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   Chapter 3 FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF STARVING GERMANY

To Kiel in the 'Hercules' By Lewis R. Freeman Characters: 39466

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Our visit to the island of Norderney was a memorable one for two reasons-first, because we inspected there what is not only the largest of Germany's seaplane stations, but also probably the largest and best equipped in all Europe; and second, because the journey there gave us, all in the course of a few hours, our first after-the-war glimpse of a German city, German countryside, a German railway, and what had once been a German summer resort. The couple of days spent in the search of the German warships had given no opportunity whatever to see anything more than an interminable succession of dirty mess decks, empty magazines, disgruntled officers, slovenly sailors, and cluttered docks. Steeples and factory chimneys and the loom of lofty barracks located Wilhelmshaven without revealing it. The steady dribble of pedestrians along the waterfront road might have been made up of Esquimaux or Kanakas, for all that we could see. One wondered if their emaciated frames were dressed in paper suits, and if their tottering feet clumped along in wooden clogs. The excellence of the material of the untidy garb of the sailors, and the well-fed appearance of the latter, seemed to point to the contrary. But still one couldn't be sure. We knew that Germany had never made the mistake of under-feeding or under-clothing her soldiers and sailors, and that where any one had to go without it was always the civilians who suffered. We wanted to see how those civilians had stood the "starvation blockade" against which they had protested so loudly, and now-through our visits to the various naval air stations-the veil was about to be lifted.

The fog-the interminable fog which never lifted for more than a few hours at a time during the whole of our three weeks in German waters-banked thick above the green stream of the swift-running tide as our picket boat shoved off from the Hercules at eight o'clock that morning, and there was just sufficient visibility to pick up the successive buoys marking the course to the entrance to the basin. Running in just ahead of an antique torpedo-boat with the usual indolent sailors slouching along its narrow decks, we stepped out upon the longest pontoon landing I have ever seen. Twenty yards wide, and over a hundred in length, it was constructed so as to rise and fall with flow and ebb of what must have been a very considerable tide.

No one being on the landing to receive the party, we started walking in toward its shoreward end. The men on the torpedo-boats stared at us with insolent curiosity, without the suggestion of the shuffle of a foot toward standing at attention as even the "brassiest" of our several "brass-hats" passed by; but from the galley of a tug moored on the opposite side the cook grinned wide-mouthed welcome. She was a fine, upstanding, double-braided blonde of generous proportions, and the bulging bulk of her overflowed the narrow companion-way into which she was wedged as the raw red flesh of her arm swelled over the line of its rolled-up sleeve.

"No traces of under-feeding in that figure," said a British flying officer, with the critically impersonal glance he would have given to the wings of a machine he was about to take the air in. "No," acquiesced one of the Americans; "and there's no fear of schrecklichkeit in that face, either. Pipe that 'welcome-to-our-fair-city' grin, won't you. Could you beat it for a display of ivories?"

And so we came to "starving Germany."

A bustling young flying lieutenant came hurrying to meet us at the shore end of the landing, apologizing for his tardiness by saying that it was due to "trouble about the cars." After seeing the motley collection of motors which awaited us outside the gate, one had no difficulty in believing him; indeed, it was hard to see how there could be anything but "trouble about the cars." The best of them was an ancient Mercedes, the pneumatic tyres of which, worn down to the treads, looked as though they would puncture on the smooth face of a paving stone. Two others-one of them looked like a sort of "perpetuation" of a collision between a Daimler lorry and a Benz runabout, and the other was an out-and-out mongrel with no visible marks of ancestry-had the remains of what had once been solid tyres of ersatz rubber bound to the rims with bits of tarred rope. The fourth and last was ersatz throughout. That is to say, it seemed to be made-from its paper upholstery to its steel-spring tyres-of "other things" than those from which the normal cars one has always known are made of.

