Letters and Observations
Major Albro Lefils Parsons, Jr., M.D.
United States Army Medical Corps
at the Close of World War I
January 1919 to August 1919
This document is apparently a compilation of letters written by Major Albro L. Parsons, Jr., to his wife, Katherine Barnett Parsons, during the period January 1919 to August 1919, and covers his experiences with the Inter-Allied Commission in Berlin, Germany, and his activities promoting the health and welfare of Entente prisoners in Germany and Austria and their repatriation to their homelands.
Albro Lefils Parsons, Jr., was born November 13, 1882, in Louisville, Kentucky, to Albro Lefils Parsons and Julia Elizabeth Mays. He attended Medical College in Louisville and the University of Munich (Germany). He married Katherine Barnett on November 21, 1917 at the house of Boneycastles (handwritten note in the back of "Parsons Family, Descendants of Cornet Joseph Parsons, by Henry Parsons, 1912"). They spent a number of years in the US Army after World War II, and retired in Louisville at 431 Country Lane. They had two children, Albro L., III, (later changed to Jr) and Anne Tyler. Albro Sr. died September 3, 1964, and Katherine died May 4, 1971, both in Louisville.
The manuscript was found in the estate after the death of Katherine in 1971, and consisted of a carbon copy of the original, some 237 pages long, on legal sized sheets, and double spaced. It is unknown whether there ever was, or was intended to be, another part to this compilation, but there may have been as the letters start abruptly on January 20, 1919. It is evident that Albro, then a Captain, had been writing to Katherine for a number of months prior to the beginning of these letters.
His position during this period was "Staff Surgeon of the U. S. Military Mission," and chief medical officer of the Inter-Allied Commission.
The Hotel Adlon, a magnificent hotel constructed in 1909 next to the Brandenberger Gate, was hit with Allied bombs during World War II and burned. A new Hotel Adlon was built in the same location and reopened in 1997. Pictures of the new hotel indicates that it recaptures the splendor of the original.
I electronically scanned the copy provided me by my father, Albro L. Parsons, Jr, into a wordprocessor. The format of the document has been changed slightly, including indentation, spacing, and pagination. I have corrected many errors in the scan, but some may still remain. If you would like to compile a map of the places noted in this document, I would be happy to include it as an appendix. I am also in the process of obtaining pictures of Albro and Katherine to include.
I lived with my grandparents for approximately 2 years, from 1952 to 1954, during part of First to Third Grades.
Tyler Barnett Parsons
July 18, 1998
TOUL. January 20, 1919. The expression, "dark as Egypt's night" would never have been born, had its author visited Toul. Nowhere is such Stigian [sic] blackness as these streets present after nightfall, and the Armistice has had little effect in lightening them. Not only are they dark, but narrow and winding, and they change their names every two blocks. Although this is my third visit here, I believe it the hardest city in France for me to find my way about. Without a map and frequent appeals to the M. P., I should be lost many times.
I am writing from the Y. M. C. A.
The officers' billets have been changed from the disgraceful place where we were billeted in January to a nice, clean building formerly occupied by the Chief Surgeon of this Army.
I left Selz yesterday morning, having made my adieu to every French officer I could lay my. eyes on, and, of course, having gone across the Rhine to Rastatt and said. good-bye to the German Commandant. Shortly before leaving I found that my little company had made several debts in town. As we had been away from a pay master for sometime our funds were low. I, therefore, sold a stove which the Red Cross had kindly given us and which had been a great comfort. I do not know what the Red Cross will say to my having sold the stove to pay company debts. I shall explain it to the first Red Cross man I see.
We had a good run, though cold and rainy, until we got about 15 kilometers west of Saarburg, where one ambulance slipped off the wet road and crushed the left rear wheel in the soft sod. Luckily no one was hurt, and it will only delay us for a day or two. We transferred loads to the good machine and all the men, excepting two, crowded into the good machine and we wheeled on to Nancy. Nancy is "Little Paris." It is full of French officers and French women, and is supposed to be a very wicked little city. Therefore, the American Powers That Be have ruled that no American shall stop there. I reported to the A. P. M. and asked permission to stay long enough to procure a wheel for my broken ambulance, but he would not listen to it, so, of necessity, I had to come on 23 kilometers to Toul. Upon getting here I find that I can get no help at all. I have just wired to Joinville, asking Col. Jones to send me the parts needed.
We shall have to stay here at least two nights, so when my boys asked permission to quarter at the "Y", instead of with the Headquarter troop, I was very glad to have some Red Cross money to defray their expense. Their description of the accommodations for the Headquarters troop is frightful, and I do not want my men to sleep in such a place. I explained where the money had come from and divided it equally.
This morning I sent the good ambulance with some food and drinking water to the stranded boys and asked them to send me my clothing roll: I do not like to be separated from my possessions. There is nothing to do now but wait until help comes.
4 P. M. The strangest orders have just arrived. When leaving the Y. Building a lieutenant handed me an order which reads, "to proceed immediately by automobile from Toul to Spa, Belgium, for temporary duty with the Peace Commission. It also says that I must reach Spa by afternoon of January 21st, which is tomorrow. Col. Jones, in a personal note, says this may mean a two weeks' tour of duty in Berlin. Was ever a man so lucky? Think of going to the enemy's capitol before peace is signed. Why the Peace Commission is believed to be at Spa I cannot imagine, because the Peace Commission is at Paris. But undoubtedly Col. Jones has repeated this order exactly as he got it. He has sent his closed Dodge car, with two chauffeurs and directs that I travel all night in order to make Spa in time. I recognize one of the chauffeurs as having been with me at Selz.
My letters may be irregular now for a day or two.
I have asked a "Y" girl to drop you a note, telling you I am on my way. (This was Miss Elizabeth Dunlop, who kindly wrote the letter desired. ) I will have to run down now to G-2 to get Road maps. I shall then turn my boys over to the Sergeant who has come up to repair the car. I hope to meet my clothing roll somewhere between here and Nancy, for I cannot go to Berlin without it.
NANCY, January 20, 1919, 7 P.M. Just stopped here to get a bite to eat at the Officers' Club of the Y.M.C.A. I saw nothing of my returning car between here and Toul, and, therefore, shall have to make a wide detour, out to the broken car, for my clothing roll.
This Club is the most pretentious Y. M. C. A. Club I have seen over here. I just had the pleasure of adding the Divisional Insignia of the 38th Division to a long list of such designs in the hall. Almost every Division was represented but my own.
We are about to start for an all night ride. I shall try to get in a letter to you tomorrow.
SPA, January 21, 1919. I have seen many so-called chateau in France, but this is a real one. It is called Villa Sous-Bois, and old Hindenburg used it as his headquarters when in Spa. It is a beautiful place, with enormous rooms and from every window is a beautiful picture of Belgian scenery. I am seated now in a leather upholstered chair in front of an open fire place, and I can imagine that Hindenburg sat here and planned the ruin of the Allies.
This is the headquarters of the American Commission, which is here as a part of the permanent Inter-Allied Armistice Commission, and as I understand it, this Commission has the duty of seeing that Germany keeps her word as far as the Armistice goes.
I wish I could describe to you my ride of last night. Leaving Nancy at 8 P. M., we pulled into Spa at 8 this morning, having traveled about 400 kilometers, and our little Dodge motor did not stop once. Two chauffeurs were very convenient - one to drive while the other slept, being changed on hourly shifts. Of course, I had to stay awake to read the map and direct the way, now and then springing out at road crossings to verify our location. I found some difficulty in reading the maps, too, by the way, because the names of the maps were sometimes in French and sometimes in English, while the sign posts always read French. If you will get your map I will trace the route we took. Leaving Nancy we went East almost as far as Saarburg, then to Vic, Chateau-Salins, Metz, Thionville, Luxembourg, Clervaux, Stavelot and Spa. Luckily, the night was moonlit, though quite cold. We went directly through the Briey Basin, which Germany so coveted. and from which she has withdrawn so much coal. I could just make out the outlines of the mine buildings, and it looked almost like a young Pittsburg. Also got a glimpse of the Metz Cathedral by moonlight, and was sorry that I could not identify the statue of the Kaiser, upon which the French have so cleverly placed chains.
Luxembourg we reached about 2 A.M. Like getting into trouble, it is always easy to get into a city by automobile but very hard to find one's way out by the right road. Luxembourg is an old fortified town situated on a rocky cliff between two sharp valleys. I know that we wound around those narrow streets for nearly an hour trying to find the road which led to Spa. Finally, I found a French non-commissioned officer who was kind enough to direct me, but I misunderstood his French and continued turning to the right instead of going right straight ahead. At last, however, we got on the road and were off again.
Belgium is a more magnificent country than I had believed. We wheeled along a beautiful little valley between quite precipitous hills. The entrance to Spa is quite impressive. The road is a typical Belgium road, lined on either side with age old trees. It runs for several miles as straight as an arrow right into the heart of the town. Spa is nestled in the hills and is not particularly pretty, but is surrounded by beautiful villas. I imagine in Summer it must be quite lovely.
I found a room for the boys at a hotel and then started out to locate the American Commission. English soldiers are quite in evidence here, and it was through a British M. P. that I learned the whereabouts of our Commission. He told me they were in the next villa beyond "Hell" Cottage, which meant "Hill" Cottage, where the English are. German soldiers were in front of the Hotel Brittainque [sic], so evidently that is where the German Delegates are housed.
There are some eight or ten officers in this Commission, under Gen. Malvern Hill Barnum. They are as hospitable as can be and have made me feel very much at home. Some doubt exists as to whether I am intended for Berlin or not. I showed Col. Jones' note, hoping that it would influence them to send me on. Gen. Harries is due here this evening from Berlin for a conference. Perhaps he will be able to throw some light on the matter.
Just now Gen. Barnum and his staff went out on the lawn to be photographed. Naturally I did not go, as I am not a member of this Commission, but he very kindly sent his Aide to invite me to be among them, and I will send you a picture when it is developed.
ON THE TRAIN TO BERLIN, January 22, 1919. A year ago this morning and I was meeting you at Pennsylvania Station in New York, and now I am just outside of Cassel, Germany going - Heaven knows where, or for how long. Which reminds me that at one time Napoleon 3rd was held prisoner at Cassel. I hope I shall not meet the same fate.
I am in a little compartment of a German sleeping car and by my side is a bottle of Eaux-de-Spa. The train is very dirty, apparently the windows have not been washed in months. There is also a decided lack of paint. How unlike the Germany I knew years ago: I was made to realize, however, that I was in Germany when I complained to the porter that the train was cold and requested that he fire up a bit. He looked me squarely in the eye and informed me, in the most approved Prussian style, that the train was not cold at all. Such ability to set aside other people's judgments exists only in the Prussian, I left him in no doubt as to my opinion, and had the satisfaction of hearing him tinkering with his little stove before very long,
After closing my letter to you yesterday I learned some interesting facts about Villa Sous-Bois: Hindenburg evidently feared air raids, because in the cellar there is a cave-like room, in which he is supposed to have taken refuge, It looks more like a room for secret conferences. It is about eight. feet square, furnished with porch furniture and heated and ventilated by electricity. It would be a very comfortable little study in which to concentrate one's mind. The Chateau where the Kaiser was located also has one of these underground rooms, but his cave has two outlets - safety first.
About four o'clock Gen. Harries arrived from Berlin. He is a splendid looking man and every inch a soldier. Upon learning that I was from Kentucky, he claimed Louisville as one of four places which he called home. He said he had met Humphrey, Moorman and Harris when he was in command at Breast, and had organized an impromptu Pendennis Club. He also told many interesting things relative to the recent street fighting in Berlin. As you probably know, the Germans have been killing each other by the score, using heavy artillery right in the streets. Order has been established, I think, now.
Many German officers were coming to him and asking his influence to be appointed instructors in our army. Can you imagine such a thing? At last the son of a German General, a fine looking young chap, presented the same petition. Gen. Harries said to this young man, "Now, I am going to ask you a question and I do not care for you to answer it if you do not wish to, but why should an army that has never been defeated ask for instructors from an army which has just suffered such a fate?" The young officer saluted and passed out without a word.
As soon as Gen. Harries was asked whether I was to go to Berlin or not, he did not hesitate a moment, but answered: "Yes he is one of six officers I ordered up here" That settled all doubt in the Commission's mind. It seems I am to be used in helping the Russian prisoners of war in some way, probably in one of the camps or on a hospital train. All allied prisoners of war are out of Germany now, except a few straggling sick ones who are in hospitals, but there are still a great number of Russians left, estimated by the Germans at 700,000. Why, after the peace they signed, these prisoners were not set free, no one knows. The Germans evidently feared to do so and were able to lay down any terms they wished. The Germans were repatriating them in a most brutal way, sending them in train load lots to the border, there dumping them out without proper food or clothes and having them march eastward into the arms of the Bolsheviki. The General tells that many of these Russians were either shot or starved to death. Many had to walk more than 100 kilometers, often without shoes. The officers were often given the choice between entering the army of the Bolsheviki or being shot. These brave fellows often chose the latter alternative. The General has taken the ground that these Russians, when captured, that is before Germany and Russia signed the disgraceful peace of Brest-Litovsk, were our allies, and that we should not strand by and see them slaughtered in this way. The Commission in Berlin, therefore, ordered this repatriation stopped and a sub-committee has been formed, whose sole duty is to repatriate the Russian prisoner of war. I think this also includes some Serbians, Greeks and Roumanians.
A remark of Gen. Harries occurs to me just here. Eleven of us were seated in the drawing room of the chateau last evening when cocktails were passed. Only three accepted. One of the officers drinking said: "Well, three against eight; that explains prohibition in the States." Maj. C---., also drinking, said; "But three good men held a bridge once against all comers." Gen. Harries, who did not drink, immediately responded: "Yes, Major, but do not forget they saved their lives by water."
We are just pulling into Berlin now, and I will write you later from the hotel.
BERLIN, January 22, 1919, 8 P. M. You remember that picture on the back of Life, where the American Doughboy says, "So this is Berlin:" That is what I feel like now, I was met at the station by an American Field Clerk and we drove to the hotel. Hotel Adlon has the reputation of being the best hotel in Europe. All the Royal families of Europe have been its guests. More elaborate liveries, you can hardly imagine. It is erected on the Pariser Platz, just inside the Brandenburger Gate. A pamphlet on my desk gives very interesting facts about the hotel. For instance, it says:
"We Berlin people, who for years had considered Adlon to be an energetic man, were yet astonished at the confidence with which he staked twenty million marks on one card."
I wonder how many hotels in America have cost more than $5,000,000.00.
"There is certainly no precedent for erecting a hotel in the most fashionable part of the City, particularly, when in order to do so, a palace, famous both historically and artistically, had to be demolished to make room for the new hotel. The Emperor gave his consent to this, thus demonstrating, in the most convincing way, how high an opinion he holds, not only of the age we live in, but also of the future of Berlin."
This palace was the old Redern Palace.
"Americans have not received so excellent a training in architecture and artistic handicraft as we Germans, and often go to extremes in matters of taste. Finally, they possess no Parizer Platz and no Brandenburger Gate, neither have they the dynasty of the Hohenzollerns, who, with paternal care and love, have, for centuries, guarded and promoted the interests of the flourishing City of Berlin."
Before throwing the hotel open to the public, it was inspected by each of the Imperial family, and the pamphlet lays great stress upon the numerous functions which are given here. For instance, all the Generals of the Army have a banquet here every New Year's day, at which time their Royal Highnesses, Prince Henry, of Prussia, Prince Ruperto of Bavaria, Duke Albert, of Mecklenburg and Duke Albert, of Wuerttenberg, accord the honor of their presence. The birthday of the Emperor is celebrated each year in the banquet hall, and so on down the list, even mentioning that His Excellency, Dr. David Jayne Hill, used this hotel for the purpose of introducing his daughter into society, "in the presence of all the Royal Prussian Princes and all the illustrious society of the Royal Court." So much for the glory of former times.
Lieut. Gailmard wanted me to go out with him this evening, but I have declined, thinking I would rather take a short walk in Unter den Linden. I saw no signs of street fighting, but probably will tomorrow. As I have not gotten my pass yet I feared to venture too far from the hotel. There are guards on all the streets, and, I understand, they take great pleasure in stopping a foreign officer and demanding his pass. They look quite business-like, too, with their potato mashers ( grenades ) stuck in their belts.
BERLIN, January 23, 1919. My! Such luxury goes to my head. I am supposed to breakfast in bed at 8:30, but it is just 7 o'clock now and I cannot stay in bed a moment longer. It is a most inviting bed, though, with a beautiful eiderdown comfort, which reminds me of "all the comforts of home." So, here I am seated at my Louis Something desk, just two feet from a steam heater and with a German breakfast on the way to me. There is some difference between this and my little Alsatian billet of four days ago.
LATER. My brain is in a whirl trying to take in my exact role here. I have met Roumanian, Jugo-Slav and Greek officers, not to mention French, Russians and Germans. I hear five different languages at once. The uniforms are very confusing, It will take several days to understand the situation. It appears that this Commission is as much diplomatic as military. Such politeness, such clicking of heels, such bows, etc., I've never seen. It is delightful, and I love the undercurrent of political aims of all these different nationalities. It is mighty good, however, to be an American. As the Doughboy says: "We are settin' purty." It is a pass-word anywhere. Officers of all armies invite you to their respective capitals and offer you the freedom thereof if you will only come. Some of these names are too much for me. I am sure I shall never be able to pronounce the name of a Roumanian Colonel I met today.
I went over the diplomatic situation with one of the officers today, trying to get it straight. Certainly it makes you feel like you are in the middle of things. Marshal Foch plays and the Boche must dance, and all this brilliant coterie never forgets that for a moment.
I find that Gen. Harries, with two officers, his A. D. C., Lieut. Gailmard and Lieut. Shellens, and two orderlies, came into Berlin on December 10th, just at the time that I was crossing the Rhine into Baden. This is a mighty little band of Americans, though we expect more shortly. The General's two orderlies are black, and they have the distinction of being the first black or white American enlisted men, not prisoners of war, in Berlin. We all are here on the invitation of the German Government, as part of the Inter-Allied Commission on the Repatriation of Prisoners of War, which is a branch of the permanent Inter-Allied Armistice Commission. They have been busy up to now in repatriating allied prisoners of war. You remember that I assisted in repatriating some of the 2000 Americans who were concentrated at Rastatt. I heard that at that time an American General, Harries, was in Berlin, but I never dreamed that I would be here with him.
The German Government is defraying all the expenses here and certainly is doing the best it can, having put the Commission up at the best hotel, and. but hotel is serving us to the best of its ability. We have rooms on the second floor, as the Germans count it, one or two of which we use as offices. When the General is here we mess in a room on this floor, but when he is away the custom is to eat in the large dining room downstairs. Our feed, of course, is the ordinary German food, and I cannot say very much for it. Heat is evidently very scarce and much that we are presented with, I am sure, is horse. There is no butter and many or the soups are artificial concoctions. One notices the total lack of fats in everything. As a courier comes up pretty regularly from Coblenz, and one from Spa, we have them bring us various Quartermaster's supplies, so that our own mess is supplemented by butter and white bread.
It is the intention of this Commission to hold the Russians in their prison camps until there is some sort of permanent government established in Russia, to which they can be sent. The Bolsheviki are not good people to receive them. We must also feed them up and restore their morale. In the meantime there are a number of prisoners from the Balkans, whom we can send home in trains, and, in returning, bring certain German prisoners who are held in Serbia and Roumania, probably Mackensen's army. The Germans and. the Allies distrust each other so that up to the present this has not been possible, but the American officer occupies a peculiar position, in that both sides trust him. It appears that United States' Medical Officers can be used with distinct advantage in conveying trains of prisoners, on account of the position they hold in the army. You see, they possess practically all the powers of an army officer, their work, however, has always been non-combatant. Therefore, six of us have been ordered here to participate in this repatriation to Southeastern Europe.
BERLIN, January 24. 1919. In a long walk about the City I saw plenty of signs of fighting, principally bullet marks on the houses and broken windows. Strange to say, most of these are on a line with second stories. The buildings that were most damaged by the street fighting are the police headquarters. newspaper offices, the Royal stables and the Royal castle itself. The latter presents a strange appearance, with its walls tattooed by machine gun fire. The north entrance shows evidence of cannon being used.
What strikes one most forcibly is the dirt about the streets. Once this city claimed. and with right. to be the cleanest city in the world. Now, there is paper blowing about everywhere, even in the parks, and the gutters are filled with trash.
Berlin impresses me as being ever decorated. It is like the "best" room in a negro's cottage - full of vases and knick-knacks that are supposed to beautify. One sees statues everywhere, indeed, one may look in any direction and see from one to fifty of them. The most atrocious thing in this line is the Sieges Alley, where the Kaiser attempted to commemorate, in marble. a long line of ancestors reaching back to 1000. Even the Germans laugh at this attempt on the part of the Kaiser to play the artist, for he stood sponsor for each of these statues. They call it "Willie's Doll Alley." At the head of this street stands the Column of Victory, and it is amusing now to see French soldiers sitting around its base. When a German approaches these Poilus look up at this statue of Victory in a questioning way as though asking each other what victory the Germans erected the monument to commemorate. It is a piece of by-play, meant to ruffle the feelings of the Germans, and I think it succeeds. Almost all of these statues are expressive only of force and of threats. A soldier always has his sword drawn and his chest thrown out, as though he were daring anyone to touch him. Even the statues of animals show them being killed, or killing each other. There are some exceptions, but not many. The Memorial Statue, erected to Wagner, is a superb example of such an exception. In view of the great shortage in bronze, I have been on the lookout for evidence of the Germans having melted down some of their statues for war purposes, but so far I have failed to find it. I was delighted to find a statue here in Berlin entitled, "The Hun", we having used the word, "Hun" so often during this war. The most brutish thing I ever beheld is the wooden Hindenburg statue. I hear the French amuse themselves pulling nails out of Hindenburg.
A few automobiles are about the streets; some have rubber tires but most of them are iron. Bicycles are also iron shod, with the most remarkable arrangement of springs. They make a lot of noise but really ride quite easily. One sees a good many very small and scrawny horses. These are probably Russian horses and were stolen on the Eastern front. The lines are invariably of rope, on account of the lack of leather. Many ex-soldiers are selling newspapers and some are turning hand organs for a living. I wonder if I will come to that! One pathetic sight on the crowded streets are the shell shocked beggars. These men are always in uniform. They sit against the wall twitching and grimacing in a most horrible way. The little cups which they hold out are rapidly filled with coins, for the spectacle is heartrending.
I suppose Berlin is no worse than any other city but certainly on my walk I was spoken to oftener than ever before in my life. I cannot imagine a woman - no matter how low - having anything to do with an officer of an army which has just defeated her own, but it seems to make no difference to the female Boche, in that trade.
BERLIN, January 25, 1919. Did I tell you that I went to a tea yesterday afternoon? The host was a Roumanian, who bears the name of Germaneanu. They have a magnificent apartment, full of rare vases and curios collected from all parts of the world. The Roumanians seem very fond of bright colors and this apartment looked like a kaleidoscope.
I have just noticed that the sheets on my bed are not sheets at all, but really table cloths. I am told it is everywhere the same. The sheets were taken for the hospitals. Table linen, both napkins and table cloths, are of white crepe paper. So far as I can learn, private families did not have to give up their sheets. I. had understood that all bronze and brass had been confiscated by the Government, yet all the door knobs, chandeliers and bedsteads in this hotel are of beautifully worked brass. They have escaped somehow. Evidently Hotel Adlon is a favored child. In spite of much talk of a coal shortage, my room is warm and from the window I can see tons of coal being stored in the cellar. No restriction is placed on the number of lights you my use, nor on the hours they may burn.
Today I got 139 marks for 100 francs. What a come-down for a mark! The prices here run into terrible figures. My hostess told me, (for every one talks prices and food and it is quite the thing to compliment your hostess if she has bread, or coffee, or butter) that butter costs 29 marks a pound, pork 50 and 60 marks a pound. I know a family in Mannheim, a wealthy dye manufacturer, who gave his wife for Christmas a pound of butter and she gave him a bottle of olives. The price cut no figure with these people, it was the scarcity of the article that made the gift so valuable. Gen. Harries says that there was a time just after the Kaiser abdicated when anyone who could have given each family in Germany a pound of butter, a can of bully beef and a loaf of white bread, could have been elected king, president or anything else in the German Empire. Yet some people think the British fleet did nothing but fight one battle!
BERLIN, January 26, 1919. I have been doing little lately except staying around the hotel keeping ray ears open for hints that may be dropped which will keep me more in touch with my future work. The reading of German newspapers is very essential because it keeps one up on the political situation and this does change so rapidly.
Yesterday I met Mr. W. W. Husband, who is the American Red Cross representative. It seems he came to Berlin shortly after the Armistice from Copenhagen and opened an office in the old American Embassy building. He has been busy getting American prisoners of war out and is now tabulating records of the American dead in Germany. I went to see the American Embassy, where Gerard had his troubles and collected the material for his book. The Spanish still occupy a part of the gray, hideous building. Mr. Husband told me that there had been a riot in the Wilhelm Platz, upon which the Embassy is situated, and called attention to the fact that not a flower bed was disturbed or a blade of grass broken. Certainly, a German riot must be a most orderly proceeding. The American Embassy sustained one scar from all the street fighting in Berlin - there is one bullet wound on its walls right near Gerard's window.
I am gradually getting straight on things now. The Commission at Spa is headed by the French General Nudant. The German representative is Gen. Winterfelt. The first Inter-Allied Commission in Berlin for the repatriating of Allied prisoners of war was headed by Gen. Dupont. This work being now practically over, the Commission for the Repatriation of Russian Prisoners of War has been formed and is headed by Maj. Gen. Sir Richard Ewart. Gen. Harries is the head of the American part of this.
Already three of the medical officers have reported: Lieut. Barbour came on the 24th, and Capt. d-Ercole came the next day. After we get through with transporting the Balkan prisoners to their homes we shall probably be busy in the Russian prison camps seeing that the German doctors treat the Russian prisoners promptly and that sanitation is carried out - advisory and administrative rather than professional duties.
BERLIN, January 27, 1919. This is the ex-Kaiser's birthday and for the first time in years, since 1888, it is not the occasion of a great holiday. I thought of the line from Anthony's speech over the body of Ceasar [sic]: "Now lies he there and none so poor to do him reverence."
Did I mention that Saturday we were compelled to cross through Leibkecht's funeral? You know he and Rosa Luxemburg were leaders of the Sparticus movement here and were both killed. Rosa, because of her bloody tendencies, was known as "Red Rosa". They have not found her body, which,
it is presumed, was thrown into the canal.
I have been taking daily walks about the city and have been busy on the regular sight-seer's routine. I find myself the subject of fairly marked curiosity on the part of the populace. I have never known people to have less manners than these Prussians. It is nothing unusual for them to stop on my approach, stare at me and even turn around after I have passed and continue their gaze. So far I have not noticed any particularly hostile glances.
Last night the General had three Roumanian officers for supper. Their uniforms are quite brilliant compared to our somber olive drab. They talk French and German with equal facility, and I got along with my neighbor very well in German. He is a fine fellow and wants me to go to Bucharest and promises me a splendid time.
