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GERMANY IN WAR TIME
a carpenter, locksmith, or gardener are made available for the disabled soldier.
In one of the other homes for the crippled there was a soldier who had lost one arm. He had been promised an artificial hand. He was a big, strapping fellow, a carpenter by trade. He had been depressed, brooding over the long, useless life that lay before him. They came to him with half a dozen of these Prothesen. One at a time they were screwed to his stump and he was shown how to use the tools of his trade. The radiant expression of the face of that young giant when he saw and was convinced that he could continue in his life's work was overwhelming. Sad! How could one be sad? Does not such experience, one such glimpse of heaven, encourage even the most tried soul?
How often when I was on the road, rushing from one city to another, trying to find the place where the people were starving or going to bed hungry, did I think of the Copenhagen lady who said that I could not travel in the Fatherland. How easily did I travel and how punctual were the trains! Only once was my train late at its destination, and then only ten minutes. How crowded the trains were ! Half of the coaches were always reserved for the soldiers, and often there were so many soldiers that some had to be accommodated in the sections reserved for civilians.
Life in the cities appeared to be as usual, with the exception of the many soldiers whom one encountered at every step in the streets, in the cafés and restaurants, in the theaters, at the concerts, in the art museums, picture galleries, and churches. Soldiers, soldiers everywhere!
Involuntarily I asked myself a hundred times, "How is it possible to have this terrible fighting on such immense fronts with all these soldiers at home?" A boy of eighteen, six feet tall, broad-shouldered and strong, probably saw in my face the question why he was not at the front. He told me that he was ordered by the Government to help bring in the harvest. He had twice volunteered and had been refused, because the Government would no longer permit the men of his age to enlist as volunteers. His cousin, nineteen, had tried to enlist in over thirty-seven regiments; had traveled from one end of Germany to the other, all in vain ; they must wait, he said, until the Govern
ment should call out the nineteen and eighteen-year-old classes. Thousands upon thousands of soldiers were called from the front, out of the trenches, to go home and help with the harvest.
At every railway station soldiers were coming and going. Such strong, sunburned faces! I felt like thanking each one of them singly for fighting for the Fatherland; for keeping the enemy away from the fields rich with an abundant harvest; for defending the land of German Kultur, the home of music and the kindergarten, of universal old-age insurance and the Mutterschutz, of the municipal theaters and operas that offer to the poorest the richest gems and compositions of all nations, the land of the "cities beautiful,” the state of the Greek ideal of "one for all."
Once, when the question that is in every one's heart was asked, "When will there be peace?" a soldier proudly raised his head and, firmly grounding his gun, replied with that strange, distant look, "Just as soon as we can obtain honorable conditions."
Again, as I sat in a forest inn built on a height that overlooked groves, meadows, and fields, a band of fourteen slightly wounded soldiers arrived. I sent word to mine host to treat them to anything they might desire, and, after a while, sat down among them, and we questioned each other. They had all been wounded in the Battle of the Somme. There were three barbers, a butcher, several day laborers, several factory hands, a locksmith, two sailors, and a chimney-sweep among them. They were quartered in the magnificent sanitarium at Nauheim, Germany's most celebrated watering-place, and were being fêted, as all the soldiers are. I asked them if they liked to be there. “Oh, yes," said one; "it is all right, but it is better at the front; we wish to return." They were of the same company. One of them had been buried three times by mine explosions. Another had been taken prisoner with twenty others and had been placed in the conduct of two black savages. It was late in the afternoon, and as darkness came on they had all managed to escape, hiding in woods and crawling for two days and nights on all fours, until at last they were back within the German lines.
It was interesting to hear them speak of their different enemies. They praised the Canadians and the French as brave and worthy foemen. They laughed at the idea that the English. could break through at the
Somme. "We fight Russians, French, English, Canadians, Australians, and savages. Let them come on; we are always ready for them."
I used to ask myself, "How is it possible that the soldiers can retain their refinement and breeding, their thoughtfulness and warm sympathy for those behind the reeking front, exposed to the bestializing influences of the war?" Truly, it seems that the gold of human worth is tested in the firing-line. I had many a proof of this, as when some young soldiers of perhaps twenty or twentyone called on my brother and his wife to condole with them on the death of their only son, who had been their comrade. They were strangers to this household; their mission was a difficult one even for older men
among friends. Yet these mere boys, just come from the trenches, displayed such delicacy of feeling, such innate sweetness, that they won a respite for the souls of the griefstricken parents. And the splendid letters that brought comfort from the front to the dear ones at home, messages written beneath the fury of fire and under the sickle of death! (O ye magnificent Huns and barbarians !)