I had heard much of those spring tyres, so, taking advantage of the general rush for the pneumatically tyred Mercedes and the "rheumatically" tyred nondescripts, I lifted an oiled-paper curtain and plumped down on the woven paper cushion of old "Ersatz." As the other cars were quite filled up with the remainder of our party, the escorting German officer came in with me.

"The imitation rubber," he began slowly and precisely, "makes many good things, but not the good motor tyres. It is resilient, but not elastic. It will stand the pushing but not the pulling. It is not strong, not tough, like the rubber from the tree. Ah, the English were very lucky always to have the real rubber. If that had been so with Germany-"

Just to what extent a continuous supply of real rubber would have modified the situation for Germany I did not learn, for we started up just then, and the rest of the sentence was lost in the mighty whirl of sound in which we were engulfed. The best comparison I can make of the noise that car made-as heard from within-is to a sustained crescendo of a super-Jazz band, the cymbals of which were represented by the clankity-clank of the component parts of the steel tyres banging against each other and the pavement, and the drums of which were the rhythmic thud-thud of the ersatz body on the lifeless springs. Although the other cars were rattling heavily on their own account, the ear-rending racket of the steel-tyres dominated the situation completely, and at the first turn I caught an impressionistic blend of blue and khaki uniforms as their occupants leaned out to see what was in pursuit of them.

"It was unlike any sound I ever heard before," said one of them in describing it later. "It was positively Bolshevik!" All in all, I think "Bolshevik" is more fittingly descriptive than "Jazz-band-ic." It carries a suggestion of "savageness" quite lacking in the latter, and "savage" that raucous tornado of sound surely was. I could never allow myself to contemplate the primal chaos one of the American officers tried to conjure up by asking what it would be like to hear two motor convoys of steel-tyred trucks passing each other during a bombardment. The only sensible comment I heard on that question was from the officer who cut in with, "Please tell me how you'd know there was a bombardment?"

There was one thing that steel-tyred car did well, though, and that was to respond to its emergency brake. The occasion for the use of the latter arose when a turning bridge was suddenly opened fifteen or twenty yards ahead of the leading car, imposing upon the latter the necessity of stopping dead inside that distance or taking a header into a canal. The Mercedes, skating airily along on its wobbly tyres, managed it by inches after streaking the pavement with two broad belts of the last "real tree rubber" left in Germany. The leading nondescript-the Benz-Daimler blend-gave the Mercedes a sharp bump before losing the last of its momentum, and all but the last of its fluttering "rope-ersatz-rubber" tyres, while its mate only came to a standstill after skidding sideways on its rims. But my steel-tyred chariot, the instant its emergency brake was thrown on, simply set its teeth into the red brick pavement, and, spitting sparks like a dragon, stopped as dead as though it had run against a stone wall. My companion and I, having nothing to set our teeth into, simply kept going right on. I, luckily, only butted the chauffeur, who-evidently because the same thing had happened to him before-took it all in good part; but the dapper young officer, who planted the back of his head squarely between the shoulder blades of the august Workmen's and Soldiers' representative riding beside the driver, got a good swearing at for not aiming lower and allowing the back of the seat to absorb his inertia. Quite apart from the sparks kicked up by the tyres, and the stars shaken down by my jolt, it was a highly illuminating little incident.

We ran more slowly after we crossed the bridge-which also meant more quietly, or rather, less noisily-and for the first time I noticed what a new world we seemed to have come into since we left the immediate vicinity of the docks. It was not so much that we were now passing down a street of small shops, where before we had been among warehouses and factories, as the difference in appearance and spirit of the people. No one-not even the labourer going to his morning work-had anything of the slovenly hang-dog air of the sailors we had seen in the ships and about the dockyard. The streets and the shops were clean, and even the meanest of the people neatly and comfortably dressed. We had come out of the atmosphere of revolution into that of ordinary work-a-day Germany.

