The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Better Germany in War Time: Being Some Facts Towards Fellowship

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Better Germany in War Time: Being Some Facts Towards Fellowship

Author: Harold W. Picton

Release date: March 12, 2008 [eBook #24810]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Irma Spehar, Markus Brenner and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)



Being some Facts towards Fellowship.



Manchester and London.

[v] TO THE

[vii]“Forsooth, brothers, fellowship is heaven, and lack of fellowship is Hell.”—A Dream of John Ball.

“Either we are all citizens of the same city and war between us, a civil war, a monstrous iniquity to be forgotten, as soon as it may bring in peace; or else there is no city and no home for man in the universe, but only an everlasting conflict between creatures that have nothing in common and no place where they can together be at rest.”—Times Literary Supplement, Nov. 11, 1915.

“He had to be extremely careful, said Lord Newton at Knutsford last Saturday, because if he made any statement which did not accuse the Germans of brutality he was denounced by many people as pro-German.”—Common Sense, April 20, 1918.

“Des faits de ce genre méritent dêtre mis en evidence. Il faudrait, dans ce déchaînement d’horreurs et de haines, insister sur les quelques traits capables d’adoucir les âmes.”—La Guerre vue d’une Ambulance par L’Abbé Félix Klein.

“Hate as a policy is either inadequate to deal with the crimes (real and invented) of our enemies, or, if adequate, so recoils on the hater that he himself becomes ruined as a moral agent.”—G. Jarvis Smith, M.C. (late Chaplain at the Western Front). Nation, Nov. 2, 1918.

“The belief at home that the individual enemy is an incurable barbarian is simply wrong ...”—Second-Lieut. A. R. Williams, killed in action August, 1917.

“I will go on fighting as long as it is necessary to get a decision in this war.... But I will not hate Germans to the order of any bloody politician; and the first thing I shall do after I am free will be to go to Germany and create all the ties I can with German life.”—J. H. Keeling (B.E.F., December, 1915).


I.Military Prisoners1
II.Civilian Prisoners75
III.Prisoners in Previous Wars123
IV.Reprisals of Good132
V.What the German May Be149


One kind of German has been too often described, and not infrequently invented. I propose here to describe the other German. At a military hospital a lady visitor said to the wounded soldiers: “We’ve had lots of books and tales of horror; why don’t some of you fellows prepare a book of the good deeds of the enemy?” There was a slight pause. “Ah,” said one of the soldiers, “that would be a golden book.” Very imperfectly, and in spite of all the barriers raised by war passions, I have tried to collect some of the materials already to hand for such a book.

In any quarrel it is difficult to recognise that there is good in one’s opponent. Yet in order that any strife may be wisely settled, this recognition is plainly necessary. Mere enmity, without recognition of good, belongs to primitive barbarism. It was against the foolish unpracticality of this older barbarism (not surely only against its wickedness) that Christ protested in the words, “But I say unto you, love your enemies.” He saw around him the folly and unenlightenment of the perpetual feud. I have collected the testimonies that are in the following pages because such facts seem to me to need [xii]wider recognition, if we are ever to gain an outlook upon a fairer and a truer world.

If my desire for peace has anywhere shown itself unduly, or in a way irritating to others, I ask forgiveness. Whenever peace is made, the world will need a peace built on all the facts of human nature. I have tried to give here some of those which war passions inevitably obscure. That is the whole of my task.


September, 1918.


[1] With the exception of a few minor insertions the whole of this book was compiled, and the preface written, before Peace came. It seemed, however, that it might only be harmful if published then. I, therefore, kept the book back, but, as the wording expressed my feeling as I wrote, I have left it unchanged.

[1]The Better Germany in War Time


The cases of bad treatment of prisoners in Germany have been made known very widely. No one, I imagine, can wish to defend bad treatment of prisoners anywhere (even of criminal prisoners), and such a horrible state of things as that of Wittenberg during the typhus epidemic is a disgrace to human nature.

But Mr. Lithgow Osborne says: “My whole impression of the camp authorities at Wittenberg was utterly unlike that which I have received in every other camp I have visited in Germany.” (Miscel. 16, 1916, p. 6). I propose to give some account of these other camps. I shall not exclude adverse criticism, but as the public have heard little but such criticism, I do not think it will be unfair to deal in these pages more fully with the favourable reports.

Letters from Officers and Others.

The following letter from a British Officer appeared in the Times of December 30, 1914. It may well serve as an introduction and a caution:

I do not doubt Private O’Sullivan’s wonderful experience as a prisoner, but his is, I am sure, only an isolated case, and not at all the usual treatment to which British prisoners are subjected. I can speak from experience, as I, too, was a prisoner (wounded), but afterwards released, as the building in which I was, along with several German wounded, was captured by the British. During the time I was with the Germans they treated me with every consideration. Food [2]was scarce, owing to the fact that the roads were so well shelled by our artillery that their transport could not come up; but they shared their food with me. They also dressed my wound with the greatest care, and in every way made me as comfortable as possible. Being able to speak a little German, I talked to the other wounded, and found that their papers also published dreadful tales of our treatment of prisoners, which I am glad to say I was able to refute.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,

A British Officer.

December 27.

I would especially call the attention of fair-minded men to the last sentences.

Here is a letter written by Second-Lieut. F. Phillips Pearce (aged 18) of the 2nd Essex Regiment, from Crefeld on October 27, and printed in the Times of November 19, 1914:

We are treated very well indeed here. We have good beds and fires in the rooms, three good meals a day, and a French soldier for a servant, and this morning I had a splendid hot bath. We have roll call twice a day, at 8 a.m. and 9.45 p.m., and lights out at 10.45, and we have a large courtyard to walk about in. We have a canteen here where we can buy clothes and anything we want. Prison fare is very good—new rolls and coffee and fresh butter. Not bad! I had a very decent guard when I was coming up on the train; he got me food, and when one man tried to get in to attack me he threw him off the train. I am afraid I am out of the firing line until the war ends (worse luck). I am in no danger of being shot unless I try to bolt, which I shan’t do. I shot the man who was carrying their colours, and he wanted to have me shot, but luckily nobody seemed to agree with him. The next time I saw him he had been bandaged up—he was shot through the shoulder—and he dashed up and shook me by the hand and shouted, “Mein Freund, mein Freund.”

On November 25 other letters appeared in the Times. One was from a cavalry subaltern in a German fortress:

You ask about money; they provide lights and firing and all the men’s food. The officers get 16s. a week and buy their own. Quite sufficient, as it is cheap. I have learnt German fairly quickly and do interpreter now in the shop for the men, though, I am afraid, tant mal que bien. One of the [3]officials here used to be a professor, and is very kind trying to teach us. Thanks for the warm underclothes, and most awfully for the footballs. We have quite good matches.... It is better not to try to send any public news of any kind from England; people having been stupid trying to smuggle letters in cakes and things, and it only makes trouble for everyone.

A Captain writes:

For dinner at 1 p.m. we are given soup, meat and vegetables.... Supper takes place at 7 o’clock and consists of tea, sausages or meat and potatoes.... We receive £5 a month as pay, of which 1s. 6d. is deducted for food each day. We have a canteen here at which we can buy everything we want, ... so there is no need to send me anything at all, except perhaps those small 7d. editions of novels.

An English lady wrote early in 1915 from Munich:

I must tell you I had permission to visit a wounded English officer, a cousin, and I think it would reassure many people at home to know how warmly he speaks of the great kindness that has been shown him now for five months, as well as the skill and attention of the doctors.—(Times, March 17, 1915.)

Here, too, is a letter from Lieut.-Observer J. E. P. Harvey, an officer of the Bedfordshire Yeomanry, and attached to the Royal Flying Corps:

I met one of the pilots of the German machines that had attacked us. He could speak English well and we shook hands after a most thrilling fight. I had brought down his machine with my machine-gun, and he had to land quite close to where I landed. He had a bullet through his radiator and petrol tank, but neither he nor his observer was touched. I met two German officers that knew several people that I knew, and they were most awfully kind to me. They gave me a very good dinner of champagne and oysters, etc., and I was treated like an honoured guest. I then came by train the next day to Mainz, where I was confined in a room by myself for two days. I have now been moved into a general room with eight other English officers, where we sleep and eat. We are treated very well, and play hockey [4]and tennis in the prison yard.—(News of the World, February 27, 1916.)

Miss Colenso gives the following account, which appeared in the Daily News of June 28, 1918:

A minister friend of mine told me the story of a young Scottish boy of his acquaintance, now a military prisoner in Germany—I forget for the moment in which camp. This boy received a letter from home one day telling of his mother’s serious illness and the doctor’s verdict that she could only live a few weeks. The German Commandant, finding the boy in great distress, asked him what was the matter, and on learning the cause of his grief, said: “Would you like to go home to your mother?” The boy sprang up, exclaiming indignantly, “How can you mock me when you know it is impossible?” “But you shall go, my boy,” said the commandant. “I will pay your return fare on condition that you give me your word of honour to come back here.” The boy went home to Scotland and remained by his mother’s side for about three weeks till her death, when, true to his word, he returned to Germany.

The writer of “Under the Clock” considers that “well-attested” stories of this kind should be given publicity. It is even more necessary to examine the “attestation” of the other kinds of stories, for all the bias is against the enemy, and demand is apt to create supply.

Merseburg, Dœberitz.

I pass on now to a report made by a United States Official. The American Consul writes from Leipzig under date of November 16, 1914: “On Saturday afternoon, the 14th instant, I visited the military concentration camp near Merseburg, where some 10,000 prisoners of war are interned. The object of my visit was to investigate the claim of a French prisoner that he is an American subject. The result of my observations regarding the welfare and humane treatment of the prisoners at large was a surprise to me.... Separated by nationality, these prisoners [5]are housed in wooden buildings, well built, ventilated and heated.... They sleep upon straw mattresses in well-warmed quarters, and, as far as I could judge, are as well or better housed than labourers upon public works in the United States. The prisoners are fed three times a day. Breakfast consists of coffee and bread. Dinner consists of vegetable and meat, soup and bread, and for supper they are given bread and coffee. I was informed that many of the prisoners have some money, and that they are allowed to buy whatever else they may wish to eat. If I may judge from the mounds of empty beer bottles at hand, there is evidence in support of this statement. The prisoners appeared to be in good health and cheerful, many of them engaging in games and other pastimes.”

The diet described must be frightfully monotonous. Feeding has throughout been one of the German difficulties. “Germany claims to hold 433,000 prisoners of war,” wrote an anonymous American journalist (probably in November, 1914); “the housing and feeding of so great a number must be a tremendous strain upon resources drained by the necessities of war.” The numbers must now exceed two million. The Press article referred to [Misc. No. 7 (1915)] is severe on the misery of camp life, and the verminousness of the men (they were of mixed nationality) in the camp at Döberitz which he visited. (See, however, the further official reports quoted below at p. 9). But the writer does not confine his condemnation to one side. “One hears of battles in which no quarter is granted. There are stories of one side or the other refusing an armistice to permit the other to gather its wounded. Each side is desperately determined to win, and neither is counting the cost. So men must rust in prison camps until the struggle is over.” The monotony in this case seems to have been varied by fights between [6]the prisoners of different nationality, each set considering that the others had not done their part in the war. We need not be contemptuous about that. The monotony of the prisoners’ life must tend to produce the maximum degree of mutual friction. There is absolutely no privacy for the prisoner of war. To be forced to remain, day and night, for months and years in idleness, with a crowd of others, not of one’s own choice is, I believe, one of the psychological factors which make internment (especially to many civilians) decidedly worse than imprisonment in a criminal prison.

Correspondence and Packages.

My next document illustrates the fact that each side makes similar complaints about the other. Telegram received by American Embassy, London, December 23, 1914, 22nd from Berlin Embassy:

“Foreign Office reports receiving many complaints that money and packages sent German military and civilian prisoners in enemy countries from Germany do not reach addresses. Please secure information for Department to forward German Foreign Office whether money and other postal matter will be delivered to such prisoners promptly and intact.—Bryan, Washington.”

There is no doubt that many letters and parcels have not reached German prisoners in England. Lord Robert Cecil has fully allowed this. (Times report. March 11, 1915.) In spite of this, I have no doubt that the British authorities have done their best to expedite delivery. I would suggest that this is probably the case on the other side, too. We shall indeed later come upon some definite statements in support of this view. One frequent cause of the non-arrival of parcels in Germany has been convincingly described by Mr. Ian Malcolm, M.P. (Daily Mail, November 8, 1916, and Reprint):

[7]I did not approach this subject quite “new to the game.” I had already visited general post offices in England, Switzerland and elsewhere, and had seen thousands, literally thousands, of food parcels intended for our prisoners of war in Germany falling to bits and incapable of being forwarded for want of skilled packing. The sight was enough to make angels weep. To think that so much self-sacrifice had been exercised in humble homes to save up bits of dripping, crusts of bread, broken cigarettes, and what not, in order that these should reach son or brother or sweetheart in Germany, yet packed so badly albeit by loving hands, that in the first rough and tumble of the post the paper burst, the string came undone, and the contents of a dozen parcels fell in an inextricable jumble upon the floor.

There will unfortunately, too, be those in every land who will take opportunities for mean thefts. We have all had experience of that during this war, and the following cutting from the Daily News of October 5, 1915, may be given in illustration:

In a letter of thanks to the secretary of the committee of the Elswick and Scotswood workmen, formed for the purpose of sending comforts to the troops, Sir Ian Hamilton says:

I am extremely touched by the extraordinary generosity and kindness of the Elswick and Scotswood workmen. I will take great care to let our soldiers know to whom they are indebted for this most handsome contribution. Pray heaven the parcels will escape thieves and scoundrels who waylaid some of the gifts, and will arrive in good condition.

If there are, alas, not a few men who will steal from their comrades, there are not likely to be fewer who will steal from their enemies.

Speaking generally, however, the delivery of parcels on both sides soon became commendably regular. The care shown on the German side is warmly praised by Captain Gilbert Nobbs, who remained quite able to appreciate good deeds even after enduring terrible hardships and hearing worse stories from others. The bad deeds of war, soldiers [8]are able to judge better than civilians. In his book “Englishman, Kamerad,” Captain Nobbs writes:

I was very much impressed with the fair and systematic handling of our parcels, letters and money; even letters and postcards which arrived for me after I had been sent back to England, were re-addressed and sent back. A remittance of five pounds which arrived for me after I had left was even returned to me in England, instead of being applied to the pressing need of the German War Loan.—(Daily News, January 25, 1918.)

An acquaintance of my own, a lecturer in a technical school, spoke to me to the same effect. He told me, as an illustration, of a parcel sent to him which had become quite shattered in transit (p.p. 7). The Germans transferred the contents to a sack, and, as he said, the temptation to pilfer the sorely-needed foodstuffs must have been great. My informant also spoke of the very thorough inoculation against disease.


On December 31, 1914, Mr. Damm reported to Mr. Gerard on the Camp at Altdamm near Stettin. The general arrangement, he remarks, is the same as that of the camp at Stargard on which he had reported previously.

“It appears to me that every effort is being made to treat the prisoners of war as humanely as possible in the two camps I visited. Dry and warm shelter is provided, the food is simple and perhaps monotonous, but of good material and well prepared, sanitary arrangements are good, and the health of the men is carefully looked after.”

Rumours v. Inspection.

But the general inspection of all camps had not yet been agreed to by the German Government, and on February 23, 1915, Sir Edward Grey wrote to Mr. [9]Page (the American Ambassador in London) complaining that no definite replies to his questions were forthcoming. “His Majesty’s Government,” he continues, “have only unofficial information and rumours on the subject to guide them, which they trust do not accurately represent the facts.” The “unofficial information and rumours” had, however, attained wide publicity, and obtained still more later.

The German authorities agreed on March 17, 1915, to general inspection of detention camps and consideration of complaints. The reports now to be cited were made after this date. [Misc. 11 (1915)]. I propose to give examples of almost all the earlier reports, for it was in the earlier stages of the war that there was most difficulty everywhere in providing accommodation for prisoners. We ought not to forget that the earliest reports on our own camps which the British Government have published begin with February, 1916.[2]


On March 31 Mr. Jackson reported on the camp at Döberitz, a large camp with between three and four thousand British prisoners. “So far as I could ascertain, British soldiers are called upon to do only their share in fatigue work.... So far as I could ascertain, after inquiry of a number of men, nothing was known as to the stopping of either incoming or outgoing correspondence.... The camp at [10]Döberitz is in a healthy location, and the barracks are new and of a permanent character.... They are at least as good as those used by the Germans at present in the same neighbourhood. As was to be expected a number of men had individual grievances, but there were no general complaints, except with regard to the German character of the food—and those were the exact counterparts of complaints made to me by German prisoners in England.” I have italicised the last clause as it will surely, to a fair-minded man, seem a somewhat important one.

Mr. Lithgow Osborne visited the camp at the same time. He says:

Until two weeks ago the Russians and English were, in cases, housed together—a source of complaint to the latter, more especially on account of vermin. The races have now been separated. The men all stated that they had the two blankets and the other requisites provided in the German rules, and I heard but one complaint about overcrowding. Most of the English and French receive clothes from home. All the prisoners who do not, are furnished from the camp supply; the men stated that this was carried out according to the rules.

No complaints whatever were made regarding the Commandant, the non-commissioned officers, or the general government of the camp. The food was the source of the few real complaints that could be heard, although at least half of the men spoken to admitted that it was quite as good as could possibly be expected.

The impression of the whole was excellent, and one received the idea that everything that could reasonably be expected was done for the men by the authorities in charge.

Three Poor Camps.

Mr. Jackson’s reports on Burg bei Magdeburg, Magdeburg and Halle a/d Saale are the most unfavourable. They were all small officers’ camps, Burg containing 75, Magdeburg 30, Halle 50 British officers. There were a few orderlies at each camp.

The chief points are inadequate ventilation, inadequate service for officers and, in the first two, [11]the fact that living rooms were used for all purposes, there being no special mess or recreation rooms. There seemed, however, to be no discrimination against the British.


Mr. Page himself reports on Göttingen, where there were about 6,000 prisoners. “The Camp Commandant, Colonel Bogen, has done everything possible to make this a model camp, and he has accomplished a great work. The only complaint is as to the food, the quantity of which, of course, is not under the control of the Commandant, as he is limited to an expenditure of only 60 pfennigs (about 7d.) per day per man.

“Everything was in the most beautiful order. There was a very fine steam laundry and drying room, bath rooms, with hot and cold showers, and the closets, etc., are in a very good condition and scientifically built. There is running water and electricity in the camp. A French barrister of Arras, named Léon Paillet, who was working with the French Red Cross and who, for some reason or other, has been made a prisoner, has done marvellous work in organising libraries, etc.

“I am pleased to say that the professors and pastors in Göttingen have, from the first, taken an interest in this camp, and Professor Stange has done much in helping the lot of the prisoners. The Y.M.C.A. building, erected through the efforts of Mr. A. C. Harte, who for a number of years has been working with the Y.M.C.A. in India, will be a great help to the men in the camp.

“At the opening ceremonies there were speeches by Colonel Bogen, Mr. Harte, and Professor Stange, and then each speech was delivered in English and French by prisoners. These were followed by short speeches by French, English, and Belgian prisoners. Then came a concert by the camp orchestra and the camp [12]singing society, followed by songs and recitations by various prisoners.”

Dr. Ohnesorg reported further on April 22. At that time there were 6,577 prisoners, of whom 1,586 were British. He warmly commends the steam laundry, the steam disinfecting plant, and the hospital. “A spirit of contentment pervaded the camp. The British prisoners were well clothed. I tasted the evening meal, consisting of a vegetable soup, which was very palatable and, I should say, nourishing.... The citizens of Göttingen have taken a great interest in the camp, and some of them, notably Professor Stange, of the University, have given a great deal of their time to the welfare of prisoners and the formation of classes for study amongst them.”

German Help for Prisoners.

The interest taken by prominent Germans in the welfare of prisoners of war is little recognised in this country. The Berlin Committee (of which more will be said later) has received considerable support. At the end of June, 1916, a meeting in support of its work was held at the house of Prince Lichnowsky, former Ambassador in London, who returned specially from the front to preside. The Bishop of Winchester, writing in the Times, tells us that many notable men and women were present, and that at the meeting a collection of 8,000 marks (about £400) was made.


Mr. Michelson visited in April, 1915, the three Cologne hospitals in which wounded British prisoners are lying. He reports as follows:

These institutions are so typical of large, modern, well ordered hospitals that little need be said of their employment or management. They are provided with all the machinery and paraphernalia usual to surgical work on a large scale, contain all standard and necessary conveniences and fittings, [13]afford to patients a maximum of protection in the matter of sanitation, quiet and relief from preventable irritation, and are conducted in a thoroughly scientific, professional and humane way.

The names of the 49 wounded British prisoners are hereunto annexed. I personally spoke to every one of these men, and with many of them I conversed privately and without being overheard. With but one exception no English-speaking British prisoner had any complaint to make, and a number of the British prisoners eagerly expressed to me their appreciation for the care and attention given them.

The physical condition of the Indians is particularly good. Only 21 deaths have occurred among the 1,000 wounded cared for in hospital No. VI. since the war began, and the death rate in the other two hospitals is correspondingly low. The physicians in charge consider the rate to be somewhat remarkable in view of the many grave injuries treated.

In closing I may say that there is no discrimination or segregation among the patients and that certain French patients with whom I spoke expressed, likewise, their appreciation for the care and attention given them.


At Crefeld Mr. Michelson visited the camp for interned officers. Of these interned 137 were British. The general statements of the Commandant “were afterwards independently confirmed by the one interned British medical officer, Captain Benjamin Johnson, who said that as a physician he had no complaints to make or improvements to suggest. He did, however, complain on the score of being held prisoner, but the Commandant and the German medical officer, and I with them, feel that the presence of a British medical officer in the barracks is desirable.

“The bath room which I saw has a floor space of about 1,500 square feet, one-half of which, drained in the centre, lies under some 20 shower nozzles. There are a couple of porcelain tubs in the other half, and in the centre there is a large stove. Hot and cold water is available. The British officers were enthusiastic in their praise of this room.

“As regards the sleeping rooms, wash rooms and [14]latrines, and their equipment, the general German housing regulations are being fully complied with. I visited a great many sleeping rooms, and in none of them did I find overcrowding, uncleanliness, insufficient light, heat, or equipment.

“The orderlies are housed in stalls in one of the stables, and in their regard, too, the general German housing regulations are being fully complied with. Their quarters looked sufficiently comfortable and clean, and two or three of the orderlies with whom I spoke said that they had no complaints to make, and that they were happy to be interned with, and not apart from their officers. I visited the one building fenced off from the others—also a stable—in which German soldiers are quartered, and I found the accommodation and equipment there to be precisely that furnished to the orderlies. The comparison was, however, somewhat in favour of the orderlies, for the orderlies were fewer in number and less crowded than the soldiers. Although exercise is not compulsory, there is ample space in the central rectangle for out-door games of all sorts and for walking. No appropriate form of exercise, recreation, or amusement is denied the interned, and opportunities for distraction within the barracks lie largely in their own hands. Smoking is freely permitted, and English, French and Russian songs are sung without interference. The walls of one French officer’s room were covered with good-natured caricature drawings. When I asked the Commandant if the interned might not be permitted to go out into the country under guard, he replied that the barracks were too near the frontier for that, and he mentioned that one officer had already escaped and succeeded in getting over the border.”

Food is provided to all officers at the rate of two marks daily. This absorbs the whole of a lieutenant’s pay, and the Commandant recognised the difficulty. But “none of the officers want the present arrangement [15]altered if alteration is to involve a decrease in the quality, quantity, or variety of the food furnished. All of them agree that the food is entirely satisfactory, under the circumstances, and that it is fully worth two marks a day.

“The officers told me that letters and packages were delivered to them with commendable rapidity, and that the Commandant was unfailingly obliging when, for important reasons, any officer needed to send off more than two letters a month.”

Gardelegen, Salzwedel.

Dr. Ohnesorg, of the U.S. Navy, inspected Gardelegen and Salzwedel. Owing to typhus, the former was not completely inspected. Two hundred and twenty-eight British soldiers were interned here. Dr. Ohnesorg remarks that the situation is open, with natural drainage. There was a good and unstinted water supply. “I had a long talk alone with Captain Brown. He spoke well of the camp.” “Work was being rushed on” for the complete eradication of the clothing louse which is the carrier of the infection. “It should be mentioned that the Russian prisoners, who are primarily responsible for the introduction of the disease, are quartered alone, ... but all the prisoners associate with one another in the compound.” At Salzwedel, out of a total of 7,900 prisoners, only 49 were British. The supply of water was unstinted. Shower baths and hot water were available. Each man could have a bath every three days, and the baths were being added to. In the hospital “the English doctor informed me that the medicines and treatment accorded to the sick were good.”

“The majority of the English prisoners complained of not getting enough food and the monotony of the diet. The black bread was another point of protest. I myself was given a sample of the mid-day meal as it [16]came from the kettle. It consisted of a thick soup containing potatoes, beans, and small portions of fish. It was palatable, and I should say nourishing. The prisoners do not do heavy work, their work being police duties, etc. I must add that those whom I saw were well nourished, of good colour, and appeared to be in good physical condition. There were only a half-dozen on the sick list, and, with one exception, they were under treatment for wounds.”

Guestrow, Muenster (Lager), Soltau, Scheuen, Schloss Celle.

Mr. Jackson reported on the first four of these. The Güstrow camp (Mecklenburg) contained about 6,000 prisoners, of whom 300 were British. It is situated in the pine woods, and consists of “solid, newly-built wooden barracks, lighted by electricity and heated.” Washing and bathing facilities were good and the postal department well organised. “Clothing is furnished when required, if asked for.”

“There are several workrooms, and most of the men who have trades can find something to do to occupy their time and can earn a little money.

“Most of the British soldiers spoke of harsh treatment immediately following their capture—at the beginning of the war—and while they were being transported to Germany, and several spoke of their having been handled roughly while in the tents. Others said frankly that most of those who had been treated badly since they came to the camp had done something to deserve it. In any event all admitted that their present treatment was good, and that there was now no discrimination against the British. British soldiers had never been called on to do more than their share of the dirty work about the camp. A party of Russians had always had charge of the latrines, voluntarily, in return for some small compensation. [17]The spirits of the British prisoners seemed good.”

The account of Münster is almost precisely similar—“solidly-built barracks,” “good bathing arrangements,” “well-arranged hospital.” Suggestive of the nervous strain of internment is the following: “Here the relations between the British and Belgians seemed cordial, and the former participated in the recent celebration of King Albert’s birthday, which the French declined to do.”

At Soltau there were about 30,000 prisoners, principally Belgian. Four hundred were British. German control was largely eliminated, but the results in this case do not seem to have been satisfactory.

“In this camp there seemed to be fewer German soldiers on duty than is the rule elsewhere, and practically the whole of its administration is in the hands of the Belgians, who have organised many courses of study (under Belgian professors) and who have a Catholic Church, a theatre, an orchestra, and a choir. The British complained that there is discrimination against them here (apparently more by the Belgians than by the Germans), and that they are not permitted to participate in the administration or to be represented in the kitchen or post office. Complaints were made about the food and the delivery of mail and parcels, and it was said that the Belgians objected to have them join in football games, etc. They also said that they were compelled to do much more than their share of fatigue work in connection with the latrines. All these complaints were brought to the attention of the officer in charge, who promised to investigate them, as apparently but little attention had been paid to such matters so long as there had been no trouble in the camp.”

At Scheuen near Celle a similar difficulty existed. There were 118 British out of a total of 9,000 prisoners. [18]“The British non-commissioned officers muster their men and exercise some general control over them, but the French or Belgian non-commissioned officers are in charge of the barracks and designate the men who are to do fatigue duty. In consequence, it is claimed, British soldiers are detailed to such work more frequently than those of other nationalities. On speaking of this to the Commandant, he promised at once to arrange so that a more fair division of work should be made in the future. Otherwise the men made no complaint with regard to any discrimination against them.”

Zueder Zollhaus, Wahn.

The reports issued in Miscellaneous, No. 14 (1915) continue the inspections and reinspections up to the middle of May. As improvements were continuously being made in the camps, it is scarcely necessary to refer in detail to these further reports. There are reports on fifteen camps for military prisoners. Two of these reports (those on the “working camp” at Züder Zollhaus and Wahn) are unfavourable, thirteen are favourable. At Züder Zollhaus were 2,000 prisoners, of whom 479 were British. The camp was for prisoners who were willing to work on the land. “I was given to understand,” writes Dr. Ohnesorg, “that this camp would only be occupied during the summer months.” The inspector finds the hospital accommodation in this case “very crude.” There were about thirty cases of sickness which should certainly have been removed elsewhere. The morning meal seems very small for the morning’s work. It consists of either soup or coffee with 300 grammes (say 10 oz.) of bread. Altogether it is plain that improvements here were urgently needed. Dr. Ohnesorg, however, says: “All of them (the British prisoners) appeared to be in good physical condition.... The work is not hard, and they are permitted [19]to take it leisurely.... They informed me that their treatment was good, they were not overworked, and practically the only complaint they had to make was that a more substantial meal to begin the day on should be given them.” At Wahn the food was complained of, and the most unpleasant feature is that the Commandant did not seem on good terms with the British.


As regards the camp for officers at Blankenburg, Mr. Jackson writes:

The house itself is as comfortable as any of the places where I saw interned officers in England.... It is surrounded by attractive, well-kept grounds, in which a tennis-court has just been made.... There are several modestly furnished mess and recreation rooms, and a terrace which is used for afternoon tea.... The Commandant is interested in his work, and evidently does all he can to make conditions agreeable.

There were 110 officers, of whom nine were British.


At Sennelager Mr. Osborne reports:

The situation of the camp is good ... on very dry, sandy soil, surrounded at a few kilometres by pine forests. The buildings are good. Though there were the customary complaints about the food, more than half the men I spoke with expressed themselves as satisfied.... The men looked healthy, and they all stated that the general health of the camp was excellent.... There are shower baths with hot and cold water.... The men said they were well treated by the Commandants and the German soldiers and N.C.O.’s in charge of them.

The camps at Sennelager are large ones, and include more than two thousand British prisoners. Games, concerts, and theatrical performances help to pass the time. A play given by French prisoners was entitled: Avant et après la guerre.


Of the officers’ camp at Mainz, Dr. Ohnesorg reports that “The quality and quantity of the food was good and varied.... One and all the British officers spoke in the highest terms of their commanding officer, his kindness and courtesy, and said that they received every privilege which could be afforded them, considering their position.” There were about 700 officers, of whom 25 were British. “If anything,” says the American Consul at Wiesbaden in a later report on Mainz, “I should think the British officers would ... receive almost greater courtesy at the hands of their keepers than those of the other nations.”

General Remarks of Dr. Ohnesorg.

Dr. Ohnesorg appends some general remarks on the camps he visited. In the following quotations I have omitted nothing which is in the nature of adverse criticism:

“On the whole the treatment accorded them is good, but frequent protests were made to me concerning the food—not so much because of its quality, as because of the insufficient quantity and the monotony of the diet. The prisoners, however, appeared to be in good physical condition and well nourished. Appended are various weekly dietary slips. I had an opportunity in various camps to sample either the mid-day or the evening meal. I found them palatable and, I should say, nourishing. Considering the fact that the men have practically no hard work to do, it appears to be sufficient in quantity, each man getting a liberal allowance—probably a litre and a half of food per meal.

“The treatment accorded the sick and wounded prisoners is excellent. They are given every advantage of medicines and treatment, and special food when necessary. A dietary slip of the latter [21]is appended. The same routine, the same food, etc., as in use in German military hospitals, apply for these various hospitals in prison camps.

“I found no discrimination made between prisoners of various nationalities. With the exception of Limburg, the British prisoners are housed with the Russians, French and Belgians, and this is the cause oft-times of complaint on the part of the English, especially if they are under the direct supervision of a non-commissioned officer of another nationality. Some of them stated that the work, i.e., the police duties, etc., largely because of this are not equally and justly divided.

“Every precaution is taken by the authorities against the spread of disease in camp. All the prisoners are vaccinated against smallpox, and are immunised against typhoid and cholera. Certain simple rules against the contraction of disease are posted throughout the camps, and the men are impressed with the importance of personal cleanliness. Baths are obligatory, the facilities affording each man a weekly bath under the showers.

“The water supply in the camps is good. In most of them it is connected with the city supply, and when not, Artesian wells have been sunk on the premises and water thus obtained. Taps are placed throughout the company streets, and the use of water is unstinted.

“As a rule, the prisoners were found to be well clothed, although not all in their own uniforms. Some were in French uniforms, and some in a combination of Russian, French, and British.

“In many of these camps, prisoners are loaned out throughout the country to work upon farms, and, in some cases, in various industries. This is entirely voluntary on the part of the prisoner, and this service is mostly accepted by the French. No British volunteer. These men have a guard over them, are [22]housed and fed by their employer and receive five pfennigs a day in pay. It breaks the monotony of prison life, and many more volunteer than are needed for this work.”

New Regulations.

On April 24, 1915, the Prussian Ministry of War issued a new set of regulations respecting the maintenance of prisoners of war. They show great thoroughness and forethought, but I am afraid the average Englishman would be as unready to believe that they showed genuine good intentions, as the average German would be to believe that favourable regulations issued by the English authorities were really bona fide. Yet, as it seems to me of general interest, I will here give the second regulation: “Self-management as regards catering has already been ordered for military and civilian prisoners’ camps, as this system has been proved far preferable to the employment of contractors. Nearly all the complaints about the food come from camps where contractors are employed.”

Erfurt, Ohrdruf.

It is impossible to do more than make very brief citations from the remaining reports. In no case is the report otherwise than favourable, and the food is described as good.

At Erfurt “the kitchens are clean, and the midday soup (which I tasted) was good”. The British soldiers had no complaint against German officers or soldiers, but “they claimed that the French or Belgian non-commissioned officers caused them to be detailed as members of working parties more frequently than their fellow prisoners of other nationalities.” This reminds us that complaints arise in institutions other than those worked by “enemies.”

At Ohrdruf “a number of men who had been treated [23]for their wounds in the lazaret at Weimar spoke in the highest praise of their treatment by German doctors and nurses.... Some of the British thought (as at Erfurt) that they were detailed to working parties (by French non-commissioned officers) more frequently than the others, but otherwise no complaint was made to me of any discrimination against them.” The British did not like the soup, “but almost without exception they seemed in good physical condition and in good spirits.”

Mr. Gerard’s Comments.

“The food question,” writes Mr. Gerard (U.S. Ambassador at Berlin), “is of course a difficult one in a country where the whole population is put upon a bread ration. Most of the rumours current in England are without foundation or very exaggerated.... No British prisoner needs clothes in Germany ... and I have just learned that British prisoners at Zossen, to whom we sent clothes, shoes, etc., have sold these articles to the French prisoners and are asking for a second supply.”

Muenden, Friedberg, Torgau, Merseberg.

Thirteen British prisoners at Hannover-Münden “said that they were not discriminated against in any way.... All seemed in good spirits.” At Friedberg were 13 British officers. “The commandant drew my particular attention to the row of little gardens cared for by the interned, and is much pleased with this feature of the place. He also told me he would like to allow officers to have dogs, but he fears this cannot be done.... The officers’ rooms amply exceed all requirements as to housing and equipment.... The dining-rooms are two ... and either room would do credit to a club or hotel of the first class.” At Torgau “the commandant spoke of the British officers to me in very complimentary terms.” At Merseberg “the [24]new food regulations are in force.... No complaints were made to me about the food, and the men appeared to be in good health.”

A Penny Blue Book.

On May 14, 1915, Viscount (then Sir Edward) Grey, writing to Mr. Page (U.S. Ambassador in London), mentioned that His Majesty’s Government “have heard with pleasure that there is a distinct disposition on the part of the German authorities to accept suggestions made for the welfare of the prisoners of war.” These words gave hope of the development of better feeling and of those “reprisals of good” which many believe to be more constructive than reprisals of frightfulness. The Penny Blue Book on the treatment of prisoners of war, issued not long after this, was not helpful to these hopes. As regards Germany, this publication consists almost exclusively of the “unofficial information and rumours” which, as Sir Edward Grey stated in February, 1915, His Majesty’s Government “trusted did not accurately represent the facts.” The result is unfortunate. The Blue Book is limited by its title to “the first eight months of the war,” and deals almost exclusively with charges brought before the close of 1914, when, as is well known, there was confusion everywhere. The method of arranging the evidence is too much that of an advocate aiming at producing the maximum effect. For example, we read (page 6): “The United States Consul-General at Berlin heard on October 16 that information regarding the treatment of non-commissioned officers and men of the British Army who are prisoners of war in other camps is anxiously awaited at Torgau. ‘Rumours of their exposure to the elements, their starvation and their treatment, are rampant all along the line.’” On turning to Misc. 7 (1915) we find that these last words were not those of the American Consul-General, but those of an officer [25]interned at Torgau. The American Ambassador, Mr. Gerard, writes: “It should also be added that, although the British officers at Torgau state that they have heard reports of starvation and ill-treatment of British soldiers in other prisoners’ camps, the Embassy have no reason for believing that this is the case.” This statement is omitted in the Penny Blue Book.

To give the public an idea of the camp at Döberitz quotations are made (page 33) from an article by an anonymous American journalist. An early official report is cited which gives a very different impression, but as it is quoted in quite a different part (page 18) of the Blue Book, the contradiction is only seen on careful examination. On the covers of the two copies of the Blue Book which I have are lists of Foreign Office publications. Amongst these (see pages 9, 10) is Miscel. No. 11 (1915) (price 3d.), which contains two official U.S. reports on Döberitz, one by Mr. Jackson, the other by Mr. Lithgow Osborne, both of them entirely favourable. No hint of the existence of these reports (received on April 10 and April 24 respectively) is given in the body of the Penny Blue Book. As regards British camps, the only evidence cited is the report made by Mr. Chandler Hale of the U.S. Embassy after the riot at Douglas in November, 1914.

I am fully aware that the sufferings of prisoners of war, as of soldiers in the field, cannot be adequately presented in official reports, but the sifting of more human and biased evidence is an extremely difficult task, and it is sufficiently plain that we should not rely on official evidence to exculpate ourselves, while using rumours and unofficial information to condemn the enemy.

There are very many prison camps in Germany, and their individual tone must depend enormously upon the aims and efforts of the commandant in [26]charge. A mistake of appointment, almost a slip of the pen, and a man may be in charge who will make life unendurable as only unlimited authority can.

The words used by Lord Newton in the House of Lords on July 31, 1917, are noteworthy in this connection. One impression he derived from his intercourse with the German delegates at the Hague was that “in spite of the German power of centralisation, Berlin headquarters did not know a great deal of what was going on. As the Germans had thirty times as many prisoners as we had, it would be surprising if they did know what went on.” (Daily News, August 1, 1917.)

A Prisoner in Austria.

Here is an account of a British member of Parliament, a prisoner in Austria:

Captain A. Stanley Wilson, M.P., who is a prisoner of war in Austria, has written the following letter to Colonel Duncombe, chairman of the Holderness Conservative Association, here:

“I am a prisoner of war, and with only one hope—that the war will be over soon. I was taken off a Greek steamer by a submarine on December 6. After two nights and a day on board I was brought here. I must not give any details. Colonel Napier was also taken prisoner, and we are together. Fortunately I have in him a capital companion who can speak German very well.

I am afraid it will be a very long time before I see my constituents. I wish them all a happy new year and hope that during next year I may meet them again. The outlook for me is not very bright, but I intend to do my best to be cheerful. Up to the present we have been very well treated. We had some most exciting experiences in the submarine. The officers on board treated us as though we were their guests and not their prisoners. We have as companions two French officers who were made prisoners the day before us, their submarine having run ashore.”

Manchester Guardian, January 10, 1916.

Captain Wilson (an able-bodied prisoner) has since been unconditionally released.

[27]The Food Question.

The report already given makes it clear that very similar complaints, or (as Mr. Jackson puts it [page 16]) complaints that were “exact counterparts” as to food, have often been made on both sides. It is also plain that complaints on this score in German camps have been by no means universal. I do not in the least suppose that the food in general would be satisfying or other than dreadfully monotonous. (“Oft recht eintönig,” says Professor Stange quite frankly in his interesting pamphlet on Göttingen camp.) Loss of appetite, depression, indigestion will then in many cases produce grave physical trouble. All this may occur and does occur, without anything like a deliberate attempt at starvation. British born wives of interned Germans would sometimes, even before the reduction of rations, speak bitterly of their husbands’ needs. An anti-English journalist might have used such complaints to charge us with starvation. But even perfectly bona fide complaints need indicate only monotony, loss of robustness, and consequent physical (and mental) ills—and indeed the tragedy of these things may become terribly dark. It is, however, something very different from deliberate starvation.

In any comparison between the two sides it is only fair to take into account the special difficulties of the German case. The number of prisoners in Germany by August, 1915, was probably over one million. This is an enormous figure. While Great Britain and her Allies have tried to prevent food from reaching Germany, the drain upon the German food stock has continually grown as the number of prisoners has increased. By the end of 1917 this famished country had to support probably more than two million extra persons. The French Press long ago frankly regarded this as one of the means of helping towards the starving out of Germany, while in an American [28]cartoon the Russian prisoners were figured as an enormous beast with its head in a cupboard labelled “Germany’s Food Supply.” These are considerations for the fair-minded, and it is for them to recall that as soon as there was in our own case a menace of food shortage, there was also what might in official language be described as a complete revision of the prisoners’ rations. The prisoners’ own language would very likely describe it differently. We can scarcely be surprised at sad and even very bitter words at times from prisoners’ wives.

That prisoners themselves are, however, sometimes able to envisage the difficulties is indicated by the following extract from a Daily News interview with a corporal repatriated from Münster. He commented on the fact that some men were the recipients of more parcels than they needed, while others got none. The interview continues:

You see, without regular parcels from home a man simply starves at a camp like Münster. If the Germans had the food I believe they would give it, but they haven’t: they are starving themselves.[3] All they allowed us was bread and water and thin soup. The consequence is that the men who get no parcels have to go round begging from the other chaps just to keep body and soul together.

From what I saw of it, getting so much while others get nothing isn’t good for a man either. Some fellows—the stingy sort—will save up their parcels against a rainy day. Make a regular little store they will. Others—the lively sort—sell what they have over to the unlucky ones, and spend their time gambling with the few marks they make. Poor devils! You can’t blame them!

The word “starvation” has been, and is here, too freely, if very naturally, used. The remarks of Lord Newton, speaking in the House of Lords on May 31, 1916, are important in this connection:

[29]If Lord Beresford was accurate in his assumption that prisoners of war would literally starve to death if parcels did not arrive, hundreds of thousands of prisoners would be dead already. Russian prisoners, of whom there were over a million in Germany, received no parcels at all, and if it was impossible to exist upon the food supplied by the Germans, these men would literally have died like flies.... Lord Beresford and other noble lords had been rather prone to ignore the fact that Germany was a blockaded country. It was common knowledge that there was a general scarcity of food throughout Germany, and, if the prisoners did not get as much as they ought to have, in all probability the vast majority of the German population was in a state of comparative hunger.... He could not see what advantage there was in making out that the case of our prisoners was worse than it really was, and it seemed to him little short of an act of cruelty to the relations of these unfortunate men to lead them to suppose that our men were not only in a state of misery, but in a state of starvation.—(Morning Post, June 1, 1916).