BERLIN, January 30, 1919. Lieut. Barbour just told me that the movement of Serbs will probably start tomorrow. It is tiresome doing nothing. I report to Gen. Harries twice daily and each time he says that there is nothing for me to do yet.
LATER. The General has just told me that I am to take 2,000 Serbians to Vienna. I leave tonight.
STARGARD, January 31, 1919. Such a ride as we did have last night. Left Berlin about 4 o'clock in the afternoon along with Mr. Decker, a correspondent of the Chicago Daily News, and Capt. Zaic, a Serbian officer. The train was, as usual, crowded to the rail. All Germany seems to be on the move. We had to stand up until 11:30, when the train pulled in here just two hours late. The Germans claim that there are no wagons, the Allies having taken them away. Rolling stock in Germany is in very bad condition now. There is evidence of lack of paint everywhere, probably due to the shortage in oils. The cars are very dirty and one can hardly see through the windows. The flat wheels keep you awake at night, and the locomotive leaks steam like a sieve. With such a shortage in coal as now exists in Germany it is no little item that they derive such small benefit from the amount of coal used in their locomotives.
I do not know what we would have done for hotel accommodation if Capt. Zaic had not wired ahead and reserved rooms for us. He also had ordered come for the Serbian solders to meet us at the train and it was a great pleasure to see the way those Serbs greeted one of their officers. It certainly made our going to the hotel more comfortable, for they carried our grips.
Our job here is to get about 2,000 Serbians on board train and taken them to Vienna, where they will be taken in hand by their own people.
This morning I went out to the camp. On the way I saw some white crows, or rather, I should say white and black crows. The form and size of the bird undoubtedly put it in the crow family, much as the white feathers speak against it. It was my first view of a German prison camp for Russians, and certainly it is a dismal sight. Situated on a flat, sandy plain, surrounded by double rows of barbed wire, with guards at each opening, stand row after row of one story frame buildings. Not a tree, not a blade of grass, not a thing to relieve the monotony. I made a close inspection of the camp. Such living conditions as the barracks presented: The Russia is not a lover of fresh air and the windows are all nailed shut and covered with cobwebs so that little light enters. The bunks are arranged in two tiers. Each prisoner has what is called two blankets, but some are so worn that it takes a German to identify them as such. There is a semblance of a mattress in each bunk, really shavings in a sack. There is little fuel in Germany, and naturally little of it is wasted on a prisoner of war, so the doors are kept closed and all the prisoners crowd around the one stove.
I had conceived the idea that there would be a certain amount of discipline among the prisoners. This my have been attempted at one time, but now it has disappeared entirely. There is a total lack of morale. Nor does this apply solely to the Russians. The German guard is slovenly, in no way presenting a soldierly appearance. He does not even bother to salute his officers.
I watched the distribution of food to the prisoners. Instead of being an orderly and. thought-out process, the food, such as it is, is placed where the prisoners can get to it, and it looked like a free for all scramble. I saw several fights among the prisoners over food, which the German guard took little interest in stopping. Shortly after this food distribution little groups of Russian prisoners could be seen bartering their share of potatoes among themselves. I examined these potatoes and found them small, partly decayed and nearly all had been frozen.
We saw working parties start out for the country, for many of the Russian prisoners - indeed a majority of them - are sent to work either on farms or in mines and factories. The Germans have initiated this, because it made the problem of the prisoner up-keep less difficult for them and it also increased production in Germany when her man power had been so reduced. These working parties go out under a guard, and, if near the. camp, return at night. However, many, working at distant points, do not return to the parent camp for months at a time. The Russian, as a rule, would rather work on "commando", as it is called, than to stay idle in the camp. The food in the country is much better.
The hospital, it is called a "Lazerott", is not at all bad. It struck me as the most orderly part of the camp.
Capt. Zaic and I selected 1,000 Serbs to go on the first train. I should have liked for all of them to go at once, but inasmuch as the Germans had planned for two sections and a change now would up-set their feeding arrangements, I decided to let them go and I would follow on the second section. The non-commissioned officer of the German guard, who is to accompany the first section, seems to be it sensible fellow and one that can be trusted to see the Serbians through. Zaic and I had to make a strong fight to secure blankets for the prisoners. The Germans were about to allow them to start in mid winter on a seven day trip without blankets. Naturally, we would not listen to it. Seeing the tendency of the German Commandant I insisted on personally seeing that each prisoner received and carried to the train with, him, not only his blankets, but his quota of food for the journey. I wish you could see the cars in which the Serbians are to travel. They are nothing but box cars with benches placed cross-wise. About thirty men are placed in a car and there they will live until they reach Agram. I have insisted on one car being heated, and Capt. Zaic explained to the prisoners that they must take turn about in riding in the heated car. A German guard is placed in each wagon also, in order to see if any are sick and to maintain discipline.
This afternoon I went to a hospital in which there are several sick Serbs. This was school once which has been converted into a hospital. The patients are very well cared for. All, of course, want to go home. I had quite a time convincing them that other trains would be going. The Serbian non-commissioned officer at this hospital is a fine chap, and, although he has been away from home eight years, he consents to stay by his sick until they have so far recovered that they can be repatriated. I marvel at the old men I see in the Serbian army, some fifty-five and sixty years old - some with long, white beards. One man had been in captivity in this camp since 1914 with his two sons.
Stargard is the worst place I have seen relative to food - there is very little of it here. To me it is in a very forbidding part of Germany, cold and bleak, with absolutely nothing to recommend it. No one but a Boche would have stopped here to build a town.
February 2, 1919. I am writing on the train now as we slowly crawl southward toward Breslau.
Yesterday morning I went to the hospital again and had a conference with the German doctor, trying to decide which of the sick Serbians were well enough to travel. True to form, the doctor attempted to combat every suggestion, but finally I picked out seven men and told him they were to go, after which he made no further objection. We had to promise many times to return for the other sick in order to quiet them, and I fully intend doing so. The German nursing sister at the hospital seems very kind and really fond of her patients.
We then went out to the Lager (prison camp) and organized the 1,000 men we were to take. The Russian prisoners seem quite hostile toward our Serbs because they, too, wish to go. Again we had to insist very strongly on each man being provided with blankets and food. The German authorities seem willing to resort to any subterfuge in order to keep these two articles inside of Germany. The blankets, of course, belong to the Germans. but the food has been furnished, almost entirely, by the Red Cross.
The Serbians are certainly woe-be-gone looking prisoners, but their non-commissioned officers have managed to provide themselves with decent uniforms and, in some way, have made a flag of the new South Slav Kingdom. With the non-commissioned officers and this flag at the head of the column, they marched out of their prison camp, eight men abreast. They extended from curb to curb because of their heavy packages of food. Do you think that they were downhearted after four years of prison life? Not a bit of it! They sang their solemn hymn-like marching songs and held their heads high. These songs are really wonderful: in spite of a note of sadness there is a glorious ring to them. Capt. Zaic placed himself at the head of the column and off they moved, very slowly because of the age of some of the prisoners and of their heavy burdens. Despite their rags, it was more like a triumphal procession than a return from captivity, - the one short hour of victory over the enemy who had held them bound so long. They, too, seemed fully conscious of the solemnity of the moment. Zaic led them through the principal streets of Stargard to let the German populace see that the Serbs were no longer prisoners, and that they and their allies had finally triumphed.
(You will not be able to read this because the train is shaking so.)
When the column had gotten to the railroad station Zaic led them to the foot of a little rise upon which he mounted and called me to his side. He then made an address, of which, of course, I could understand no word. Every now and then he pointed to me and as a climax the men, led by Zaic, gave three cheers. I heard him ask them some question, to which they apparently answered in the affirmative. He then told me, in German, that he had impressed upon them that it was America, acting through me, who was leading them out of captivity and that on the way to Agram they must obey my slightest command. The affirmative shout was their pledge.
We got away from Stargard early in the afternoon and are very comfortable in our second-class compartment.
The journalist, Capt. Zaic and myself have arranged our clothing rolls so that things are quite convenient. Two Serbian orderlies, - self appointed so far as I know - are looking after our material wants and, in some mysterious way, procure for us hot water for shaving, and, Mirabile Dictu! - butter and sausages. Wherever one goes in Germany one must carry his own rations, so that this addition to our supply is very welcome.
Everywhere we see railway wagons that should go to France. The Germans apparently do what they can to hide these at small stations. At one place we counted over sixty cars and nine engines carefully tucked away on side tracks where they had evidently stood for months.
The Boche also seems anxious to balk us in our efforts to help the Serbs. At the first stop just two hours outside of Stargard, I became uneasy at the long wait and upon looking out of the window saw that our engine was detached. After long time we were allowed proceed, but Zaic and I made up our minds that they should have engines waiting for us at the next stop. So when the same thing seemed likely to happen, we demanded to see the station master. He insisted our engine could go no further and declared that there was no other engine to give us, and furthermore, he had no idea when an engine would be available. Zaic, who knows the German character well, stormed about, and indeed talked so rapidly and so loud that he quite overwhelmed the station master with sound alone. Before the tirade was finished another engine had been attached to our train and steam was up. The fear of the Lord has to be put into the Prussians or we would never get anywhere.
I have just learned that in spite of all our care some score of Russians slipped by us and boarded the train. In my ignorance I cannot tell the Russian face from a Serbian. The Serbs however soon discovered the mistake and put the Russians often the first stop. I hope they enjoyed their 24 kilometer walk back to the camp. Why they should want to go to Agram is a history. They probably would go anywhere to get out of the camp.
The German guard is a perfect farce. They have no discipline themselves and are unable to maintain it among the Serbs. Zaic had occasion to correct one of them today, he failed to stand at attention and even kept a cigarette in his mouth. Zaic again showed his knowledge of German character by storming at the man in the loudest tones. There something about sound that seems to impress a German force in the Boche's hands came to his side, his cigarette dropped, and in the end he saluted formally and promised to do exactly as he was told.
February 3, 1919. A we are now rolling along through the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia, and I can hear the Serbs singing because we are out of Germany and in a friendly country. An American can have anything he desires here because the Czecho-Slovak Republic was hatched in United States and Wilson recognized it had once. We rode through their country until just before we come to Vienna.
All the way through this country we have seen numberless sugar beet factories. All are idle as witnessed by their smokeless chimneys. At one stop Decker and I were able to buy sugar, but only because we were Americans it is very scarce.
The Serbs on a whole have stood the cold trip well. We get a hospital train from Parchin yesterday, while at Sagan, and had three sick Serbians transferred to it as they were too old to endure the cold further.
Yesterday, at a stop, the Serbs danced for me. It is called a warming up dance, and believe me, we need it, for it is cold. They gather in a long line - the longer the better - and placing their hands on each other's shoulders, danced two or three steps to the right and then to the left in a sing-song sort of way to the tune of a hand made bag pipe of goat's skin. The music sounds rather Oriental. The steps of the dance remind one somewhat of Russian dances, in that, at intervals the dancers stamp the ground and work themselves up into an excitement by means of howls and calls. If kept up long enough it will surely warm you up. Later on they sang a number of their native songs, which I like very much although they are quite melancholy.
The German guard left us at Oderburg. They took French leave. They were sent by the German government to proceed as far as Agram. and then return with this train, and their specific duty was to see that these identical wagons were returned to the German government. However, they got cold feet and left us at the German border.
VIENNA, February 4,1919. We arrived yesterday afternoon and turned our Serbs over to South Slav officers.
I am simply wild about Vienna. It is in hard lines [sic] now, with little food, no work and no coal. We are at the Bristol Hotel, which, although the best hotel here, allows only one light in our rooms. There is no hot water, except on Saturdays, and then only limited supply. This room is costing Decker and me 50 krone, which sounds very bad, but, figured in American money, does not amount to very much.
I find other American officers here, there being some sort of food commission under Prof. Coolidge. Were we not in Government service it would be a matter of grave concern as to how we could procure food. I have already been to this commission and had a talk with Capt. Davis. He very kindly put some chocolate and various forms of crackers at my disposal out of a small supply. Their office is in a room formerly occupied by one of the large American life insurance companies.
I have been taken in hand by a South Slav Commission composed principally of Serbian officers. Some, however, come from Bosnia and Hertzegovina [sic], and were, at one time, officers in the Austrian army. I understand that they fought loyally, too, but now that they have joined the South-Slav kingdom, they are just as loyal to their new government. They have plenty of food, sent from their native lands, and run a delightful mess. They seem only too glad to do all they can for me and have placed an automobile at my disposal. An automobile in Vienna now-a-days is a rare sight, gasoline and tires being so scarce. Not only this, but they have detailed a Lieutenant to be my guide while here, and will not hear of my making any plans at all, claiming that I am their guest.
This City has Berlin discounted in every way. I have never seen such handsome buildings and the Ringstrasse must, in the Spring and Summer, surpass even Parisian boulevards. I can imagine it being filled with laughter-loving crowds, flowers and music. Now, it is covered with snow. I was at the Royal Picture Gallery this morning. It is the most beautiful building inside that I have ever seen, not excepting our own Congressional Library.
BERLIN, February 6, 1919. I have not had a chance to add a line until just now. On the afternoon of the 4th, Lieut. Kajfes, who was my guide in Vienna, and who at one time was a student in that City and later a professor at the University of Agram, showed me all over the City. As he knew it like a book, it was literally a personally conducted tour. About five we drifted into one of the thousand attractive coffee houses and listened to the most beautiful of Viennese music. These places are thronged with the loveliest women I have ever seen outside of Kentucky. I have never known a place where temptation was so tempting and so harmless looking as in Vienna. In the coffee houses one sees uniforms of almost every nationality: Poles, Russians, Serbians, Roumanians, Turks, Greeks, Italians, English, Austrians, Hungarians, Germans, French and our own. All these I saw in one café.
Later we dined at the South Slav mess with Maj. Deriani, and then he, Lieut. Picula and ourselves went out again to witness Viennese night life. It is most seductive, even in these hard times when everything is closed at 10 o'clock on account of the coal shortage. Usually, of course, it begins about that hour.
The next morning Lieut. Kajfes took me out to Schoenbrun, the summer home of the Kaiser. It is simply beyond description, and I believe it surpasses Versailles.
Picul took me to the station in the afternoon. I found that they had engaged a compartment for me as far as they were able to, that is, Oderburg. You cannot imagine what this means - it saved me going to the station two hours before train time and then a great scramble to get a seat. Indeed whether I could get aboard the train or not was in doubt. As it was, we arrived five minutes before the train left. You would have thought me some great personage from the way people, who had waited for hours to get standing room, made way for us. The train conductor escorted our little party of officers to the compartment.
I find it hard to rise to all this attention. All I have-to do to get instantly what I desire is to say: "I am an American", (the man salutes) "l am a member of the Armistice Commission (the man steps back three feet and remains at salute while I tell him what I want). I noticed the difference as soon as I got back into Germany. Immediately a ticket was demanded of me by a typical Prussian conductor. Up to this time I had traveled on my Armistice pass. I tried the same tactics on this conductor, and, although he almost broke a window bowing to me, he insisted that I must have a ticket in addition to my pass. I then thought of how Zaic would have acted, and reared at him. This produced the desired effect and he told me I might ride in peace. I may also say that this ride was the coldest I ever took; no attempt is made at heating at all. I had to change cars four times and it took twenty-six hours to make a ten hour run.
At the Czecho-Slovak bolder all baggage was examined except mine and that of a Polish officer, whom I had invited to share my compartment with me. As there are no sleeping cars on this rain, we wrapped ourselves in our blankets and talked all night. I also took pity on an old lady who was preparing to stand all night in the crowded isle, asked her to take a set in my compartment - to the astonishment of all gentlemen present, let me add. Being with me helped the Polish officer through Czecho-Slovakia, because these two nations are not very friendly just now.
The South Slav Commission, at Vienna, had one of their officers meet me at Oderburg and put me on the proper train, which was very thoughtful of them. Traveling is most difficult; no one seems to know when trains are expected or when they will leave. At the other places where I had to change cars I had to pick up my information from the merest passer-by, because no official could tell me.
I reached Berlin about six this evening and have been busy trying to clean up. I find that three other medical officers have come in since my departure, Capt. Nall, Capt. Matassarin and Lieut. Aschmann. All of these men are now on their way to Bucharest with Roumanian prisoners of war, and in returning will bring disabled German prisoners.
BERLIN, February 7. 1919. Today was spent in making out the report of my trip, and I shall not fail to mention he number of cars hidden away on side tracks.
Germany is certainly in bad shape: ripe for the same sort of a time as France had in '93. I should not be a bit surprised to see the Entente forced to occupy all of Germany and perhaps the larger cities Russia.
One of the South Slav officers was interested in collecting stamps, which is a very favorite craze over here. He gave ms the enclosed. Many of them are old Austrian stamps which the new South Slav State has simply re-stamped with the letters, "S. H. S." and thereby made them South Slav stamps. They have few facilities for stamp-making themselves. The came thing was done with Austrian paper money, increasing its value about two and one-half times on account of the South Slav gold collateral in Paris.
BERLIN, February 8, 1919. It is late, as I have just come in from the theater. Capt. Wortham came from Spa and invited me to go with him. I should have liked to go while in Vienna to get the atmosphere, for Vienna is the home of the light opera, but unfortunately there was nothing at the theater while I was there, due to the coal shortage. Tonight I saw a comic opera modeled after the "Merry Widow", and my head is dancing with the tunes right now.
I think now that I shall be here long enough to give you my address, which I have just learned today. It is, "Hotel Adlon, Berlin, Germany, C/o Message Center, 3rd Army, Coblenz, A.E.F." I hope this will bring me some mail. No matter where I am in Germany my mail will reach me from Hotel Adlon.
BERLIN, February 9, 1919. The General sent me over to the English Embassy this morning, as Gen. Ewart is minus a medical officer. Up to this time there has been a Col. Pollock with the English, who has assisted in looking after wounded English prisoners. The French also have doctor with them, Maj. Rehm, and I find that Gen. Ewart has engaged a Swiss physician, Dr. Meyer, as a sort of inspector to report on the sanitary conditions of the camps. Col. Pollock is now in England and Gen. Ewart wishes me to keep in touch with allied prisoners near here, and also to collect and correlate certain reports on prison camps throughout Germany which are being sent to him by Dr. Meyer. I think this will be pleasant work. I shall have a car at my disposal when necessary, and Count de Salis, the General's Aide, has promised to be my guide until I learn the ropes.
I found the General this morning about to visit the Tempelhof Hospital, so I went along with him. This hospital is made up of a great number of wooden buildings, in one of which we found three or four English prisoners and as many French. They seem to be well taken care of, and inasmuch as they are receiving food parcels from home, are living much better than the German populace.
The General carried food with him and distributed it among the prisoners. We also found about ten Russians, to whom he gave tea and butter. There was one poor German lying on a cot next to the Russians, presenting the most pitiful sight. A machine gun had wounded him in fifteen places, breaking, I don't know how many bones. He evidently had tuberculosis and the mark of death was on his face. Needless to say, we gave the nursing sister all the beef tea and condensed milk. that we had with us for this poor man, who although a Boche, had merely done his duty as he saw it.
I noticed, for the first time, today the English custom in the matter of salutes. In a group of officers a salute is returned only by the senior officer of the group. I caught myself answering salutes several times when the General alone should do so.
BERLIN, February 10, 1919. I have been busy at the British Embassy nearly all day. Lieut. Breen, Gen. Ewart's right hand man, is sick. Breen has a most interesting history. He is a moody man, who speaks German like a native. He was captured in 1915 and made six successful attempts to escape from prison camps, but each time was caught at the border. If he had gone alone he probably would have gotten through, but he tried, in each instance, to take a friend with him and through the friend his schemes failed. He has the distinction of being the only man who ever escaped from the prison camp at Kuestrin. His people at home sent him saws and other things concealed in razor straps and heads of cheese, and I have seen the pass which he forged and which took him all over Germany. The stamp was cut out of the rubber heel of his shoe and it is such a correct imitation of the Imperial German Seal that it was never questioned, although immediately below it is a date in which November 31st figures largely. He posed as a butter handler, and surely butter handlers have not been numerous in Germany lately. He has some odd sort of power with the Soldiers' Council: It is even whispered that he is a member of this Council. I do not understand it at all, in fact I sometimes wonder if he were not captured purposely in order to get information back to the British from inside of Germany. However, he seems to get from the Soldiers' Council anything he wants and this accounts for the British Embassy having a car at their disposal. By the way, this car belonged at one time to the King of Sweden, I am told.
BERLIN, February 11, 1919. I just finished my breakfast. As you know we have our coffee and three little crackers in our room. I think we Americans are the only ones who eat butter and white bread in all Berlin - ours is sent up from Coblenz. Dinner and supper are served in the private dining room and there is a good deal of formality there. We sit according to rank - and talk that way, too. No one dares to move until the General indicates and he is such an interesting talker that I enjoy listening.
The German porter has just brought back my shoes. He told me that formerly the Germans laughed at our enlisted men wearing wrapped leggings and at the cut of our breeches, but at last the Germans adopted the same plan because it dawned upon them that there was a great saving in leather and cloth. He added, "Yes, we have learned a lot from the very people at whom we laughed."
My program for today, unless it is changed by orders, is to go to the British Embassy for a conference with Gen. Ewart and to see Lieut. Breen; then to the French Embassy to arrange for an English soldier to be sent to Cologne along with some French sick who are going home; to visit two American officers in this hotel who have colds; to drive to the hospital and get an English soldier and have him started homeward; to attend to some commissions in town for Gen. Harries and finally I am booked for the opera tonight.
There are a number of Russians at a hospital right here in Berlin, and I have been ordered to investigate their condition, because the hospital was deplorable about two weeks ago when Gen. Ewart inspected it. He and Gen. Harries gave the German Government forty-eight hours to clean the place, and, be it said to their credit, they did so in twenty-four.
In my trips about town I have noticed numerous signs which formerly read "Royal"or "Imperial" Café or Theater or Store. These prefixes have now been eliminated. For instance, the "Kaiserhof Hotel" now stands simply as "---hof Hotel." The name Hohenzollern has also disappeared to a large extent. The signs in the windows, proclaiming the merchant to be a purveyor to his Imperial Majesty, still remain.
BERLIN, February 12, 1919. I carried out the program outlined in yesterday's letter. It is again before breakfast, for I find that is the best time to write. My tray comes in about eight and I simply cannot stay in bed up to that time.
At the hospital yesterday, while discussing with the nursing sister whether the patient was transportable or not, she said she thought he was, provided he was to be moved in a German hospital train, but in a French train, no, for the French knew nothing of organization. If all Germans had hated the French as she did, the fighting would never have stopped. She would have fought until every enemy had been cut to "little bits" (a German idiom). This same nurse, on a previous visit, had begged me to forward some books to her nephew, who was a prisoner of war in England. She said he had been there three years and that he had the finest and brightest mind in the world. He was in danger of losing his reason because there was nothing in England elevating enough to engage his attention. It was such a pity for this great mind to wither, all because of the crudeness and lack of culture of the English. The woman was in earnest, too, and really believed what she said.
However, I referred her to the Danish Red Cross, which suggestion she greeted with a shrug, saying that she had tried that and was convinced that the Danes were in league with the English, for she had sent many books, but he had received none of them.
I went to hear Konigskinder last evening. It is the first time I had been to the Royal and Imperial Opera House. From the outside it is a horrible looking building, - inside, however, it is beautiful. The Royal Loge was, of course, empty. The audience is not impressive. Every seat was taken but there was no attempt at dressing. I did not see an evening toilette. It is funny to watch the audience pull out their little black bread sandwiches and eat between acts. The opera begins early in order to save light, and the people have no time to go home for supper, therefore, the much eating during the performance.
The music was splendid and every detail of dress and scenery was carried out. In fact, there was too much detail. For instance, the chorus is so well drilled in acting the part of towns-people that their many by-plays distract attention from the soloists. I have no doubt that a crowd would be noisy but at an opera, a make-believe crowd should give the principals a chance.
I suppose you think I am hyper-critical of the Germans. In Southern Germany I met very nice, courteous Germans, but here, not only do I find them mean, uncivil and absolutely untrustworthy, but daily contact with Entente officers allows me an opportunity for comparison and the Boche does not stand the test.
Yesterday as I walked down Unter den Linden, I saw a company of German soldiers headed by a band, They have lost all of the old snap and do not even march at attention. I was told by an officer, the other day, that at a concert in the Esplanade Hotel, "The Watch on the Rhine" was played. Not a soul moved, not a German officer saluted, and indeed why should they, for who is now keeping the watch on the Rhine, not to mention other points further inside of Germany?
I must get to work now and send some medicine and instruments off to the Russians at Holzminden. To do this I shall have to tackle a French Major in German. I do hope our medicines will soon get here. We are greatly hampered by lack of them. The French have a small stock and the British have what is known as "Comfort Boxes", which are a conglomerate mess of clothes, medicines and food. I think I am to take charge of these Comfort Boxes, which really belong to the British Red Cross, and the first thing I shall do will be to separate and list them. You would laugh to see the French Major and myself trying to talk. Their pharmacopeia is different from ours and were it not for Latin, I could not read a prescription. But all doctors can understand medical Latin, so that helps us out.
Such a babel of tongues as I hear about me at times. I sat at the table recently with another American and I heard him talk French to a Serbian on one side and English to a Pole on the other. Those two spoke in Russian to each other. I spoke German and English to my partners, who communicated to each other in Serbian.
The General has just told me that my title will be "Staff Surgeon of the U. S. Military Mission," and that I may expect to be here in Berlin indefinitely at the head of his medical organization and as chief medical officer of the Inter-Allied Commission.
This will necessitate my getting more suitable clothes. You see I was sent here practically out of the field and I have not even a white shirt with me. I tried to buy one the other day but found I would have to have the permission of the police before I could do so, and, as I do not wish to submit to this, I have decided to wait until my bedding roll can be forwarded. The price of clothes is almost prohibitive, men's suits being 600 to 1800 marks. The Germans have resorted to turning their suits wrong side out to better their appearance. Much of the cloth which one sees is made of paper. It is surprising too, how well paper suits look until rained upon. Very presentable hats are also made of paper. Paper shirts, and even underclothes, it is claimed, may be washed as often as thirty times without disintegrating. However, if you are not a novice, you will have learned that to wash a shirt means simply to dip it in lukewarm water, for if it is rubbed vigorously in hot water it will go to pieces in one washing. I have seen silk stockings advertised for 60 marks, which is not an exorbitant price when one considers what the mark is worth. The shop windows also display shoes at from 200 to 600 marks. Some however, are much cheaper, but are, alas, innocent of all leather. The uppers are of canvas or cloth and the soles of wood. Sometimes, just under the ball of the foot the sole is hinged to make walking less difficult. The wooden sole is further protected from wear by a liberal use of hobnails, or bits of scrap leather.
BERLIN, February 13, 1919. The work at the British Embassy is beginning to gather proportions. The comfort boxes are in a chaotic condition. I have been promised a staff to help me. I am so much with the English that I am sure I shall be saying, "Righto", and '"Topping" before very long.
