recognised as a great weapon of destruction. The contrast between what the soldier has seen and what he has heard is well illustrated by a story told by Mr. John Buchan in one of his lectures. A wounded Scot had said to him, of the Germans, "They're a bad, black lot, but no the men opposite us. They were a very respectable lot, and grand fechters."—Times, April 27, 1915.
WAR ZONE CHILDREN.
Under the heading "War Zone Children," the following paragraph appeared in the Westminster Gazette of the 30th November, 1915:
The Society of Friends' Emergency Committee for Aliens has just received the following letter from Dr. Elisabeth Rotten, of Berlin (before the war lecturer at Newnham College, Cambridge), showing that the German committee for helping alien enemies in distress is not behind similar committees in this country in looking after the little ones belonging to enemy countries:
Before I leave Switzerland, after a short visit, I should like to write you a few lines.
I have been ten days in Belgium in order to get permission to take Belgian and French children home to their parents, who had left them in the occupied country before the outbreak of war and were now living in France or in other foreign parts.
I was also to bring the first little group with me myself. Others will be fetched during the next weeks by other ladies of our committee. We spent the night in Frankfurt in the houses of German ladies, who are already looking forward to their future little guests. The whole expedition will belong to one of the pleasantest peace remembrances of the war, and it was a particular pleasure and benefit to me to see and to experience personally in the work of my mission, in how many directions and with what sincerely good and noble intentions the Governor General endeavours to mitigate personal suffering, and particularly how he cares for the children who are separated from their parents.
I hope soon to write more. The children will now be taken to their parents by Swiss ladies, and I am on the point of starting for Frankfurt, where there are many important points to discuss with the Committee for Advice and Aid in connection with our common work.
The last-named committee is a local Frankfort Emergency Committee for Aliens.
A SOLDIER AND THE CHILDREN.
Here is a German N.C.O. writing in Vorwaerts of some experiences in the Russian occupied territory:
He describes the poverty of the people, the lack of even such necessaries of life as salt, boots, etc.; how little children are running about in the snow with bare feet, and often with no other garment on them than a shirt. He adds:
On the whole, however, the children give me great joy, though also not a little annoyance owing to their importunity. Fortunately, during my activity in connection with the school children's gymnastic society at —— I have gained so much patience that I never permit myself to lose my temper. While I am writing this already ten or twelve children have invaded my room asking for bread. Everyone of them got something. I am now almost reduced to beggary myself, and whatever I can get hold of is given to the children, so that they may enjoy themselves. I got from a friend a few packets of ginger cakes. I gave them all away, and I do not even know how they tasted.
And when I show them photographs of my children's gymnastic society there is almost a riot. How I wish I could understand them better! A little girl of 13, who always reminds me of my own second daughter, has won my heart completely. Every day she says to me a couple of German words which she has picked up somewhere: "I don't know," "Potatoes without salt are no good," "Benzine is dangerous," and phrases like that. I cannot realise that these children belong to an enemy nation. I should have dearly loved to roam about with them through forest and field, as I used to in Berlin.—(Quoted in the Daily News, December 20, 1915.)
THE CHILD IN NO MAN'S LAND.
The story of the child adopted by the Bedfordshires will be remembered by many. She was found in a ditch by the men on their way to the trenches, and was perforce for some time with them there.
The German trenches were about 150 yards off, and the level, open space between the two lines wasn't healthy. No man who valued his life would go there unnecessarily, or recklessly put his head above the parapet. One morning, to their horror the men, through the periscope, saw the child standing above the trench on the German side. Cries came from the enemy, but they were not hostile. The sight of the girl, little more than an infant, has touched their sentimental side, and she had offers of chocolate and invitations to go and see them.
After that the girl went over the parapet quite often. She was as safe in that danger zone as if she had been behind the lines. No German would harm her, and once she went close up to their first-line trench.—(Daily News, February 17, 1916).
AUSTRO-HUNGARIANS IN CETINJE.
When the Austro-Hungarian troops entered Cetinje there was already serious famine:
The children in the streets were begging bread from the passing soldiers, who shared their tiny brown loaves with the hungry little children, and the military authorities at the barracks were besieged from the morning till late in the evening by the starving population.
There were some fifty or sixty well-to-do better class families, who had been in Government positions before, or prominent business people, who suffered as terribly as their poorer brethren. Among those who went begging for bread to headquarters were wives of ex-Ministers and women who were ladies-in-waiting at the Royal Court only a few weeks previously. For their children's sake they were all ready to beg for something to eat.
It must be admitted that the military authorities put the soldiers on quarter rations and distributed all the available food among the suffering population. The bad condition of the roads and the consequent lack of supplies in the army itself made it impossible for them to do more.—(Daily News, February 21, 1916.)