As we rounded a corner and came clattering into the main street of the city, the change was even more marked. At first blush there was hardly a suggestion of war, or of war's aftermath. The big shop-windows were full of goods, with here and there the forerunning red-and-green decorations of the coming holidays. Here was an art shop's display of etchings and coloured prints, there a haberdasher's stock of scarves and shirts and gloves. Even a passing glance, it is true, revealed a prominently displayed line of false shirt fronts; but, then, your German always was partial to "dickeys." A florist's window, in which a fountain plashed above a basin of water-lilies, was golden with splendid chrysanthemums, and in the milliner's window hard by a saffron-plumed confection of ultra-marine held high revel with a riotous thing of royal purple plush.

Noting my eager interest in the gay window panorama, my companion, leaning close to my ear to make himself heard above the clatter of the tyres, shouted jerkily with the jolt of the car, "We are fond of the bright colours, we Germans, and we make the very good dyes. I think you have missed very much the German dyes since the war, and will now be very glad of the chance to have them again. We have learned much during the war, and they are now better than ever before. We laugh very much when we capture the French soldier with the faded blue uniform, for then we know that the French cannot make the dye that will hold its colour. But the German-"

"Waiting with the goods," I said to myself as I drew away from the dissertation to watch a tramcar disgorging its load at a crossing.

We were now running through the heart of Wilhelmshaven, and it was the early office crowd that was thronging the streets. How well they were dressed, and how well fed they looked! There were no hollow eyes or emaciated forms in that crowd. One who has seen famines in China and India knows the hunger look, the hunger pallor, the hunger apathy. There is no mistaking them. But we had not seen any of them in the German ships or dockyards, we did not see them that day in Wilhelmshaven, and we were not destined to see them in Bremen, Hamburg, Kiel, or anywhere else we went in the course of our many hundreds of miles of travel in Northern Germany. So far as Mecklenburg, Oldenburg, and Schleswig-Holstein were concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that the starvation whine, which arose from the moment the ink was dry upon the armistice agreement and which still persists, was sheer-to be charitable, let us say-panic.

Presently, as we began to pass some huge masses of buildings which, four or five stories in height, appeared to run on through two or three blocks of the not unattractive park-like grounds with which they were surrounded, my companion, indicating them with a proud wave of his hand, started speaking again. I could not hear him distinctly-for we were speeding up faster now, and consequently making more noise-but I thought I caught the drift of what he was trying to say.

"Ja, ja," I roared back. "Ich verstehe sehr gut. Der naval barracks. Der German High Sea Fleet Base." I think that was hardly the way he was trying to put it, but his vigorous nod of assent showed that I had at least gathered the sense of his observations. As we slowed down at the next corner he put me completely right by saying, "Not for the ships themselves, the big barracks, but for the men when the ships were here. I think you make a joke." I admitted the shrewd impeachment with a grin, but hardly thought it necessary to add that I was afraid he had still missed the best part of the joke. He was a diverting lad, that young flying officer, and he told me many interesting things in the course of the day. Some of them were true, as subsequent events or observations proved; but one of them at least was a calculated and deliberate lie, told with the purpose of inducing one of the "air" parties to give up the plan it had formed of visiting a certain station. I will set down that significant little incident in its proper place.

Although, as we learned later, the fact that a party from the Allied Commission was to land and pass through the city that day had been carefully withheld from the people, the latter exhibited very little surprise at the appearance of officers in uniforms which they seemed to recognize at once as foreign. They had been instructed that they were to make no demonstration of any kind when Allied officers were encountered in the streets, and, docile as ever, they carried out the order to the letter. A mild, unresentful curiosity would perhaps best describe the attitude of all the people who saw us that day, both in Wilhelmshaven and at the country stations.

The fact that many of the streets were dressed with flags and greenery, and that all of the children, both boys and girls, trudging along to school carried the red, white, and black emblem in their hands, suggested to me at first that it was part of a patriotic display, a sort of flaunting the new-found freedom in the face of the "invader." But my companion assured me that the decorations were in honour of the expected arrival home of two regiments of Wilhelmshaven Marines from the Front. "We have been en fête for a week now in hourly expectation of their coming, and every day the children have put on their best clothes and carried flags in their hands. But the railway service is very bad, and always are they disappointed. You will see the arch of welcome at the railway station. Wilhelmshaven is very proud of its Marine soldiers."