There is no question either that nerve strain and monotony accentuate the critical attitude towards food. Here is an extract from Mr. Jackson’s report on Senne (September 11, 1915): “There were some complaints, as usual, in regard to the food. I had arrived in the camp just after the midday meal was served, and while some of the men said that the meat had been bad, and they wished that I had an opportunity to taste it, others said that the meat had been particularly good, because the officers had heard that I was coming. None of them knew that I had actually eaten a plate of their soup and had found it excellent, both palatable and nutritious, and that my visit to this particular camp had not been announced in advance. The menu for the day had been made out at the beginning of the week, and could not have been changed after my presence in the camp was known, and I had a bowl of the soup which was left over after the prisoners had been served.” (Miscel. 19 [1915], page 41.)

It is sometimes forgotten that complaints as to food are frequent in all institutions, schools, colleges, [30]workhouses, hospitals, etc. I have before me a recent letter from an Englishman in a consumptive sanatorium in his own country: “I exist as best I can, and the less said about it the better. I am no better, and only glad that I am not worse. I at least don’t feel so ill as I did a week ago, although I have lost 3½ lbs. since then. The food is atrocious, and my appetite small. The fellows here buy quite two-thirds of what they eat, otherwise they too would lose in weight. No good comes of making complaints ... nothing is ever done.” Things may be so, I am not a great believer in institutions, but certainly independent investigation is needed to warrant any conclusion. The same I feel to be the case as to complaints of feeding, whether in British or German camps.

Each side, too, is also unreasonably certain of its own justice and of the injustice of the others. Thus the Social Democrat, Herr Stücklen, speaking in the Reichstag debate of June 6, 1916, said: “I have received a letter about the treatment of our prisoners in France which says, ‘If pigs were so fed by us they would go on hunger strike.’ But I do not wish our Government to exercise reprisals, which, after all, could only hit the innocent.” [Cambridge Magazine, August 26, 1916, Supplement “Prisoners.” An important supplement for those who wish to get a glimpse (it is no more than a glimpse) of recriminations made by others as to treatment of prisoners.] It is odd how exactly the same phrases occur on both sides. Thus a private at Döberitz, according to the unknown American journalist referred to on pages 5 and 25, relieved his feelings as to the German food with the words: “I ’ad a sow. And even she wouldn’t eat skilly.”

To suit the tastes of all the different nationalities would at any time be difficult; under war conditions it is impossible. Professor Stange relates how the hostess of some Russian working prisoners thought to [31]give them a specially good meal of meat. The result, however, was less bulky than a soup, and the Russian comment on this occasion was, “Mother good, eating not good.” (“Das Gefangenen-Lager in Göttingen,” page 9.)

A Prisoner’s Report.

A serious and responsible statement of experiences has been made by Chaplain Benjamin O’Rorke, M.A., in his little book, “In the Hands of the Enemy.” I commend the book to the notice of those who wish for a fair statement by a patriot who has actual experience of a good many German camps in the early days of the war. As he was taken prisoner in August, 1914, his experiences belong to the time before the improvements introduced in all countries had been begun. There are callous episodes, for instance, one of revolting caddishness of an orderly standing by without offering help when an invalid officer is struggling to tie up his bootlace. Military bounce, popular vulgarity, hardships, homesickness, courage—all these things one may read of, but the incidents which some journalists revel in are to seek. It was a neutral journalist, we should remember, who sent to a German paper a wonderful account of the panic fears and regulations of London under the Zeppelin menace.

Chaplain O’Rorke’s reminiscences give us a good many “facts towards fellowship.” Let us select a few. Even the unpleasant ones may help us, where they show that the failings of the others are the same as our own. The prisoners were taken to Germany from Landrecies.

The Credulity of Hate.

At Aachen a hostile demonstration took place at our expense. There happened to be a German troop train in the station at the time. A soldier of our escort displayed a specimen of the British soldier’s knife, holding it up with the marline-spike open, and declared that this was the deadly [32]instrument which British medical officers had been using to gouge out the eyes of the wounded Germans who had fallen into their vindictive hands! From the knife he pointed to the medical officers sitting placidly in the train, as much as to say. “And these are some of the culprits.” [It is not surprising that thus monstrously misinformed, and ready to believe all evil against the hated English, the soldiers] strained like bloodhounds on the leash. “Out with them!” said their irate colonel, pointing with his thumb over his shoulder to the carriages in which these blood-thirsty British officers sat. The colonel, however, did not wait to see his behest carried out, and a very gentlemanly German subaltern quietly urged his men to get back to their train and leave us alone. The only daggers that pierced us were the eyes of a couple of priests, a few women and boys, who appeared to be shocked beyond words that even a clergyman was amongst such wicked men.

I have quoted this passage as I have not the least wish to give a merely couleur de rose picture of the situation. Human nature is, I fear, everywhere very much the same, and, once its passions are aroused, extremely credulous of evil against its opponents. Only one thing in the account a little surprises me, and that is the colonel’s order. If the officer was a colonel, would a subaltern be able quietly to countermand his orders? Is there not some mistake of rank here, or perhaps a misunderstanding of an angry exclamation?


The populace at Torgau called them swine with variations—all of which, alas, is exactly what has been done, in some cases, by the populace on our side too. At Torgau “the Commandant was a Prussian reservist officer with a long heavy moustache. We were told [by the other prisoners] that he was courteous and considerate in every respect, and that, provided we took care, to salute him whenever we passed him, we should find him everything we could reasonably wish.” And later, “It was a subject of universal regret when the first Commandant resigned his position.”


A great deal has been made of the use of dogs in some prison camps. The following is the account given in Mr. O’Rorke’s book (page 41):

As time went on our numbers increased to about 230 British officers, and 800 French officers joined us from Maubeuge, including four generals. One of the latter had been interned in Torgau before, in the 1870 war, and had made good his escape. The authorities guarded against the recurrence of such an eventuality on the present occasion, their most elaborate precaution being the enlistment of dogs to reinforce their sentries. Their barkings could be heard occasionally by night, but their presence disturbed neither our repose nor our equanimity.

It is worth while to quote from a report made by Dr. Ohnesorg and Mr. Dresel on Wittenberg in March, 1916:

The police dogs are not now a cause of complaint on the part of the prisoners.—(Miscel. 16 [1916] p. 85).

Dr. Austin in “My Experiences as a German Prisoner” writes:

For a long time previous to our arrival at Magdeburg we had been informed that large and savage dogs were to be provided to aid the sentries.... They were certainly savage enough, but were always led by a sentry, or chained in their den, and were never let loose on us. (p. 141).

To return to Chaplain O’Rorke’s narrative: “When we first arrived [the barrack warder] had adopted the rôle of gaoler in his demeanour towards us, but after a while he became civil and deferential, and—when his son was captured in the war—actually sympathetic.” (p. 45.) At Torgau “the meals, though far from sumptuous and not always palatable, were sufficient for our needs.” (p. 43.)


At Burg, at the canteen, “we used to treat one another to a whole roll or a cake and a cup of excellent coffee; and, until they were put on the verboten list, to a chop or steak. The serving was done under the direction of a kind, motherly Frau at the one canteen, and by a polite German boy-waiter at the other.... The regular meals seemed to be provided by the proprietor of the larger canteen under contract with the German Government. They were served at 8 a.m., 12 noon and 6-30 p.m. In quality they were superior to the Torgau fare, but in quantity scarcely sufficient in the depth of winter for hungry young men. Still it must be remembered that they cost only 1s. 6d. a day” [out of the daily pay allowed]. Weekly baths were the regulation, but “it was often possible for pushing natures to get an extra bath on other days,” by a method which works all the world over. At Burg “the new Commandant was a tall, well-made, soldierly figure. He had a strong face, curiously resembling an owl.” An amusing little story follows as to the preciseness of the Commandant and Mr. O’Rorke continues: “It is pleasant to add that this new Commandant was in one respect just the man that was needed. From the first day he began to make the place hum, the foul clean, and in time rendered it habitable. Had there been any, he would have made the dust fly, but there was not. Indeed the court was at first almost a bog through which we threaded our way inch deep in mud, and hopped over the pools. All this disappeared in a few weeks under the Commandant’s direction; the swamp was drained and the path widened.” British officials, too, know that the problem of mud in a confined space trodden by thousands of feet is one needing energy for its solution.

The Commandant seems to have had a quality more valuable even than energy—a capacity for learning [35]from those under him. He was a judge by profession, and was at first stern and terrible, as well as thorough. To him the prisoners were as ordinary prisoners, “but in time he learnt to place us in a different category. As for myself, eventually he granted me facilities for carrying on my work outside the Lager, which he might easily have refused, and when, five months later, we parted, it was with a certain measure of mutual cordiality” (p. 74). The Adjutant also learned more cordiality, and adjutants are sometimes prouder of making others feel their authority than commandants are.

Censor Fined by Prisoner.

The Chaplain instituted a system of fines for “unparliamentary expressions.” “Once I had to fine the German censor. He was engaged on a hot day in examining a very large number of packages before distributing them to their owners. He let fall in an unguarded moment the remark that it was a nuisance to have to open so many parcels—specifying the particular kind of nuisance he felt it to be ... but unfortunately I overheard it and he had to pay the penalty. He did so with a good grace.” A touch like this seems to me, personally, to tell more eloquently than many orations how absurd it is to be regarding one another as all monsters who ought to be put out of the world.

Visits Outside Camp.

The hospital accommodation at the camp was very poor, and a lieutenant was sent out to a hospital in the town to have his little finger amputated. Mr. O’Rorke asked for permission to visit him. The Adjutant at once agreed. “It was not long before I presented myself at the office for my escort. I expected a couple of armed soldiers at the least, remembering our reception at the hands of the populace. Instead, my escort consisted of Herr Kost—the [36]friendly censor and interpreter—and a soldier. ‘Are you going to run away?’ asked Herr Kost. I smiled at the futility of such an idea. ‘Then we won’t take a soldier.’ My journey of half an hour to the hospital, my reception there, and my return to the prison were unmarred by any unpleasant incident whatever. The hospital was of the latest and best. Lieut. George had nothing but words of gratitude about the doctors and nurses.”

The Chaplain was allowed to visit the “reprisal prisoners,” those put in solitary confinement owing to the infliction of this penalty on the officers and men of two German submarines. He found them well treated. “The privacy of this little room,” said the Hon. Ivan Hay “is preferable to the liberty and Babel of the Burg dormitories.” The prisoners were specially selected from families of distinction.

Prisoners and Populace.

The other Burg prisoners were afterwards removed to Mainz. “The German Commandant took pity on my loneliness and offered me the privilege of going into the town where and when I liked if I would give my word of honour that I would make no attempt to escape. I agreed to the proposal. We shook hands over it, put it down in writing, and he presented me with a passport for the period of a week.” Mr. O’Rorke, dressed in khaki, was soon the centre of a crowd of about twenty-five boys and girls. But, and this is really worth our noting, “they behaved extraordinarily well, and made no offensive remark.” His followers increased, and he made things worse by giving them sweets! He called upon the German Pastor in order to get rid of them, but even this failed. A long stop at a café did not tire the vigilance of his escort. When he again came out, there they were. “We exchanged smiles and off we started.” A bookseller, whose shop Mr. [37]O’Rorke visited, came to his rescue and dispersed most of the little crowd, but another one gathered later, though again it showed no impoliteness or unfriendliness.

MS. Returned.

It remains to be said that Mr. O’Rorke’s diary was confiscated on his release, but was restored to him by post a few weeks later, marked as having passed the German Censor!

Another Prisoner’s Report.

Another useful little book of reminiscences is that of Mr. L. J. Austin, F.R.C.S., of the British Red Cross, “My Experiences as Prisoner in Germany.” “About ten miles from Namur we suddenly ran into the outposts of the German Army, consisting of a picket of about twenty Uhlans, who examined our papers, obligingly removed the tree from across the road, and allowed us to proceed. Shortly afterwards we were again held up, this time by an officer, who re-examined us all, and again we were allowed to proceed.... Near midday we came to a small village called Maffe, and here we had the misfortune to run straight into the head of the main German Army marching upon Namur.” Detention was, under the circumstances, practically inevitable. The party could scarcely be allowed to motor off with valuable information as to the position of the German Army in their possession. They were indeed suspected of being spies. Said an interpreter: “You know you’ve been incredibly foolish to come anywhere near our forces; you will not be able to return after seeing our Army, but will have to be sent back into Germany. I do not know what will become of you, but you will be treated as gentlemen.” “During the afternoon of the first day an officer of the Motor Cycle Corps who spoke excellent English came in and had a friendly [38]talk with us, and seemed to be inclined to laugh at the position he found us in. We were struck by the familiarity between the privates and some of the officers. For instance, in this particular case, some of the soldiers had practice rides on their officers’ motor-bicycles.” There followed a long interview with Prince Heinrich, the 33rd of Reuss. He was very suspicious, but polite. “Finally His Royal Highness shook hands with us and said: ‘I do not know what will become of you gentlemen, but probably you’ll be sent back to Germany to assist in looking after wounded soldiers of France and Belgium, and possibly English if they are foolish enough to cross the Channel.’” The prolonged detention of Mr. Austin is inexcusable, but there seem to be somewhat inexplicable detentions on both sides. A document handed to the prisoners on their release was to this effect: “The German Government advises the English Government that unless all Red Cross units at present in England are immediately returned, no further exchange of British medical officers can be contemplated.” [Cf. too Miscel. 30 (1916) pp. 2, 36; also International Red Cross Reports, First Series, pp. 18, 19.]

Credulity Once More.

The general experiences of Mr. Austin are very similar to those of Mr. O’Rorke. At Bouvigny “a somewhat offensive non-commissioned officer ... removed all knives that we had and was greatly excited at the presence of the large jack-knife which had been issued to us before we left. These knives carried a long spike, for punching leather and opening tins, and the story has been circulated in Germany that these knives were issued to the troops for the express purpose of gouging out the eyes of the German wounded.” There is something pathetically hopeless about these aspects of human credulity in war-time. When we see the extraordinary nonsense that each [39]side readily believes of the other, we must accept it as something to the credit of human nature that any reasonable treatment of prisoners occurs at all.

Ordinary Humanity.

“Our other personal effects,” the narrative goes on, “including our money, were returned to us.” The doctor’s papers had not been returned by the German officers who originally examined him, and this fact caused many delays and annoyances, but one does not read of any actual ill-treatment. The use of dogs is referred to (see p. 33). The last incident on German territory is thus recorded: “When the Holland train drew in the officer had not returned, but one of our party who spoke German well informed the sergeant that the officers had told us we were to go by this train, and he very obligingly placed us in it after we had taken tickets to the nearest Dutch station, Ozendaal.”

Reports of the International Red Cross.

To me it seems that the Swiss have made some of the finest efforts of the spirit during this war. It is no mean achievement. Some are bound by many ties of friendship to the German people, some to the French. There has, of course, been occasional failure and sheer partisanship, but an utterance such as that of Carl Spitteler is marvellous in its determination to do justice, and in its reverence for the suffering of all the nations. The International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva has been a centre of kindliness in the midst of carnage. In France and in Germany a committee was, by mutual agreement, established consisting of representatives of the national Red Cross, of the American and Spanish Embassies, and one delegate of the International Committee. These committees arranged that delegates of the International Committee should visit prisoners’ camps in [40]both countries. No such committee existed in Great Britain, but with the consent of the British authorities some camps in this country were visited in January, 1915. (See footnote, page 9.)

German Camps: Food.

In January, 1915, National Councillor A. Eugster was deputed to visit French prisoners in Germany. In general, the Swiss reports[4] give an almost exactly similar impression to those made by the United States. As regards the food, M. Eugster remarks that the sum of 60 pf. (just over 7d.) is allowed daily for the German private, and exactly the same sum for the prisoners. In his second report, made in March, he points out that the food question has become more serious and (as far as his experience goes) complaints are more numerous. He summarises very reasonably the difficulties of the case, especially as regards the bread problem. Prisoners were originally allowed 500 grammes daily, but when the bread rations of the German civilians were reduced from 250 to 200 grammes, some reduction in the prisoners’ allowance was only to be expected, and their ration was fixed at 300 grammes. They would otherwise have been allowed two and a half times as much as the Germans themselves. Potato meal was allowed to make up the quantity, but the result was not good. Writing in March, M. Eugster says: “There are to-day from 750 to 800,000 prisoners in Germany. Allowing 300 grammes per man, this makes a daily consumption of 240,000 kilos. of bread (about 235 tons). This is not a bagatelle at a moment when the importation of cereals is impossible.”[5] By Art. 7 of the Hague rules an arrangement between belligerents as to prisoners should be possible, and Eugster suggests that meal [41]might be sent under neutral care to the camps, and bread baked there under neutral surveillance.

General Result.

M. Eugster’s reports on the individual camps convey almost exactly the same impression as the American reports. At Sennelager the English doctor spoke highly of the treatment of the wounded, and the French doctors readily acknowledges that German wounded and French wounded were treated alike. At Zossen a sculptor was at work in his studio, a painter painted landscapes, a gardener ornamented the grounds, and a musician had his compositions rendered by a choir of 150 to 200 practised singers. It is the best educated prisoners, remarks the deputy, who are the most content. Summarising the impressions of his first tour, Herr Eugster says: “I am glad ... to be able to assert that the French prisoners are humanely treated. In such distracted times errors and mistakes can easily occur, but on the whole one can say that Germany does her duty by her French prisoners.”

It is not surprising to learn that M. Eugster received anonymous letters reviling him for not producing evidence to support the prejudices of the writers. Some readers of this account may indeed be made suspicious by his German name. M. Eugster was fully alive to these suspicions, and he suggested that a German and French Swiss might with advantage visit camps jointly. The suggestion was carried out, and in the third series of visits Dr. de Marval accompanied him. The general evidence is as before.


The Swiss reports are in some respects more outspoken than the American ones. The heading “vermin” occurs in almost all. It requires a special [42]campaign to deal with the lice, but the campaign seems to be carried on with vigour.


There is another point. “We must not forget,” writes Eugster, “that to be a prisoner is in itself a very trying fate.” It needs a little contact with prisoners to realise how hard their fate is, and how easily the wrong way with them may produce soured and embittered men. Writing of Halle in May, Eugster and de Marval remark: “The relationship between the Commandant and the prisoners is correct, but without cordiality; the subordinates were often wanting in tact.” I confess it is simple words like these that depress me more than rumours of starvation or bad housing. Anyone knows that authority does not readily become the friend of the fallen. The military manner, even when acquired by Englishmen, is not always pleasant, and the sergeant who bullies his own men is not likely to be more considerate to prisoners. Let us face plain facts in these matters, and remember that all imprisonment is rather terrible, and that all absolute authority (especially among underlings) is apt to become tyrannous. In the prison camps of every nation it is examples of a foolish military officialdom that make for embitterment and degradation; and in these camps, too, it is the tact which comes of true insight, that is doing much for that brotherhood of hearts which is the only way to peace. “These people,” says Eugster in another place, “ought to be treated with tact. They should not be treated as enemy prisoners, but as men and chivalrous adversaries. A little consideration, not costing much, will make a good impression. A friendly word, as from man to man, breaks the ice of discontent, and the chivalrous spirit of the superior is recognised with gratitude.”

To reach this standard we must try to think the best [43]of our adversaries. Charity is something less meagre than justice, and it holds the future of the world in its grasp. In the past we denounced French, Russians, Irish and Boers in turn. It was not denunciation that did much for the future, but the larger-hearted charity which took its place.

Prisoners in France.

M. de Marval reports well of the feeding of prisoners in France. There is the usual difficulty about vermin. The officer prisoners seem, in many ways, to have the worst time. “Their lodging is in general too crowded, badly ventilated, and badly lighted ... and lacking in elementary comforts. They can ... buy ... chairs, tables, blankets, etc.”[6] There was in France, as elsewhere, considerable complaint in the earlier days as to the delivery of parcels. The parcels arrived broken and partly or wholly emptied of their contents. So it was, we may remember, with parcels intended for English prisoners in Germany. The probability is that in both cases imperfect packing was responsible for the damage. (Cf. pp. 6, 8.) In the report just cited, De Marval states that, in general, there has been great improvement in the lodging of the prisoners, and that some bad camps (Vitré, Lorient, Belle-Ile) have been broken up (January, 1915). Here again the reports coincide with those made upon German camps. In all countries the prisoners of war presented at first a problem not readily solved, and great hardships resulted. “Some of the hospitals,” writes M. de Marval, “lack comforts, are not sufficiently roomy, or do not possess the necessary medicaments.” He goes on: “I shall not delay over the retrospective complaints often formulated by prisoners.... Officers who had been injured by the populace or bound during transport and soldiers who had told me of bad treatment were alike [44]pleased to declare that all such things were past.” Here again the report is exactly paralleled by the American report on the German Camps. (Cf. p. 16). “Religious services are in general arranged for the Catholics; it is very difficult to secure ministrations for the Protestants.” “If the officers are often meanly lodged, the same is true of the soldiers. The bedding sometimes leaves much to be desired, the straw in many of the camps is scanty, damp, and pretty often full of lice. The litter is actually being replaced everywhere by straw palliasses. As a support for these an open wooden framework is placed on the beaten ground which is often wet. Those who sleep under tents are subject to bronchitis and rheumatism, those who are in forts or old convents sometimes lack the proper allowance of air.... Though the quality of the water leaves something to be desired, it is supplied filtered and boiled, and in amount generally sufficient.... In some camps there is not enough water for washing either the person or clothing.... In general each man has a blanket, but it is very small and often much worn; some are still needed in some of the camps.... If I have not referred to certain regrettable incidents of which I have been told, it is because they appear isolated, and one must guard against generalising from them. Besides, these incidents are bygones and few in number.” At Fougères (Brittany) “the beds are touching each other.” Cassabianda was a bad camp. So much has been made of earlier defects in German camps that it is well to remember (as indeed the above report shows) that defects may easily occur in other countries besides Germany. Of Cassabianda (February 12)[7] we read: “Huts extremely dilapidated. Sanitary accommodation worse than scanty. (Les W.—C. sont plus que sommaires). Nourishment scarcely sufficient for those who are working.... The cooking arrangements are worse than scanty.... [45]Sleeping accommodation extraordinary: beds made from boughs by prisoners and superposed in two or three tiers. The ceilings and windows are falling in ruins.... Wishes of the prisoners—to have more to eat.... A very poor camp (dépôt très médiocre), but well governed by a good and conscientious commandant who is badly seconded by his officers. It is a difficult task to render habitable premises that are falling into ruins.” I am quite sure that none of us would impute ill intent to the French authorities. We should say simply that the prisoner problem was at first beyond their power, that in exceptional cases there were bad officers and in others lack of organisation. If we are capable of fair play, we shall, in many cases, say exactly the same thing about the German authorities. In Germany the one outstanding question is food, otherwise, as M.M. de Marval and Eugster state in a joint report issued in May: “We fully recognise the excellent arrangement and perfect organisation, thought out to the smallest detail, and the admirable administration of the Camps.”

Later U.S. Reports.

It is allowed by all investigators that camps almost everywhere have been improved as the war went on. Mr. Gerard himself writes, under date June 10, 1915: “It is generally admitted that conditions in the camps are constantly improving, and no good can be attained by the investigations of complaints based upon reports of conditions as they are supposed to have been several months ago.” In citing the earlier U.S. and Swiss reports I have therefore by no means exaggerated the facts favourable to German treatment. There have been many later reports, but it will be impossible and unnecessary to give more than a few references:

The reports in Miscel. No. 15 (1915) give a quite favourable account of the German efforts on behalf of the prisoners. Canadian officers at Bischofswerda, [46]however, complained of their treatment on the way from the front. They said that “they were at first compelled to share their compartments with French Algerian (black) soldiers, but that other arrangements were made by a German officer in the course of their journey.” Some may consider this an interesting comment on the employment of Algerian and other native troops.

Hunger During Transport.

The Canadian officers also said “that while on the road they had received but little food, their treatment not differing, however, from that of other prisoners.” On reading this I could not help recalling a Daily News interview headed “The Blue Ladies: Good work at the Free Buffet at Euston.” (June 24, 1916.) “We have just had the escort of some German prisoners in,” said one of the ladies. “We do not give anything to the prisoners. We have enough to do to look after our own men.” I recalled, too, the British nurse who said in my presence, with a snap of her fingers, “We have not that much sympathy with the German wounded.” I want to believe that in the great majority of cases the attitude on both sides is very different; but what a sundering influence war-like patriotism is! We must surely reach brotherhood by some other way.


Mr. Michelson reports highly of the camp at Friedrichsfeld. All kinds of work was going on. “No German foreman were to be seen, and only on looking for them did I notice that there were, here and there, guards watching the prisoners. In two instances I saw unguarded prisoners at work.” Some wounded at Magdeburg “all, without exception, said [47]they had been treated with great consideration while being transported from the front.” (June 3, 1915). The hospital treatment is spoken well of both here and at the base hospital at Isighem, W. Flanders, visited by Dr. Ohnesorg.

Organisation and Reciprocity.

I pass on to Miscel. No. 19 (1915). Writing in June, Mr. Gerard gives an interesting account of the courses of instruction and lectures arranged for German N.C.O.’s and men in order to increase their efficiency in managing the camp kitchens. There is a characteristic touch of German thoroughness in the scheme. Mr. Gerard concludes: “I should be glad to have you bring the foregoing to the attention of the British Government. The German military authorities have now satisfied themselves that German prisoners in England are being treated as well as the conditions admit (except with regard to the confinement on board ships, which is still a sore point), and they are showing every disposition to treat British prisoners (both officers and men) in the most favourable manner possible, and to pay attention to their wishes in so far as can be done consistently with the principle that all the prisoners (of whom there are considerably more than one million) must be treated in practically the same manner.”


Writing from Hamburg, the American Consul-General, Mr. Morgan, says: “It is not necessary for me to enter into the details of the different lazarets which I visited, beyond stating that they are all in the most up-to-date condition, and everything is being done for the wounded that could be done anywhere.” At the Paderborn lazarets, “Some of the men said to me that it would be necessary to drive them away (that they would make no attempt to escape) because they were so well cared for and so comfortable.” [48](p. 40, l.c.) At the Wesel lazarets, “Many of (the British) were very uncomfortable from their wounds, but all replied that their present treatment, as well as that which they had received at the front, and on the way from the front, was, and had been, entirely satisfactory.... All those consulted in regard to the matter said that they had come from the front in a German lazaret train, together with German wounded, and that, as nearly as they could tell, they had received exactly similar treatment and care as accorded to the German wounded. Their only request was for books and tobacco.” (October 26, 1915.)

A Difficulty.

At Neubrandenburg, “until a few days ago the officers were permitted to use a tennis court outside the enclosure, to swim in the lake, and to walk in the neighbouring woods. As four officers (one Englishman) made an attempt to escape (from the bath house) these privileges were temporarily suspended, but I was told by the Commandant, whose relations with the prisoners are of the best, that they would be restored at an early date.”

The excellence of the bathing facilities at the officers’ camp, Friedberg, is commented on, as it frequently is in other cases. At Giessen, Dr. Ohnesorg spoke with many prisoners who had had experience of working camps. “They said (the work) was not hard, and before being allotted to these various working camps, they underwent a thorough medical examination, and those who were found in an unfit physical condition were not detailed for this work. They are fed and housed by their employer, and in one instance I met a complaint of insufficient food.”

Some Officer Camps.

At Bad Blenhorst a number of prisoner officers are taking the “cure” under a German military surgeon. [49]At Clausthal “the situation of the camp is ideal, being placed in the midst of the Hartz mountains, with a wide expanse of view, and my visit gave me a very favourable impression in general.” At Cüstrin “The German officers treat the prisoners like unfortunate comrades.” At Bischofswerda the complaints were that “shorts” were forbidden for football, and that baths were not allowed more than once daily. The Commandant promised to remedy both grievances. The report on Halle is unfavourable. There was overcrowding, and “the enclosure for exercise leaves much to be desired.” The food was not complained of, except as regards monotony.[8]

Kœnigsbrueck, Zwickau, Görlitz.

Königsbrück, a camp for 15,000 prisoners (but with only three British), “is complete in all respects, and adheres to a high standard in regard to the kitchens, theatre, washing-places, canteens, supply-room for clothing, etc.” Zwickau (with two British) “is excellent ... outside each barrack is a specially built stand where the mattresses are aired every day ... and within the confines of the camp are several acres of vegetable gardens ... in which the French take particular interest.” The arrangements at Görlitz (with thirteen British) “in all details struck me as being exceedingly good.” In general hospital treatment at the camps is entirely satisfactory.

Schloss Celle, Wittenberg, Stendal, Food.

In Miscel. No. 16 (1916) we may note the following: At the officers’ camp, Schloss Celle, “the Commandant in civil life is a judge, and seemed on excellent terms with the prisoners.” Mr. Gerard [50]reports on a visit of his own to Wittenberg on November 8, 1915. The soup for the mid-day meal appeared to him “to be very good,” and the testimony of the men was to the effect “that the food had improved considerably during the last two months.” About 300 out of the 4,000 prisoners in this camp were British.[9] At Stendal Mr. Osborne found the thick soup “exceedingly palatable, though thoroughly un-English.” The British prisoners “admitted that they could live on the camp rations, if necessary, and still retain good health, as is the case with the Russians, and that their objection to the food was on account of its sameness, and because it was not cooked in an English way.” In March, 1916, Mr. Osborne reports that a large swimming pool is in process of completion at one end of the camp.

Reports and Information.

At Fort Friedrichshafen, Ingolstadt, “those who had no overcoats said that they could get them from the German authorities if necessary, but that they preferred to wait for the present to see if they could not be sent from home. All would like new boots, as they are not pleased with the wooden-soled boots provided locally.” Sir Edward Grey, writing just before the receipt of this report, referred to information “that the few British prisoners of war at this camp are very badly fed, and that parcels arrive with great irregularity, their contents being frequently abstracted.” In a reply dated a week later, Mr. Gerard (U.S. Ambassador at Berlin) writes that “in reply to a direct inquiry, which was made out of the hearing of any German officer or man,” the British prisoners at Ingolstadt “stated that there was [51]nothing to which they would care to have special attention paid. The men were in good spirits, and there was no evidence to show that any of them were badly fed. All were in touch with their friends at home, and no complaint was made with regard to irregularity in the receipt of parcels.”

Favourable and Humorous.

Of the officers’ camp at Blankenberg i/Mark, Messrs. Jackson and Russell report, “The atmosphere of the camp is excellent.” There is a touch of humour in the report on Merseburg (l.c. p. 29). “One man complained to me that he had been punished for ‘having a hole in his trousers’ (as he said), but on investigation I found that he had cut a new pair of trousers, which had been given him by the German authorities, in order to make a pair of boxing shorts. One man had a black eye, another a sprained thumb, and a third a broken nose, as the result of boxing matches.”[10] The four English prisoners at Königsmoor said “that there was no discrimination against them of any kind, and their relations with the German guard were evidently pleasant. They all said that they had plenty of warm clothing, including overcoats, and one even had an overcoat which had been given him by the German authorities in addition to one which he had received from home. They said the food was ‘not bad’ ...” At the working camp at Hakenmoor, “the midday ‘soup’ was excellent.... All looked in good health and seemed to be contented, and their relations with the German guards appeared to be friendly.... Several complained that the clothing furnished soon became too tight for comfort, and nearly every man in the camp had put on from ten to thirty (even more) pounds of [52]flesh. None spoke of any bad treatment ... although one Englishman said that there were occasional differences with the (Belgian) barrack captains. The Commandant is interested in his work; he knows most of the men by name, and seems to try to do all in his power to add to their comfort.”


In these reports the food is almost invariably referred to as good, and to save further quotations we may cite the evidence at Güstrow i/Mecklenburg as giving a fair general view of the case (January, 1916): “The men told me that while they depend on their home parcels for variety, a man who received nothing (as is the case with the Russian prisoners) could live on the food supplied, although in that case he would always be glad when meal time came.”


At Dyrötz, “the general atmosphere of the camp certainly seemed excellent, both on the part of the men and on the part of the authorities.” (January, 1916.) At Blankenburg “the Commandant has now adopted the practice of taking different officer prisoners of war with him for occasional walks in the neighbouring country.” “In a lazaret at Spandau,” writes Mr. Jackson, “I sat alone with Captain Coulston in the good-sized, comfortably furnished room which he occupies by himself.... Recently he had had a conversation with Her Royal Highness the Princess Friedrich Leopold of Prussia, who visited the lazaret, but ordinarily he had little opportunity to talk, as he speaks only a few words of German, French, or Russian. On my speaking of this, I was told that an effort would be made to have English-speaking German officers call on him from time to time.”

[53]German Professors.

Attention is again drawn to the excellent work of Prof. Stange at Göttingen. “He has an office in the camp at which he is present for two hours every day, during which time he can be consulted by any prisoner, and has formed classes of study, which are well attended.” At Giessen, too, “Prof. Gmelin of the local university has taken a great interest in the prisoners and visits them regularly with a view to providing for their instruction.”

A Contradiction.

The following is important and I quote it in full. Mr. Osborne to Mr. Gerard. (February 23, 1916) (l.c. p. 62.):

In accordance with your instructions and with reference to the article in the London Times of February 7, stating the report of an exchanged British prisoner of war that two British prisoners at the detention camp at Güstrow, in Mecklenburg, had been bayonetted for smoking in a forbidden vicinity, and that one had died and the other was still in hospital, I have the honour to inform you that I visited the camp at Güstrow on February 12, 1916. I did not notify the camp authorities of my arrival. I was shown every courtesy and received every facility for speaking to the British prisoners out of earshot of the Germans. I talked with a large number of British non-commissioned officers and with some of the men, and all were unanimous on two points; first, that if such an occurrence as the one mentioned had taken place, they would certainly have heard of it; and, second, that they had heard of no such occurrence. I visited the lazaret, through which I was taken by a British N.C.O., who is an assistant in caring for the sick, and spoke to every British patient under treatment there, not one of whom could possibly have been suffering from a bayonet wound. It seems to me quite out of the question that the occurrence mentioned in the English newspaper accounts could have actually taken place at Güstrow.

In point of fact, instead of complaints at Güstrow, I heard rather praise of the camp from the British interned there, and praise of the British prisoners from the camp authorities. The men were all well fitted out with clothes of all sorts, and [54]seemed particularly cheerful. The authorities stated that it had never been necessary, in recent times at least, to place a British prisoner under arrest. On the whole, the camp struck me as being as nearly ideal as it is possible for a place of detention of this kind to be.

The discrepancy between the last sentence in Mr. Osborne’s report and the Times article is a striking one. It should give one pause in placing too much reliance upon untested accusations, or upon newspaper articles based upon them. We forget sometimes that all the bias is against an enemy, and the only stories likely to be free from exaggeration are those told in his favour.

A Military Prison.

In the military prison at Cologne (Miscel. 16 [1916] p. 67), “the prisoners receive the same food and the same general treatment as the German military prisoners, with whom they are permitted to talk.... The prisoners are not permitted to receive food from outside sources.... Generally speaking the conditions do not differ materially from those in an ordinary working camp.... Corporal B. was found guilty of lack of respect to his British superior, Corporal J. was punished for striking the French non-commissioned officer in charge of his barrack, and Corporals O. and S. had trouble with the German Landsturmmann in charge of a cooking party....” Most of the sentences were for striking work at various work centres, the men sentenced stating that the conditions were bad. There was a special complaint against the railway work at Langen-Halbach b/Haiger, but not all the British joined in the strike. “I saw the men’s midday meal, consisting of a thick porridge which appeared to be nutritious. One man claimed that it was thicker to-day than usual, but several of his comrades contradicted this flatly. No complaints were made to me of any rough treatment in the Gefängnis [prison].”

[55]Bavarian Courtesy.

The Venerable Archdeacon Wm. E. Nies, who had been given permission to visit British prisoners of war in Bavaria, writes: “I think it is only fair to comment favourably upon the friendly way in which my mission to the men is received and furthered by the commanders without exception thus far.”

Hospital Treatment.

Of Germersheim hospitals we read: “The food served in these hospitals is exceptionally satisfactory. Dr. Algeron, the chief surgeon in charge, a broad-minded man and indefatigable worker, attends personally to the catering.... Under this regime there have been some noteworthy increases in weight....”

At Bayreuth a private of the Black Watch had been “removed—for the purpose of electrical treatment of his arm by which it is hoped to avoid an operation—to the military lazaret in the city, which is an admirably equipped modern hospital.”

Wuensdorf, Crefeld.

We pass now to reports in Miscel. No. 26 (1916). Indian prisoners of war at Wünsdorf (Zossen) find their treatment “very good.” At Crefeld officers’ camp, “the walks on parole ... have been entirely successful.... The only complaint as to these was that the German accompanying the party was a non-commissioned instead of a regular officer. This will, however, be rectified at once.... There is no trouble of any kind with the inhabitants on these.... The relations with the camp authorities are excellent.” As regards the behaviour of the inhabitants, I would refer also to Chaplain O’Rorke’s statement (see p. 36), though, as one would expect, the inhabitants have in some other cases behaved badly (e.g., p. 32).

[56]Muenster II., Muenster III.

At Münster II, “The Commandment, General von Ey-Steinecke, as well as the other officers, and the general treatment, are well spoken of by the men.” Some improvements suggested on March 16 were already started on the 18th. At Münster III. the benches in the English Chapel “were provided at the expense of the camp, although the British prisoners offered to pay for them.... The camp authorities have endeavoured to arrange courses of instruction with some success, and several British are taking lessons in French.... Sergeant Middleditch, the ranking non-commissioned officer, who has taken an active part in the work of improvement, stated that the relations with the camp authorities were excellent, and that the officers showed much consideration in acceding to reasonable requests. The commandant, General Raitz von Frentz, is well spoken of by all, and shows a liberal and progressive spirit in dealing with such difficulties as arise.”

Parchim, Brandenburg.

From Miscel. No. 7 (1917) a few extracts may be made. Of Parchim Dr. A. E. Taylor and Mr. J. P. Webster write: “We believe that special commendation should be given to the Commandant, Oberst Kothe, for the spirit in which he governs the camp, and for the way in which he does everything in his power for the welfare of the prisoners, and for the promotion of a cordial relationship between the men and those in charge.” Of Brandenburg, Mr. Jackson writes candidly: “The part of the building occupied by the British prisoners was not so clean as the remainder, but for this the men themselves are responsible.” It is obvious that the spirit as to this and other matters will vary in every country among different sets of men (c.f., e.g., below the very different Güstrow report).


Men in hospital at Cottbus “said that the food was good and their treatment excellent.” Men in the main camp complained that bread sent to them from Switzerland and England arrived in a mouldy condition, but “as the mouldiness seemed to start in the middle of the loaf, they thought this was due to the quality of the bread itself or the manner in which it was packed.”

Absence on Leave.

At Celle, where “inactive officers” and some others are detained, Mr. Jackson found one British subject absent on leave, while “several others have been permitted to make visits to their families in Germany. A request from another, who had obtained no benefit from his stay at Bad Blenhorst, for permission to go somewhere for a ‘cure’ is under consideration.”

Limbau, Guestrow.

At the working camp at Limbau (occupied Russian territory) “the men described the commandant as a ‘gentleman,’ and said they had no difficulty in communicating with him in regard to their wishes. None had any complaint to make of their treatment, and only a very few spoke of the work as hard.” The camp contained 500 British prisoners.

At Güstrow, “the treatment of the men and the conditions found in their camp appeared to be very favourable. The commandant stated that the British were the most satisfactory prisoners under his care....” Two million, five hundred thousand letters passed through the camp post office in the previous year, and about sixty thousand packages were distributed.

Hospital Treatment.

Hospital treatment is again and again described [58]favourably in the individual reports (e.g., pp. 4, 6, 14, 22, 50, 57), but the opinion may here be cited of a Swiss doctor who has been occupied in German hospitals during most of the war:

The writer of these lines never saw anything anywhere that could be considered as intentional change for the worse in the lot of prisoners and sick; on the contrary, he was able to ascertain that the prisoners and the sick are treated in a manner that could not be more humane. If later on the food was insufficient, the English must be aware of the reasons which brought about far-reaching starvation among great circles of the population of Germany.... From deepest conviction the writer of these lines affirms that the German people and the German doctors are [generally] without guilt in the face of the accusations made against them. Individual exceptions, if proved, could not alter this judgment.

The Repatriations.

There are bad stories of men arriving half-starving at the British and French lines at the time of the general repatriations. It would require care and impartiality to sift these. The more experience one gains, the less one trusts the average newspaper report in war-time. It seems very probable that, as Erzberger contended, many prisoners made off of their own accord after the German Revolution, and the straits to which these men were reduced could scarcely be ascribed to the German authorities. That there were brutal cases of men being driven away is also quite probable. As regards the general question of prisoners, Erzberger said: “If England can now actually prove that English prisoners of war have been illegally treated, I give my word no guilty person shall go unpunished. But allow me the counter question, Is it known in enemy countries how German prisoners of war were frequently treated? I do not believe that is sufficiently well known. Only listen to our soldiers who come from France....” (Berlin, Nov., 24, 1918, Wolff.) It should be obvious that both sides must be heard [59]before justice can decide, but the obvious is the unrecognised in war time. And probably even by the best and most impartial judgment only very rough generalisations can be arrived at. One need seems to me paramount, that each side shall become once more aware of the good in the other. Here, then, are one or two favourable facts from repatriated men: “We understand that the Germans could not let us march to the frontier, as we were prepared to do, lest we should start to plunder the inhabitants. For the same reason we were accompanied on the train by a German N.C.O. with a rifle. At night we slept in school buildings at Zevenaar (?) where we were given food and coal, and were well treated. We gave some of our food there to Sisters for the poor.... We had not to pay any fare at Wesel. The Germans on the train wished to be very friendly. We understand that the German authorities helped to make the arrangements about our taking the train at Wesel. No special compartments were put on for us. We travelled with the ordinary passengers.” (Daily News, November 25, 1918.)


The first contingent of British prisoners from Germany to arrive in London under the terms of the armistice reached Cannon Street Station from Dover yesterday. The party, numbering nearly 300, were provided with hot refreshments on arrival. The men looked remarkably fit, and one of the party explained that they had mostly been working on the railways behind the lines, and their treatment had been fairly good.

Another contingent of returned prisoners, numbering about 800, arrived at Dover yesterday afternoon.

(Daily News, Nov. 21, 1918.)

The Daily News has honourably distinguished itself by publishing favourable articles by repatriated prisoners. An officer writes:

[60]Three days ago I arrived in England after having spent eight months in a German prison camp. We were among the first repatriated prisoners of war to come through Switzerland, and were secretly amused at the attitude of friends and relatives on our arrival home. They seemed to be quite surprised because most of us were looking healthy and fit, and were not walking skeletons or physical wrecks.

But after reading the home newspapers, we understood their point of view. I do not for one moment suggest that these tales of inhuman treatment are untrue or exaggerated, because I know many cases which confirm them;[11] but I do say that this horrible treatment has not been general, nor does it apply to all prisoners of war. For this reason I am writing of what I know of the prisoners in Baden, in Southern Germany, and I hope that this article may allay the anxiety of those who are daily expecting some dear one home, and who fear that he will be terribly changed through suffering.

Men behind the lines had suffered far more, this officer considered. This is somewhat at variance with the extract last cited. The writer continues:

But the lot of the prisoners in the permanent camps in Baden was much brighter. My authority for saying so is an old Roman Catholic priest, Father Nugent, a native of Lancashire, I believe, who was in Southern Germany when the war broke out. He had free access to all prison camps and hospitals in Baden, and had no stories of harsh and brutal treatment to tell. Two American doctors were allowed to visit the hospitals in Rastatt, Lazaret 4, and the Russenlager Hospital. They said that the patients were comfortable and well looked after, in spite of the great shortage of medical supplies in Germany.