I saw much mourning in Germany. It is not true that the Government has prohibited this outward expression of grief. I heard no complaints. I was not permitted to feel their grief, but I was allowed to see the proud joy they felt in having one, two, three, four, or more sons to give to their country. One widow said, "My husband followed the call of his King. He died a hero. I must be a heroine and take up his work and bring up my children in the fear of God, so that, when I am called before my heavenly King, I may be worthy to join my husband."
When, during the first year of the war, the newspaper despatches of the Allies would have us believe that the German people had risen in rebellion and that the Kaiser and the Kronprinz were to be dethroned as the special object of the "Revolution," I marveled at the prospect. I needed not to seek the answer in Germany; it was everywhere given, hot with the indignation of outraged loyalty and the great love that the common people bear the Emperor. The Fatherland blesses him for his vigilance, honors him for the purity of his domestic life, follows enthusiastically his stimulating genius, is grateful to him for the intellect that has led Germany to the forefront of modern business, and loves him as a sincere and pious servant of his God and his country.
Nothing can convince the German people that this war is not their own, fostered and begun by England's jealousy of Germany's trade and her traditional policy of brooking no swiftly growing naval rival. Everywhere unanimously they proclaim that this is a Vertheidigungs und Volkskrieg (war of the people in defense of their homes).
The suggestions of a "Prussian military party." or of a militarist clique that dominates the Kaiser, or of which the Kaiser and Kronprinz are the leaders, they set down as the obviously dishonest statement of Germany's enemies. The people presume that we in America naturally ignore it, that any student of history would know that the causes were real and of consequence, and that the war had long been in the making. If anything, they deplore that some such party had not existed that might have forestalled the world war by a certain triumph against England when international affairs would have favored it. It is the man in the street who speaks impatiently of Germany's lost opportunities to strike the arch-plotter against her prosperity as at the time of the Boer War or the Agadir incident. He is prone to blame the Kaiser's mild régime and his idealistic striving for international peace.
The people are vexed with the Kaiser, not for his harshness, but for his leniency. When they clamored for a more vigorous prosecution of the U-boat war, it was the Kaiser who influenced the War Council for the present policy. And yet, though they may differ with him, they nigh adore him.
There is not a German in the Kaiser's coat who does not account it an honor to have served his military term and to have been in readiness when his country needed him. May that spirit be emulated by my fellow-Americans: to give to their country— even if it be two years of universal military training-this proof of love, call it "militarism" or "Prussianism" if you will! The hour may come when the mothers of America will bless them for it.
My most intimate friends in America had at various times spoken to me about the hatred of the German people. They had mentioned the "Song of Hate" and "Gott Strafe England!" I had answered, saying that the Song of Hate" is a lyrical expression of strong but pure feeling, by a writer unknown until then in Germany; while the well-known English poet Watson's "Song of Hate" against the German Emperor is one
GERMANY IN WAR TIME
verse of hell "-ish abuse after another. Both songs inspired by hate; one pure and lofty, the other low in its vehemence and rage.
In all my journeyings I talked with the people and intentionally spoke of the war, of the French, the English, and the Russians. I never succeeded in arousing any expressions of hatred. They would mention bitterly the cruelty of not feeding the German soldiers who had been taken prisoners until they reached their prison camp (while the first thing Germany did was to feed her prisoners before leading them off), and they would say that they wished Germany would retaliate; but there was no tone of hatred in their voices. In a good-humored way, I heard it said more than once, "We have to spank England harder," or, "We have to force England to her knees." But this was only saying, "We must conquer the enemy."
I conversed with many officers and common soldiers, and tried again and again to make them say they hated their enemies. never succeeded. It was always, "The poor fellows!" if they spoke of the wounded or the prisoners. Even of the black and yellow hordes that the French and English use they said: "They are savages; they never have had a chance, they don't know any better; it is their racial instinct to mutilate."
To one officer I said, "I believe you are incapable of hating.” He retorted: "What do you mean? Hate all the time, hate continually? If you mean that. then you are right. Neither I nor my comrades hate our enemies. When there is a fight we fight, and we strike as hard as possible, because we fight to win. The moment the fighting is over we have only good will towards them and pity." Then he reminded me of last Christmas Day at Ypres. They were opposite the English. Both sides had agreed not to fight, and had left the trenches and met on "No Man's Land" to exchange buttons and trinkets. and to share their tobacco and their food.