The "arch" at the station turned out to be the evergreen and bunting-decorated entrance to a long shed set with tables, at which refreshments were to be served to the returning warriors. It was surmounted with a shield bearing the words "Willkommen Soldaten," and an eight-line stanza of verse which I did not have time to copy. The gist of it was that the soldiers were welcomed home to "Work and Liberty." It was thoroughly bad verse, said one of our interpreters, but the sentiments were-for Germany-"restrained and dignified." There was nothing about the "unbeaten soldiers," of whom we had been reading as welcomed home in Berlin and other parts of Germany.

There was a small crowd at the station entrance as our cars drove up, but it parted quietly and made way for us to pass inside. One or two sailors stood at attention and saluted-though whether German or Allied officers it was impossible to tell-and several civilians bowed solemnly and took off their hats. One of these reached out and made temporary captive an irreverent street gamin who-purely in a spirit of fun, apparently-started "goose-stepping" along in our wake. A bevy of minxes of the shop-girl type giggled sputteringly, getting much apparent amusement the while out of pretending to keep each other quiet. One gaudily garbed pair, standing easily at gaze in the middle of the waiting-room, stared brazenly and ogled frank invitation. An austere dame-she might have been an opulent naval captain's frau-drew a languid hand from what looked like a real ermine muff to lift a tortoise-shell lorgnette and pass us one by one in critical review. Then the old ticket-puncher, touching his cap as though he had recognized the party as the Board of Directors on a surreptitious tour of inspection, passed us through the gate and on the platform and our waiting train.

Our special consisted of a luggage van and a passenger coach, drawn by an engine in a very advanced state of what appeared to be neglect. Though all its parts were there, these, except where rubbed clean by friction, were thick with rust and scaled with flaking paint. The worst trouble, however, seemed to come from lack of lubrication, for in the places where every other locomotive I had seen before was dripping with oil, this one showed only caked graphite and hard, dry steel. While there is little doubt that the Germans made a point of turning out their worst engines and motor cars for the use of the Allied sub-commissions in order to give an impression that things were really in a desperate way with them, it is still beyond question that their railway stock deteriorated greatly during the war, and that a shortage of lubricating oils was one of their very worst difficulties.

The passenger coach was equally divided between first- and second-class compartments. Entering at the second-class end, our party distributed itself between the first two compartments reached. By the time one of the several German officers who had now joined us pointed out the big figure "2" on the windows, we were so comfortably settled that no one deemed it worth while to move. As a matter of fact, on the German railways, with their four or five classes, there is gentler gradation between class and class than in France or England; and between first and second-save that the former is upholstered in dark-red plush and the latter in light-green-the difference is hardly noticeable. The main difference is, I believe, in the price, and the fact that only six are allowed in the first-class against eight in the second. We extracted a good deal of amusement out of the fact that the several Workmen's and Soldiers' representatives made no mistake, and lost no time, in marking a first-class compartment for their own.

We had been somewhat perplexed on our arrival at the station to note that the two uniformed Workmen's and Soldiers' representatives had been joined by two civilians, each wearing the white arm-band of the revolutionary council. But presently one of the latter, hat in hand, came to the door of our compartment to explain. The naval authorities, he said, had requested that the Workmen and Soldiers should guarantee the safety of all Allied parties landing from civilian attack, and in consequence he had been sent along as a "hostage." At least the German term he used was one which could be translated as hostage, but after talking it over we came to the conclusion that the man's r?le was more analogous to that of a "plain clothes" special policeman. There was one of these men attached to every party that made a train journey on the North Sea side (all stations in the Baltic littoral were reached by destroyer, so that no "protection" from the civilian population was necessary), and they were neither of any trouble nor-so far as I was

ever able to discern-any use.