On quarter rations—that is worth remembering.
NOT ALL BARBARIANS, NOR ALL CHIVALROUS.
We have all of us heard many stories from our soldier friends. Many statements and opinions we cannot in these days publish, but some are allowable. Such as the following: "Some of our men were hung up on the German barbed wire. We could do nothing to get at them. We saw the Germans trying to make signs from their trenches and we couldn't at first make out what they meant, but presently some of them ventured out and took in our wounded. I turned to my mate and said, 'They tell us all the Germans are barbarians, but that doesn't look much like it.' It was difficult to keep some of our men from firing on the Germans even then." The last statement will surprise only those who have not been told the truth about war. Passion gets the upper hand of humanity, and indeed reason may support passion, for is not destruction of the enemy one of the chief aims of war? Shall we spare the enemy when rescuing their own wounded? By war logic that would be inconceivably foolish. Hence such incidents as the following: A lieutenant of Hussars wrote on October 22, 1914, of his work in a loft which he had previously loopholed. The letter is both frank and generous, and as usual with soldiers' letters, without any of the malicious sanctity which so besets the civilian. The letter was published in the Times, November 26, 1914. "When I got up I could see crowds of Germans advancing. I think they have learnt a lesson from us, for they didn't advance in masses, but in extended order like we do. They were jolly good, too.... One fellow was jolly brave. I saw him carrying back a wounded man on his back, and it made a very good target. Though we didn't succeed in hitting him, he had to drop his man.... We were having jolly good fun." One sentence shows how far removed are the ethics of war from the ethics of peace: "I saw him carrying back a wounded man on his back, and it made a very good target."
And here is a case where chivalry was remembered and forgotten. The extract is from the Daily News, May 17, 1916. Most of us may get similar information privately, but it is wisest to confine oneself to what has already been published:
A sergeant on active service writes in the course of a letter on his experiences: "I got stuck in a trench up to my waist in mud, and who do you think pulled me out?—only a German about 6ft. 4in. One of my boys wanted to bayonet him. I said: 'Drop that or I shoot you.' The German said: 'Sergeant, it is not my fault—I am only fighting for my country as you are fighting for yours.'"
A GERMAN PRIEST.
From the Daily News, February 17, 1916, I take the following story of a German priest:
Then the word came that we were to go for the enemy's first line, and we did. Our artillery started the music, and we made our effort.
Our lads almost lost their reason for the time being, and heedless of shells and bullets, mounted the first German parapet. We killed many of them, but it is fair to say they didn't give in. They quickly had reinforcements, and we were compelled against heavy odds to yield the trench to the enemy. Angry fighting continued, and our game now was to lure as many of the Germans towards our lines as possible so that we could mow them down with our guns. On they came, many hundreds of them, and as quickly they fell.
Our fellows got it too, and one little party was absolutely at the mercy of the enemy. Two of our young officers and five men were severely wounded and their position was helpless, for it was impossible to rescue them. Despite our tremendous fire the Germans, with fixed bayonets, tried to reach the party and their intention was obvious. They got within a few yards of the wounded when one of their number sprang in front of them and flashed a crucifix. "Stop," he shouted, and then he knelt down by the side of our men and blessed them. The other Germans immediately withdrew.
Then we managed to reach the wounded and our officer thanked the priest for the brave way in which he had behaved in the face of his own men. "Take me," said the priest. "I am your prisoner." The officer said he would not do that, but he would see that he returned to the German lines unharmed. The promise was kept, and before they parted the priest, falling on his knees, thanked our officer warmly, adding: "God bless you and good luck!"
Each side fears the barbarity of the other. "Would it be good military policy," asked a military official, "to encourage any other idea?" "'My comrades were afraid,' said this German sergeant. 'They cried out to me that the Indians would kill their prisoners, and that we should die if we surrendered. But I said, 'That is not true, comrades, and is only a tale. Let us go forward with our hands up.' So in that way we went, and the Indian horsemen closed about us, and I spoke to one of them, asking for mercy for our men, and he was very kind and a gentleman, and we surrendered to him safely.' He was glad to be alive, this man from Wiesbaden. He showed me the portrait of his wife and boy, and cried a little, saying that the German people did not make the war, but had to fight for their country when told to fight, like other men.... He waved his hand back to the woodlands, and remembered the terror of the place from which he had just come. 'Over there it was worse than death.'" Yes, and "If any man were to draw the picture of those things or to tell them more nakedly than I have told them, because now is not the time, nor this the place, no man or woman would dare to speak again of war's 'glory,' or of 'the splendour of war,' or any of those old lying phrases which hide the dreadful truth." (Philip Gibbs in the Daily Chronicle, July 18, 1916.)