Some of the soldiers had a good time working on the Baden farms. One orderly at our camp, who was away for a fortnight in the fruit season, picking plums, told me that he had met one of his old regiment working on a farm. This man had just driven in to the railway station for the Red Cross parcels, and told him that they were working with an old German and his wife. They shared rations with each other, and once a week the whole household visited the cinema.

[61]Delay in repatriation occurred owing to disorganisation.

But there is no ill feeling towards the prisoners in Baden. After the armistice we wandered at will round Freiburg and in the Black Forest; and everyone was treated with civility. There were no cases of open hostility at all.

(Daily News, Dec. 18, 1918.)

Mr. G. G. Desmond volunteered at the age of 46. He was taken prisoner and gave (Daily News, Dec. 10, 1918) some account of his general outlook after his imprisonment. Unlike some of the stay-at-homes he can still believe in the German people, as the following concluding paragraphs of his article show:

The soldiers and the country people round Dülmen, and afterwards everybody we met in those parts, expressed no sense of rancour at their defeat, and simply leapt over it all to the prime, joyful fact that the Krieg was fertig. Everybody greeted you with that, and covered his face with smiles thereby. Some said that the terms were very hard, but agreed with me when I told them that they were made hard in order to defeat thoroughly the old gang and ensure a lasting peace. I wish I felt as certain now as then that the Allies had that clean intention. One farmer chuckled when he told me that Germany must give up a hundred and fifty U-boats, because, he said, she had no such number.

One of the political parties, I am afraid I cannot remember which, published a manifesto stating that Germany had been deceived and betrayed by the military party, whereby among other things she inflicted great wrongs on Belgium and the Allies, and that she must pay in full for those wrongs. I do not doubt that is a widespread feeling in Germany. If, however, the terms of peace are to be vindictive, we shall in turn be in the wrong, and the new Germany may have better cause than the old to hate us.

When we were fighting the Kaiser, we took pains to tell the German people that we were fighting their battle against their enemies. We were, in fact, liberating the traditional distressed damsel from the clutches of the ogre. It was a pity that so many of our blows fell upon the damsel and not on the ogre. It would be not only a pity but a crime and a grievous blunder if, now that the damsel is free, we proceeded to thrash her for the faults of the ogre.

[62]The Germans, apart from their late Government, are not Orientals intent upon deceiving us at every turn. They say they have turned over a new leaf, and I am thoroughly persuaded that they speak the truth. In business of all kinds, under circumstances that made it very easy for them to have cheated me, I found them, during my stay at Dülmen, the straightest people I ever had anything to do with. They think the same of us. Feldwebels and others who have had to do with us both assured me that they much preferred the British to any other class of prisoner, because we are blunt and true, say what we mean, and stick to what we say. Certainly the Germans are the most English of the great peoples on the Continent.


Our survey of the reliable evidence at present available seems to me to prove that there has usually been a serious effort in Germany to treat military prisoners well. This does not imply that their lot is otherwise than hard, and the prolongation of the imprisonment adds terribly to the hardship. It is impossible to banish from one’s mind such horrors as those of Wittenberg, but it is quite plain that these were very far from typical. When militarism goes wrong, it goes very wrong. If we consider the special German difficulties with regard to prisoners, and the special dangers of the militarist state, we may, I think, conclude a very fair standard of humanity amongst the German people from the fact that in so large a proportion of cases treatment has been reasonable and in many even excellent.

I have no wish to arouse any resentment, and in case this conclusion should do so, I quote here a further neutral opinion, that of a well-known Norwegian, M. T. E. Steen, who had been allowed to visit prisoners’ camps in Britain, France, and Germany. M. Steen gave a lecture at the Queen’s (Small) Hall on July 15, 1915, under the auspices of the British Red Cross Society. Sir Louis Mallet presided. According to the Daily Telegraph report, “M. [63]Steen spoke favourably to the conditions prevailing at the various internment camps he visited in Germany, and expressed the hope that his remarks would remove misgivings and allay anxiety. The general impression which the camps made on him, he said, was ‘very satisfactory.’”

We must remember, too, that in Germany also all kinds of rumours and statements have circulated with regard to the treatment of prisoners and wounded by us and our Allies (cf. pp. 2, 32, 38, and 80). Such rumours and exaggerations are apparently a part of war. On the other side they have not made for a benevolent attitude, and the really large amount of interest openly shown in prisoners of war by such men as Prince Lichnowsky, Prof. Stange, Prof. Gmelin, the Göttingen Pastors, and others, is a remarkable fact. We realise this the more, when we consider that it is not easy on this side for men in prominent positions openly to show interest in German prisoners of war.

Camps in U.K.

It would be interesting to compare the U.S. reports on British camps with their reports on German ones. Unfortunately any useful comparison is impossible. A collection of reports on “various internment camps in the United Kingdom” is published in White Paper No. 30 (1916), but the earliest inspection here recorded took place on February 21, 1916. As the chief difficulties everywhere occurred earlier, the earlier reports are plainly necessary for a fair comparison. “Are we as compassionate to our prisoners as our ancestors were to theirs?” wrote the Daily Chronicle on October 29, 1914, and added “From accounts that have reached us of the conditions that prevail at some of our concentration camps, we fear not.” Moreover, in these later reports it is difficult to know the exact meaning of such remarks as the [64]following, unless we have the earlier reports: “They seemed much happier and more contented than at the time of my former visit....” (Officers’ Camp, Holyport). “There has been no change in the sleeping accommodations since the last report, but as the number of the prisoners is much less than it was at that time, there is much more room....” (Dorchester.)

“The general tone of the hospital seemed to be much happier than at the time of my last visit.” (Dartford, Lower Southern Hospital for wounded prisoners of war.)

“There has been no change in the sleeping accommodation since the last visit, except that, owing to the smaller number of men, there is now more room than before.... The men seemed much happier and more contented than at the time of our last visit.” (Officers’ camp, Donington Hall.)

The last quotation recalls the once famous charges as to the excessive luxury of Donington Hall. In every country the same kind of protest arises as to the luxurious treatment of prisoners, and this is declared a scandal in view of the inhuman policy of the enemy. In every country is to be found the type of patriot who feels that all is lost if it can be proved that he has treated an enemy too well. The hubbub about Donington Hall led to the appointment of a Commons delegation to visit various camps, and to a report in the Times (April 26, 1915). In this report the Hall is described as “a large, bare house situated in a hollow.... The style of furnishing was that of a sergeant’s mess.” There was one piano, provided at the prisoners’ expense. The billiard tables and other accessories imagined by perfervid patriots vanish into thin air.

Dyffryn Aled Officers’ camp in North Wales is described in the same account as “an inaccessible, gloomy, mildewed-looking house, with all the windows [65]on the front side covered with iron bars. It was previously used as a private lunatic asylum. The kitchen seemed about the best room in the house.... There are no fixed baths, but the officers’ valets carry hot water from the kitchen for hip baths.” As regards the site of Dyffryn Aled it is only fair to quote the U.S. report: “The situation of the house, in a romantic valley among the Welsh mountains, is fine and healthy.” But even in April, 1916, the bathing arrangements remained primitive: “Each officer has his tin tub.” One would certainly not wish to make any hardship of this, yet it is perhaps as well to recall the U.S. reports on Friedberg and Crefeld in May and April, 1915, respectively. “The room containing the shower-nozzles would ... do credit to a club or hotel of the first class.” (See p. 23.) At Crefeld: “The bathroom which I saw has a floor space of about 1,500 square feet, one-half of which, drained in the centre, lies under some 20 shower nozzles. There are a couple of porcelain tubs in the other half, and in the centre there is a large stove. Hot and cold water is available. The British officers were enthusiastic in their praise of this room.” (P. 13.)

A Friendly Thought.

The “Stobsiad,” the magazine of the prisoners’ camp at Stobs, Scotland, contains in its seventeenth number (Jan., 1918) a friendly thought for the interned “enemy” in Germany. The Y.M.C.A. and the Friends tell them of the ever-increasing need of the interned Englishmen for English books. “Would it not be possible,” the paragraph proceeds, “for our German readers to place English books that they could part with at the disposal of the English prisoners of war, just as here German books have been placed at our disposal. Dr. Elisabeth Rotten’s Committee (Berlin, No. 24, Monbijou-Platz 3) will gladly give further information. It would give us pleasure if many of our readers would fulfil this wish.”

[66]Unreliable Complaints.

“There has been some trouble with correspondence,” we read (Times, l.c.). The Commandant of one camp, while censoring a prisoner’s correspondence, came across a statement that “he slept on a plank bed with a verminous mattress ... the prisoner admitted that he had written a false statement in order to induce his friends to send him more luxuries.” I am reminded of a report from Zossen mentioned by the Swiss Red Cross delegate. I quote from the abstract in the Basler Nachrichten: “It appears that there is much correspondence with sympathetic ink at Zossen. A great deal of iodine, starch and condensed milk are sent to the prisoners by their friends. These materials serve for the preparation of such inks.” We have heard of the use of sympathetic ink in this country. Experience suggests that complaints made by these methods are not to be relied on. The man who likes to tell a tall story is not very infrequent, either amongst civilians or soldiers, and if he can gain notoriety or advantage thereby, the temptation is considerable. Let these be obtained at the expense of the enemy, and the temptation is greater still. Some German girls were being taken back to Germany. An officer asked a girl what kind of a time she had in England. “Oh, dreadful,” she replied at first. It was the way to gain kudos. But generosity came to her rescue, she repented and corrected herself: “No, perfectly lovely,” she said, “everyone was good to us.”[12] There are many on both sides who would not repent, but would make capital out of their interlocutor’s ignorance.


Rumours, of course, still continue. They will continue as long as passions run high. There was a rumour of smallpox at Ruhleben. The English Captain [67]of the Camp wrote to say: “There have been no cases of smallpox since the camp was started here.” There were repeated rumours that parcels were not delivered. An appeal was made to the Director of the Press Bureau by C.Q.M.S. J. R. Wheeler of the 2nd Wilts. Regt., prisoner at Göttingen. He pointed out that these rumours (apparently confirmed by postal officials) were totally unfounded. “Parcels arrive safely, and are issued to men often within a couple of hours of being received from the Post Office.” The same matter is dealt with by U.S. representatives, but, as the Swiss delegate, Arthur Eugster, remarks, even neutral reports are in these days distrusted. In fact, often it is only what seems to confirm the worst suspicions that is believed. Mr. Wheeler points out that “the packing of parcels leaves much to be desired; in many cases a cake is put in a cardboard box and lightly wrapped up in brown paper,” a statement that is important in view of the common opinion that British parcels were specially maltreated. The idea of differential treatment had indeed become an obsession. An example of the extraordinary nonsense that is believed is the story that “on the hospital ship, Oxfordshire, on March 19, sixty wounded British soldiers, the majority of them from the Black Watch and 6th Gordon regiments, were taken out of their cots to make room for sixty Germans ... and that, in addition, the Germans were supplied with fresh eggs and bread, while the British wounded soldiers had only biscuits.” All this was the subject of a grave question in Parliament. The story was, of course, without foundation, but, according to Mr. Tennant himself, “it had obtained widespread credence.” Marvellous indeed is the credulity of war-time.

Prisoner Workers.

How far hatred is due to want of knowledge the record of prisoner farm workers on this side proves:

[68]As to the German prisoners, it took both the farmers and the townspeople in the places where they are quartered, and from which they are often motored to the farms, some little time to overcome the widespread prejudice against their employment. But, after a little acquaintance with them, this prejudice appears to be dying down.

“They are one of our mainstays on the farms in West Sussex,” Mr. Herbert Padwick, chairman of the West Sussex War Agricultural Committee, and vice-president of the Farmers’ Union, told me. “Some of them,” he said, “are themselves farmers, and the sons of farmers. Their work looks slow, but in the end, as a rule, we find it very thorough. They used to say, perhaps chaffingly, they wanted to produce the best crop we have ever had in England, because they were sure the Germans would take it. No doubt they really thought it at one time, but they are not, I think, under this illusion any longer.”

Daily News, Aug. 20, 1918.

Most of us have heard favourable comments from farmers and others as to the work of their German helpers. “I think they’ve done jolly well, and they deserve some encouragement,” said one man to me. The idea that all Germans are “Huns” vanishes on personal acquaintance. On the other side prejudices similarly vanish, and I remember seeing an account of how a German farmer took his prisoner helpers for a picnic. Evidently he was allowed considerable freedom with them. There were German Press protests against the picnic.

From the Daily News of September 28, 1918, I take the following:

Here is a “gleaning” worth setting beside those which “Kuklos” gave us yesterday. A West-country farmer of my acquaintance has a brother who is a prisoner in the hands of the Germans at a place not far from Stettin. Recently a number of German prisoners were sent to work on his farm, and among them was a German farmer from that very place. The German told him that he had English prisoners on his own fields in the Fatherland, so that quite possibly this curious exchange may be complete.

It may be mentioned, incidentally, that the English prisoner speaks well of his treatment in Germany. The German, for his part, assured my friend that while his [69]prisoner-hands were not receiving excellent cider, like that which he himself was now allowed, they had plenty of good beer during the harvest.

I have often thought that a widespread distribution of prisoner workers throughout each belligerent country might do more than anything else to allay mutual misunderstanding. In all wars the tendency is to regard the enemies as terrible beings, scarcely even of human shape. To a considerable extent this is due to the fact that all the horror of war is attributed by civilians to the enemy. The soldiers of course know better. But when the civilian finds enemy prisoners good fellows to work with, he cannot often resist the proof of our common humanity. A village girl was telling me lately how the feelings of many had altered since German prisoners had been in the neighbourhood, and especially marked had been the effect upon those who had actually worked with them. “So you’ve changed your mind about them,” she said to a friend who worked with prisoners, and the friend had the courage to answer quite simply: “Yes, I have.” If we all have the courage to change our minds, the peace that comes will be real.

Some Other Prisoners.

There is often so much similarity in the complaints made on both sides that the sufferings would seem to be very similar. I happened once, in a private hotel, to get into conversation with some German women who had been taken prisoner in East Africa. They were scarcely “military prisoners,” but they were taken prisoner in the ordinary operations of war. With the women were three children. A young baby was wizened and pitiable, a little boy of between three and four had evidently had his whole body covered with boils or abscesses, a little girl of perhaps five would have been a charming little creature, but for a large abscess on her forehead and big swellings under the eyes. I asked how it was the children were in this [70]condition. The Belgians, by whom these women were originally taken prisoner, would not, I was told, supply any milk for the children. It may be said that the Belgian officials should be consulted on this point, and I am well aware that prisoners’ statements need corroboration. Do we, however, apply this rule in other cases? Are we careful to investigate newspaper reports of the statements of prisoners who have been in German hands, and should we suggest that the evidence of German officials should also be taken? The women struck me as singularly quiet, and unhysterical, and I must add, fair-minded. There were officials at times, they said, who were more humane, and provided milk on the quiet. Did they make any protests, I asked. “At first we did,” they answered, “but we were always told ‘You are prisoners, and have nothing to say.’” The condition of the children certainly suggested that they had suffered severely from malnutrition. This may indeed have been unavoidable, and not the fault of any one. I had a little further chat with one of the group, a very quiet woman, whose rather drawn, set face showed that she had passed through hard times. It was a little pathetic to me to note how sincerely she was convinced of the superior virtues of her side. “In the earlier days of the war when we had English prisoners,” she said, “they were always well fed, even though we went short. Our Commandant always made a point of seeing that they were well provided for.” There was in the quiet, rather weary voice just a gentle shade of reproach, and that was all. I have not the slightest doubt that the woman was perfectly sincere. I made only the very obvious remark that it seemed to me there were good and bad on both sides, and that some officials behaved well, and some not well. It was a mistake to generalise and think all was ill on the other side and all was well on one’s own. She saw fairness in this view, I think. There was a mutual approach, and a growing kindliness. I felt [71]then, and feel more strongly now, that kindness cannot grow out of merely aggressive patriotism.


It seems plain that in France, Germany and Great Britain there has been an honest, if not always a very sympathetic attempt to treat prisoners decently. But we hear little about the condition of prisoners elsewhere. It is curious to note how, in spite of all the horror perpetrated repeatedly by Turkish authorities in times, not of war, but of peace, British feeling is never very indignant against the Turk; and how prisoners of war are faring in Turkey we scarcely know. Not till July, 1917, does there seem to have been any definite application for the inspection of Turkish internment camps. On July 18, 1917, an announcement appeared in the Press to the effect that, in response to a request from the British Government, the International Committee of the Red Cross at Geneva had applied to the Turkish Government for the necessary permission.

Yet here, as in all war matters, we come upon “reprisals.” The following is a cutting from the Daily News of July 20, 1917:

Mr. James Hope, for the Foreign Office, stated in the Commons yesterday that five British officers had been for over three months imprisoned in Constantinople as a reprisal for the alleged imprisonment of Turkish officers in Egypt. The United States Ambassador was requested on April 25 to explain to the Porte by telegram that only one of the five Turkish officers in Egypt had been under arrest, and that for attempted escape. He regretted to say that one of the five British officers had died. They had just received a message from the Danish Minister at Constantinople stating that the four surviving officers returned to camp on July 4.

Statements about enemy reprisals are usually less frank than this. The neutral observer has usually to watch each side describing its most drastic actions as reprisals upon the other for similar deeds.


The condition of Austrian and German prisoners in Serbia has been touched upon by Dr. F. M. Dickinson Berry, Physician to the Anglo-Serbian Hospital Unit. I give the following quotations from an article by Dr. Berry in the Nation of August 21, 1915.

“There is no doubt that the prisoners suffered badly during the winter.... Typhus decimated them earlier and more universally, probably owing to the way in which they were crowded together. Outside the town our prisoner pointed out a cottage adjacent to a brick-kiln, where he, with 250 men, had stayed some months without beds, blankets, or even straw to sleep on, and with the scantiest of food.” But the villagers showed kindness, said the prisoner, and bestowed on them the food placed by Serbian custom on the graves of the dead. “Many of the prisoners fell sick and were taken off to the hospital. Here, too, they lay on the floor with nothing to cover them but a great-coat, if the fortunate possessors of such. Few who entered the hospital ever came back; if not ill with typhus when they came in, they were pretty safe to get it there, and they passed on to the cemetery beyond the town, where, as in so many Serbian cemeteries, however remotely situated, there is a portion covered thickly with plain wooden crosses, marking the graves of Austrian prisoners. Our informant told us that of those with him 50 per cent. had died; of eleven Italians whom he had under his charge one only survived. Asked whether they had any guards, he said no; each sergeant (he himself was one) was put in charge of fifty men, and was answerable with his life in case any should escape.” There were, however, some compensations for the primitive barbarity of these arrangements. The Serbian people did not attack their prisoners, they fed them. They might have learned a less human attitude under more civilised conditions. “As we motored through the [73]town we were amused at the number of greetings our prisoner received; he was evidently a well known and popular person. As we passed he pointed out the houses of acquaintances and other objects of interest. On one side lived a municipal official, who, finding that he held the same sort of post in Bohemia, greeted him as a colleague and used to ask him to his house. Further on was the fountain where he had come to wash his clothes in the bitter winter weather, and close by the house of the kind but match-making old lady who washed his clothes for him, and having a daughter’s hand to dispose of, wished to keep him as a son-in-law.”


Of what happened in Russian prison camps we have only rumours, and the usual individual statements. The old Russian régime was scarcely likely to be very efficient or very humane in its treatment of prisoners, but any one who has examined war stories will be very cautious of believing all that is told. What the “unofficial information and rumours” were may be sufficiently gathered by referring to the Cambridge Magazine of August 26, 1916, Supplement “Prisoners.” It may be well to add this: in November, 1918, Erzberger, interviewed by Dr. Stollberg, of the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, asserted that out of 250 thousand prisoners in Russia only 100 thousand remained alive.

An Important Comparison.

It will help to clarify our ideas of charges of ill-treatment to remind ourselves of the following. A British officer, Lieut. Gilliland, was put in charge of the British prisoners of war captured by the Bulgarians. Mr. MacVeagh brought forward in the House of Commons various charges made against this officer by repatriated prisoners. It was said that he distributed unfairly food and clothing consigned to [74]Irish prisoners, and that he ordered the flogging of British prisoners by their Bulgarian captors for the most trivial breaches of discipline. Mr. Macpherson, for the War Office, said prisoners repatriated from Bulgaria had made allegations against Lieut. Gilliland which were entirely opposed to information received from independent sources, especially from the U.S. Legation in Sofia, who stated that the officer had done everything possible for our men. Further inquiry was promised (Manchester Guardian, November 8, 1917). The charges of the prisoners are in this case not considered as necessarily true or unbiased. Ought not similar caution to be observed against whomsoever the charges may be made?


[2] It is fair to add that the International Red Cross in January, 1915, visited camps at Holyport, Dyffry, Dorchester, Southend, Portsmouth, and Queensferry. They did not visit the Isle of Man, where even then about 4,600 civilians were interned, and they were evidently, if somewhat innocently, hoping for the release of civilians (First Series, p. 25). The reports are quite satisfactory as far as they go, and the delegates considered that the prisoners, and especially the military prisoners (surtout les militaires), were treated well. The feeding is, however, criticised rather adversely in the case of Portsmouth (both military and civilian) and at Queensferry (civilian). (La nourriture est elle bien ce qu’elle doit être?) Removal from boats at Southend to terra firma is recommended. The eternal soup, which seems to have been the lot of prisoners in all countries, must become fearfully wearisome. The preserved fish, etc., of later days may become even more trying.

[3] Bishop Bury (My Visit to Ruhleben) writes: “Again I was conscious of just the same spirit of privation—extraordinarily pathetic it was—about people and places....” (p. 79) It is to be feared that some who “profess and call themselves Christians” can see nothing pathetic in the sufferings of an enemy people.

[4] Comité International de la Croix Rouge, Première Série.

[5] The number of prisoners now (October, 1917) in Germany is probably nearly three times as great.

[6] Comité International Rapports (Première Série, p. 31).

[7] l.c., p. 60.

[8] Reporting on March 9, 1916, Mr. Jackson wrote that, though, “owing to its situation and character,” it could never be made “an entirely satisfactory camp,” yet “there had been a marked improvement in its general ‘atmosphere.’” (Misc. 16 [1916].)

[9] Dr. Ella Scarlett-Synge (M.D., D.P.H.) visited this camp on December 17, 1915. She reports: “The prisoners of war are housed in well-built, well-drained barracks having excellent ventilation. Each man has an iron bedstead with two blankets (or a thick quilt), a straw mattress, good pillow and sheet....”

[10] These indulgences can also be paralleled on this side. A writer from a British internment camp says, during “a great sports week”: “There are already a lot in hospital with broken legs and arms.”

[11] It is astounding how extremely rare are responsible accounts of the worser ill-deeds by those who have actually suffered them. These stories have almost always been heard from someone else. (Cf. pp. 156, 157.)

[12] “The Common Cause.” October 16, 1914.


Resident Enemy Nationals.

A few extracts from Dr. J. M. Spaight’s important work, “War Rights on Land,” will be useful as an introduction to this section. “Resident enemy nationals,” runs Dr. Spaight’s marginal summary, “are not interfered with” (l.c., p. 28). The text proceeds: “The treatment of resident enemy nationals has undergone a great change for the better in modern times. Ancient theory and practice regarded them as enemies, individually, and admitted the right to arrest and imprison them. The last instance of this rigorous rule being put in force is Napoleon’s detention of British subjects who happened to be in France when war broke out in 1803. Present usage allows enemy nationals to depart freely, even when they belong to the armed forces of the other belligerent.” The State has the right to detain such subjects, but usage is against it. Again, “‘Present usage,’ says Professor LeFur, ‘does not admit of the expulsion en masse of enemy subjects resident in a belligerent’s territory, save when the needs of defence demand such expulsion....’ The bad precedent set by the Confederate Government in 1861, when it ordered the banishment of all alien enemies, has not been followed in subsequent wars. France and Germany allowed enemy subjects to continue to reside in their respective territories during the war of 1870-1, but the former country was led by military exigencies to rescind the general privilege so far as Paris and the Department of the Seine were concerned, at the end [76]of August, 1870. A Proclamation was then issued by General Trochu which enjoined ‘every person not a naturalised Frenchman and belonging to one of the countries at war with France’ to depart within three days, under penalty of arrest and trial in the event of disobedience. The incident is instructive as showing usage [viz., non-interference with resident enemy nationals] in the making; for though there were 35,000 in Paris alone, and their expulsion was clearly justifiable as a measure of defence, the general opinion in Europe was that they were harshly treated, and a sum of 100 million francs was claimed, as part of the war indemnity, in respect of the losses they sustained in being driven out. It shows, as Hall observed, that public opinion ‘was already ripe for the establishment of a distinct rule allowing such persons to remain during good behaviour’ (Hall, International Law, p. 392). The usage has been strengthened by the precedents set in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-8, the Chino-Japanese War of 1894, and the Russo-Japanese War, in all of which enemy residents were suffered to remain.”

Origin of General Internment.

How did it come about that this more humane usage was in the present war departed from? The average Englishman, I fear, assumes that all the blame is in this case due to the enemy. The following correspondence should make the matter clearer. [See Miscel. Nos. 7, 8 (1915).]

Memorandum communicated by American Embassy,
October 17, 1914.

The American Embassy has the honour to submit the following copy of a telegram which has just been received from the Secretary of State at Washington relating to civilian prisoners in the United Kingdom and Germany:

There are a very few English civilians in Germany who have been placed in prison or in prison camps—about 300. [77]The German Government is informed that a great number of German civilian prisoners—over 6,000—are in prison camps in England. Department is requested by Ambassador, Berlin, to suggest that liberty, so far as possible, be allowed alien enemies detained by war.

Mr. Page, United States Ambassador in London, to Sir Edward Grey. (Received Oct. 31.)

American Embassy, London,

October 30, 1914.

Sir,—I have the honour to transmit herewith enclosed the attached copy of an open telegram I have received from the Minister at Copenhagen relating to reports on the imprisonment of German subjects in England.

Inasmuch as the Minister at Copenhagen has dispatched this to the Secretary of State at Washington, it seems probable that I shall receive definite instructions from him to transmit it to you, but in view of the desirability of an early consideration of the matter I now venture to submit this copy of the telegram for your information.

I have, etc.,

Walter Hines Page.

Copy of Telegram received October 29, 1914.

Following telegram sent to Department to-day (by the Ambassador at Berlin):

The Foreign Office requests this Embassy to find out through the American Embassy in London whether the reports concerning the imprisonment of German subjects in England are well founded. Unless a reply is received from the British Government before November 5 that all Germans who have not rendered themselves especially suspicious have been released, the German Government will be obliged to take retaliatory measures, and accordingly arrest all male British subjects in Germany between 17 and 55 years. American Minister, Copenhagen.

Copy of Telegram received from Berlin by the American Embassy, November 3, 1914.

Are Germans over 45 being arrested wholesale in England? If arrests are only of those under 45, I may be able to keep English over that age out of jail. Will not British Government allow all over 45 to leave? That is the legal military age here, and no one over that age can be compelled to serve.

[78]Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Page, United States Ambassador in London.

Foreign Office,

November 9, 1914.

Your Excellency,

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Excellency’s note of the 30th ult., and of subsequent notes informing me of the attitude likely to be adopted by the German Government with regard to the measures that have been taken in this country for the detention of German subjects of military age.

The decision of His Majesty’s Government in this respect being clearly irrevocable, the communications which you were good enough to transmit did not appear to call for an immediate reply, although, as your Excellency is aware, the German Government threatened, and have since carried out, reprisals against British subjects in Germany.

At the same time, I hope in due course, when the measures taken here have assumed a definite form, proper consideration having been given to reasonable claims for exemption as regards particular categories of persons, to address your Excellency further on the subject, with a view of obtaining the release at least of British subjects in Germany who correspond to those categories.

I may state at once that no Germans over the age of 45 are being arrested.[13]

I should, however, be glad if your Excellency would endeavour to bring home to the German Government that His Majesty’s Government are faced with a problem which does not apply to the same extent in Germany.

There are, roughly, 50,000 Germans resident in this country, and the presence of such large numbers of the subjects of a country with whom Great Britain is at war must necessarily be a cause of anxiety to the military authorities who are concerned with taking adequate measures for the defence of the realm.[14]

In detaining persons who might, in certain eventualities, become a source of danger to the State, His Majesty’s Government are only acting in accordance with the dictates of a legitimate and reasonable policy, and they would be clearly lacking in their duty to the country if they neglected to safeguard its interests by allowing the continuance of possible risks to the public safety.

[79]In proceeding as they have done they have only had this one consideration before them, and it has never once been their intention to indulge in a domestic act of hostility towards German subjects as such, or in any way to inflict hardship for hardship’s sake on innocent civilians.

Every endeavour is being made, as Your Excellency is aware from Mr. Chandler Anderson’s report on the concentration camps, to mitigate the inconvenience to the persons detained, and to provide the best possible treatment for them under the circumstances.

As time goes on it is hoped that it will be possible to improve further the necessarily austere conditions of the military discipline to which the prisoners are bound to be subjected, and every endeavour is being made already to rectify any mistakes that may have occurred, both in the arrest of persons who should properly be exempt, and in the régime, which, through its hurried organisation, could not fail to contain a certain number of defects at the outset....

Into the case for and against general internment I do not propose to enter; it has nothing to do with the main purpose of this book. It does, however, concern that purpose to point out first that the general internment of resident enemy nationals (whatever its justification in any particular case) is contrary to modern usage, and second that the order for general internment was given first not in Germany, but in Britain. The popular view on this subject is erroneous. The German order was issued as a “reprisal,”[15] but, once issued, it was carried out with dispatch, a dispatch which was, of course, easier because of the comparatively small number of British subjects in Germany.

It will, I think, be useful to quote some further letters. The first document is an extract from a telegram received, via Copenhagen, by the U.S. Embassy in London on November 7, 1914. The telegram is from the Ambassador (Mr. Gerard) at Berlin, and conveys the representations of Mr. Chandler Anderson, of the American Embassy in [80]London, who was at the moment in Berlin. Anderson says:

Tell Foreign Office that there is no compulsory military service required by German law for men over 45, and any men over that age serving in the army are volunteers. Agreement to release all men over 45 would produce better understanding, refusal is regarded as questioning truth of their assurances, which were endorsed by our Ambassador. Would like to settle these matters while here, and want to leave on Tuesday or Wednesday. Am arranging to have someone from this Embassy return with me to report, for information of Foreign Office here, about concentration camp and reasons for internment of civilians, in order to establish common basis for their treatment and provisions and clothing furnished and pay of officers, on the understanding that accounts will be balanced at close of war or at stated intervals.—Gerard, Berlin.

American Minister, Copenhagen.

The following documents deserve careful consideration:

Memorandum communicated by American Embassy.
November 9, 1914.

The American Embassy has the honour to submit the following copy of a telegram which the Ambassador at Berlin has sent to the Department of State at Washington:

“Order for internment British between 17 and 55 has gone into effect. This does not apply to clericals, doctors, or women, or to British subjects from colonies or protectorates where Germans are not interned. German Government wishes to receive official information regarding such colonies, as it understands Germans are interned in South Africa. Germany is willing to release men over 45 if England will do so. Germans over 45, except officers, have no compulsory military obligations.”

American Embassy, London, Nov. 9, 1914.

Memorandum by Sir Edward Grey.

The American Ambassador asked me to-day whether the American Embassy would be allowed, as reports were being made in Germany about the treatment of German civilians in England, to send someone to visit the Germans interned in Newbury and Newcastle.

[81]The Ambassador also said that he had received specific complaints from Germans interned in Queensferry.

He has given me the following copy of a letter from the American Ambassador in Berlin.

The object of the Ambassador’s enquiry is simply, by bringing out the facts, to prevent false statements from doing harm in Germany, and at the same time, I assume, to contribute to the remedying of any grievances that may exist.

The American Ambassador in Berlin is, I know, doing all in his power to secure good treatment for British subjects in Germany, and I think that it would be desirable to let the American Embassy here have full information as to our treatment of Germans.

I have, etc.,

E. Grey.

Foreign Office, November 13, 1914.

Mr. Gerard to Mr. Page.

American Embassy, Berlin.

November 8, 1914.

Sir,—Although it may already be too late to be of much practical effect, I feel it my duty, in the interest of humanity, to urge upon you to obtain some formal declaration on the part of the British Government, as to its purpose in ordering the wholesale concentration of Germans in Great Britain and Ireland, as is understood here to be the case. It is known here that many of the Germans interned belong to the labouring classes, and that their position is actually improved by their internment, and it is recognised that the British Government has the right to arrest persons when any well-founded ground for suspecting them to be spies exists. Great popular resentment has been created by the reports of the arrests of other Germans, however, and the German authorities cannot explain or understand why German travellers who have been taken from ocean steamers should not be permitted to remain at liberty, of course under police control, even if they are compelled to stay in England. The order for the general concentration of British males between the ages of 17 and 55, which went into effect on the 6th inst., was occasioned by the pressure of public opinion, which has been still further excited by the newspaper reports of a considerable number of deaths in concentration camps. Up to the 6th considerable liberty of movement has been allowed to British subjects in Germany,[16] and, as you were informed in my telegram of the 5th, many petitions were received from them setting forth the favourable conditions [82]under which they were permitted to live and to carry on their business, and urging the similar treatment of German subjects in England. I cannot but feel that to a great extent the English action and the German retaliation has been caused by a misunderstanding which we should do our best to remove. It seems to me that we should do all in our power to prevent an increase of the bitterness which seems to have arisen between the German and English peoples, and to make it possible for the two countries to become friends on the close of the war.

I have, etc.,

James W. Gerard.

Mr. Harris to Mr. Gerard.


November 9, 1914.

Sir,—In a letter of the same date as this I have referred to the return from Giessen of four officers sent to Giessen, and returned again to Frankfort and to Nauheim, from which they came. I referred in this letter to the commander of the XVIIIth. Army Corps here. The commando is in charge of Excellenz de Graaf, who has, as he tells me, an American wife, and who through the past few months has shown this consulate all possible consideration, as it seems to Mr. Ives and myself. Twice during the great press of the first few weeks of the war, he came to the office in person and made known his desire to assist us in any way possible. Both Mr. Ives and myself have had occasion to go to the commando many times on various errands, and in nearly every case we have been granted the things we desired. It would be difficult to find a man at home or abroad with a more pleasant manner than de Graaf’s, or who shows less of the harsh or severe. Many of the English have gone to him, and they in all cases, so far as I have heard, speak in highest terms as to the way he has received them, and as to the entire freedom given them in this city until the order of last Friday.

I have gone into the matter just a little because of a vicious and, I think, wholly unwarranted attack in the papers, in which Mr. George Edwardes, of London, is made to say quite improbable things as coming from de Graaf, and perhaps made our work just a little more difficult. Whether this be the case or not, I am sure you will be glad to know that the commander here has given ample evidence of desire to meet Mr. Ives and myself in every request we have had to make of him.

I have, etc.,

H. W. Harris, American Consul-General.

[83]The “entire freedom” allowed to English in Frankfort until the reprisal order was made out is a fact that should be emphasised. It bears out the idea that it was British action which brought about the general internment order in Germany. Moreover, the reports as to ill-treatment and deaths produced the same kind of effect on the other side as they did on this. Of course, there were grave hardships on both sides, and, indeed, Sir Edward Grey allowed (vide p. 79) that “the régime ... through its hurried organisation, could not fail to contain a certain number of defects at the outset.”

The régime, like some other steps taken in this war, was too hurriedly arranged in response to newspaper agitation. The Cologne Gazette, complaining that Germans are treated like pariahs in England, asks if Englishmen in Germany are “to enjoy for ever a life of gods unmolested.” (Daily Chronicle, October 29, 1914.) The old demand for “reprisals,” leading to counter-reprisals and a crescendo of cruelty.

In Austria no general internment order was made. The Daily Chronicle correspondent, writing in January, 1915, from Vienna, spoke of the freedom of all foreigners there, even when the subjects of enemy Governments. All such subjects, his host reminded him, “enjoy full, or nearly full liberty, whereas in Great Britain and France Austro-German subjects have either been clapped into prison, or at any rate confined in a camp or barracks.”

Civilian and Military Prisoners Compared.

“Confinement in a camp or barracks” sounds a small thing. It is really, wherever it occurs, a rather terrible thing. The universal experience is that civilians suffer under this restraint more than soldiers, and consequently are more “difficult” to deal with.[17] [84]There are, I think, various fairly obvious reasons for this difference. To the soldier the prison camp is an escape from worse horrors, the soldier is inured to a large measure of monotony, he is also inured to military control and certain peculiarities of the military manner. To the civilian the prison camp is a change from freedom to confinement, from comfort to hardship, often from prosperity to ruin. The civilian’s life has been one of varied activities, and becomes one of almost unrelieved monotony. He is in most cases quite unused to military control, and feels himself degraded to a kind of servitude. Used to a separate and individual life, he is forced into contact, day and night, with others not of his own choice, and often antipathetic to him. He finds himself deprived of every vestige of privacy, and his thoughts revolve often round chances gone, work lost, hopes vanished, a wife living in penury, and a future altogether dark. If anyone will try to picture such a life continued not for weeks or months only, but for years, he will, I think, feel that hysteria, loss of mental balance and actual insanity are consequences that are only too likely to follow.

Civilian control for civilian prisoners seems in general to be desirable. Military control was practically withdrawn from Ruhleben in the autumn of 1915. At a few camps here, such as the one at Cornwallis Road, it is practically absent, and I feel this is one reason why, writing in March, 1916, the U.S. Attaché was able to report that there had at this camp been no attempts at escape.

There was much that was harsh and bad in the earlier days of internment in Germany, but the official U.S. reports certainly make us aware of cordial German co-operation in improving matters. The unofficial account, moreover, of Dr. Cimino (“Behind the Prison Bars in Germany”) astonishes me chiefly [85]by the amount of politeness which it reveals in the German official.

There will always be stupid officials, and complete military authority is a very dangerous thing. This obvious conclusion should be recognised as applying (to some extent at least) to both sides. It is a rather dreadful thing to be under more or less hostile restraint, whether one be German or British. “Even if ideal conditions prevailed, one could not remove the unavoidable feeling of restraint and the sorrow of separation of men from their wives and families. There is in all the camps a feeling of gloom which one visitor said ‘haunted him for days.’ It is scarcely surprising that feelings of resentment should arise. Many of the men have lived in this country for twenty or thirty years; some have come over here as young children, some are even unable to speak German; very many have married British wives and have come to regard themselves as citizens of this country. The visit of someone who is not in authority over them, but who will listen to their troubles and give them a kind word of encouragement, has done very much to lighten the bitterness of confinement.” So write the Emergency Committee in their second report on their work for the assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in distress. Dr. Siegmund Schulze, who has worked for a similar organisation in Berlin, writes: “It appears that those who have recently expressed their opinion in the British Parliament have taken the complaints of a few dissatisfied prisoners as a basis for their general opinion. We can quite understand these complaints, because we notice among all prisoners that the longer the imprisonment lasts, the greater is the feeling of dissatisfaction.... It is noteworthy that in the English utterance even the trustworthiness of neutral reports is doubted; for example, the statements of the American Ambassador are regarded as pro-German, therefore distorted. Frl. Dr. Rotten and I have heard [86]a great number of neutral opinions on the prisoners camps; I have myself discussed the conditions of the detention camp with neutrals who have visited them, and ascertained the truth as to their reports. Our verdict can only be that there is absolutely no question of any conditions which would constitute an infringement of international law, or which could imperil the health of the soldiers.... Moreover, I have in Ruhleben formed my own opinion as to the condition of the prisoners. I acknowledge that the depressed state of mind in which the prisoners must naturally be after more than six months’ imprisonment has an effect upon their reports, and that many prisoners are in a state of suppressed rage. On the other hand I cannot but say that after the removal of certain insanitary conditions there have been absolutely no substantial complaints made by the prisoners. Much as I regret the position of the prisoners, among whom I have many personal acquaintances, I must, on the other hand, say that the accommodation and also the behaviour of the officers is, on the whole, as humane as possible under the difficult conditions. The American Attaché, Mr. Jackson, who formerly visited the detention camps in England, and has now again visited the German detention camps, has confirmed to me the assertion which he made to the Commandant of the Ruhleben Camp, viz., that if he were obliged to choose where, among the countries now at war, he would be interned, he would certainly choose Ruhleben.... Without doubt, as is now apparent everywhere, an imprisonment extending over a long period, say, for instance, a year, means far more for men of the present generation than one could have thought. I consider it possible that many prisoners who are detained for such a long time will return to their homes with an essential deterioration of their mental condition.” These last are very grave, and indeed terrible words, words that I fear only too [87]accurately represent the facts, but yet, as Dr. Schulze continues, “We ought not to conclude from this that we are justified in making reproaches against the other country in respect of the treatment of prisoners, but rather conclude that we should work energetically towards the termination of the war.”

The mental suffering (stagnant suffering) caused to civilian prisoners (in Britain, as elsewhere) is, I fear, very far from being understood. The following few sentences may give some glimpses—I was going to say “enlightening glimpses,” but, alas, they are only glimpses into the darkness: “Our visitors in talking to the men in the camps receive from them many kinds of requests; of these by far the most frequent and urgent is that their wives and families may be visited. For one reason or another, letters from home very frequently do not reach the prisoners, and often for weeks or months together they receive no word of their families.” The report goes on: “One man’s wife was at the point of death when he left her and her young children; another’s wife with several children was addicted to drink, and was only kept from it by her husband’s influence; in other cases children were left behind with no mother to care for them.” (The quotations are from the second report of the Friends’ Emergency Committee, January, 1915.) To imagine the anguish of these cases, whether in Germany or in Britain, is to shrink as from a blow. Many will feel that the policy of general internment was unavoidable. But we may surely show generous sympathy where an unavoidable policy has brought great misery upon thousands who were innocent. Such sympathy, as we shall see later, always assists reciprocal sympathy on the other side.

Some Reports on Ruhleben.

I will now turn to the consideration of reports on individual camps for civilians. The most important [88]German civilian camp, of course, for us, is that of Ruhleben. If I cite a Report on the Meeting of the Camp Committee held there on February 4, 1915, a good deal as to the general management of the camp will become plain. [Miscel. No. 7 (1915) p. 67.]

The following minutes of a meeting of the select committee of the camp committee and of the overseers,[18] which was called by Baron von Taube on February 2, were read by the Secretary:

At 6-30 p.m., Baron von Taube received a select committee of the camp committee in the presence of the assembled overseers of the latter. Messrs. Powell, Fischer, Jones, Blakely, Cocker, Overweg, Asher, Hallam, Russel, Aman, and Jones were present; also[19] Messrs. Delmer, Butcher, Stern, Scholl, Mackenzie, Horn, Klingender, Butterworth, and Hatfield.

Having greeted the assembled members, the Baron proceeded to say that he thought it would be best if only three or four delegates from the camp committee were to discuss matters directly with the overseers. He expressed his views and compared the management of the camp with the administration of a town of 10,000 inhabitants. Too many participants might only render the work of the overseers more arduous. He therefore suggested that at the meetings of the overseers, the select committee of the camp committee should consist of from three to four gentlemen with deciding votes. The suggestion was accepted. Thereupon the Baron informed the meeting that Messrs. Butcher, Klingender, and Stern had been proposed. In reply to this, Mr. Delmer, chairman of the camp committee, said that from among the eight men whose names had been submitted, three or four should from time to time be chosen as delegates according to their special knowledge and the business to be transacted. After a short discussion it was agreed, upon the proposal of Mr. Powell, that three or four gentlemen should, as delegates from the camp committee, take part in a general meeting of overseers to be held once a fortnight. At these meetings a strict account of the work of the overseers during the interval should be rendered. On the proposal of the chairman, Mr. Delmer, it was further agreed that delegates of the camp committee should have the right at all times to require the overseers to furnish explanations of any incidents [89]affecting the interests of the camp. A motion of the chairman, which was also approved by the Baron, was to the effect that, in order to spare the overseers’ committee time and trouble, any incidents occurring in the camp should be thoroughly sifted and investigated by the camp committee, and then reported to the administration as soon as possible by a single competent deputy through the overseers.