Leaving a handful of morning papers behind him as a propitiatory offering, our "hostage" bowed himself out of the door and backed off down the corridor-still bowing-to rejoin his colleagues in the first-class section of the car. In the quarter of an hour there was still to wait before the line was clear for the departure of our train, we had our first chance for a peep into Germany through the window of the Press.

The four-page sheets turned out to be copies of Vorw?rts, the K?lnische Volkszeitung und Handels-Blatt, the Weser Zeitung, of Bremen, the Wilhelmshavener Tageblatt, and the Republik. The latter styled itself the Sozialdemokratisches Organ für Oldenburg und Ostfriesland, and the Mitteilungsblatt der Arbeiter und Soldatenr?te. It claimed to be in its thirty-second year, but admitted that all this time, except the fortnight since the revolution, it had borne the name of Oldenburger Volksblatt. It had little in the way of news from either the outside world or the interior, the few columns which it gave up to this purpose being filled with accounts of the formation of republics in various other provinces, and attacks upon members of the acting Government in Berlin. Evidently under some sort of orders, it mentioned the arrival of the Hercules at Wilhelmshaven without comment. A socialistic sheet of Hamburg, which turned up the next day, showed less restraint in this connection, for it stated that the Allied Commission had altered its decision not to meet the Workmen's and Soldiers' representatives, and that negotiations were now in progress in which the latter were taking a prominent part. Tangible evidence of the truth of this statement, it added, might be found in the fact that delegates from the Workmen and Soldiers accompanied Allied parties whenever they landed. Vorw?rts tried to convey the same false impression to its readers, but rather less brazenly. The K?lnische Volkszeitung printed a dispatch from London, in which the Daily Mail was quoted as supporting the "australischen Premierministers Hughes'" demand of an indemnity of "acht milliarden Pfund Sterling" from Germany, and proceeded to prove in the course of an impassioned leader of two columns why the demanding of any indemnity at all was in direct violation of the pledged word of the Allies, to say nothing of Wilson's Fourteen Points. A significant circumstance was the inclusion in each paper of a part of a column of comment on the movement of prices of "Landesprodukte" on the American markets.

The advertisements, which took up rather more than half of each sheet, proved by long odds more interesting than the news. These were quite in best "peace time" style. The Metropol-Variete (Neu renoviert!) informed all and sundry that "Vier elegante junge Damen!" disported themselves in its "Kabarett" every evening. The head-line of the great "Spezialit?ten Programm" in the theatre was "Die Grosse Sensation: Martini Szeny, genannt der 'Ausbrecher-K?nig'!" A number in the Metropol's program which appealed to us more than all the others, however, was one which was featured further down the list, for there, sandwiched between "Kitty Deanos und Partner, Kunstschutzen," and "Hans Romans, Liedersanger," appeared "Little Willy, Trapez-Volant."

"And all the time we thought he was in Holland," dryly commented the American officer who made the discovery.

One could not help wondering respecting the "etymology" of "Little Willy," and whether that "Flying Trapezist" knew that he bore the favourite Allied nickname for His ex-Royal and Imperial Highness, Frederick Wilhelm Hohenzollern, Crown Prince of Germany, etc., etc.

Evidence that Hun "piracy" had not been confined to their U-boats was unearthed in the discovery that the Adler-Theatre of Bremen advertised two performances of "Die Moderne Eva" for that very day-Heute Sonntag! "I ran across the chap who wrote 'The Modern Eve' somewhere out California way," said the same American who had spoken before. "He was some bore, too, take it from me; but he never deserved anything as bad as this, for the show itself was pretty nifty," and he began humming, in extemporaneously translated German the words of "Good-bye Everybody," the popular "song hit" from "The Modern Eve."

It was a Berlin theatre which advertised "2 Vorstellungen 2" of "Hamlet," which ended up the notice with "Rauchen Streng Verboten!" in large type. "If they burn the same stuff in Berlin that our Workmen and Soldier friends in the first-class are putting up that smoke barrage in the corridor with," said an airship officer, "it would have to be a case of 'Rauchen Streng Verboten' or gas masks."

