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IN THE BATTERIES AGAINST TSING-TAU: A JAPANESE SIEGE-GUN GETTING THE ORDER BY TELEPHONE TO OPEN FIRE.The Illustrated War News, Number 21, Dec. 30, 1914.  

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“Germans Tried To Make World of Drug Fiends,” Sudbury Star. December 28, 1918. Page 02.

“German scientists had intended to make drug fiends of all the nations which opposed Germany, according to Alex. Aabel, chief engineer of the steamer Frederica. Mr. Aabel told in New York recently of a conversation he had had in Iceland with a German scientist on the subject.

‘If they had only waited,’ the German said, ‘we, the scientists and chemists of Germany, could have infused poison into the blood of the whole world so skillfully and so insidiously that in the course of compartaively few years Germany would have had to fight only an alliance of drug fiend nations.

‘In patent medicines, in tooth pastes and powders, in various well known and much used prophylactic preparations, we had planned to introduce our morphia, our cocaine, and other habit-forming drugs.

‘Tooth paste containing drugs had already been distributed to natives on the cost of Africa, who, without knowing why, enjoyed the sensation which resulted from its use and became addicted to it.’”

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“Rather!” Hamilton Spectator, July 14, 1919. Page 04.

“Germany – AchJammer Potztauseal! Didn’t kamerad yust in time!”

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“The ranks wait on, all merged in the gloom.

Only when a woman has to leave the line, or a child comes from home bringing a stone bottle of
hot water to warm the feet, or someone collapses from exhaustion – as happens not infrequently –
then those near wake from their doze.

A fine rain begins to fall, and they huddle still closer together. They have brought with them the
atmosphere of their overcrowded dwellings, the distinctive effluvia of the various diseases which
are devouring them-lice, scabies, boils, rashes. There is no more soap to be had in Germany, only
substitute stuff made from clay and sand without fat. The stench of open sores, the smell of
unwashed clothes, the cold odour of bad tobacco, mingle with the vapours of the slaughter-yard and hang like a foetid cloud over the people.

There is a disturbance among the crowd by the street lamp. A few young communists are pushing their way through; they have a pot of paste and a bundle of posters, one of which they stick
on the wall. Those around Truda Müller have been wakened, too; “Look out what you’re doing,
treading on my feet!”

“Sorry, you shouldn’t have such a pair of stilts!”
“What do you mean, sorry? Like me to put my feet in my pocket I suppose, eh?”
“The young people of today….”
“What are you doing pushing in here?”
“Don’t get excited! I’ve got my own place a long way forward. I only want to have a word with my neighbour here!”

Lucy Lange has vacated her place and come back to have a yarn with Truda Müller.

“Did you see them, Frau Müller, the fellows with the posters? And yesterday evening too, while it was still light, they had a meeting again at the beer house, the “Schusterkeller” at the corner, and
the professor from our house – you know, Duncker, second floor, front – he was there, with his wife
too! These Independents, what do they want I wonder – Yes, and that porter woman of ours, pity
she doesn’t mind her own business! I bet she knows where the rabbits in the cellar disappear to.
Feeds them with a few potato-peelings, and then, hey presto, and they’re gone – And that Möhring
woman too, with her soldier man! Why the whole house is talking about it….”

Truda Müller casts a warning glance in the direction of the little girl Lena.

But Lucy goes on, with a wave of the hand:

“What, her! She is all there, don’t you worry! But that’s a fact, what I was saying about Möhring. And her soldier, too – a deserter, I dare say. And her husband killed not six months ago! –
By the way, how is your husband doing? – I say, my father had such a row with me. Said I mustn’t
write to Karl Raumschuh … that’s my fiancé, you know – because he’s a sailor! …”

One of the leave-men turns round, and a woman also:
“My hat, but can’t she talk, eh?”
“And such things!”
“What do you mean, such things? Can’t I talk with my neighbour about my fiancé if I want to? The sailors aren’t such a bad lot anyway; they do want peace!”

She turns to Truda Müller again:

“Karl wrote and told me he means to come to Berlin when he is demobilized. He’s going to look for work here. Yes, and your little boy, how is he getting on?”

Truda Müller is only listening with half an ear. She is troubled that she cannot picture dearly to herself the face of her child: “I don’t know – I ought to have telephoned”

A herd of cattle surges along on the far side of the wall of the slaughter-yard. One can hear the curses of the drivers, the blows of the sticks against the flanks of the animals, and quite near, the
hollow bellowing of an ox.

Now a light, like red smoke, shows from one of the sheds, and there are sounds of activity in the
yard.

The queue numbers over two thousand.

And before the markets and retail shops of Berlin are standing perhaps as many queues. In
Munich and Hamburg and Dresden, everywhere the same. Coal-less days, bread made of sawdust,
shirts made from stinging nettles, boots made from paper. In some country districts the fire-stick
has been introduced.