THE CIVILIAN'S HATE.
Yet, appalling as modern war is, there are things which some soldiers find worse. When I spoke to an old friend of mine about a popular print that disseminates hatred he said, "Whenever I see that paper it makes my blood run cold." Yet in one of the charges which that man had faced only about a quarter of his company came back. That charge was to him less hideous than some newspaper malice—a malice which is so often a matter of business. Since then my friend has given his life, and has left in one heart a desolation that is worse than death. But in that heart there is no hate, only sympathy for all the sorrow, both on this side and the other.
Mr. Frederick Niven tells us the impressions of a wounded soldier who saw the Zeppelin burned at Cuffley. "What stuck in his mind was the roars that occurred when the airship took fire and began to come sagging and flaming down. 'It reminded me of what I have read of "Thumbs down" in the arenas of ancient Rome. It was the most terrible thing I have heard in my life. I've heard some cheering at the front, but this was different. Nothing out there had quite the same horrible sound.'" The difference can be explained. "These men," says Mr. Niven, "have seen the procession of the maimed, grey propping khaki, khaki propping grey, all trooping down to the dressing station." (Daily News, October 9, 1916.)
And here is a letter from a brave young officer, since killed. "I drifted into the —— Parish Church last evening to hear the organ and the singing. I was pushed into a pew up in the front, and so could not escape until the end of the service. I could have wept when I heard the sermon; it was a dreadful medieval picture of Heaven and Hell, and a dreadful curse on all the German people as being ready for 'Hell.' ... The whole service was as artificial as one could imagine—so heartless and so soulless. It made me feel so very sad that, as I said before, I could have wept openly. Do you think that the congregation, a large one, would take in and believe all that they heard from the pulpit? It seems too dreadful!"
AND CIVILIAN KINDNESS.
Yet even civilians, even German civilians, do not always hate.
There is a better Germany, but it is only occasionally that we are allowed glimpses of it now, and we must go usually among unknown people, and read unpopular or comparatively obscure publications if we seek a wider range of vision. In December, 1914, Mrs. Jackson, wife of a golf professional, returned from Germany to Clacton-on-Sea. Her husband had been in the employ of the Cologne Golf Club. "Do you think," she was asked, "the German hatred of England is general?" "No," replied Mrs. Jackson. "Of course, the Germans hate England fiercely as a nation, but I do not think they do as individuals. Everyone treated us extremely well, although they knew our nationality, and my husband's employers are anxious for him to go back again to them when the war is finished." "Does Germany know the truth?" "I do not think so. We could not get any British newspapers, and only heard the German side of the question. I was quite thunderstruck when I heard England had joined in, and I am sure the German people were, too. The Germans are confident of victory, and so much is this so that some of my friends did not want me to go back, saying that I should be much safer where I was." I take this report from the Clacton Graphic of February 20, 1915.
Of course, there has been much kindness on this side, and much gratitude for it in Germany, but I confess that some things I have heard from the other side have given me twinges of patriotic jealousy. I should like to feel that my country is always first in generosity. When Chaplain O'Rorke walked unattended and in khaki through the streets of Burg, there was no offensive remark. Three English ladies travelling in Germany in war-time tell me that they never suffered from one unpleasant word. Miss Littlefair tells of some anti-English demonstrations, but of far more kindness, and when her unpopular nationality became known in a railway carriage, there was no change in the friendliness of its occupants. Again, a Canadian Chaplain has been allowed to travel free, and in his uniform, and to visit his men in different camps. He seems to have had no difficulty with the populace. As regards walks on parole, we hear from Crefeld, "There has been no trouble of any kind with the inhabitants."
SOME GERMAN NEWSPAPERS AND OTHER GERMAN COMMENTS.