The presiding overseer welcomed a further motion by the chairman, Mr. Delmer, which was as follows: In the interests of the necessary reciprocity, a delegate of the overseers should attend the meetings of the camp committee.

Mr. Klingender drew attention to the two points contained in the camp committee’s letter to Baron von Taube. The Baron said he agreed with the contents of the letter.

At the conclusion the chairman (Mr. Delmer) remarked that the camp committee had been formed with a view to beneficial co-operation with the overseers, and for the advancement of the existing organisation, and that it intended loyally to carry out this principle, of which words the Baron graciously took note. The chairman (Mr. Delmer) then expressed his hearty thanks in the name of the assembled members of the camp committee to the Baron for his presence and for the consideration he had kindly given to the arrangement, whereupon the Baron said that he would be very pleased personally from time to time to take part in the meetings of the camp committee.

Baron von Taube then closed the meeting.

The secretary announced that he had laid a copy of the minutes before the Baron, who had kindly accepted and signed it, and had, with his own hand, written on it the words, “Have taken note of the minutes and agree on all points.”

The chairman greeted Mr. Fischer, overseer of hut 3, who was present as delegate of the overseers. The meeting proceeded to discuss the following matters:

Latrines for Invalids.—At the last meeting the camp committee had requested a member to procure information on this matter. Mr. Fischer reported that the small latrine between huts 3 and 4 (which was formerly intended for women) should be used for this purpose. A door with a lock would be put in. Permits would probably be issued by the doctor or his representative. The overseers had for a long time striven to obtain permission for the sick to use the water closets, but these for the most part were not in the premises which were at the disposal of the military authorities, and therefore could not, even on payment, be opened. He would again inquire if it were not possible to obtain a closed water closet for the sick.

[90]Postal Matters.—Questions concerning the postal regulations and the censoring of letters were brought up. A member expressed his intention of obtaining precise information and of reporting thereon.

Outbreak of Diarrhœa.—It was announced that 78 cases had occurred at hut 1.[20] Mr. Fischer was asked whether the number of cases in each hut was known to the overseers. He replied that they had furnished a report on the previous day. It was suggested that in such a case the overseers might with advantage seek the assistance of the delegates of the camp committee, and especially in the present case, as the overseers were much occupied with other work, and could not collect complete statistics.

Bread.—The question of the quality of the bread was raised; it was alleged that bread insufficiently baked and bread which consisted of remains insufficiently ground together was sometimes distributed. As 2,000 of the prisoners were penniless, the question was one of great importance. Mr. Fischer said that bread of inferior quality, if returned immediately, would be exchanged.

Youths Under 17 Years of Age.—It was alleged that not all the prisoners under 17 years of age had yet taken the necessary steps to obtain their release. The meeting, however, thought that it was the presence of young sailors, for whose release repeated application had been made, that had produced this impression. These sailors, however, were in quite a different position from the civilian prisoners. Civilian prisoners under 17 were released. The overseers had the matter under consideration.

Washing.—Mr. Whitwell had taken cast-off clothing from the rubbish-box. He had had them washed, and found that they were still serviceable. In his opinion, the whole of the camp washing could be done by two machines costing about 60M. each. Mr. Fischer observed that the overseers had given this matter their attention, but that great difficulties would arise if any proposals adverse to the concessions granted by the military authority to private concerns were to be made.

The meeting was then adjourned.

We may next cite an unofficial statement:

Statement Respecting Conditions at Ruhleben Communicated to Home Office by two Released Civilians on March 18, 1915.

Mr. John P. Bradshaw, of Ballymoney, co. Antrim, and Mr. William David Coyne, of Ballyhaunis, co. Mayo, both [91]British subjects, arrived in England on the March 15, having just been released from detention at Ruhleben on account of their unfitness for military service.

The following statement has been made by them to the Home Office:

They were examined by the Camp Doctor, and released as unfit for military service.

A fortnight ago all who considered themselves unfit were invited to send their names in with a statement of the grounds of unfitness.

A week later all were asked to state where they would go if released from Ruhleben, but few of the real British subjects were anxious to be released now unless they can leave Germany because of the bitterness against England.[21]

Since March 7 a very important change has taken place in the food supply to the prisoners; thanks to investigations by Rittmeister von Müller, the caterer has been dispensed with. It is believed in the camp that the United States authorities prompted these investigations.

The German authorities provide bread which is of better quality than formerly. The allowance is over half a pound per man per day, i.e., more than the civilian population is allowed, but it is believed that a regulation has been made, though not yet brought into force, to reduce the bread allowance to correspond with that allowed to persons outside the camp. Bread is no longer purchaseable at the canteen.

The Government allows 60 pfennige (just over 7d.) per head for the rest of the food. The canteen committee buys 100 grammes of meat (gristle, bone, etc., included) per man per day. Pork is much used, then comes mutton, and, more rarely, beef.

The meat is cooked in the soup and each man is given a piece about the size of a cutlet with his soup at midday. The spare pieces are divided amongst the men from the last barracks to be served; the barracks take it in turn to be last.

On one day a week dinner consists of a piece of sausage and rice and prunes.

A piece of sausage is now served with the evening tea or coffee. This sausage is bought out of the savings under the new system.

The rest of the savings on the catering and the profit on the sales at the canteen go towards providing clothes, etc., for the poorest men in the camp.

The meat is inspected by two of the prisoners, one a [92]veterinary surgeon and the other a butcher; it is cooked by ships’ cooks who are interned, and served by men chosen from among the prisoners. The food is said to be well cooked and the meals quite appetising, at any rate when compared with the previous régime.

The two men named above received all parcels sent to them. Formerly parcels took about four weeks to reach the camp from England, but now they arrive in ten to twelve days.

The officials are scrupulously honest as regards money owned by or sent to the prisoners, except that they pay out in paper or silver, whereas they took in gold. Money is paid out to those prisoners who have an account at the rate of 20M. per fortnight, but an extra 20M. can be obtained for the purchase of boots, clothes, etc., if shown to be necessary.

The correspondence regulations are now that one postcard with nine lines of writing may be sent each week, and two letters, each of four pages of notepaper may be sent per month. In addition, business letters may be sent to any reasonable extent.

A dramatic society has been started and recently gave its first performance, Shaw’s “Androcles and the Lion.” Admission was free, but seats cost from 20 to 40 pfennigs, not according to the position of the seat, but according to the means of the purchaser.

Baron von Taube and Graf von Schwerin make a point of being present at all entertainments organised by the prisoners, and make a short speech of thanks at the end. Since the trouble over the food has been settled the relations between the officials and the prisoners have greatly improved.

A month ago all British colonial subjects were re-arrested and interned. [Miscel. No. 7. (1915). P. 81.]

We now come to the official U.S. report of June 8, 1915, with accompanying letters. [Miscel. No. 13 (1915)]

Mr. Page, United States Ambassador at London, to Sir Edward Grey. (Received June 15.)

The American Ambassador presents his compliments to His Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and has the honour to transmit, herewith enclosed, a copy of a letter he has received from the Embassy at Berlin, dated the 8th inst., enclosing a report made by Mr. G. W. Minot upon [93]the conditions at present existing in the British civil internment camp at Ruhleben.

Mr. Gerard has added a postscript expressing the hope that this report may be published together with his covering letter.

American Embassy, London,
June 14, 1915.

The need for publication was obvious in view of the character of the rumours circulated in this country, but, unfortunately, when published as a Government White Paper, such a report falls into but few hands, while newspaper extracts from the White Papers can, in general, scarcely be described as selected without bias.

Enclosure 1.
Mr. Gerard to Mr. Page.

American Embassy,

Berlin, June 8, 1915.

Sir,—I have the honour to transmit to you herewith a triplicate copy of a report made by Mr. G. W. Minot upon conditions at present existing in the British civil internment camp at Ruhleben, Spandau. In connection with this I beg to say that the devotion to duty and uniform kindness of all the camp authorities has been wonderful and the relations of our Embassy with them always most agreeable. It is impossible to conceive of better camp commanders than Graf Schwerin and Baron Taube.—I have, etc.,

James W. Gerard.

The last sentence is noteworthy. Commendation of the Camp Commanders could not be more emphatic.

Enclosure 2.
Mr. Minot to Mr. Gerard.

June 3, 1915.

Sir,—I have the honour to submit to you the following report upon various improvements which have taken place in the civil internment camp for British prisoners at Ruhleben-bei-Spandau since the month of November, 1914:

Of the 4,500 British civil prisoners interned in Germany, approximately 4,000 are at this date held at Ruhleben, the remaining 500 being scattered in small detachments in various [94]other internment camps. The German Government have arranged that these detachments shall be absorbed by Ruhleben, so that within a few months all the British civil prisoners interned in Germany will be in Ruhleben. The difficulty of enlarging the facilities of Ruhleben and the necessary precautionary measures of quarantining have made the process of combination a long one, but there is every reason to believe that it will soon be completed.

The increase in the number of prisoners at Ruhleben has necessitated substantial additions to the barracks, most of which were overcrowded at the beginning of the war. Eight new barracks of one storey have been erected (four being already occupied), affording accommodation for 120 men each. These barracks are substantially built of wood, with well-set floors and large windows. The roofs have been waterproofed with tarred paper, and the walls stained to resist the rain.[22] In the four new barracks which are now occupied a small room for the guard has been added, but in the new barracks this has been considered unnecessary, as it is hoped that the guards in the barracks at night may shortly be dispensed with. The last new barracks has been built with a special view towards housing convalescent or delicate persons. Partitions have been erected so as to cut up the barrack into small divisions, and two water-closets have been installed. A new washhouse for these barracks has been erected, with shower baths and washing troughs.

The construction of the new barracks, the transfer of some hundred persons to Dr. Weiler’s sanatorium, and the release of about a hundred persons have made it possible largely to reduce the crowded conditions of the “obens,” or lofts, of the old barracks. Twenty per cent. of the occupants of these “obens” have been removed, and it is estimated that when the new barracks are fully occupied another 55 per cent. will be removed from the obens, so that only a quarter of the original occupants will be left there.

The most signal improvement which has been effected in the last two months has been the permission afforded the prisoners to use the ground encircled by the race-track for the hours from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The space thus gained is approximately 200 yards by 150 yards, and affords a splendid field for all kinds of games. Materials for the various sports have been provided by the camp, including the laying out of a football field and a small golf course. This ground has provided a chance for every interned prisoner to take part in some form of good out-of-door exercise or for those who so desire to move out their chairs [95]to the field to watch the games. Permission to use the grandstands from 8 a.m. to 8-30 p.m. has further been obtained. As the stands are of modern brick and cement construction, a large enclosed hall is formed underneath the tiers of seats. In this hall a stage has been erected and a complete theatre installed with scenery, dressing-rooms, orchestra, etc. Performances, varying from Shakespeare to musical shows, are given practically every night. The betting boxes have been boarded up to afford small rooms for study, musical practice, etc. In other parts of this building space has been allotted for a carpenter’s shop, a tailor’s shop, barber and cobbler’s shop. The grandstand tiers have been turned over to the educational department for schools and lectures, which are systematically conducted. Black-boards and other materials have been provided for the department.

A favourable account of Dr. Weiler’s sanatorium follows. About this sanatorium individual expressions of opinion have varied.

Mr. Minot’s report next gives a list of improvements effected at Ruhleben, under such headings as Laundry, Whitewashing, Beds, Dentist, Business Post, etc. The report then proceeds:

It can be seen from the above that very considerable improvements have been effected at Ruhleben. Graf Schwerin, Baron Taube, and the other camp authorities have done everything in their power to bring about these improvements, and have been materially helped throughout by the camp captains.

The effect produced has been a general improvement in the physical and moral condition of the camp. In general the health of the prisoners can be said to be excellent, practically no cases of contagious or infectious diseases, barring a mild epidemic of German measles, having occurred. The improvement in the food and the increased possibilities of the purchase of additional nourishment from the outside, have nearly silenced all complaints.

The work is still constantly progressing, and it is fair to state that the conditions are steadily, if slowly, improving.

I am submitting to you, herewith, a plan of Ruhleben, upon which are marked the various buildings and locations mentioned in this report. I have further included a selection of programmes of the various entertainments, sports, etc., which have taken place in the camp.—I have, etc.,

G. W. Minot.

[96]The following two extracts are also of some significance. The first is from the Times, the second is from the Daily Telegraph of June 18, 1915. The suspension of correspondence was due to some demonstration on the part of the prisoners.

Sir,—It may perhaps interest some of those who are feeling anxious about the treatment of their relatives at Ruhleben to hear that we have direct evidence of kindly action and consideration for the prisoners on the part of the German authorities at a date later than that at which the regular postal communication was suspended.—I am faithfully yours,

A Parent of a Prisoner.

February 17.

We received the following from the Press Bureau last night:

“A statement recently appeared in a letter to an organ of the Press to the effect that it was inadvisable to send parcels to civilian prisoners interned at Ruhleben in view of the heavy charges made on delivery.

“Information has now been received from the United States Ambassador at Berlin that no such charges have been made for the delivery of parcels at Ruhleben, but for a short time certain prisoners who had been temporarily released and sent to a sanatorium were charged duty on parcels sent to them there. This matter was, however, satisfactorily adjusted in a very short time, and duty is no longer charged on parcels to such prisoners.”

In the early autumn of 1915 civilian self-government was fully established at Ruhleben. Writing on October 16, Mr. Page remarks: “The administration of the camp to-day is entirely in the hands of the prisoners themselves. There are no guards in the barracks, and all internal arrangements, including discipline, are in the hands of the camp and barrack captains.” [Miscel. No. 3 (1916), p. 4.]

A Controversy.

White Paper Miscel. No. 3 (1916) is in many ways rather important to the student of internment. It affords some evidence of the kind of mental friction [97]developing in all internment camps, and it makes clear that prisoners’ statements often need to be subjected to impartial outside investigation. There is not space, however, to enter fully into details here. The paper opens with a report on Ruhleben camp “compiled by a British subject recently released,” and forwarded by Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Gerard through Mr. Page. It is complained that the distance from the new barracks to the wash-houses is “in some cases over 200 yards.” Mr. Page points out by reference to a scale map that “in every case the wash-houses are nearer than 60 yards from the barracks, and not at a distance of 200 yards, as stated. The barracks which are not diagrammed on this map have their own washing appliances.” Mr. Page writes further: “The open space beneath the central tribune has not been, as stated in the report transmitted by the British Foreign Office, used for every conceivable purpose, but has been enclosed entirely for recreation purposes, religious services, lectures, debates, etc.... I cannot see how the introduction of [the] cinema show has in the least affected the comfort of the hall.” “With regard to whitewashing, this was done in all of the barracks at the expense of the camp fund, and not, as stated, at the cost of those interned at the barracks. Extra whitewashing, borders, etc., were naturally paid for at the private expense. No measures were taken for exterminating mosquitoes for the reason that it has been found impossible to procure petroleum in Germany for the purpose.” Three internees who tried to escape were in consequence imprisoned, and are stated in the report transmitted by the British Foreign Office to be starving. Mr. Gerard writes: “I visited Messrs. Ettlinger, Ellison and Kirkpatrick at the Stadtvogtei-Gefängnis about three weeks ago, and heard from them that they had no complaint to make about the food. They are now allowed to receive parcels and money from the outside, and are no longer in [98]solitary confinement. The limitation of exercise to half an hour seems regrettable, but owing to their attempt to escape, I fear that it will be impossible to obtain a change until their sentence expires.”

The report forwarded to Mr. Gerard says:

It would be of material benefit to the interned if a representative of the United States Embassy could call at the Camp fortnightly, and receive complaints direct from prisoners, without the inevitable presence of the captains [i.e., the internees’ own captains] in the room.

Mr. Gerard replies:

A representative of this Embassy has visited the camp at Ruhleben (with the exception of the time when the camp was first formed) certainly on an average of more than once a fortnight, and it has been possible for any prisoners to speak to him without the presence of the captains. For the past few months the camp has been visited once a week if not more often. In addition to this Mr. Powell, sometimes accompanied by other captains of the camp, has visited this Embassy regularly once a week for consultation with me.

“I wish again to reiterate,” says Mr. Page, “that Count Schwerin, Baron Taube and the other officers in charge of the camp, are all kindly and considerate gentlemen, who do everything within their power to help the prisoners.”

But the real quarrel was not with Count Schwerin or Baron Taube (of whom all seem to speak well), but with the English captains and their management. The financial statements and the distributions effected by the captains are adversely criticised by the released British subject. He adds, somewhat acidly:

It would be a kindness to the captains and to the camp if the Government could convey to them a message informing them that they are public men holding important and responsible positions, and that public men must allow criticism and seek to profit by it.

[99]Here we get to the root of the matter. The original “Camp Committee” was (to quote Mr. Gerard’s words) “disbanded by the order of the military authorities in February last (1915), because of its refusal to co-operate with the captains and its insistence upon publishing notices and minutes of its meetings after it had been forbidden to do so.”[23] This “Camp Committee” continued to object to the financial arrangement and the general administration of Mr. Powell and the other captains, and pressed their objections upon the Ambassador on August 23, 1915. “I thereupon suggested that perhaps the best way would be to refer the matter to a general election. To this the ‘Camp Committee’ demurred, and upon my asking what suggestion they had to proffer appeared to consider that they, a self-constituted body, should be given charge of the camp by me. This proposition I naturally rejected, especially as the members of this self-appointed committee were, although very estimable gentlemen, personæ non gratæ both to the majority of the prisoners and to the military authorities.... A final decision of the question as to whether the present government of Ruhleben is representative or not is to be found in the election of September 15, 1915, when every one of the captains at that time in authority was re-elected. The occasion was caused by the decision of the military authorities to withdraw the soldiers from the camp, and the captains therefore considered it desirable that they should appeal to the camp for decision as to whether it was wished that they should continue the government or not. I cannot see that any further proof is required as to whether the captains represent the feelings of the majority of the camp.”

[100]One cannot help asking oneself, was the critic a member of the disbanded “Camp Committee”? The United States Ambassador on more than one occasion proved himself capable of speaking very decidedly to the German authorities of things he disapproved of. In this case, too, he speaks (though not to the German authorities) with some decision:

A properly heated and lighted recreation and assembling room is certainly extremely desirable for the damp and cold winter time. A new barrack has been sanctioned by the military authorities for the purpose, and I will do my best to press the work. I might venture to suggest that if so many private individuals had not occupied necessary space by election of private clubs the military authorities would be more willing to grant permission for the erection of further buildings intended for public good. Further, if the very men, such as the “camp committee” (who are all members of the “summer house” club), had devoted some of the energies which they expended upon the erection of the club for their own private use to the construction of a public sitting-room, the building might already be in use.

The British tax-payer is paying a large sum in wages because the Ruhleben prisoners are unwilling to do the fatigue work of the camp. The captured British soldiers who have been fighting in the trenches are compelled to do work in work camps, are often not properly clothed, do not receive an allowance from the British tax-payer of 5M. a week, cannot buy food at less than cost price, nor go to a sanatorium (at the expense of the British tax-payer) when sick; have not the benefit of expert dental and optical treatment, have no public libraries, lectures, schools, debates, or camp newspapers, have not seven tennis courts, three football fields, athletic games, cricket, golf and hockey, are not amused by dramas, comic operas and cinema shows, and above all are not paid extra wages for doing their own work to make themselves comfortable. All of these advantages and more which the Ruhleben prisoners enjoy have been largely the result of the effort of the camp administration which this commentator criticises.

These rather strong words of Mr. Gerard’s display a not unnatural irritation against a critic whose facts prove unreliable and whose mental attitude suggests a somewhat querulous bias, but it is only fair to remind [101]ourselves that after long internment all suffer from nerve strain and many suffer very severely. Under these circumstances complete reasonableness is probably more than any of us would be capable of.

Short Rations.

At Ruhleben there are (with the exception of some negroes) English only. The English receive many packages. The German authorities have been tempted to rely on those packages increasingly. That is the state of things revealed in Dr. A. E. Taylor’s report of June 14, 1916. [Miscel. No. 21 (1916).]

A review of the present ration of the prisoners of war indicates that it is the aim of the ‘Kriegsernährungsamt’ to supply a ration which shall be physiologically adequate, though professedly containing little more than enough to cover minimal requirements; and it is believed that the official prisoners’ ration contains as much as the daily food of many millions of German subjects. There is no question that the official prison ration is an adequate ration from the standpoint of animal nutrition. In addition to this allotted camp ration the prisoners possess the food sent in from abroad as addenda.

In the case of the Russian prisoners, these extra food stuffs sent in from abroad are small in amount; in the case of the French, moderate; in the case of the English, large. In all the prison camps that I have visited it is the practice to prepare food for the number of men in the camp, irrespective of nationality, in accordance with the menu of Professor Backhaus. As a rule, the British prisoners take little or none of the food, and their share is eaten by prisoners of other nationalities. In Ruhleben the state of affairs at present existing has convinced the interned civilians that the situation is, so to speak, reversed: that the German authorities seem to regard the foodstuffs sent in from abroad as the regular diet of the interned men, and the camp allotments as the addenda.

It is not surprising that “the interned men are deeply dissatisfied with the present state of affairs.” The German authorities, finding that at least half the total number of the interned at Ruhleben subsist largely upon private packages, have made a “sharp [102]reduction in the amount of foodstuff allotted to the camp.” I have no wish to defend this proceeding, but it must be allowed that to the Government of a blockaded country there is a great temptation to cut down supplies when this will not be a danger to the prisoners themselves.

Both reports of Dr. Taylor [Miscel. No. 18 (1916) and Miscel. No. 21 (1916)] are important studies of the question of nutrition, and his short discussion (No. 18, p. 4) of the psychological aspects of monotonous diet and the nutritional effects of internment is worth careful attention. “A diet that would be tolerated if the subject were at liberty may become intolerable under conditions of imprisonment. There is a large personal equation operative in this direction. The soldier imbued with a high sense of his value to his country and of the justice of his cause will endure a monotonous diet that would not be endurable in the prisoner overwhelmed with disappointment and crushed with sorrow.” These considerations are obviously of general application.

Some Comparisons.

Mr. Gerard, in a note of June 28, 1916 [Miscel. No. 25 (1916)], animadverts strongly on the bad accommodation still provided at Ruhleben. The letter is rather strikingly different in tone from his other reports on Ruhleben.

It is intolerable that people of education should be herded six together in a horse’s stall, and in some of the lofts the bunks touch one another. The light for reading is bad, and reading is a necessity if these poor prisoners are to be detained during another winter. In the haylofts above the stables the conditions are even worse.[24]

Bishop Bury’s account (“My Visit to Ruhleben,” p. 30) reads:

I don’t know whether it was our internment at Newbury,[25] [103]the race-course for Reading, or our using race-courses, such as Kempton Park, for the training of our own men, which caused Ruhleben to be chosen in November, 1914, as a suitable place for civilians’ internment.... Without any description of mine it may be easily understood what they had to suffer until proper arrangements were made.... The loose boxes are now properly fitted with bunks, some being larger than others. The large corridor, with its stone floor, gives air and space, the lofts particularly being extremely well adapted now for their present purpose. I prefer the lofts to the boxes, because they have corridors out of which one can look, whereas the windows in the boxes are usually far above the ground. I went to tea more frequently in the boxes, and on one occasion we sat down sixteen in number—rather a crowd—but we were quite comfortable.

Bishop Bury has seen something on both sides, and his impressions are for that reason all the more important. We must not forget, too, that he lived a week with the prisoners at Ruhleben. It is also only fair to remember that no one has been invited to spend a week in any camp on this side. Bishop Bury also tells us “that when, a little time ago, the authorities proposed to relieve the overcrowding and construct another camp at Havilburg which could accommodate 600 men, the men at once petitioned that this idea might not be carried out, as they preferred, after this length of time to stay where they are.” (l.c., p. 40.)

One caution must, however, be given to the readers of Bishop Bury’s book. The conditions of the camp during the excitement and interest of his visit could not be the normal conditions. The frightful monotony of the long confinement does not obtrude itself in his book. Yet there is no doubt, I fear, that internment everywhere (at Ruhleben, as elsewhere) is becoming “intolerable.” To live, as at Alexandra Palace, day and night, for years in a great hall with more than a thousand others must become almost destructive to any sensitive nature. But (to quote Dr. Siegmund Schulze once more) “We ought not to conclude from this that we are justified in making reproaches.... [104]in respect of the treatment of prisoners, but rather conclude that we should work energetically towards the termination of the war.”

Dr. Cimino, very, and very naturally, anti-German as he is, writes:

The only real suffering we experienced at Ruhleben was from the cold.... The fact is that he (Count Schwerin) was as kind-hearted an old soldier as ever fondled an English wife, and loved his English prisoners.... He used to take part in our daily life as much as possible.... As to the concerts, he was always present, et pour cause; he was passionately fond of music.... at the end of the concert he would make his little speech, and we filed out. But one night we gave him a rousing cheer, and the whole crowd struck up, “For he’s a jolly good fellow.” (“Behind the Prison Bars in Germany,” p. 95).[26]

As to the food question, we must not forget that the blockade against Germany and the pressure upon neutrals have been continually increased in stringency. Up to October, 1915, Mr. Gerard could write as follows of Ruhleben:

The food material is excellent and the cooking, as I have stated, is attended to by the prisoners themselves, those doing the cooking receiving payment from the British fund, with the exception of 150M. weekly allowed for cooks’ wages by the German authorities. The prisoners are given, if they choose, a bread-card, and are allowed to purchase extra bread—the Kriegsbrod, which we all use in Germany and which is quite palatable—at the price of 55 pfennige a loaf. Food also, as I have stated, can be purchased in the canteen at prices very much less than food can be purchased in Berlin, and at very much less than cost.—[Miscel, No. 3 (1916)].

The low price at the canteen, was, however, I take it, owing to the existence of the camp fund contributed to by the British Government.

[105]Lord Newton spoke in the House of Lords on February 22, 1917, on the question of prisoners of war. The following extract is from the Daily Telegraph report:

There was nothing to be gained by exaggerating the conditions of prisoners in Germany or elsewhere. There was neither sense nor truth in representing, as was constantly done, that Ruhleben was a sort of unspeakable hell upon earth, and that a British internment camp was a kind of paradise compared with it. He deplored the hardship that these men underwent, but it was a great mistake to suppose that these civilians at Ruhleben were undergoing greater hardships than those being endured by our military prisoners. Like anyone who ventured to state the facts, he would no doubt be accused of being a pro-German, but certainly the conditions at Ruhleben had greatly improved recently. These conditions had improved, not on account of any action on the part of the German Government, but rather on account of their inaction. They had permitted the British there to organise on their own lines and make the conditions tolerable. Anyone could satisfy himself as to the conditions, because there were men who had arrived here recently who could give the fullest information. In addition, they were able to form their own opinions to a certain extent from independent testimony, for example, the visit of Bishop Bury. He could not understand why this prelate had been subjected to so much attack on the part of certain persons in this country. He went to Germany by permission of the German Government. He went to Ruhleben, lived in the camp, and was able to see what the conditions were. He reported exactly what he saw, and was thereupon denounced as not only being an inaccurate person but obviously pro-German.

Absence on Leave.

The following private testimony is also of interest: “A nephew of mine who is interned at Ruhleben has been let out for a fortnight’s visit to some people whose son is interned in England, and who has been befriended here. My nephew met with the most overwhelming kindness, and his letters are most interesting and touching.” The “reprisals of good,” which we shall consider more fully presently, are, after all, the most practical measures in the world. There have [106]been several other absences on leave, and a good many men have been released permanently. Moreover, at Christmas, 1916, most of the British officials in the camp were given three days leave in Berlin.

Prisoners’ Activity.

We may well be proud of the organising capacity of the British prisoners at Ruhleben and of the resolute determination of so many to make the very most of every slender opportunity, and to turn difficulties into a stimulus for ingenuity. The following is from the Manchester Guardian, February 23, 1916:

A letter from Mr. Walter Butterworth, dated January 22, and written from his internment quarters at Ruhleben, Germany, has been received by the Chairman of the Manchester Art Gallery, Mr. F. Todd. After a reference to newly added pictures in the Manchester Gallery and to the death of his friend, Mr. Roger Oldham, Mr. Butterworth continues: “You will perhaps like to hear a little about art matters in Ruhleben. We really have some activity in arts and crafts. A great crowd of musicians are here, including some composers and many excellently equipped executants. We have actors in plenty, not without a sprinkling of professionals. Professors, journalists, and lecturers are our nearest approximation to workers in the literary field. There is no stint of craftsmen, who produce very clever work in wood, metals, etc. With provision tins they make the most astonishing things, including tackle for our physics and chemical departments, for weighing, testing, measuring, etc. With only tins and wire a man made an amazing electrical clock, which has kept faultless time for over a year. Other men made a handloom for demonstration purposes, which wove cloth before our eyes at a meeting of Yorkshiremen, at which I presided.

Turning to the fine arts of painting and sculpture, I did not know we had any sculptors until this month, except one clever young artist who models heads in clay. But this month we have had a great deal of snow, and two men who have hitherto been resting came forward, and, like Michael Angelo on a famous occasion began to model in snow. But our designers and painters are the most numerous and active (after the musicians). They have a shed, in which art exhibitions are held periodically. Many portraits are drawn and a few painted. One artist is just completing a portrait of me in [107]pastels. There is an endless outpouring of theatre posters, caricatures, humorous drawings, skits on the camp, etc.”

Six students at Ruhleben passed the London University Matriculation examination in December, 1916. One of them took the Edinburgh papers as well later on. (Observer, August 26, 1917.) These are remarkable cases, for the strain of prolonged internment seems most of all to affect the power of concentrated attention.

The case of another successful student is recorded in the Daily News of June 2, 1918:

The distinction—probably unique—of graduating for the degree of Doctor of Music of Oxford University while a prisoner in enemy hands has been achieved by Mr. Ernest Macmillan, a young man with Edinburgh connections. Mr. Macmillan, who is the son of a clergyman in Toronto, was studying music in Germany when the war broke out, and since then he has been interned as a civil prisoner at Ruhleben. His answer to examination papers and his “exercise” (or composition) were sent from Ruhleben to Oxford.

That such things are possible at Ruhleben is a great tribute to English spirit and endurance. We must also not forget that they would clearly be wholly impossible if the Germans were actually barbarians.

A Friendly Enemy.

When Bishop Bury during his visit in November, 1915, asked what he might be allowed to say at Ruhleben, General Friedrich replied: “Please do all you can to hearten and cheer up your fellow countrymen. Appeal to their patriotism, speak to their manhood. You and they will have no one between you. There will be no official of the camp; no one to listen to you, no one to come between yourself and them. We trust you entirely with them, and you will understand, I am sure, that we do not wish to diminish anyone’s sense of nationality who is [108]imprisoned or interned in Germany.” (“My Visit to Ruhleben,” p. 21.) The words, says Bishop Bury, “seemed to come straight from the heart of the speaker.” Some readers will be sceptical; but at least the words were acted on. The Bishop spoke about the armies and the war to the men, and told them of his own experiences in the war area, “just as I should have told them to my own countrymen in this country.” At his last address the British flag was run in on a cord and “God Save the King” was sung. The Bishop had no time to propose the omission of the second verse, but one is proud to know that those Englishmen, even amidst their excitement, spontaneously omitted it. The whole scene revealed what was finest on both sides. Bishop Bury told the German Staff that at the meeting “we all sang ‘Send him victorious.’ They smiled indulgently.”

War Terrorism.

A good many more things of a favourable character could be said. Unfortunately men who speak well of their German captors are accused of pro-Germanism, and they dare not speak. This is a rather terrible fact, but it is a fact. As one man said to me: “I have my living to get, and if my identity could be traced through any account I gave I should be ruined. My work has already been very materially affected, but in private conversation I shall continue to speak the truth, come what may.” War prejudice indeed desires one kind of story only, and victimises those who give it what it does not want. And so all along the line suppression begets suppression of the truths most needed to heal our ills. A woman teacher writes to me: “I think I have a fairly open mind myself to recognise good deeds of the enemy; but to tell such to my pupils is another matter, and I fear would be very impolitic seeing that I depend on my school for my daily bread.” And again the Editor of a provincial [109]paper writes: “... but when one has to rely on the public for one’s living one has to think twice before expressing one’s views.”

Last Days at Ruhleben.

Mr. Desmond wrote of the coming of the Revolution at Dülmen (vide p. 61), Mr. Sylvester Leon has told us something of the last days at Ruhleben (Herald, January 4, 1919). “The soldiers are with you,” said Mr. Powell to the interned men. “For with the triumph of the Revolution, that friendliness which had existed in the days of the old régime between the interned and many an individual German soldier now became general among the military of Ruhleben; the officers had flitted, or had capitulated to the new order of things with more or less grace; Councils of soldiers and workmen ruled in the towns of the Fatherland; the era of Social Democracy was dawning upon Central Europe.... It is but fair to admit that the Ruhleben Guard acted very loyally in the performance of their duty. For when they were given the option of returning to their homes they did not avail themselves of that opportunity, but volunteered to remain at their posts until the disbandment of the camp. It is of historic interest to note that the red flag—the symbol of the triumph of the Revolution—which flew from the flag-pole in the camp, had formerly done service in the cubicle of one of the interned. It was dyed red by another of the interned, a doctor of science and a member of our little camp school, and then given to the soldiers.... The first impression gained on a visit outside the camp was the terrible seriousness of the food question. No one who has once seen can ever forget the sight of the crowds of hungry women and school children standing outside the gates of Ruhleben, literally besieging the interned as they passed out.” For it was only the interned who had food to spare. The Ruhlebenites gave, they had the facts before them. [110]And “the people of Spandau turned out in force to wish us ‘Godspeed’ on our departure for home; and the send-off they gave us was astonishing in its enthusiasm, arresting in its spontaneity, and touching in its obvious sincerity.”


At Havelberg the camp for civilians had a population of 4,500. Of these only 372 were British subjects, being men from British India. Mr. Dresel writes on September 17, 1916: “This camp produces an excellent impression, the arrangements being unusually hygienic and modern.” [Miscel. No. 7 (1917), p. 6.]

On Behalf of the Civilians.

Yet, however excellent the impression may be, an internment camp is a miserable place.[27] It is, of course, especially miserable for those whose nature is at all sensitive, and it is surely such men whom we shall need everywhere if we are to make a less brutal world. Man after man has gone into internment seeking to employ himself and to make the best of it. For months, for a year, less often for nearly two years he has succeeded. But slowly success has dwindled and turned into failure. The monotony, the sense of oppression, the physical and mental discomfort, the deadly uselessness of the life—even where to these things is not added concern for those outside—have made him incapable of fixed attention, incapable of effort, incapable of rest, alternately nervous and torpid, fearful, despairing. The “barbed wire disease” has him in its grip at last. “Another winter interned here,” wrote such a one, “and I shall need a padded cell.” He had a fine nature and had struggled hard. But “the people outside do not understand.” Certainly, [111]there are those who can hold out to the end. I admire and envy them. I do not think any of us could predict with certainty that we should not give way.

There is only one remedy short of stopping the war, and that is the release of all civilians. Those who wish to remain, either in Germany or here, should certainly be allowed to do so, and if the police have no case against them, and if they can support themselves, they should be set free. Others should be repatriated or sent to neutral countries. The imprisonment of civilians is against the usage of war, and it is this fact which gave force to the claim of the German Government that there should be complete release on both sides.

I append extracts from a Swiss appeal to the belligerents on behalf of the civilian prisoners. It was issued in August, 1917, and has already appeared in Common Sense.

A civilian is not a prisoner of war.

We gladly acknowledge that the belligerent powers have effectively lessened the sufferings of the prisoners of war with an intelligent understanding of their duty; the military authorities have listened favourably to the proposals of the Red Cross, and already the soldiers have been spared many unnecessary sufferings. Humane measures have softened the captivity of military prisoners.

In the name of Justice we now address this urgent appeal to the authorities in the belligerent countries to adopt the same attitude towards civilian prisoners.

We have in mind all civil prisoners, for these, almost without exception, are innocent victims of the war; both those who since the beginning of the war have been interned, and those others in the occupied territories who have been isolated, oppressed or imprisoned, many of them in poor health, women, children, old men, who are not allowed to join their families in a neutral land. Our deep compassion and brotherly sympathy are especially moved on behalf of non-combatants who have been carried away like herds.

We pray all belligerents without distinction to hearken to our appeal; with dread we watch the approach of another war-winter, bearing, as it must, a fresh succession of distresses, deprivations and reprisals. Therefore we cannot keep silence.... Numbers of civilian prisoners have been suffering since the beginning of the war from the depressing [112]conditions of the concentration camps.... The civilian took no part in the war, and in most cases did not even desire it. He should not therefore be treated as a prisoner of war.

Belligerent States! We call upon you to exchange all your civilians now interned.... This exchange must naturally be effected under certain conditions to be established. Each State must bind itself not to employ the liberated civilians for war-work; just as was arranged in the case of military prisoners who have been repatriated or sent to neutral countries. With these conditions, no belligerent should refuse to liberate the civilians so unjustly imprisoned.

Honour will be theirs who act upon this appeal....

The signatories to this appeal are G. Wagnière (Editor of the Journal de Genève), Dr. A. Forel (Professor at Zurich University), Ed. Secrétan (National Councillor), Benjamin Vallotton, Charles Baudouin (Professor at the Institut J. J. Rousseau), Ch. Bernard, P. Seidel (Professor at the Cantonal Technical College, Zürich), A. de Morsier, Ph. Dunant (Lawyer of Geneva), Paul Moriand (Professor of Medicine at Geneva), and MM. Blonde and Arcos.

The Swiss Red Cross has also appealed for the release of all interned civilians.

From this side the following private appeal on behalf of all prisoners has been addressed to the Red Cross at Cologne:

I feel it incumbent upon me ... to draw your attention to the acute disappointment that is being caused among the prisoners in all the camps, and almost equally among their friends outside, by the delay in repatriation. Every phase in the long series of public discussions and official negotiations, every hitch, and every hesitation, has been followed with painful anxiety by those of us who know what it means for all these thousands of victims languishing in confinement, and you may be sure, with much more intensely painful anxiety by the victims themselves, whose ears are pathetically strained to catch the feeblest echo of any rumour from the outside world that brings them the slightest hint of release. For months these poor fellows had been continually alternating between hope and despair, when the news of the Hague meeting seemed for large numbers to bring them [113]definitely, at long last, within measurable distance of the reality. Knowing therefore as you do, equally well with us, the mental condition of these men, and the terribly demoralising effect of long internment, even under the best conditions, you will realise the deep depression into which they are now being plunged by all the inexplicable delays in carrying out the terms of the convention. From every one who comes in contact with them I gather the same impression, that unless the Gordian knot is cut and a way is quickly found out of the present impasse, the most serious results are to be apprehended, as numbers of prisoners here—and the case can be no better in other countries—are on the verge of insanity....[28]

I would put it therefore to you in all earnestness that it is your duty, as representing humanity, to bring without delay all the pressure and all the influence you possess to bear upon the authorities to consider the sufferings of the prisoners and induce them, if possible, even at the cost of some concessions, to facilitate from their side the carrying through of this scheme, in which I can assure you not merely the happiness but even the life of many men is involved.

I speak, of course, quite unofficially, and with no other motive than pure philanthropy, but I may venture to hope that my representations, though only those of a private individual, will carry more than ordinary weight, inasmuch as there is perhaps nobody whose information and experience in these matters are more real and vital, or entitle him to speak with more authority.

Nor do I stand alone, for there are many others with whom I have worked from the beginning in the same field. All these associate themselves with me in this appeal, and, like myself, with no other motive than that of simple humanity. If the time, the energy, and the money we have all spent so unstintingly to improve the prisoners’ lot give us any title to be heard, we all implore you, not only for the sake of the prisoners themselves, but in the eternal interests of humanity and justice, to do, and to do quickly whatever you can in furtherance of this object. We quite understand, of course, that military interests must be considered, but it is not always possible for those in high places, with whom such decisions rest, to realise as vividly as we do all that is at stake in a question of this sort, and that is why we feel entitled to assume that your advice would not be without [114]effect, and that being the case, we submit it becomes your solemn duty to tender it.

The sufferings of this war are indeed vast beyond all comprehension. Is not there danger that this very fact may lead us to add to that suffering without need?

“Rotting Away.”

In a pathetic appeal to be given work the men at one internment camp here said, “We are simply rotting away.” And others say, “The people outside do not understand.” Loss, heartache, privation, stagnation, friction, stupid and malicious gossip, mental and moral deterioration—“rotting away.” This disintegration of personality, the gradual rotting of the man’s selfhood, is perhaps, clearly envisaged, as great a horror as war can bring. It is not the result of deliberate cruelty, but simply of conditions most of which are inevitable if there is to be internment at all.

A Report on Knockaloe.

The reports available on our own internment camps do not go back beyond March, 1916.[29] It is perhaps well to remind ourselves that even by May, 1916, there were still defects. Thus in the American Report of May 18, 1916, on Knockaloe, we read: “The huts are being put in good weather-proof condition, and are being protected against the wind and rain by felt and tarred paper.”[30] As to sanitation, “There have been improvements in the sanitary arrangements since our last visit.” “In the hospital in Camp IV. there is now being built a recreation room, where convalescents may sit, which will give more room for the patients; also a special sink has been provided for washing the hospital utensils, and new latrines have been installed. [115]They seem to be at work at this hospital to improve its condition. As Camp IV. has the largest number of older men interned, this hospital has more patients than others, and seemed rather crowded at the time of our visit.” “In the isolation hospital we found only one bath and one tap for all the patients who are suffering from various sorts of contagious diseases. We took this matter up with the proper authorities, who assured us that it should have their attention. The sanitary arrangements in all the hospitals might be improved, except possibly in Camp I.” “There were complaints about the hospital treatment, particularly of the care of the eyes, ears and teeth, for which the interned men claimed that there was not sufficient opportunity for special treatment.”

These last complaints are curiously parallel to some made at Ruhleben. [See Miscel. No. 3 (1916) pp. 3, 15, 16.]

“There was complaint that there were no shelters for the men while waiting to receive parcels, nor for outside patients visiting the doctor. This matter was taken up.”

“In Camp III. a complaint was made about the difficulty of personal intercourse between the representatives of the camp and the Commandant. This had caused dissatisfaction. The men seemed to have confidence in the new Commandant, but they told us that they had difficulty in approaching him. We took this matter up with the proper authorities, and were informed that they would in future have more opportunity for personal intercourse.”

The huts for sleeping accommodation “are sectional, being of the regular War Office pattern, 30 feet by 15 feet, each section holding thirty men.” This gives us a floor space of 450 square feet for each thirty men. In that portion of the Ruhleben loft most adversely criticised by Mr. Gerard the roof slopes from 10 feet at the ridge to a height of 4½ feet only at the sides. The floor space allowed, however, is 10.2 metres by [116]12.8 metres, giving us about 1,390 square feet for 64 men, or 651 square feet for thirty men. When all allowance is made for the lowness of the sides in the rather wide loft (it seems to be more than 30 feet wide), this worst accommodation at Ruhleben seems, as regards space available, not inferior to that at Knockaloe. Further details would be needed for a complete comparison.