There is food to be had, of course, from the smugglers. Soldiers’ wives, if they have two
children, get an allowance of only 48 marks; if more, then 50 or 60 marks-hardly enough to enable
them to pay the extortionate prices asked. So they go to work in the munition factories, and clothe
themselves in old army clothes which they remake. In wooden-soled shoes they stand in queues –
for meat, for margarine, for synthetic jam, for potatoes, for substitute stuffs of every kind…

Business has begun in the slaughter-yard.
The first wagon rolls out through the gate. It is laden with sides of pork. Tender and newly washed the carcases lie in the grey light of dawn.

The gas-lamp at the corner has gone out. And the police are there again.
The people along the wall begin to stir-like hens waking on the perch and preening their feathers.

The women remove their threadbare coverings. The men lift their noses from the collars of their
coats and set their caps back from off their faces. “Hey, stop your pushing, you!”

“It’s the kid there – they are always trying to worm their way in. You stay where you are, and
don’t go making trouble!”

It is the woman beside the little girl who says this, the one with the curling-papers – she has long
skirts on too. Lena can’t abide women with long skirts. She knows from bitter experience – the
longer the skirts the longer the tongue. Least of all can she stick being called “a kid”. As if she
wouldn’t be leaving school soon, and didn’t do most of the housework already! You see, her uncle
goes to work and her aunt – she’s got a proper fat belly already – it can’t be long now. Then will
come all the bother with the napkins…

The “Carry on” propaganda for the war has found a place even here. On the wall, which is
surmounted by broken glass and three strands of barbed wire, are posted appeals for the Ninth War
Loan-signed by Field Marshal von Hindenburg, Prince Max of Baden, Secretary of State Erzberger.

There is even a placard signed by Scheidemann, an exhortation in beautiful gothic characters:

Let everyone who has money subscribe!
It is no sacrifice
To invest money at 5 per cent
where it is safe as a ward in chancery!

Diagonally across the paragraph is pasted the propaganda strip of the Spartacist League which
the young fellows with the paste pot put up during the night. Two lines of crude lettering:

The war is for the rich!
The poor pay for it in corpses!

The meat-issue has begun at last.

The people are admitted in batches, a hundred at a time. The police count off twenty-five rows,
and each person gets a half-pound of meat. The meat is that of cattle which the inspector has
condemned; the meat from healthy animals passes through other channels, through the butchers’
shops, to that section of the population which can pay the high prices asked there.

It is another hour before Truda Müller reaches the shed. And behind her are seven hundred
people. She receives her meat, as does the file behind her, also. Of the next row only one receives
his ration – the rest get nothing.

The supply is exhausted – Sold out.

And 700 persons still standing in the street.

The police cannot hold back the mob. They surge up to the gate, and in to the sheds. They must see with their own eyes that nothing more is left. They gaze at the meat-hooks around the walls and
at the empty counters. The foremost force their way in to the very chopping-blocks where an
assistant is busy sweeping away the last splinters of bone.

The shed resounds with the angry cries of the crowd.

“Dirty swindlers!”
“Profiteers!”
“Hoarders!”

“They put some aside before they started.”

“Yes, if you’ve got money, you can get anything.” – “…And without queuing up too!” – “When
is the swindle going to stop?”

“Smash up the whole gang!”

The women stand, following with their eyes those who have received their portion. An old man
with a last wisp of grey hair on his head has taken off his cap and is trying to conceal his piece of
meat within it. The cap he covers with the palm of his hand.

The women edge up close to the old fellow. He can feel their hunger and lowers his eyes.
“And the likes of him eat what little there is.”
“Yes, and even get extra milk off the Council.”
“I don’t know what they go on living for.”

“Don’t talk rot! They feel hunger, same as you do. It’s the big slugs as eat up everything.”
“And our children…”

With a sense of guilt the old man, quite persuaded his life is not worth his meat, looks for a way of escape through the angry mob.

The police clear the shed. “Move along! Out of it!”
“D’you think I’m deaf?”
“Out of it! Move along!”
“Steady on there, constable!” – “Dare say you still get plenty to eat, what?”
“The police? You bet! But if the likes of us want a little bit of meat….”
“They ought to be in the trenches with our husbands!”
“Hey, you take your hands off me!”
“Hands off be damned – you hop it!”

 The police-blue uniforms, spiked helmets, truncheons in hand, scatter the mob and drive them along the streets. The women in their heavy cloaks, laden with footstools and blankets, move along
with difficulty.

The gate of the slaughter-house is closed once more and the crowd gradually lost in the side
streets.

Truda Müller has gone to the nearest telephone box.

Lucy Lange and Lena Hanke have come with her. She calls the hospital and asks in the
children’s ward after the condition of her son. She has to wait for an answer; then she hears a calm,
matter-of-fact voice from the hospital:

“He died last night at eleven o’clock!”

 Truda Müller gazes at the telephone, timorously she hangs the receiver back on the hook.

“Well – how is he?” asks Lucy Lange. The woman makes no answer.

Yesterday, at eleven – no, that is beyond her to picture. She does not want to think the thought to its end. Suddenly she wants nothing. She opens the door. Once outside she begins to run, without
being sensible of the weight of her body, without feeling anything at all. In an open place she comes
to a standstill – Forckenbeck Platz, she reads absently. Bewildered she still holds the basket of meat
in her hands. The almost leafless branches of the trees are swaying against a leaden sky. Truda
Müller sees all things as she has never seen them before, as if she were now seeing them for the first
time.