The Frankfurter Zeitung is one of those German newspapers which has often at least worked for sanity in the national attitude. We may differ from some of its conclusions, but we must admire its stand against the flood of foolish, indiscriminate hate. On February 27, 1915, it asked: "What sense is there in German professors declaring that they will no longer collaborate with this or that scientific institution in England?... Salutations such as the celebrated 'God punish England' are not only fundamentally tasteless and theatrical, but are quite ridiculous.... We are deep in war, and we have to collect all our strength to beat our enemies, and especially to subdue our most dangerous enemy, England; but after the war must follow a peace which shall render possible calm and assured work. This work must be performed in conjunction with other peoples which we cannot exterminate." ... (Quoted in the Times, March 2, 1915.) On April 11, 1915, there appeared another telling little article, "English and German, according to Professor Sombart." The article is quietly ironical over Professor Sombart, who brings us before the court on the old charge, that we are a nation of shopkeepers. "The traders' spirit, that is Englishdom." I confess that as an Englishman I have always felt there was an uncomfortable amount of truth in this sneer. We are surely a somewhat stodgy, money-making people with far too little receptivity for new ideas. "I have long thought and preached," wrote Lord Haldane in the Nation of August 7, 1915, "that the real problem in this country is the development of thought and ideas." Dr. Drill does not in his review concern himself with this charge. He remarks in passing that it is quite possible for a tradesman to be a hero and for a minister of war to be a tradesman, and then goes on to point out the futile absurdity of all such general charges. He cites an amusing attack on German culture by a lecturer at Bedford College. "We smile over his attack," says Dr. Drill. "May we not be afraid that educated Englishmen do the same about Professor Sombart?" The review tears the book to tatters, and the reviewer sums up the opinion of the thoughtful by declaring that the publication of such a piece of writing at this time of crisis is altogether scandalous. The course of journalists during this war has so often been down steep places that we are refreshed whenever we come, either in England or in Germany, upon so brave a stand for a sane view of the enemy. Karl Bleibtreu (as quoted in the Daily News, July 8, 1915) writes in the Koelnische Zeitung, "Such foolish effusions as that of Professor Sombart's 'Traders and Heroes,' revealing no conception of the more profound movements of the soul, must be regarded as an error. The true perception is here blurred by a confusion of the British private character, which is worthy in every way of the highest respect, with the State policy which is dominated by a national megalomania." We are told that Bleibtreu abuses France. Well, we have known rather distinguished Englishmen abuse France, too. The Frankfurter Zeitung has spoken of "the really heroic bravery" of the Black Watch. The Koelnische Zeitung reproduced a spirited article from the Austrian Danzers Armee Zeitung in which that paper said the generous thing about Serbian, Belgian and Russian armies alike. This article also was a protest against the lower tone which has prevailed by no means only amongst the newspapers printed in German. The Serbians are spoken of as "an enemy who can hardly be surpassed in keenness and untiring energy." No one has any right, the article says, to abuse the Belgians who had a right to fight and who fought very well, notwithstanding the notoriously unmilitary character of their country. Of the Russians we are told, "We must admit that these armies are well led, excellently equipped, and splendidly armed.... There have been individual cases of disregard of the Red Cross, and one hears of occasional plunderings, but, as regards the majority, it is an honourable and chivalrous enemy that is facing us." The love of fair play is after all not confined to Englishmen, or to the opponents of Germany.
The Daily News of March 26, 1918, quotes from the Koelnische Zeitung, which writes of the British enemy as "defending himself with extraordinary determination and bravery.... Our men speak in terms of the highest praise of the attitude of the enemy. The Englishman is an extremely brave soldier." I confess I should be glad to read tributes of like generosity in certain popular newspapers on this side. The Deutsche Tageszeitung is also quoted as saying that the British defended every one of their points of support determinedly and bravely, giving way only step by step. Again, von Ludendorff (March 27) is quoted as saying: "The English use and distribute their machine guns very cleverly," and there is something out of keeping with the attributed Ludendorff character in the remark: "The district over which the offensive has passed is pitiable."
On April 4, 1918, the Daily News contained the following under the heading, "A Respectful Greeting sent per balloon by the Germans":
In a dispatch from the front Reuter's special correspondent says there is a certain sporting element in the German army, and relates the following incident:
During the thick of the first clash a small balloon came floating down to where our men were making a splendid resistance. On being captured it was found to be carrying the following message: "Good old 51st! Sticking it still! Good luck!"
The 51st, which is one of the three first divisions to be named in official communiques for magnificently opposing the enemy hordes, is known to be regarded by the Germans as one of our most formidable corps.
On April 15 we read of Armentieres: "A Berlin semi-official statement says that despite the ever-increasing pressure of the enveloping troops the town held out extraordinarily bravely. Only when, by a flank onslaught of the German troops, envelopment to the west of the town was almost completed, did the remnant of the brave garrison surrender."
And here is a letter from an Englishwoman in Germany (Nation, May 15, 1915): "'Gott strafe England' is a 'Spruch' in great use here, and is to be had on rubber stamps.... School children are taught it.... This is a fact, but all the better-thinking people deplore it, and I wonder whether, if it is ever recorded in history, it will also be recorded that the Kaiser has now strictly forbidden it. It will die, but gradually. It is the idea of some silly loud-mouthed ass, and the people, like sheep, followed it." Professor Wrangel, a German authority on pedagogy, urges the avoidance of instilling hatred into the young, and he tells us that the Bavarian Government has instructed its teachers to avoid in their lessons all language insulting to the enemy. (Daily Chronicle, June 19, 1915.) In July, 1915, the Frankfurter Zeitung published a long article on the situation in England, written by a neutral observer. The London Daily News describes it as giving "on the whole a fair and conscientious presentation of facts." The article points out that the average Englishman regards the war as a war of defence (just as the average German does). The article warmly praises England for the way in which it won the loyalty of the Boer Republics.