We have just heard that Marshal Foch has decided it is beneath our dignity to be longer the guest of the German Government and that we must pay our expenses from the fifteenth of this month. With supper at eighteen marks and dinner at sixteen marks and butter at thirty marks a pound, I am afraid this will be rather hard on some of us. However, Gen. Harries will be able to find some way out.
BERLIN, February 15, 1919. Last evening came the sweetest of all valentines, for the courier from Spa brought me two letters from you, of January 6th and 7th. I hope this is just the beginning.
I am kept busy all day long now. Work is gradually getting organized. My room is now decorated with maps of Germany upon which the Russian prison camps are indicated, and I am trying to find out just which ones have been. inspected and which have not. As these reports come in and I learn of a lack of doctors or medicines or instruments, I go down to the celebrated Kriegsministerium, in the much feared Wilhelmstrasse and ..... raise the devil. That is one way we can get conditions improved in the hospitals. Can you imagine me telling the Wilhelmstrasse what to do? The medical representative at the Kriegsministerium is a Maj. Hecker, who is a typical Prussian but rather pleasant. Everything I want done he informs me is absolutely impossible. Recently I wanted some instruments for a certain camp and when he told me that there were no instruments in Germany I shamed him into providing them by telling him of the reputation Germany enjoyed as a maker of surgical instruments. There are many medicines, however, which are totally lacking. Germany has no castor oil and, in fact, has no salves. Many medicines that came from distant countries have long since been exhausted. Sometimes when we send packages of medicines to the camps by freight we find that they have been broken open and all the fatty substances, such as salves and oils, taken out. This nation has been so long without fat that they will eat anything that is oily.
BERLIN, February 15, 1919. Your two letters spoiled me. I now look to every courier to bring me more.
Last evening we had a regular valentine's party. Mr. Husband invited three ladies who work for him, (two being Americans and one English) and several officers to his apartment for dinner. These ladies, I gather, are artists or singers who have remained here during the war, working I think, at the American Embassy and later with the Spanish, who took over our interests. We had quite a gay dinner and later went to the apartment of the English woman for a soiree. She, it seems, is technically a German, having married a German, but is now waiting for her decree of divorce to be handed down when she will revert to citizenship in her native country, England. She has a beautiful little apartment with a grand piano, and, as Lieut. Gailmard is a wonderful pianist, we had some splendid music.
One of the girls had studied music for four years before the war broke out. In the Fall of 1915 she was to have made her debut in "Aieda" [sic] but of course the war stopped this. She then went to work for Ambassador Gerard, and later for the Spanish. The other young lady is a violinist. I have heard her play and she does so beautifully. Her concert tour was also killed by the war.
We are all worried over our living expenses now, but I am sure Gen. Harries is doing his best to straighten it out and I feel that he will succeed. By the way, the mark has fallen again, so that for 100 francs you can get 160 marks.
At the Kriegsministerium yesterday I had a long talk with Hecker relative to tuberculosis and insanity among the Russian prisoners. As I expected, he obstructed all he could, but he knows just the same that he will have to carry out our plans. The German just naturally says "No", even when it is to his advantage to say "Yes". As far as I can make out there has been no effort to separate the tuberculous and insane Russians from the well, and this simply must be done. The German War Office is dreadfully disorganized and probably very much under staffed. It takes sometimes three weeks to receive an answer to a simple inquiry, and the mail service is so bad that it has taken four days for a letter to come from them to us, although we are just three blocks distant. In army parlance the War Office is always known as "K. M." By the way, the Kriegsministerium, as a building, is not at all imposing, being made up very largely of old residences. This, however, is an expansion due to the exigencies of war.
There are twenty detachments of U. S. troops coming into unoccupied Germany in the next few days. Each detachment will go to a Russian prison camp. It will be composed of a couple of line officers, one medical officer and ten or fifteen enlisted men. They will have supervision of the prison camps. The English are also going to get a like number. This will mean an augmentation of the staff in Berlin. Indeed, more are coming every day, This has necessitated the renting of Hotel Allemania for the enlisted men. Although a third rate hotel, I am sure the men will be very comfortable. Troops at the camps will live in barracks outside of the camp and their food will be sent to them from Berlin, we getting it up from Coblenz.
BERLIN, February 16, 1919. I was busy yesterday getting medicines out to the camps, and in so doing met a real Russian Baronness [sic], Olga von R. She had made a very sensible list of drugs which she wished to carry out to the camp at Zossen, but I did not give her any alcohol or opium because we are suspicious of Russians. She is a nurse and, of course, is probably all right, but it is just as well to be cautious.
I have been working on the organization of the medical department of this Commission, and have completed a plan which I hope they will let me carry out. But surely a Major will turn up sooner or later and then, of course, I shall take a back seat.
On account of the rates at the Hotel, we are planning to take building of our own, - probably one that is occupied by the Y.M.C.A. It is on the square directly opposite the Royal Palace. Mr. Hoffman, of the Y. M. C. A., has, I believe, been here all during the war. He at first was very active in this work in the prison camps, and after we got into the war and our own prisoners began coming in, he took up the alleviation of their trouble. I do not know why he was allowed to stay inside of Germany unless it was his thorough knowledge of the language and the type of work in which he was interested.
BERLIN, February 17, 1919. We had quite an excitement today in that the first detachments of the American Red Cross arrived. They came about sixty strong and are under command of Commissioner Lieut. Col. Carl Taylor, and Deputy Commissioner Lieut. Col. Edward W. Ryan. They will be a great help to us in procuring medicine, food and clothes for the needy Russians. I have been busy all day going over the situation and explaining it to these two gentlemen. Col. Taylor has a brother who is a doctor and has won distinction with Blake, in Paris. Col. Ryan, I have heard of before. He is a big, handsome, red-headed Irishman, with cold blue eyes that warn you not to antagonize him. He is the very embodiment of energy. With a Dr. Strong, he cleaned up Serbia when there were 100,000 cases of typhus fever there. That was in 1914 and I, and of course every doctor in the world knew of this magnificent work. I am delighted to have such a man to work with.
According to the German figures, which are notoriously unreliable, there are in the neighborhood of 9,000 sick Russians to be looked after. It almost staggers me to think of it. This reminds me that I must go to the Kriegsministerium this morning and extract some information from Maj. Hecker. It has to do with our plans for evacuating the Russians. All believe that the Danube route is the most logical way to repatriate them. There are enough boats suitable for this service at Regensburg, which is the head of navigation. We could concentrate the Russians at a camp there and send them down the Danube and across the Black Sea to Odessa. It would be necessary to establish hospital facilities for them along the route, probably at the large cities. Inquiry has already been made to the French as to the facilities for taking care of them at Odessa. This information should come from Bucharest, where the French have quite a large mission. The trouble lies in the fact that the Poles insist on fighting all along the line almost from the Black Sea to the Baltic, and unless we can arrange with them to allow our Russians to pass, it is going to be very difficult. Right now there is active fighting going on in the neighborhood of Galatz, between the Roumanians and the Bolshevists. We seem to be up against an impenetrable wall to the east of us through which it is very hard to find a hole for our poor Russians.
BERLIN, February 18, 1919. All of yesterday afternoon Gen. Ewart, Gen. Harries, Col. Taylor and myself were in conference. It had to do with supplies and medicines and doctors coming in after all these days of waiting. Calls come in daily, and we have had to acknowledge so often that we did not have this or that medicine, but now, with the Red Cross here, food and clothes and medicines will soon come, and, above all, soap.
I wish you could have seen a sample of food sent me from a camp yesterday - frozen and decayed parsnips, potatoes in the same condition, and a sample of the soup that looked and smelled like the stool of a typhoid patient. It was simply terrible. The German authorities swear that their own people eat exactly the same but I cannot believe it. To make this stuff more nutritious, they have concocted a meal known as "misch" meal, which looks and smells like our bone dust fertilizer. I cannot conceive that it adds very much to the diet.
We all notice that the German authorities are stiffening up. Until the present we merely requested them to do this or that - now they must be ordered to do so. If they wish to play that way, we can. It would not be surprising to see another revolution at any time and a dictatorship with Hindenburg, or some other strong man, at the head; then there would be the old system to deal with and some of the run-away nobility would probably come creeping back. Would not our position in Berlin be nice then? It will be nice enough when the Peace Terms are published and the people know the worst.
The General has told me to requisition for enough medical officers to administer forty camps. We will need eighty doctors, forty dentists, and, as there is a great deal of tuberculosis and trachoma, I suggested a number of experts in these two diseases. He took kindly to this suggestion and I later saw the telegram in which he asked G. H. Q. to send us something like three hundred from the medical department, commissioned and enlisted. That is a large order and I wonder if G. H. Q. will fill it!
BERLIN, February 20, 1919. I did not write yesterday because all day long I was as busy as could be. A list of reports had to be compiled which the medical officers should send to Headquarters. The Army has never before faced a problem like this and I have even had to get up he forms upon which to make their reports. We not only must keep track of the sick and of the communicable diseases, but we have to be in position, at all times, to know just what cases can be transported in a lying position and which can sit up when traveling. Therefore, a weekly report has been devised upon which all of this information shows. In that way it can be seen at a glance whether the percentage of sickness in any one camp is too high, whether they, have any contagious disease, and, if the camp is to be evacuated, I know at once how many and what kind of hospital trains to arrange for. Recently to this report were added the tuberculous and the insane. I hope these two classes can be concentrated before long, that we may give them some scientific treatment. When that time comes I shall be ready and shall know just how many patients have to come out of each camp.
BERLIN, February 21, 1919. I worked until late last night on the organization of the medical department again. Tonight I am invited to dinner at the Roumanian's, Germaneanu. I hope I can go this time as I missed the last invitation on account of my trip to Vienna.
Someone tried to enter my room last night. Fortunately the door was locked. This is not the first time this has occurred. The General had the same experience recently. This is the land of spies and just now there is neither law nor order. Robberies occur in all parts of the City, and between the robbers and the spies we foreign officers are fair game. The rooms of the hotel are built in such a manner that there is a hollow space over the entrance to each room. This space is large enough for a man to walk comfortably and runs the entire length of the corridor. It would be entirely possible for secret service men to hide in this run-way and listen to conversations in any of the rooms. As all persons of prominence from foreign countries stop at this hotel, such as Commissioners, Ambassadors, Special Representatives, etc., we feel sure that it is honeycombed with spies. The General warns us all, as we report for duty, about the necessity of caution.
The sun has actually shone for a few days - I cannot understand it - to my mind the sun is a product peculiar to the United States.
BERLIN, February 22, 1919. We had a delightful time at the Roumanian's last evening, in fact so good a time that we are to go back again this evening. It happened this way: they discovered that I was very fond of music and tonight they are to have a little soiree. The Roumanian and Serbian folk songs are perfectly wonderful, and Col. Lupashu is to play them on the violin. (I cannot vouch for the spelling of these names, but phonetically they are correct. )
Today I sent Miss S. a cake of Ivory Soap, and she was delighted. The Germans use a chemical washing powder, but real soap has not been seen for years. I promised DeWolf, a Belgian, who is employed at the Spanish Embassy, to procure some shaving soap for him, at the prospect of which he is much pleased.
Tomorrow we are to assemble in the ball room of the American Embassy at noon to witness the presentation of the B. D. C. to Maj. Sylvester. It seems that he gave up his dug-out to the wounded and stood a ten hour bombardment, and then chased the Boche four kilometers. I am ashamed that I shall not bring you any medals - everyone else will come home wearing something in the way of decoration excepting myself.
Maj. Sylvester was among the first officers to report here for duty. He is the best type of American manhood. The General recently sent him to Brandenburg camp to investigate conditions, there having been some complaint. It took Sylvester only two hours to discover that the German General in charge was an ignorant, bigoted, incompetent bore. He requested this General to have certain reforms instituted in the way of cleaning the barracks, etc., and waited twenty-four for some move in that direction to be made. When nothing had happened, he told the General that he was going to have the Commission remove him from duty. The General became enraged at a Major talking to him in this manner, but Sylvester made good his threat and the General is no longer in command at Brandenburg.
BERLIN, February 23, 1919. We had a very pleasant time last evening. The Colonel played beautifully, and a Roumanian music teacher was invited, whose accompaniment was perfect. I also had an opportunity to see Roumanian officers dance, and, in my opinion Donald Brian had better come over to Bucharest and take lessons. I have never seen anything as graceful as their dancing.
Yesterday being the twenty-second, at supper I proposed a toast to George Washington. At once a Belgian, two Roumanians and two Americans, in the enemy's capital, stood and drank a health to the Father of our Country.
We are busy on the organization of the camps. It seem that Germany is divided into a number of army corps, Prussia alone having more than twenty, and Bavaria, three. The corps commander is almost like an absolute monarch, and the authorities in Berlin hesitate - indeed often refuse - to give any directions which affect the corps. This decentralization of government makes it very difficult for us. If we want something done at a camp the Germans in Berlin tell us that such an order must go through the Corps Commander. I think we shall get permission to deal direct in order to avoid red tape.
Col. Ryan and I have divided Germany into a number of small areas; in each area we have picked a camp which we call the parent camp, at which United States troops will be stationed. All the other camps in that area will be known as subsidiary camps and will report to us through the main camp. In all I think we shall have something like seventy-five camps. Fortunately, we do not have to worry about the seventh and tenth Army Corps, because the British Red Cross has, for months, been administering that area. There are not very many Russians there, only about 2,000 so far as I can learn. This reminds me of the difficulty we have had in learning the true number of Russian prisoners. You see the Germans were organized beautifully, but only for victory. It never occurred to them that they might lose, therefore, they never thought that anybody would be in position to ask them how many prisoners they had. If they were the victors, they would simply decline to answer. As it is, we have asked them repeatedly as to the number of Russian prisoners and have received answers which vary all the way from 300,000 to 700,000. My estimate, from the reports of Dr. Meyer, is that there are about 300,000. Fully one-half of these prisoners are not located directly in these camps, but are working on farms and in factories adjacent to the camps. On account of the unsettled conditions there is a constant movement of prisoners from camp to camp and from commando to the camp and vice versa. Can you imagine the condition of these Russians after four years off life under an authority which has a reputation for unscrupulousness and frightfulness? The signing of the Armistice weakened the Gordian authority so that the prisoners have been able to do almost as they pleased. This resulted in a body of ignorant men, of low morale, being allowed to wander about in an aimless sort of way. The sanitary and health conditions in the camps have, of course, suffered proportionately.
With the Red Cross now here ready to help us, we can bring in medical and surgical relief, hospital equipment, supplementary foods, clothes, etc. They are to establish main depots at Mayence and Coblenz. From these points trains will carry the supplies to subsidiary depots at Stettim, Berlin, Magdeburg, Dresden and Nuremberg. From these depots the food will be shipped to various prison camps all over Germany and will there be turned over to the Inter-Allied Officer in charge. The actual distribution of the food will be in the hands of the Allied Officer. The Red Cross will also maintain, at each camp, a sort of Red Cross store where a few necessities of life can be had.
BERLIN, February 24, 1919. The presentation of the Distinguished Service Cross to Maj. Sylvester was most impressive. I did not realize that there were so many of us here - "us" being the Allies. The room at the American Embassy was crowded, our numbers being swelled by an English and an Italian General with their Aides, several French officers, Russians, Roumanians, Red Cross officers and girls and an Italian Naval officer.
Gen. Harries walked to the center of the room and ordered Maj. Sylvester to approach. He then read the citation and made some very appropriate remarks. He said that to reduce machine gun nests and to advance against the enemy were the normal occupations of the soldier. They might be hazardous, indeed they were so, but that was natural and we all did such things. But to give up your protection to the wounded so that they might have a chance, and to expose yourself to a ten hour bombardment - described in the citation as "terrific" - and to then advance "across the Marne in the face of determined resistance" - that was heroic. "Therefore, I, in the name of the Commander in Chief of the Armies of the United States and in the City of Berlin, give you this cross."
The French kiss a soldier on these occasions. As soon as the cross was adjusted Gen. Harries sprang back one pace and saluted - a General honoring a brave man. Of course, it was snappily returned and I thought of Kipling's line:
"But there is neither east nor west, border, nor breed, nor birth when two strong men stand face to face though they come from the ends of the earth."
We congratulated Sylvester then and the occasion was over. One dramatic thing happened. Gen. Harries' speech was all but interrupted by a German military band, which passed down the street, - the bloating remnants of a former glory, which that little group of men and women at the Embassy had helped to shatter, and, by the irony of fate, they were playing Sousa's "Washington Post."
The British and the French are to turn their medical stores over to the American Red Cross so as to centralize the distribution. This will help fill the gap until the Red Cross supplies arrive. The way we have gotten on the job has delighted our Allies. As a matter of fact, I asked for these stores at a time when I had already taken them and they were safely on their way to the American Red Cross headquarters, saving thereby twenty-four hours. The American Red Cross headquarters is on the corner of Leipsiger and Friederickstrasse, where a large American Life Insurance Company formerly had offices.
Yesterday, at the request of Gen. Ewart, I made a sanitary inspection of the British Embassy. He was worried over some flies, and I found cause enough for their existence. I asked the care-taker why several piles of rubbish had not been removed, and he assured me that he had done his best to hire Germans to cart the stuff away but that it was impossible to find anyone who wanted to work. Yet the newspapers are crying all the time over the lack of work.
Many thanks for the Overseas Edition of the [Louisville, Kentucky] Courier Journal. Gen. Harries has also gotten copies of it.
BERLIN, February 25, 1919. The Winter of my discontent was made happy yesterday by a letter from you. It was mailed on January 22nd, and has followed me from Joinville to Selz, back to Joinville and then to Spa.
Last evening Gailmard and I called on Miss S., and I learned something of her history. She has been here eight years. At the beginning of the war her parents sent for her, but she refused to go home because she did not wish to return until she had made good. When her debut in opera was cancelled [sic] she turned to Mrs. I., an English woman who is married to a German, for advice, and Mrs. I. insisted on Miss S. living with her. She found work at the American Embassy under Gerard. When Gerard left and the work was turned over to the Spanish, they wired Washington that they would not be responsible for the passport department unless Miss S. were allowed to stay. Washington acquiesced and at this moment I suppose there is no better authority on the genuineness of passports held by American civilians in Germany than is Miss S. [Note: The Spanish were neutral during WWI. TBP ]
From the time she took up this work under the Spanish until she was forced out of the Embassy by the Germans, she had one continual fight with the latter. It seems that they had a way of taking up the passports of Americans who, for some reason or other did not return to their own country. In a few days the police would visit these people and demand their passports. Of course they had none. Germany had passed a law that anyone found without a passport should be considered a person without a country, and therefore, liable for military service. They thought in this way to press men into their army. Miss S. circumvented them by simply issuing duplicate passports as fast as the originals were taken away. Finally, when Germany heard that no German clerks were allowed to work in the German Embassy at Washington, after Bernstorf's withdrawal, they forced Miss S. out.
When Mr. Husband arrived in Berlin immediately after the Armistice, she heard of him in some way and was back at work in the Embassy, this time for the American Red Cross, the day after Mr. Husband arrived. We are very, very leery of Americans who did not return to their own country, but this is one case where I feel sure the person had every justification for staying.
The people with whom she is staying are perfectly charming. Technically, of course, they are Germans. Mrs. I, is a full blooded English woman and Mr. I.'s mother was English. They are the very old and aristocratic type of Jew, exceedingly exclusive and cultured. Their apartment eclipses anything I have seen. Best of all is the atmosphere of refinement, as expressed in their love of good music, their pictures (among them an original Teniers, a Gainsborough and a Turner) and their cosmopolitanism. They have three children, a girl of nineteen and two boys younger. All speak English, French and German with equal facility, One of the sons is quite interested in philanthropic work. He has a talent for drawing, and has recently won competition for a poster, which is to be used in raising funds to buy nipples for German babies. The scarcity of rubber has made this necessary. Mr. I., although entertaining English views, has done his duty by Germany. Through his connections he could have withdrawn his entire fortune from the country, but he has never made a move in that direction. We hear, of course, of how hard it is to gain entrance to this exclusive set, and I always smile when I think of the ease with which an American has entree everywhere. When Spring opens up I am invited to play tennis at their country home.
BERLIN, February 26, 1919. I am sleepy this morning, this dizzy world of society is too much for me. The trouble is these people seem to think it is necessary to stay up all night. It is the custom to stay at a place until one or one-thirty in the morning. It impresses me as a heavy Teutonic copy of Parisian life. The Germans have heard somewhere that in Paris "one simply never retires" and they try to imitate it.
Things look quite squally now. I understand that the Germans are soon to know the Peace Terms, and I expect their attitude toward us to change to a more hostile one. Up to now an American has had great power here. We can put an officer on the troop train and his presence alone will get the train through. Of course, they still look to America to feed them and that may keep them in line after the Peace Terms are published. In their hearts, however, they hate us, in fact, they hate everyone, even each other. I think it is the normal state of mind for a Prussian.
We hear that the Poles and the Germans are fighting now, and that the Czecho-Slavs are again on the war path. This, too, will help close tighter than ever the outlet for our poor Russians. These little peoples that keep at war with each other remind one of so many bad children.
BERLIN, February 27, 1919. I have just gotten word that ten Italian medical officers are on their way here - that will add another language to be struggled with. Fortunately, one of our medical officers speaks Italian, and I shall get him to translate for me. It is very hard to decide where to send the Italian just now, for conditions are squally everywhere. South of Posen and in the direction of Breslau the Poles are fighting the Germans; all Bavaria is seething with trouble. I wonder how long it will be before the whole thing blows up and it is every fellow for himself.
Maj. Boule gave me a pistol yesterday to carry at night. We are operating under the Geneva Conference, and on account of us the Hotel Adlon displays a Red Cross flag, but there are so many hold-ups and robberies that I feel no hesitancy in arming myself at night.
9 P.M. I am glad I waited, for just now eight letters from you were handed me. All had gone to the Army Sanitary School, at Langres. I am afraid any mail sent care the 113th Sanitary Train is at the dead letter office, for they refuse to open packages of mail addressed to an organization which has gone home, even when they know that certain ones of that organization are still on this side. If the organization has been sent home, all mail so addressed goes back. It is a fine system and shows the enormous effort being made to get mail to the soldiers. The big gaps between my letters from you are only gradually being filled in.
BERLIN, February 28, 1919. We have had to give up the idea of renting the Y. M. C. A. building. It seems now that there is a scheme to rent the second floor of this hotel and run a mess of our own with food brought up from Coblenz. I shall ask for a larger office.
I went to the Kriegsministerium yesterday to get certain maps of the German prison camps. They had told me there were none to be had but I knew this was not true. Finally, they admitted that the maps were there, but that they could not be given out. I produced an American cigarette and the German Major began fingering the maps. I offered him a cigarette and he asked me how many maps I wanted. I only wanted six, but as I lighted his cigarette for him and let him get a taste of real tobacco, (the first he had inhaled for years) I said, "Eighteen". "My dear Major" he said, promoting me to a Major on the spot, "You can have anything in my office", and he then roundly scored his assistant for having kept me waiting. Sic transit gloria Germanorum.
I was leaving the Kriegsministerium when the guard passed, consisting of about 200 soldiers and a band. They march around the City every day for the moral effect, to make some show of law and order. We always step into a side street when we see them coming to avoid any unpleasantness. This time I stood well back in a doorway and watched them. A soldier, instead of marching at attention, looked around and happened to catch my eye. He smiled and several others, seeing him, looked over and invited me, by signs, to come along and march with them. Can you imagine it?
BERLIN, March 2, 1919. We have rented the whole of one floor of the hotel and the Chief of Staff, Col. Parker, has assigned a most beautiful suite to me. It is foolish for me to take these rooms, because I will surely have to give them up to some one who ranks me. Nevertheless I am now occupying the suite formerly engaged by Geraldine Farrar [ Note: an American actress. TBP]. It is composed of a sitting room, a huge bed room and a bath. I am told that Miss Farrar and the Crown Prince were quite intimate years ago, - so intimate, in fact, that before the Revolution it was quite customary to see post-cards in the shop windows, one with his picture, one with the picture of the Crown Princess and between the two a picture of Miss Farrar. You can draw your own conclusions. I am also told that they had many lively parties in these very rooms. My desk is in an alcove whose four windows look up and down the Wilhelmstrasse. I can see a military band coming right now, escorting the Guard, which is about to change.
One of the maids has just been telling of the illustrious people who have had rooms on this floor. Besides Farrar, who had my suite, our Quartermaster's office was occupied by the Queen of Belgium and the Queen of Sweden and a number of German royalty. The Kaiser and his wife, of course, returned their calls here. Our dining room was often occupied by the Kaiser's second son, whose home life was not happy, and who is said to have given wild dinners at the Adlon. The fact of these Royal Spectres [sic] has not disturbed our rest in any way.
There is some sort of a demonstration on for today. The Government is getting its troops out early to hold off any trouble. This sitting on a volcano is quite interesting. The trouble is we can rarely tell just exactly the cause of the demonstration.
I shall leave this open in the hope that something interesting may happen when the demonstration really comes off.
10 P.M. Well, it came off all right. The German General, von Lettow-Vorbeck, who fought so bravely in East Africa and who laid down his arms after the Armistice, was received in the Pariser Platz right beneath the Adlon Hotel windows, at 3 P.M. He had about 120 soldiers with him. I understand that when he stopped fighting he had about 150 whites and 2,000 blacks in his army. Lettow's soldiers wore their hats turned up on one side after the fashion of the Australians. Many of them are in English uniforms, for the English re-clothed them and gave them a ship home, and, indeed allowed them to return home, out of respect to the General's fighting ability. He led Gen. Smuts a merry chase over East Africa for more than two years and never was caught. The English like a good sport, and it is said that this man did fight clean. Gen. Ewart was much interested and came over to our office to witness the reception. He was Gen. Smut's [sic] Chief of Staff for two and one-half years. It happened that he and I stood at a window together when Gen. Lettow and his company came through the Brandenburger Tor and were received by the shouting throngs. He remarked to me, "I am indeed glad to see that man's face, because I fought him for two and a half years and only saw his back." During the ceremony of the reception there was much speaking and singing and a prayer for their dead comrades. All of this we witnessed from the windows, which were immediately above the crowd.
After the parade a great crowd gathered in front of the hotel and shook their fists at us. I think it was only a comparatively few hot-heads, for others were seen trying to keep order and were heard to maintain that we "had not hissed", etc. I do not know what we were supposed to have done, but evidently the Germans took exceptions to something and it resulted in some 10,000 very angry faces being turned in our direction. It is not a pleasant thing to look down on a demonstration like this, where every face is convulsed with hate toward you. Of course, we had not hissed - we had only looked on. It looked right badly for us for a moment, but the Government troops took position in the hotel doorways and closed the iron gates and the disturbance has died down.
I had to go out shortly after the crowd broke up, but beyond some unfriendly stares, I noticed nothing in particular. Anyhow, Gen. Harries has ordered us to stay in the hotel until further orders. You see, the East African fighter is really the one German General to win any laurels in the whole German army, and his rest upon the fact that he ran away very skillfully. The German people are hungry for something besides defeat and they cheered this afternoon until they were hoarse. That made them very cocky, and therefore, they turned on us. I tell you, they do not know yet that they have been defeated, and I believe it would not take much to have a lot of them rally to a good leader.