A number of booksellers advertised long lists of "Neue Werke," but one searched these in vain for any of the notorious polemics directed against the Allies, or yet for the writings of any of the great protagonists of the "Deutschland Ueber Alles" movement. Most of them appeared to be "Romances" or out-and-out "Thrillers." Bachem, of K?ln, described "Der Meister" as "Der Roman eines Spiritisten"; "Wettertannen" as a "Tiroler Roman aus der Gegenwart von Hans Schrott"; "Wenn Irland dich ruft" as "Der Roman eines Fliegers"; and "Der blutige Behrpfennig" as "Erz?hlung aus dem Leben eines Priesters." Although one would have thought that the German people had had quite enough of that kind of thing from their late Government, every book I saw advertised in any of these papers was fiction.

Perhaps the most optimistic of all these advertisements was that of the "Kismet Laboratorium," of Berlin, in the Republik, which claimed to make a preparation for the improvement of the female form divine. Now that the war was over, it read, they no longer felt any hesitation in announcing that their great discovery was based on a certain product which could only be obtained from British India. As their pre-war stock had only been eked out by dilution with an not entirely satisfactory substitute, it was with great pleasure that they informed their many customers that they hoped shortly to conclude arrangements by which the famous "Bakatal-Busenwasser" could again be furnished in all its pristine purity and strength.

So here, it appears, was an indirect admission to prove wrong the individual who averred that the German chemists could make out of coal tar anything in the world except a gentleman. It seems that all the time they had been dependent upon British India for even the "makings" of a lady. It would have been interesting to know what the "arrangements" were by which the supply was to be renewed. We were discussing that question when the train started, and a "flat" wheel on the "bogey" immediately under our compartment put an end to casual conversation.

On the outskirts of the town we passed by a great series of sidings closely packed with oil-tank-cars from all parts of the Central Empires. The most of them were marked in German, but with names which indicated beyond a doubt that they had been employed in serving the Galician fields of Austria. On many more the name of Rumania appeared in one form or another, and several bore the names of the British concerns from which they had been seized when the rich oilfields of that unlucky country fell to Mackensen's armies. A considerable number of cars were marked with Russian characters, which led to the assumption that they had been seized in Courland or the Ukraine, and that they had originally run to and from the greatest of the world's oilfields at Baku, on the Caspian. There was a persistent report at one time that Germany was constructing an oil-pipe-line from the Galician fields to Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. Although quite practicable from an engineering standpoint, this appears never to have been seriously considered, probably on account of the great demand for labour and material it would have made at a time when both could be used to better advantage in other ways.

Seeing me standing at the window in the corridor looking at the oil-cars, my young companion of the steel-tyred auto came out of his compartment and moved up beside me. "As you will see," he said with his slow precision, "we never lacked badly for the oil for our U-boats. The one time that we had the great worry was when the Russians had the fields of Galicia. That cut off our only large supply. But luckily we had great stocks in hand when the war started, and these were quite sufficient for our needs until the Russians had been driven out of Austria. If they had remained there, it is hard to see how we could have kept going after our reserve was finished. But they did not stay, the poor Russians, and they did not even have the wits to destroy the wells properly. We had them producing again at full capacity in a few months. Now, if they had been destroyed like the English destroyed the wells in Rumania it would have been different. There, in many places, we found it the cheaper to drill the new wells. Ah, the English are very thorough when they have the time, both in making and un-making."

As we passed through the suburbs of Wilhelmshaven we began to get some inkling of where the food came from. All back yards and every spare patch of ground were in vegetables. Nowhere in England or France have I seen the surface of the earth so fully occupied, so thoroughly turned to account. Some thrifty cultivators, after filling up their available ground with rows of cabbages and Brussels sprouts, appeared to have been growing beans and peas in hanging baskets and boxes of earth set up on frames. One genius had erected a forcing bed for what (to judge from the dead stalks) looked like cucumbers or squashes on the thatched roof of his cowshed. The only thing needed to cap the climax of agricultural industry would have been a "hanging garden" suspended from captive balloons.