At eleven o’clock-she was in bed; it was at eleven that neighbour Lange stumped out in his
heavy boots, banging the door after him. She suddenly remembers her husband. It is over a year
since he was home on leave. So long since he saw the boy, and now he will never see him again…
She does not know how she found her way back, but here she is again in Boxhagenerstrasse, in
front of the baker’s shop. Never again will the boy flatten his nose against the window-pane; never
again ask for a penny with which to buy a piece of fruit tart. Never again.

He died at eleven.

She arrives at her house; she climbs slowly up the stairs, shuts the door after her. The dim light
from the courtyard falls upon her unmade bed. And there is the cot, and beneath it the little shoes;
she stoops and picks them up. They had been kicked out at the toes; only yesterday she had them
back from the cobbler.

With the shoes still in her hand she sits down on the edge of the bed.
And so her neighbours find her – Frau Lange, and Hanke, and the porter woman.

“Frau Müller ….”
“Lucy told us… .”
“Come, Müller, bear up!”
“It might be worse, you know-just think if anything should happen to your husband. He’s still out in the trenches remember!”

“…And all the trouble one has to rear them!”
“Consumption it was, of course – my husband said so from the beginning.”
 “Children are such weaklings these days.”
 “One must be thankful he was still so little. When they’ve grown up and you’ve had so much more trouble with them, then …”
“You know Frau Duncker? the professor’s wife in the front block. Well, she says: So long as the war lasts and the workers have to sweat their guts out for a starvation wage, the women should go
on strike and refuse to have any more children.”

“What does she know? She only gets it out of books.”
“Never mind, she’s right all the same – so we ought.”
The porter woman looks at Frau Hanke, who has folded her hands over her stomach:
“Yes, no more war, or no more children.”
“And when is the funeral?”

 “Goodness me, if she hasn’t left the meat in the basket all this time! Why, it will go bad!” exclaims Frau Lange unwrapping it. She fills a pot with water and puts the piece of meat in it.
“There now, it will be cooked at least. So. And now a pinch of salt.”

Truda Müller gets up and fetches the salt.

Now Lucy has come in, and Möhring and her soldier. “Everybody has his pack to carry these
days,” says the soldier. “I had a daughter once, and when I came back from the Front….”

“And Max was such a darling little boy,” says Möhring.
“It’s all the fault of the war,” continues the soldier.
“But it won’t stop of itself. If only those fools at the Front would take a pull and turn the guns”
Truda Müller stands helpless in the middle of her room until the women have gone at last.

“Müller, dear, you know you can knock on the wall if you want any- thing,” says Frau Lange as she
leaves.

But Truda Müller cannot stay in the house. She hastens out into the street again.

At the door she meets a woman with a savoy cabbage under her arm, who nods to her just as if
nothing had happened. And at the tram-stop over the way people are waiting for the tram, just as on
any other day.

She hurries along the street not conscious whither she would go. With unusual precision she sees
the persons and things which she passes by, but only as so many unrelated incidents. She loses
herself in external phenomena, and remains utterly absorbed until fresh ones appear, then they in
their turn take automatic possession of her. Now it is a tattered poster on a wall; now a number on a
house – 26; a man picking up bits of paper and lugging after him a sack already half-filled; a
schoolgirl with skimpy pigtails pushing a pram full of mended uniforms; two policemen – their
tunics, grown too big for them, hanging slackly about their bellies; a pedlar with a hand-barrow,
trading little bundles of kindling-wood for potato-peelings.

“Peelings-potato-peelings!” he cries.

“Peelings-potato-peelings …” it goes singing monotonously, endlessly through her head. Until
she pulls up suddenly in front of two straining horses and is almost caught beneath the wheels of a
dray.

“Silly ass! – why don’t you look where you’re going!”
“You were lucky that time, miss!”
She sees the dusty face of the driver, she sees the wagon, piled high with rolls of ration-paper, as

it reels past her and turns in at a gateway. And wagon and driver and passers-by, all seem unreal to
her and far away.

Everything appears to her unfamiliar and meaningless.

Yet it is all the same, just as on any other day.

Berlin standing in queues, mending soldiers’ uniforms, printing newspapers; discussing Wilson’s
latest note, studying the latest saccharine and fat ration-cards just issued by the Food Office,
arguing about the col- lapse of Turkey, the defection of Austria, and the peace.

Everyone in his place, everyone going his accustomed way.”

-Theodor Plivier, The Kaiser Goes, The Generals Remain. Translated by A. W. Wheen.  London: Faber & Faber, 1933. pp. 29-32
 

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“The Prince remains seated bolt upright.

Only when the valet has gone does he get up and stagger across to his room. He throws off his clothes and climbs into bed. After a while he sits up, drops a sleeping-powder into a glass of water
and drinks it off.