I would not miss this for a fortune! Just think, a prisoner in Berlin and guarded by Government troops against the Germans. I was down in the lobby of the hotel a moment ago, and there stands the guard, helmet and all, and who knows but that tomorrow this same guard may decide to be on the other side and turn his machine gun toward the hotel lobby instead of toward the crowd.
A French General, not Dupont, today had to be escorted to the hotel by a guard with fixed bayonets, I am told. Apparently it is only the lower classes who are showing their hostility, and undoubtedly the excitement of the big parade today led to it. They really do not know what they do want.
I had a long talk lately with Maj. Hecker. He tried to explain a lot of things to me. Said that at the root of Bolshevism there was a kernel of truth, but that it was elaborated in a crazy, impractical way by these untutored minds. Even those ordinarily clear-headed, after four years of abnormal diet, could not think normally. He felt that he was sitting over a volcano - he never knew when he left home for the office whether he could get back or not.
An officer is never safe; disloyal soldiers might fall upon him at any moment and this explains why so many officers are in civilian clothes. I have also noticed that many German officers are without insignia of any sort, merely wearing the uniform. Hooker added that if the Entente dictated terms of peace that Germany could not accept, then all Germany would turn Bolshevik and that chaos would then beggar description. I asked him the cure for it all, and he replied, "Work and food." I pointed out lots of work to be done, and he said there is a lack of raw materials. I tried to get him to name anything that prevented the building of houses, or the underground railway in this City, and he could find no answer. When asked if he did not think it due, not to a lack of work, but to the pernicious practice of paying those without work eight to twelve marks a day, "My God! man," he said, and he really seemed quite agitated, "it is only those eight marks that stands between us and chaos. It alone holds them in line, stop it for a day and life will not be worth a thing." He was very much in earnest. Said that the Entente could line the Rhine with canon, wheel on wheel, and still Bolshevism would spread. I pointed out that a winning army will not fall a victim to Bolshevism.
BERLIN, March 3, 1919. I have just found out why the crowd which gathered yesterday in front of our hotel ten thousand strong, was so angry with us. Certain ones of the crowd declared that an American soldier had appeared at the window and had thrown bits of cake down to them. They, of course, interpreted this as a bit of bravado, showing that he could eat cake and that they, the poor, suffering Germans. might have the crumbs. This has been thoroughly investigated by Gen. Harries and it was found that our Mess Sergeant, instead of throwing "cake" at the throng, was amusing himself by throwing "kisses" to certain fair ones he saw below. At least, this is his explanation. Needless to say, the Sergeant will not do so in the future.
Gen. Harries is getting very tired of these demonstrations against us. Today he called on the German authorities to have them stopped; that he did not intend that we should be subjected to such humiliating circumstances again. They will be stopped, too, For the Government troops at all times have much the jump on the others. Just imagine an American crowd of ten thousand people being kept out of a hotel by eight or ten soldiers: They would have bound and gagged the soldiers and wrecked the hotel in ten minutes. I will say, however, to look down into ten thousand angry faces and hear their hisses and their mutterings is not a pleasant experience.
We have recently been assigned an Army Postal Clerk, so that now we can send and receive postal money orders. Our A. P. O. is 946.
BERLIN, March 4, 1919. The papers are full of conflicting statements now as to the riot which occurred for our benefit the other day. Needless to say, none of them are true.
Last night the general strike started. Everything is dead, railroads, street cars, the under-ground and many newspapers. I am glad to say that the railroad between here and Coblenz, which brings our supplies to us and our mail, is not affected. Should it be, I imagine we would either run it ourselves or continue our service by air.
I rather imagine some interesting things will transpire today. Of course, we could not go out last night, but I heard a good deal of shooting and I understand that many streets are barricaded. As I look down Wilhelmstrasse, however, it appears perfectly normal. I shall have a chance to look around a bit when I interview the head of the Bureau of Vital Statistics at the Ministry of Interior today. He has asked to lay certain facts before me relative to the effect of the English Blockade on German health. just why he selected me I do not know, but I shall be glad to listen to him.
Yesterday when I was on the street I noticed very little change in their attitude toward me - perhaps it was a bit less friendly. We are allowed to leave the hotel "on business and to return as soon as this is accomplished." This is probably best also, for we do not want to have to resent any insults. The German has a very nasty way of spitting in your direction. He does not quite hit you, but it is uncomfortably near. Of course, you know what must happen if he should hit you.
10 P.M. I have been out several times today, and the people are unmistakably hostile; they fairly glare at you. The strike has been extended to almost every line of industry - even our telephones are cut off. Everyone in Berlin is walking. This sort of spirit will engender riots. it really seems quite serious. There has been a lot of damage done to life and property in the last few days. I do not know what our isolated detachments in the camps will do, but smaller places are really safer than the big cities, except for the food situation. Of course, we walk around as though nothing were happening, but just one person bumping into us, and the fat will be in the fire. There were seven persons killed here yesterday. It is necessary for me to go out so much that I may wear my Red Cross Brassard tomorrow, though that is said to have made a good target during the war.
I had a long talk with Geheimerat Crone this morning. He furnished me with some figures that I am very glad to get. This is about what he had to say, as near as I can remember it:
Geheimerat Crone is the head of the Bureau of Vital Statistics of the Ministry of the Interior in Prussia. He is a physician, but several times was addressed as, "General."
He stated that it was agreed among scientific men that 3300 calories were necessary for maintaining proper bodily functions. The lack of food, due to the blockade, had resulted in the reduction of this amount to 1000 calories. The reduction occurred principally in albumen and fats. The normal body requires daily about 70 grammes [sic] of fat. This had been reduced to about 7 to 10 grammes [sic]. The resultant loss of weight varied from 20 to 120 pounds, He and other gentlemen present mentioned a number of individual cases. This general loss in weight among the population resulted in an increase in hernias, ptosis of female generative organs and in floating kidney.
He stated that the mortality during each year of the war was progressively greater than that of 1913, and that the increase reached, in 1918, thirty-seven per cent. This increase totals, for the four years, 76,000.
The material damage caused by the loss of these persons has been computed on a sliding scale, ranging from 8,380 marks for a new born babe, to 30,300 marks for a fifteen year old child. A person of thirty years is valued at 2,900 marks. The total valuation of the 763,000 amounts to 8,400,000,000 marks.
He claimed all the victim of grippe [ Note: influenza. TBP ] had died as the result of the lack of food. I protested that if lack of food caused the death of these unfortunates, how was it to be explained that there were 300,000 deaths from grippe in the United States, which figures were quoted from the newspapers. This, he was unable to answer. Claimed, however, that the death rate among English prisoners, fed from home, was almost nil, in great contrast to the death rate among the German people. One tenth of the grippe cases developed pneumonia, and from these, 30 to 35 per cent died. In order to arrive at more accurate data, and in order to eliminate the factor of gripped [sic], I asked for figures on tuberculosis.
The mortality from tuberculosis increased steadily during the three first years of the war, over and above the usual number, but in 1917 and 1918 there was an enormous increase in the victims. The total, above the 1913 average for the duration of the war, was 79,000 deaths. This means also that there were just that many more loci from which the infection of other people might come.
Germany had very little typhoid fever, due to the vaccination. Their death rate is 8 per cent. In contrast to the experience in the United States, the concentration of troops, principally recruits, did not result in epidemics of measles. This was probably due to the more thickly settled conditions in Germany.
No increase in death rate was noted in children less than one year old. During the war more mothers nursed their young on account of the lack of cows' milk. These mothers were paid a gratuity by the Government. The mortality from child-bed fever increased from 21 to 36 per cent in 1918, due, it was claimed, to low resistance resulting from the lack of food.
Crone claimed that during the war, there was an actual loss in births of 4,000,000, that is, there were 4,000,000 fewer births during that time than there should have been. In the beginning, this was accounted for by the fact that the men were in the field. Later, physicians became convinced that it was due to an actual loss in reproductive power on the part of the female. Animal experimentation is said to have verified this fact(?). The blockade is charged with the responsibility of 1,000,000 of this dirth [sic] in births, which, figured at 8,380 marks per child, makes a total of 8,400,000,000 marks.
Inasmuch as venereal disease is not among the diseases which one is compelled by law to register, he could give only a general idea of the increase. Said that there was naturally an increase in percentage of this disease, as occurs during all wars. This may have its effect on the lowered birth rate.
The loss of fat also resulted in a continuous itching of the skin, and dryness thereof, with an increase of skin disease, particularly furunculosis [sic]. Scarcity of soap undoubtedly aided in this. The monetary loss, due to the loss of productive ability and slowness of brain power, is enormous.
A very high mortality was noticed in insane asylums. A pecular [sic] edema of the feet and legs was found among the troops in camps, not necessarily in the trenches. This was not the case with English prisoners, who lived under the same conditions, except that they were fed by food parcels from home, and was due to lack of fat and the large water content of the soups.
These various changes were noticed particularly after January, 1917, which coincides with the tins that the German people felt the weight of the blockade. He stated that the Government had just allowed an increase in the meal ration, in spite of the fact that it knows there is only enough to last from four to six weeks.
The blockade caused a great scarcity, indeed a total lack, of such drugs as hydrastis, ipecac, camphor and menthol. Quinine and. cocaine became very rare. Surgical cotton, cat gut, rubber gloves and cushions almost disappeared. Most surgeons operated with bare hands after 1916. He, therefore, charges that the blockade has damaged Germany to the extent of the following table:
|Death of 763,000,000 civilians||8,400,000,000||marks|
|Countless cases of illness among the civilian population||xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx||"|
|The prevention of birth of about 1,000,000 children, this being about one-fourth of the total decrease in births||8,400,000,000||"|
|The reduction in the working capacity of the entire working population by about one-third||30,300,000,000||"|
|The necessity of feeding up the population||3,500,000,000||"|
|The necessity of replenishing the cattle stock||4,000,000,000||"|
"Thus the injuries caused to the health of the German people through the enemy blockade correspond to a damage to Germany's national wealth surpassing 4,600,000,000 marks."
He said that the Germans looked upon the blockade as worse, that is, more inhuman, than U-boat warfare, because, "one could defend one's self against the U-boats." He did not explain how, and I never argue - I simply listen and ask questions. I did say, however, that in '71, the Parisians were forced to eat rats. He answered, "Well, at least that was meat." He claimed that Bismark, immediately after signing the Armistice, had carloads of bacon sent into Paris. I do not know that this is true, but if so, then the German has changed since Bismark's time, for no one ever heard of them feeding the Belgians.
BERLIN, March 5, 1919. Last night was quiet in the City, and, although the newspapers have not come, I heard no shooting: I did hear lot of troops marching about. The hotel is guarded but I had almost as soon have a gang of thugs. All the many robberies and murders done in Berlin are done by men in uniform.
There are so many officers at the Adlon now that it is necessary to start another mess. The General's mess must always have the same number, so a few have been selected and the rest eat in the large dining room in another part of the hotel.
BERLIN, March 6,1919. There is little of interest to report this morning beyond shooting at various points throughout the town. The Government troops have taken very firm hold of the situation, although many expect the Government to be overthrown any minute. I am sure that many people in Berlin are not in sympathy with the general strike. The most active in its interest are the roughest and most uneducated elements. Apparently they simply want a chance to plunder the shops, which is just what they would do. It would be quite fitting for German ex-soldiers to act in Berlin as German soldiers acted in the cities of Belgium and Northern France. One wonders if they would add atrocities to their looting!
Five Medical Department enlisted men reported here yesterday. They will be a great help. Two are non-commissioned officers. I called them into the office this morning and impressed upon them the importance of presenting a snappy appearance at all times, explaining that we were under the critical eye of the enemy every minute. It is pleasing to note this morning a marked. improvement in their dress, and I have already heard them complimented by Col. Ryan.
It became necessary yesterday, during a demonstration, for me to send the youngest of the five to the Red Cross. I had cautioned him to avoid all crowds, and before long he was back, telling me that he could not deliver he message because of the throng around the Red Cross building. By means of a map of the City, I showed him how he could enter the Red Cross office through a rear door, and when he came to me a second time he had delivered his message without incident.
6 P.M. The City is dreadfully upset; no newspapers are published at all. There is firing going on in many parts, even cannon being used. Government troops seem to have the upper hand still, but an empty stomach makes a good revolutionist.
The feeling toward us is noticeably more hostile. They think we are responsible for food not coming. Some of the orderlies were jeered at today on the street. It has been necessary for me to go out a good deal, so I finally put on my brassard - it might save me an insult. The hotel is supposed to have been attacked last night, but I heard nothing of it. Evidently the guard at the door was able to quell the disturbance. It is funny to see armored cars, and even tanks, ambling about.
You should see some of the calls for aid that are pouring in to the office from the Russians in isolated hospitals. I am kept busy trying to provide food, medicines and clothes in response, One letter today, from a German doctor, asks for food for his patients. He is the head of a tuberculosis hospital. Inasmuch as his patients are Germans, what can I do? They are our "enemies" and we cannot feed the enemy". I shall attempt to get permission to give them some milk, at least.
The food situation is evidently getting worse each day. I hope the Entente will allow its entrance very soon.. It is quite unbearable to see the pinched faces. One can almost read through their ears, they are so bloodless and thin. I hate to see this in the women and children. Let us ration them, but not too well, because once fed, the Prussian will be as arrogant as ever. If America feeds them now they will undoubtedly be our friends - until it is to their advantage to be otherwise, anyhow.
Everyone is on the lookout for a disturbance tonight. Predictions are made that the Ebert government will not last three days. Apparently it will not last long unless food comes. I suppose when it does come we will be given the keys to the City. The population is now but tasting, to a small degree, what was forced upon Belgium, Serbia and France, but they are powerless now, and it does not seem very sporty to hit them when they are down.
The mark has fallen again - one can get 212 for 100 francs. A week ago we thought we did well to get 161.
BERLIN, March 7, 1919. To my surprise the night was quiet, as far as I have been able to learn. I heard little shooting. From my window I can still see the guards stopping people who wish to turn into the Wilhelmstrasse, and demanding their passes. They go about it in a most business-like way.
One reason the Government troops can maintain the upper hand is because of a battalion formed entirely of former officers. These men deserve a lot of credit, for they alone stand for some semblance of law and order. They make a fine body of troops, too.
The waiter who has just brought my breakfast tells me that the police headquarters is in the hands of the Spartacus, but that German troops have them shut in on all sides and are about to bombard them with cannon. The attack is expected today.
You know we receive three daily papers, the New York Herald (Paris edition), the Chicago Tribune and the London Daily Mail, besides the Stars & Stripes. The Chicago Tribune of a day or two ago, Paris edition, had some scare-heads about the "attack" on us, and I am afraid it may worry you. Of course, we are all right. This "battle" is a very stupid thing. I can hear the machine guns rattling away right now - probably an attack on police headquarters. Now and then you hear a hand grenade and even a six inch cannon, but we are as safe as can be, because just now the Boche is busy killing his brother, rather than us. I go around everywhere that my work makes necessary and have never had any trouble.
Yesterday I unconsciously got into the newspaper district. It seems that newspaper offices are among the first buildings to be attacked, because each side wishes to control the press. I did notice that the street had many barricades, but the guards of these barricades let me through every time.
A number of these barricades are made of newspapers bound together in great bundles, and one often sees the rolls of unprinted paper ended up as a breastwork. It is difficult, when you are walking away from a barricade and hear a machine gun go off, not to jump or dodge. I have wished many times that I had glue on my heels to hold me on the side-walk. However, much of the shooting seem to come from the roofs, just why I cannot understand, and as I looked up and down the streets I saw citizens proceeding about their ordinary vocations very much as I was.
BERLIN, March 8, 1919. The first thing I noticed this morning as I looked down the Wilhelmstrasse was the absence of the guards. The machine guns have been taken from the hotel lobby and from off the Brandenburger Tor. As I had been able to use the telephone yesterday evening, I supposed the strike was ended. My newspaper - the first in several days confirms that theory. Just what effect this will have on the Spartacus people, I do not know. They seem to be beaten everywhere, and my guess is that we will hear little from them for the next two or three weeks.
It is said that the dead and wounded in Berlin in this strike is placed at six thousand. One of the pathetic sights of this street fighting is to see the crowd, sometimes two blocks long, waiting to gain entrance to the morgue to see if their loved ones are among the killed. You never hear a word of sympathy for the Spartacus. From whence they draw their ranks I cannot tell, but apparently it is from the very lowest element.
I heard yesterday that the mark had gone down, so that you could get 24 marks for 100 francs. I never believed such a thing could be possible.
BERLIN, March 10, 1919. This is a typical Sunday afternoon. There is no work going on, and I am reading a Literary Digest, of January, brought in by the Y. M. C. A. The news seems very late. The town is quiet in nearly all section now. Shooting can be heard only occasionally, but the usual Sunday crowd is strolling about. Of course, everybody avoids the Alexander Platz, which really is the police headquarters. The Spartacus hold this building and the Government troops are besieging it. I am dreadfully tired of the house and am tempted to go out, but we are looked at so much that I hesitate to go.
A servant of the hotel said this morning that the Government troops are shooting at everything in a most senseless manner. He was standing at the window of his home, when he saw a Government soldier aim and fire directly at him. The bullet struck inside the room, and he showed me a part of the casing of the bullet. He claimed that it was an explosive bullet, and it certainly looked like it. He declares he heard it explode. Afterwards he talked with the man who shot at him, and the fellow acknowledged using explosive bullets and showed more in his belt. The servant then said to me; "You used to claim that we Germans used explosive bullets. I have been in the field four years and I never saw one, but now I have seen a German soldier shoot at his own people with explosive bullets, and I am ready to believe what you say."
(I just heard the explosion of an air bomb. Some were dropped here yesterday, killing women and children. They treat their own people like they do those of other nations. There went another bomb, though it my have been a six inch gun.)
Three Italian medical officers have just been here. We have to converse in German, with a mixture of English, and, in the matter of medicine and disease, we use Latin. In my talk with the Italian medical officers, one of them was very insistent upon making a point clear to me. It seems he feels very deeply about the terms of peace, and says that now, while the Boche is hungry, is the time to accomplish the moral victory over him. This reminds me of the advice given me when I started to practice: "Collect while the cheek is pale". The Italian's point is good, too, for these Germans are not beaten yet. Gen. Harries has described the returning German troops, and indeed I saw the same thing in Southern Germany. They were welcomed everywhere as heroes - garlands of flowers were hung on them, their horses and their gun carriages. Signs were hung all over the City which read: "A hearty welcome to our victorious army."
The Italian's discourse, however, was interrupted by a delegation of Serbians from Stargard. I have not been able to get a hospital train for them, so now they come and want me to repatriate them in box cars. I have already taken the matter up and will get them off soon. The Serbs are fine fellows. I had to keep them in another room, however, for, as you know, the Italians and the Serbs are not friendly just now. When I looked over the Italian's shoulder and saw them, I shunted them into Barbour's office as quickly as possible.
I was glad today to have a medical supply officer report for duty. This will relieve me of all property responsibility. His name is Capt. Albers.
BERLIN, March 11, 1919. I am enclosing a little bulletin which we have published here each day. One of the interpreters goes over various German newspapers and translates the most important items. These are multigraphed and distributed to the detachments, so that those who do not read German may keep up with events.
The Spartacus are said to have killed sixty people in Charlottemburg yesterday during the riot. Today machine guns are to be heard only occasionally.
There is still a good deal of street fighting going on, but the Government troops are bettering their hold every moment.
I had occasion to go past Noske's house recently. He is the Minister of Defense, and is said to have been a noncommissioned officer in the Navy. He certainly looks after his own defense, for the street upon which he lives is barricaded for two blocks above and below his residence.
Recently, on account of the railroad strike, we had to send food to the out-lying detachments by means of trucks. One of these trucks went through the middle of quite a battle on its way to Lamsdorf. Both sides kindly ceased to fire and let the truck pass.
Today I inspected a hospital in Berlin for Russian sick. It was in fairly good shape, thanks to a young Russian officer. He had the patients brought to attention when I entered one ward and I had a chance to study Russian physiognomy. They are indeed a most stolid looking lot. One man, whose hand was bandaged, allowed me to examine his wound and re-place the bandage without the least change of expression.
Looking out of my window just now, I saw two Germans meet. At one time I imagine they were very fat and prosperous. It is funny to watch the pantomime; it is always the same, first, they take off their hats and ceremoniously shake hands. Next they put one finger in their collars to show how their necks have fallen off. Then they stroke their lean jaws, which were once fat jowls; the vest and waist-band of their trousers are pulled forward, showing how fat they were at one time. If I have seen this once, I have seen it repeated fifty times.
There was a demonstration today, which came down the Wilhelmstrasse directly under my window. Noske's plain clothes men did some fine work. I do not know just why this demonstration took place, for I was unable to read the signs they carried, but evidently the British came in for a good deal of hostility. As they passed the British Embassy they yelled, "Down, down, down," and shook their fists toward the Embassy building, After this had occurred in the early part of the procession, the plain clothes policemen got into the crowd, and as groups of demonstrators passed the Embassy the police began to sing. A German will stop anything, with the exception of eating, in order to sing. The result was that group after group of demonstrators was led past the embassy singing instead of shaking their fists.
BERLIN, March 13, 1919. I have been in the house so much lately that I knocked off yesterday at 4:30 and took a walk in Tier Garten. There were so many people there that it was little pleasure, but anyhow I saw the trees and the grass. By the way, the crocus are up.
Wounded soldiers seen to frequent the parks. There is one pair I meet whenever I go. Each has lost a leg, and this seems to be a bond of sympathy between them, Those soldiers with facial deformities present a ghastly aspect, with their heads bandaged and sometimes enough of the wound showing to give you an idea of how dreadful the deformity must be. It is said that there are two hospitals in Berlin devoted entirely to the reconstruction of faces. This is what trench warfare will do.
Yesterday vas the anniversary of Queen Louise's birthday; you remember she was forced to fly before Napoleon. Her statue in Tier Garten is always banked with flowers on her birthday, and I saw it on my walk. It was she who made popular the little blue cornflower, which is called the "Kaiser-blume".
Little Bruno, the page on our floor came to see me yesterday, because he was sick. The poor youngster needs little medicine; what he needs is fat. I gave him a lot of butter and some white bread, and I suppose it is the first he has had in years. It almost made him well to look at it. His father has tuberculosis, contracted in the field. If Germany would just give up her fleet, she could have all the food she wants, but they are so very hard-heeded.
Some interesting facts have just come to light about Col. Ryan. During the time when Belgrade was being bombarded from the North by the Austrians end from the South by the Serbs, the City was left a prey to looting by the rabble of the town. Ryan was the head of nine hospitals. He sent all of the female nurses out of the town, and, acting at the request of a body of the citizens, he organized a police force and practically became a military dictator. He posted placards that any one found looting would be shot. Three men were caught, and were accordingly dealt with. This resulted in order being restored at once and the citizens were so grateful that they called upon him in a body and presented him with a medal, an order of some sort, and made him a free citizen of Belgrade for life. They also named a street after him. Do you wonder that these people look on Americans as a peculiar type of human being? You hear them say: "For an American all things are possible."
I remember reading in Mrs. Bullitt's book, "An Uncensored Diary", that she had met Dr. Ryan, She described him as one who had had so many adventures that, "nothing short of being killed would cause him a thrill." She also tells the story of how a bomb exploded in his trunk in Budapest - a story which he has related to me.
The town is quiet now with very little shooting.
BERLIN, March 14, 1919. I had a busy day yesterday, We are trying to arrange to evacuate some tuberculous Russians by the Danube, even if that route cannot be used for general evacuation. The difficulty comes in crossing the Roumanian-Russian border, where the Roumanians are fighting against the Bolshevics. The climate on the North shore of the Black Sea is particularly favorable for the cure of tuberculosis. To accomplish our purpose we must have representatives of the Inter-Allied Commission at important points all long the River. In a talk with Col. Lupashku yesterday, he did not hold out much hope.
Two of the medical officers who went to Bucharest returned yesterday, one of them to find himself a Major. I do not know how this will affect my position, This reminds me that I shall certainly do all I can for all thee men in my department, as far as promotion is concerned. Many of these men have been Lieutenants and Captains far too long.
We are having a little typhus fever in the camps, but have mastered the situation so far. The Germans had a splendid organization to fight such infections. Certain troops, designated as "Disinfection Troops", are trained in how to wash and disinfect the clothes of any body of men under suspicion. When typhus fever appears in any of the camps, we call for these troops from the Corps Headquarters in which the camp is located. When they come, which is not always, they render efficient aid.
The Russian has a peculiar idea of typhus fever. We know that the fever is transmitted by lice. Some of the Russian prisoners have been observed, after having been de-loused, to deliberately place their arms in vermin laden clothing in order to see whether the "cootie" will crawl on to their bodies. It is their belief that lice avoid a person who is infected with typhus fever.
There are some wild tales going about as to the number of Spartacus that have been killed. Everyone caught with weapons in his possession is shot down. We often see the Government troops marching their prisoners through the streets in bands of from five to forty. The captives are made to walk with their hands clasped and resting on their heads. It is said that day before yesterday two hundred and forty were made to march, chained together, into machine gun fire. They deserve very little better treatment.
BERLIN, March 19, 1919. Our nights are so monotonous that we often resort to playing bridge. The Chief of Staff plays the best game I ever saw, and I enjoy playing a while very much. Last night, however, we played until 2 A.M.
The City is getting quieter every day. Everyone is on his toes waiting for the Peace Terms. In the meantime I am establishing quite a little practice. Two Americans consulted me yesterday and today the wife of the Correspondent. She came over last December as a correspondent herself, which is the only way she could come.
BERLIN, March 16, 1919. Some shocking news came today. After waiting a full month for a reply to our requisition or medical officers, today we received a wire stating that they are on their way. Conditions have so changed here in this month that we do not need near the number for which I asked. I have, therefore, been busy on the long distance telephone, trying to have most of them held up at Coblenz. Imagine so many medical officers descending upon us, with nothing to do when they get here! In talking to the Chief Surgeon's office at Coblenz, the Major, whose name I did not get, asked me to spell my name. I did so, and he said: "Good Lord! Parsons, is that you?" It was Grant.
BERLIN, March 17, 1919. Getting ready for the sixty one medical officers has kept me on the go. I appointed Lieut. Barbour my assistant yesterday and am sure he will be a great help. There is a wild tale running around now that ten thousand Americans are coming here. I presume that this is my poor detachment of medicos, which has grown many fold in the telling.
Today there was a conference of the full Commission: English, Italians, French, Russian and ourselves. French is spoken mostly, with English a close second. Our ranks range from Major Generals down to myself. It is very interesting to sit in these conferences and get the political and diplomatic views of the several nations.
I am waiting now for a Russian General, who is to bring a delegation of Ukranians to see Col. Ryan and myself. These Ukranians purport to be of the Ukranian Red Cross, and have brought two hospitals to Germany to succor Ukranian prisoners of war. They have been on the way from Kiev for seven months. I cannot imagine why their progress was so slow. Their position is a little indefinite, inasmuch as the Entente has not recognized the Ukraine as a separate Government, although Germany has. Anyhow, it means another type to deal with, and I hope I can do so without treading on anybody's toes.
