Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

1916

GERMANY IN WAR TIME

831

a carpenter, locksmith, or gardener are made ment should call out the nineteen and eightavailable for the disabled soldier.

een-year-old classes. Thousands upon thouIn one of the other homes for the crippled sands of soldiers were called from the front, there was a soldier who had lost one arm. out of the trenches, to go home and help He had been promised an artificial hand. with the harvest. He was a big, strapping fellow, a carpenter At every railway station soldiers were by trade. He had been depressed, brooding coming and going. Such strong, sunburned over the long, useless life that lay before faces! I felt like thanking each one of them him. They came to him with half a dozen of singly for fighting for the Fatherland ; for these Prothesen. One at a time they were keeping the enemy away from the fields rich screwed to his stump and he was shown how with an abundant harvest; for defending the to use the tools of his trade. The radiant land of German Kultur, the home of music expression of the face of that young giant and the kindergarten, of universal old-age when he saw and was convinced that he insurance and the Mutterschutz, of the mucould continue in his life's work was over- nicipal theaters and operas that offer to the whelming Sad! How could one be sad ? poorest the richest gems and compositions of Does not such experience, one such glimpse all nations, the land of the “ cities beautiful,” of heaven, encourage even the most tried the state of the Greek ideal of “ one for all." soul?

Once, when the question that is in every

one's heart was asked, “When will there be How often when I was on the road, rush- peace ?” a soldier proudly raised his head ing from one city to another, trying to find and, firmly grounding his gun, replied with the place where the people were starving or that strange, distant look, “ Just as soon as going to bed hungry, did I think of the Co- we can obtain honorable conditions." penhagen lady who said that I could not Again, as I sat in a forest inn built on a travel in the Fatherland. How easily did I height that overlooked groves, meadows, and travel and how punctual were the trains ! fields, a band of fourteen slightly wounded Only once was my train late at its destina- soldiers arrived. I sent word to mine host tion, and then only ten minutes. How to treat them to anything they might desire, crowded the trains werel Half of the and, after a while, sat down among them, coaches were always reserved for the sol- and we questioned each other. They had all diers, and often there were so many soldiers been wounded in the Battle of the Somme. that some had to be accommodated in the There were three barbers, a butcher, several sections reserved for civilians.

day laborers, several factory hands, a lockLife in the cities appeared to be as usual, smith, two sailors, and a chimney-sweep with the exception of the many soldiers among them. They were quartered in the whom one encountered at every step in the magnificent sanitarium at Nauheim, Gerstreets, in the cafés and restaurants, in the many's most celebrated watering-place, and theaters, at the concerts, in the art museums, were being fêted, as all the soldiers are. I picture galleries, and churches. Soldiers, asked them if they liked to be there. soldiers everywhere!

yes,” said one; "it is all right, but it is betInvoluntarily I asked myself a hundred ter at the front ; we wish to return.” They times, “ How is it possible to have this ter- were of the same company. One of them rible fighting on such immense fronts with had been buried three times by mine exploall these soldiers at home ?” A boy of sions. Another had been taken prisoner eighteen, six feet tall, broad-shouldered and with twenty others and had been placed in strong, probably saw in my face the question the conduct of two black savages. It was why he was not at the front.

He told me late in the afternoon, and as darkness came that he was ordered by the Government to on they had all managed to escape, hiding help bring in the harvest. He had twice in woods and crawling for two days and volunteered and had been refused, because nights on all fours, until at last they were the Government would no longer permit the back within the German lines. men of his age to enlist as volunteers. His It was interesting to hear them speak of cousin, nineteen, had tried to enlist in over their different enemies. They praised the thirty-seven regiments; had traveled from Canadians and the French as brave and one end of Germany to the other, all in vain ; worthy foemen. They laughed at the idea they must wait, he said, until the Govern- that the English.could break through at the

[ocr errors]

Somme. "We fight Russians, French, Eng- Nothing can convince the German people lish, Canadians, Australians, and savages. Let that this war is not their own, fostered and them come on; we are always ready for them." begun by England's jealousy of Germany's