As we ran out of the suburban area and into the open country the allotments gave place to large and well-tilled farms, or rather to farms which had been well tilled in the season favourable to cultivation. At the moment work was practically at a standstill on account of the incessant rains which had inundated considerable areas and left the ground heavy, water-logged, and temporarily unfit for the plough. The results of a really bountiful harvest, however, were to be seen in bulging barns and sheds and plethoric haystacks and fodder piles. The surest evidence that there had actually been an over-supply of vegetables was the careless way in which such things as cabbages, swedes, and beets were being handled in transport. A starving people does not leave food of this kind to rot along the road nor in the station yards, evidences of which we saw every now and then for the next forty miles.

Practically the whole of the North Sea littoral of Germany between the Kiel Canal and the Dutch border-across the central section of which we were now passing-is the same sort of a flat, sea-level expanse, and has the same rich, alluvial soil, as the plains of Flanders. This region, like Denmark and Holland, had been largely given over to dairying before the war. The conversion of it from a pastoral to an agricultural country, by ploughing up the endless miles of meadows, has resulted in a huge output of foodstuffs, and has put the people inhabiting it well beyond the risk of anything approaching starvation, no matter how long the blockade might be kept up. The officers accompanying us were quite frank in stating that the farmers had prospered and waxed wealthy by selling their surplus in the nearest industrial centres, such as Bremen and Hamburg. The pinch, they said, would come when the people began trying to restock their dairy farms again, for at least a half of the cattle had been killed off as their pastures had been put under cultivation.

Judging by the very few cattle in sight-in comparison with the number one has always seen in the fields in dairying regions-one would be inclined to estimate the reduction of stock at a good deal more than half. The fact that it is the local custom to keep the best of their stock stabled during the most inclement months of the winter doubtless had a good deal to do with the few animals in sight. As a matter of fact, there was really very little grazing left for those that might have been turned out. Sheep were also extremely scarce, but as this was not a region where they were ever found in great numbers one remarked their absence less than that of cattle.

But the most astonishing thing of all was that not a single pig was sighted on either the going or returning journey. The sight of what appeared to be a long-empty sty started a comparison of observations from which it transpired that no one watching from either of our two compartments had so much as clapped an eye on what the world has long regarded as Germany's favourite species of live stock. After that we all began standing "pig lookout," but the only "View Halloo" raised was a false one, the "schwein" turning out to be a dachshund, and a very scrawny one at that. Piqued by this astonishing porcine elusiveness, the "air" parties (upon which most of the land travel devolved) met in the ward-room of the Hercules that evening and contributed to form a "Pig Pool," the whole of which was to go to the first member who could produce incontestable evidence that he had seen a pig upon German soil. Astounding as it may seem, this prize was never awarded. The claim of one aspirant was ruled out because, on cross-questioning, he had to admit that his "pig" wore a German naval uniform and had tried, by vigorous lying, to head him off from a hangar containing a very interesting type of a new seaplane. Another claimant proved that he had actually seen a pig, but only to have the prize withheld when it transpired that he had flushed nothing more lifelike than the plaster image of a pig which, cleaver in hand, stood as a butcher's sign in a village on the island of Rügen. A third claimant would have won the award had he chanced along five minutes sooner when the villagers were butchering a pig on the occasion when his party visited the Great Belt Islands to inspect the forts. Even in this case, though, we should have had to weigh carefully the evidence of an Irish-American officer of the same party, who said that it was "a dead cert that pig had died from hog cholera a good hour before it was killed!"