But the dose is not strong enough. It lessens the pain but brings no real rest, no complete
forgetfulness. The Prince sinks into a half-stupor. His activities as Chancellor, as Director of the
Prisoners’ Welfare Organization, his negotiations with persons in authority, his meditations, his
doubts as to imperial policy-nothing of all this leaves him. Four weeks Chancellor of the
Revolution, four years of War, forty years of Empire – all this surges through his head, bashes
through his over- worked brain, wild confusion of disconnected thoughts, trains of broken sentences
somewhere heard, somewhere formulated – We all want peace. But the request for an armistice was
a mistake. We must defend ourselves, tooth and claw, horn and hoof! Rathenau is right, and Solf
and the Vice-Chancellor are right. But consider, Your Excellency – the superiority, the tanks! Of
course, there are the Guards – yes, the Guards and the Jäger battalions. Every man jack with a tank
on his horns. But soldiers must eat. Else they will leave the trenches, and greet the troops going to
their relief with cries of “Scab”. You see, it is a matter of potatoes. But Herr Scheidemann
understands nothing of foreign politics. General Groener? The very man, with his knowledge of the
railway and transport system, admirably qualified for the withdrawal of the troops.

No, not a real claw, of course, not a claw, only a hand, a timid outstretched hand. The widow’s
portion has been eaten. The inheritance of the orphan has been taken from him and given in war
loans. The aged have not wherewith to cover their nakedness, and at the barracks’ doors the
children stand hungry…

Alas, where is carpentry, there also will be shavings.
Man perishes, the work abides.
The Christian Empire! But he is here to liquidate that. Prince Max – Receiver in Bankruptcy!

Chancellor of the Revolution! But his great-uncle in the “Galerie des Glaces” in the palace of Louis
XIV of France – the Grand Duke of Baden and the Confederate Princes, Bismarck and Moltke. All
Germany from the Memel to the Bodensee knit together forever! Up ewig ungedeelt!

That was Versailles, January, 1871. That was the beginning: Germany built herself ships.
Germany bought herself colonies and coaling-stations; by peaceful penetration she won herself a
place in the sun.

The Programme: Heligoland-Baghdad.
German Emperor – Hurrah!

But the old methods of colonization won’t do any more. The happiness of other races, remember – yes, and the happiness of the coolies in Kiautschou and of the Hereros in South Africa. But those
statistics, those terrible statistics! 100,000 Hereros, and only 21,000 of them left. The report please.
Look at the seal and the signature! Precisely 7,000 men, 9,000 women, 5,420 children…

Prince Max groans aloud in his sleep.

He groans for the natives, who with their herds of cattle, their wives and children have been driven from the prairies to die of thirst by the dried-up waterholes. Can a cow bellow so loud as
that? And the face of a negro become so white?

Stay, wretched man! Who would deny to a disarmed foe… We must have a Ministry for War
Prisoners! War and imprisonment, they must be organized on humane principles. A most damnable
fact: even German soldiers have been known to shoot down unarmed prisoners! A boatswain split
with a hatchet the skulls of foreign sailors swimming for their lives!

“Understand me. Let there be no quarter. No prisoners. Carry your weapons so that in a thousand
years…” But that was a mere rhetorical slip on William II’s part. The fact remains: he who denies
pardon to a defenceless foe is a traitor.

But consider, Your Excellency – our own prisoners! Anyway, we must take reprisals against
France; against England they are unnecessary; and against Russia, useless. The Russian pays no
attention to the sufferings of his own people! Any reprisal must strike back a hundredfold on our
own prisoners. There is nothing for it in Russia but to appeal to influential persons.

Seventy thousand, Your Ladyship!

Seventy thousand German war prisoners building the Murman railway! They have no boots on
their feet, Your Ladyship! Yes, I know, those mujiks – they have no boots either. But think of the
latitude, the cold and the blizzards in the far north. The soldiers’ greatcoats are threadbare and give
no protection against such a climate. And the food, dearest Grand Duchess Elizabeth – the
prisoners eat like pigs. I am sure it is only because they have no spoons that they dip into the
containers with their hands. And if they are greedy, it is only because the food is insufficient to go
round. Do not take it amiss that I seek to enlist Your Ladyship’s influence in a matter of this kind.
There are no doctors, no medicine, no sick parade at all. If a man’s feet are frozen, he must hobble
along as best he can, he must still keep his place in the line, still keep on harrowing the dirt, lugging
sleepers and rails. Any man who breaks down is lashed to his feet and driven again to the work.
What is the sense of such methods? Neither can I understand it, Anna Elizabeth! No, I was not
aware that a man’s skin may become so cold that the stroke of a whip can be a warming caress. I do
not understand the economics of it, but it seems to be something like this: A man lives but once, and
he should not live in idleness. And the hours of ten thousand dying men are enough to carry the railway ten thousand yards forward.

Seventy thousand prisoners are engaged in constructing the railway. And so far 25,000 have
died.

No protest has availed. I appeal to you and your husband, Konstantin Konstantinovitch – who is
a Russian poet, and has translated Hamlet! On the strength of our youthful friendship, Anna
Elizabeth – remember the days we spent together at Schloss Salem! Intervention on the part of the
Dowager Empress might bring some relief to the unfortunates!