BERLIN, March 19, 1919. Honesty is surely at a premium in Germany now. I have just been warned that I must, on no account, leave shoes in the hallway of this hotel for the porter to shine. In fact, in many hotels printed signs are placed in each room, giving a similar warning. The reason of this is that leather is so dear that the shoes will undoubtedly be stolen. There have been several attempts on the part of the German baker, who bakes our bread for us, to dilute our flour and thereby divert some of it to his own use. This is quickly discovered in the color of the bread. We have noticed that our cakes of soap lave been shaved by the girls who clean the bath room. Poor Germany is so shy of soaps and fats that they go to any lengths to obtain them.
Another conference of the Commission occurred today, in which Gen. Ewart asked for a report from the Medical Department. When I told him that sixty-one medical officers were to arrive any day he was delighted. "The English have been trying vainly for months," he said, "to get personnel up here, and I want to say that the way you Americans have played up to this thing is perfectly bully". Of course, that made me feel very good because these sixty-one were of the Medical Corps.
The Government must be getting stronger in Germany, for with the subsidence of the strike, the mark has so far risen that you can now obtain 179 for 100 francs.
BERLIN, March 20, 1919. An interesting Russian doctor, Schereschewsky, has applied for a position with the Commission. Inasmuch as we already have thirty-two Russian doctors and fifteen Russian nurses working for us in the various camps, I have been on the look-out for the right kind of a Russian to keep here in the office to act as interpreter. Schereschewsky is the man for the place, a thorough gentleman and educated to the last degree. Before the Revolution he had landed estates near Moscow, but now he has no idea whether he is penniless or not. He has not heard from his wife and child for six months. He is a fugitive from the Bolshevics and knows that his name is upon the black list, which means that he does not dare return to his own country. Most of his adult life has been spent in Germany, and he has been on the medical faculty of several German Universities. At present he is connected with the University of Berlin.
He could not get over the quickness with which I accepted his services. He says that he is astonished at American methods. It just happened that I needed something translated right then, and he was at work within three minutes after he entered the office. I converse with him in German.
Last night about ten o'clock the medical detachment came in: they were rather a woe-begone looking lot, having ridden five days to get here. It has always been a mystery why the average medical officer presents so unmilitary an appearance. As we were not able to engage room for them at the Adlon we had arranged with Hotel Bristol to put them up, but, in true German fashion, the latter hotel failed to keep its word, and for a while we did not know where we could house so many officers. Finally, however, we found quarters for them, and this morning at nine o'clock they began reporting. I find that there are about twelve Majors and one Lieutenant Colonel in the lot, so I shall have rather a delicate situation to handle. With Barbour's help we had instructions for them and before twelve o'clock every man had his travel orders sending him to the out-lying camps. It is now up to the transportation officer to get them out of Berlin.
Mr. Alfred Nay, whom I knew in South Germany, is here in the interest of the Swiss Red Cross. He has invited me to supper. He is a typical Swiss, and a great friend of Capt. Ceresole, whom I knew at Rastatt and whom I admired so much.
BERLIN, March 21, 1919. My medical officers are gradually leaving Berlin, as transportation is provided. Among them there are twenty-five ordinary practitioners, ten experts in tuberculosis, six occulists and nineteen dentists. I needed the most of these men to visit out-lying camps to give me reports on the health and sanitary conditions. With the small number of detachments which we have at our disposal it has been impossible to get accurate data from many localities where we feel sure there are Russian, and wherever there are Russians there are sure to be sick Russians. The Germans seem to know so little about these camps, and I have no doubt that
I will send medical officers to camps which have long since been deserted, but unless somebody goes there and actually finds out about it this office will never know the truth.
The tuberculosis experts will separate the tuberculous Russians from the others. I hope we will be able to examine the whole lot of them. Tuberculosis and trachoma are the two big diseases we have to fight, so both the chest experts and the occulists [sic] can be used to good advantage. The dental officers will be placed at those camps where we have detachments of United States troops, so that they can look after the teeth of our boys, as well as the Russians.
The Lieutenant Colonel, I have asked to become a sort of chief inspector. This arrangement will keep him out of Berlin and save any embarrassment due to the difference in our rank. I suppose I got along in assigning these men as well as I should have expected. I had, however, one unpleasant experience with a Major from San Francisco, who balked on taking orders from me. I made it plain to him that I did not issue orders, but simply recommended that they be issued. Of course, the General is the only person who issues orders here. This man then told me that he had given up a great deal to come to Berlin, and asked me if I realized that he was the greatest authority on tuberculosis in the A. E. F.; that he had been offered the position of Chief Medical Officer for the Army of Occupation, and wanted to know if I cared to see any of the letters of recommendation which he had. I suggested, in order to divert his mind, that he lecture to the other officers present on the subject of tuberculosis. This charmed the poor stupid so that he left me in peace. but I am sure that I have made enemies of the rest of them. When ordered to Berlin, he evidently thought it was a pleasure trip, to include a post graduate course at the University.
BERLIN, March 22, 1919. A peculiar thing happened yesterday, about which all Berlin is talking, and which we regret very much. The General had requisitioned a lot of cooks, chauffeurs, etc., and yesterday they came. Instead of coming to the hotel quietly and by side streets, they marched through the Brandenberger Tor and down Unter den Linden as any conquering army would. The worst of it was, they had their rifles with them. Here they came in full field equipment, twenty-five strong, surging under the middle arch of the Tor, which was reserved entirely for the Kaiser. As far as I know, they are the first armed troops which have entered Berlin in that way.
Some days ago, during the strike when the hotel portals were guarded by machine guns, a detachment of Italian soldiers came along and stacked arms all over the German machine guns. That set the Germans wild, and, in fact, it should not have been done.
You would smile if you knew what a devotee I have become to the English custom of five o'clock tea. At the British Embassy you can accomplish nothing between four and five, because everyone is drinking tea. The German clerks employed there are particularly fond of the custom, for the English have real tea, instead of cherry leaves, sugar, cakes, real butter and marmalade. The rooms of the Embassy given up to the office force are deserted at that hour. I can see some advantage in this tea hour, however. It is surprising how a knotty problem that has bothered you for sometime becomes very clear as you discuss it quietly over a cup of tea.
The tea room at the Adlon Hotel is quite gay at that hour. The coffee served is principally chickory [sic], and the guests bring with them their little tablets of saccharine, because there is no sugar in the hotel, but still, all Berlin society loves to come and spend a half hour at the tea table and watch the notables who pass in and out. Among the personages here just now is Minister Erzberger. It is here that I see a good deal of the German custom of hand kissing. It is quite the thing for a German gallant to kiss the lady's hand. My own thought is always that I hope the hands are clean.
BERLIN, March 23, 1919. Day after tomorrow the second general strike is due. I think there will be very little trouble, however, though I know the people are somewhat stirred up over the anticipated attack to be made on the water works. Thank goodness! the Adlon Hotel has its own artesian wells. I was called suddenly to the British Embassy today in order to attend a British soldier, who had his face and head very badly burned. It seems that Gen. Ewart, in anticipation of the general strike, wished to store water in the British Embassy. He ordered some empty gasoline drums to be cleaned and filled. The Tommy, in doing this, looked into one drum with a lighted match, and the result was that I had to send him to the hospital. I notice a lot of troops being moved about the City.
I have had to enlarge my force by adding an officer who speaks Italian, because now ten Italian medical officers are in the field and their reports are beginning to come in. Instructions are in English, Italian and Russian. If the French take over part of this work another language will have to be contended with, We have to establish liaison with so many different agencies that it involves correspondence in English, French, Italian, German and Russian, and represents a connection between this office and the British Red Cross, the French Mission, the Italian Mission, the Russian Red Cross, the German War Office, as well as the various camps, the American Red Cross and the Headquarters of the Inter-Allied Commission itself.
We were laughing recently about the following occurrence in this office: A Swiss dictated the translation, in English, to an American stenographer, of a letter written in French by a Russian, relative to a Pole in a German hospital. We decided to send an Italian Medical Officer to look after him.
BERLIN, March 25, 1919. It is now reported that a big strike is to take place in April or May. That means, in my opinion, that it will not come off at all.
Sunday we saw the demonstration made against taking any of Germany's soil from her, that is, Alsace, Danzig, Saar Basin, etc. It was not much of a demonstration, - just a lot of people walking along carrying signs.
BERLIN, March 26, 1919. We are all about half sick today from taking an inoculation against typhoid. My arm is sore and it put Gen. Harries to bed for a day.
There is an entertainment being given this evening at the Alemania Hotel, for the enlisted men, to which I did not go. The Y. M. C. A. men have gotten a few ladies to sing and it is hoped that our boys will have a good time. We are all much incensed over the way Miss D. has acted. She was asked to play the violin, and responded that indeed she would not play for enlisted men - she was an artist. Needless to say, we have dropped her like a hot brick. Her position in having failed to return to the United States after war was declared is difficult enough to explain anyhow, and for her to have declined to participate in the concert for our men is the very last thing she should have done.
BERLIN, March 27, 1919. They had a delightful time last night, and am sorry I could not go. In contradistinction to the behavior of Miss D., Mrs. I., who technically is a German but of English birth, accepted the invitation to be present, and played so that the boys could dance. When one realizes that Mrs. I. is the wife of what might be termed the John Wanamaker of Berlin, and whose set is so exclusive that she has won the name of "The Proud Englishwoman" in Berlin society, it is easy to see that she is a woman of much broader mind than is Miss D. Mrs. I. was much amused to learn that some, perhaps many, of the enlisted men present were richer and more influential at home than their officers. She said such a thing in Germany could not happen.
There has recently been coming to the hotel a little German photographer who seems to have taken quite a liking to us and who brings us many interesting pictures which he has taken. He is employed by a firm like Underwood & Underwood at home. For instance, it was he who took the official photographic copy of the abdication of the Kaiser and the Crown Prince, also that of the Reichstag sitting when the Prince of Baden announced that Germany would accept Wilson's fourteen points. He told me that on November 9, 1918, he talked with Hindenburg's chauffeur, and was told that Hindenburg had been overheard to say: "If we do not make peace at once it will be all over with the German Army." This proved true, because on November 8th, they accepted the fourteen points and signed the Armistice on the 11th, and yet they claim that they were not beaten in the field.
During the demonstration last Sunday, which was a protest against taking away German soil, the Government papers gave it out that Ludendorf made a great speech. This happened right by this little photographer; Ludendorf did not know what the demonstration was about, for he had just come to Berlin, and stopped, by the way, at this hotel. It is considered a very brave thing for him to come back here now. The photographer heard him ask the meaning of the demonstration. At that moment the crowd recognized him and came toward him. Ludendorf, thinking they were going to take him, grew white as his collar, and his "great speech" was simply to beg them to pass on and make no disturbance.
10 P.M. Gailmard and I have rented a piano and we have just been listening to him play. He certainly is an artist, and I am as homesick as can be. About half a dozen of us have been singing all the songs we could think of. A Serbian captain has made us sing"K-K-Katie" a dozen times. He understands just enough English to appreciate it. When we broke up Gailmard played "Home, Sweet Home" and the Serbian declared that it was an old Serbian folk song. I wonder if this is true.
BERLIN, March 28, 1919. The two Ukranian hospitals are still giving me trouble, and I must get Gen. Ewart's advice. The Ukranians [sic] have great national aspirations. It seems that part of Russia, called the Ukraine, contains not only large wheat fields, but coal, iron, timber, oil and 45,000,000 souls, not to mention a temperate climate. Without the Ukraine, Russia would be dreadfully crippled. The Ukranians [sic] are trying to emphasize any difference between themselves and the Russians. They claim a distinct history, and even language, about which latter, Schereschewsky, as a good Russian of the old regime, laughs. He calls it a dialect. The Ukranians correct you if you call them Russians. I am also in a diplomatic tangle with the Italians. Gen. Bencivenga, head of the Italian Mission, is displeased with me. I had assigned the Italian Medical officers to the same work as our own are doing, and did so only after talking very freely with them. I had no idea but that they were pleased with the work. The General writes me, however, that the work assigned is beneath their rank, and that if there is nothing befitting their rank for them to do, he will send them home. This would make us all very happy, and I hope that Gen. Ewart will tell me to say that we have no other work.
I received a new title yesterday from the British Mission. Col. Tidbury, Chief of Staff of the British Mission, is a great fellow. He is full of fun, and anyone who says that the English lack humor does not know them. When I see Col. Tidbury, Maj. Thorburn and de Salis together I wonder that the English have a reputation for reserve. Yesterday the Colonel said: "I say,! do you know that you are a D. M. S., instead of an A.D.M.S.?" 'Which, being translated, means Director of Medical Service and Assistant Director of Medical Service. The English are particularly fond of using initials. Just recently Col. Tidbury asked me why I never wore my Military Cross, and I had to explain to him that M. C. after my name stood for Medical Corps.
The English officers lead a very delightful life here. They are allowed to go in civilian clothes whenever they wish. They also have discovered that the wine cellar of the British Embassy is most beautifully stocked. If you happen to be in the Embassy about eleven o'clock in the morning Thorburn is sure to ask you, "Don't you want your elevens?", which, being interpreted means, "Don't you want a little glass of wine and a cracker?" They have fitted one room as a lounging room and have a Victrola, and to see these stately officers one-step with each other is a rare sight. The other day they played "The Watch on the Rhine", and, to my astonishment stood at salute, explaining afterwards that inasmuch as the English, French and American armies were the watch on the Rhine it was nothing but right and proper that the courtesy of the salute should be extended them. I wish the Germans could hear about it.
BERLIN, March 29, 1919. Col. Tidbury and I called at the Italian Embassy yesterday and straightened out the Italian Medical Officer tangle. Gen. Ewart sustained me, saying that if they were too high in rank for the duty assigned they had better go home, or words to that effect. It will all be arranged by our assigning a certain number of prison camps, probably in Bavaria, to the Italians and let them run that area themselves, making consolidated reports to us.
The Ukranians waited upon me yesterday again, but I had my instructions from Gen. Ewart, so with these as a guide I diplomatically referred them to the German authorities. After all, it is the Germans who recognized them as a nation and not ourselves.
I had quite a talk with a German doctor yesterday. He fought through the entire war and denies in toto the stories of atrocities. Also he had never heard of the "Hymn of Hate". This reminds me of what another German doctor recently told me. When the war started he was foolish enough te remark, in his Club, that with England against them, Germany would ultimately lose. He frankly told me that he received some pretty rough handling for that remark. Later, however, when the Americans got into it, he repeated this remark. His Club associates this time asked him why he had such an opinion of the Americans, and he replied, "You who have never traveled in America have never seen an American foot ball game, and I tell you, if those Yankees come over the top yelling as they do at a foot ball game and with the same enthusiasm then we Germans are lost."
BERLIN, March 30, 1919. I have been for a drive to the country home of Mr. and Mrs. I. It is a very beautiful place, situated on the Wannsee. Perched on a high bluff, overlooking this Lake, it is certainly a delightful place to spend the Sumner. I was much interested in going over Mr. I's orchard and hot house. I know of no such horticulture at home. The fruit trees are trained to grow upon a trellis like vines. The gardener is a perfect wizard at grafting, and I saw on one bush three types of lilacs. The drive home was particularly pretty, as we came along the Havel River and through a pine forest. This home has been often used by moving picture firms, and certainly it is an ideal spot.
BERLIN, March 31, 1919. I have just been laughing with my field clerk over my correspondence. You see I am filling two positions, and I sometimes get mixed. I am the Staff Surgeon for the United States Military Mission, and also the Director of Medical Service for the Inter-Allied Commission, and correspondence must be carried on under each of these titles. To add to my troubles I have to deal with such names as Mr. Kholodny and Mr. Thschonbinsky. Can you beat that? These two gentlemen are at daggers points with Andreas Schuravel and Mykola Von Batschinsky over some point in the national aspirations of the Ukraine. One side claims the protection of Gen. Potocki, the other than of Gen. Monkewitch. These latter gentlemen are most unhappy over the affair and wish to be left in peace.
You should see the deadly glances that are exchanged when these rivals meet in my office. Ordinarily they speak French or German to me, but if excited they drop into Russian. This is swiftly translated into German by my good friend, Schereschewsky. As soon as one side has noticed this necessary translating going on, he drops back into German or French, and hopes that I will notice how impolite the other man was to speak in a tongue which I, their host, can not understand. It always winds up the same way. I send them to Gen. Ewart, because the accepting of their hospitals is a matter of policy and not medicine; he sends them to the Kriegsministerium, because the Allies do not recognize them and want to place the responsibility on the Germans. The German authorities always send them back to me. Gen. Ewart mildly chides me for bothering him, but he knows that I can do nothing else.
In going over some reports I came across the following names, with which I have to deal daily. It might be of interest to you to pronounce some of them: Scharawskyj, Sdwitohenko, Glymenko, Tuepisch, Brysgum (sounds like high explosive), Niementowska, Cholodkowsky (not a sleep producing medicine ), Thatschuk, and so on. When they call on me I sneeze a few times and they seem satisfied, though Capt. Barbour is sure to worry over my taking cold.
Schereschewsky, in some mysterious manner, is able to pick out the Bolshevik from this group. It is almost like a hunting dog smelling birds. I find that I have had many here in the office and did not know it.
BERLIN, April 2, 1919, As I write I can hear the automobiles plying up and down the Wilhelmstrasse. When we arrived in Berlin most of the automobiles had iron tires. The number of autos, as well as rubber tires, has gradually grown during our stay. It is said that gasoline and tires are procured from the Army stocks, now available for civilian use, and that neither has, so far, been imported. Gen. Harries says he has been told on good authority that the Germans, with all their ingenuity, could never evolve an "ersotz" for rubber. Early attempts were made, but none succeeded. They even used a queer arrangement of metal springs to hold the gas mask tightly against the face. Much of the gasoline, however, is "ersotz", a vile smelling stuff that reminds one of onions.
I have just returned from a visit to a clinic in the Berlin Charity Hospital. Schereschewsky works in one of the clinics and has insisted on my going. I was doubtful of the reception I might expect. There are no more violent people in Germany than the student body, and I thought that they might give us a good deal of unpleasantness if I appeared in the amphitheater. Schereschewsky is strictly a laboratory man, but he took me to the clinic of Dr. Blumenthal. Before I went into the arena, however, I donned a gown which reached from my ears to my heels, so that the students did not notice me. I was impressed, as I looked over the student body, by the number who were still in uniform. This is explained by the fact that they are not able to buy civilian clothes. One sees this in every walk of life.
It is gratifying to learn that more interest is being manifested now in things educational. Schereschewsky informs me that he now has daily applications for work in his laboratory. Two months ago he had to do all of the work himself. During peace times he has as many as twenty laboratory workers under him. I take it as a good sign that men's thoughts are turning away from war and revolutions.
BERLIN, April 3, 1919. No, this Commission does not come under the Third Army. We are working under the permanent Inter-Allied Armistice Commission at Spa, which, in turn is directly under Marshal Foch. We do, however look to the Third Army, or Army of Occupation, to supply us with rations. I do not even make reports to the Third Army. I have tried to learn from G. H. Q. just where my reports are to go, and indeed what reports I am supposed to make, but so far have received no answer. I have now determined to keep such records as seem essential and put them in on the day we break up.
The rumor you mention about the Third Army being here a year, I do not credit. Anyhow, that would not affect us. It is said that a new battle line is to be established in the East which will run from the Black Sea to the Baltic, and which will be under Inter-Allied control. If this is done it may keep us here a while longer, but once peace is signed I believe everyone in central Europe will settle down to work and stop their foolish revolutions. Then we can come home. You remember when we sailed, we were all singing, "We won't come back until it's over over there"? Well, it is not over over here by a good deal.
I am convinced that the only thing that can hold us here much longer is a big blow-up in central Europe. One can never tell what these central Europeans will do. It was probably decided at Spa today how large an army Germany should be allowed to keep. Undoubtedly Germany is on the edge of a volcano and we cannot think of leaving yet, but it will not be long.
I certainly do not want to be sent to a port and there to wait for months for transportation. Recent reports tell of outfits which have been held up for two months. I would much rather continue here busy, and when I do start go straight through.
BERLIN, April 5, 1919. I had a very pleasant surprise yesterday evening when I walked into my room and found Lieut. Col. Jones. You remember he was in command at Joinville. It seems that when we requisitioned on G. H. Q. for so many medical officers they ordered Col. Jones to come to Berlin as Chief Medical Officer. He, however, side-stepped this assignment end asked that his orders read for him to look over the ground and report. G. H. Q. simply does not want a Captain to be handling over 100 medical officers and 9,000 patients. I had heard that Gen. Harries had been asked by G. H. Q., whether he did not wish a high ranking medical officer on his staff, and had wondered how long it would be before I have to give way to some one who has been quietly sitting in the S. O. S. up to this time.
So I am busy showing Col. Jones around most of the time. This morning I took him through my regular routine, dictating until 9:30, and then we started on a round of the Missions, I find it is very advantageous to go to each of the Allied Missions and also to the Red Cross every day in order to pick up information in advance. Somehow or other they are apt to plan troop movements without letting the Medical Department know, and yet that Department has to be ready long before the rest. America need not be proud of the Embassy Building in Berlin. The French have a very creditable building, with proper approach and splendid reception halls, on the Parizer [sic] Platz. The British Embassy is not a bad looking building, although its interior is just a bit crowded, but the American Embassy has neither a good approach nor handsome rooms.
BERLIN, April 6, 1919. I have just mailed you a German helmet, which I picked up in the Argonne. Also a German gas mask. I do hope these will reach you safely. I have been afraid to send them before because the mail routes were so uncertain.
The hotel is crowded now with American officers from the camps to draw rations.
10 P.M. We had a splendid drive out to Frankfort on the Odor today, Col. Jones, Maj. Sylvester and myself motored over the 80 kilometers, which is just about as far as Frankfort, Ky. is from Louisville. Our road led through the suburb of Lichtenburg, which is that part of Berlin most shot up during the recent street fighting. The roads near Berlin are by no means good, so little work having been done on them in the last four years, but after you clear the City they are better.
The camp at Frankfort is neither our best nor our worst camp, and is, therefore, a very good one for Col. Jones to see. Like the rest of the prison camps, it is situated on sandy soil and is just outside of the town. We arrived there at lunch time, but, inasmuch as our troops at the camps are on a strictly rationed basis, we carried our own food with us. You see they cannot depend on the country for very much, and they tell us that they get very tired of bully beef and beans.
When I think of the Russians who have lived in that dreary, barbed-wire-enclosed place for four years, I wonder that they are not all crazy. The Germans tell us that Russians stand captivity better than any other nationality and that the English stand it the least well. Surely the low order of mentality of the Russians has stood them in good stead. The camp is rather oddly laid out, the buildings extending from a center, like the spokes of a wheel. At this center a watch tower is built, upon which is mounted a machine gun. From this point of vantage every street in the camp may be guarded.
I am glad to say our Medical Officer at Frankfort seemed to be very much alive. The tuberculosis problem is a big one there, and there are many such patients under his care. I do wish we could do something for these poor people.
On the way back from Frankfort we stopped at another camp called Mencheberg. Col. Jones was more interested in the diet of the prisoners than anything else. The food furnished by the Germans has been very deficient in certain elements. This lack the American Red Cross is supplying, and in order to be sure that it gets into the stomachs of the Russians and not into the hands of the Germans, an American officer actually sees to it that the food is put into the kettles. I say "kettles", because, with the exception of bread, everything is rode into a soup, meat and vegetables being chopped up, for in this way it insures an equal distribution of all the constituents.
At Frankfort we saw the German method of preserving vegetables during cold weather. They bury carrots, turnips and potatoes in long mounds and these are dug up again as needed. The results of this method are not very flattering.
Speaking of food reminds me of a post-card - an actual photograph - which I saw today of a horse killed by a stray bullet in one of the Berlin street fights. No sooner was the horse down than women appeared with large knives and in ten minutes there was not a scrap of meat left on the bones. This picture shows every detail of the horse skeleton, and on one side the pile of entrails - the only part which the Germans declined to eat. I understand that the Germans eagerly buy worn out horses from our Army of Occupation and sell them to butchers at a fabulous price.
BERLIN, April 7, 1919. This is the day upon which the tremendous general strike is scheduled, but as I can hear the usual street sounds, I believe it has not materialized. Bavaria has gone wild over Bela Kuhn, but I believe the rest of Germany will keep its head. Once peace is signed these wily Germans will take hold of things vigorously and straighten the Spartacus out. Just now it is to Germany's advantage to show disorganization.
A few days ago I had a most amusing experience with the Major from California who tried to impress me so on his entry into unoccupied Germany. I have received several unfavorable reports absent him and his fraternizing with the Germans. In fact the morning he reported for duty he told me that he had been out with some so-called "German-Americans" the night before. As we knew these people were under suspicion, it did not create a very good impression on me. So when our Intelligence Officer asked me If I could do without this Major, I was charmed to tell him that I could. The Major, therefore, reported to me on his way out of Germany. I wish you should have heard him beg to be allowed to stay. I merely rehearsed to him his own words in our first interview, telling him how much my conscience had hurt me for having taken him away from the splendid assignment in the Third Army which had been offered him. etc. He commenced then on that old line of how much he had given up to enter the Army, - which always makes me mad - and how little it had been appreciated. I called his attention to the fact that he is a Major, at least, and that I, who had been in harness twice as long as he, was still a Captain. He explained this, however, by saying that his majority was due to his special attainments. I am thankful to say that I will not see this man again.
Nearly all of the so-called "German-Americans" here are German at heart and we are very suspicious of them. There is one man here, a Mr. M., who seems to be the center of the American "colony", as they call it. It was to his house that the Major, whom I sent back to Coblenz, went. He claim to have had such large business interests in Germany that our Government allowed him to stay. We know better than this, and we know that his passport is no good. Rather, we have it on pretty good authority that he has made huge sums in the manufacture of schwartzkoph [sic] torpedoes, many of which were undoubtedly used to sink allied ships. At his house every Sunday afternoon are gathered all the German-Americans in the City. This man is just the type of most of the "Americans" here. As long as Germany was winning, they spent their time in decrying America and in villifying Wilson, but when the tables turned they moved heaven and earth to erase the memory of their former statements.
We are having a hard time getting exercise now. Our orders still read to stay in the hotel except on urgent business. The "Y" has gotten us some tennis balls and Barbour and I have invented a sort of billiard game against the walls of my room, and this constitutes about our only amusement.
Lately I have noticed the long lines of men and women waiting in front of the stores. Germany is rationed in every particular; breads meats tobacco, etc, The poor women have to stand sometimes six hours to get to the shop door, only to be told that everything has been sold. Imagine what this is to a housekeeper: it takes her four hours to buy her butter, (if any), two hours for her bread, perhaps as long again for meat, etc, Can you wonder that the children are neglected? Everything is sold by the card. The color of the cards is changed at times, unexpectedly, so as to break up the practice of selling them, and also to protect the owner from having them stolen from him. After a given date, only cards of a certain color are good. This insures the prompt use of the cards and prevents hoarding them. Cigarettes are sold by the piece. American cigarettes have been smuggled in in some way, probably through Cologne. The Germans break the packages open and sell each cigarette for 50 pfennings, and it is surprising how quickly their stock disappears. Chocolate brings 20 and 30 marks a package.