The report on Knockaloe is not enthusiastic, but evidently there had been many improvements, and still more was hoped for from the new Commandant. “The new Commandant, who has only been there some ten weeks, seems to have gained the confidence and respect of the interned men. He seems to be doing all in his power to better the conditions of the camp. He finds difficulty in getting material, such as tarred paper or felt, etc., for use on the huts. He told us that he had the matter in hand, and was giving betterment of the conditions at the camp every attention.... The whole tone of the camp is much better than it was at the time of the last visit. (See report of January 8, 1916.) There were fewer complaints, and the prisoners seemed much more contented.”

A British Commandant.

It is unfortunate that we cannot “see” the earlier report to which we are directed. But it is good to know that the new Commandant, Col. F. N. Panzera, proved to be a Christian gentleman with real sympathy for the unfortunate men under his charge. Like many other commandants, both here and in Germany, he did, amidst the various difficulties, what he could. As he is, alas, now dead, we may perhaps quote the words he addressed to the men in his care at the Christmas of 1916. It is a strange reflection that it might have injured his position to quote this fine and simple message during his life-time. Colonel Panzera wrote:

[117]I am sorry that the size of the camp prevents my seeing you all, which I should do if it were smaller and thus possible. It would be a mockery to wish you a “Happy Christmas,” I am afraid, but I wish you as happy a one as is possible under the circumstances. I most earnestly wish you a happier New Year. May the New Year bring Peace and restore you to all dear to you. I hope that prosperity and happiness may come to you in the future, and may in time obliterate the memory of the present period of sadness.

I should like to take the opportunity of saying how much I appreciate the general good behaviour of the camps during the past year. There have been little lapses, as there must always be in a mixed community of 25,000 people, but on the whole the conduct has been extremely good, which has been a great help to those placed over you. Once more I wish you as good a Christmas as possible and a better New Year.

Food Difficulties.

The food question also becomes increasingly serious in the camps, as it does in prisons. I confess I feel we ought to ration ourselves very strictly before we cut down the supplies of our prisoners, criminal or otherwise. “The reduced diet,” wrote Fenner Brockway of his prison experiences, “is one of semi-starvation, and every prisoner is becoming thin and physically weak.” (Labour Leader, September 6. 1917.) Those who care to inquire of the wives of interned men will learn their side of the case as regards the effect of changed conditions in the camps. The sad feature is that the increasing rigour comes upon men already weakened, both physically and mentally, by long confinement. The original published statement of Sir Edward (now Viscount) Grey [Misc. 7 (1915), p. 23] no longer obtains. The food is, of course, very different, and may not be supplemented.

Two Kinds of Rumour and Some Reality.

I have not cared to quote adverse “unofficial information and rumours,” either as regards our own or other detention camps. What some adverse critics say about our own may be read in the Woman’s [118]Dreadnought, Vol III., p. 551. The rather terrible appeal of the Captains at Knockaloe is also printed on p. 561. It is a letter which is unwise and hysterical. I do not wonder at its hysteria, and I confess that some things in the letter hit me rather hard. But, alas, the desperation of the interned men on either side does not help towards wise judgment, and for that desperation we are all, in every country, in some measure responsible. It is best to remember instead the real sympathy that those actually in touch with prisoners do often feel. Colonel Panzera’s message is clear evidence of this, and from a private letter I take the following:

The attitude of prejudice or even hatred towards enemies, whether prisoners or not, often disappears when men are brought face to face in the work of an internment camp, for example, and find that they are very much like each other. An officer of a certain camp here was taken prisoner and interned for six months in Germany before he escaped. He says that two or three times the officers of the camp were changed, and in each case began with harsh treatment, either the result of official suggestion or of the general feeling. In each case, after the lapse of a short time, close acquaintance modified this attitude, and finally kindly relations and treatment resulted. In the same way the nurses in a certain hospital here refused to receive or treat German prisoners until a company of the wounded men arrived, when the feeling of natural humanity proved too strong, and they were quite eager to attend to them. At the internment camps in this country the officers generally speak of the men under their charge with humanity and respect.

The following is significant. “In the town near a certain internment camp of ours much indignation was roused by the story that some of the interned aliens had set in motion some railway trucks on a sloping siding, with the intention of allowing them to crash into an arriving passenger train at the bottom. An English friend of mine happened to observe the real origin of the story. The trucks began to move in an accidental way, and two or three of the aliens nearly lost their own lives, certainly risked serious accident, [119]in endeavouring to stop the trucks when they were already moving.”

Thus in the quiet neighbourhood of an internment camp a brave deed becomes by popular passion transformed into something monstrous. What would this popular imagination do in an invaded district? Its vagaries must be experienced and studied by any investigator of the atrocities of war.

Another example of heroism amongst German prisoners I take from the Daily News of April 30, 1918. A small boat in which two men were sailing capsized about 200 yards out from the Leasowe Embankment, Cheshire. The men, clinging to the bottom of the boat, were being driven out by the tide when two members of an escort of German prisoners, Sergeant Phillips and Private Matthews, jumped into the water and with difficulty brought one man back. One of the German prisoners, named Bunte, volunteered to go to the rescue of the other man, who was by then in great danger. The German swam out strongly and brought the man back.

Against Bitterness.

I fear that on both sides it is embittered men who will be released from the civilian internment camps. People do not realise how financial ruin, harassment, illness and death (to which the harassment may have contributed) follow in the track of internment. A man is interned, his wife and family are reduced to a mere pittance, the woman is, it may be, delicate. She falls ill and dies.[31] And amid such incidents and the mental strain of the confinement a brooding hatred gradually settles down upon the souls of these sufferers. Personally, I do not feel one can expect much favourable memory of the authorities on either side. [120]Certainly every one who has worked for prisoners is touched by their gratitude, but the iron has entered into their souls for all that. And perhaps it is well to remind ourselves that a far larger number of civilians have been suffering in the internment camps on this side. Let us not add to their bitterness by unworthy abuse or credulous malice. Men who, after long confinement for no offence of their own, have tried to save enemy lives, and find their efforts described as an attempt at murder, must begin to feel hopeless of justice. Excess of generosity would be far wiser. The world wants no more missioners of hate. Let us try to avoiding creating such.

In our own internment camps there was often, even early in the war, an atmosphere of depression which one worker said “haunted him for days.” The following extract is from the letter of an interned man who showed quite remarkable courage and fought with considerable success against depression till the end of 1917. “I refuse to give way to depression,” he wrote. But in 1918 the strain of useless monotony had become too great, he became physically ill, and how low hope had fallen the letter itself shows: “You can’t think how good it is to hear you speak with so much sympathy. I feel sure you understand the dreariness of this life, the long and fruitless waiting, the nights of anguish—and all the misery of it, the terrible discontent and the passionate heart longings.... You don’t know how sore it is sometimes about my heart....”

Methods that seem to many of us avoidable contribute also to increase ill-feeling. I take the following from the Daily News of September, 27, 1918:

Among others, I had my Christmas dinner last year with a German. At least, his name is German and he was born in Germany. He is less interested, personally, in those facts than in these, viz., that he is an international Socialist and a first class electrical engineer. For four years he has done extremely responsible work for a large engineering firm with [121]important contracts from the M. of M. For four years he has had his liberty within the usual five-mile radius; for four years the local police have not found the least fault with him.

Now, thanks to the Northcliffe Intern-them-all-Stunt, he is shut up in the Isle of Man, and the country has lost the services of a man who was worth more to us than many Northcliffes.

From a letter which he wrote recently to an English friend I have copied the following:

As a result of the fact that no German paper is permitted here in the camp, not even those advocating understanding nor those critical of the German Government, and practically no English paper hitherto except those abounding in Hun-talk, there is still a general feeling here towards “England” exactly the opposite of what these restrictions are intended to create—a bitterness and a contempt which exist side by side with the most violent criticism of the governing clique of Germany, and with anti-capitalistic, revolutionary sentiment! So I am exerting myself to make people realise that, however influential, the Northcliffe and Allied Press is not “England,” and that the best German papers constantly work for the abatement of hatred and for genuine reconciliation and co-operation in a League of Nations.

I am sorry to say that I fear acts of kindness and fairness will be largely forgotten by the majority of prisoners on both sides. An Englishman writes to me of his treatment in Germany: “Consideration was extended in even greater measure to others, yet not one has opened his mouth to record it. It makes one loathe one’s fellow-men.” I quote this because I am sure that neither side must expect fairness of statement from men so long exposed to so depressing and often petty a constraint. After all, when we see the war bias of the man who has not suffered at all, a calm regard for both sides of the case can scarcely be expected from those who for wasted years have been too often exposed to hardship, petty tyranny and a kind of barbed annoyance.

Neutral Camps.

Even in neutral internment camps, though there the initial hostility is absent, misery and bitterness may [122]become very great. The following cable from Rotterdam appeared in the Daily Telegraph of June 13, 1918:

Interned Britishers here are intensely interested in the British-German Conference at the Hague, in the hope that it may result in their repatriation. This is especially the case at Groningen, where the men of the Royal Naval Division, who have been interned since October, 1914, are getting desperate. The June number of the camp magazine had two blank pages, which the editor explains have been censored out because they contained an account of the recent “hunger demonstration” and “a moderate record of the general feeling of the camp.”

It is in the internment camps everywhere, rather than in the fighting line, that bitterness sinks into the soul. It will not be remedied by more bitterness. But if the suffering of these men’s stagnant years helps to strengthen a universal resolve for peace it will not have been a useless suffering. And peace means understanding by each of the good in the other.


[13] Many older men (even those over seventy) were subsequently interned.

[14] There were 35,000 Germans in Paris alone in 1870, but though expelled from the Department of the Seine, they were not interned.

[15] This was emphasised by the German authorities. See, for instance, Israel Cohen, “The Ruhleben Prison Camp,” pp. 21-24.

[16] Cf. pp. 216, 218, etc.

[17] “In this camp, as is usual where civilians are detained, the atmosphere is one of depression.”—Mr. Jackson on a civilian camp at Senne, Sept. 11, 1915.

[18] “Overseer” seems to be a translation of the German “Obermann,” and represents, I think, the captain of a barrack.

[19] The second list represents members of the Camp Committee (see further p. 99).

[20] “Barrack” is no doubt meant.

[21] There are a large number of men interned at Ruhleben who are technically British subjects by reason of their having been born in British territory of naturalised British subjects, but who have spent practically all their lives in Germany.

[22] Cf. the report on Knockaloe (May, 1916) on p. 114.

[23] The original barrack captains were chosen, as an informant of mine writes, “in a hurry, when things were chaotic.” Dissatisfaction was felt with their action, or inaction, and a “Camp Committee” was formed of newly elected representatives of the different barracks, which was, as it were, to supervise the captains (overseers). The arrangement was scarcely likely to work, and did not. The election, moreover, seems to have been but partial.

[24] Cf. p. 115.

[25] One of the difficulties at Newbury was the absence of light.

[26] A very useful account of Ruhleben is given by Israel Cohen in “The Ruhleben Prison Camp.” In reading such accounts one must always, however, remember that to complete the picture we ought to be able to read accounts written by interned German civilians of their experiences on this side. Such a consideration should be obvious, but in war the obvious and reasonable are too often vehemently rejected as “unpatriotic”!

[27] For the mental difference between the civilian and the military prisoner see page 84.

[28] Compare the letter written by Oscar Levy, M.D., from Mürren, Switzerland, which appeared in the Manchester Guardian of Sept. 4, 1916: “That such grave cases exist the letters I have been receiving from both sides prove without doubt.” That was two years ago.

[29] The earlier reports of the International Red Cross covered very little of this ground. (See footnote, p. 9.)

[30] Compare Report on Ruhleben, June 3, 1915 (p. 94).

[31] A case is in my mind where a man lost wife and two children thus. I shall never forget my task of trying to allay his misery and his bitterness.


Some Previous Records.

The suffering of prisoners has been great enough, God knows, yet if we are to help the future we must try to see even this, amongst the other terrible facts, in its proper perspective. The imprisonment of resident enemy nationals has certainly been a most unfortunate step backwards—unfortunate even if we regard it as inevitable.[32] Yet we must recognise that far more solicitude has been shown as to prisoners than was the case in most earlier wars, and this though prisoners have never been taken on so large a scale, and though there has probably never been greater embitterment. It will be useful to cite a few previous records.

Napoleonic Wars.

I quote once more from Dr. Spaight’s work, where much information may be found in a condensed form. “A hundred years ago, England, while she prayed in her national liturgy for all prisoners and captives, had no compunction about confining the French prisoners of war in noisome hulks and feeding them on weevily biscuits, salt junk and jury rum, which sowed the seed for a plentiful harvest of scurvy, dysentery and typhus.” (“War Rights on Land,” p. 265.)

American Civil War.

Here is a description of the state of things in the Confederate internment camp at Andersonville during [124]the American Civil War, which, after all, did not happen so very long ago. “Over 30,000 prisoners were cooped up in a narrow space; there was no shelter from the sun or cold but what the men could improvise for themselves; every possible disease was rampant; the prisoners were largely naked; the dead were pitched into a ditch and covered with quicklime; the smell of the dreadful stockade extended for two miles.... The state of affairs was known, or might have been known, at Richmond, for Colonel Chandler, inspector-general of the Confederate army, inspected the camp, and reported upon its administration in no halting terms. ‘It is a place,’ he said, ‘the horrors of which it is difficult to describe—it is a disgrace to civilisation.’”

Of the prisoners returning from the South, Whitman writes: “The sight is worse than any sight of battlefield or any collection of wounded, even the bloodiest. There was (as a sample) one large boat load of several hundreds—and out of the whole number only three individuals were able to walk from the boat. Can those be men—those little, livid, brown, ash-streaked, monkey-looking dwarfs?” (Cambridge Magazine, August 26, 1916, Supplement “Prisoners,” p. iv.) In spite of such appalling horrors (worse than the atrocities of rage and fear and drink) the North and South became reconciled, and with the passing of war bitterness passed too. The South was hard pressed, supplies often ran out, and there was indifference at Richmond. And so the military bullies often got the upper hand, and their appetite for bullying grew with what it fed on. The North refused all exchanges. “The prisoners at Richmond, Belle-Isle, and Andersonville were the pawns in a great match, and had to be sacrificed to the rigour of the game.” (Spaight, l.c., p. 270.)

Franco-German War, 1870.

In the Franco-German War of 1870 terrible hardships were endured by prisoners on both sides. The [125]winter transport to Germany in open trucks led to scenes of indescribable misery for the French prisoners, who arrived sometimes “frozen to the boards in their own filth.” German prisoners at Pau had for six days only bread and water till English and German ladies took pity on them. Faidherbe’s prisoners had no fire, no blankets and insufficient food in a cold of sixteen degrees. Things now are at least better than that.

Russo-Japanese War, 1904.

The Japanese seem to have behaved remarkably well to their Russian prisoners in the Russo-Japanese War. But even here there was a food problem. The Japanese food did not suit the Russian soldier, and Sir Ian Hamilton was told by Russian prisoners going South that they felt hungry again half an hour after eating their ration of rice. The Japanese have usually been held up as models for their treatment of prisoners, yet, for all that, Professor Ariga admits that in Manchuria the prisoners were in many cases badly fed, badly housed and insufficiently clothed. We know that this involves great misery, suffering and mortality, yet we are, quite rightly, very far from considering the Japanese as barbarians. We are ready to consider their difficulties. Were we, however, fighting Japan, we should not be so ready.

Boer War.

There is plenty of evidence of good treatment of prisoners on both sides during the Boer War. It is in these days strange to find the German General Staff historian quoted in defence of the British treatment of prisoners. They behaved, he wrote, “as perfect gentlemen towards the prisoners.” “The testimony of a responsible writer of this kind,” says Dr. Spaight, “is more valuable than the catch-penny stories of British inhumanity which flooded the Press of Europe [126]at the time of the war.” “One is surprised to find such a writer as M. Arthur Desjardins lending his authority to back the uninformed newspaper abuse, and ascribing the brutality of the British Army (which he presumes) to the fact that ‘a certain number of its soldiers, accustomed to fighting away from Europe, have not the least notion of the laws and customs of war obtaining among civilised nations’.” (Spaight, l.c., p. 275.) Dr. Spaight’s comments on such outbursts is: “There was a popular demand [in Europe] at the time for denunciation of England, the hotter the better, and the writers were too good journalists not to suit their output to the popular taste.” I will not spoil the rather rich humour of these extracts by any remarks of my own.

Undoubtedly the Boers usually behaved well. Undoubtedly, too, there were some bad lapses. A Free State commandant was, for instance, convicted of putting prisoners in the firing line and driving starving prisoners on foot with a mounted commando. Such things, however, were very far from being the rule. During the guerilla warfare treatment depended entirely on the local commandants. The stripping of prisoners before they were turned adrift was often carried out, “and there is some force in De Wet’s contention that the seizure was justified by the British practice of removing or burning all the clothes left in the farms and even taking the hides out of the tanning tubs and cutting them in pieces.” In some cases starving, unarmed and practically naked men were abandoned far from any white settlement. What is and what is not allowable in war seems so largely a matter of “military necessity” that the layman is reluctant to comment, for, in the last resort, it is only the needlessly barbarous that is condemned in war.

Concentration Camps.

On our side, we cannot, I think, contemplate the history of the concentration camps with equanimity. [127]Let us recall a few of the facts. The following are amongst the death rates recorded in July, 1901: Norval’s Pont, 218.4 (per thousand per annum); Bloemfontein, 242.4; Springfontein, 462.0; Kronstad, 459.6. In June the average death rate was practically 200 (199.3). In the year ending February, 1902, the official returns (which are incomplete) show more than 20,000 deaths in camps with an average total population of about 100,000.[33] Our accusers said the camps were instituted for the purpose of killing off the Boer population. The truth is, the feeling against Britain, even amongst the onlookers, was extremely bitter, and great bitterness does not make for sane judgment. What is certain is that the camps illustrated some of the callousness and carelessness which war always produces. “The sites chosen for the camps were mostly chosen on purely military grounds, and were often unsuitable; the medical and sanitary staff was at first insufficient,” writes Dr. Spaight. But, “unsuitable sites, and insufficient” sanitation may produce terrible results, where human lives are concerned, and one would not convert an adverse critic by simply quoting the “Times History” to the effect that “the Boers themselves proved to be helpless, utterly averse to cleanliness, and ignorant of the simplest principles of health and sanitation.” The attempt to shift the chief burden of responsibility on to the prisoners is surely scarcely chivalrous. Carelessness and ignorance amongst the prisoners are certain in all such cases to be contributory causes, they are amongst the difficulties to be combatted, but to suggest that they should have been permitted to produce such appalling results is to court derision. [128]Moreover, the chief authority on the subject, Lieut.-Col. S. J. Thomson, C.I.E., I.M.S., who became Director of Burgher Camps in February, 1902, by no means supports these charges. “Much has been said,” he writes, “about the want of personal cleanliness among the Boers, but it must be remembered that ablutions are apt to be less frequent and popular when water has to be laboriously brought from considerable distances, as is often the case with farms on the veldt. When bathrooms were provided in the camps, they were very freely and regularly used. Nevertheless it is a fact that the Boer’s notion of sanitation as understood by Englishmen is very vague, and all classes resort for purposes of nature to the open country. This custom, probably innocuous enough under the conditions of existence on an isolated homestead, made it extremely difficult to maintain the cleanliness of a camp site, and it was very long before the people could be brought to see that foul matters and dirty water could not be most satisfactorily disposed of by the simple process of flinging them out of the tent. It was found indeed that such proceedings had hopelessly fouled certain camps, and the removal of the people to a fresh site was followed by the best results. In a later chapter, the procedure which was found most successful is described in detail.”[34] In July, 1902, the average death rate for the Burgher Camps had sunk to 23.0, and it fell afterwards even lower.

Tents were, in general, the only housing allowed, and this, though “the cold in the ‘upper veldt’ country in winter was intense.” (Thomson.) What were known as bona fide refugees were allowed meat, but those who had their man on commando were, at first, allowed none. This was altered, however, in March, 1901. As to the families of this class, Major Goodwin reported in this month: “I would, therefore, [129]beg respectfully to here place on record my opinion that had we compelled class 3 to decide between unprotected starvation on their farms, and at their homes, or taking up their quarters in or behind the enemy’s lines, we should have facilitated the work of proselytism.” Thus readily, we observe, may the starvation of women and children be advocated by an English Major as an aid to “proselytism.” There were other ways in which “military necessity” showed itself. A Board of three reported on the site of Merebank Camp in December, 1901. The President was Surgeon-Gen. Clery, C.B., and the two members, Col. McCormack, R.A.M.C., and Mr. Ernest Hill, Health Officer of Natal. “The Board is of opinion that the site is by no means an ideal site, and has imperfection as regards elevation, drainage, etc., but do not recommend that the camp should be removed ... for the following reasons: (1) It is necessary that any camp should be on a railway line. (2) Purely sanitary arrangements as to site have to be held subservient to military exigencies. The latter do not permit the camps being located in the uplands, as military and civil traffic arrangements make it essential that the main line should not be further congested,” ... and so on. The Camp had been condemned by the Ladies’ Commission.[35]

The view I have given is the view admitted gradually and reluctantly by officials themselves. Miss Hobhouse gives a rather different account of things. In the earlier days of the camps, she tells me, the condition of things might be summarised thus: “Overcrowding (up to sixteen in a bell-tent)—no water supply—no soap—no beds or bedding—no fuel supplied—no utensils—barest rations—sanitary staff inefficient or non-existent.” In “The Brunt of the War” Miss Hobhouse writes on page 118 of Bloemfontein [130]Camp: “My request for soap was met with the reply, ‘Soap is a luxury.’ ... Finally it was requisitioned for, also forage[36]—more tents—boilers to boil the drinking water—water to be laid on from the town—and a matron for the camp. Candles, matches, and such like I did not aspire to. It was about three weeks before the answer to the requisition came, and in the interim I gave away soap. Then we advanced a step. Soap was to be given, though so sparingly as to be almost useless—forage was too precious—brick boilers might be built—but to lay on a supply of water was negatived, as ‘the price was prohibitive.’ Later on, after I had visited other camps, and came back to find people being brought in by the hundred and the population rapidly doubling, I called repeated attention to the insufficient sanitary accommodation, and still more to the negligence of the camp authorities in attending to the latrines. I had seen in other camps that under proper administrative organisation all could be kept sweet and clean. But week after week went by, and daily unemptied pails stood till a late hour in the boiling sun, and the tent homes of the near section of the camp were rendered unbearable by the resulting effluvia.”

A sentence at page 120 has a bearing upon other wars and other helpers of distressed “enemies”:—“It became clear to my astonished mind that both the censorship and system of espionage were not merely military in character, but political and almost personal, so that even to feel, much more to show, sympathy to the people was to render yourself suspect.... Everyone knows what class of men accept the work which means spying upon neighbours, and can draw their own conclusions as to the value of such reports.”

As regards the food ration it has been seriously contended [131]by others besides Miss Hobhouse (e.g., T. S. Haldane, M.D., F.R.S.), that it was totally inadequate. Dr. Haldane considered that “nothing but seething discontent” and “an enormous death-rate” could be expected from the dietary allowed. (l.c. p. 159.) But those who wish to learn more about this and many other matters should consult Miss Hobhouse’s remarkable book.

The truth is, the prisoner’s lot is always hard, and all nations have at times made it a terrible one. It is only the recognition of brotherhood that can alter this, and the recognition of brotherhood would end war.


[32] See the full statement, pp. 75 ff.

[33] See the summary of the official returns given by Miss Emily Hobhouse on p. 328 of “The Brunt of the War.” The careful Boer compilation made after the war records the death of 26,370 women and children—more than four times the mortality among the Boer combatants. The full details are recorded in the archives at Pretoria, and it is to these that Miss Hobhouse refers in the pamphlet containing her speech at the unveiling of the National Monument at Bloemfontein on “Vrouwen-Dag,” 1913.

[34] “The Transvaal Burgher Camps,” by Lieut.-Col. S. J. Thomson.

[35] The marshy site of Merebank is compared by Miss Emily Hobhouse to that of the German camp at Wittenberg.

[36] “‘Forage’ needs explanation,” writes Miss Hobhouse. “We requisitioned for forage, because, as there was no milk for the children, we were planning to buy some cows, if we could secure forage. However, we failed.”


For the information contained in this chapter I am greatly indebted to the Friends’ Emergency Committee. Most of it has already appeared in their leaflets and reports, and in articles in The Friend. The following is a reprint of a letter sent by the Bishop of Winchester to the Times. It appeared in the issue of September 29, 1916:

German Work for Prisoners.

Sir,—The following facts, if you can find space for them, will, I think, be of interest and encouragement amidst all the sorrow and misery of war.

The word “reprisals” is often heard in diplomacy and in war; reprisals are attempted or suggested; or reprisals of cruelty are condemned, we rejoice to know, by the instinct and conscience of the nation. These are all reprisals of what is bad. Rarer, at least on the surface, are reprisals of good. But here is such a case.

At the outbreak of the war members of the Society of Friends and others came together for the purpose of bringing help to those men and women of enemy nationality in this country upon whom the war had brought suffering. Their lot was often a pitiable one. The pull of contrary affections, the unkindness of former friends, the sudden loss of means of livelihood, the internment of the men, with its enforced idleness, were some of the troubles which would have produced despair in many cases had not the members of this “Emergency Committee” (169, St. Stephen’s House, Westminster)[37] come to the rescue. They have given material help to thousands of families, and, above all, brought the healing touch of human sympathy to the men in the camps and their wives and children (mostly British-born) left to struggle on alone outside.

[133]It was early in the war also that a group of Germans came together in Berlin and determined to start a similar work. The news of what was being done by the British Committee soon reached them and made them increase their efforts. Since then the two bodies have been in close communication, and each has endeavoured to see that what is done for “alien enemies” in one country is promptly repeated in the other.

Among the recent activities of the Berlin Committee has been the organising of travelling facilities and hospitality for wives from other parts of Germany, who are now allowed to visit their husbands at Ruhleben Camp; and it is now making vigorous efforts to co-ordinate and increase the work of the various agencies in Germany that are trying to lighten the lot of the military and civilian prisoners of war in their camps. At the end of June, I learn, a meeting in support of this work was held at the house of Prince Lichnowsky, former Ambassador in London, who returned specially from the front to preside. Many notable men and women were present, and a collection of 8,000 marks was made.

My reasons for writing to you with this information are two. In the first place, because these Berlin workers are incessantly spreading, through the German Press and otherwise, news of the doings of the British Committee, and even in this matter there should be reprisals. And, secondly, one cannot be too thankful to be able to put on record instances of that common humanity which we knew must exist in some quarters even among our enemies, overleaping national hates and prejudices, and which in this great work of Dr. Siegmund Schultze and his colleagues is so active and persistent. The names of several who are diligent in the work in Germany are those of men personally known to me in respect and affection; and (whatever their views of war and of Britain may be—which I do not know) I can feel as sure of their simple sincerity and good purpose as if they were my own countrymen. This may be, perhaps, an added excuse for troubling you.—Yours faithfully,

Edw. Winton.

Farnham Castle. Surrey,
September 27.

The German work is an offshoot of the general work undertaken by the Enquiry and Assistance Agency for Germans abroad and foreigners in Germany (Auskunfts- und Hilfsstelle für Deutsche im Ausland und Ausländer in Deutschland). The following is a translation of the appeal issued by the parent society:

[134]The war has caused great distress amongst countless Germans in foreign countries. In helping our countrymen we have to rely almost exclusively on the benevolence of the societies which have been for years in co-operation with us in those countries, especially upon our English and American co-workers in the religious societies for international friendship. In England, where great difficulties for German subjects might have been expected from the exceptional conditions prevailing, a Committee was formed directly the war broke out, whose object was to provide support for distressed Germans and Austrians in England; and already many Germans have told us verbally and in writing of the valuable help given to them by this Committee.

In consequence of many requests and complaints we have felt that it was our duty to interest ourselves in those foreigners who were in difficulties in Germany. At a time when the German people, from the highest to the lowest, have joined together in the consciousness of a stern defence against their enemies, and are fighting out the great struggle for existence and freedom, it may well appear to many that it is superfluous to render to the alien enemies amongst us any more than the most necessary services. But we have not only to think of those Germans who are now abroad, not only to remember that those foreigners who are in need in Germany are for the most part Germany’s best friends and are bound to us by a thousand ties; besides all this the task is laid upon us by our own desire to render friendly service in these times of hatred to those who now find it so difficult to obtain help. Even in war time, whoever needs our help is our neighbour, and love of their enemies remains the distinguishing mark of those who are loyal to our Lord.

We have accordingly decided to establish a Berlin Enquiry and Assistance Office to work with the corresponding offices at home and abroad, especially with the above-mentioned Emergency Committee in London, the Berne and Stuttgart Peace Bureaux, etc. We beg for help and gifts, which may be sent to the following address: Berliner Auskunfts- und Hilfsstelle für Deutsche im Ausland und Ausländer in Deutschland; communications to be addressed to Fräulein Dr. Elisabeth Rotten, Berlin No. 18, Friedenstrasse 60.

The signatories to this appeal were: Prof. W. Foerster, Ehrich Gramm (Banker), Dr. Kleineidam (Provost), Eduard de Neufville, Prof. Rade, Julius Rohrbach (Pastor), Dr. Elisabeth Rotten, Dr. Alice Solomon, F. Siegmund-Schultze (Pastor), Dr. Spiecker, Pastor Umfried.

It is important to note that of the families and others helped by the Committee, the largest percentage [135](49) were English. Russians made up 24 per cent, and French 9 per cent. (Dr. Elisabeth Rotten’s circular of April, 1916.)

The following documents explain themselves:—Extract from a letter of Dr. Elisabeth Rotten, dated January 6, 1916.

In spite of the fact that the numbers of permanent workers in the office and out of it increase all the time, we have work here from morning to night, often including holidays. But we do it gladly, for it is a labour of love. At present our chief work lies in taking home French children from the occupied territory of France. In Belgium this work is now nearly discharged, and a lady has only to go there once more, this month, to fetch the last batch of children. The French children are not fetched by our delegates; they travel in the larger trains for civilians, who are brought from the occupied territory of France, through Switzerland, back into the unoccupied[38] parts. What we now have to do is to see that the children who had been left behind, separated from their parents, are reunited with them as quickly as possible. The children themselves seldom know where their parents are, but we have the addresses through working in conjunction with the International “Feminist” Bureau at Lausanne. This creates a great deal of correspondence with the respective authorities. I am glad to be able to add that the [German] War Office has come forward with sympathy to help us in this work.

We have sent large consignments of warm clothing and food—including honeycake—to the civilian prisoners’ camps at Ruhleben and Holzminden, to be distributed among those that received nothing from other sources. French and Russian civilians are interned at Holzminden.

German women workers in connection with our Committee in other parts have also sent Christmas gifts to the camps nearest them. I enclose extracts from letters from Fräulein Jens, of Hamburg, and Frau Kirchhoff, of Bremen, which I put at your disposal. The Berlin Committee of the Women’s Suffrage Union has done the same for Döberitz, and other Committees in South and West Germany have also carried out similar work. It is of particular interest to note that the request that German women might remember the prisoners of war in such a way came from a German soldier at the front. The ladies were already planning something of the sort, and would certainly have done it; but still, such a request, so heartily and earnestly expressed, is remarkable.

[136]From Frau Senator Kirchhoff, December 28, 1915:

The camp at Achim, near Bremen, in the province of Hanover, is called Etelsen Moor. Frau Schmitt and I finished off everything in one day, and early on the 23rd we drove out with two large trunks and three cardboard boxes. Altogether we had collected 536 marks; 190 went to Frau Feist, 100 marks cash went to the camp at Etelsen. Our trunks contained 40 flannel shirts and 40 pairs of pants, 40 pairs of slippers, 32 pairs of socks, mittens, helmets, scarves, 1,000 cigars, 100 cakes of chocolate, 25 note-books, 50 pencils, 50 blotters, drawing paper, india rubber, calendars, etc. Three prisoners—two Belgian and one Frenchman—came with two wheelbarrows; they were accompanied by two German non-commissioned officers. The men were exceedingly pleased: the German soldier said they had long been wishing to give the men presents and were happy that we had made it possible for them to do so. Afterwards I received two charming letters; one from the Commandant, who thanked me very heartily. They had been able to give every prisoner—chiefly Belgians and French, but also Russians and one Englishman—a present. He enclosed a touching, grateful letter from a Belgian prisoner, an adjutant, and a programme of their Christmas theatricals. I have seldom been so glad about anything as I am that this has been a success.

From Fräulein Jens, December 30, 1915. Work at Hamburg.

We had altogether about 400 marks, and out of this fund 100 parcels containing each about 3 marks worth of goods were purchased and handed over with 100 marks in money—for sick and needy prisoners—into the care of the camp chaplain. He took the opportunity of explaining in our presence to three of the camp “Captains,” an Englishman, a Frenchman and a Russian, the object of the gift. They were greatly touched and most grateful. The Englishman thanked us in the name of his country. We were only sorry that we could not do far, far more, but if even this little is a seed of corn which may in the future bring forth thoughts of reconciliation between the nations we shall be happy. Our presents were given for the New Year, as it is the custom for English and French to make presents then....

Some Thanks on Both Sides.

The following is from the Prisoners’ Aid Society of the German civilians interned in Camp III., Knockaloe, [137]Isle of Man. If the English shows signs of effort, it is an effort of sincerity:—

To the Emergency Committee for the Assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in Distress.

Dear Madam,—We do not wish to fail to remember at the beginning of the New Year with gratitude those who, during the past difficult year, have made it their task to alleviate, wherever possible, the misery and the most pressing sorrows of such families who, by their internment as prisoners of war, were deprived of their bread-winners. When assembled in silent prayer during the last festive season—the season of Peace and Goodwill to all mankind—our hearts felt the particular necessity of expressing our innermost thanks to your Committee for all the magnanimous acts of brotherly love and relief shown and granted to the dependents of the interned.

Whilst we venture to ask you to see in these few lines the unanimous vote of thanks of all the prisoners of war at Knockaloe Camp III., and kindly bring it to the notice of those who in a self-sacrificing manner generously assisted your work of love, we, the undersigned, respectfully offer our heartfelt wishes for the New Year.

P. H. Bernhard, Chairman; Carl Glock, Deputy Chairman; C. P. Toellner, Treasurer; B. Pflug, Hospital.

And here we have an extract from a letter of gratitude from some Serbian prisoners to one of the German Committees. It was despatched by the Serbian Aid Committee at the camp Frankfurt-am-Oder, on February 22, 1917. “The hundred or so parcels for Serbian Prisoners of War mentioned in your kind letter of December 20, 1916, came to hand in good time and in good condition from Switzerland, and were distributed to those who were in the weakest condition, and those who were most needy. In all there were 94 parcels, and you have the blessing of 94 human beings, ill, weak, and altogether deserted by the world. As our former camp (Halbe b. Berlin) was broken up just at that time and distributed amongst four other camps, we have only just learned who it was who had given us such kindly and noble thoughts. We thank you therefore once more with our whole heart [138]for your great goodness and charity—God will repay it to you.

“The gifts (the many good and beautiful things) reached us here in good time, and were divided amongst Serbians who [were in various camps] and the remainder we distributed here on Christmas Eve in the camp. You should have seen the joy of these poor men!... May God only grant a speedy peace!... While thanking you heartily once again, we beg you to think of us in the future also.... P.S.—In all the camps belonging to our group we have a total of 30-40 sick men.”

“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:

[139]“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.[39] 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 fiancées 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 [140]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 £400 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 [141]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. [142]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 [143]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, [144]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.”

Prof. Stange.

To the great work of Prof. Stange, of Göttingen, I have once or twice alluded. He directs all the instruction given in the Göttingen 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 Göttingen 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 Göttingen 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 [145]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 Göttingen 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 Göttingen 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 [146]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 Schröter, 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.”

W. Whiting.


“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 [147]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, [148]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 cortège.

“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.” Kölnische Zeitung.


[37] Now at 27, Chancery Lane, W.C.2.

[38] Unoccupied, that is, by the Germans.

[39] Such a regulation is a hardship. It may, however, prove unavoidable, as in some camps here. Friends of prisoners are not always wise.


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 [150]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 [151]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 [152]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 café 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 [153]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. [154]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.

[155]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 [156]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 [157]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, [158]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.

[159]A Soldier and the Children.

Here is a German N.C.O. writing in Vorwärts 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.)[40]

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 [160]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 [161]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:

[162]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.[41] 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!”

[163]Mutual Fears.

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 [164]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 [165]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.[42] 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.[43] Again, a [166]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.”[44]

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 [167]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 Kölnische 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 Kölnische 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 [168]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 Kölnische 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:

[169]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 communiqués 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 Armentières: “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.

[170]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 [171]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 Kölnische 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 Björn Björnson, 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.[45]


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.[46] 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 [172]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.

[173]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.) [174]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 [175]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.

Against Annexation.

We have all of us read the celebrated manifesto issued by the National Executive of the German Social Democratic Party which the Vorwärts 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 [176]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,[47] 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 Delbrück-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 [177]Professor Hans Delbrück, 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.[48]

Germany and Contracts.

The real German is not simply a brute, though the brute lies perdu in every civilised man. Mr. Herbert [178]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 Kölnische 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 [179]light from that in which it has been presented to us,[49] 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 Vorwärts 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 [180]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 François 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 Eugéne 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 [181]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 [182]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.


“He told me how on the night he had his own wound French and German soldiers talked together by light of the moon, which shed its pale light upon all those prostrate men, making their faces look very white. He heard the murmurs of their voices about him, and the groans of the dying, rising to hideous anguish as men were tortured by ghastly wounds and broken limbs. In that night enmity was forgotten by those who had fought like beasts and now lay together. A French soldier gave his water-bottle to a German officer who was crying out with thirst. The German sipped a little and then kissed the hand of the man who had been his enemy. ‘There will be no war on the other side,’ he said. Another Frenchman—who came from Montmartre—found lying within a yard of him a Luxembourgeois whom he had known as his chasseur in a big hotel in Paris. The young German wept to see his old acquaintance. ‘It is stupid,’ he said, ‘this war. You and I were happy when we were good friends in Paris. Why should we have been made to fight with each other?’ He died with his arms [183]round the neck of the soldier, who told me the story unashamed of his own tears.” (Gibbs, l.c. p. 282) “At one spot where there had been a fierce hand-to-hand fight, there were indications that the combatants when wounded had shared their water bottles.” (Sheffield Telegraph, November 14, 1914.)

The following letter must not be forgotten. It was found at the side of a dead French cavalry officer: “There are two other men lying near me, and I do not think there is much hope for them either. One is an officer of a Scottish regiment, and the other is a private in the Uhlans. They were struck down after me, and when I came to myself, I found them bending over me, rendering first aid. The Britisher was pouring water down my throat from his flask, while the German was endeavouring to staunch my wound with an anti-septic preparation served out to them by their medical corps. The Highlander had one of his legs shattered, and the German had several pieces of shrapnel buried in his side. In spite of their own suffering they were trying to help me, and when I was fully conscious again, the German gave us a morphia injection and took one himself. His medical corps had also provided him with the injection and the needle, together with printed instructions for its use. After the injection, feeling wonderfully at ease, we spoke of the lives we had lived before the war. We all spoke English, and we talked of the women we had left at home. Both the German and the Britisher had only been married a year. I wondered, and I suppose the others did, why we had fought each other at all....” (Daily Citizen, December 21, 1914. Quoted in Edward Carpenter’s “The Healing of Nations,” p. 261.)

More Christmas Incidents.

Let us take one or two more of the Christmas experiences as quoted by Mr. Edward Carpenter, in his book, “The Healing of Nations”: “Last night [184](Christmas Eve) was the weirdest stunt I have ever seen. All day the Germans had been sniping industriously, with some success, but after sunset they started singing, and we replied with carols. Then they shouted, ‘Happy Christmas!’ to us, and some of us replied in German. It was a topping moonlight night, and we carried on long conversations, and kept singing to each other and cheering. Later they asked us to send one man out to the middle, between the trenches, with a cake, and they would give us a bottle of wine. Hunt went out, and five of them came out and gave him the wine, cigarettes and cigars. After that you could hear them for a long time calling from half-way, ‘Englishman, kom hier.’ So one or two more of our chaps went out and exchanged cigarettes, etc., and they all seemed decent fellows.”

Again. “We had quite a sing-song last night (Christmas Eve). The Germans gave a song, and then our chaps gave them one in return. A German that could speak English, and some others, came right up to our trenches, and we gave them cigarettes and papers to read, as they never get any news, and then we let them walk back to their own trenches. Then our chaps went over to their trenches, and they let them come back all right. About five o’clock on Christmas Eve one of them shouted across and told us that if we did not fire on them they would not open fire on us, and so the officers agreed. About twenty of them came up all at once and started chatting away to our chaps like old chums, and neither side attempted to shoot.” Another soldier relates how his comrades and the Saxons opposed to them sang and shouted to each other through the night. He goes on, “When daylight came, two of our fellows, at the invitation of the enemy, left the trenches, met half-way and drank together. That completed it. They said they would not fire, if we did not; so after that we strolled about talking to each other.”

[185]On Christmas morning, elsewhere. “We mixed together, played mouth-organs and took part in dances. My word! The Germans can’t half sing part songs! We exchanged addresses and souvenirs, and when the time came we shook hands and saluted each other, returning to our trenches. I went up into the trenches on Christmas night. One wouldn’t have thought there was a war going on. All day our soldiers and the Germans were talking and singing half-way between the opposing trenches. The space was filled with English and Germans handing one another cigars. At night we sang carols.” Another records how souvenirs and food were exchanged, and how jollification and football were indulged in with the Germans. But “next day we got an order that all communication and friendly intercourse must cease.” The Germans had said frankly they were tired of the war, the English soldiers wished to be their friends, but far away were a few elderly men who wanted the fighting to go on.

Into what depths the need of exacerbating hate may lead one is shown by the following extract from a telegram headed, “British Headquarters, France,” which I take from the Daily News of December 23, 1915:

No doubt the Bosches will have plenty of Christmas trees, as they did last year, but, without attaching too much credence to the reports of an increasing difficulty in maintaining their rations. I think it is quite safe to say that they will fare very much more frugally than our own men. But may not their own consciousness of the fact result in an outburst of “strafing?” The principle that the next best thing to not getting well served yourself is to spoil the other fellow’s enjoyment is a good sound Hunnish axiom. There will certainly be no amenities nor anything in the nature of a truce so far as the British are concerned. All ranks are bidden to remember that war is war and that the Germans invariably have some sinister motive in all they do, especially under the guise of a gush of friendly sentiment.—Reuter.

The last sentences must surely, in any generous heart (if the moral destruction of war has left us such), produce a feeling of acute shame. In all the multitude [186]of truces that occurred at Christmas, 1914, I have not seen a single case of German treachery reported. What is it that is feared in the truce? “In some places,” said a German officer, “we have had to change our men several times. They get too damn friendly.”[50] “If we don’t take care,” said an English officer that Christmas, “there will be a permanent peace without generals or c.o.’s having a say in the matter.” Is that thought really more terrible than the thought of unnumbered shattered bodies and hopeless hearts?

How ineffectual so far are all European attempts at democracy! Carlyle’s satire about the thirty men of Dumdrudge called out, they know not why, to kill thirty men from a Dumdrudge elsewhere is not referred to in these days; but it still expresses the essential absurdity of wars.

Here is an extract from the Labour Leader of August 19, 1915:

My friend must not be identified. But here is an incident he told me I can safely relate. During the unauthorised Christmas truce of eight months ago so chummy did a British officer and a Saxon officer become that the Saxon officer gave his enemy “an invitation to visit him in Germany at the end of the war,” and “stay as long as you like,” he added. The British officer is still carrying the address in his pocket in the hope that one day he may be able to accept the invitation.

The Labour Leader is much disliked by the orthodox of England, as is the Vorwärts by the orthodox of Germany. It seems to me that both may be rendering a fine service to the cause of humanity, and one may surely say this without implying complete agreement with the opinions or the policy of either.