In the Montag (the Monday edition of the Berlin Lokalanzeiger) Herr E. Zimmermann stoutly defended actions of both neutrals and enemies that the more biased in Germany had condemned. "Reproach levelled against America for supplying war material to our enemies is unjust. Germany herself, at the Hague Conference, caused the rejection of the proposal to prohibit the supply of war material to belligerents by neutral countries. Only the prohibition of supply of war material by the Governments of neutral States exists, while private industry is free to act as it likes. So far America, as a State, has supplied no war material." In his attitude towards America, says Herr Zimmermann, the Imperial Chancellor "need take no notice of those ferocious heroes who take care to keep themselves at a distance from the hail of bullets in safe retreat...." We know something of those ferocious heroes on this side too.
Again, "I cannot share in the political sentimentality which represents England's attempt to starve us into submission as an exceedingly mean thing. I cannot share in it because it would have been a pleasure to me if I could apply with success the same war tactics to England. We must not forget that it is not really a question of actually starving to death tens of millions of men and women, but only of constraining them to lay down their arms."
Sir Edwin Pears writes in the Sunday Times of October 10, 1915:
The Frankfurter Zeitung has been allowed to publish a statement which not unfairly represents the situation. It says that the Greek crisis raises the question: "Who is the stronger? The King with the General Staff and the great part of the Army, or Venizelos and the Cabinet who embody the will of the country as represented in the Chamber?"
This is a singularly fair and frank statement of the facts of the crisis, as they at first presented themselves. The Frankfurter Zeitung is no doubt distinguished for the reasonableness of its outlook, but I think that anyone reading the better German newspapers must (in the days when they were available) have felt a little prick of wounded pride when he compared them with our own. The Koelnische Zeitung is, for instance, like all belligerent newspapers, ridiculously biased; but in the earlier days, when I was able to see it, I did not find gross misrepresentation or absurd hate. The "not very tasteful 'Gott strafe England'" has given the English a new word, one writer remarks (Sept. 21, 1915). Naturally, American testimony favourable to Germany is exclusively quoted, just as in this country we quoted exclusively that favourable to the Entente. And some space was given to the utterances of such men as Sven Hedin and Bjoern Bjoernson, who, as neutral observers, had formed a high opinion of the way that German character was meeting the crisis. There was not, however, so much of the curious sanctimonious malice which has disfigured some of the well-known English papers.
If children are to be told of the war at all, the central duty of any teacher should surely be to avoid stimulating those feelings of hatred which might obscure the chances of future peace. On the whole, the German school-books I have before me seem to fulfil this duty, or at least to aim at fulfilling it. There are, of course, many stories of the achievements and the courage of the German soldiers. All peoples have dwelt on physical courage in too primitive a way. But these books scarcely encourage hate. A letter from France tells how German soldiers tried to help the starving people. The writer is very obviously sincere. "In one village near our fortifications the people were crying with hunger. It was woeful. I gave them all the bread I had. The children were always asking for more, and kissed our hands. That moved us all greatly. Naturally we told the Commandant." As a result, twelve women were allowed to pass through the lines blindfolded to fetch food from ——. This story is not one to encourage hate, and again and again there are stories of German sympathy with the enemy.
A sad account of incidents of the Russian invasion begins: "Of course, not all Russians are barbarians, most of the misdeeds are due to the Cossacks." (I could not help on reading this calling to mind some of the wilder anti-German outbursts. An official in a rather responsible position said to me that he could not see "a single redeeming feature in any one of them." It was a childish outburst, but childishness in a position of authority becomes cruelty.) A story one German school-book tells of a wounded Belgian sounds only the note of pity, and there is a wonderful little picture of a wounded German's suspicion of a wounded Russian. The story is finely told, but I cannot reproduce it all here. The Russian is in pain and thirst, the wounded German hesitates between suspicion and pity, but pity gets the upper hand, and he crawls with his water bottle to the Russian. Later, as he lies helpless, his fears are aroused by seeing the Russian fumble with something in his breast. Is it a revolver? The wounded German, overstrained with suffering, waits in terror, but the Russian dies before his hand can bring out what it sought. When the stretcher bearers come the German asks the leader to look for the revolver which he feared the Russian was trying to get out. The leader goes to look. He brings back what the Russian's dying hand was seeking. No revolver, but the portrait of his mother. This rebuke of hatred and suspicion would live in a child's mind for long.