BERLIN, April 8, 1919. I have just taken Col. Jones in and introduced him to the General, and had the pleasure of hearing him say that the Medical Department was doing all that could be wished. I have no idea whether he will be assigned here or not. I think he is of the opinion, which I share, that this office could be more easily run by a man of higher rank.
All Germany is on tip-toes today. The strike did not materialize yesterday, but they fully expect it today. I think it will be a frost. Schereschewsky is much worked up and says we will all be shot, which, of course, is not true. He might be if the Spartacus gain the upper hand, but certainly we are safe. I promised to take him under our protection and he seemed greatly relieved. You see his name is on the black list.
I think the repatriation of the Russians will soon start. Gen. Harries, I know, entertains high hopes. He has just come back from Spa, where he attended a banquet given to Marshal Foch by the American Commission. Gen. Bliss was there also. It was given in the Chateau Sots-Bole.
BERLIN, April 9, 1919. Six months ago today I landed in England, so I shall ask authority to put on my first service stripe. There is a rumor, which I can scarcely credit, to the effect that when we return to the States all the insignia of honorable service overseas are to be taken from us out of deference to those who could not come. This may be thoughtful of their feelings. It is probably a mistake based upon the fact that we are not allowed to wear the Sam Browne belt in the States.
The City is again quiet this morning, though the streets are full of barricades, barb wire and machine guns. If Berlin stays quiet I think the rest of Germany can be handled all right.
Gen. Harries showed me recently a bullet hole in the window casement of his room. It seems that in December he was watching a street fight in front of the hotel, when he was singled out by a sniper and the bullet narrowly missed him. It is imbedded ten inches in the window casing. Being an engineer, Gen. Harries has been able to locate the exact window across the street from which the shot was fired.
Just now the papers are warning us of counterfeit money. Russian Bolshevik agents are right here in Berlin manufacturing counterfeit money, not only that of Germany, but of all nations. This scheme is based upon the idea that if enough counterfeit money is produced it will ruin the monetary values in all countries. I understand that there is so much counterfeit in Germany today that even the banks are afraid to call attention to it. A banker friend of mine called my attention to three 90 mark certificates, which I had, which were counterfeit, yet I have had no trouble in getting rid of them.
BERLIN, April 10, 1919. Lately there have been three Colonels here from G.H.Q. They are a board examining line officers for entry into the regular army. As we cannot leave the hotel, Gailmard and I decided to entertain them in my room, into which the piano has been moved. About 8:30 I went in the General's car after Mrs. I. and her family. I wish you could have seen the surprise on their faces when I invited them into my room. Large as it is, it was filled with American officers, However, they were all soon feeling at home, and, with Gailmard at the piano, we were singing away for dear life. After some selections from the operas, we started in on American songs, and I wonder that the hotel management did not put us out. About ten o'clock, tea was served with Quartermaster cakes and candy. It is most amusing to see these people, who have been shut up in Germany for four years, go after candy. It is almost like trying to fill a rat hole. I think we had a very pleasant evening, and I was glad to be able to return some of the courtesies that have been extended me.
On the way home with the ladies, a guard stopped our automobile at the Brandenburger Tor. As we reached for our passes, I opened the door and told the guard that we were Americans. He politely begged our pardon, saluted and motioned for us to pass. The name, "American", is certainly the magic word and it makes us, who see the faith of the people in us, all the more anxious for America to do the right thing by them, that is, send them food. What would have happened to us, had we proclaimed our nationality in Berlin six months ago?
This has been a big day and has brought the first rift in the clouds that have seemed to hang so heavy over my chances of getting home. This afternoon Gen. Harries said, "Captain, it has come." I asked him if he meant that he had accomplished at Spa what he went after, and the old man's eyes glistened, for he loves to put over big things. In the face of opposition and discouragement on all sides, he had left here to make the Commission at Spa see the necessity of getting these Russians home. He then told me that Marshal Foch had wired him, by way of Spa, to start getting them off at once. Therefore, all of us rejoice over what our General has accomplished. He asked me if I had plenty of medical officers where I could get my hands on them. Inasmuch as he likes prompt action, I was glad I could answer in the affirmative. I begged him to tell me as soon as he knew, the route of evacuation, and this he promised to do, saying, "Your job is the hardest of all now." I hope I can accomplish this last big task with credit. So far, the United States Military Mission has accomplished far more than any other Mission here, and I want my department to hold up its end. I have no idea how long it will take, but the great point is now that we are on the road and not simply marking time, as we have done so long.
Later we had a full meeting of the Commission - much formality and hand-shaking. One does not dare to overlook anyone else. The probable routes of evacuation were discussed, and I presume most of the Russians will go Northeast of here through Dvinck.
I had to take Col. Burnett out to Ruhleben today. That is one of the big race tracks near Berlin, and was used as a concentration camp for English civilians. I remember reading a good deal about the terrible conditions prevailing at this camp before we got into the war. It seemed to be Ambassador Gerard's special pet. Just now Ruhleben has only Russian prisoners, and our American officer there is Maj. Berry, of the old 2nd Kentucky Infantry. He, his son and myself are the only Kentuckians in unoccupied Germany, as far as I know. Col. Burnett was delighted to have a glimpse of a Russian prison camp. It seems so peculiar to us who see them every day. The stables at Ruhleben are fitted up fairly comfortably, the box stalls being utilized as rooms and housing six prisoners each.
I must go over some Italian reports now, so as to dictate an answer tomorrow. The Italians are certainly peculiar people to handle, they are so very sensitive. We have done everything possible to avoid friction. It is a nice diplomatic point just how to handle the Russian Medical Officers in that area of Germany which has been set aside for the Italians to manage. I must accomplish my point and not hurt anybody's feelings. I suppose I will think up some way before morning.
BERLIN, April 11, 1919. I am still rejoicing over the fact that the reparation is about to start. This whole European tangle will be settled after a fashion by the time the Russians are out, that is, it will be settled enough for most of us to go home. It will not be settled finally for years to come, but let us not think of that now. De Salis said yesterday that the real war was just starting, and he ought to know, because he and his family have been in the diplomatic game for years. Above-board diplomacy may work it out - no other kind will.
BERLIN. April 12, 1919. At the Roumanian's last evening we met several officers of the Roumanian army, also a Roumanian Naval Officer. Did you know before that Roumania had a navy? I was at my hostess' right, which I greatly appreciated, but I did not understand why she invited a full blooded German Countess. I believe it a faux pas. This Countess, it seems, is married to a very old gentleman, so old in fact that he rarely goes out. She, on the other hand, is quite athletic and, I understand, plays championship tennis, which may or may not mean very much. I addressed her in the ultra polite third person plural, and it must have pleased her, for she confided to me that she believed the Americans the most polite of all people. I wonder what the French would say to that! She may have been thinking of some tennis balls, which she knew I had been able to procure for a friend of mine. It certainly impresses these Germans for us to quickly produce something for which they have pined for years. In the matter of tennis balls, I understand they resorted to pumping up the old ones, but she said that it was not a success.
I was at a meeting this morning of the four Generals of this Commission. We are to hear the Germans' plan for the evacuation of the Russians today or tomorrow, and wanted to decide on the points upon which to insist. We certainly are not going to allow them to repatriate the Russians in any such way as they were doing in January.
BERLIN, April 13, Mr. Husband is back from Copenhagen, and I went to the Esplanade Hotel last evening to see him. On the way there I passed several barricades, but that is about all that is left of the strike.
I have just been to dine with Gen. Ewart; he had several members of the Commission, principally French and Russian. I find that it is a great advantage to know these gentlemen socially. For instance, I was able to straighten out a fearful tangle during dinner today. The two Ukranian hospitals have caused us lot of worry and while we were eating we reached a very satisfactory conclusion relative to them.
BERLIN, April 14, 1919. My head is buzzing with plans as to the evacuation of the Russians. At the meeting between Gen. Ewart and the German authorities yesterday it developed that the Germans are just as undecided as to a way to get the Russians into Russia as we are. The Germans have made our position here very hard in that they have told the Russians, as early as January 31, 1919, that it was the Entente, not the Germans, who were holding them in Germany. This, of course, is true, because we found that they were being repatriated in a most brutal manner, many indeed dying during, the process. Now, however, Foch says to the Germans: "You have our permission to proceed with the repatriation of the Russians", and they do not knew what to do.
They have sent two notes to Spa, in which they beg to be allowed to this, claiming that it would reduce their expenses enormously. Of course, they told the Russians of these notes and posed as the Russians' good friend, in strong contrast to ourselves. They never dreamed that the time would come when we would call their bluff. Now we have called it, and furthermore, have published in the camps that we were giving the Germans full authority to continue the repatriation, and so we turn the tables on the Boche.
A poster, which has been surreptitiously circulated through the camps, shows how the Germans are courting the friendship of Russia. It presents five pictures, whose legends are about as follows: First: England induces the Russian peasant to leave his home to fight. Second: When the peasant is wounded, the United States runs away with his money and England makes off with all the materials and land. Third: The Russian peasant must break the chains that bind him. Fourth: Even after peace, when he starts to return to his farm, the United States furnished him with money and England offers him arms to induce him to fight. Fifth: The only true friends of the Russians are the Germans, whose agricultural implements will help them to harvest their wheat.
The matter of the Russian peasant breaking his chains is a sop thrown to Bolshevism.
Gen. Ewart said today that he had heard another English Mission was coming to relieve him. I am dreadfully sorry to hear of it, because he is one of the salt of the earth. He said Gen. Haking, at Spa, had entered a strong protest against it. Not only should I hate to lose Gen. Ewart, but it will delay things unless Gen. Harries is placed at the head.
BERLIN, April 15. 1919. It is raining so much now in Berlin that it reminds us of France. Another order is out today again calling our attention to the fact that we must stay indoors. It looks like the elements are in cahoots with our headquarters.
I suppose Gen. Harries has information as to the dangers outside, which we have not. Anyhow. it looks quiet enough to me. As I write a German detachment is passing to quell some disturbance in the Northern part of the City.
BERLIN, April 16, 1919. It was learned yesterday that the repatriation will start on April 19th. That is the best news I have had in a long time, for I believe it will be accomplished more rapidly than anyone thinks.
One never can tell what will happen over night in Berlin. After being quiet for some days, the shooting broke out afresh yesterday afternoon and last night it was quite lively. If Germany really cannot handle this situation then it will be up to us to help her. I think she can handle it if she wants to, and she will want to when peace is signed. Still there is Austria and all that maze of new and old nationalities in the Southeast, to say nothing of the Poles, the Letts, etc., in the Northeast. Anyway, I hope when our job is done, that G. H. Q. will say: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," which G. H. Q. never did and never will say, but they might at least tell us to go home.
I have a full day before me. Must find out, if possible, which way the Russians are to be sent, so that I can be ready. They have given me only a few days, but I can manage it.
BERLIN, April 17, 1919. I lost my temper twice yesterday with the Boche. They are the most conceited people I ever saw, and once an idea gets into their heads you cannot get it out. Here is an example: One of them came to my office and wanted me to forward a letter to America for him. This is an every day request, and we send them all away, for it is forbidden to forward their mail. To keep from hurting their feelings we advise them to go to the Spanish Embassy. I explained all this to the Boche and told where the Spanish Embassy was. "Oh!, no," he said, "you can forward it." I went over the whole thing again with him. He then told me that he knew I was wrong because a friend of his had told him something or other - when I cut him short and told him that when an American said a thing he meant just exactly what he said, and I asked him to leave the office. They have fibbed so much and so often that they presume all others do the same thing.
Again, a man stopped me on the street, and asked me, in a most disagreeable way, "Why does not America send us food?" His manner riled me so that I said, "Why did you sink so many boats which might be very useful just now in bringing you food?" They just will not do, and should be ostracized as unfit for association with the other peoples of the earth.
My tailor told me yesterday that had we not gotten into the war, Germany would have won. I answered that I knew that never could be true, for might never did win over right, and France was right. He said he felt sure that Germany and France would have another war and that Germany would then come out on top. I hoped this war would never take place, for I did not want to have to come back, but if it did occur, we would all come back. He had not thought of that.
I met with a big disappointment today, when I asked to be allowed to accompany an Inter-Allied Commission into Russia to arrange for the reception of the prisoners. It is an opportunity of a lifetime to see Russia under revolutionary conditions. They will go as far as Koons. I was told to detail an officer and I asked to be allowed to go myself. Col. Parker said I must stay right here, as the trip would take at least two weeks.
Whoever goes will probably come back by the way of Warsaw. I have detailed Maj. Nall for the job, and certainly envy him.
This is Good Friday and not a thing is being done that is not necessary. I am going to try to go to church Sunday. I suppose this will not be considered fraternizing with the enemy. Everything is absolutely quiet outside. This may be due to a strike which was scheduled for today. In fact all the hotel personnel is [sic] supposed to walk out at noon, but I scarcely think they will. Anyway, it will not bother us very much, because we will simply put soldiers in the kitchen and go ahead. A strike or a revolution, more or less, does not count. They are making a lot in the papers over the trouble here just now, but really it is not very bad so far as we are concerned. They stop their street battles and let us pass, and they continue to let our Coblenz train run, so that our communications are not cut off.
Placards scattered throughout the hotel announce that 25% will be added to the price of everything in the hotel, rooms included. The Union of hotel workers considers it demeaning to take tips, so they have forced the hotel owners to collect their tips for them, Think of 25% of a hotel bill going to tips! It is now considered against the law to tip a servant, and yet the custom goes gaily on, and unless you do tip you get no service.
BERLIN, April 18, 1919. Tomorrow there is to be a meeting of the Commission. Gen. Ewart is to be relieved and we are all disappointed. There seems to be little justice in the world. Those who stayed the furthest back during the fighting are now popping up and want to get into the game. We call them "Duds" - they failed to go off at the right time but are later very dangerous.
I took a long walk yesterday and am going out again this afternoon, but it is not at all pleasant, one is stared at so.
The hotel strike did not take place. I have not learned the particulars, but I think the people are about tired of strikes and want a rest.
Schereschewsky was up to see me yesterday afternoon. He has enthused me over a trip to Moscow to arrange for the taking over of our sick Russians. Moscow is the seat of the Bolshevik government. Of course, the Entente has not recognized the Bolsheviki as a governing body, but it seems perfectly feasible for me, as a medical officer, to enter into pour parleys with the Bolsheviki in the matter of taking care of the sick. I hope I can make the Commission see my point of view. Schereschewsky says that he feels sure Berlin is in touch with Moscow by wireless, and he is also convinced that the Bolsheviki would be tickled to death to gain this much recognition and would, undoubtedly, put a train at our disposal. He says that if we put on all the decorations we can conveniently carry and treat the Russians as if they were the dirt under our feet that we would have no trouble whatever. I should think the Commission might entertain the idea. Being a doctor, it would be committing them to no definite policy for me to go and it might lead to much valuable information.
BERLIN, April 19, 1919. The bulletin board says it is not advisable for us to go to church tomorrow and I am a bit disappointed. It seems perfectly safe to me, and I think, besides, it would create a very good impression. I suppose, however, Gen. Harries has information which is not at my disposal. In my walk yesterday I noticed a most hostile attitude on the part of the people I met. It is hard to decide whether it is purely hostile, or just an impudent stare - certainly it is most impolite. One does not mind mild curiosity, but for dozens of people to stop, turn around and stare at you is, to say the least, disconcerting. Nothing on earth, not hundreds of years of education, could teach these people the manners of a gentleman. We might as well try to instill refinement into a Hottentot.
BERLIN, April 20, 1919. Easter Sunday morning! I always am more homesick on holidays than at any other time. Undoubtedly not being busy gives us more time to think of home. I tried to instill a little Easter spirit into myself by giving a real, sure enough dinner to little Bruno, the page. He is so thin and anemic, that I went to our mess officer and got cans of bully beef, bread, coffee, sugar, etc., for him. We are not supposed to "feed the enemy", and when the mess officer asked me for whom I intended this food, I told him that I had not inquired the man's nationality. He understood my wink.
We laugh a good deal among ourselves over our inability to maintain the correct and cold punctiliousness which should characterize our attitude toward the Germans. Toward them collectively this is not hard, but individually many of them are very appealing. This little page boy, for instance. Whenever one of us says a good word for the Germans, the rest are sure to chaff him about "weakening." I am glad it is this way, too. One of the best traits of the American is his readiness to let by-gones be by-gones once his opponent has acknowledged himself beaten. I came across a Mrs. C. the other day, who is from Lexington, Ky., and in whose family have been Governors of the State. Poor, old soul is over eighty years old and almost destitute. She came to Berlin over twenty years ago to educate her two daughters, and now, having lost all of her money, is too proud to return home. Miss S. told me about her, and I got up an Easter dinner for her too. Of course, this was done in your name.
10 P.M. About a dozen officers attended the informal services held at the "Y" this morning. Mr. Hoffman read the story of Easter from St. John, and I mentally compared the years of this war with the three days Christ lay in the tomb, and the peace, which is soon to come, to His arising. He died that mankind might be saved - cannot we say this same for the war? It was fought that mankind might be better off.
BERLIN, April 21, 1919. Things are quite normal in Berlin now. Most of the trouble seems to be in Bavaria. The majority of the strikers have gone back to work and tomorrow when the holidays have passed, I expect to see things quite as usual.
You never saw the like of automobiles that have come to light in the last month. The horses, too, are much more numerous. I see many of the latter, which are well fed animals. Dozens of men and women are to be seen riding in the parks. I am told that many of the good looking animals come from the Kaiser's stables. By the way, Gen. Ewart rides one of the Kaiserin's horses. It is peculiar how many German officers, riding in the park, have saluted us. These are the only salutes I have received from the enemy officers.
The whole new British staff arrived yesterday and I shall probably meet them today. The new arrivals seem to feel as badly over Gen. Ewart's going as we do. Gen. Ewart's family history is the history of the British army in India. I think for three generations before him, each man has been a General and has served from twenty-five to forty-two years in India.
BERLIN, April 22, 1919. I was at Gen. Ewart's to lunch again today, and had the opportunity of meeting Gen. Malcolm, who comes to take his place. I was most favorably impressed with Gen. Malcolm. There is nothing of the "Dud" about him, for he wears two wound stripes and walks with a limp of a result. He is a younger and probably a more active man than Gen. Ewart, but I doubt if any one could handle the situation here better than the man whom he replaces. The new Chief of Staff of the Commission is Col. McCready, who is the son of Maj. Gen. Sir Neville McCready, and who is related, I believe, to the actor of the same name. Nearly all of these officers wear the red chevron for having fought in 1914, and a blue chevron for each year thereafter.
Gen. Harries went to Spa tonight and took Gailmard with him. He is to meet Gen. Pershing, I think.
BERLIN, April 23, 1919. Father wrote that the magnolias were in bloom at home, but here it is still cold - yesterday a little snow fell. There is a magnolia in Tier Garten, which is very like our pink ones at home, they are just in bud now, and the trees are outlined in green.
We are busy as can be trying to get three hundred tuberculous Russians into Switzerland. You have no idea the detail which this involves. They must first be examined and collected at convenient points, clothes, food and medical attention must be provided them, passports out of Germany and into Switzerland must be secured, and they must each sign a statement that they will stay a certain length of time. However, I think this is all accomplished and I hope before long the three hundred will go to Constance where the Swiss take charge. The Russian Red Cross is defraying the entire expense of this movement.
I recently procured some facts about tuberculosis in the German army. In peace times the percentage of the disease in the army runs about 1.8 per cent. With the advent of war the percentage jumped to 3.4 on account of the inexperience of the doctors who examined the recruits. This, however, was gradually corrected by more experienced men of the regular army taking hold of things, and in 1917 and '18 the percentage dropped to 1.4 per cent. The various army corps have special sanataria for treating tuberculosis, and maintained at Davos, in Switzerland, a sanatorium for the use of German soldiers. They lay great stress on the length of time which it takes to effect a permanent cure.
BERLIN, April 25, 1919. Just to show you how diplomacy is mixed up with our work, I have been much interested to know what effect on the Italians here the withdrawal of their representative from the Peace Conference will have. If they should see fit to abandon the area which has been put under their control, I will have to be ready to send medical officers to their camps. I keep a little reserve for just such emergencies, for I do not want them to catch me asleep. I enclose an invitation which Major Grant sent me from. Coblenz to attend the horse show of the Army of Occupation. I wish I could go.
BERLIN, April 26, 1919. We are watching Italy with a great deal of interest. Will she try to break up the Entente and throw herself into the arms of Germany? I learned yesterday that the Italian General here has just discovered that his father in Rome is very sick and he must return to Rome at once. It coincides remarkably well with the Italian withdrawal from Paris, but, of course, it may be true.
BERLIN, April 27, 1919. Yesterday morning there was a meeting of the Inter-Allied Commission. Gen. Ewart made his farewell speech. Everybody seemed to know that it was coming, because there was a little extra dressing and a few more medals and ribbons on the various chests than usual. The General thanked each Mission for their loyal co-operation: he then turned the chair over to Maj. Gen. Malcolm. As he arose to go every man of the five nations represented came to his feet. The old General, without a word, shook hands with Gen. Dupont on his right. At that we filed past him and shook his hand. When he reached the door he turned and saluted, and we stood at salute, until the door was closed behind him. A fine soldier, recalled from a difficult task just as his labors were about to bear fruit. He goes tomorrow and I shall seek an opportunity this afternoon to pay my respects to him.
A sub-committee has just been formed, with Gen. Harries at the head. This is to be a sort of executive committee and means, of course, that the real work will fall on Gen. Harries. It is realized that it could delay things a lot unless the work be carried on by some of the old heads.
Yesterday afternoon Schereschewsky took me to a hospital for crippled children, the 0scar-Helene Heim, which is situated in a pine woods just West of Berlin. They are doing splendid work at this hospital. In connection with it is an outdoors school. The German doctor was a most affable gentleman, and the most modest German I have ever met. I found that he had been directly opposite me in the Argonne Forest. When a man is a favorite with children I think he has a lot of good in him, and the children sem to worship this doctor.
Last night I met a real Egyptian, a female, age twenty, with nose and forehead in one straight line, and with hair as black as coal. She looks like the advertisement for Ballard's flour, and goes by the name of Margot Kanvers Kuhe. I do not know what she is doing in Berlin, but presume that it is music.
My room is getting to be a sort of a club. The officers who meet people who can play or sing bring them to my room on account of the piano. Last night two of them came. One brought a South American girl, from Chile. Chile, by the way, was the only South American country which sided with Germany. The other officer brought the Egyptian. In addition to these I also met a Jap. His card read "Admiral Togo". He surely cannot be THE Admiral Togo, for he is much too young - perhaps he is a son.
Poor Berlin! She is again under martial law, with streets barricaded and machine guns much in evidence. The Brandenburger Tor looks like a fort. The reason of this is that a big demonstration was to be staged, - a procession formed of war cripples, - a protest against the partition of Germany. Such demonstrations of war cripples have been held in other cities. Here the Government troops determined to prevent it, hence the barricades and soldiers on every corner. As it is raining a typical April shower I expect no demonstration.
10 P.M. This morning Gen. Harries was presented with the Legion of Honor at 10 o 'clock. It took place at the French Embassy, and we all attended. You never saw such a mass of uniforms of every description and hue, and every man in all the medals and decorations he could find. English, French, Russians, Belgians, Americans, Italians were gathered in the court yard. Gen. Dupont, his own breast ablaze with eighteen of the twenty-eight ribbons he is entitled to wear, made a speech in French. He then tied the cross of a Commander of the Legion of Honor around Gen. Harries' neck and kissed him on each cheek. I caught Col. Ryan's eye during this process of osculation and we both laughed. The ceremony, however, was impressive. It is rather peculiar that in the Legion of Honor, Gen. Harries now ranks Gen. Dupont, for he is a Commander. Gen. Dupont, being a Brigadier General in the French army, can only attain the grade of Officer of the Legion.
Next Gen. Dupont, in the name of Marshall Pertain, presented Major Schoge, U. S. A., with the Croix da Guerre, for heroism on the field.
Later, I went to the British Embassy for a conference with Generals Malcolm, Ewart, Monkewitch and Potocki. At the end of this conference I formally bade Gen. Ewart good-bye. He said some very pleasant things about the work of the Americans.
BERLIN, April 28, 1919. Late yesterday afternoon the barbed wire entanglements, machine guns and barricades disappeared from the streets. The military powers have a way of knowing when and where to be ready and when to withdraw all evidence of force. I think it is truly remarkable. I have seen a part of a street barricaded with barbed wire for just two hours and then all of the evidence of force would be withdrawn. They must have a world of spies working for them. They have a peculiar way of posting a large sign at the head of a street down which they do not wish a mob to go. In large letters is printed: "Who goes beyond this point will be shot." A German rioter will walk up to the sign, as it is held in the middle of the street by two soldiers, solemnly read the warning, and, in spite of his excited mental condition, turn around and proceed in the other direction.
Gen. Harries and Gailmard returned recently from Spa, where Gen. Harries saw Gen. Pershing. Gailmard said he had quite a talk with little Warren Pershing.
Today is the day the German Delegates are to be given the Peace Terms. I should like to be at that meeting, but there have been so many delays one never knows whether it will come to pass or not.
BERLIN, April 30, 1919. We are getting ready for a big social demonstration tomorrow. They are trying to make this an international affair, and no one, all over the world, is supposed to do any work at all. It is an international protest of labor to show capital how strong labor is. I understand that the maids will not even make up our beds. Well, it will not be the first time I have made up mine.
Government troops are busy already this morning, and I expect the familiar barbed wire, entanglements to be out before long.
BERLIN, May 1, 1919. On account of the international demonstration of the socialists everything is as quiet as Sunday morning. No one will work today, but I feel sure that many would like to but are simply afraid. I have already made up my bed, and do not care whether the maids come or not. Our mess officer has arranged for us to have cold lunches today, so you see, we are fixed.
Yesterday three large sacks of medical literature came from the Chief Surgeon's office., The medical officers at the camps are anxious £or something to read, so Barbour got busy and this is the result. Capt. Alberts will distribute this as part of his duties. Barbour has also been able to get magazines through the American Library Association, as well as from the Y. M. C. A., so that we are pretty well up on current literature, including scientific.
BERLIN, May 2, 1919. There is little to tell this morning, because I was, per orders, kept in the house all of yesterday. The General expected some socialist demonstrations. I think very little happened, although I did hear a few shots. The guards were doubled everywhere. This morning the usual sounds are to be heard, so I suppose everyone is back at work.
I have just received orders to be present at the meetings of the sub-committee from now on. I shall enjoy this, for this committee is the main spring in all of this work. They meet with the German representatives on Fridays and Tuesdays, and discuss problems arising in the evacuation of the Russians. Gen. Harries has arranged the room for these meetings in a very tactful way: there are two tables, one for ourselves and one for the Germans. Of course, these tables are covered with a mass of reports, books, etc. We are usually present, except Gen, Harries, when the Germans arrive. There are formal bows and presentation of any new member. Sometimes when a question of shipping is to be discussed, the Germans bring an expert from their shipping department. He must be introduced to each of us, according to rank. When Gen. Harries enters this committee room everybody rises end greets him. If he has a particularly knotty problem to take up with the Germans that morning, he does not fail to bring a box of good cigars. They have a wonderful effect upon the enemy. He treats the Germans almost of children - mildly but firmly. It is surprising how much time can be consumed by the Germans when they wish to be obstinate. For instance, we ask a question about some matter upon which they should be informed; the usual answer is, "We will make a note of this and let you know at the next meeting." Sometimes they say, "This is a matter about which the Commander of the army of the North only is informed; we will communicate with him." Even these evasive answers are secured only after the solemn faced German has carefully wiped his monocle and thoughtfully screwed it into its place. The Prussians affect the eyeglass a great deal. Somehow it gives their faces such an insolent look that is almost offensive. One feels impelled to knock the thing away.