What, the Empire in danger? And the Czar’s throne, too! By the gentle teaching of Jesus, by the
wisdom and righteousness of the Sermon on the Mount-yes indeed -but who would have imagined a
cow could bellow so, dearest Anna Elizabeth? And who would have guessed that the belly of a dead
soldier would look like that? Died of starvation, obviously. Only the bellies of the starving swell so.
With scurvy the teeth drop out. And beriberi softens the bones. Yes, unfortunately – it does happen,
even in our own prison camps – it is not entirely preventable.

Nor is the international character of the armament industry entirely to be prevented. Krupp sells
steel, Zeiss-Jena firing-directors, the Magdeburg Cable Company barbed wire. They all sell to the
foreigner. Krupp, Thyssen, Stinnes, all of them – and cheaper than to the Supreme Command!

The German soldiers attacking Douaumont were hung up in barbed wire from Magdeburg, and
in Flanders German marines were blown to bits by English shells with Krupp’s fuses. No, no,
steady on! that is going too far! Pardon me! Examine the documents for yourself. The Prussian
Minister for War enquired into the matter. Unfortunately it cannot be helped – you see, the Entente
supplies us with rubber, copper, and nickel in exchange.

And these men? Oh dear no, these men have not been selling steel to the enemy, nor infantry
shields, nor firing-directors! These are Belgian unemployed. There is no occasion for the women to
trail after them so; they have no reason to weep. Compulsory levies like this are necessary on grounds of security and they are permitted by international law. You see, the German heavy
industries want 20,000 Belgian workers a week. And what the heavy industries require, the
Supreme Command must supply. But the Supreme Command gets nothing in exchange, it makes
nothing out of it, you understand; it does it from pure patriotism. The Supreme Command and the
War Ministry are the most humane powers in Germany.

What, man! are you out of your wits?
The Grand Duchess Elizabeth murdered?
Reports admit no doubt of it, Your Highness. Anna Elizabeth dead. The Czarina, the Cesarevitch, the Czar – all dead. Murdered in a cellar, their bodies cut in pieces, soaked in petrol
and burned. An officer has brought the remains to Europe. A small suitcase full – bits of bone,
precious stones, a few rings melted to one lump, two almost intact still….

There is something fishy about it. Don’t come to me with such yarns! Won’t have it, understand?
What’s that you say?-the emerald still perfectly transparent once the soot was wiped off? One
emerald, three onyx, fourteen gold settings, all melted, one hundred and twelve pieces of bone, two
corset-ribs, almost perfect- and that is all that remains of the Court and the Royal Family?

Well, well, it will make excellent propaganda, no doubt, against Bolshevism! Was he well paid
for it, this prince, this officer?

Anyway, there is no disproving it.
And every labourer is worthy of his hire.
Man perishes, but the Murmansk railway abides.
Krupp’s steel for the Entente. Zeiss lenses for the English fleet. Magdeburg barbed wire for our soldiers at Douaumont. Shells with Krupp’s fuses for our men in Flanders.

And the Emperor travelling in a sealed carriage. Deputy Ebert – no, I don’t believe that! He will never make a courtier. Just look at his fat, hairy hands! But the fellow is doing what he can…
And His Excellency the Minister for the Interior, Herr Drews, too.

Baghdad – all change!

 After you, Your Ladyship! Long live the Czar! Hurrah for the Emperor!

Drews! – Good God, the man is under the wheels! … The Prince tosses on his couch. His face is
hectic red.

Thick sweat is on his brow. Gathering his strength he wrenches himself free and utters a cry of
relief.

The doctor is waiting with Hahn in the next room.

They had found the Prince already asleep and decided not to disturb him. But now they have
heard the groaning and the cry.

They knock on the half-open door and enter immediately.
The Prince is sitting bolt upright shouting: “Drews! Drews!”
“His Excellency, Herr Drews, has just telephoned. He has been received by the Emperor, but his mission has failed. He was told off roundly… “

The Chancellor has slipped half out of bed, his feet on the floor. He looks at the secretary, then at the doctor – gradually he comes to himself.

“Yes, of course, Drews… So the report has come?”
“No, only a verbal message, by telephone. The Minister for the Interior will be back in the morning.”

“Give me something to drink, will you, please?”
The doctor hands the Prince a glass of water. “Ask Dr. Solf to come, please.”
“Dr. Solf has gone from the House. He left a message that he would be back at midnight.”
“Pulse 70 – the fever has increased a little. Your Highness needs absolute rest. Let us try a sleeping draught.”

“I must speak to Dr. Solf first.”
“In your Highness’s weakened state – pardon me, but your Highness absolutely must have one night’s uninterrupted sleep.”

“Very well then, but something a little stronger, if you please. I have taken one already.”

The doctor gives him a dose – three times the usual strength.
The Prince scribbles a note:

“For Dr. Solf. And I must be called at eight in the morning.”
He sits up once again:

“What is that noise? Is it a demonstration?”
“No, Your Highness – it is the wind in the trees.””

– Theodor Plivier, The Kaiser Goes: The Generals Remain. Translated by A. W. Wheen.  London: Faber & Faber, 1933. pp. 21-23

Painting is Max Beckmann, Resurrection (Auferstehung) from Faces (Gesichter) 1918. Drypoint. Source: moma.org

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A rumbling.
The earth trembling.
The man cannot stop himself-he withdraws his head from the hole; he looks upward, and sees the tank.