I used to ask myself, “ How is it possible trade and her traditional policy of brooking that the soldiers can retain their refinement no swiftly growing naval rival. Everywhere and breeding, their thoughtfulness and warm unanimously they proclaim that this is a sympathy for those behind the reeking front, Vertheidigungs und Volkskrieg (war of the exposed to the bestializing influences of the people in defense of their homes). war ?” Truly, it seems that the gold of The suggestions of a “ Prussian military human worth is tested in the firing-line. I party.” or of a militarist clique that dominates had many a proof of this, as when some the Kaiser, or of which the Kaiser and Kronyoung soldiers of perhaps twenty or twenty- prinz are the leaders, they set down as the one called on my brother and his wife to obviously dishonest statement of Germany's condole with them on the death of their only enemies. The people presume that we in son, who had been their comrade. They America naturally ignore it, that any student were strangers to this household ; their mis- of history would know that the causes were sion was a difficult one even for older men real and of consequence, and that the war among friends. Yet these mere boys, just had long been in the making. If anything, come from the trenches, displayed such deli- they deplore that some such party had not cacy of feeling, such innate sweetness, that existed that might have forestalled the world they won a respite for the souls of the grief- war by a certain triumph against England stricken parents. And the splendid letters when international affairs would have favored that brought comfort from the front to the it. It is the man in the street who speaks dear ones at home, messages written beneath impatiently of Germany's lost opportunities the fury of fire and under the sickle of deathi to strike the arch-plotter against her pros(O ye magnificent Huns and barbarians !)

perity—as at the time of the Boer War or I saw much mourning in Germany. It is the Agadir incident. He is prone to blame not true that the Government has prohibited the Kaiser's mild régime and his idealistic this outward expression of grief. I heard no striving for international peace. complaints. I was not permitted to feel their The people are vexed with the Kaiser, not grief, but I was allowed to see the proud joy for his harshness, but for his leniency. When they felt in having one, two, three, four, or they clamored for a more vigorous prosecumore sons to give to their country. One tion of the U-boat war, it was the Kaiser widow said, “ My husband followed the call who influenced the War Council for the of his King He died a hero. I must be a present policy. And yet, though they may heroine and take up his work and bring up differ with him, they nigh adore him. my children in the fear of God, so that, when There is not a German in the Kaiser's I am called before my heavenly King, I may coat who does not account it an honor to be worthy to join my husband.”

have served his military term and to have When, during the first year of the war, the been in readiness when his country needed newspaper despatches of the Allies would him. May that spirit be emulated by my have us believe that the German people had fellow-Americans: to give to their countryrisen in rebellion and that the Kaiser and the even if it be two years of universal military Kronprinz were to be dethroned as the spe- training--this proof of love, call it " militarcial object of the “ Revolution," I marveled ism · Prussianism” if you will! The at the prospect.

I needed not to seek the hour may come when the mothers of Amerin Germany; it was everywhere ica will bless them for it. given, hot with the indignation of outraged My most intimate friends in America had loyalty and the great love that the common at various times spoken to me about the people bear the Emperor. The Fatherland hatred of the German people. They had blesses him for his vigilance, honors him for mentioned the “ Song of Hate” and Gott the purity of his domestic life, follows en- Strafe England !" I had answered, saying thusiastically his stimulating genius, is grate- that the “ Song of Hate” is a lyrical expresful to him for the intellect that has led Ger- sion of strong but pure feeling, by a writer many to the forefront of modern business, unknown until then in Germany; while the and loves him as a sincere and pious servant well-known English poet Watson's " Song of of his God and his country.

Hate " against the German Emperor is one

or

answer

1916

GERMANY IN WAR TIME

833

verse of " hell”-ish abuse after another. Both in a calm, objective way. Not a word of songs inspired by hate ; one pure and lofty, hatred, no abusive language ; the enemy is the other low in its vehemence and rage. dispassionately discussed. I could not help

In all my journeyings I talked with the thinking of the malice, hate, and abuse of people and intentionally spoke of the war, of many of our “ conservative and respected ” the French, the English, and the Russians. dailies—of the French and English press. I never succeeded in arousing any expres- Every Sunday I attended church, and always sions of hatred. They would mention bit- I listened to war sermons. The enemy was terly the cruelty of not feeding the German spoken of with respect. Again I had to soldiers who had been taken prisoners until think of some sermons that I had listened to they reached their prison camp (while the in America, where the pulpit is used to first thing Germany did was to feed her slander the Kaiser and his people. prisoners before leading them off), and they Germany naturally feels bitter towards would say that they wished Germany would America because of the export of munitions, retaliate ; but there was no tone of hatred in and yet one feels a desire to be friends their voices. In a good-humored way, I with America. In all my traveling and meetheard it said more than once, “We have to ing daily people in all walks of life, friends spank England harder," or, << We have to or total strangers, I heard America accused force England to her knees.But this was but thrice. On the first occasion I left the only saying, “We must conquer the enemy.” house at the threshold, because the accusa

I conversed with many officers and com- tions of my country met me even at greeting. mon soldiers, and tried again and again to Another time my hostess heeded my protest make them say they hated their enemies. I and the visit ended agreeably.