Wounded Enemies.

Writing home to his mother in Somerset, a member of the R.A.M.C. says: “You will find inside a German [187]button for a souvenir. It was given me by a wounded German prisoner. After he had had his wound dressed, he pointed to his buttons and made signs for me to cut one off. He hardly knew how to thank us after he had finished his tea, and his eyes gleamed with gratitude as he looked around at us.” (Daily News, August 26, 1915.)

From a private letter: “The following is first hand, and of interest. Dr. S. lectures on first aid to C.’s squad. During the course of a lecture on the heart he referred to a visit paid to the local hospital. In the hospital was a man who had been a prisoner in Germany. Dr. S. asked the man about his treatment. In the course of the talk the man said that if he had his choice he would prefer to be in a German hospital! Dr. S. smiled when he related this. ‘This is not the kind of statement,’ he said, ‘that is published in the newspapers!’”

There comes into my mind the photograph of a British prisoner in a German camp. The boy’s mother was delighted to see him looking so well. The photograph was the more striking as the lad was wounded in the stomach at the time he was taken prisoner.

From a private letter: “My nephew was in the Canadians and was wounded in the spine in a recent advance.... He was brought back to London, where I saw him, and he died in hospital shortly after. He told me himself all about it. He lay for several hours after being wounded, unable of course to move. When the ambulance came up, the stretcher bearers were Germans—prisoners of war. They saw he was cold and took off their own coats and wrapped him up. All the while they were under fire from the British guns.[51] One of them was wounded in the arm by shrapnel as they were carrying him, but he kept his [188]hold. He called to his mate to let down the stretcher, but till it was on the ground, he never flinched. My nephew knew what this meant, and as he thought of what had been done for him by an ‘enemy’ his face lighted up, as he said, ‘That man is a hero!’ And he added, ‘We don’t feel hard towards them at the front.’”

Again, a wounded soldier who had been prisoner in Germany says: “I could not have been better treated, and I know ninety companions who say the same. But this is not the sort of story the newspapers want.” People very generally do not like to hear good of an enemy. In war-time this very human objection may become an important cause of continued strife. (cf., p. 108.)

In the following, Philip Gibbs tells of a German doctor who tended friend and foe alike. “A number of Germans ... —about 250 of them—stayed in the dug-outs, without food and water, while our shells made a fury above them and smashed up the ground. They had a German doctor there, a giant of a man with a great heart, who had put his first-aid dressing station in the second line trench, and attended to the wounds of the men until our bombardment intensified so that no man could live there.

“He took the wounded down to a dug-out—those who had not been carried back—and stayed there expecting death. But then, as he told me to-day, at about eleven o’clock this morning the shells ceased to scream and roar above-ground, and after a sudden silence he heard the noise of British troops. He went up to the entrance of his dug-out and said to some English soldiers who came up with fixed bayonets, ‘My friends, I surrender.’ Afterwards he helped to tend our own wounded, and did very good work for us under the fire of his own guns, which had now turned upon this position.” (Daily Chronicle, July 5, 1916.)

It must be easy to tell bad stories of every furious [189]fight, but the right spirit is surely that shown by Mr. Gibbs in another despatch (Daily Chronicle, July 7, 1916): “The enemy behaved well, I am told, to our wounded men at some parts of the line, and helped them over the parapets. This makes us loth to tell other stories not so good.”

Again, on July 21, 1916: “It was the turn of the stretcher-bearers, and they worked with great courage. And here one must pay a tribute to the enemy. ‘We had white men against us,’ said one of the officers, ‘and they let us get in our wounded without hindrance as soon as the fight was over.’”

“‘This war!’ said a German doctor, ‘We go on killing each other to no purpose.’” (Daily Chronicle, July 5, 1916.)

And on this side:

The wife of a petty officer described to me the arrival of the first batch of wounded. It happened that these were chiefly Germans. “I thought I wouldn’t care so long as I didn’t see our poor boys carried up,” she said, “but when I saw them, Germans or not, I couldn’t help crying.” I gathered that the sight of the sufferers swept away every feeling but sympathy amongst the onlookers. She told me of the funerals to the little churchyard outside the barracks, and of the “loneliness” of the dead Germans. She had wept by those nameless graves, thinking of those that belonged to these strangers.—Louie Bennett in the Labour Leader.

I remember a Cockney boy of fifteen telling me how at Southend he had gone for fun to see wounded Germans brought ashore. But the fun died out in his heart at the reality, and he ran away.

The little incident I will next mention has special charm because of the beautiful spirit shown by every one concerned. A wounded German, Albert Dill, lay in hospital here. He was asked by a visitor if there was anything that he specially wished for. He answered. “Flowers for the dear English nurse, more than anything else.” The flowers were sent and his letter of gratitude is touching. There were far more [190]than he expected, he said, and his joy was the greater. “The pleasure of the nurses and the doctors too was great when they saw this rich gift of flowers (diese reiche Blumenspende).... This day will often remind me of the good and self-sacrificing nursing that I have had here in this hospital.” And the “dear English nurse” writes: “The flowers you sent at the request of Albert Dill were indeed most beautiful.... I have been nursing the German patients for a considerable time, and their gratitude has always been most marked. We sincerely hope that while carrying out our duties we have been able to relieve their sufferings, and have perhaps helped them to bear the misfortunes of war a little more patiently.” This little incident is surely the greatest of victories, for it is a victory of the spirit.

Nurse Kathleen Cambridge, who was near Mons at the time of the British retreat, spoke as follows of some of her experiences (Daily News, January 8, 1916):

After the battle I was very pleased to be of assistance to the wounded, for whom my mother and I had arranged an ambulance. It was at four o’clock that I saw the first party of British prisoners being marched through from Mons to Brussels. A halt was called just outside the Chateau. The Germans were very kind at that time and offered their prisoners cigarettes and gave them water from their bottles.

Two men, exhausted by terrible wounds, dropped into the ditch. The baron went off to ask if we could be of assistance, and the German doctor told him that he would be grateful for any help, as he had to get on to Brussels and could not wait. The two men were brought into the chateau. We did all we could for them, and gradually, after some weeks, they recovered.

Neglect and honourable conduct are both recorded in the next cutting from the Manchester Guardian (September 17, 1917).

A Scotsman wounded at La Bassée had lain for eight days in a German dug-out which our troops had captured and from which they had been driven. One party of Germans peering into the darkness had bombed him, and added one [191]or two slight wounds to the twenty-two he already possessed. He managed to signal to the second bombing party some days later, and was carried away to the field hospital, where hundreds of wounded Germans were lying. Here he was found by a young German engineer who had spent years in Glasgow and Liverpool. “Hullo, Jock,” the man said kindly, “pretty bad, aren’t you? I’ll fetch a doctor for you.”

He did so, and the wounds were roughly dressed. Nothing more was done for eight days, when the Scot managed to attract the attention of some visiting officer to the fact that his wounds were in a dreadful condition, septic and suppurating.

“He was furious,” said the Scot: “made no end of a row about it, and I was attended to at once. I have nothing to complain of about my treatment when in hospital in Germany.”

From the Daily News, April 16, 1918:

Here is a story vouched for by a young soldier now in hospital in the North of England:—“I was shot in both legs during the recent fighting. As I lay, helpless and almost hopeless, for our lads had been pressed back, a German officer, also wounded, crawled up to me. He spoke English fluently, and it turned out that he had once worked in the town from which I come. When I told him I was the last of the family left to my widowed mother, and that I feared it would settle her when she heard I had gone too, he said: ‘All right, old chap; we’ll see what can be done.’ As soon as it was quite dark he got me to pull myself on to his back. In this way he crawled to within earshot of our outposts, and only left me and dragged himself in the direction of his own lines when he knew my cry had been heard.”

From the same paper of April 11, 1918, I take the story told by a naval prisoner exchanged through Switzerland:

The sailor had one eye blown out and the other temporarily damaged by a shell in a concentrated fire which sank his destroyer in the battle of Jutland. He was picked up by an already overcrowded British boat after swimming about for an hour almost blind. Then a German destroyer ran alongside and took aboard the whole boatload.

The voice of an officer hailed from the deck: “Don’t forget the British way, lads, wounded first.” “He spoke such good English that I took him for a Scottie,” said my informant, “and I thought it was a British destroyer that had picked us up. I was hauled aboard, and I saw him look [192]at my face and turn away. ‘What’s the matter, Jock?’ I said. ‘I’m not a Jock,’ says he, ‘I’m one of the Huns.’ ‘What, ain’t this a British ship?’ says I. ‘Throw me back into the sea, and let me take the chance of being picked up by one of ours.’ ‘It can’t be done, sonny,’ he says. ‘You’ve got to go to Germany. But you’ll be exchanged all right. You’re disabled.’ It seems he had a relative in London, and knew England well. All the time British ships were chasing us and shelling us; and he hung a lifebelt near me, and said: ‘If the British Fleet sink us that will give you a bit of a chance yet.’”

The following is from Lloyd’s News, May 12, 1918, under the heading of “Back from the dead”:

Three years ago a Twickenham resident, Mrs. Maunders, received official news from the War Office that her husband, one of “The Old Contemptibles,” had been killed in action.

Thrown on her own resources, and having a small family to keep, she struggled on, and a very good offer of marriage came along and was accepted. A few days before the wedding a letter came from the supposed dead husband, stating that he was badly wounded and left for dead on the battlefield, but was found by the enemy and nursed back to health.

The following is from a private letter: “I am happy to be able to tell you that through the German Flying Corps dropping a message, we heard of [my son’s] safety early in July. He writes to us and appears to be well and comfortable.... He was shot through the neck. He has happily quite recovered after being about four weeks in hospital. He has spoken only of kindness and attention from doctors and nurses.”

Again: “As you have probably heard by now, I am a wounded prisoner of war.... I myself got my shoulder rather badly smashed up by a machine gun which knocked me out, and I lay in a shell hole for about ten hours while our guns strafed like hell and I expected every moment to be blown to bits. However, I at last managed to crawl up and stagger along, and as I was in German lines, ran into a lot of Germans. They were awfully kind to me, gave me food and drink and bound up my wound, and then sent me along to the dressing station. I am at present [193]in hospital in Belgium and expect to go to Germany almost directly. My address at the back will find me.” What follows from the same correspondent has some bearing on the feeding in hospitals. “You mentioned in your last letter whether you could send me anything. Well, dear old chap, if you are feeling an angel, plenty of good plain chocolate and other delicacies would be awfully welcome, also some Gold Flake cigarettes.” It was only “delicacies,” it will be observed, that were asked for. This was in the middle of 1917.

The next extract is from Common Sense, July 13, 1918:

“The following experience of an Ullet Road boy, Private Arthur Bibby (6th S.W.B.), who is now recovering from a severe wound, is recorded in the Ullet Road Church Calendar for July:

The part of the line in which Private Bibby was placed was subjected to a heavy bombardment, after which the enemy delivered an attack. The order to retire was given “and our section made for a road which led into a village, but about a hundred yards up the road I received a bullet wound which passed under the shoulder-blade and pierced a portion of the lung.”

“Private Bibby was forced to lie down by the side of the road, and shortly afterwards an advance party of the Germans came along delivering their attack. The first wave swept past, but of those who followed one stopped to give Private Bibby a cigarette, another took off his wounded foe’s equipment and made it into a pillow for his head, and put his water-bottle within reach, while a third made a pad out of his field dressing with which he staunched the wound. As he turned and followed his comrades, he assured his patient that the Red Cross would come soon.

“A German Red Cross orderly came up shortly afterwards, and was engaged in dressing the wound when the order came for the Germans to retire before a British counter-attack. ‘About ten minutes after the[194] last had passed down the road our lads, counter-attacking, were creeping up the road, and it was not long before the R.A.M.C. lifted me on a stretcher and took me to the advanced dressing station.’

“We congratulate Private Bibby on the recovery he is making from a severe wound, and are glad that he is able to bear this testimony of gratitude to a company of unknown but chivalrous foes.

“It is, of course, well known that the Northcliffe Press refuses to print experiences of this kind.”

“Many of our wounded have passed through the same conditions of captivity and deliverance. They bear witness to the honourable conduct of the German Army doctors (majors). Here, for example, is one of the stories that I have heard: ‘I found myself in a ditch after the battle, unable to move. A German doctor came by; he gave me bread and coffee and promised to come back in the evening if he could, or next day. That night and the following day passed without my seeing any one; the time seemed long. In the evening he came: ‘I had not forgotten you,’ he said, ‘but I have had no time.’ He had me carried away and gave me careful attention.’” (La Guerre vue d’une Ambulance, par L’Abbé Félix Klein, Aumonier de l’Ambulance américaine, p. 80.)

The writer continues: “Facts of this nature deserve to be recorded. Amidst this setting loose of horrors and hates it would be well to lay stress on some of those deeds which are able to soften the soul. This morning I see that an article has been passed in one of the most widely read French journals recommending that no prisoners should be made in forthcoming battles, but that our enemies should be ‘struck down like wild beasts,’ ‘butchered like swine’! Nothing, not even the sack of Senlis, nothing justifies such outbursts of fury.” The French soldiers, M. L’Abbé indicates, confine their denunciations to the Prussian regulars and speak well of the reserves. “They are [195]men like us, married men, fathers of families, fair-minded.” But for the doctors there is often a good word: “Le major allemand est venu, nous a soignés, nous a donné du café, du pain.” “Le major nous a soignés et donné de la soupe.” There was however, much plundering. The armies which do not plunder are indeed raræ aves. “The animosity of the English against the enemy,” says the Abbé, “is greater even than ours.” “In the evening,” runs one narrative, “the soldiers of the 101st put me in the wood where were many wounded Frenchmen and a German captain, wounded the day before. He suffered, he too, poor man (le pauvre malheureux).” When the Germans came, “some looked askance,” but the captain said the Frenchmen had been kind, and when the Germans had taken him they came back and attended to the French. It was a bad time in the retreat, but French and German wounded shared the same fate. (l.c., p. 98.)

Whose Fault?

The poor soldiers, obliged to obey orders under penalty of death, defending (as they believe) their homes from wanton attack, are surely, in the mass, but little to blame. The blame rests elsewhere. A body of Russian prisoners was brought into a village in East Prussia. The sufferings of the inhabitants during the invasion had made them bitter, and from the crowd of onlookers there was a scornful outcry. “At that one of the prisoners bent forward, shook his head and said slowly, with great, sad eyes, ‘It is not your fault, and it is not mine.’” (Dr. Elisabeth Rotten in Die Staatsbürgerin.) Looking at it all with fresh knowledge, after more than three years of war, I feel that this Russian spoke for all the peoples, “It is not your fault, and it is not mine.” Meanwhile there still goes on what my wounded friend, writing from Rouen described as “this orgy of slaughter, this incredible and criminal lunacy.”

[196]An Order Against Kindness.

A girl who, with others, was attending to the enemy wounded, writes: “Doubtless we should have more consolation among our little soldiers, since here we are forbidden to give little kindnesses and attention; but I believe that before the end we shall disobey the order, because we put our hearts into our devotion and our pity.” (La Guerre vue d’une Ambulance, p. 116.) It is a little startling to learn of orders against kindness to enemy wounded. In a country one of whose chief newspapers advocated slaughter of the enemy like swine, such orders seem unwise. They can surely scarcely be made except when we wilfully blind ourselves and imagine that our enemies do not share our humanity.

Our Common Humanity.

Here is a letter found on one of the German dead, a man with “a good face, strong and kindly,” so wrote the Daily Mail correspondent. “My dearest Heart,” runs the letter, “when the little ones have said their prayers and prayed for their dear father, and have gone to bed, I sit and think of thee, my love. I think of all the old days when we were betrothed, and I think of all our happy married life. Oh! Ludwig, beloved of my soul, why should people fight each other? I cannot think that God would wish it....”

Here in this leafy place
Quiet he lies;
Cold, with his sightless face
Turned to the skies;
’Tis but another dead:
All you can say is said.
Carry the body hence;
Kings must have slaves;
Kings rise to eminence
Over men’s graves;
So this man’s eyes are dim.
Cast the earth over him.
[197]What was that white you touched,
There by his side?
Paper his hand had clutched
Tight ere he died?
Message or wish, maybe?
Smooth out its folds and see.
Ah! That beside the dead
Slumbered the pain!
Ah! That the hearts that bled
Slept with the slain!
That the grief died. But no!
Death will not have it so.

These words of Austin Dobson were written of a French sergeant in an earlier war, yet they serve equally well for the German soldier in this. Strange that we leave it to the dead to prove their brotherhood and ours.

Philip Gibbs tells us how in a German dug-out he picked up some letters. “They were all written to ‘dear brother Wilhelm,’ from sisters and brothers, sending him their loving greetings, praying that his health might be good, promising to send him gifts of food and yearning for his home-coming.” They were anxious, for here had been no news for some time. “Every time the postman comes we hope for a little note from you.” Can any generous heart think of that anxious waiting unmoved? Shall we children of one Life wait till we have wholly darkened each other’s homes, and then call our handiwork peace?

But by that time, by the judgment of God, our eyes will be opened.

We who are bound by the same grief for ever,
When all our sons are dead may talk together,
Each asking pardon of the other one,
For her dead son.[52]

It is we at home who seem to yield only to this dread proof. With the fighters it is often different, as we [198]have seen, and though the stories savour of repetition, the repetition is surely worth while. I have aimed here at no literary production, but simply at a collection of facts that may reach the heart. “We sing,” said a soldier from Baden, “to the accompaniment of the piano—especially during the interval for dinner. We have indeed entered into a tacit agreement with the French to stop all fire between 12 and 1 o’clock, so that they and we might not be disturbed when we feed.” (Zeitung am Mittag, as quoted in the Daily Chronicle, November 10, 1914.) “One of our teachers, a lieutenant in the R.F.A., who has been out most of the time, had a few days’ leave some weeks ago. He said to the school, assembled to do him honour, ‘Boys, do not believe the stories you read about the Germans in the newspapers. Whatever they may have done at the beginning of the war, the German is a brave and noble soldier, and after the war we must be friends.’” (From a private letter.) A soldier writes that a diary he kept was blown to bits by a shell. He gave what remained of it to a wounded German who pleaded for it. He had met many German Socialists in the fighting. “It is a blessing to meet such men and amid all the slaughter brought about by our present system, it seems heaven upon earth.” (Labour Leader, June 24, 1915.)

Are We Always Chivalrous?

It will only be making the amende honorable if we do our best now to spread reports of good deeds of the enemy, for in the early stages of the war we deliberately deleted them from messages, and we have certainly done a great deal to conceal them ever since. Writing to the Times in October, 1914, Mr. Herbert Corey, the American correspondent, said: “The Times leader quotes the Post as charging that I ‘flatly made the charge that dispatches had been altered for the purpose of hiding the truth and blackening the German character.’ I do not recollect this phrase. [199]I did charge that dispatches of German atrocities were permitted to go through unaltered, and that sentences in other dispatches in which credit was given the Germans for courtesy and kindness were deleted. I abide by that statement.”

There have been many angry references to unfair German attempts to influence neutral opinion. A letter such as Mr. Corey’s makes me able to understand why some neutrals have accused England of the very same unfairness. There is other testimony to the same effect. Mr. Edward Price Bell, London Correspondent of the Chicago Daily News, has, in a pamphlet published by Fisher Unwin, indicted the British censorship in the following terms:

I call the censorship chaotic because of the chaos in its administration. I call it political because it has changed or suppressed political cables. I call it discriminatory because there are flagrant instances of its not holding the scales evenly between correspondents and newspapers. I call it unchivalrous because it has been known to elide eulogies of enemy decency and enemy valour. I call it destructive because its function is to destroy; it has no constructive function whatever. I call it in effect anti-British and pro-German because its tendency—one means, of course, its unconscious tendency—often is to elevate the German name for veracity and for courage above the British. I call it ludicrous, because it has censored such matter as Kipling’s “Recessional” and Browning’s poetry. I call it incompetent because one can perceive no sort of collective efficiency in its work. And because of the sum of these things I give it the final descriptive—“incredible.”—Daily News, January 7, 1916.

There is no doubt that people often fear to tell of German good deeds. An acquaintance of mine told me that his boy got decorated for bringing in a badly wounded comrade from near the German trenches. A little shamefacedly my informant went on: “I don’t mind telling you, but I shouldn’t like it to be known generally here, that I know the Germans act well sometimes. My boy wrote he would have had no chance, but he heard the Germans give the order to cease fire.” [200]My informant evidently feared the neighbours would call him pro-German if he told this to them, but he thought he might venture to tell a pacifist.[53]

One notices this fear sometimes in rather amusing ways. In a railway compartment with me were a loud-mouthed patriotic woman “war-worker” and a mere soldier back from the front. I’m afraid I got a little at loggerheads with the war-worker, who adopted in argument a kind of furious grin which revealed a formidable row of teeth that in my mind-picture of her have become symbolically almost gigantic. I turned for relief to the mere soldier, and while the train was moving we had a pleasant dip into soldier philosophy. “I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s good and bad everywhere,” he said. “I’ve known bad Germans, and I’ve known Germans to look after our wounded as well as a British Tommy could look after his chum.” There was more to this effect, but whenever the train stopped and our voices became audible to others, we were silent. The fear of that row of teeth was, I think in both our hearts, and I could see the mere soldier looking timid before them.

Fair play to the enemy’s character is a concession not quite so easy to the average Englishman as he supposes. “The Anglo-Saxon race has never been remarkable for magnanimity towards a fallen foe.” Just now, when we are inclined to be almost afraid of the excess of chivalry which possesses us, there may be useful corrective in these words of Lieutenant-General Sir William Butler, K.C.B. There has been much searching of old history books of late to find out what was said in the days of Tacitus against the Germans.[54] (What Tacitus said in their favour is not considered.) Perhaps on the other side there are investigators searching their history books for ancient opinions of the [201]English. “Strike well these English,” said Duke William to his Normans, “show no weakness towards these English, for they will have no pity for you. Neither the coward for running well, nor the bold man for fighting well will be better liked by the English, nor will any be more spared on either account.” Butler approved this verdict. We shall not readily agree with him. Yet he did not speak without cause: he had known an English general kick the dead body of an African King, who “was a soldier every inch of him,” and he had known the colonists spit upon an African chief brought bound and helpless through Natal. (“Far Out,” p. 131.) I believe myself there is a great and ready generosity in the hearts of the English people, but he must surely be a man invariably on the “correct” side who has not more than once come across the official Englishman who could be a bully to those in his power.

Some British Opinions.

“I am disgusted by the accounts I see in the papers of the inferiority of Germans as soldiers. Don’t believe one word of it. They are quite splendid in every way. Their courage, efficiency, organisation, equipment and leading are all of the very best, and never surpassed by any troops ever raised. They come on in masses against our trenches and machine guns, and come time after time, and they are never quiescent, but always on the offensive. I am full of admiration for them, and so are all who know anything about them. It is a pity that such fine soldiers should have behaved so badly in Belgium and here; they have behaved badly, there is no doubt about it, but nothing like what is said of them—any way in parts I have been through.” These words from a General Officer commanding a brigade occur in a letter published in the Times of November 19, 1914. Yet these “quite splendid” fighters are the men of whom a learned[202] professor appointed by the Government has written that they are “rotten to the core.” There is some discrepancy here. “They are great workers, these Germans,” wrote Philip Gibbs (Daily Chronicle, July 5, 1916), “and wonderful soldiers.”

“An officer of the Sydney gave a quite enthusiastic account of the officers of the Emden. ‘Vitthoef, the torpedo lieutenant, was a thoroughly nice fellow. Lieutenant Schal was also a good fellow and half English. It quite shook them when they found that the captain had asked that there be no cheering on entering Colombo, but we certainly did not want cheering with rows of badly wounded men (almost all German) laid out in cots on the quarter deck. Captain von Müller is a very fine fellow.... The day he was leaving the ship at Colombo, he came up to me on the quarter-deck and thanked me in connection with the rescue of the wounded, shook hands and saluted, which was very nice and polite of him.... Prince Hohenzollern was a decent enough fellow. In fact, we seemed to agree that it was our job to knock one another out, but there was no malice in it.’ This is the ideal fighting, ‘with no malice in it.’ It has been achieved by many English and Germans, and that gives hope for the future. Let us make the most, not the least, of what points towards a better understanding.... At the beginning of November ‘Eye-Witness’ records how English prisoners had been sheltered by the Germans in cellars to protect them from the bombardment of their own side. An Anglo-Indian tells of a wounded havildar who was noticed by a German officer. ‘The German officer spoke to him in Hindustani, asking him the number of his regiment, and where he came from. He bound up his wounds, gave him a drink, and brought him a bundle of straw to support his head. This will be remembered to the credit side of our German account.’

“A wounded officer addressed some students at one [203]of our universities. He protested humorously that he was not a ‘pro-German,’ and then spoke up for a fair view of the enemy. When he was being carried into hospital, he noticed an anti-aircraft gun just outside the hospital. This struck him as, to say the least, unwise. He expected the hospital to be shelled, and this occurred. He did not blame the Germans. On another occasion a farm near the firing line was used for first aid. It was not obviously a hospital and was fired on. The Commanding Officer sent a note to Von Kluck to explain matters, and the farm was never after exposed to fire.[55] He had seen a church damaged by German shell fire, but this was one which he had himself seen used by the French for observation purposes.[56] The same officer uttered a warning against believing all that was in the ‘Tommies’ letters. At one time when he was censoring letters, one passed through his hands from a Tommy only just arrived in France, and never in the firing line. He described an immense battle in which the English did wonders and he himself had marvellous duties to perform. As far as the military situation was concerned the letter was quite harmless, so it was allowed to go through. It was something like the intelligence to the publication of which the Press Bureau ‘does not object.’”[57][58]

In her book, “My War Experiences on Two Continents,” Miss Macnaughten writes of the Germans: [204]“Individually, I always like them, and it is useless to say I don’t. They are all polite and grateful, and I thought to-day, when the prisoners were surrounded by a gaping crowd, that they bore themselves very well.” (p. 127). Again, “I found one young German with both hands smashed. He was not ill enough to have a bed, of course, but sat with his head fallen forward trying to sleep on a chair. I fed him with porridge and milk out of a little bowl, and when he had finished half of it he said, ‘I won’t have any more. I am afraid there will be none for the others.’” (p. 37.) Unfortunately, Miss Macnaughten too readily accepted war stories. She writes of “country houses” where he heard German prisoners here lived in luxury, “and they say girls are allowed to come and play lawn tennis with them.” The humour of this will be apparent to any who have visited internment camps. Lawn tennis was, however, possible at some camps, both here and in Germany—there were seven courts at Ruhleben. Some of the atrocity stories many of us will recognise as not so reliable as Miss Macnaughten supposed. It is her personal experiences which are important, and, like the Scotchman[59] (whom she quotes) she has, not hatred, but respect, for the Germans whom she herself meets.

The Ease of Accusation.

Again and again, everywhere, we find readiness to accept stories against the enemy on very slender evidence. At the time of the loss of our three cruisers I saw in one of the better newspapers a large heading, “German Treachery. Fighting under the Dutch Flag.” I looked down the columns for evidence. No mention of such a circumstance in the official report, none in the letter from the chief correspondent; but at last I found that some one at Harwich had “heard of” such an incident. We must remember that only cool [205]and clear intellects are likely at such a time to give an accurate account of facts. Between others mutual recrimination may readily arise. An officer on H.M.A.S. Sydney wrote after the attack on the Emden: “It was very interesting talking to some of the German officers afterwards. On the first day they were on board one said to me, ‘You fire on the white flag.’ I at once took the matter up, and the torpedo-lieutenant and an engineer (of the Emden) both said emphatically, ‘No, that is not so; you did not fire on the white flag.’ But we did not leave it at that. One of us went to the captain, and he got from Captain von Müller an assurance that we had done nothing of the kind, and that he intended to assemble his officers and tell them so.” Note how readily on the other side, amongst those less responsible or less cool-headed, a tale may grow up against us. Let us observe in considering tales against them the same caution that we should wish them to exercise in considering tales against us.[60]

Troops in Occupation.

Witnesses from Brussels and from Ghent have spoken well of the personal behaviour of both soldiers and officers. A neutral correspondent writes in the Times of January 28, 1915:

“On the whole it cannot be said that the behaviour of the German officers and soldiers towards the population of Ghent is bad. When the German troops entered the city, strict injunctions were given them to refrain from pillaging, and to pay for everything they bought in the shops, very much to the disgust of many....”

Mr. Gabriel Mourey has written an account of his custody of the Palais de Compiègne during the invasion. The Times review of this book is so interesting that I propose to give some extracts from it:

[206]First the palace served as the general headquarters of the British Army during the last stage of the strategic retreat to the Marne; and in the closing days of August, M. Mourey looked out of his window to see Generals French and Joffre walking up and down the terrace in consultation, while in the park English soldiers were shaving themselves calmly before little pieces of broken mirror. In a night they had left Compiègne, blowing up the Louis XV. bridge (“utterly improved,” and therefore no great loss). On the next day came the Uhlans, by no means so terrible as they had been painted.... Von Kluck was to make his headquarters there for a day, and the first announcement of the doubtful honour was brought by an engineer lieutenant, who came to make a wireless installation on the palace roof. He was very quick, but he found time to inform the conservator that his name was Maurin, that it was a French name. He repeated it many times, “C’est un nom français,” and he was plainly proud of it. Then came Von Kluck himself, asking in polite and excellent French that he might be shown over the palace. Of him M. Mourey draws a by no means unattractive picture, urbane yet reserved, with real admiration for the treasures of the Palace, discreetly murmuring “Je sais” at the close of every explanation, not offensively, but as though some long forgotten memory had returned to him, making his frequent “Kolossal” sound in his conductor’s ears as gently as the continual “Very nice” of the British Officer, and, his visit over, promising that respect should be paid to the monument of Imperial France.

But Von Kluck could not stay. He was followed by Von Marwitz, no less polite, no less sympathetic to M. Mourey’s natural fears, and generous enough to write and sign a proclamation forbidding his troops to lay their hand upon the palace. He, too, went his way. Von Kluck’s Quartermaster-General seized the opportunity of making a private levy of 5,000f. upon the town before he sped like Gehazi after his master’s chariot. Then ensued the brief reign of lesser men, stupid, brutal, blustering, bullying, insulting, because they feared a civilisation which they could not understand.

I think we know such men, and many privates know such men, elsewhere than in the German army. Germany may have cultivated them in greater numbers—that is highly probable—but they are rife everywhere, and under favourable circumstances they thrive exceedingly.

[207]Their insolent arrogance culminated in a certain aide-de-camp, who arrived post-haste to say that the Palace must be instantly made ready to receive an Excellence par excellence. A man of imagination this aide-de-camp, for when at his command M. Mourey showed him over the palace and pointed out the gaps in the collections made by the soldiers’ pilfery, he said with an all-explanatory air, “But why didn’t you get souvenirs ready for the officers?” The Excellence whom this right Brandenburger heralded was no less than the Kaiser himself, and M. Mourey is convinced that it is to the Imperial intention that the safety of Compiègne is owing. It may be: but we prefer to think that honourable foes such as Von Kluck and Von Marwitz had their share in the unusual consummation.[61]

“The Irish Nuns at Ypres” gives an account of their experiences by a member of the Community. In a review (May 27, 1915), the Times Literary Supplement says:

For us in England it is hard to realise the feeling of sickening anxiety with which, on October 7, these defenceless ladies witnessed the arrival in Ypres of the devastators of Belgium. On this occasion, apart from a certain amount of looting, the Germans behaved “pretty civilly,” and the Abbey had nothing to complain of but want of bread.

Another French account of the invaders in Northern France is given by Gabriele and Margerita Yerta, “Six Women and the Invasion.” Their experiences were variable. “It is clear,” writes a reviewer in the Nation, “that Herr Major, and ‘Barlu,’ and ‘Crafleux’ and the two ‘model Prussians,’ who replenished the house with coal and provisions, and offered the ladies game they had shot, only sinned by their over-gallantry. But things changed for the worse with the coming of a hundred Death’s Head Hussars and Lieutenant von Bernhausen.... Nothing very outrageous is recorded, but there was dragooning, inquisition, drunkenness. Bernhausen’s reign lasted two months.” As to outrages on women, Madame Yerta writes: “To be sure there were rapes, but, thanks be to God, these were few, and they took place [208]at the beginning of the invasion.... I must confess that many a woman was the victim of her own imprudence.” The book is, naturally, fiercely anti-German, its facts are, however, those of any war story.

Again, “On the whole the Germans behaved well at St. Quentin. Their rule was stern but just, and although the civil population had been put on rations of black bread, they got enough, and it was not, after all, so bad.” This testimony is the more noteworthy because, “as one of the most important bases of the German Army in France the town was continually filled with troops of every regiment, who stayed a little while and then passed on.” (Philip Gibbs, “The Soul of the War,” p. 152.) It is a little startling to read some more that Mr. Gibbs has to say. French-women were ready to sell themselves to German soldiers, and “such outrageous scenes took place that the German order to close some of the cafés was hailed as a boon by the decent citizens, who saw the women expelled by order of the German commandant with enormous thankfulness.” I am not so surprised at this now as when I first read it. An English soldier has since told me that the “silliness” (as he called it) of women for soldiers leads them, in more cases than he could have imagined, to bestow themselves on either friend or enemy. Women with child had said to him quite proudly that it was by a German soldier!

From a private letter: “One of the party is a French officer who tells the tale. After the Marne retreat he was crossing over the territory evacuated by the Germans, and made inquiry of the villagers who had housed the enemy, how they had been treated, what barbarities had been committed, and so forth. The villagers were surprised. The Germans had behaved like gentlemen, had paid for what they used, and had treated them with perfect courtesy. What, no looting? On the contrary, the German officer had [209]a soldier shot for a very small act of pillage.... ‘We’re soldiers, not robbers,’ he said.” I cannot vouch for this story, but it gives just the same impression as the account given by Dr. Scarlett-Synge (see pp. 149ff). It is also remarkably similar to experiences recounted by C. A. Winn (Baron Headley) who was with the Prussians in 1870. (“What I saw of the War,” p. 44.) When he himself had taken some vegetables from a garden, he was told by his officer friends that any sort of pillage was the “greatest offence a friend of the Prussians could be guilty of.” And Mr. Winn speaks of “the many instances of the remarkable efforts of the authorities of the Prussian army to prevent plunders by their soldiers.” It must be remembered that deliberate destruction for military reasons, or as punishment (carried out by all armies) is very different from theft. I do not for a moment suppose that this standard is always reached by the German armies. That it has often been aimed at is something to remember.

I may add here a rather interesting quotation from Colonel F. N. Maude’s book, “War and the World’s Life.” On page 11 he writes: “I do not suggest that life in the Prussian army has at any time been ideal, but I do assert, from personal knowledge, that relatively to their respective stages of civilisation the treatment of the Prussian soldier, since 1815, has at all times been fairer and more humane than in any other army. The fact is proved by the very high standard of discipline maintained, together with the extraordinary absence of military crime which has so long distinguished it.”

I am reminded, too, of one of the first experiences of a friend of mine in France. He reached a village through which the Uhlans had passed. Had the inhabitants any complaints of their behaviour? None whatever.[62] Their only indignation was directed [210]against some English soldiers who (if their story be correct) had behaved abominably. It was a curious shock of reality for my friend. He realised that sometimes the enemy might behave well, and sometimes bad stories of English soldiers might be circulated (even amongst Allies). I am quite sure that no soldiers in the world would, in general, have more natural humanity than the British, and perhaps none would have as much. I contend only against the belief that one side is impeccable, and the other hopelessly barbarian.

From the International Review; a Common Memorial.

Here are a few extracts from the International Review, a periodical published at Zürich, and with co-operators in Russia, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, America, Great Britain. “The yearning of human beings towards mutual understanding needs to-day a new organ for its expression.” Hence this review—a review naturally pronounced pro-German by our Junker Press, since it presents, amongst other things, moderate statements of the German standpoint. The only internationalism which this Press can recognise is one that is exclusively English. So exactly, mutatis mutandis, do German and English chauvinism coincide. The extracts which follow are taken from the first number of the review. “Under the title, ‘German-French Chivalry,’ the Volksstimme, of Frankfurt a.M. (June 19, 1915), describes the dedication of a memorial to three thousand dead at Sedan on June 12. The leaders of the German army were present, and the French authorities officially shared in the proceedings. The short inscriptions on the simple monuments are in both French and German. They refer alike to the seventeen hundred French and the thirteen hundred Germans who fell on August 27 during the battle on the heights of Noyers.”

[211]A Story from France.

From L’Action Française, Paris (June 12, 1915), is cited a description of the poignancy of war, of which the following is a translation:

There had been a fierce fight in front of a fortress. Many dead lay on the ground, and a few wounded who were dying. In the night we heard weak cries, ‘Kamerad, Kamerad!’ We answered, thinking it was a German who wished to give himself up. The cries were repeated. We thought of treachery, and each took his stand in readiness. Suddenly, there came in pure French: ‘Camerades Français!’ ‘What is it?’ ‘A wounded man lies near you.’ ‘No.’ ‘Yes, in front of the trench.’ ‘We have just made a round, and found only dead.’ ‘Yes, but there is a wounded man there who is calling. Can you not look for him?’ ‘No.’ And then in the silence we hear again, ‘Kamerad, Kamerad!’ The German officer speaks again, very politely: ‘French comrades, may we go to look for the wounded man?’ An inflexible ‘No’ is the answer. Is not some trick concealed under his apparent humanity and his persistence? ‘Well, then,’ calls the German again, ‘go yourself and look; we shall not shoot.’ Can we trust a German’s word, after all that they have done? But there is no long delay. A man from Lille springs forward: ‘All right, I will go to fetch him,’ he says. ‘I will go with him,’ I say to the Lieutenant. The leader of my squadron brings some others. The wounded man calls: ‘Kamerad! Do not kill me!’ We reassure him as to our intentions, and as he has a shattered hip we carry him to our lines, and on the way in spite of his suffering, he keeps on repeating with every kind of modulation, ‘Good comrade.’ He was a young man, scarcely eighteen years old, of the 205th Infantry.

I call to the enemy trenches: ‘We have brought in one wounded man, are there any others there?’ ‘Yes. 20 metres further to the right.’ We look round. ‘There are none there, only dead.’ ‘Wait, we will give you some light.’ A few words in German which we cannot understand. Will they simply shoot us down? Suddenly two splendid rockets go up: we can see as if it were midday. We are half a dozen marines and are standing twenty metres from the German trenches. On the other side of the wire entanglements an officer and men, behind the breastwork pointed helmets and caps. All remains quiet. We look round carefully. ‘Nothing. There are only corpses here. We are going back, you go back, too.’ ‘Merci, camerades français!’ calls the officer, and his men repeat the greeting of their superior. As soon as we are behind our breastwork our Lieutenant gives a [212]command loud enough to be heard at sixty metres. ‘In the air—Fire!’ From over there once more, ‘Thank you, comrades,’ as answer to our salvo, and all falls back once more into the silence of the night; the work of death can go on again. But for this one night not a shot was heard around us.

How much sanity is there in a world that sets such men to kill each other, and eggs them on to hate?

German Help of “Alien Enemies.”

In Germany (as already mentioned in Chap. IV.) is a ‘Committee for advice and help to natives and foreigners in State and international affairs.’ It deals with those of all nationalities, and one branch of it corresponds in many ways to the similar Emergency Committee in England for assistance of Germans, Austrians and Hungarians in distress.

What, however, is most striking is the number of cases of individual kindness shown by Germans to “alien enemies.” The minds of many might be cleared on this subject if they would read a charming and unpretentious little book, “An English Girl’s Adventures in Hostile Germany,” by Mary Littlefair, published by John Long, Ltd. The authoress saw and heard absurd Press charges on the other side, and something, too, of the irrational hatred of war-time, but the little book is a record of almost nothing but kindness, and gives fresh hope to those who had begun to despair of human nature.[63] Here are two cases of singular beauty from Nauheim. A postman “happened to know of a poor English lady whose funds had come to an end, and who had in consequence offered to wash up the crockery at her pension in return for her board and lodging, and he told her one morning that he had forty pounds saved up which she should have, and welcome, if she was in need.” The case of the bath-chair woman was not less touching and [213]generous, for she and her husband, a crossing-sweeper, also put their savings at the disposal of an invalid lady his wife used to wheel out every day, telling her that, though their cottage was only small, they did possess a tiny spare room, and they would be so glad if she would come to them as their honoured guest, supposing—as at present seemed likely—the English would have to spend the winter in Nauheim; they would indeed do their best to make her happy and comfortable.[64]

On more than one occasion in the railway trains the “enemy” character of Miss Littlefair and those who were with her was revealed, but no unkindness was shown. The last occasion was in October, 1914. “‘Shall you have to travel farther, or does your journey end in Munich,’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘we hope to go on to Switzerland to-morrow.’ ‘O, how delightful! You are lucky. It is such a beautiful country. Tell me, are you foreigners by any chance—American, or perhaps English?’ she queried. ‘English,’ I replied. The truth was out, and I looked to see a change of feeling reflected in her pleasant, winsome face; but her expression remained as kind and as interested as before, and her manner as cordial, so I told her more about ourselves, as there was no longer any need of reserve, and she had told me so much of their affairs.” There was, of course, the usual patriotic bias, but it was expressed with real good feeling. “‘Of course, we don’t hold the English people personally responsible for the war,’ she said, ‘but we think that England[65] has behaved very shabbily. It is very grieving, though, that the two countries should be at war.’ She had two or three English friends, and told me about them till our arrival in Munich, [214]where our confidences were necessarily cut short, and we took an affectionate leave of one another.” (p. 123.)

The following incident also shows simple folk made clear-sighted by kindness of heart: “On another occasion Christine and one of the ladies in our hotel went into a shop to buy some beautiful lace which was being sold at half-price. ‘We have to sell it cheaply because of the war,’ explained the assistant: ‘ach! it is terrible! We never wanted this war, and I am sure you did not either. You and I are not enemies, it is ridiculous. Let us shake hands to show we are friends. Yes!’ And they did.”[66] Good! That handshake, let us hope, will outweigh many a hysterical outburst on both sides.

An English schoolmaster was, with his wife and family, in Germany at the outbreak of war. He testifies to the quite wonderful kindness he received. Almost daily he was taken by his hosts to other houses, and at the Kaffeeklatsch which ensued there was never anything but a finely chivalrous courtesy. So grateful did the schoolmaster feel that (just as with Germans befriended here) he felt he must make some sort of return to the “enemy.” He explained the situation, and obtained permission to take two interned enemy nationals into his house. They in their turn felt that movement of gratitude which the preachers of hate refuse to believe in. They wanted to make some return to the schoolmaster, for schoolmasters are usually poor men. “If you do that,” he said, “I shall feel I am doing nothing.” There was a dispute of kindness, and in the end a modus vivendi of gratitude was arrived at. How strange the methods of force seem by comparison. The two men are now interned once more—surely a sorry end to a story of such fine humanity.

From Mrs. K. Warmington: “There are two little instances that stand out in my mind very clearly, and [215]I think speak for themselves. The first relates to an English lady, her husband, and her son, with whom I made acquaintance at the English Consul’s office. Later on I met the same lady at the American Consul’s office; she was in deep distress, as her husband and son had been arrested and put into prison. Through the influence of an American that we met at an hotel, we got a permit to go and see a military commandant at the barracks to see if anything could be done for them. When we arrived, he treated us most courteously, and listened patiently to what we had to say. He rang a doctor up on the telephone, and, as far as we could make out, told the doctor to examine these men, and to pronounce them ill. He then turned to us, and told us to return in the afternoon, when he would fetch them in his own motor-car, which he did. He also gave us a paper asking the civil authorities to do all they could to aid us to get away, shook hands, and wished us a safe journey.