He sees it above him, over his head. The tank makes a clumsy cradling movement against the arc of the sky, hovers a moment, its prow in the air.

Gunner Müller feebly raises a hand as if to ward it off. The great belly rocking downwards upon him – the livid, striped steel armour, the double rows of rivets, the caterpillars dripping earth-all these
are etched on the retina of his eyes as on photographic plates. The tank weighs three to four tons,
sixty to eighty hundredweight. The human body may withstand a pressure of six hundredweight;
with seven the breath goes out of it; eight and the bones crack; eighty…..

The lips draw back. The teeth are bared. Max Müller’s face has the same expression as the dead
Number Two; the same anguished mouth as a woman’s in childbirth.

The tank slides smoothly down into the crater.

Two dead Numbers and one living, it irons them out flat. Then it lifts itself up again to the level
ground and rolls on in line with the rest of the squadron, clanking and firing, against the retreating
German Front.

A dug-out, rafters, and above them a few feet of earth. Below a lieutenant seated before a field-
telephone. A man comes down the steps, he clicks his heels and reports: “Machine-gun posts have
retired, out of touch with Müller’s group.”

The message arrives before the tanks but hardly before the bombing planes. Telephonic
communications are still intact. The lieutenant takes up the receiver and reports to Battalion
Headquarters: “Front line evacuated.” Battalion H.Q. where the messages from all parts of the
sector are assembled, telephones yet farther back to Brigade: “Broken through on the whole sector –
Yes, four kilometres! Tank attack on a front of four kilometres!”

The face of the lieutenant in the dug-out is ashen grey. He is dirty, lousy and, like his men half-starved. He has been for weeks in the front line without relief.

The officer at Battalion H.Q. looks spruce and well shaven. He still gets enough to eat, he sleeps
regularly and at times may even have a bath in his private quarters. The Brigade Major, who passes
the messages yet farther back to Army, inhabits a villa with every comfort – conservatory, garage,
stables.

The Hindenburg Line, to which the people pinned its faith as if it were a new evangel in
concrete, has been broken. The Hindenburg Line, the Wotan Line, the Siegfried Line, the Hermann
and Hunding-Brunhild Line, built up with such unremitting, titanic toil, have been overrun and now
lie behind the advancing Allied troops. From the flooded regions of Flanders to the Vosges the
German Front is in full retreat.

The Germans leave behind them each day a few more miles of country, each day a few more
thousand dead.

But behind the lines of defence the Generals and staff officers forever reassemble the fragments
of broken divisions, reorganize them in new formations, fill them out with scratch drafts from home
and throw them again into the battle.

The military machine is still intact.

Only at the Base, indeed, not at the Front.

In the platoons and sections the collapsing system is relinquishing its hold. But behind the line sergeant majors still require to be saluted, they still bully, they still drill. Quartermaster-sergeants
still issue rations, still arrange fatigues, still supervise the digging of burial pits, still serve out
schnapps – half a litre a head – to the men going up the line.

And 100 miles behind the Front, behind Battalion, Brigade, Division, and Army, at GHQ, where
all the threads meet, in a room of the Hotel Britannia at Spa, a man is stooping over maps and sheets
of figures-he is of the same Prussian sergeant-major type, with the same sergeant-major’s features
but better tended, a closely- shaved heavy jowl, and a little turned-up moustache, a uniform with the
red stripes of a general staff officer, the star of an order on his breast. He scans once more the lines,
the hatchings and points which represent armies, strong points, reserves; then he bundles together a
number of hastily-made sketches and memoranda and hands them to a colonel.

A soldier helps him into his cloak; he takes down his cap and in company with the colonel leaves
the room.

Outside the hotel stands a motor-car. At the station a special train is waiting. The two general
staff officers climb in.

The heavy engine begins to move. After a short distance it is tearing along with its two carriages,
one telegraph and one saloon car, at top speed across the country. Trains come from the opposite
direction – coughing engines, seemingly endless columns of trucks – trains laden with cement, with
trench-supports, munitions, and a stream of troops dragging forever westward.

The line is cleared at congested stations; troop trains and goods trains are shunted on to side tracks; hospital trains destined for home stand waiting. On the platforms soldiers stand round the
fountains and at the flying kitchens of the railway service. Every station presents the same picture.
Soldiers stamping about to keep warm or seated on their packs and bundles. And all of them talking
of the self-same things – of food, of their officers, of peace. They gaze curiously after the special as
it races by with curtained windows.

“A big bug!” they all agree.

Only when passing through the larger cities does the locomotive slacken its pace, then rushes on
again always at top speed. After four hours the train rolls thundering over the long bridge which
crosses the Rhine at Cologne.

The man from Spa is sitting in the saloon, the forgotten stump of a cigar between his lips. An
orderly comes in and lays the newly-received telegraphic tapes on the table: Americans attacking
heavily between Argonne and the Maas – army group crown prince Rupprecht driven back behind
the Lys – Ostend, Tourcoing, Roubaix, Douai evacuated – between Le Cateau and the Oise the
battle in full swing.