The effects of the anti-German outbursts can be traced even in these books. When an officer finds the Sisters of a nunnery in want, his ready help is accompanied by the words: "This little kindness is the act of German barbarians, who refuse all thanks. As long as we are here, each barbarian soldier will give up a little, so that you may have their savings every three days, and then you will have plenty.... Enjoy it, and be as happy as you can."
BELGIUM AND WAR AIMS.
Professor Martin-Rade of Marburg University is a Protestant Liberal Theologian and a man well known in his own country on account of his literary and political activities. He writes as follows in the Christliche Welt, a widely-circulated magazine of which he is the editor: "I can only deplore the manner in which the Chancellor in his speech ... has treated the question of neutral countries, for there was no need for him to have recourse to the proverb, 'Necessity knows no law.' With that proverb I cannot convince these who behold in the existence of neutral States a triumph of the rights of man. That is why it is a pity—for which it is hard indeed to make reparation—that the German Empire should not have abstained altogether, at the very outset, from the sin ... which it has committed against Belgium. Whoever accuses my view of being unpatriotic I challenge, by whatever test he likes, to show that he loves his Fatherland better than I do." (From a letter in the Nation, November 28, 1914.)
Again, as early as December, 1914, at a meeting of the Socialist Party in the Reichstag a resolution was proposed in favour of (a) the evacuation of Belgium, and (b) the setting up of plebiscites in Schleswig and Alsace-Lorraine to determine the future government of those districts. It was defeated, but twenty four members voted for it. (Nation, January 23, 1915.) To estimate the full value of this we must try to envisage the state of mind of a nation at war. This is notoriously difficult. We cannot picture our own state of mind, because it is obviously impossible at one and the same time to be intensely moved and to picture this emotion without emotional bias. And our bias renders us perhaps equally incapable of envisaging the mind of the enemy. It will be necessary therefore somewhat wilfully to exaggerate an analogy in order to see how Germans may feel. Let us conceive, then, twenty-four members of the House of Commons proposing (in the midst of the war) (a) the raising of all blockade restrictions against neutrals, the evacuation of all neutral territories (whether Grecian or Persian), and (b) the setting up of plebiscites in Ireland, India and Egypt, to determine the future governments of those districts. I can imagine somewhat heated or contemptuous treatment of this comparison. Just so: the Germans are heated too, and they no longer see clearly. And we must never forget that they have had long training in obedience to government. There are not wanting English politicians who would like to see similar training introduced here. It leads however to the hypnotic response of which Colonel Maude has written interestingly in his "War and the World's Life." The Government in Germany called for the defence of the Fatherland, the Government declared the invasion of Belgium as unavoidable. The hypnotic response followed, but at least twenty-four members of the national legislature woke from the trance and thought. I have attempted in my comparison only to suggest how much independence, how much cutting of bonds and attachments that thought required. I press the analogy no further. What is noticeable is that this thought, voiced so early and unmistakably, has been gaining wider and wider utterance. It appears that in December, 1914, Herr Haase, speaking in the Reichstag for the Social Democrats, declared that the party were unanimously of opinion that the facts which had come to light since the beginning of the war were not sufficient evidence for them to adopt the Imperial Chancellor's view that the violation of the neutrality of Luxemburg and Belgium was justified by military reasons. The party had come to the conclusion and had agreed that the violation of Luxemburg and Belgium must be regarded as a violation of justice. The above declaration seems to have been suppressed in the German papers. It reached the Labour Leader from Holland.
We have all of us read the celebrated manifesto issued by the National Executive of the German Social Democratic Party which the Vorwaerts was suppressed for publishing. Let us remind ourselves of a few passages in that document. It was issued in June, 1915. "When in recent years the threatening clouds of war gathered on the political horizon, the German Socialists stood with all their strength up to the last hour, for the preservation of peace. To the misfortune of the peoples, the Socialists in all countries were not yet strong enough to hold back the terrible fate which has come upon Europe. The torch of war flared up sharply and set the whole world on fire.
"When the Cossacks of the Tsar passed over the frontiers, plundering and burning, the German Socialists proved true to the word which their leaders had given to the German people. They put themselves at the service of their country and voted the means for its defence....
"The Parliamentary Party and the Party Executive have always unanimously opposed the policy of conquests and of annexations. We raise once more the sharpest protests against all attempts to secure the annexation of foreign territories and the violation of the rights of other peoples, particularly as they have been expressed in the demands of great Capitalist Federations and in the speeches of leading capitalist politicians. To make such attempts delays more than ever the peace which is strongly desired by the whole people. The people do not want any annexations. The people want peace.—THE EXECUTIVE OF THE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF GERMANY. June 23, 1915, Berlin."