Contrary to our policy, the authorities in Berlin do not attempt to dictate any matter relative to tactics to the Commander of their force in the field. In questions of policy they do, but not in tactics. This is a good idea, too. The man on the ground should know best about the disposition of his troops. It concerns us in this way: We wish to repatriate those Russians who live in what is known as "White Russia", Letland, Burland and that region just Northeast of Germany and yet West of the Bolshevik lines. Whether a number of Russians can be repatriated immediately in the rear of the German army of the North (which purports to be fighting the Bolsheviks in this region), is a question which only the Commander of this army can decide. If he fears that they will prove an enemy in his rear, Berlin does not dare send them. Also it is his business to decide whether he will open his lines and let these Russians through to Dvinck, which seems to be the only logical route just now.
BERLIN, May 3, 1919. Work has so increased that I have had to take Capt. Ashmann into my office. So much of my time is taken up in committee meetings that I needed him.
Col. Pollock, of the British Mission, visited me today. Until I came he and a French Major were the only medical officers here, but he left shortly after my arrival. I think he is more interested in learning of any German advances in the science of medicine than in anything else. However, he came over to inspect my reports today, at my request, and to give me advice. I think he quite approved of the charts I have been keeping. Two walls in the office are covered with plotted curves, showing at all times the number of prisoners, the number of sick, the number of transmissible diseases, the number of transportable cases, etc., that we have in the individual camps.
BERLIN, May 4, 1919 Lieut. Gailmard gave a party last night for Gen. Barnum's A.D.C. The General has come from Spa to pay us a little visit. Gailmard used my room and we had a gay time. It is really a pleasure to see the way the American women eat Quartermaster candy after these years of German food. They also go into ecstasies over white bread, olives, sardines, butter and French fried potatoes. They tell me, and I know it is true, that the German war bread is absolutely unsatisfying. You can eat it until you feel positively stuffed, and you are still hungry at the end of the meal. One lady complained very bitterly of the number of carrots they had been compelled to eat. Carrots figure largely in the German diet in coffee, beer, the jam they have for breakfast, in all of their soups and many of their desserts. It also forms a part of their bread. She said that if she ever got out of Germany she would never look a carrot in the face again. The Germans have become very skillful in inventing attractive dishes out of the little they have. For instance, I ate recently a carrot pie, which was so disguised that you would never have known what was in it.
The German has always laid great stress on eating, many of them indulging as many as six times a day. So when he is now offered substitutes for coffee, tea, bread and even tobacco, he naturally revolts. Cabbage soup without fat is not to his taste. A German wit tells the story of a man who stored up two rooms full of dried leaves, and, when asked the reason, replied: "I have not decided yet whether to sell these leaves as tea or tobacco, it will depend on the price." Formerly it was unheard of, when visiting, not to be offered something to eat, but now we learn many parties are called off because the hostess has been unable to procure anything to appease her guests' appetites.
6 P. M. I was interrupted and have had a big day since I wrote the above. Gen. Harries wanted me to take Gen. Barnum and his Aide to a Russian prison camp. I chose Muencheberg, because it is near and we had a pleasant drive out there this morning. Gen. Barnum was delighted to see a camp and I must say this one looked very well. I acted as interpreter and the German officials were very courteous and showed us over the camp, sleeping quarters, hospital and kitchen. The General also had an opportunity to see the stores which the Red Cross had sent, and which are kept under lock and key by our representative there. We tasted the soup which the Russians eat, and found it a very wholesome and nutritious diet. I was particularly proud of this camp, because the only Allied representative there just now is a medical officer, who not only attends to the work I have assigned him, but assumes the duties ordinarily vested in a line officer.
On the way back Gen. Barnum told me that a private view of Sans Soucci had been arranged for him, and that he should like me to go with him this afternoon.
It seems arrangements had been made with the Minister of Finance for this private visit, and shortly after lunch a Herr Heinich called for us in a big Mercedes car. Not content with a chauffeur alone, he also had a footman. Herr Heinrich is a typical example of the modern rulers of Germany, in that he occupies a fairly high position and seems to think that a soiled collar and baggy trousers are the badge of his position. I think this is a slight concession to Bolshevism, for one of their tenets seems to be that cleanliness should be stamped out as was the old regime.
Anyway we had a most delightful drive, for Herr Heinrich had arranged for us to go by roads that are ordinarily forbidden to automobiles. We drove through the grounds of some beautiful villas which border the Havel River and the Wannsee, and through a beautiful pine woods which Herr Heinich told us was known as "the lungs of Berlin."
Potsdam is apparently a deserted little town whose only claim to notoriety was Frederick the Great and the famous regiment whose headquarters was there. It was called the cradle of the German army.
To my surprise we also motored to the park at Sans Soucci. You should have seen the people stare at automobile being it allowed inside the gates. I, also, had to walk 18 years ago when I visited this park.
Everything was arranged for our convenience. The various palaces had been notified and as we alighted at each, a very solemn gentleman met us, in frock coat and top hat, and we were formally introduced. They proved to be care-takers of a superior sort, who knew not only the history of each palace, but good deal about its art. Thus we are shown through the rooms they acted as guides and told stories of famous incidents that had happened in the historic halls under their care. I translated for the General.
The crowds who were in the park that quite angry at our being allowed to enter some Sans Soucci palace. All of these buildings have been closed since the revolution. Seeing us enter, one German came and asked to enter also. Herr Heinich told him that was impossible; that we obtain special permission. Needless to say here Herr Heinich said this in very loud tones, and I could not help but smile. Here was a representative of the people, who professed the point of view that everyone is equal, and he flew into a rage because the crowd want to indulge in a special privilege. He was evidently delighted at having been chosen to show the General around, and yet the whole procedure was in direct violation of his political views.
We visited Sans Soucci, the Orangerie, the New Palace, where we saw the rooms of the ex-Kaiser, and then were taken to the Imperial greenhouse is to see the wonderful orchids, some of which were valued at 50,000 marks apiece. The head gardener, a really most talented horticulturist, presented each of us with a carnation from the Kaiser's private greenhouse. I'm sure that I saw many things which I did not see when here as a tourist. For instance, the shell room in the New Palace, which was used for Christmas celebrations by the Royal Family, in which the walls were covered with shells and beautiful polished stones. It must be very attractive when lighted up, with these myriad reflections about the walls.
I was very glad to be of some little assistance to Gen. Barnum because he married a New Albany [Indiana] girl, and that seems very close to home, and because of his hospitality while I was at Spa.
BERLIN, May 5, 1919. In yesterday's letter I failed to mention some Chinese astronomical instruments which we saw at Sans Soucci, and which date from 800 B.C. They, of course are priceless and are a more value to China than to any other country. During the Boxer trouble the German troops stole these instruments and sent them to Berlin. The present government is packing them up to send back to China, "because it does not believe in booty."
I was interested in also seeing many objects which were evidently the personal property of the Royal Family, being crated. There is a commission now at work, whose duty it is to determine the personal property of the former Kaiser and his family. Prince Adele, who is here, represents the Kaiser. I saw boxes of books and one bust of the Crown Princess, which were labeled "property of Her Majesty, the Empress." Castles, etc., are the property of the state. This is the most favorable thing that has come to my notice relative to the new Government.
The so-called American colony in Berlin, which I mentioned before, received a shock yesterday when Mr. ------ dropped dead. He was sort of head to this Colony, and his house was used almost as a Club. I went there only once, and I received a most adverse impression. The faces of those you meet are distinctly Teutonic, though they talk English. Each one explains to you how he happened to stay in Germany during the war and you instinctively feel each is covering the real cause. The first man I met there was the newspaper correspondent, Karl H. Wiegand. He is supposed to be the only foreign correspondent to have access to the Kaiser during the war.
Yesterday Maj. Thorburn called my attention to one of the captured guns which is at the base of the Hindenburg statue. He has identified it by its number as being one of the guns taken from his brother's battery in 1914. He sent a picture of this gun to his brother with his compliments.
There are several naval officers U.S.N. here today, having motored down from Hamburg. I think they have been superintending the putting into commission the steam ship Imperator. No work has been done on the Imperator for four years, and, inasmuch as she is the largest ship afloat, the Allies have demanded her. In the four years she has settled a good deal in the mud.
Berlin, May 6, 1919. Lately there have been so many little things that point toward our getting home before very long. I do not see very clearly how it could be done before we have repatriated these prisoners, but I should not be surprised if, after peace is signed, the allies do not turn the whole thing over to the Germans, leaving, perhaps, the Red Cross here to manage the food. Maybe this feeling of mind about getting away is caused by reading of so many going, the breaking up with the bases, the clearing out of the S. O. S., the closing of a number of ports and a report that half of the A.E.F. is home. Yesterday we discussed the disposition of our records.
BERLIN, May 7, 1919. I have sent Barbour to investigate the camp at Salzwedel, and he will be gone two days. I can hardly spare him in the office now, but as he has never seen a camp it was a good opportunity. Many of the refugees from Kiev are at Salzwedel. They fled from the Bolsheviki in 1916, but never got any further than this concentration camp at Salzwedel. While their lot may have been hard there, it certainly was better than falling into the hands the Bolsheviki.
Today Germany gets the peace terms. It is very fitting that they should come on the date that the Lusitania went down. That was a bad day's business for Germany, but I believe they will never learn. One of their compatriots said "even the gods fight in vain against ignorance."
BERLIN, May 9, 1919. We are confined to the hotel for fear of some unpleasantness. The newspapers are raving over the peace terms. I was out yesterday but did not noticed anything disagreeable in the manner of the people toward me. I think they were prepared for pretty bad conditions, but I do not believe these conditions are so very bad.
The Saturday Evening Post writer, George Pattullo, is here. I talked with him yesterday and he certainly has seen and heard a lot.
We've just learned of a telegram which was sent to the German government by their representatives at Versailles. It reads in part as follows: "It is herewith requested that the officers and commissions of our enemies at present on German territory be especially protected. They should be advised to go out only in civilian clothes. This is meant foremost for American subjects against whom, in all probability, the greatest fury of the disappointed populace will turn." You can see from this that they believe Wilson is going back on his word and fear that the people may take us as a tangible object of their fury. This is foolish, of course.
Do not get it into your head we are in any danger, for I assure you that we are perfectly safe. We are undoubtedly hated. German hate is just now turned our way. It is like a stream from a hose, directed this way and that, and just now we are in the line for it. Three days ago they liked us very much. They fear us and, therefore respect us. It is quite a joke as to which prison camp we prefer. Someone suggested that, in the end, the Germans might establish a German Commission for the repatriation of United States Military Mission. The only thing I dislike about it is that we must stay indoors.
Everyone is wondering whether they will sign for not. Probably they will do a lot of talking and then sign. The papers, however, say they will not and will never will sign such treaty. Really, what difference does make? We cannot sincerely believe that they would keep any treaty they did sign, for after all, it is just a scrap paper.
BERLIN, May 10, 1919. I just finished reading all of the papers I can get hold of. They certainly do talk in a most disagreeable manner about President Wilson. They defy you to find a single one of his fourteen points in the Peace Treaty, which is absurd. Recently there was published a widely circulated joke at Wilson's expense. The reporter asks him, upon his return home, "what about the fourteen points, Mr. President?", and he replies, "I did not even unpack them." The Germans so often say that they have stopped fighting on his fourteen points. These, however, were made known in January, 1918, and it was not until November, after their big offensive of March, April and May had been launched and had failed, that they accepted them. I wonder if we would have heard anything about fourteen points from the Germans if their last offensive had been successful; had they not known that they were on their last legs they would never have accepted them.
BERLIN, May 11, 1919. There's quite feeling of mystery in the air. Orders have been issued for us all, outlying camps as well as headquarters, to be ready to move on two hours' notice. Capt. Mann, the Adjutant, has worked out a schedule of evacuation to the most minute detail.
The Kriegsministerium sent us an ominous inquiry as to our numbers and just exactly where the different attachments were, "so that they might make up trains for their evacuation." It looks like they might not sign and were expecting trouble. It is all bluff, probably. Col. Ryan, who had some unpleasant experiences in Mexico, says that we should insist upon a pilot engine proceeding our train in order to catch any bombs that might be on the track.
The feeling here has grown very strong against us. This is probably due to Brockdorff-Rantzau's wire from Paris, asking them to protect the Americans in particular. It is like a red rag to bull, of course. Our guards have been doubled and we are almost like prisoners. Capt. Elders has succeeded in renting the beautiful garden which along to Prince August Wilhelm. It is right near the hotel and we can get exercise their at least.
Some of the people here seems so dazed by hunger and care that one notices no difference in their behavior now and before the peace terms were published. They seem to have lost even that strong German characteristic, hate. But the majority are realizing, for the first time, that they must pay for their sins. Heretofore, they have readily acknowledged that they were wrong and would say that they wished that it had not happened. They blame everything on the Kaiser, but they think now because the Kaiser and military party have gone, that they should go scot-free. They're just beginning to take in that they must make good on all the havoc they have wrought. I heard them declare that they were very sorry that they had taken the milk cows from Belgium, but now that they must give up the same number of cows, they squeal like pigs. It has not penetrated yet that they are merely giving up stolen goods; they assume that something is being taken away from them.
Their boast was that they had kept the enemy out of their land and fought the war on enemy territory. They did do this and it was a fine feat of arms, but now they must pay back, out of their homes, brick for brick, tree for tree and mine for mine. Why did the Armistice have to come just as the enemy was about the break into utter route? To drive home their defeat they needed a complete disaster in the field. Ten more days with done it, we are told. But the German clings to the fact that although retreating their army was still able to fight. If the Armistice was to prevent further bloodshed would not have been a good idea to have made the first clause in the Armistice's terms read: "every German soldier shall lay down his arms where he now stands." That would have necessitated their returning to their homes unarmed and would have prevented their being welcomed as "victorious troops."
Psychologically they have not yet been beaten, and so that these terms might give them quite a jolt. It was a queer twist of the German brain that makes it hard for them to understand that by merely saying, "Pardon me!", the whole thing could not be settled. They know that they would have accepted huge penalties, but that we should do so is unheard of. They still think that they are a higher and different type of man, not bound at all by the same standards. Thank God, they are different!
I do not understand taking away of so much German soil. As a ground principal, it seems to me that it is the nest egg for future trouble, but I have not gotten a full text yet. Danzig is ninety percent German. I wonder also why Japan should get so much of China, but I must wait and see why this must be done.
Just now I'm sorry of it. The papers swear that they will never sign that treaty, but they will, perhaps with certain protests. I wonder Congress will ratify it - I have my doubts.
NOON. All of my work is done and I've read the morning papers and have had what exercise I can get out of a half hour's pitch and catch in the court.
The papers are full protests from all parts of Germany about taking away of German soil. Danzig is wild. That quarter of southeastern Germany which is to go to the Poles swear that they will arm themselves and fight. I do not see much use in my getting out of the Army, for we will all be back again, but that is a mere detail.
I got hold of some figures yesterday which I think are correct. They pertain to the killed and wounded in the German Army, and the totals are appalling. They run up to the end of March, 1919:
|Died of disease||147,686|
Prisoners are not included in this list. There are no separate figures available for the number of killed in battle and those who died of wounds.
The German government recognizes four grades of disability ranging from 10 to 100%. Those disabled from 1/10 to 1/3 number 282,023; those from 1/3 to ½, 155,575; those from ½ to 2/3: a, 63,861; 2/3 to total, 79,963. Total 581,422. These figures seem small, but it must be borne in mind that they represent the number of cases definitely settled up to the end up into February, 1919; an average of from 20,000 to 30,000 claims are adjusted each month, and the total of cases when all are finally disposed of, will probably amount to 3,000,000. And to think that it might all have been avoided but for the vanity of the few men!
BERLIN, May 12, 1919. I'm going out today if I have to invent some "urgent business" to go on. I just cannot stand this house any longer, beautiful as it is. The sunny shining and it is warm. Anyway, I have lost a filling from a tooth, and I consider that "urgent business".
Today is the beginning of sorrow week, which will be observed all over Germany as a protest against partition of the father land. I wonder what good they think it will do. Belgium was in sorrow for four years and northern France will be for always.
LATER. There is an enormous demonstration scheduled for tomorrow, and an extra order for us to stay indoors. I just been out and they do look ugly; they stare and try to jostle you and they have that nasty trick of spitting near you. I suppose it is a refined bit of kultur. How anyone could ever see the faintest trace of refinement in these people I cannot understand - they stand somewhere between the monkey and a man, but much nearer the monkey.
BERLIN, May 13, 1919. The people are certainly in an ugly humor. Such black looks you never saw. Rumors are floating around, at least one every hour, that "Germany will never sign"; that "Hindenburg is gathering an army and will fight to the last", etc. If they do fight we would just have to sit tight here at the Adlon and wait for Pershing, I suppose. Already, before breakfast this morning, for that is the time I usually write you, two troops of soldiers have passed the hotel, getting ready, I suppose for the meeting this afternoon. I noticed many more officers on the streets now-a-days and that the saluting is much better.
There's another meeting of the small committee today. I imagine the Germans will be even stiffer and more formal to the last time, but Gen. Harries manages them very well, though he talks pretty straight to them when the occasion arises.
BERLIN, May 14, 1919. Yesterday was a memorable day. A big demonstration took place at 5 p.m. before the Reichstag Building. I did not see it, but there must have been 50,000 people there. About 6 o'clock the whole lot of them came past hotel, streaming down Wilhelmstrasse to collect in front of the Chancellor's Palace. There were red flags and red banners and no other kind. There's something ominous about red flag - it seems so bloody. Some of the signs they carried were too funny; many read, "Down with an enforced peace", and one, with true German logic, read, "Down with a dictated peace". I wonder if there was every peace that was not dictated, and I wonder if the Germans did or did not dictate the peace of Brest-Litvosk [sic] and that of Bucharest.
The mob was fairly well behaved and confined to itself to yelling, "Down, down, down", presumably meaning of the down with such a peace. About 8:30 in the evening in the real show started. I was writing in my room when I heard the roar. I've seen so many mobs here that I knew what was coming and sure enough they were marching up the Unter den Linden. My rooms look down the Wilhelmstrasse at its junction with the Linden. Soon I distinguished that they were marching slowly and singing, and lo! they sang, "the Watch on the Rhine", another strange piece of German psychology for who is the "Watch on the Rhine" just now?
If you have read Torrington's "A Gentleman from Indiana", and remember how the mob went to singing down the road on its way to kill White Caps, you will get a good idea of my feelings as I waited to see this mob cross the Wilhelmstrasse. The sound of their singing swelled slowly as the approached, and it rolled in great waves down the Wilhelmstrasse. Such a crowd I had never seen. From curb to curb and on the Linden that is a great distance, a solid mass of them, singing their ancient battle song. They were well behaved, I admit, and the whole thing was impressive.
This particular demonstration was meant for us, because they gathered directly in front of the Adlon. Many speeches were delivered. The mob seem to be of the better class. The speakers pointed out that our Mission was not to blame and that we must not be assaulted. Two machine guns and troupe of Government soldiers, together with the uncertainty of what we might have waiting for them, helped convince them that it was better merely to "demonstrate". Finally, they poured down the Wilhelmstrasse, to gather in front of the Chancellor's Palace.
Everything is being done to invoke a national spirit again. You see, after the revolution that spirit was gone, everyone was pulling in a different direction. This peace is being used to re-unite the people, and really it is not a bad idea, because if Germany collects herself she can fulfill the peace conditions much better.
Rumor is again busy, and Hindenburg and his supposed army in the East play a big role in all of these tales. He is said to have a splendid army, too. The Germans also use Bolshevism as a great threat, some of them even advocating forcing the Entente to occupy Germany, and in that way spread Bolshevism in their ranks.
I still think Germany will sign under protest, order will be restored and she will become a big nation, Bolshevism will disappear out of Germany and all this talk is mere bluff.
BERLIN, May 14, 1919. Gen. Harries is not feeling well but insisted on being fully dressed. If I am to assume charge of his case, I shall prescribe the uniform, which, for him, must be pajamas. I wish he could get out of this atmosphere of hate for while; he has worked too hard and has been too closely confined.
There's another big mass meeting to be held tomorrow evening, and I guess we are in for some trouble.
I had a talk with a German Captain today. He is of the old regime, and I never knew anyone so bitter. After we had transacted our business, he fell to talking of the peace terms. His face turned red, the veins in his neck and forehead swelled until I thought they would burst; between his teeth he fairly hissed that the French just want to make coolies and slaves out of the Germans and that not one hundred pounds of coal would France ever get out of the Zaar mines. He told of the indignities which the German officers had suffered at the hands of the rebelling troops, and how, in self-defense, they had had to take off their insignia of rank, or resort to civil clothes and, and said that after suffering all that if France thought she could impose such terms, she was mistaken. Although I was anxious to hear what he had to say, I felt that my duty toward France would not allow me, so, in order to stop him, I arose and he immediately saw the point. He was deeply in earnest and took several moments to recover himself.
BERLIN, May 15, 1919. Gen. Harries is better today. In fact, he is in a fighting mood. He called representatives of the German Government to him yesterday afternoon and told them not to allow the crowd to collect in front of this hotel again; that he did not intend to stand for any more demonstrations. It will be interesting to see what occurs this evening.
10 P.M. The mob of this afternoon was most orderly; the General's warning to the authorities had its effect. I wonder just how much the Government is interested in stirring up these mobs!
The General has just told me that he wants to go to Spa tomorrow evening, and that I am to go with him. It is the best thing for him, but I had not counted on going. He could not choose a better place to recover than Spa; beautiful shady lanes, splendid trees, no care and a complete change of scene and diet. I shall enjoy the trip but it will be hard - a sick man is difficult enough to care for on a train, but what shall I do with a sick General? Then, too, I might miss something interesting here in Berlin.
It is not a good time for me to be away, for I have the disposition of all the Medical Personnel, and now that trains may start any day to Bucharest and Kovno, I shall have to select the officers who are to go. However, I know Barbour will handle it all right. I am going to leave everything just as it is in my room and trust that I shall return. It is not a very soldierly thing to do, for I should pack up and leave only my trunk and bedding roll, but I feel sure that I shall be back here in a day or two.
BERLIN, May 16, 1919. It is early and I believe I am the only one up in the hotel, but I have a lot of work to do today in order to get off this evening.
The night passed quietly and I believe the feeling is coming around toward a sane point of view - that they must sign and do their best. It is wise for them to throw themselves upon the mercy of the world - they will get better than a square deal.
LATER. You have no idea what trouble it is to get ready for a trip; first, to secure the compartments, which the General insisted must be communicating, then our travel orders and our passes. You know there is no communication between occupied and unoccupied Germany, except by means of a pass. That, in itself, is not so bad, but if one wishes to travel all over Germany it means that his pass must be stamped not only by Prussia, but by Bavaria, Baden and other kingdoms, each of which is jealous of their prerogatives. This impedes our work a good deal.
SPA, May 17, 1919. We had a most comfortable trip from Berlin. A sick General is a very pleasant traveling companion - I never knew a more considerate man.
We left Berlin in style yesterday evening. Maj. Fally, our R. T. 0., having arranged for us to board the train through the Emperor's private entrance at the Potsdam Station. This created no little curiosity on the part of the populace, but resulted in may respectful bows from the railway officials.
We had a delightful breakfast this morning of sandwiches and trench coffee, which is a most convenient thing for traveling.
Germany is certainly a beautiful country - the forests and meadows looking as prosperous as can be. Everywhere we saw yellow patches of mustard, which showed distinctly against the green background. We saw no cattle whatever.
As we entered the English bridge-head, the Scotch guard came on board and examined our passes. At Cologne we picked up Gailmard, and reached Spa about the middle of the afternoon. Gen. Barnum and his staff made us feel very welcome, and have been doing everything to amuse us since.
As we left the train this afternoon I noticed a fat, round headed German who attempted, most obsequiously, to speak to Gen. Harries. It was most obvious that the General snubbed him. He then tried to attract my attention, but I followed the General's lead. Afterwards I learned that this man was Maj. Pabst von Ohain, Chairman of the German sub-committee for prisoners of war. It seems that he has lately made a speech in Berlin, in which he referred to his attempt to have the German prisoners repatriated, or their condition improved, and he made mention of the fact that he had met with opposition on the part of the Entente, and, particularly, on the part of this Commission. This matter was reported to Gen. Dupont by a French officer, who heard it. Dupont promptly requested Minister Erzberger to send him the exact text of the speech, "in order to verify the French officer's statements." However, before this could be done Marshall Foch ordered Major von Ohain to leave Spa on the ground of defamatory statements. The Berlin press was quite indignant and made mention of the fact that the Major had helped to repatriate 800,000 enemy prisoners. After this afternoon's experience, the Major will probably not attempt to speak to an American officer again.
Strange as it may sound, the Germans actually considered sending Bernstorff as one of their representatives to Versailles. Gen. Harries was sounded out about this by the German Government, and, needless to say, the General told them that every American representative would undoubtedly leave the room the moment Bernstorff made his appearance.
I expected to go back tomorrow night, but the General says I need a rest. I cannot gain-say him, of course, but to you I can say that I have no such need.
You cannot imagine how I have enjoyed getting out of the Adlon Hotel and the atmosphere of hostility which pervades Berlin. Here it is warm and sunny and it is certainly good to get green grass under your feet again. It is a delight to look in any direction, the foliage is so beautiful. From one window I can see a wireless station, by means of which we communicate with G. H. Q. and Paris.
We watched Gen. Barnum and others play tennis this afternoon on a court near this villa.
Just before supper they took us for a drive and I got to see more of Spa. The villas around about, now occupied by the various Missions, were used once by high German officials. The Kaiser lived at Villa Fraineuse. We also saw the Hotel Britainique [sic] which was, at one time, the German G. H. Q., and from which the German Plenipotentiaries started in November to meet Foch. It was here also that the Emperor resolved to fly to Holland on November 9th. It is quite fitting that the negotiations of this Commission should now take place in this same hotel.
American members of this Commission say that Von Winterfelt, the German representative, has always presented a most soldierly bearing, and has never failed to hold his head high in the conferences. He seems to have gained their respect. It was Gen. Von Winterfelt who represented the German army in the historic meeting with Foch on November 8, 1915.
SPA, May 18, 1919. This morning some rode horseback but I played tennis, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In the afternoon three of us drove to Liege. It is one of the most beautiful drives I ever took. Belgium is lovely; the streams, the hills, the meadows and forests are so peaceful and inviting. There is plenty of stock and everywhere finely tilled lands. I was interested in seeing the milkmaids carrying two pails of milk suspended by a yoke from their shoulders.