“The other instance relates more to myself. We were at Nüremberg, Bavaria. We had permission to leave for Lindau, on the borders of Lake Constance, on our way to Romanshorn in Switzerland. The journey was a rather expensive one for me, as I had very little money, little more indeed than a cheque, which was valueless. A young German, who was shortly going into the Navy, whom I had known only about a month, hearing of my case came to me, and gave me £9 in English gold to enable me to travel more comfortably.

“My father was German, my mother English, and my husband English. I was in Germany in 1914 from July 26 to August 26. As my son was of military age, and I did not want him interned, I got what influence I could to get him away. He was finally released at the end of August, and we were allowed to go on to Switzerland.”

In the course of 1915 an English born woman [216]returned to her husband in Munich. Her sister wrote to me of the extreme kindness with which this lady was received by her German friends. Many English wives of interned men have gone to Germany to their husband’s families, and one hears the same account of extreme kindness. In Offenbach alone there are twenty English wives with forty English born children. Special classes have been opened for them. After all, there are some German methods which are worthy of imitation. There seems at times a danger of our imitating what is worst in our enemies, partly as a result of a desire to ignore what is better.

The letter which follows appeared in the Times of September 2, 1914:

Sir,—Various rumours are finding their way into the German papers respecting the harsh treatment which certain Germans are said to have received in England. We British subjects who are being kindly and hospitably treated by Germans earnestly hope that these reports are, at any rate, much exaggerated.

It is well that the British public should understand the position of their fellow countrymen here. At the outbreak of the war British subjects in out-of-the-way places were given safe conducts to suitable centres, such as Baden-Baden, and there allowed to choose places of abode according to their tastes and means. Such restrictions as are put upon their movements are in their own interests. The authorities have exhorted the inhabitants publicly as well as by house to house visitations to treat foreigners with respect and courtesy, taking pride in thus proving their claim to a truly high standard of civilisation, and the people have responded nobly to this appeal. Not only have hotel and pension-keepers done everything in their power to accommodate their visitors, at the most reduced prices, giving credit in many instances, but several cases have come to our notice in which Germans have housed and fed English women and children, who were perfect strangers to them, out of pure humanity and good feeling.

You, sir, can imagine how galling it must be to these people when they read in their papers of the very different treatment alleged to have been shown to Germans in England, and how painful and humiliating a position is thereby created for us here. England has hitherto enjoyed such a high reputation for chivalry and hospitality that tales to the contrary cause [217]Germans a half incredulous shock. It it not too late for England to prove that she is living up to her old standard and that she refuses to be outdone in magnanimity towards the stranger within her gates....

(A paragraph follows as to the means by which money can be sent to Britons via neutral countries.)

(Signed) Dorothy Acton (Lady).

F. Bullock-Webster, M.A., Oxon, Resident Chaplain of Baden-Baden.

Wm. Macintosh, Dr. Ph., Resident English Chaplain, Freiburg, i.B.

August 20, 1914.

Some account may be given of a party of 190 Englishwomen and 14 children who landed at Queenborough on September 22, 1914. (Times, September 23, 1914.) “... With one accord they spoke in terms of praise, both of their treatment in Germany and of the kindness shown to them on the journey.... ‘We have received kindness everywhere,’ said one of a party from Dantzig. ‘The Germans have been absolutely stunning to us.... I have not heard of one English person being molested anywhere in Germany.’” The Englishwomen did noble work on their part, especially for the fugitives from East Prussia. “One Sunday we fed and clothed 290 who had come in without a rag to their backs.”

“I was arrested in Berlin as a Russian spy, because a bomb had been found in the house next to mine, and because a woman in the street said that she had seen me putting bombs in my hat-box, and that she had seen me with a Russian. I did, as a matter of fact, know a Russian student, but he was not the man she meant. I was taken to the police station and searched twice in the same day. They kept me in prison for two days and nights, giving me very bad food, and then they released me because they had no real evidence against me. When I came out, strangely enough it was German people who gave me hospitality until I was able to leave Berlin.”

[218]Again, “The German women are crazy over our Scottish troops and their kilts. Some of them used to go out and give the prisoners cigarettes, chocolates and flowers, but that has been forbidden now.”

A party of 178 who landed at Folkestone had varying stories to tell. “Nothing could possibly be better than the treatment we have received,” said one, “everybody—official, police and public—treated us with the greatest kindness and the utmost courtesy.” “The Germans are brutes, absolute brutes,” said another. Probably a third, who described both statements as exaggerations, came nearer the average truth. One of this same party described the kilts referred to above as causing matronly indignation in Berlin.[67]

In the Times of September 24, 1914, appeared a letter on the subject of English exiles in Berlin:

I have read with interest and approval the statements of Englishwomen who have returned from Germany, as reported in the Times to-day, with regard to the conduct of the German people. As one of the party which arrived at Queensborough by the special boat, I wish publicly to express my warm appreciation not only of the considerate treatment which the people of Berlin showed towards English people there, but particularly to the splendid services rendered to us by the American Embassy, which made all the arrangements for our return, and by the Consular and municipal authorities in Holland, who supplied us with food during our journey through that country.

May I add that I went about in Berlin as freely as I can now in London, and that at no time since the outbreak of the war have I seen a single British subject molested.

(Signed) L. Tyrwhitt Drake.

Ladies’ Imperial Club,
September 23.

Here also is a fact that should give us pause. In a prisoner camp at Frankfurt a-Oder is a large building erected as a place of entertainment and general meeting hall. It is used by Russian prisoners, and a considerable [219]contribution towards its erection was collected by house-to-house visitation in Frankfurt. To appreciate this fact at its true significance we must remember that Germany suffered from direct invasion by Russia immediately on the outbreak of the war, and that all the stories of atrocities and devastation that we heard of Belgium were also told of East Prussia.

“An old friend of our family,” a correspondent writes, “has been residing in Bavaria over forty years. He is an artist, and married a Bavarian lady. His eldest son is a doctor in London, and two of his daughters are married in London, but the father has no difficulty in getting permits to paint in the Austrian and German mountains, and still finds a sale for his pictures in Germany.”

Forty years is, I know, a long time, but not by any means always sufficient to prevent persecution in the present war. On my writing table is a little ivory elephant. It was carved by a German who had been forty years in the service of one British firm. He was dismissed (a man over seventy) because of the war. This is not a unique case. “N.S., clock-maker, who had been here thirty-nine years, and P.W., baker, fifty years. (He had two sons at the front, and ‘the longer he thought the more the number of his English grandchildren grew.’)” (See the Third Report of the Emergency Committee for these and other cases).

I do not in the least wish to suggest that there has been little kindness on this side and much on the other. I am simply trying to restore the balance. So far (as is usual in war-time) the game of hatred has been played with loaded dice. Let us welcome kindness everywhere. Here, then, is a different kind of story from one of the Friends’ reports:

A young man, smart and erect three months ago when he was in employment, intelligent, speaks and writes four languages, with excellent references, now but a sad wreck, [220]wants to go to South Africa, where he has friends, but, alas! the permit is refused—has written abroad to his father, who is in a good position, for money, but it takes so long to get a reply. His English landlady, though poor, “has been so kind,” he had his last dinner three days ago from her. We give temporary help, but if this money does not come before January 1 he will have to go into camp. Quite willing to do so, “but can we not give his poor landlady something?”

The kind landladies and other kind hearts exist, thank God, on both sides.[68] To enquire on which side there are most would (even if we could do so without bias) probably be profitless. The important point is that the kind hearts on the other side are there, and that a brotherhood of blessing will help the world more than a brotherhood of revenge—if, indeed, this last could be any brotherhood at all.

Miss G. H. writes: “I am particularly anxious to do something for interned Germans. For four months of the war I was in Germany with my mother, sister, nephew and niece, and we were all most kindly treated and helped in every possible way both by friends, by my lawyer, my banker and the neighbouring peasants. Also by all the guards and waiters along our journey on November 21. Friends, peasants, and my lawyer are still looking after my property in Germany, and I have left everything in the hands of a neighbouring peasant, who sends me accounts of it. I would like to be able to do some kind acts here in return, and for the furtherance of better relationships later on.” Yet it can never be pleasant to be in an “enemy” country. Miss H. writes further: “In spite of having such unspeakable sympathy, really understanding sympathy, shown me by not only friends, but the common people—though I hardly like using this term, as no one with so much fellow feeling could really be [221]termed common—in spite of this kindness, I know so well how one can suffer. Over there we are looked upon in the same way that Germans are looked upon here, as quite outside the pale of common morality. Fully realising what this must mean for me, these kindly Germans would go off into a day dream of wonderment as to how they might feel in a similar plight, and one ended up with the reflection, ‘Ja, es ist halt jetzt die Zeit der Märtyrer’ (it is indeed the time of the martyrs once more).” Surely there is something strangely poignant about the convinced and steadfast martyrdom and self-sacrifice of both sides. Surely the peoples who can thus offer themselves in destroying each other must both have noble gifts to give together one day in a nobler cause.

The following is from the Nation (Jan. 19, 1918):

A clergyman sends me the following. I think it best to publish the story as it stands:—

“Some years before the outbreak of war there lived in a certain German town, now frequently raided by air squadrons, an old Englishwoman. She was a semi-invalid; difficult and cantankerous. Subject to illusions, she imagined that the good nuns, who received her as an unremunerative paying guest, were in league against her mangy, but beloved dog. Yet both she and her dog continued to receive the half-humorous tolerance of their benefactors.

“Then came the 4th of August, 1914, and Miss X. passed into the mists of war.

“A year later she emerged from the mists.

“A letter came, forwarded through a neutral in Switzerland; but the letter was not from the pen of Miss X. It had been dictated. Briefly, it said: ‘I am bed-ridden and almost blind. I have hardly anything to live upon; and the Germans will not let me go.’

“Certain details were added which clearly established identity to the recipient of the letter. There followed, on the same sheet of paper, and in the same handwriting, a postscript: ‘Sir, I have taken this poor Englishwoman into my house. How can she live on 10 marks a month?

Yours, Fräulein ...’

[222]“Intervened the British Foreign Office and the American Embassy. Then came another letter: ‘Sir, your efforts have not been in vain....

Fräulein ...’

“But that is not the end of this incident of war. ‘Hate.’ had still its ‘uses.’

“‘Sir. I thank you for your good letter and your very kind question. All is paid, hospital and funeral. There were 30 marks left to have the grave a little arranged.

Fräulein ...’”

My correspondent adds the following comment: “I was an enemy, and ye took me in.”

In Vienna newspapers there were in 1915 many advertisements in which French, English, and Russian natives offer their services as teachers, thus:

London Lady (Diploma) gives lessons.—L. Balman, VI Bez. Gumpendorferstrasse 5, Th. 14.

Frenchman and Frenchwoman give instruction in French.—VIII, Lerchengasse 10.

An Irishwoman, brought up in England, gives lessons.—Letters to Miss Morris.

Such advertisements, we learn from the International Review of July, 1915, appear daily in Vienna.

From Die Hilfe, June 22, 1915: “in a weekly concert in Noyon the collaborators were Prof. Rivière, Sergeant Bonhoff, and Director Günzel. The performance of the Frenchman from an organ composition of his own was most effective.” There are, of course, also exhibitions of narrow-mindedness. In Halle the police forbade a performance because one of those who took part was an “enemy alien.” (Vorwärts, June 1, 1915.) On the other hand, when some Italian musicians complained of unjust dismissal, the court awarded them damages of 700 marks. The Volksstimme, of Frankfurt a.M., June 8, 1915, writing of Italy, deprecates any hatred of Italians. As soon as the responsible authorities had decided on war, obedience was the duty of each Italian citizen, just as of each German.[69] This outspoken deference [223]to “responsible authority” is characteristically German, but the doctrine is here applied with great fairness. Some of our militarists apply it less fairly. And, alas, when the Italian Avanti published an article “Against the Blunders of International Hate,” the wisdom of the Censor caused it to be largely blanked out. The Censors seem to have strict orders to keep us hating each other.[70]

Brotherhood Again.

And yet—“We picked up scrappily the hint, however, that ‘some of the Germans were all right.’” This from an article in the Times on a homecomer from the front. With unconscious self-revelation the writer adds: “That somehow sounds depressing. One has heard the opposite.” Just so, it is disconcerting and depressing to have it suggested that the enemy is a man very much like ourselves; it injures our feeling of superiority. We “confess” any favourable impression of him as if it were a fault of our own. A correspondent of the Petit Parisien tells of the capture of a German officer of Hussars, near Arras. “I confess,” he says, “that the impression he produced was rather favourable than otherwise.” (Daily Telegraph, June 11, 1915.)

With others the confession is less reluctant.

There’s one spot in Ploegsteert Wood that German shells ought never to reach. It’s a grave with a carefully made wooden cross on it, and the lettering says:

“Here lie two gallant German officers.”

“That’s rather unexpected,” said a civilian who was with us.

“But they were brave,” said the major. “The Germans aren’t always so bad. Five officers from my regiment were missing one time, and we never even expected to find their bodies. But when we drove the Germans back we found a grave on which was marked: ‘Here lie five brave English officers.’ We identified them all, and their bodies were taken back to England.”

[224]We followed another sidewalk and came to a huge mound covered with yellow flowers, which had been planted by the English soldiers. On a neatly made cross at the head of the mound an English soldier had patiently printed the words: “Here lie seventeen German soldiers.”

There wasn’t an English grave in Ploegsteert Wood that was better tended or more heavily beflowered than these mounds of fallen Germans.—Mr. W. G. Shepherd, Special Correspondent of the United Press.

Daily News, June 1, 1915.

If all the episodes of this action were recorded they would make a long as well as a grim narrative revealing the ghastliness, the wild passion, the self-sacrifice, and the cool cunning of such an hour or two of modern war.

Some of the tales of the men would have been incredible except that I heard them from soldiers who told the truth that lives on the lips of men who have seen very close into the face of death.

It is, for instance, difficult to believe—yet true—that amidst all this tumult and terror of noise one German prisoner was taken as he sat very calmly in his dug-out reading a book of religious meditations through gold-rimmed spectacles. Perhaps it was the man—I only guess—in whose pocket-book was found a letter to his wife saying, “The position here is hellish, and death is certain. I only pray that it may come soon.”

Daily Telegraph, August 16, 1915.

From Belfort in September came the report: “A German aviator this morning flew over Belfort, dropping a wreath on the spot where Pégoud was killed. The following inscription was placed on the wreath: ‘To Pégoud, who dies a hero. (Signed) His Adversary.’”

The following is from the Daily News of October 9, 1915:

The parents of a Lance-Corporal in a Highland regiment who was killed in the recent fighting have received particulars about their son’s death from a German lady in Frankfurt-on-Main.

The lady’s eldest brother was killed last year near Ypres and she knows, she says, how glad they were to receive any details of his death. Another brother, who is an officer in the [225]German army, had written from the front, begging her to inform the dead soldier’s relatives of his fate.

In her letter the lady says: “Although we are enemies, pain and mourning unite us. So thought my brother, too, for he wrote everything about your son he could find out. I am sure my brother and his comrades did all honour to their enemies.”

The next extract is from the Nation of November 13. 1915:

Soldiers are not reluctant to speak well of their foes. The officer son of a friend of mine relates that beyond his line of trenches is a German commemoration of a British advance in the shape of a carefully wrought cross, bearing the inscription: “Sacred to the memory of Lieutenants A—— and B—— of the Staffordshire Regiment, who died like heroes.”

From a private letter: “What impresses one most are the graveyards. All these are beautifully kept, all the graves have been cared for, and no distinction has been drawn between German, English, and French, who lie side by side. ‘Hier ruht ein tapferer Engländer, gefallen im Luftkampf’ (Here lies a brave Englishman, fallen in the air fight), etc., etc.”

The Daily News of March 10, 1919, has the following:

From a staff sergeant in Germany: “Here, in Germany, an English officer with the ’flu was nursed by his landlady, who, when her patient was better, succumbed to its ravages. Her daughter caught it from the mother, and is now lying at death’s door. But merely ‘Huns,’ I suppose.”

The roll of honour in the chapel at New College, Oxford, includes the names of three Germans, and the words of charity: Pro patria—Memento fratres in Christo.

The Way of New Russia.

In reprisals of good we may learn something from the new Russia. When the German prisoners were set to work Kerensky said, “Prisoners or not, they shall be paid at the same rate as other men,” and they were. What was the result? Again the movement [226]of gratitude, which is so potent a force, if only we would believe it. The German prisoners presented half their wages to the Russian Red Cross. I have to rely on private information for this.

Thoughts From the Other Side.

The thoughts of the others are much like our own—that is the difficult truth we have to learn. It is a truth that is absolutely essential to any peace that is to be more than an armistice of fools.

The war has produced in the public opinion of the nations a state of mind which formerly would not have been regarded as possible in our age of internationalism and intellectuality. National egotism and the effort to assert one’s own national interests by all and every means are dominating so exclusively each belligerent group that it forms for itself a closed circle of ideas, and under its influence conclusions are drawn which are so contradictory that one is almost inclined to think that logic and common sense have been entirely eliminated from the thinking capacity of the warring nations....

We Germans, among the others, are subject to this war-suggestion. We do not wish to say, after the manner of the Pharisees, beating their breasts: “We thank Thee, Lord, that we are not like these publicans.” We know that we, too, are prisoners of our circle of ideas, and must remain so, for we, too, are ruled by our national egotism and by our desire to win the war.—Kölnische Zeitung, as quoted by the Daily News, September 3, 1915.

Ideas imprisoned, narrowed (beschränkt, as the Germans say), become putrescent through lack of free air. It is in this putrescence that the gospel of hate is bred. Here is a German officer’s protest against the infamy of this gospel. It is quoted from the Kölnische Zeitung by Mr. A. G. Gardiner in his book, “The War Lords”:

Perhaps you will be so good as to assist, by the publication of these lines, in freeing our troops from an evil which they feel very strongly. I have on many occasions, when distributing among the men the postal packets, observed among them postcards on which the defeated French, English and Russians were derided in a tasteless fashion. The [227]impression made by these postcards on our men is highly noteworthy. Scarcely anybody is pleased with these postcards; on the contrary, every one expresses his displeasure.

This is quite natural when one considers the position. We know how victories are won. We also know by what tremendous sacrifices they are obtained. We see with our own eyes the unspeakable misery of the battlefield. We rejoice over our victories, but our joy is damped by the recollection of the sad pictures which we observe almost daily.

And our enemies have, in an overwhelming majority of cases, truly not deserved to be derided in such a way. Had they not fought bravely we should not have had to register such losses.

Insipid, therefore, as these postcards are in themselves, their effect here on the battlefields, in face of our dead and wounded, is only calculated to cause disgust. Such postcards are as much out of place on the battlefield as a clown is at a funeral. Perhaps these lines may prove instrumental in decreasing the number of such postcards sent to our troops.

Personally, I believe this to express the soul of the real Germany and the soul of the real England. The soul of any people is the best that is in it.

The following is from a lecture delivered by Prof. H. Gomperz in Vienna, early in 1915:

“Ladies and gentlemen, in our day all sorts of speakers and writers feel called upon to preach to us the doctrine of hate, in prose and even in verse, more especially against one of the countries opposing us. I do them the honour of assuming that even they do not mean that we are to translate this feeling into action; rather, even they do not dream of doing the slightest harm to any individual Englishman in so far as it is not necessary or inevitable for the purposes of victory. What then does this preaching of hatred mean, if indeed it means anything at all, and is not the mere empty clamour of some people anxious to attract attention without rendering useful service? Do they mean us to nurse and cherish the feeling of hate? Truly a strange demand after nearly two thousand years of training in the teaching of the gospel! And besides, whom are we to hate? The individual doing his duty in the service of his country, just as we are? Or the responsible governors of the destinies of that country, and the irresponsible leaders of its public opinion?” Hatred of the individual serving his country and governed by others Prof. Gomperz does not stop to discuss. It can obviously be the [228]product only of what with etymological correctness we may term insanity. The governors and leaders imagined an irreconcilable antagonism. If they were right their case is justified; if they are wrong we must no more hate them than we should hate a patient suffering temporarily from delusion.—International Review, August, 1915.

Magnus Schwantje spoke very plainly at a meeting of the Schopenhauer Society at Düsseldorf in June, 1915. He allows that the state has a right to wage a war of defence, but not to force anyone to serve in the army. Schopenhauer, he tells us, “esteems sympathy with all that lives and suffers more highly than love for the Fatherland.... During a war a noble man desires such an issue as may be most beneficial to the whole world.... With all our readiness to recognise the merit of patriotic self-denial, we, the admirers of Schopenhauer, have to warn our compatriots, especially during a war, of the danger of patriotism degenerating into injustice, or even hatred and malicious joy at the misfortune of other nations.... Not one of the European peoples can be suppressed without heavy loss to the whole world, and not one has the right to force its special character on the others.” (International Review, September, 1915.)

War Literature.

It is the elderly gentlemen on both sides who exude vitriol. It is a pity that they are so much in evidence. But even some of them retain their sanity. The following is from the Cambridge Magazine of May 15, 1915:

Those who, at the beginning of the war, were induced by the Press to wonder whether any elderly German professor had retained his mental equilibrium will now be disposed to wonder whether the proportion of serious cases is after all larger there than here. At any rate the Schopenhauer Society is a very important learned body, and Prof. Deussen, of Kiel, is one of the most distinguished of German scholars. And this is how he writes in the fourth year book of the Schopenhauer Society—apparently in terms of contempt for a loquacious [229]minority (the translation is taken from the April number of the Open Court, and the italics are ours, especially the concluding shot at the Lady Patriot):

“‘Not to my contemporaries,’ says Schopenhauer, ‘not to my countrymen, but to humanity do I commit my work which is now completed, in the confidence that it will not be without value to the race. Science, and more than every other science, philosophy is international.’ ... Foolish, very foolish, therefore is the conduct of certain German professors who have renounced their foreign honours and titles. And what shall we say of a member of our society who demanded that citizens of those states which are at war with us should be excluded from the Schopenhauer Society, and who, when it was pointed out that our foreign members certainly condemned this infamous war as much as we Germans, protested that she could not belong to an association in which Frenchmen, Englishmen and Russians took part, and announced her withdrawal from our society, indeed, even published her brave resolution in the columns of a local paper in her provincial town. We shall not shed any tears for her having gone.”[71]

Romain Rolland bears out the idea that “in all countries the extremest views have been expressed by writers already past middle age.” So it is in Germany, Rolland tells us. Dehmel, the enemy of war, has enlisted at 51; Gerhart Hauptmann, “the poet of brotherly love,” cries out for slaughter. But Fritz von Unruh has, from the battlefield, written “Das Lamm”: “Lamb of God, I have seen Thy look of suffering; lead us back to the heaven of love.” Rudolf Leonhard, who was caught up in the storm, wrote afterwards on the front page of his poems: “These were written during the madness of the first weeks. That madness has spent itself, and only our strength is left. We shall again win control over ourselves and love one another.”

[230]“Menschen in Not ...
Brüder dir tot ...
Krieg ist im Land ...”

No “glory” of war is in these simple, poignant words of Ludwig Marck—simply a dire evil that we have not the sanity to avoid. “Whether you gaze trembling into the eyes of the beloved, or mark down your enemy with pitiless glance, think of the eye that will grow dim, of the failing breath, the parched lips and clenched hands, the final solitude, and the brow that grows moist in the last pangs.... Be kind.... Tenderness is wisdom. Kindness is reason.... We are strangers all upon this earth, and die but to be reunited.” Thus Franz Werfel. Since these words cannot be called barbaric, they will perhaps be called sentimental. It is true that to those of us who have loved our comrades, of whatever nation, the sentiment of brotherhood does just now make a somewhat tragic appeal. If that appeal, in these days of decimated ideals, be at times strained and feverish, it scarcely lies in the mouths of the apostles of hate to deride us. The sentimentality of hatred is uglier and more fatuous than the sentimentality of brotherhood.

Hermann Hesse is living at Berne. He has implored the writers of all nations not to join with their pens in destroying the future of Europe. From a poem of later date come these words: “All possessed it, but no one prized it. Like a cool spring it has refreshed us all. What a sound the word peace has for us now. Distant it sounds, and fearful, and heavy with tears. No one knows or can name the day for which all sigh with such longing.”

Do not let us forget that almost everything that is most militarist is old. It is only the old who affect still to glory in war—the old newspapers, the old reviews, the old statesmen, and some, perhaps, of the old soldiers—it is to what is newest, youngest, most creative, most living that we look not in vain for an unshaken belief in brotherhood, for a clear acknowledgment that [231]any other belief would throw us back into the ape and tiger struggle of world beginnings, but with the ape ten thousand times more cunning and the tiger ten thousand times more cruel. To some German publications the war is a stupid eruption of barbarism into a workshop where work was being done. Die Aktion scoffs mercilessly at the Chauvinists and at Lissauer with his Hymn of Hate.[72] Even Lissauer, be it remarked, has published his repentance, and, personally, I respect him for it. The man who can say that he spoke too strongly is always worth knowing. The man who insists elaborately on his consistency (as the politicians do) is usually singularly devoid of any appreciation of truth. Die Aktion (1915) goes on steadily with its appreciation of French artists, as if no war were in progress. There may be some affectation in this attitude, but it is to be preferred, I think, to the complete ostracism of work of the enemy called for by a noisy but, I believe, small section on this side. Die Weissen Blätter appeared in January, 1915, with the following announcement:

It seems good to us to begin the work of reconstruction in the midst of the war. The community of Europe is at present apparently destroyed. Is it not the duty of all of us who are not bearing arms to live from to-day onwards according to the dictates of our conscience, as it will be the duty of every German when once the war is over?

Evidently the editor has in his mind a contrast between the dictates of conscience and the dictates of officialism. He was born in Alsace, so he may well know this contrast. We are learning it here. In the February number the Krieg mit dem Maul (war with the mouth) was most vigorously condemned:

[232]If journalists hope to inspire courage by insulting the enemy, they are mistaken—we refuse such stimulants. We dare to maintain our opinion that the humblest volunteer of the enemy, who, from an unreasoned but exalted sentiment of patriotism, fires upon us from an ambush, knowing well what he risks, is much superior to those journalists who profit by the public feeling of the day, and under cover of high-sounding words of patriotism do not fight the enemy, but spit on him.

I am reminded of words used by one of my Swiss friends: “As soon as soldiers must get their fighting force from suggestions of puerile besmirching of the enemy, then war indeed becomes intolerably base.”

Annette Kolb, daughter of a German father and a French mother, had the courage to proclaim openly in a public lecture at Dresden that she was faithful to both sides, and to express her regret that Germany should fail to understand France. After all, German intolerance must have its limits for such a bold speech to be possible.

Wilhelm Herzog in the Munich Forum has attacked the intellectual fire-eaters, the patriots who insult other peoples and the Chauvinists generally. He defends France, the French army and French civilisation, against the brilliant novelist, Thomas Mann. Above all does he condemn the intellectual babble: “The wrong that these privy councillors and professors have done us with their ‘Aufklärungsarbeit’ can hardly be measured. They have isolated themselves from humanity by their inability to realise the feelings of others.”

Mr. Lowes Dickinson has called attention in the Hibbert of October, 1915, to a pamphlet by Dr. Friedrich Wilhelm Förster, entitled “Deutschlands Jugend und der Weltkrieg.” The same pamphlet is quoted in The Ethical Movement of the same date. Here are some extracts:

“Hate disorganises, love disciplines. Fill yourselves with deepest sympathy for all who suffer in war, whose hearts are crushed, whose bodies are broken, whose homes are burned [233]... and win a peace which shall make the recurrence of such things for ever impossible. Such a purification from the passion of hate is often easier on the field than at home. Those who remain behind have an abstract enemy in view. The soldier sees living men who suffer and die like himself.” It will startle the English reader to find Dr. Förster pleading earnestly that the English soldier is not responsible for the ways of his government or of his leaders. The Germans are to remain true to themselves whatever the others may do. Each side, observe, accuses the other of barbarous methods, and impartiality is impossible. The most that one can expect of the ardent partisan is perhaps that he should, like Dr. Förster, urge those on his side to remain true to their ideals, whatever the enemy may do. “England has given us also the Salvation Army, and invaluable higher points of view for the treatment of Labour questions and social work. She has taught our revolutionary spirits and moderated our party passions. Let us always remember this, and in that remembrance grasp again in the future the proffered hand.” For Dr. Förster it is for this better England that Germany now fights, just as for many an Englishman it is for the better Germany that England is fighting. “And it is better for us to fight for that better England than to rage and spit upon ... Grey and his followers. In sleepless nights kindle the eternal light of Christ in your souls and try to love your enemies. Think of that great William Booth and of all the English greatness and goodness embodied in him; of Florence Nightingale, the heroine and saint, whose pioneer work is still binding up to-day unnumbered wounds; and think of Carlyle, Ruskin, and Toynbee and of those mighty forces of conscience which spoke in their words and gave to us Germans, and will give us yet, so much that is great.”


“Christ stands against war and above war. He who loses sight of this truth slays that deep conscience of civilisation which is meant to goad us unceasingly on to allay this fury of war. We know well that if we were Christians there would be no war.” Förster denounces the bawling haters “who must open their mouths 42 centimetres wide,” and think that he who does not do it is no patriot.

“To conquer and silence them must be your first task, young men of the new Germany; you who have been purified by sacrifice and suffering. For what would it profit our people if it gained the whole world and lost its own soul?” May we not, mutatis mutandis, take this appeal to heart ourselves?


“The essence and foundation of the State is precisely the opposite of power, viz., law, treaty, fellowship between opposed interests, and the whole outer strength of a State rests upon the depth and firmness of these, its inner conditions and links. Therefore the first commandment of life for the State is not to create for itself might but to care for the ethical unity of its members, for the supremacy of the conscience and the sense of law above rude self-interest.”—(Quoted in the Ethical Movement, October, 1915.)

Granted that voices such as those of Herzog, Förster, Schücking, Schwantje are a minority, it is yet plain that they represent more than themselves. The existence of such reviews and utterances implies the existence of at least many thousands who have not been deluded by their governors. Of those who have been deluded into enmity, but who have never dreamed of world dominance, there are, I am convinced, many millions. Bernhardi was introduced to Germany by England. There were four million Social Democrats. They have defended their country, but they have never dreamed of aggression. The time will come to claim the help of these men and the many others of the wiser Germany. That wiser Germany will yet live to be, not an army of destruction, but an army of progress.

Henrietta Thomas, of Baltimore, Maryland, went early in 1915 with a message of fellowship from English people to German people. There was some surprise, some tendency to view the message as Utopian, but always a cordial acknowledgment and a real goodwill. Dr. Siegmund Schulze was most heartily in sympathy. “He feels that the ultimate hope of peace lies in the increasing use of arbitration.” “One very sweet-spirited elderly gentleman in Berlin said that when he prayed things looked different—he seemed to see things through God’s eyes—but as a man he had to fight.” “At Stuttgart and Frankfurt I found the peace people more thoroughgoing in their [235]sentiments.” The secretary of the Stuttgart Peace Society said: “The armed peace of Europe is an exploded idea. As long as we have armies we shall use them. We must educate the people to realise this, and to work for disarmament.”

Lichtstrahlen was originally founded as an independent monthly periodical by a Socialist, Julian Borchardt. The periodical was unofficial and had a difficult struggle for existence. This was before the war. When the war broke out the editor took as strong a line against it as the censor allowed. The circulation rose so much that Borchardt was able to convert the monthly into a weekly. Rosa Luxembourg and Frank Mehring, greatly daring, started the Internationale with the object of rebuilding the International Labour and Socialist movement during the war. The review was instantly suppressed, but was reprinted afterwards at Berne. Among the contributors is the well-known Clara Zetkin. She refers enthusiastically to the Christmas message sent by British women to the women of Germany and other belligerent countries. (Labour Leader, June 17, 1915.) Marie Engelmann, of Dresden, has protested with equal strength.

From an American Lady.

The following is an extract from a valuable letter by Madeline G. Doty, an American, which appeared in the Nation of June 12, 1915:

My most revolutionary talk was with a gray-haired mother of grown children, in a secluded corner of a quiet restaurant. A burning flame this woman. Her face stamped with world suffering, her eyes the tragic eyes of a Jane Addams. In a whisper she uttered the great heresy: ‘German salvation lies in Germany’s defeat. If Germany wins when so many of her progressive young men have been slain, the people will be utterly crushed in the grip of the mailed fist.’

With this companion I discussed the collapse of the Social Democrats in the hour of crisis, the triumph of [236]nationalism over internationalism. She attributes it to military training. During the period of service a man becomes a thing. Automatically, he acquires habits of obedience, is reduced to an unquestioning machine. Mechanically, when the call came, the Social Democrats, with the others, fell into line. But with time has come thought. Also knowledge—knowledge that, in the first instance, Germany’s war was not one of self-defence. But it is too late to rebel. Most of the Social Democrats are at the front. From month to month they have put off protest as unwise. Only Liebknecht has made himself heard. Now he has been caught up in the iron hand, and sent to battle. But women are not bound by the spell of militarism. While the Government rejoiced at the submission of its Socialist men, the women grew active. Organising a party of their own, they fought bravely. Last fall Rosa Luxembourg dashed into the street and addressed a regiment of soldiers. ‘Don’t go to war, don’t shoot your brothers,’ she cried. For this offence she was sent to prison for a year. To-day she lies in solitary confinement. But her suffering only inspires the others. In March 750 women walked to the Reichstag. At the entrance they halted. As the members entered they shouted, ‘We will have no more war; we will have peace.’ Quickly the police dispersed them, and the order went forth that no newspaper should print one word of the protest. Still the women work on. On April 8, an International Socialist Woman’s Congress was held at Berne, Switzerland. Ten nations were represented, including all the belligerents.

The task of peace propaganda in Germany is gigantic. Neither by letter nor by Press can news be spread. Both are censored. The work must be carried on by spoken word passed from mouth to mouth. The courage of the little band of women I had met was stupendous. Through them I learned to love Germany. So my life in Berlin became a double one. I ate and slept, and was unregenerate in one part of the town, and only really lived when I escaped from respectability and, strange contradiction of terms, became a criminal fighting for peace.

But wherever I was, one fact grew omnipresent. Germany was magnificently organised. Here lay the country’s power and her weakness. Her power because it made Germany a unit. There were no weak links in the chain. Her weakness, because it robbed her people of individuality, made them cogs in a machine.

“Germany no longer cares whom she hurts,” runs another passage in this letter; “like an unloved child [237]at bay she means, to smash and kill. The pity of it! Never was there a more generous, soft-hearted, kindly people. Germany, the land of the Christmas tree and folk songs, and hearthsides and gay childish laughter, turned into a relentless fighting machine! But each individual is a cog firmly fixed in the machine, which will go ever on as long as the ruling power turns the crank.”[73]

Two Soldiers’ Letters.

“If I were not firmly convinced that even this war will help to establish the Kingdom of God I could hardly endure it. But I believe that after passing through this hell humanity will come to itself and learn to believe in the reign of human brotherhood.... I cannot tell you the moral suffering I go through. These butcheries are utter madness. I cannot forget for a moment that our enemies are men, and consequently our brothers.” So wrote a young German soldier student quoted by Mr. Jerome K. Jerome.

The following letter is from the Vossische Zeitung. A soldier’s young sister had written asking him to “kill a lot of Russians” and “to gain a new victory in order to cheer us up.” “‘Kill a lot of Russians.’ You have not seen them lying about—those poor dead, with their singularly solemn faces.... You have not seen the battle which preceded, and the bad wounds which so many of my friends got in trying to kill a lot of them. You do not think of the fact that those dead men had parents, brothers, and sisters whom they loved. And you have not seen the harrowing destruction of the villages and towns—how the poor, hunted-down population is running away, leaving everything they had behind them to be consumed by the flames.... And then, remember, we are not [238]fighting in order to cheer you up—we are not lying about in the open-air day and night, starved and suffering from wounds and homesickness, in order that you at home may be cheerful at the tea or beer table. We are fighting and bearing this terrible wretchedness in order that you may he spared the horrors of war, and that Germany’s future may be bright.” That is, I believe, what the enormous majority of Germany’s soldiers are fighting for. Soldiers on both sides have similar and quite reconcilable aims; but government is too complex to express the simple will of the people. In every country, it seems to me, anti-militarist opinion only needs its chance. I was struck by the frequency with which such an opinion cropped up when I was travelling a few weeks in Germany not long before the war. On the top of the Belchen I encountered it in talking to a native of Würtemberg. Again in a walk with a young German to the Feldberg; again in a book-shop at Freiburg; again in chance railway talk with a very well-educated German on my way to Berlin. In Berlin itself a giant Westphalian accosted me, as he wanted to make the acquaintance of “one of these terrible fellows who mean to smash up Germany.” His political ideal consisted in the belief that England and Germany, understanding each other, could keep the peace of the world.

Albert Klein.

Dr. Albert Klein, of Giessen, who was killed in the Champagne in February, felt compelled to side with his Government, as so many do in times of crisis. To that extent his was a biased judgment. It is a bias that one has seen possessing almost everywhere the noblest souls. But Klein could write thus:

When I read all this inflated stuff in the papers—written by men guiltily conscious of being very safe in their offices at home—to the effect that every soldier is a hero, I feel [239]positively disgusted. Heroism is far too rare to form a basis for a national army. What is needed to make and keep that a coherent whole is that men must respect their leaders and fear them more than the enemy, and that leaders must be conscientious, true to their duty, well informed, resourceful and self-controlled. Thank God, there is plenty of the good old discipline yet. But these fine fellows come along, concoct a mess of New Year reflections and Centenary speeches and boldly declaim about the German spirit that is to heal mankind. They pick up all the filth of the foreign Press and fling it back with threefold interest. It is just because I am so passionately devoted to all that the noblest Germans have done for the civilisation of the world that I do not desire to see us burdened with a task we cannot accomplish.

If Germany’s contribution to the world’s civilisation is the highest we can strive for, we must seek afresh to live in peace and concord with the other nations. Then we shall cease calling every Englishman a hypocrite and every Frenchman empty-headed, quite apart from the daily proofs we get of their military ability. Oh, my dear friends, believe me, the man on the spot who sees and experiences all this, does not talk so complacently of death and sacrifice and victory, as those who, far from the front, ring the bells, make fine speeches and write the papers. He resigns himself to the bitter necessity of suffering and death when the hour comes, and he knows and sees how many, too many sacrifices have already been made, knows it is time, high time that all this devastation ceased, not only on our side, but on the other side, too.

It is just in seeing all this suffering that we feel a new bond of sympathy (and you, my dear ones, would feel just the same, yes, I know, you feel it already) uniting us with the enemy.

If, as I hardly dare to hope, I return from this murderous war, it will be one of my most welcome duties to steep my mind in the culture of those that now oppose us. I mean to build up on a broader basis the aim and purpose of my life, namely, historical and philosophical meditation on culture in its highest form.

Last night I was strangely moved, having an opportunity of seeing a convoy of prisoners and speaking to one of them, a colleague, a classical philologist from Vigeac. Such a frank, intelligent man, with an excellent military training, as indeed were all the company with him! He told me how terrible it had been to endure the firing of our machine-guns (démoralisant, he called it)—and showed me clearly the utter senselessness of war. How we should like to be friends with people so like us in education, habits of life, thought and interest.

[240]We soon got into conversation about a book on Rousseau and began a regular argument, like two old philologists. He saw the ribbon in my button-hole and when he heard it was the Iron Cross he said: “Félicitations!” His sparkling interest in the striped ribbon seemed to me so characteristic of a Southern Frenchman and very touching.

How alike we are in worth and merit! How untrue all these tales told by our papers of the French being broken and spent! Just as untrue as all that the Temps writes about us. And all he said, this French colleague of mine, betrayed so much independent thought and respect for German mind and character. Why should we, fated to be friends, always be divided? I was deeply troubled, and sat there for a long time lost in thought, but all my brooding brought me no solution.

And the end not in sight yet, the end of this war, that for six months has been gorging itself with human life and prosperity and happiness! The same feeling amongst us and amongst them! Always the same picture! We are so much alike, we achieve the same, we suffer the same, just because we happen to be such bitter enemies.—(From the International Review.)

The following is another extract given by M. Romain Rolland. It is taken from the letter of a German soldier to a Swiss professor:

The longing for peace is intense with us. At least with all those who are at the front, forced to kill and to be killed. The newspapers say that it is not possible to stem the war-like passion of the soldiers. They lie, knowingly or unknowingly. Our pastors deny that this passion is abating. You cannot think how indignant we are at such nonsense. Let them hold their tongues and not speak of things they do not understand. Or, rather, let them come here, not as chaplains in the rear, but in the line of fire, with arms in their hands. Perhaps then they will perceive the inner change which is going on in thousands of us. In the eyes of these parsons a man who has no passion for war is unworthy of his age. But it seems to me that we who are faithfully doing our duty without enthusiasm for the war, and hating it from the bottom of our souls, are finer heroes than the others. They speak of a Holy War. I know of no Holy War. I only know one war, and that is the sum of everything that is inhuman, impious, and beastly in man, a visitation of God and a call to repentance to the people who rushed into it, or allowed themselves to be drawn into it. God has plunged men into [241]this Hell in order to teach them to love Heaven. As for the German people, the war seems to be a chastisement and a call to contrition—addressed first of all to our German Church.

Germany in Peace Time.

Enough has been cited to give a glimpse of the better Germany in the time of this war. Let us remember, too, what she has been in peace. “After all, in our saner moments we all of us know that the Germans are a great people, with a great part in the world to play. Their boasts about their ‘culture’ are not idle boasts, and, when one comes to think of it, it is rather important to have in our midst a people that cares to boast about its culture. The Englishman is more given to complaining than boasting, and when he does boast it is certainly not about culture. As it seems to me, the Germans excel in two things—simple tenderness of sentiment and the work of patient observation. I am aware that it has for a considerable time been the mode in England to slight German literature. Personally, I consider this one of those temporary poses to which superior persons are liable. Leave out all the great names if you will—Goethe, Schiller, Heine, and the rest—and we still have the folk-songs. A nation that can produce those folk-songs has got unusual gifts for the world. And, of course, we envy the Germans their music. Of all the contemptible utterances that this war has produced (and it has produced a good many) none has been worse than the silly blathering against German music just because it is German. What have Beethoven, Bach, Schubert, Schumann, Wagner got to do with the politics of the present war? Leaving the arts aside, it is quite certain that in any region where careful observation and painstaking thought are required, no one can afford to neglect Germany. Recently I was looking through May’s ‘Guide to the Roman Pottery in the York Museum.’ Among the names of those dealing with the subject of Roman pottery I suppose [242]the best known are those of Déchelette and Dragendorff—the one French, the other German. Among the other references I found fourteen to German publications and four to English, one of the latter being merely a museum catalogue. No one can study philosophy without continual reference to German thought. Even in a subject so English as the study of Shakespeare the work of Gervinus is fundamental, and from the time of Lessing to that of Ten Brink there has been a succession of German commentators. Those of us who have worked at all at science know only too well what we owe to Germany there. It has, indeed, been at times painful to compare the mass of the German output with the comparatively thin stream of English work. Of course, there has been splendid English research, but as a people we are not lovers of knowledge, and we are specially loath to apply it. Again and again our scientific papers have been filled with diatribes against our English neglect of science, and the diatribes were needed. I remember asking a British firm of repute to construct for me a resistance ‘bridge’ of a simple kind. I explained the whole purpose of the apparatus, but when it came back to me the resistance wire was soldered down in two places to broad bands of brass. This, of course, altered the resistance and rendered the apparatus useless. A rudimentary knowledge of electricity would have made such a mistake impossible. Contrast this with the following: When I was a student a lecturer wished to prepare a rather rare compound for some work of his. We both tried for long to prepare a specimen, but failed, probably because the temperature of our furnace was not high enough. We then sent to a German firm of manufacturing chemists, and they prepared it for us at once. I remarked recently to an English scientific chemist, ‘No English firm would have done that.’ ‘Well, if you had pressed them,’ he replied, ‘they would have [243]sent over to —— (a German firm) and then put their own label on the bottle.’ A ‘chemist’ in too many of our works has too often been a lad who has picked up some routine knowledge, but who has no more scientific equipment than a farm labourer. Contrast this with the state of things at the Badische Anilin und Soda Fabrik, where as many as sixty trained chemists are employed.