When we remember that the Social Democrats of Germany number about four millions, the importance of this manifesto becomes clearer. It is a tremendous fact. The loud-voiced threats of crushing, boycott, etc., by influential sections on this side have been one of the greatest hindrances to the Social Democrats, and one of the greatest aids to German militarists.
We heard much in 1915 of the "annexation split" in Germany. The Delbrueck-Dernburg-Wolff Memorial represented, to my thinking, nothing strange, or new, or abnormal, but rather the voice of natural and normal Germany making itself heard again amidst the clamour of foolish hatred and silly bombast in which present-day crises seem always to involve the contending nations. "Germany did not enter the war with the idea of annexation"—thus the Memorial opens. It is easy to scoff at this statement, because it is always easier in a crisis to be swayed entirely by bias. Frankly, as regards Germany, that is (if this word is to have any meaning), as regards the mass of the German people, I believe this statement to be true. Whatever the militarist and commercial schemers may have contrived, Germany as a whole did not enter the war with the idea of annexation, but, as the Memorial goes on, "in order to preserve its existence, threatened by the enemy coalition against its national unity and its progressive development. In concluding peace, Germany cannot pursue anything that does not serve these objects." Who were the signatories to this Memorial? Amongst the 82 names are those of Professor Hans Delbrueck, Dr. Dernburg (the ex-Minister), Professor Adolf von Harnack (the theologian and General Director of the Royal Library at Berlin), Theodore Wolff (Editor of the Berliner Tageblatt), Dr. Oppenheim (who holds an important position in the dye industries), Carl Permet (Judge of the Berlin Commercial Courts), Prince von Hatzfeld, Franz von Mendelsohn (President of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce), Prince Donnersmarck, Count von Leyden (ex-ambassador), Dr. August Stein (Editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung), Major von Parseval (the designer of the famous airship). These are representative names. They stand, I think, with the Social Democrats for the real Germany.
The Berliner Tageblatt has returned again and again to the charge. Here, for instance, is an extract from an article by Herr Theodore Wolff as given in the Daily News of February 4, 1916:
Since August 4, 1914, the Belgian question has been withdrawn from public discussion, and only the advocates of a boundless policy of grab are now and again impelled by their temperament to throw off all restraint. Because these voices are alone audible, the Paris papers and those Belgian papers which are published in London are able constantly to din into the ears of the war-weary Belgians and the world at large that Belgium has only the choice between the continuation of the war and complete destruction. In this way, by asserting that in Germany at most only a few Socialists and pacifists without influence are opposed to the policy of annexation, they succeed in stifling again and again any aspiration towards peace. It is therefore necessary and useful at least to proclaim from time to time that this assertion, as will be demonstrated on the very first day when free discussion is allowed, is absolutely incorrect.
GERMANY AND CONTRACTS.
The real German is not simply a brute, though the brute lies perdu in every civilised man. Mr. Herbert Hoover, formerly Chairman of the Commission of Relief in Belgium, said, "The German authorities place no obstruction in the way of relief, and, as far as can be ascertained, not one loaf of bread or one spoonful of salt supplied by the Relief Commission has been taken by the Germans." (Times, c. December 6, 1914).
It has often been said in this country that according to German rules contracts with enemy subjects are cancelled by the mere fact of war. The Koelnische Zeitung published a legal opinion disposing of this statement. No law to this effect exists, and none has been enacted. "Only the right of enemies to secure enforcement of contracts by means of legal process has been curtailed. Moreover, the making of payments to England, France or Russia has been prohibited. But these last-named prohibitions presuppose the legal validity of the contracts themselves, since they declare the payments due under them to be merely postponed." (Daily News, August 20, 1915.)
An old friend of mine was in process of negotiating patent rights in Germany for an invention of his at the time that war broke out. He was allowed to complete the claim to the patent, and it was granted him after Germany and Britain were at war.
Not every one in Germany is obsessed with a conviction of the efficacy of "frightfulness." This is plain from the fact that the Frankfurter Zeitung published articles from its neutral correspondent in England which point out that each phase of frightfulness had precisely the opposite effect of that which was intended. The bombardments of coast towns, the use of asphyxiating gases, the sinking of the Lusitania all led, he remarks, to increased recruiting and intensified war feeling. Each act of frightfulness has of course been represented to the German public in a very different light from that in which it has been presented to us, and it is therefore the more striking that so influential a newspaper should publish such an opinion. When the Lusitania was sunk, both the Berliner Tageblatt and the Vorwaerts maintained an absolute silence, and these are the two most influential organs in Berlin.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF ENEMIES.