The third never succeeded. It was always, “ The poor time I happened to be spending the day at fellows !” if they spoke of the wounded or the a convent. That encounter is indelibly imprisoners. Even of the black and yellow pressed upon my mind. hordes that the French and English use I had been invited by the Sister Superior they said : “They are savages ; they never of one of Germany's greatest charitable have had a chance, they don't know any orders to join the older nuns at coffee on the better; it is their racial instinct to mutilate." veranda, to tell them of my journey and my

To one officer I said, I believe you are country. incapable of hating.” He retorted: - What Hardly had I been introduced and seated do you mean? Hate all the time, hate con- when a venerable nun arose unbidden and tinually? If you mean that, then you are transfixed me with faming eyes and accusing right. Neither I nor my comrades hate our finger. I was overwhelmed at the majestic enemies. When there is a fight we fight, and splendor of her poise and agonized countewe strike as hard as possible, because we nance, and for an instant dreaded that I fight to win. The moment the fighting is might cower before this figure. As I over we have only good will towards them and grasped the arms of my chair and bent forpity." Then he reminded me of last Christ- ward, master of myself and ready to meet mas Day at Ypres. They were opposite the the impending storm, she raised her voice, English. Both sides had agreed not to fight, trembling with emotion : "You! You from and had left the trenches and met on No America ! How could you enter here? How Man's Land! to exchange buttons and could you dare to profane the soil of our betrinkets, and to share their tobacco and their loved Fatherland, you that would sacrifice it food.

to the enemy?" Iler passion mounting Every day I read

several newspapers. higher, her face bianching under the strain First the German official news is given, fol- of her emotion, she continued breathlessly lowed by the French, English, Russian, to pour forth her torrent of abuse, every Italian, Austrian, and Turkish official reports. word wrung in anguish from the depths of All are quoted verbatim. It is not true that her being : “ Your countrymen --at peace the German people are kept in the dark as with us--give the tools of death to our eneto the progress of their enemies or their mies! American arms and bullets lay the announcements. Then the usual articles or sons of Germany low, thousands upon thou" leaders” on economic or governmental sands. You destroy the homes of German topics follow. Next the reports of the mothers, the fathers of children. For what? Reichstag, reports from America, all written You are not at war with us. Has shame

[ocr errors]

Our

fled from your hearts ?. Has the taint of longing for peace was expressed in touching blood-money destroyed your consciences ? words in the letters which great numbers of My brothers! Ye murdered dead! God Russian, French, and English prisoners reforgive my hate of you! Your country ! ceived from their families. If what I heard Oh, how I hate the Americans for their in Germany and in the cries of these letters calm and soulless slaughter of my people !" be proof, Europe is heartsick of the war. With a moan, her breath that instant failing, I mentioned to a high official the calm forshe paused.

titude I perceived everywhere in Germany I had expected that such passion could and the elevated tone of the newspapers. not beat on forever ; I seized the moment. He said : “ Yes, you are right. We are To the encouragement of the quavering calm, because we squarely face the issue. smiles of her sisters for pardon I spoke, You will never find hatred and abuse in our low, incisively, swiftly, the very moderation papers. We are calm and quiet. Do you of my voice holding her spellbound in turn. know why our enemies use abusive lanGently, I told her of the countless noble

guage ?

Because their conscience is not deeds that some—ay, many— Americans were clean. We have a perfectly clear conscience, doing for the Germans ; of the whole-souled and that gives us inner peace and sacrifices of many of German blood who were strength. We can fight on for victory betrue sons of their new land. I told her of cause our spirit is well armed.” my oldest and dearest friends in America, To him I spoke of the problems of peace. pro-Allies, a few of whom honestly believed He answered : « Our peace mobilization is that the Germans were fiends, Huns, and ready. We are prepared in such a way that barbarians, who knew that I was proud of Germany can mobilize her forces of peace as my German stock, and who had nevertheless smoothly and quickly as her forces of war, given me generously for the widows and and her machinery will run full blast twentyorphans of the Fatherland. As I went on, four hours after the final truce is begun." adding incident after incident of our charity and humanity, her face relaxed, her uplifted I left Germany with a great peace in my arm sank down, her eyes filled, and then, as heart. I left it with gratitude for what it had I ended, with streaming tears she came to given me in my childhood and youth, and with me, took my hand, and said, so humbly : greater gratitude for these ten weeks of “God bless you for that! I thank you for what uplifting experiences and impressions behind you have told me. Thank.God, I can now the front. I returned to America deterthink differently of America and Americans !" mined to show myself worthy of what Ger