“I have often thought of these things when I have heard manufacturers bewailing German competition. The war has produced many strange intellectual somersaults, and it is curious to notice how many Free Traders are now eager for the destruction, not temporarily, but permanently, of German trade. A few months ago they would have preached in season and out on the advantage to England of receiving cheap goods, they would have extolled German scientific methods, and they would (with every right) have pointed out that a customer who buys forty million pounds’ worth of our goods is scarcely one whom we should wish to destroy. All these facts remain absolutely unaltered by the war. All that has happened is that a half-ashamed jealousy is no longer ashamed, and is masquerading as patriotism so successful as to have misled the majority of our countrymen—for a time. The day of reckoning will come, and we shall not then find it any better than previously to buy dear goods to please the manufacturers. Moreover, our men of business will not have learned scientific methods by the end of the war. A publisher’s circular that I recently received appealed, on patriotic grounds, for the purchase of a book on applied science. I am not very cynical, but I confess that I distrust these trade appeals to patriotism. The true patriot does not advertise his patriotism in order to make money. In this case the work was well known and important, but it was interesting to observe that almost every one of the contributors was German, and [244]that the rest were German-Swiss. Surely, in spite of its horror, there are many things in this contest to make the gods laugh.”[74]

British Recognition.

It is pleasant to find recognition of Germany’s commercial deserts among British commercial men. The annual conference of the United Kingdom Commercial Travellers’ Association was opened at the Town Hall, Manchester, on May 24, 1915. Sir William Mather, who was unanimously elected president, referred to Germany as follows:

The position of Germany in the world of commerce had been attained as the result of years of patient and persistent organisation, of close application to business, of exhaustive and careful research work, and full appreciation of the requirements and necessities of the markets for which she was catering, and a determination to meet those requirements in strict accordance with the wishes and needs of her potential customers. Behind all the efforts had been lavish financial support by the German Government, and the pledging of national credit for individual and private enterprise.

The position secured by Germany as a result of her persistent application of these methods was not to be seriously challenged, nor would she be deprived of her hold upon it by anything other than the use by Englishmen of the same skill, the same elasticity, the same persistence, and the same efficiency in every branch of commerce.

Commercial travellers, as one of the most important parts of the mechanism, must, if the desired result be obtained, make themselves fully efficient for their part in the work. They had been perhaps, as vocal as any section of the community as to the necessity and possibility of extending English trade, but it was much to be regretted that when opportunities were given and facilities provided, more particularly for the younger men to equip themselves for the work which had to be done in extending British commerce abroad, the response was extremely inadequate.—(Daily Telegraph, May 25, 1915.)

As regards chemical research there also fortunately remain those who still ungrudgingly admit our enormous indebtedness to Germany. In March, 1915, [245]Professor Percy Frankland, F.R.S., addressed the Birmingham Section of the Society of Chemical Industry on “The Chemical Industries of Germany.” With true and chivalrous courtesy, Professor Frankland, in a footnote to his printed address, writes: “The author has much pleasure in acknowledging the assistance he has received from the valuable compilation by Professor Lepsius of Berlin, ‘Deutschlands Chem. Industrie, 1888-1913,’ and from that by Dr. Duisberg, of Elberfeld, ‘Wissenschaft und Technik,’ 1911.” I believe such courtesy is more characteristically British than the lack of it sometimes shown by others. The following quotations from Professor Frankland’s address are of interest:

Industries Dependent on Synthetic Organic Chemistry.

... During the major part of the [past] 60 years the great bulk of the discoveries in this domain have been made in Germany. Organic chemistry is, perhaps, the branch of science which more perfectly suits the German mind and temperament. It involves the possession of those qualities in which Germans are so pre-eminent—the capacity for taking an infinitude of pains, the capacity to anticipate difficulties and organise means to circumvent them.... It is in the possession of such schools of research, both in the universities and in the chemical factories, that Germany has by two generations the lead of all other countries in the world.... The chemical manufacturers in this country have, with some notable exceptions, failed to establish anything worthy of the name of research laboratories in connection with their works.... Whereas the artificial colour industry started in England, that of artificial drugs is entirely of German origin, and may be said to begin with the discovery by Liebig of chloroform in 1831, and of chloral hydrate in 1832.... The composition of the personnel who carry on these German colour works is at the bottom of their success. Take the works of Messrs. Meister, Lucius, und Brüning as an example. In 1913, the composition was as follows: Workmen, 7,680; managers, 374; expert chemists, 307; technologists, 74; commercial staff, 611. Contrast with the above the fact that the six English factories now producing dyestuffs employ altogether only 35 chemists, whilst evidence of their relative [246]activities is again furnished by the circumstance that between 1886 and 1900 the English firms took out only 86 patents, whereas the six principal German firms were responsible for 948 during the same period. Having shown that these German coal-tar colour manufacturers are without rivals from the commercial point of view, I feel it to be my duty to point out also that their industry is carried on under conditions of labour which are highly creditable to the management.

Professor Frankland goes on to urge that we should at least pay heed to “the warnings repeated ad nauseam by the chemical profession during a whole generation.” Those warnings told us of the stupidity and peril of neglecting science. It is not mere commercialism but science that is needed. The help of science, it may be added, will never be gained unless devotion is paid to it for its own sake, and not simply as a means to money. That reward is too far off for mere commercialism. Adolf Baeyer synthesised indigo in 1880, but it cost 17 years of laborious investigation and the investment of nearly £1,000,000 of capital before that synthesis could be made a commercial success. So long a chase is not carried out by those who are thinking only of the prize. The hunt itself must interest them. That, I personally fear, is where we in Britain (and especially in England) are somewhat lacking.

Two other points in Professor Frankland’s address I would draw attention to. In emphasising the need of scientific men on the directorates he asks: “What does not the firm of Messrs. Brunner, Mond and Co., for example, owe to the late Dr. Ludwig Mond, F.R.S.?” Just so. Dr. Ludwig Mond was a German. He came to this country and brought with him his energy, enterprise, and his very exceptional scientific endowments. With Mr. J. J. Brunner he was thus able to found what became the largest alkali works in the kingdom, and undoubtedly one of the most scientific and enterprising works we have. Incidentally it is worth mentioning that the firm of Brunner, Mond [247]and Co. was one of the first to introduce the eight hours day. There are people about (a few of whom ought to know better) asking for the exclusion of the German in the future. I would venture to suggest that we might well exchange very many English people of such limited brain capacity for one Ludwig Mond. To shut the door to men is to shut the doors to talent, and talent produces its best by cross-fertilisation.

I may at this point insert an illustration communicated to me privately. My informant said: “When I was a very young man I determined to try to save a business which was falling in ruin. My project was strongly opposed by my friends, but I determined to carry it out. The works which I took over were then employing 150 men. There was a great lack of scientific training, and this I saw was the chief cause of disaster. So I began sending my men to Germany to be trained. The Germans have always, at their State-supported universities, welcomed the foreigner and given him their best knowledge. My men brought that knowledge back to England. The result was that by the time I withdrew from active work we were employing about three thousand men. The Germans had thus given work to nearly three thousand Englishmen. People should remember facts of this kind when they talk of Germans coming here and ‘taking the bread out of our mouths.’”

The wife of an interned man struggled to keep his business. She was, however, ruined. “Serve you right,” she was told, “coming here and taking the bread out of our people’s mouths.” What a strange idea of humanity! What are “our people”? If a Scotsman settles in London is he “taking the bread out of our people’s mouths’”? We forget that the foreigner is very often an enormous accession to a State. The Norman conquerors who organised us, the Flemings who improved our weaving, the Huguenots [248]who gave new ideas to our commerce, the Germans who brought us scientific method have all been amongst the makers of England. Exclusiveness is a constricting cord that strangles progress. Exchange of commodities is, we know, the life of trade, and exchange of men and ideas is the life of more than trade.

The last quotation I shall make from Professor Frankland’s address has, I venture to think, very considerable bearing on the possibilities of future friendship:

Notwithstanding the absence of material inducements, I venture to say without fear of contradiction that there is more original investigation being prosecuted in this country by chemists than by any other body of British men of science, and this I attribute to the fact that such a large proportion of our number have either been at German universities or are the pupils of those who have been at these centres of research. Nor are any of us, I am sure, even during this unfortunate crisis, unmindful of the hospitality and inspiration which we have received in the schools of the enemy.

One has met with so much pettiness and folly masquerading as patriotism that it is delightful to welcome such a truly noble utterance.

The allusion to the conditions of labour in Professor Frankland’s address is also important. Most of us regard the German labourer as far too controlled and regulated, but everyone knows that Germany was to the fore in care for the health and well-being of the workman: “As to the factory legislation in general, not only do they afford to children and juveniles a greater measure of protection in regard to hours and other conditions of work than is enforced by the English Factory Acts, but many of their provisions for ensuring the health, comfort, and safety of all workers go beyond the limits which are thought sufficient in this country.” (W. H. Dawson, “The Evolution of Modern Germany,” p. 332.)

[249]Insurance against sickness and old age were measures that we learned from Germany. They were intended to increase British efficiency and well-being, and our statesmen received every courtesy and help in studying German methods. It will be said by many that we shall not study those methods again. Perhaps not. They may prefer an English method as propounded by Lord Headley when speaking at a luncheon in connection with the Bakery and Confectionery Trades Exhibition held at Islington. The report is from the Glasgow Herald as reproduced in the Labour Leader (October 21, 1915):

In regard to many industries, the plain fact was that the foreigner lived much more cheaply than the British workman and charged far less for his labour. Where labour, and not machinery, formed a small part of the cost of production we should be able to compete with the foreigner, and that should be the case in high class confectionery more than in anything else. If we were to defeat the foreigner in other industries after the war, it seemed to him that the British workman would have to consent to work for lower wages than hitherto. At any rate, he hoped so, in order that the country might supply itself with necessities without having to go abroad for them.

It seems to me that in this way we should “defeat” not only the foreigner, but the Englishman as well—except the privileged few who could get workmen at low wages without lowering their profits. I remember saying to a Colonial lady that we had gained much from the science of German settlers in this country. “Damn German science,” was her reply. A certain type of employer desires two protections—protection against the knowledge of the foreigner, and protection against the aspirations of the worker. Both the knowledge and the aspirations of others are a disturbance of repose.

At a Nottingham meeting of the Society of Chemical Industry the unscientific character of British methods was again emphasised. So, too, at the Edinburgh meeting in December, 1914.

[250]Principal A. P. Laurie, speaking of paints and colours, said: “There were very few cases among those he had inquired into of a chemical, a colour product, or a pigment which was being made both in Germany and in England in which the German product was not better than that made in this country.... Again, it was admitted that German barytes was better ground than English. Yet an extensive literature on barytes and barytes mining had been published by the Germans, showing exactly how German barytes was ground. They had not found a barytes miner in England who owned a microscope.... The English manufacturer did not believe in or use the man of science.

“Mr. Tatlock, speaking from the laboratory glass apparatus makers’ point of view, said that British manufacturers were finding it exceedingly difficult to replace German and Austrian products.... Professor Henderson had referred to the possibility of people buying more readily goods of British manufacture. They did not find that to be the case. The goods had to be cheaper or better; they would certainly never be bought purely because they were British, and he did not altogether think that they should be bought for that reason.”

It is surely clear that the only wise world policy is one in which each nation brings its own particular contribution to the common stock and in no way tries to shut others out.

The Policy of Boycotting Thought.

We find it impossible to shut out German music. “Germany, it must be said to its credit,” I read in the daily Press, “is not boycotting foreign art.” In the autumn of 1915 the Royal Theatres of Berlin announced Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” and “Antony and Cleopatra,” and Scribe’s “Glass of Water.” “Shakespeare, one hears,” writes a reviewer in the [251]Daily News, of December 4, 1915, “is still being played in the German theatres. If you go to a theatre in London you are more likely to see a performance with a title like ‘I don’t Think!’ or ‘Pass the Mustard, Please!’ Shakespeare, to tell the truth, is in England left largely to professors and schoolboys.”

A silly crusade was started in this country against German thought in general, a crusade so petty that it made some of us wince for shame. The upholders of creeds joined in hastily, for German investigators had given our beliefs many uncomfortable shocks. We remember how it came about that the President of the Training College in Mark Rutherford’s Autobiography could with such satisfaction to himself destroy the “infidel.” “The President’s task was all the easier because he knew nothing of German literature; and, indeed, the word ‘German’ was a term of reproach signifying something very awful, although nobody knew exactly what it was.” The obscurantist and opponent of free thought has shown signs of hope that the German’s reputation for awfulness may turn us from his evil companionship into the restful paths of British piety. The Englishman (especially, I believe, the Saxon element) has too often been prone to make a stronghold of ignorance. This stronghold has certainly in industry proved to be a house of cards, and I think it has proved to be equally a house of cards in religion. It would, indeed, be a disastrous outcome of the war if it led us still more to emphasise our insularity. Unless we are readier after the war to learn from everyone, we shall, as a nation, be mentally moribund. It matters not in the least whether the thought be German, French, Austrian, Swiss, Russian, or any other. Miss Petre, in her “Reflections of a Non-Combatant,” has finely stated the wider view:

Thought and learning, art and music, may bear certain characteristics of the country in which they are begotten; but they are also the products of humanity itself, or they would make no appeal to the world at large. The monuments of [252]the German mind are no more robbed of their intellectual value by the national crime of this war than German mountains are robbed of their natural grandeur, German forests of their solemnity, or German rivers of their width and volume.

Any other attitude is extremely likely to degenerate into a petty jealousy that is bred of fear. This is how Mr. H. G. Wells wrote of our attitude towards Germany years ago:

We in Great Britain are now intensely jealous of Germany. We are intensely jealous of Germany, not only because the Germans outnumber us, and have a much larger and more diversified country than ours, and lie in the very heart and body of Europe, but because in the last hundred years, while we have fed on platitudes and vanity, they have had the energy and humility to develop a splendid system of national education, to toil at science and art and literature, to develop social organisation, to master and better our methods of business and industry, and to clamber above us in the scale of civilisation. This has humiliated and irritated rather than chastened us.

Such jealousy is a strangely short-sighted mistake. No valuable or lasting peace will come till jealousy is exorcised. There are ominous signs of the possible triumph of a deadly Saxon insularity, but there are other signs that give us hope. When so ardent a combatant as Mr. Lloyd George can speak well of the services of Germany to the world, all is not lost. It is pleasant to be able to quote these passages from an interview reported in the Daily News of January 25, 1916:

“Mr. Lloyd George is not among those who imagine they are doing their country a service by decrying everything German. ‘I think,’ he said, ‘that America and all of us should realise that there were two Germanies before the war. On the one hand, there was the industrial, the commercial, and the intellectual Germany, and in a most remarkable way she had blended the three elements. That Germany was rendering a great service to civilisation. It was conquering the world by the success of its methods and [253]of its example, and that conquest would have proved a very genuine blessing. It would have been the means of saving some of the terrible waste from which most of the social evils of humanity spring. As an ardent social reformer, I freely confess that I myself was learning a good deal from that side of Germany, particularly in the direction of municipal and national organisation.’” Mr. Lloyd George goes on to say that the other Germany, the military Germany, had overthrown the Germany from which he had drawn inspiration. Our task then surely is to help to reduce military dominance everywhere and to help to set free that Germany whose peaceful conquest of the world “would have proved a very genuine blessing.”

That Germany was, and still is, a Germany of simple hearts, of men and women who can love well. I have talked to many British-born wives of interned men. Over and over again I have heard the same story. “I could not have had a better husband, and the children could not have had a better father.” That is why many English wives have already gone to Germany to their husband’s families.

It is time we got rid of grotesque caricatures of the German people. Such caricatures always represent the outlook of war-time, but they do not make for a lasting peace. There is a great German people, and that people and ours should find each other’s hearts. I am not so much concerned as to the Germany of brilliant science and industrious commerce. That is good, but there is something better: It is the Germany of loving husbands and true comrades, of true wives and devoted mothers. It is the heart that rules the world, and we need the true hearts in Germany, England, France, and over all the world to recognise each other. The one prayer for us all in every land in these days surely is, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened!” When we can pray that prayer, we shall begin to see the war to a peace of the heart—the only peace that will not be a “patched-up peace.”


[40] Lieut. Dr. Kutscher writes with obvious pleasure of the grande loterie de Noël shared out by the officers to the children of C. in France. The children’s parties went on, too, in the New Year. (Int. Review, 10th Aug., 1915).

[41] Cf. p. 161. These are simply examples of the wild passions war engenders, and there is not always the sergeant at hand who says “Drop that or I shoot you.” One side may be decidedly worse than the other (as seems, e.g., to have been the case in the American Civil War), but this does not alter the character of what war does for human nature.

[42] See p. 36.

[43] “An English Girl’s Adventures in Hostile Germany,” pp. 58 and 124. For other incidents see p. 212.

[44] See above, p. 55. For further examples of civilian kindness see pp. 212 ff.

[45] It is disconcerting to one’s pride to learn that while the sale of German newspapers in England was entirely “verboten” in 1916, English newspapers may still be readily obtained in Germany in the autumn of 1918. Why are we so afraid of the other side being known?

[46] Cf. p. 169.

[47] The war has greatly increased that number.

[48] My aim is not political, and I do not, therefore, touch upon the many later utterances. The protests, for example, against the unfairness of the Brest-Litovsk Peace have in Reichstag and Press been numerous and emphatic. For such facts the reader should consult the “Cambridge Magazine.”

[49] We were allowed to suppose that the Lusitania carried no munitions, the Germans were encouraged to believe that she carried mounted guns. Both views were incorrect. The New York Evening Post (quoted by the Labour Leader) published the “manifest” of the number of cases of ammunition carried.

[50] Ernest Poole in “Cassell’s Magazine,” No. 42.

[51] This seems unavoidable. “At last things quieted down a bit, but many wounded had to be brought in between the firing lines—dangerous work, as both sides are liable to fire if they are seen.”—An R.A.M.C. Officer in the Times.

[52] From “The Pageant of War,” by Lady Margaret Sackville.

[53] Cf. too p. 108.

[54] “There is no reason to suppose that he had seen Germany.” wrote Mr. George Long in Sir William Smith’s “Dictionary of Greek Biography and Mythology.”

[55] Further, we must remember that “The Red Cross on a white field is not a magic mantle that can ward off shells fired by an artillerist at a target which he cannot see, nor against flyers dropping bombs from thousands of feet in the air. ‘Bomb-dropping flyers are the terror of the doctors and wounded behind the lines,’ remarked a doctor to me.”—Karl von Wiegand, in the New York World, August 17, 1916. (“Cambridge Magazine,” Oct. 7, 1916.)

[56] “Church towers in a flat country are the only observation points, and so they are used, and so they are shelled.”—Ernest Poole, in “Cassell’s Magazine,” No. 42, p. 27.

[57] From “Is It To Be Hate?” (Allen and Unwin), a pamphlet which I wrote in 1915. On many points there dealt with my second thoughts are different, as are those of many others. We have learned much since then.

[58] The public is extraordinarily innocent as regards this kind of information. It would form an interesting subject for post-war analysis.

[59] Cf. p. 157.

[60] From “Is It To Be Hate?” by the Author.

[61] La guerre devant Le Palais. Par Gabriel Mourey. Paris. Ollendorff 2f.—Times Literary Supplement, Aug. 19, 1915.

[62] Cf. M. Mourey on the Uhlans at Compiègne, p. 206.

[63] See also p. 104.

[64] p. 90.

[65] “England,” “Germany,” “France,” etc., in these connections actually stand for a very small group of diplomats controlling foreign policy. The association of the names unfortunately makes us think of the countries as a whole, a word fallacy that leads to illimitable disaster.

[66] p. 91.

[67] The variability of war stories may be observed also in the columns of the Times during the Crimean War. The truth is, no doubt, that great local differences of treatment occur, and that stories to the discredit of an enemy are more welcomed than stories in his favour.

[68] In the International Review of August 10, 1915, an Austrian lady, Charlotte Frankl, gives an account of the warm-hearted help she received in France, and the even greater kindness she and others received in England: “Not one of us had had unhappy experiences in England.”

[69] War was declared upon Austria May 23, 1915, and though formal declaration of war against Germany was delayed for more than a year, the obvious fact was that Italy had taken sides with the enemy.

[70] Cf. p. 199.

[71] The British Chemical Society expelled its honorary German and Austrian Fellows, men who had worked for the whole of humanity. The German Chemical Society was asked by some of its members to expel an English Honorary Fellow who had attacked German men of science with exceptional virulence. The Society adopted the dignified course of taking no action amidst the passions of war.

[72] “Whatever Mr. Ernest Lissauer and his fellows may have set before themselves in their Tyrtæan poems of hate, in any case it can be said of them that they knew not what they did.... They did not know, though they should have known ... that the solidarity of the nations ... has to-day already become such that no great nation can aim at the very conditions of existence of another without damaging itself at the same time.”—Ed. Bernstein in Das Forum Jan., 1915.

[73] This is one view. Others who have seen German life during the war report a real solidarity of the people, a solidarity which later developments and revelations of Entente proposals has certainly not diminished.

[74] From “Is It To Be Hate?” by Harold Picton (Allen and Unwin). See footnote p. 203.


Mme. F. L. Cyon had some rather important experiences at Lille at the time of the German attack and during the German occupation. She is a woman of singularly cool mentality, and her evidence may be compared with that of Dr. Ella Scarlett-Synge in a widely distant war area.

Mme. Cyon has very kindly placed her notes of her experiences at my disposal. As the notes record also a point of view as to war in general, it has seemed more fitting to print them as an appendix. No statement of this kind is unbiased, for the pacifist has his own bias. Yet I am quite certain that everything set down by Mme. Cyon has been set down in complete sincerity and with unusual absence of mental distortion. The record is that made by a quiet worker amidst circumstances where few people remained sane.


By Françoise Lafitte Cyon.

During the months of September, October, November, and December, 1914, I undertook a journey in Northern France; going first to Lille, thence to Maubeuge, and returning to England via Brussels, Malines, Antwerp, and Holland.

I was at Lille on October 13, 1914, when the Germans took the town. During the first three months of my stay in France I was engaged in nursing work at the military hospital 105 at Lille. In the early part of December I travelled as well as I could, sometimes tramping and sometimes making use of peasants’ carts and local tramways, until I eventually reached Holland.

It is not, however, my intention to speak much of my adventures or of the war itself, but rather to depict, to the best of my ability, the effect which the dreadful events of our doings have had on the minds of the men and women I have met with over there; be they French, Belgian, or German. This article will be an attempt to give a series of short studies in psychology, rather than a dramatic account of a perilous journey.

[256]I wish my readers to bear in mind at the outset that after October 13 I was in German territory, where, from that date onwards, I met with two kinds of people. On the one hand, the oppressors or Germans; on the other hand, the oppressed, namely, the French, Belgian, and a few English.

For a psychological study to be of value, such a distinction is useful to begin with, for one seldom finds the same frame of mind in the victor and the vanquished, in the oppressor and the oppressed.

Whilst endeavouring to give facts, I must distinguish between three types of people whom I met during my journey. First, civilians, French and Belgian; secondly, the hospital staff, doctors and nurses, mostly French, with the exception of two German doctors; thirdly, the military, officers and men, French and German, with a few British. I am obliged to make this division in order to make myself clear, as the events of the war do not seem to affect the people of these three divisions in the same way.

In what follows I shall for the most part depict types.

I met first with the civilian population. When I reached Lille, I found life there much as usual, excepting that all appeared very quiet. But a few days after my arrival Lille began to show an extraordinary and sad animation. The town, which had already given shelter to many refugees from Valenciennes and villages thereabouts, was suddenly crowded by the exodus of the inhabitants of Orchies; the latter town, it was reported, had been completely burnt to the ground by the Germans, only thirty houses having been left standing.

Life in Lille became horrible. In the streets one met long processions of miserable creatures, looking haggard and exhausted. Here was a woman with three tiny children, two of them in a dilapidated perambulator, the other she carried in her arms. She looked grey with the dust of the road: I followed her. She was going to the office of some local paper, whence these poor refugees were directed where to go to find food and shelter. Waiting at the door of the office were such numbers of these worn-out human beings that many of them, too tired to stand any longer, were sitting on the pavement whilst the children were eating pieces of bread.

One morning I followed the crowd going to get bread at the town hall. I saw a little boy of four standing at his mother’s side while she talked with another woman. The mother’s basket had been put down on the pavement and a round loaf of bread was partly coming out of it. The little mite kneeled down on the ground and, going at it with all his might, he began to eat off the loaf in a way which told a long, sad tale.

But what one met with amongst one’s friends was often more horrible than the sights in the streets. The tale of the destruction [257]of Orchies had been believed almost everywhere before any explanation had been forthcoming, and in these days hatred began to rear its head when people talked of the Germans.

“If they had burned Orchies,” said one of my acquaintances, “it is because we are too tolerant with them. To brutes we must speak only the language of brutes. We treat their prisoners like guests; let us put them all against the wall and shoot them and their wounded, too.”

When I replied that we should have little right to complain of German atrocities if we did what they are reported to do, I was looked at as too soft and as if I were a woman without patriotic feeling. My friend told me this as politely as his temper allowed.

I left him and went into the street to try to find some distraction from his hatred. I chanced to meet a woman of Orchies and inquired what had happened there. I give her tale as told to me, though I have not been able to verify it.

“The Germans,” said she, “behaved quite well the first time they came into our town. They were kind to the children and even gave them sweets and toys, but on their second visit they found that some of their wounded had had their ears cut off and they ordered that Orchies should be set on fire.”

“It was monstrous,” she added, “but I know that an African soldier was found with a necklace of sixty ears, which he had certainly taken somewhere. This, too, was monstrous. I do not excuse the Germans for their crime—I have lost everything myself—but if we allow their wounded to be mutilated at such times, what can we expect? Who can say which side is the more barbarous? I must tell you that the officer ordered to set fire to Orchies was also told to arrest the mayor and some other men and to have them shot. However, he gave them timely warning to evacuate Orchies and to make good their escape, so no one was hurt.”

How far this story was true I never knew, but the effect of it on my fellow creatures I had seen too well, and I went away bearing on my heart the words of the woman of Orchies: “Who can say which side is the more barbarous?”

On October 7 we heard that the Germans were outside the city and in many quarters fear was added to the anguish already overburdening the hearts of so many. Yet one woman, hearing the Germans were near, exclaimed, “Say what you like, these men are just like our French men. War is war; you cannot expect it to be anything but cruel and barbarous. The Germans are no enemies of mine.”

Her words made a bad impression on the listeners, and it was well that the kind-hearted soul had three brothers in the French Army or she would have been regarded with much suspicion.

[258]An old lady of my acquaintance almost lost her head with fright. “How dare they,” she said, speaking of the French, “let the Germans take Lille?”

“What then,” said I, “of Rheims?”

“Yes, Rheims, I know it was horrible! But Lille, the most beautiful town of the North, it is a crime to make it suffer.”

Whilst discussing with me the doings of the French Army the old lady had often argued that Rheims and Arras had had to suffer because this was necessary to the success of the French operations. Recalling her own words, I asked: “But what could you say if for the good of the common cause Lille must suffer as did Rheims and Arras?”

But in her terror, forgetful of what she had said previously, she only exclaimed: “Lille! It is a crime. What shall we do? How shall we live?”

And I could see fear in her eyes, fear for her belongings as well as for her life, fear which made her forget for a moment the “good cause of this war” as she had often put it to me, fear which made her heart give out a note of real selfishness.

So far as I can remember it was on October 8 that all the gates of the city were closed, and that there was fighting on the Grand Boulevard, the great wide thoroughfare which connects Lille with its sister-cities of Roubaix and Tourcoing. There was also fighting near one of the gates.

On the following day, on returning from my work in Hospital 105, the people with whom I was living told me of the terrible spectacle they had witnessed when they had gone to get news of some relations living near the gate where the fight had taken place. One woman said:

“The fight was on the bridge, which was covered in the evening with the dead bodies of Germans, amongst them two wounded men whom the Germans had left behind. By the bridge there is an inn, and we have been told that five men, civilians, who were there, killed the two ‘Boches’ by strangling them. This makes two less of them!”

I looked at her in horror, thinking that fright had turned her brain. I could find no words to reply. I turned to go to my own room, when she added:

“In any case, the ‘Boches’ won’t know of it for the bodies are buried under a heap of stones.”

I left her with the words of the woman of Orchies echoing through my brain: “Who can tell which side is the more barbarous?”

Some of these people I had known before the war to be peaceful, quiet citizens; they now appeared to me to have suddenly turned into devils. Fear and danger had made them crazy with hatred. Everywhere one went it was the same. If [259]I tried to escape it, and took refuge in the street, I seemed to feel hatred rising from the very ground.

Amongst the fugitives one saw, many had run away before even seeing a German helmet, but all were full of atrocious tales, all were mad with hatred and revenge.

Not until the actual shelling of the town began did I fully realise the havoc that fear and hatred can work! To feel helpless while shells go whirling over one’s head at the rate of sixty a minute, while houses are burning on either side of one, is a horrible experience. To have to bear all these horrors without being able to put a stop to them, is maddening. At such moments one feels like a mouse caught in a trap. One would have to be more than human not to feel terror.

We all felt this at Lille, the great majority were so panic-stricken that they made for the gates, quite oblivious of the fact that the gates were closed and that fighting was going on there.

It is usually in these moments of supreme fear that the lurking hatred in the soul takes full possession of it, distorting the imagination, bringing back the most atavistic moral ideas, giving birth to falsehoods of every description, and widening the gulf of misunderstanding which seems to part the nations.

I have always known that hatred is the offspring of war. I am well aware that ever since the beginning of the present crisis the newspapers and the warmongers have been daily adding fuel to the fire of hatred for fear that if the fire died out the war would do the same. But over there, at Lille, I felt that hatred had fallen on the hearts of many people like a fatal malediction with which they are to be cursed all their life long and which they will transmit to their descendants.

These people whom fear has driven, like cattle, from their burning houses, who have suddenly been left without a roof over their heads or food to eat, are not likely easily to give up their hatred when this passion of war is a thing of the past. Deep in their hearts will be written the word “revenge” even though France does not lose a second Alsace-Lorraine.

This same overpowering feeling of hatred I found amongst most of the staff of the hospital where I was working, and I was able to note at first hand the effect it had in the dealings of the nursing staff with the German wounded.

After October 13, 1914, the Germans took control of all the hospitals at Lille, and soon they were crowded with German wounded, while, little by little, as soon as they were able to travel, the French and British were evacuated and taken to Germany as prisoners of war.

At Hospital 105 the French staff were asked if they would agree to remain under the German authorities, and most of the doctors and nurses elected to remain at their post. The hospital [260]was controlled by the “Société des femmes de France,” who financed it and managed the entire establishment. Many of these women were society ladies and, with the exception of two or three, most incompetent. Before the German occupation their activities had mostly been of a showy character. They were all dainty, smart, and useless, and so they remained under German rule—those, at least, who did not run away. They avoided nursing Germans with great skill, and overcrowded the French and English wards. They were very diplomatic in their dealings with the enemy, as silly and pitiful in their hatred of the German and their cautious dealings with him as they were in their other activities. Their hatred was of the emptyheaded kind, but all the more dangerous for being based on frivolity of heart and crass ignorance.

Side by side with them were a few intellectual women, professors and teachers. Most of them followed in the wake of their sisters and behaved in a similar manner. One of them, a woman I had known before, had spent many years of her life in Germany and had taught the German language for nearly twenty years. Before the war she had often told me how lovable she had found the German people, what good friends she had in Germany and how she always enjoyed a holiday there, so that when some of my German patients asked me for books, I thought she would be the very person to whom to apply for some.

To my astonishment she flew into a passion when she heard my request.

“Want books, do they? They will soon ask for chickens and lobsters.”

Walking into my ward, she exclaimed haughtily: “So you are asking for books! As you set fire to everything, there are no books left for you!”

Very little of the nursing was done by these women, however, who, instead of being a real help for the most part, put spokes in the wheels of the more useful helpers. The hardships of overwork, of long hours, of day and night duties in succession, fell all the more heavily on the shoulders of a few willing women, the other part of the female element proving so unreliable.

These women, whose devotion never flagged, comprised three trained nurses and nine or ten women clerks or teachers, of quite another type to those mentioned above. It is true they were not all free from hatred, but, if I may so express it, theirs was almost a hopeful hatred compared with the blind stupidity of those others.

Amongst the three professional nurses I remember a tall, handsome girl of 22 or thereabouts. Hers was an ardent soul, one of those souls which keep young in spite of advancing [261]years. Whatever task this girl sets herself to do she will carry it through with skill and earnestness. Whichever cause she champions she will do so in no light spirit, and it was thus that she hated the Germans with the strongest hatred and yet nursed them with utter devotion, for she was as earnest a nurse as she was keen a patriot. There was almost a kind of healthiness about her hatred, based as it was on deep-rooted feelings, knowing no caution and no fear. One might hope more for her who, fearless of consequences, could wave the French flag and shout “Vive la France” when French prisoners were led away, than for all the fine ladies whose little souls were filled with great fear and ignorant hatred.

I remember also a small, fair nurse, silent for the most part, but up at all times of the night as well as working hard all day. She sometimes opened her heart to me and I found there, as deep-rooted as her colleague’s hatred, a great and sincere love for all men and women, an unflinching hope that in the long run “brotherhood” will be the watchword of all humanity.

Amongst these hard-working women many were of this silent type, going about with sealed lips, but with treasures of unconscious kindliness and love hidden in their hearts, known only to God.

My daily intercourse with the men on our hospital staff was on the whole never sufficiently intimate to allow me to speak here of their mental attitude towards “the enemy.” The French doctors I never saw except when I was on duty, and I had little or no opportunity of speaking with them, being only an assistant nurse, but I recollect one little incident connected with Professor L——, a man of acknowledged skill in France. At the time of which I speak, I had been transferred to a German ward, and one day, finding myself short of boiled water for the men to drink, I went to the chemist to ask for some. There I met Professor L——, who said:

“So you want boiled water for your friends the Germans? What would you say if I were to put in it a few microbes of cholera morbus?”

“I would hardly believe it of you!”

“Of course, you would not, for I am told that you are surprisingly good to these Germans. But believe me, if it were not for the fear of spreading the disease far and wide, this would be the best thing to do.”

I have, however, no means of ascertaining that this incident is typical of the attitude of the average Frenchman on the male staff towards the Germans. As a matter of fact, they had very little to do with the German wounded, as these were left entirely in the hands of the German doctors, aided by the French nurses.

After my transfer to the German wards, where we were very [262]short of nurses, I soon found myself in sole charge of from 16 to 26 wounded, a burden which I felt rather too heavy for me, as I had had but little experience in nursing previous to the war. But it was during this time, when my duties involved greater responsibility, that I came into closer contact with doctors, but they were German doctors, of course.

I remember one of them, a small man, somewhat round, whom we had nicknamed “pupuce” (little flea). Pupuce always appeared to me to be kindness itself: intent on his work, good to his men and fair to his helpers. His position as head of a hospital where most of the men were French, was not an easy one. He was disliked by the majority of the nurses, mostly those who had not been willing to work under him; yet I never saw him manifest anything but the greatest tolerance and courtesy towards all.

But where one felt the smallest amount of hatred existing on either side was amongst the men who had fought and been wounded.

Being left so much alone with my German patients I got to know them well. I never had to complain of my “Boches.” They were so much like our own men; yes, so much like them! They were grateful for what was done for them just in the same way. They showed me photographs of their dear ones and told me stories of them which made my heart beat ever so quickly.

But some of them were very funny. They ate, ate, so that one marvelled. They showed me plainly that I was to heap potatoes and other food on their plates. It was never too thick or too much for them. These men were of the peasant type, heavy in features and in general appearance. I found but few like them amongst our French men. They seemed to feel kindly towards me. Some of them used to pat me on the back heavily and call me: “Goode Petite Madam.” But their kindness was cow-like, so to speak, and reminded me of the animals when they have been well fed.

But, of course, all were not like that. I remember many handsome and intelligent faces of men who seemed to have been born for better things than butchery. Here was a young man, a student of science, as gentle as a woman. He seemed to be the soul of all his comrades, so great was his influence for good over them. Day and night he was ready to help and to go to the assistance of his fellows, so far as his own wounds would allow him to do so.

There were many of this type, and many others who seemed like children, and who could hardly be expected to realise how they got into such a scrape. One, a young mechanic, a lad with a bright rosy face, discovered that I was a Socialist, and, with finger on lip, he told me that he also was one. He whispered [263]the great names of Jaurés, Keir Hardie, and Liebknecht; I could read in his eyes the hope these names roused in him, but I could also see that he was scarcely old enough to know his own mind, and that he might be brutally killed ere he had lived long enough to strengthen his hopes and to see his goal clearly through the maze of his youthful dreams.

There were types on the French side corresponding more or less closely to these.

It is true that the French peasant drinks wine in the place of beer, eats less than the German, is lighter in build and in wits, but apart from these superficial differences there is much similarity. Under an outside show of brains, both are often of dull and shallow intelligence. The German cracks heavy jokes and the French cynical ones: it is difficult to choose between them as both show little culture and an inherent commonplaceness of mind.

Men of greater sensibility, of refined culture, I have found on either side, and be they French or German, I have nearly always found their behaviour correspond to that which I have here tried to delineate.

Most of these men had seen many ghastly things, the horrors of which often remained impressed in their eyes for days and days after their arrival in hospital. It is often said that the trade of war, the heavy slaughter in which they have participated, is bound to brutalise them. I readily believe this to be so in the case of the most vulgar types on either side, though, even on these, the brutalising and demoralising effect of the war seems less to be feared than amongst their corresponding types among the civilians.

It is amongst the soldiers and officers of the fighting ranks that I have found the greater readiness to fraternise with the enemy, to acknowledge the good points of the other side.

The men in my ward one day having sent coffee to their French comrades, the latter replied by sending cigarettes, and soon both sides were conversing together. The men who have stood face to face in the fight, who have seen their enemies falling as bravely as they themselves have done, have little hatred left in their hearts; but those who have suffered all the horrors of war and who have not found either in work, or even in participation in the war itself, a means to cool their overheated feelings, are those who constitute the real danger for the future work of the pacifists, as, after all, the brutalising effect of war is not due so much to the use of physical force as to the hatred which such physical force, bent on destruction, brings in its wake.

What I say here of the men does not, however, apply to the professional officers. Amongst the Germans these are mostly of the aristocracy. Their haughty, scarred faces were always [264]repellent to me. Luckily I was not told off to nurse them. They had a special room of their own.

Once only, at lunch time, when their usual nurse was away at her lunch, one of them beckoned to me as I was passing their door. Thinking that he wanted something, I went up to him, but he received me by putting out his tongue and taking a “sight” at me, to the amusement of all his friends. This young scamp was no other than Lieutenant von W——, the son of General von W——. We all knew that he was a cad and Pupuce himself seemed to find him rather a handful.

I met very few French officers during my stay at Lille, but my knowledge of the professional military man in time of peace, leads me to believe that the type I have described, is far from uncommon in France. He is the embodiment of militarism anywhere, and neither in Germany nor elsewhere will these men’s brutal instincts be checked through war, or even through defeat.

After leaving Lille, and during my subsequent journey through Northern France and Belgium, I had the opportunity to note the dealings of the Germans with the population of these invaded lands.

After the numerous accounts of monstrous atrocities which were perpetrated over there, I hardly dare to mention here that personally I did not meet with any of these. I do not mean to imply by this that atrocities have not happened, but simply that it has been my good fortune not to come across any.

At Lille itself, the Germans behaved decently when once in occupation. Posters were put on the walls of the town inviting the population to keep quiet. It is true that a few days later fresh bills appeared, worded in very peremptory fashion, warning the inhabitants to keep away from the bridges, railways, and so forth, under penalty of death for disobedience. However, to my knowledge, no disturbances occurred. There, as elsewhere, the Germans tried to reorganise ordinary life as quickly as possible; they helped to put out fires and to restore quiet and order amongst the civilians.

At Maubeuge I met with a similar state of affairs, though I came to this town to find that my father, one of the citizens, had only the day before come out of prison, where the Germans had kept him for 28 days; on a false charge of trying to incite the inhabitants of Maubeuge against the Germans, he and two other men had been arrested. According to their own account the three of them were given a very fair trial and were acquitted. My father did not in any way complain of the treatment he had met with.

I must admit, however, that the three prisoners did not all speak of their adventure in the same spirit. My father, always quiet and cool-headed by nature, resolved to make the best of a bad job, and having obtained paper and ink, wrote about half [265]of a book whilst in prison. He found the food wholesome, though not always plentiful, and asked my mother after his release, to make him a pea soup like that he had had in his cell. The other two, however, one a mere lad, the other an old-maidish man of 50, complained bitterly of the food and other things. While narrating his part of the story the middle-aged man turned to me exclaiming: “Why, your father, no one would believe that he is a good bit over 60. He took it all so quietly, just as if he were still a young man!”

I could not but infer from this that in times of such great crisis and passion a man over there in the invaded parts is often treated by “the enemy” according to the way in which he himself behaves towards the so-called “enemy.” Coolness of head and courtesy on the one side more often than not met with the same qualities on the other side.

I suspect it was this, that, after the trial of the three, caused the President of the Court to apologise to my father, who had proved himself a man, but not to think of doing so to the two other prisoners, who had been more sheepish than human.

On the average, the relations between the Germans and the inhabitants, from stories I have heard and facts I have witnessed, might roughly be summed up in the following statement:

Arrogance, temper, haughtiness on the one side, provoke arrogance, temper and haughtiness on the other; while quietness and coolness of one party inspire the other with the same quietness and moderation. Provided we bear in mind that it takes less to provoke the victor than to provoke the vanquished, that it is more easy for the former to indulge in his temper without fear of consequences. I do not think that the atrocities perpetrated by the Germans in Belgium, the true ones as they came to my knowledge, and not the false ones which have been spread by the Press, have proved in any way that the Germans have passed the bounds of all that has been known in previous wars, and have deserved to be banned and thrust outside the pale of humanity.

In this article I have endeavoured to give a fair account of my journey and to relate facts I have witnessed as they have impressed themselves upon my mind. I have done so not to pass judgment upon some of my fellow-creatures at such times of overheated passions, but merely in order to present to Socialists and Pacifists the enormity of their task after the war, such as I have felt it over there.

It is in the hearts of the people that we shall have to work, to bring to them seeds of love and fraternal goodwill in the place of the weeds of hatred and ignorance which years of war and horrors will have left in the souls of many. Everywhere, [266]but mostly in the countries which have been devastated by the war, be it in France, Belgium, Serbia, Poland or East Prussia and Galicia, it is in the hearts of the majority of the civilian population that we shall meet with the hardest task, but we must work so that our faith be so great as really to move mountains.


Where there are several references and one is of chief importance, that one is printed in heavy figures.

[272] The National Labour Press, Ltd.,
Manchester and London.

Transriber’s Note: The table below lists all corrections applied to the original text.