The soldier's attitude is often that of Captain Ball, the boy who did such wonders in the air fight:—
I attacked two Albatross scouts and crashed them, killing the pilots. In the end I was brought down, but am quite O.K. Oh, it was a good fight, and the Huns were fine sports. One tried to ram me after he was hit, and only missed by inches. Am indeed looked after by God, but oh! I do get tired of always living to kill and am really beginning to feel like a murderer. Shall be so pleased when I have finished.
Quoted in the Daily News, May 7, 1918. Captain Ball has finished the killing in the only way boys can finish the killing now, for he is dead. The last words, Requiescat in pace, have a new poignancy in days when children are growing up who have never known peace.
Yet underneath all the wild recriminations prompted by fear and hate, there is brotherhood. For at the worst what do all these charges mean? That a few foolish men without vision have slipped into power and direct the great beast-machine that kills. That Frankenstein is apt at all times to wild, primitive cruelty. What may it be when foolish, hard theorists are its masters? Yet, for all that, the people out of whom Frankensteins are made are of one flesh, are all brothers, all parts of the great Life which some call God. Now and then, amidst their fiercest fighting, this becomes plain. It sometimes seems as if the main concern of rulers were to prevent any permanent realisation of this truth; for if the peoples should realise their oneness, war would cease, and there is nothing that stops awkward questions as war does. Yet some day these awkward questions will be asked again, I hope, and Hans and Jack and Francois and Ivan may come to realise their brotherhood. Let us remind ourselves how now and then they can realise this even in war. "Who will not recall in this connection," writes Prince Eugene Troubetzky in the Hibbert (July, 1915), "the touching description of the Christmas festival in the trenches, when the Germans, hearing the English singing their hymns, went out to meet them and heartily shook their enemies by the hand? Similar scenes have occurred more than once between the Russians and the Germans. At the present moment there lies before me the letter of a Russian soldier which refers to them: 'What I am going to tell you,' he says, 'is a true miracle.' The 'miracle' which had so appealed to his imagination was that, during an armistice, there were 'handshakes and hearty acclamations on both sides, to which no description could do justice.' ... From the very heart of war there issues this mighty protest of life against the destructive force of death. But whenever life asserts itself, its object is always to re-establish a living unity. The more violently unity is threatened by war, or by the mutual hate which would tear it asunder, the more powerful becomes the answer of this spiritual force in its effort to re-establish the integrity of mankind. In this we have the explanation of a fact, which at first sight seems incredible, that in time of war the perception of the universal solidarity of mankind reaches a degree of elevation which would hardly be possible in time of peace."
"On Christmas Eve," writes a member of the London Rifle Brigade, "the Germans burned coloured lights and candles along the top of their trenches, and on Christmas Day a football match was played between them and us in front of the trench. They even allowed us to bury all our dead lying in front, and some of them, with hats in hand, brought in some of our dead officers from behind their trench, so that we could bury them decently. They were really magnificent in the whole thing, and jolly good sorts. I have now a very different opinion of the German. Both sides have started the firing, and are already enemies again. Strange it all seems, doesn't it?" (Nation, January 2, 1915.)
"These Germans were enduring the same hardships, and the same squalor. There was only pity for them and a sense of comradeship, as of men forced by the cruel gods to be tortured by fate. This sense of comradeship reached strange lengths at Christmas, and on other days. Truces were established and men who had been engaged in trying to kill each other came out of opposite trenches and fraternised. They took photographs of mixed groups of Germans and English, arm-in-arm. They exchanged cigarettes, and patted each other on the shoulder, and cursed the war.... The war had become the most tragic farce in the world. The frightful senselessness of it was apparent when the enemies of two nations fighting to the death stood in the grey mist together and liked each other. They did not want to kill each other, these Saxons of the same race and blood, so like each other in physical appearance, and with the same human qualities.... The monstrous absurdity of war, this devil's jest, stood revealed nakedly by those little groups of men standing together in the mists of Flanders.... It became so apparent that army orders had to be issued stopping such truces."
It is only by artificial stimulus, by artificially made ignorance, that war can be kept going in these days. By which I do not mean to imply that commanders and leaders are wilfully cruel men; but the leaders on each side are afraid lest their men should give up fighting first. To be the first to acknowledge brotherhood seems like being the first to give in, and actually does foreshadow serious dangers. And yet the time will come when we shall have to face danger for the sake of brotherhood, as we do now for the sake of self-assertion. The orders to avoid friendship with the enemy were, even in these circumstances, not always obeyed. "For months after German and British soldiers in neighbouring trenches fixed up secret treaties by which they fired at fixed targets at stated periods to keep up appearances and then strolled about in safety, sure of each other's loyalty." (Gibbs, "The Soul of the War," p. 351.) Prisoners were sent back to their own trenches, and sometimes went with great reluctance.