Throughout Germany among the people I many, magnificent in her united sacrifice and found a great, great longing for peace. Peace, espousal of human faith, has done for me by if it could be had now on honorable terms ; giving more than ever the best within me to if not, then they would durchhalten and fight my work here. until they had won it. That same great Cambridge, Massachusetts, October, 1916

THE READER'S VIEW

THE FRUITS OF PRAYER God lets men work with him. God works through men. He lets them help him run the universe; and ofttimes he lets his mills grind slowly in order that men may better understand and may superintend the process. The mystery of suffering and of inequality in this world of human souls may, we believe, be explained along this line. God believes that it is better that man should have a part in setting the world right, and so he waits for man to bear his part.

And so we believe that the most important effect of true prayer is not so much to bring God down to minister to man's needs, be they great or small, but prayer lifts man up nearer to God, so that he thinks as God thinks, he sees as God sees, he purposes as God purposes. The divine spirit breathed into his soul enables him to rise above the passing things of life, and out of his labors and burdens and defeats he builds "the ladder leaning on the cloud." Prayer should not so much bring God down to man as it should lift man up toward God. Orange, Connecticut.

E. L. C.

follow the advice and instruction given in the early summer? Whatever it is, the fact remains and has made us feel that the day has not yet come when we can give over all our work to the school centers.

Perhaps we ought to tell you that we are very poor, but we hate to cloud Christmas with mercenary difficulties.

Since October 1 it has been hard to get money for needs at home. We would not divert one cent from the sufferers in Europe, but isn't there enough for both home and abroad? The dragon of the East Side still stalks in New York.

May we count on you to be an early Santa Claus and make our Christmas come true ? Remember, when you have a family of fourteen hundred it takes time to get ready, especially when so many of your children have marked preferences and desires.

Riis House sends Christmas greetings to The Outlook readers.

MARY Rus

(Mrs. Jacob A. Riis). The Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement,

48 Henry Street, New York City.

CHRISTMAS AT RIIS HOUSE

For weeks we have been planning for Christmas. We have ordered a great big tree and have asked Santa Claus to be sure that no little girl of doll age is left childless, and that every little boy finds what he most wants to find in Santa Claus's sack. We are also planning to have parties for the mothers, big boys and girls, and the little tots-parties where there is icecream, and where Italians, Jews, Irish, Greeks, and even our one little Chinese maiden, all come together in the spirit of love and goodwill to have a merry Christmas time.

They all have gifts for their new country, if we could but know how to accept them. Sometimes, because we do not understand, the gifts they bring are broken and thrown away, and ugly things grow and flourish in their place.

This is the season when we don't try to be wise or organized or economical or any of the other things we know we ought to be, and are all the rest of the year.

The summer with its scourge of poliomyelitis has gone and left us with a record of not a sin. gle case among the members of our big settlement family. This we should consider a happy accident were it not for the same report coming from all the New York settlements of which we have inquired. Why have the women and children, the boys and girls, belonging to settlement activities escaped when the disease raged in their neighborhoods ? Is it because they develop a social spirit which made them ready to

THE HAZEL TWIG The Outlook in the issue of September 6, in commenting on “ The Moon and the High Cost of Living" by Lewis Edwin Theiss in an earlier issue, makes a digression to attack "another superstition,” the belief that the presence of water underground is indicated by the action of a hazel twig.

Did the writer in The Outlook of September 6, or did John Fiske, both of whom so lightly dismiss as a “myth ” the practice of finding water by means of a hazel twig, ever try the experiment? The experiment is not a difficult one to try, and the verification of the claim of its virtue is comparatively easy. The writer has held a forked peach twig and seen it point downward at certain places and not at others, and this not only without his volition, but against his effort. If the twig was grasped tightly enough to preclude its turning in his hands, it bent. He never personally proved that water was to be found at the place indicated, but others have. An intelligent man, a college graduate, and by no means a man of “granitic mind," well known to the writer, re peatedly" found water.” He did not attempt to explain his power, but he accepted it, as did many others who often called upon him to exercise it in their service. He accepted no pay for "finding water," but did it as a neighborly favor. He was not superstitious; but when he saw a giraffe at the circus, he did not say, like The Out-I mean the farmer-" There ain't no such animal."

W. S. CROI'SE. Denton, Maryland.

« PredošláPokračovať »