The orderly goes back to the colonel at work in the telegraph car. The man in the saloon car, who
through two years of unceasing activity has directed the movements of the German troops-he, who
eight weeks ago dismissed sixty generals on the Western Front, is in no hurry to read the incoming
reports. Without looking at them he knows that every passing hour is a fresh hammer-blow against
the German Front. He leans back and stares into space. He is feeling the burden of his flesh, heavy
and strange. He has grown weary.

One day later, 17th October, 1918.

The man from Spa is approaching the Imperial Chancellery. The guard presents arms. The
flunkeys behind the tall glass doors stand motionless as statues. After the man with the general’s
cord has gone by, one of them whispers: “That’s him – that’s Ludendorff!”

The Chief Quartermaster-General, Ludendorff stands before the members of the War Cabinet,
the members of the newly-appointed National Government. The meeting is presided over by the
Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden. Beside the Chancellor sits the Vice-Chancellor, von Payer, on
either side of the table are the ministers and Secretaries of State. The patriotic Left is represented by
the Social Democrat, Scheidemann.

The members of the Cabinet are putting questions. The defeated General answers:

“War is not a matter of simple arithmetic – no one can really tell what will happen. … Germany’s
luck may easily turn again. … Gaps four miles wide have been made in the front, it is true,
nevertheless the enemy has not broken through ….We have been pushed back, but it came off all
right… . One should not overestimate the Americans …. The 41st Division? That was a matter of
morale. The Division had had influenza. They were short of rations ….I have every hope that the
present fear of the tanks will in time be overcome. Once the morale is restored; the troops will make
short work of them – as it is, the Jäger battalions and the Guards have rare sport shooting them up… If
the army can get through the next four weeks successfully, and winter comes, then we are well
away… It all depends on what the homeland can still give us. It is a question of man-power.”

The Western Front is collapsing; the allies are defaulting; the reserves of men are exhausted; yet
the General still begs for a last 600,000 men.

There he sits – a uniform, decorations, the “pour le mérite” on his breast. His heavy, fleshy face
is expressionless. When he looks at the members of the War Council his glance is sidelong under
half-closed eyelids. The Minister for War, the Secretary of State for the Navy, Admiral von Scheer,
General Hoffmann who has been summoned from the Eastern Front, all these are fighters. The
Imperial Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden also ranks as a general, but he is not wearing his
uniform. The rest – the Vice-Chancellor, the Secretaries of State and the various ministers are
civilians. One is a barrister, another a judge, a third a journalist; the Social-Democratic Secretary of
State was once a printer.

What is the matter with the fellow? What is biting him now? Gröber, the leader of the Centre
Party, an octogenarian with a long white beard, turns his great gleaming spectacles upon the Chief
Quartermaster-General.

He begins to talk of the depressed mood of the troops. “It is primarily a matter of feeding.
Take the officers’ canteens, for instance – understand that the officers can get additional supplies and even
luxuries; but if a private soldier comes in, he is told it is not intended for him. Cannot such glaring
contrasts be avoided?”

Ludendorff surveys the ministers – neither have these gentlemen the appearance of drawing their
midday ration from the soup-kitchens – but he replies patiently to the question. “In the trenches
both officers and men eat from the same field-cooker. But the Staff is situated differently and it is
only natural if they arrange things better. It is hardly to be expected we should eat from the field-
kitchens. Whatever is fair and just we enforce. The mischief is that rumours are circulated which are
injurious to our reputation ….”

The Chancellor calls the gentlemen to order: “I must ask you not to go into details; we have not
time for that.”

They discuss the position on the Western Front, the occupied regions in the East, the possibility
of withdrawing troops from the Eastern Front to strengthen the West.

“What is the precise value of the Ukraine as a source of food?”
“Well, we bought up a million and a half tons of grain there which are already beginning to rot!”

“It is no longer possible to get any considerable quantity of grain, fodder or cattle from there, so I suggest we abandon the occupation of the Ukraine, and in case of necessity supplement our
supplies by smuggling.”

But then there are political considerations: “We must hold the Ukraine as a concentration-point
against the Russian menace, against Bolshevism.”

Dr. Solf, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has a report from the Consul on conditions in the
Ukraine and informs the meeting that the economic value of the country to Germany is very
considerable. “I also asked Herr von Mumm what would happen in the Ukraine if we withdrew the
German troops. He was sure, so he told me, that the Bolshevists would then gain control and behave
in the most savage and terrible manner. All the well-to-do would be executed.”

“We should have to chance that; even though it were against our pledged word,” retorted
Ludendorff. “Is the evacuation necessary or not necessary for Germany? If it is, then it must be
done, no matter what the consequences.”

But General Hoffmann requires three months to withdraw his divisions from the East. And it is
generally agreed that the troops, infected as they are with Bolshevism, are no longer suitable to fight
in the West.

Therefore the Western Front must be reinforced from home.

The Chancellor breaks off the debate on the Ukraine: “I pass now to the second question: Is the
country prepared to place the necessary man-power at the disposal of the Higher Command?”