Although the fact that none of the members of the various Allied sub-commissions saw so much as a single live hog during the course of the many hundred miles travelled by train, motor, carriage, or foot in North-Western Germany, does not mean that the species has become extinct there by any means, there is still no doubt that the numbers of this popular and appropriate symbol of the Hun's grossness have been greatly reduced, and that schweine will be among the top items on their list of "immediate requirements" forwarded to the Allied Relief Committee.

Hurried as was this first of our journeys across Oldenburg, I was still able to see endless evidence not only of the intensive cultivation, but also the careful and scientific fertilization, which I had good opportunity to study later at closer range in Mecklenburg and Schleswig. Stable manure and mulches of sedulously conserved decaying vegetable matter were being everywhere applied to the land according to the most approved modern practice. This I had expected to see, for I already knew the German as an intelligent and well-instructed farmer, but what did surprise me was clear proof that the supply of artificial fertilizers-phosphates, nitrates, and lime-was being fairly well maintained. Truck loads of these indispensable adjuncts to sustained production standing in station sidings showed that, and so did the state of the fields themselves; for the fresh young shoots of winter wheat, which I saw everywhere pushing up and taking full advantage of the almost unprecedentedly mild December weather, showed no traces of the "hungriness" I have so often noted during the last year or two in some of the over-cropped and under-fertilized fields of England.

What with prisoners and the unremitting labour of women and children, Germany accomplished remarkable things in the way of production. The area of cultivation was not only largely increased, but the production of the old fields was also kept at a high level. In no part of the world have I ever seen fairer farmsteads than those through which the party inspecting the Great Belt forts north of Kiel drove for many miles one day. They struck me as combining something of the picturesqueness of a Somerset farm with the prosperous efficiency of a California ranch. And it is as a California rancher myself that I say that I only wish I had soil and outbuildings that would come anywhere nearly up to the average of those throughout this favoured region of Schleswig. It is true that many of the people thereabouts are Danish, and I even saw a Danish flag discreetly displayed behind the neat lace curtains of one farmhouse. But, Danish or German, they are producing huge quantities of good food, enough to keep the people of less fertile regions of "starving Deutschland" far from want.

It was just before our arrival at Norddeich at the end of this first day's railway journey that I spoke to the German officer who had joined me at the window of the corridor about the very well-fed look of the people we had seen on the streets of Wilhelmshaven and at the stations of the towns and villages through which we had been passing. "It is true," he replied, "that we have never suffered for food in this part of the country, and that is because it is so largely agricultural. But wait until you go to the industrial centres. In Hamburg and Bremen, it is there that you will see the want and hunger. It is for those poor people that the Allies must provide much food without delay."

Personally, I did not go either to Hamburg or Bremen, being absent with parties visiting the Zeppelin stations at Nordholz and Tondern at the time the Shipping Board of the Naval Commission was inspecting British merchantmen interned in these once great ports. A member of that board, however, assured me that he had observed no material difference in the appearance of the people in the streets of Bremen and Hamburg and those of Wilhelmshaven. His party had taken "potluck" at the Hotel Atlantic in Hamburg, where the food had been found ample in quantity and not unappetizing, even on a meatless day.

"But what of the poor?" I asked. "Did you see anything of the quarters that would correspond to the slums of London or Liverpool?"

"Germany," he replied, "to her credit, has very few places where the housing is outwardly so bad as in many British industrial cities I could name. We did not see much of the parts of Bremen and Hamburg where the working-classes live; but we did see a good deal of the workers themselves. I know under-feeding when I see it, for I was in Russia but a few months ago. But, so far as I could see, the chief difference between the men in the dockyards and shipbuilding establishments of Hamburg and those of the Tyne and Clyde was that the former were working harder. They merely glanced up at us as we passed, with little curiosity and no resentment, and went right on with the job in hand. No, everything considered, I should not say that any one is suffering seriously for lack of food in either Bremen or Hamburg."

"No one is suffering seriously for lack of food." That was the feeling of all of us at the end of our first day in "starving Germany," and (if I may anticipate) it was also our verdict when the Hercules sailed for England, three weeks later.

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