Every day I read several newspapers. First the German official news is given, followed by the French, English, Russian, Italian, Austrian, and Turkish official reports. All are quoted verbatim. It is not true that the German people are kept in the dark as to the progress of their enemies or their announcements. Then the usual articles or "leaders" on economic or governmental topics follow. Next the reports of the Reichstag, reports from America, all written
in a calm, objective way. Not a word of hatred, no abusive language; the enemy is dispassionately discussed. I could not help thinking of the malice, hate, and abuse of many of our "conservative and respected" dailies of the French and English press. Every Sunday I attended church, and always I listened to war sermons. The enemy was spoken of with respect. Again I had to think of some sermons that I had listened to in America, where the pulpit is used to slander the Kaiser and his people.
Germany naturally feels bitter towards America because of the export of munitions, and yet one feels a desire to be friends with America. In all my traveling and meeting daily people in all walks of life, friends or total strangers, I heard America accused but thrice. On the first occasion I left the house at the threshold, because the accusations of my country met me even at greeting. Another time my hostess heeded my protest and the visit ended agreeably. The third time I happened to be spending the day at a convent. That encounter is indelibly impressed upon my mind.
I had been invited by the Sister Superior of one of Germany's greatest charitable orders to join the older nuns at coffee on the veranda, to tell them of my journey and my country.
Hardly had I been introduced and seated when a venerable nun arose unbidden and transfixed me with flaming eyes and accusing finger. I was overwhelmed at the majestic splendor of her poise and agonized countenance, and for an instant dreaded that I might cower before this figure. As I grasped the arms of my chair and bent forward, master of myself and ready to meet the impending storm, she raised her voice, trembling with emotion: "You! You from America! How could you enter here? How could you dare to profane the soil of our beloved Fatherland, you that would sacrifice it to the enemy?" Her passion mounting higher, her face bianching under the strain of her emotion, she continued breathlessly to pour forth her torrent of abuse, every word wrung in anguish from the depths of her being: "Your countrymen-at peace with us give the tools of death to our enemies! American arms and bullets lay the sons of Germany low, thousands upon thousands. You destroy the homes of German mothers, the fathers of children. For what? You are not at war with us. Has shame
fled from your hearts? Has the taint of blood-money destroyed your consciences? My brothers! Ye murdered dead! God forgive my hate of you! Your country! Oh, how I hate the Americans for their calm and soulless slaughter of my people!" With a moan, her breath that instant failing, she paused.
I had expected that such passion could not beat on forever; I seized the moment. To the encouragement of the quavering smiles of her sisters for pardon I spoke, low, incisively, swiftly, the very moderation of my voice holding her spellbound in turn. Gently, I told her of the countless noble deeds that some-ay, many-Americans were doing for the Germans; of the whole-souled sacrifices of many of German blood who were true sons of their new land. I told her of my oldest and dearest friends in America, pro-Allies, a few of whom honestly believed that the Germans were fiends, Huns, and barbarians, who knew that I was proud of my German stock, and who had nevertheless given me generously for the widows and orphans of the Fatherland. As I went on, adding incident after incident of our charity and humanity, her face relaxed, her uplifted arm sank down, her eyes filled, and then, as I ended, with streaming tears she came to me, took my hand, and said, so humbly: "God bless you for that! I thank you for what you have told me. Thank God, I can now think differently of America and Americans !"
Throughout Germany among the people I found a great, great longing for peace. Peace, if it could be had now on honorable terms; if not, then they would durchhalten and fight until they had won it. That same great
longing for peace was expressed in touching words in the letters which great numbers of Russian, French, and English prisoners received from their families. If what I heard in Germany and in the cries of these letters be proof, Europe is heartsick of the war.
I mentioned to a high official the calm fortitude I perceived everywhere in Germany and the elevated tone of the newspapers. He said: "Yes, you are right. We are calm, because we squarely face the issue. You will never find hatred and abuse in our papers. We are calm and quiet. Do you know why our enemies use abusive language? Because their conscience is not clean. We have a perfectly clear conscience, and that gives us Our inner peace and strength. We can fight on for victory because our spirit is well armed."
To him I spoke of the problems of peace. He answered: "Our peace mobilization is ready. We are prepared in such a way that Germany can mobilize her forces of peace as smoothly and quickly as her forces of war, and her machinery will run full blast twentyfour hours after the final truce is begun."
I left Germany with a great peace in my heart. I left it with gratitude for what it had given me in my childhood and youth, and with greater gratitude for these ten weeks of uplifting experiences and impressions behind the front. I returned to America determined to show myself worthy of what Germany, magnificent in her united sacrifice and espousal of human faith, has done for me by giving more than ever the best within me to my work here.
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.
CHRISTMAS AT RIIS HOUSE
For weeks we have been planning for ChristWe 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 single 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
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 RIIS (Mrs. Jacob A. Riis). The Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, 48 Henry Street, New York City.
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. CROUSE.