The Minister for War and the Chief of Staff, Colonel Heye, who has accompanied Ludendorff
from Spa, speak in reply to this question. The Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor and the various
Secretaries of State ask questions.

Ludendorff follows the arguments brought forward with ever growing concern. In his hand he
has the agenda drawn up by the Cabinet as a basis for the discussion; he sets it down on the table
and restlessly shoves it hither and thither– Yes, His Excellency the Quartermaster-General who has
overthrown Cabinets and meditated Dictatorship; who has already prepared a political programme
for the repopulation of the country after the conclusion of the “victorious war”, according to which
the Government and the General Staff shall supervise domestic life, regulate propagation,
education, sanitation and housing-reform; organize the struggle against decreasing birth-rate,
gonorrhoea and syphilis, against celibacy and promiscuity, against the use of contraceptives, against
excessive attendance at cinemas and against the use of tobacco and alcohol by the young; who has a
politico-military programme which beginning with bonuses for nursing mothers, and by means of
patriotic instruction, a law requiring military training in schools, an extension of the period of
military service, a tax on bachelors, and by the granting of privileges to patriotic organizations, is to
transform German citizens into soldiers and the begetters of future soldiers– Yes, His Excellency General Ludendorff who would turn Germany into one vast barracks, German industry into a body
of army contractors, and make the entire population of the country the compulsory inmates of this
great barracks, his Excellency, who has sent 1,600,000 men to their death for this “Greater
Fatherland”, his Excellency has become nervous and is now fidgeting with a piece of paper. He
looks around in search of help, his glance stops at the face of the Secretary of State, Scheidemann,
and he hangs on those watery blue eyes.

Scheidemann, thin, a great shining skull, tufts of grey hair on the temples, straightens up in his
chair: “I believe it may still be possible to round up a few hundred thousand more men for the
Army, but he would be deceiving himself who imagined that those hundreds of thousands would in
any way improve the morale of the army….”

Scheidemann, representing the Social Democracy, the last political capital of Imperial Germany,
is General Ludendorff’s last hope.

“Could not your Excellency contrive to raise the spirits of the masses?”

His Excellency Herr Scheidemann replies: “It is really a question of food. We have no meat, we
cannot bring up potatoes because we are short four thousand trucks daily, we have practically no
more fats. The shortage is so great that it is a puzzle how Berlin North and Berlin East are to get
their food. So long as this puzzle remains unsolved, it is impossible to raise the spirits of the
people.”

When Scheidemann talks of the masses, he speaks as a professional, as a technical expert, to
advise the Government what pressure the body politic can support without danger of an explosion.
The explosion now appears to be inevitable. The duration of the war, the defection of the other
allies, the ever increasing misery at home, the transport crisis, the food shortage…

The army has only sufficient oil for another six weeks.

Admiral von Scheer expresses his readiness to hand over to the army the navy’s oil stocks, of
which it has sufficient for another eight months. At this point Drews, Minister for the Interior,
reminds the meeting of the paraffin lamps of the civil population: “Ten thousand tons of oil monthly
are the minimum requirement, if the people are to be kept even moderately quiet through the
winter.”

The Secretaries of State see no way out. The seventy one year-old Vice-Chancellor von Payer
sits there with knitted brows. Secretary of State Gröber has sunk down into his chair. The eyes
behind the great spectacles stare wearily, ever at the self-same spot. Dr. Solf looks again and again
across at Ludendorff who, through his insistent demand fourteen days ago for an armistice, has
brought the Cabinet to this desperate pass, and yet who today suddenly advances the opinion that
the Front may yet be able to hold out until the early spring. But the situation report which he has
just given refutes this opinion, and above all it admits of no strong reply to President Wilson’s
humiliating note. The discussion continually returns to the general depression in the army and to the
desperate condition of the people.

“One must not overemphasize the question of the morale of the army – it is, after all, a very
uncertain factor,” interposes Under-Secretary Haussmann.

The Vice-Chancellor supports him: “I do not see things quite so gloomily as His Excellency Herr
Scheidemann. If our note is framed in such a way that the people can gather that, though we are in a
difficult position, still we are not throwing up the sponge, then all is not yet lost.”

The Quartermaster-General makes a sudden movement: “The Vice-Chancellor has expressed my
own feelings. The whole question is, can we do it? 1can only repeat my request: Stir up the people!
Rouse them! Could not Herr Ebert do it?”

New factors are introduced.

The Chief of Staff, Colonel Heye, is reading out figures from which the sorely diminished
strength of the divisions on the Western Front and the steadily increasing superiority of the enemy
becomes only too evident.

General Ludendorff points out on the other hand, that the war weariness is growing in France
and the Allied countries also.

“Can the army still hold the enemy, or must we accept Wilson’s conditions? That is the question we have to answer.””

– Theodor Plivier, The Kaiser Goes, The Generals Remain. Translated by A. W. Wheen.  London: Faber & Faber, 1933. pp. 3-7

Painting is George Grosz, Zuhälter des Todes/The Pimps of Death (From “Gott mit uns”). 1919. Color photolithograph. 39,5 x 30 cm (15,6 x 11,8 in).

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