One thing we noticed was the English army all along the road. They seem to be supplied with any number of motor trucks, and, strange to say, every truck is headed toward Germany, as though ready to move at a moment's notice. It really was remarkable how universally this was done. The English keep their rolling stock in the best condition as any army I have ever seen.
Liege is a town of 200,000. I think fully half of these are children. I have never seen such hordes of them, even in Southern Germany. It is different from France. We drove out to see several of the forts which surround the town, one of them being Fort Loncin, which held out to the last and in which Gen. Lemon was found unconscious. It is surprising what havoc those 42 centimeter shells made in these forts: the concrete blocks, 12 feet thick, were splintered and tossed many yards. In my ignorance I could not tell that a fort was near until it was pointed out. A number of them are on high points, but are so near the level of the ground that you hardly notice them. After one gets inside, however, and looks about one realizes their great strength.
Anyone who tells you that Liege is wrecked or who wishes to obtain money for the re-building of Liege, is certainly not informed about the condition of that City. In our drive there today we noticed no destruction whatever, except to the forts. I have no doubt there has been destruction of some buildings.
Gen. Harries, I am glad to say, is already looking better.
I hear that Brockdorff-Rantzau is in Spa today. Gen. Pershing and Gen. Bliss were here a few days ago and Marshal Foch quite recently. The best I can do is to eat in the same room as did these latter gentlemen. Of one thing I am happy: I understand that each of the great men just named is now impressed with the fact that we must get our Russian prisoners home, and that will help us a lot. Up to now I have never believed that they realized the importance of this step.
Gen. Harries has a peculiarly intimate association with Gen. Pershing. Twenty-eight years ago Gen. Pershing was under Gen. Harries, one being a First Lieutenant and one a Second Lieutenant in the same troop. That was in the days of the Indian Campaigns in the West, Gen. Harries being one of the few men I have ever seen wearing the Indian Campaign badge. SPA, May 20, 1919. Yesterday morning one of the officers took Gailmard and myself on a most delightful walk. Of course, at a health resort like this there are numerous paths through the woods, along the little mountain streams. It reminds one of Colorado Springs in miniature. The walk we chose could not have been mere beautiful, and I am sure I appreciated it the more for my four months confinement at Berlin. It was surprising to see the hills covered with a shrub, which very much resembles the Scottish heather. On our walk we saw Maj. Gen. Sir Richard Haking, the English General who re-took Lille.
After more tennis in the afternoon, in which Gen. Barnum proved to be not only a good General but a good sport, we were tendered a fine party. Cars had been sent to Coblenz and Liege to bring the female contingent. Three Y. M. C. A. girls came from Coblenz, Lady Haking and her two nieces from Spa and four Belgian ladies from Liege. At dinner I sat between a very vivacious Belgian and one of the English girls. All together it was a very pleasant evening. One of these "Y" girls told me that her husband was an officer with the Marines, and that he and she both had been overseas since the beginning. How whole-heartedly some families have gone into the war.
May 21, 1919. I am on the train bound again for Berlin. Gailmard and I left Spa yesterday evening. I had a shock when I found that one of the "Y" girls had, through mistake, taken my grip to Coblenz with her, but I am sure it will meet me in Cologne for I telephoned Coblenz and the courier will bring it to me. The code name for Coblenz is "Doodlebug", and it seems funny to solemnly tell exchange to give you "Doodlebug".
Yesterday afternoon Gen. Barnum and two autos full of officers were invited to Liege to the Chateau of Madame P. She and her two daughters were at the dance. She owns a beautiful estate upon which is a splendid tennis court. The grounds are very extensive and well kept. While some played tennis, the rest of us walked about the place. At one point in the grounds there is a very high bluff with the River Muese at the foot of it. The view up and down this valley is superb, and reminded me of the Kentucky River. This very spot must have been a point of vantage for we found Boche trenches everywhere.
The people tell interesting stories of the way the Germans treated them during the four years; some are pretty bad. In many instances, however, the German officer respected the families in which he was billeted. I am told that there was always displayed the coldest sort of contempt on both sides.
I am sure the Germans must have been glad at heart to get out of a country where they were so unwelcome.
Most of the people I meet here speak a little English and with the little French I have picked up, we get along fairly well. Our hostess served tea, and made us have a most delightful time.
We got back to Sois-Bois in time for a hasty supper and then were off for the train. I tried to let them know what a wonderful time I had had while there - more hospitable people I have never seen. In telling Gen. Harries good-by, I asked him when I would see him again, and he said: "You just sit tight at the Adlon Hotel and in case the Germans do not sign the peace treaty I will come to you, you may count on it."
BERLIN, 10 P. M. Here I am back at my own desk again in the Hotel Adlon. We had quite a time getting over from the station, as Berlin is staging a tremendous demonstration. The Majority Socialists gathered in front of the Chancellor's palace on the Wilhelm Platz, while the Independents held their meeting before the Kaiser's palace. The former are against signing the peace treaty, while the Independents, which represents the working element, are very much for signing it. The Independents recruit their following from all over Berlin and its suburbs. It appears that 40 local trade unions had met previously and demonstrated in different parts of the City, then they marched with red flags to the Luetgarten. This open space was filled by the settled ranks of tens of thousands of them, so that it was necessary for ten speakers, at different places, to address the crowds at once. One of the speakers, named Wurm, made this statement: "In this hour it is up to the working people to show whether they have any power to prevent war from breaking out anew. This will occur if the peace terms, extravagant as they are, are not signed." Haase also spoke before the old museum. He went on record for the immediate signing of the peace conditions by the existing Government, whose leaders were responsible for the lengthening of the war. "Afterwards," he said, "the treaty means nothing more than a scrap of paper."
These two meetings of Majority Socialists and Independents, just about the time I was coming from the station, marched against each other, the one shouting, "Down, down, down," meaning down with the present Government, the other shouting, "Hoch, hoch, hoch", meaning long live the present Government. One of the signs carried had the very emphatic legend, "To the Hangman With Such a Hellish Peace." This afternoon I heard, for the first time, the Internationale sung. The Independents sang it on their way to meet their opponents.
BERLIN, May 22, 1919. For a wonder we have no demonstration today. Any day without its demonstration seem almost stupid. A most interesting demonstration did take place some days ago in which those Germans took part who lived in foreign countries but who have been in Germany since the war. These are probably reserve soldiers recalled to the Fatherland when war was declared. The signs which they carried indicated that they came mostly from Russia, though there were groups from England and even Egypt. The wording on these signs made it appear that they had been driven from the country, but in all probability they came back to Germany willingly enough. I wonder if any who came from America were present.
The American Red Cross has now moved to the American Embassy Building, which is much more convenient for us. Colonels Ryan and Taylor have their private office in Ambassador Gerard's room. On Gerard's desk I saw his book, "Four Years in Germany".
I went to the Embassy to see Col. Taylor this morning, and asked him if he had gotten the Lusitania medal which he had promised to get for me. He thereupon handed me one, and refused to let me reimburse him for it. I was particularly glad to get this medal, for, although they were quite plentiful when we came, the Government has since stopped the sale of them, You know the Germans always denied that such a medal was struck. I understand that the first medals issued had the date, May 5th, on them. The Lusitania was sunk on May 7th. Whether this is true or not I do not know, but it has been used as an argument that the German Government predicted the date upon which the Lusitania would be torpedoed. I am reminded just now of two other falsehoods that I have been able to prove on the Boche. I remember writing you from Southern Germany that I had talked with several German officers and had asked them what they knew about Bernhardi's book, "How Germany Makes War". They looked at each other blankly and declared that they had never heard of such a book, or of such a man as Bernhardi. One of them dimly remembered that an officer by that name had been connected with the German army at one time. I think Bernhardi was on the General Staff. I repeated this experience one evening to Col. Shartte, Chief of Staff of the American Commission at Spa, and he remarked: "Well, I was Military Attache at Berlin from 1911 to 1915, and Gen. Baesler, the German General who took Antwerp and was afterwards Governor of Poland, told me, in 1913, that he had reviewed this book and recommended my reading it. It was just off the press at that time. I did read it and made a formal report on it to the War Department, so you see it was known in Germany and was well thought of."
I also remember writing you that I had been unable to find anyone who knew about the "Hymn of Hate", written by Lisauer. The other day I talked to a Russian who had spent almost his life in Germany. He said that he had heard it sung many times, and even had heard it recited at vaudeville shows where it was greeted by great applause. He believed that it was also taught in the schools. He also told me that he understood it to be a fact that the schools gave a holiday celebrating the sinking of the Lusitania. So you see, it is impossible to believe a word the Germans say. Why do we sign a treaty with them? Who believes that they will respect it?
Mr. George Pattullo is sick, I am sorry to say. He certainly has had rare opportunities for seeing things, and is one of the most charming talkers I ever listened to.
BERLIN, May 23, 1919. I am sending you a copy of an article which appeared in a newspaper here, called 'Der Tag". Of course the Germans in unoccupied Germany rarely get to the occupied regions, so that their information of what goes on within our lines is rather meager. You can see from this article how the Germans are trying to break up the Franco-American friendship, and how they encourage and dilate on fancied insubordination in the ranks of our army.
"AMERICAN 'CHAMPIONS OF CULTURE'
(From 'Der Tag' Berlin, Nay 22, 1919)
By one, who has just returned from a lengthy visit on the Rhine, we are told,
"When the armistice was declared, there came into the region between Hundrueck and Eifel Scharen yellow-clad soldiers who were received with their pretension as being "Champions of Culture". The population was delighted that no blue-clad Frenchmen were sent to them, and wished to welcome the arrivals from beyond the seas, even though unwelcome, with polite deference. The American 'cockroaches ' knew how, in the shortest time, to make themselves disliked in the highest measure. The bitterness of city and country folks is general and passionate.
"They live, in the territory occupied by the Americans, in absolute outlawry. In unoccupied Germany no one has any conception of how rotten are conditions beyond the Rhine. Many believe that they swim in milk and honey (bacon and bliss) there. As a matter of fact, one feels nothing but the insult of being gagged and enslaved with all rights gone. They live under the cudgel of the 'policemen'.
"We are considered even today as the despised slaves of the Kaiser. They want to bring to us 'freedom'. But I have gotten acquainted with none other than 'wild west manners.' There are certain ones still who offer as excuse that the American soldiers are people who up till now had scarcely seen a railway and their officers say themselves that the enlisted personnel is as much as 50 per cent illiterate. So much the worse that they have dared to send such backward peoples into this land hallowed by culture. What little reverence for German institutions underlies it all, that they send such degenerates to fall upon our necks? The individual is sociable-as long as he is sober. But from 7 o'clock in the evening sobriety ceases. They do not know wine and drink down little quarter-glasses, as if they were guzzling 'drinks' at their bar at home. At 9 o'clock the majority of the American public house visitors are disgustingly drunk (sternhagelvoll). Then the inhabitants are terrorized.
"In fours and fives they fall upon the harmless pedestrians going their peaceful way. They demand 'souvenirs'. But they do not politely ask for them, but waylay the approaching stranger with doubled fist, hitting him under the chin, and robbing him of his walking stick or his watch. If the victim accidently falls, they take his purse too. Also a blow with the knife serves them in good stead. At revolver shooting they are also in practice. If at times living targets are their stake, then the joy of the sport increases. In peace times we have often laughed heartily ever the antics of the 'Arizona Kicker.' For three long weeks I had the opportunity to become acquainted with the pretended fables of an unspeakably sad truth, enacted on German soil.
"They admit themselves to be the 'Victor', always to those who don't want to hear them tell about it, in most naive fashion making use or their fists as their right of military superiority. They take possession of billets without official permission and drive the inhabitants out of their best rooms.
"In crowds they swarm into private homes and demand 'wine and blonde girls.' From the principal of a girls school an American demands that a 'girl' be given over to him. Two women school teachers on the Moselle were violated by three Americans as they (the women) were on their way home; a servant girl in an isolated mill was almost choked to death. Even in the homes standing on the busy streets in the larger towns they come in and attack old women. In smaller villages they break window panes and looking glasses in private homes with especial rage. Also chairs and pianos fall under their passion for destruction. With utter carelessness inconsiderate of all propriety they bring their loose women into their billets and debauch there with doors open. The 'Pershing mattresses' are decried everywhere.
"It is a pleasure to live amid American culture. When the American soldiers have stood for hours long before the public houses the pavement looks like a heavy rain had fallen. Their throats must have become dried up from so much spitting and are so much more in need of being moistened by alcohol.
"One will ask, why does not the population complain? Because it has not the remotest confidence in the American conception of justice. Whoever appears as complainant, makes himself liable to be charged with guilt, if he speaks the truth. 'You are a liar' is one of the common rejoinders which is pronounced to the complainant and witnesses by the judge. Whoever appears before an American tribunal is already convicted. The defender doesn't get to speak a word for the judgment is already passed. It is not permissible that we cite individual cases for we would expose those persons whom we named to the liability of being themselves punished. If the American court sticks to standards it is not known to the people. It appears to me as if every conviction were a very arbitrary proceeding. It is hard to live where an American regiment is. 'We stand', as someone put it, 'with one foot in prison.'
"When the German soldiers staged their revolution, it happened that discipline was slackened. The soldier of the American culture makes his saluting as vigorous as did the German in peace times. The chauffeurs in the motor trucks wait hours long until morning before the dance halls where the officers are amusing themselves with their 'mistresses'. Everybody (the Americans) is sore but haven't yet rebelled. All say the same thing, officers and men, 'we are not going to remain in Germany later than July.' They all have boundless homesickness. A continuance of a state of war would be for them the greatest of all disappointments. Then may Clemenceau see how he, with his Frenchmen can keep the Rhineland quiet.
"They can't stand one another, Americans and French. Both consider themselves 'victors.' And both argue against one another about it. The American would rather go with a German than with a Frenchman; not out of friendship for us, but for a greater dislike of the French, who overcharged him in France.
"Thus the things stand, pictured in quite an objective way. At all events the Rhinelander is chock full of American 'culture' and American 'freedom'. If it had to enjoy them for 19 years more it would despair from the disconsolate outlook."
The Entente officers laugh a good deal over the efforts of the people and the newspapers here to drive a wedge between America and the Allies. I do not know what success they are meeting with, but those of us who are on the ground see the trap and know that it is pure propaganda. I wish every American at home and back in the S. O. S. could tour this land before they form any conclusions. The wily Hun will lie to keep a whole skin. I hope Foch takes skin and all, for even then Germany will grow and become a strong race. She should be allowed to grow, of course, but she should be made harmless for all time.
BERLIN, May 24, 1919. Thanks to the interest and the efforts of Gen. Harries and Col. Jones, I am able to tell you that I am a Major. Capt. Mean, our Adjutant, has just sworn me. I had given up all hopes of a promotion, and thought Mann was joking when he came to my room this afternoon. Everybody has been most kind in offering congratulations.
Today I sent Maj. Nall and some other officers to a little city just South of Danzig. It is necessary for us to provide officers to escort the trains of Russian prisoners who are being repatriated. All these trains will pass through this little village, so Maj. Nall will put one of his officers aboard and let them go as far into Russia as is safe. He then must see to the distribution of their rations and start them Eastward toward their homes.
You have no conception how hard it is for us to know which of these Russians to repatriate by this Kovno route. If we publish in the camps that the White Russians will be repatriated, every Russian that camp will immediately claim that he is a White Russian. When you ask them where they live, they have not the slightest idea, but will tell you, in the most placid way, that they live "near the mill by the big stream", or that their home is "at the edge of the big forest." It is almost hopeless.
Today there was a rather solemn celebration here. The German students at the University of Berlin had an enormous procession in order to show honor to the students and professors of the University who had fallen during the war, The fraternities have the most fantastic uniforms, usually with dark jackets, white trousers and black top boots, the whole set off with gay sashes and little round caps that sit on the side of their heads and a clanking sword at their side. This procession today was quite impressive.
BERLIN, May 25. 1920. It is a beautiful Sunday morning. The sun does shine in Berlin sometimes, - one must give the devil his dues.
This afternoon I took Col. Irwin for a ride along the Havel River. We stopped at Mr. I.'s country home for tea. As we passed by the Wannsee we saw the strangest sight. A beautiful beach there is used as a public bath. On Sundays the Germans go in hordes, and I must say it is the least formal thing I have ever seen. There are no facilities in the way of bath houses - one simply disrobes on the beach with, perhaps some member of the party holding a towel in front of you. Like the ostrich, they do not seem to think of the side or rear view.
The country air and sunshine and the beautiful setting of this villa on its little island in Wansee, is enough to make us dread. all the more the confinement in Hotel Adlon. The Germans love the outdoors, because we saw hundreds of them walking through the pine woods.
BERLIN, May 26. 1919. Maj. McCoy is here from Lamsdorf camp. He has just told me an experience his detachment had when the feeling was most acute against signing the peace treaty. Unfortunately, his camp lies in that part of Silesia which Wilson wishes to go to Poland. When the feeling was quite strong in his neighborhood he was informed by the German authorities that a mob of two hundred demobilized German soldiers were going to attack his little detachment that night, and that the Government was powerless to protect him. McCoy called his detachment together, told them of the danger and said that he was going to stick and fight it out, if attacked. "Now", he said, "how many of you men have pistols?" You know we are not supposed to have any arms at all. Not a man acknowledged having a gun. McCoy then said, "We have to organize for defense, and I want to know if you fellows have not some guns, because it my be a matter of life and death." Sheepishly, then, one after another acknowledged the possession of fire arms, which ranged from two to five pistols and ammunition enough to withstand a month's siege. It has been quite the custom. for our officers and men to buy German Luegers [sic]. McCoy said he had a young arsenal at his disposal before the evening was over.
The Germans did make an abortive attack on him that night, but, upon seeing his defense organized and augmented by two machine guns loaned him by the Government soldiers, they retired and since then have left him in peace.
It has been definitely decided by the Commission here that I can not go to Moscow, and I am sorry for it.
BERLIN, May 27, 1919. I have just learned some things that are happening in Coblenz. Our Army of Occupation is certainly ready in case the Germans do not sign. They have, it is said, nine hundred motor trucks at their disposal inside the bridge head. Germany is to be given seventy-two hours' notice, and then two divisions are to be placed on these trucks and started forward. It seems they practice entraining and detraining from the trucks by going to baseball games, which are held in different parts of the territory we occupy. This gives them practice in finding their places on the trucks rapidly and in getting in and out expeditiously.
We hear also that the blockade is to be re-established in case the treaty is not signed. This is the big threat which the Germans fear.
BERLIN, May 28, 1919. It is again a beautiful day. I have a feeling that we are to be allowed to go out a bit from now on. The feeling is distinctly better toward us. Whether this is because of the attitude that Congress is taking against the treaty or not, I cannot say. Some of it is due, I know, to the fact that these people can no longer respond to a stimulus, be it happiness or sorrow. They have been stimulated so much and so often in the last four years and have learned afterwards that most of it was untrue, that now they seem unable to remember things very long. It is like a man who has taken morphine; at first its effect is glorious, but after a while the effect wears off and no matter how he increases the dose, he cannot re-produce it.
At a meeting yesterday of the Commission there were increasing signs of progress in our getting the Russians home. BERLIN, May 30. 1919. This is Memorial Day, and the A. E. F, is observing it also. We all contributed toward decorating the graves of the Americans who fell. Yesterday was a big Catholic holiday, Ascension Day, forty days after Easter, and, although this is a Protestant country, it was observed throughout Prussia.
In the morning I took a Spa officer to our camp at Zossen, which is about 35 kilometers south of Berlin. This is, in many ways, the most interesting Russian prison camp. Here were concentrated all the Mohammedan prisoners, the French Colonials and the Russian Mohammedans being especially prominent. Of course, only the latter remain now. The Kaiser, out of his own pocket, built for them a mosque. I suppose he did this out of friendship for his ally, the Sultan, although these Mohammedans happened to be fighting against him. This mosque is not particularly pretty, but it is complete, having a minarette [sic], and a most convenient place for foot washing, which is so essential in their religion. I talked with their priest, who is a very intelligent gentleman and speaks German well. He begged me to have the Red Cross send them even more food, and a kind of fat which is not forbidden by their religion.
BERLIN, May 31, 1919, Yesterday about noon we learned of two American soldiers who had been buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Berlin. It was too late for me to go, but we hastily organized about ten officers and thirty men to hold a memorial service for them. The ladies who are working at the American Embassy also went. Mr. Hoffman, the Y. man, conducted the service. I have been unable to learn the names of these two soldiers, but feel sure that the American Red Cross will write their families that they were not forgotten on Memorial Day. One most unfortunate thing happened. As long ago as in December, the American Red Cross had learned of these two graves and had paid a so-called American, who was living in Berlin, for the erection of crosses. As the cemetery is quite on the edge of the City, and as automobiles were very scarce at that time, Mr. Husband took the word of this so-called American that the job had been finished and paid him. Yesterday it was found that he had not done a thing, - had simply accepted the money and had fibbed as to the erection of the crosses. I think they will take decided steps toward prosecuting this fellow. I never saw men as indignant in my life as were our officers. I hope he will not be allowed to return to the United States.
We are delighted that an American was the first to fly across the Atlantic - Read certainly deserves the congratulations of all. Hawker, the Englishman had a world of nerve to have made the desperate attempt he did to beat our representative. I am glad they found him. The poem you sent me, "Be Humble, O, America!" is most appropriate for us to read every day when Americans are accomplishing such big things. I do hope we will learn to follow its admonition.
BERLIN, June 2, 1919. Because the people are no longer hostile, we are allowed out of the hotel in the day time. We interpret "day time" as meaning "during daylight". I never realized before how far North Berlin is. At 2:45 A.M. it is so light that I can comfortably read, and the birds are singing like mad. I know, because the flies are thick in the morning. Come to think of it, I have not seen fly screens in the whole of Germany. It does not get dark here until 10 o'clock, so you can see we have long days and short nights.
About the only excitement in our little coterie just now is the English Derby. We have formed a pool and each expects to win. The English seem to be very fond of horse racing.
BERLIN, June 3, 1919. I am enclosing some pictures of our eye hospital at Lamsdorf. Maj. Oertel, from Georgia, is in charge of this work and it has been most encouraging. Upon his arrival at the camp, he was informed by the Germans that there were fourteen cases of trachoma. He instituted, however, a systematic examination of all prisoners and found 250 additional cases. He soon organized a hospital, and by sheer force of his own efforts he equipped it and has done splendid work. In looking over his reports I see that he has done as high as 133 operations and given over 4,000 treatments in a week. Compare this with the 14 cases of which the Germans had knowledge. The reports of our specialists from other camps are almost as good as this one, which demonstrates the wisdom of our getting these experts to help us.
BERLIN, June 5, 1919. Today we have our old friend. - a strike, with us again. This time it is in sympathy with Levine, the Bolshevik, who has upset Munich. I believe it will amount to very little.
BERLIN, June 6, 1919. Yesterday, about six in the evening I witnessed a strange sight. Music floated up from the Wilhelmstrasse, and, upon looking out of the window, I beheld a pathetic spectacle. Preceded by a hand organ, turned by a cripple, came a large company of soldiers five or six abreast. The parade was at least four blocks long. They were unarmed and marched very slowly, without noise or disturbance. Upon their approach I saw that it was a parade of war cripples. The men in the front ranks were blind, next came those on crutches, one legged and lame. At times appeared a rolling chair in which was wheeled a poor fellow who had lost both legs. The main body of the procession was made up of a motley crew of armless, one armed and bandaged soldiers. Many had bandages over one eye. I think the blind and those shot about the face were the most pitiful. As I could not read the signs which they carried I do not know the cause of the demonstration. In all probability it had something to do with the peace conditions. It is more remarkable because Noske, the Minister of Defense, has prohibited such parades. I presume even he could not strive against war cripples.
The Y. M. C. A. is doing some splendid work for the Russian prisoners of war. They have established schools, at which a large variety of subjects are taught. Many of these Russians, indeed the majority, are illiterate, and they are taught, not only to read and write, but the officers are very keen about learning English. The schools are quite successful.
The Y. has also procured musical instruments and there is hardly a camp without its orchestra. Most of these instruments are of the Balalacka [sic] type.
The Russian does not take kindly to games, in some camps they have met with some success in instituting foot ball. The spirit of competition seems to have been left out of the Russian. However, at Frankfort, they had quite a successful field day, in which races and tugs of war figured. We have met with no success in trying to introduce baseball.
Here in Berlin, the Y. has established its headquarters. They have a recreation room for the boys, with books, periodicals and billiard tables, and every facility for writing. On Sundays they hold services. The moving picture form of amusement is used here, as well as at the prison camps. Altogether we feel that the Y. is doing a lot for us and our charges.
BERLIN, June 7, 1919. Everyone in Berlin is walking today. I think, however, it is merely a twenty-four hour strike, - simply to show displeasure over the execution of Levine. He, of course, was worthy of his fate, having started all the rioting in Munich, which cost the lives of a large number or people. The most fearful thing they did, was to murder a number of hostages, among them a woman. Order was not restored until some Prussian troops appeared on the scene.
I am ashamed to say that Paris has half a million on a strike, heaven only knows for what cause. This is the time for France to get down to work and stop being the jarring element in the whole world.
BERLIN, June 9, 1919. Yesterday I spent the day at Spreewald. It was a made-to-order day, and being Whitsuntide, all the city population went to the country. I think there must be something good in the German character, because of their apparent love of outdoors. They seem to embrace every opportunity to get into the country, where they wander about under the trees and seem to have a mighty good time. This habit of going to the country has, during. the war, put on another aspect. Almost any time, but particularly on Sunday, one sees large numbers of people leaving the cities with baskets and boxes of every description. The object of this is to buy eggs, butter, milk and vegetables from the farmers. Although Germany is on a strictly rationed basis, the Government has never been able to entirely control the farm products.
In an effort to bolster up the system of rationing and make it work, I am told some 80,000 laws and general orders have been issued. These emanated not only from the Imperial, Royal and municipal authorities, but also from Corps commanders and even petty Magistrates. Too many laws defeated their own object and this has done much, no doubt, to break down the old Teutonic respect for the Law.
The consequence is, the city people swarm to the country and there buy, at exorbitant prices, such articles as are only sold by card in cities. I am convinced that the shortage or food is due largely to poor distribution, which has resulted in an actual shortage in large centers, only. The hoarding of these supplies has received the name of "Hamstering". A hamster is, in reality, a small animal which hoards its food, and they have come to call any German who hoards food, or procures more than his share, a "Hamster." The Kaiser was the biggest Hamster of all, for large stores were found in the castle. Madam Germananeau has presented me with what is known as a "Hamster Medal." Germany is crazy about decorations, so some wit had gotten up a medal to be given to any one who was particularly energetic in hoarding wood. On one side of this medal appears a picture of a hamster, and on the reverse were the words: "For being zealous in Hamstering."
Without any view of obtaining food, although it is more plentiful 10 kilometers outside of Berlin than inside the city limits, five of us yesterday got into a big Mercedes car and flew over the road on our way to Spreewald. This wooded section lies southeast of Berlin, not very far from our prison camp of Cottbus. As we were going so near, I took the opportunity for inspecting this camp.
It is much like the others I have seen, with the same dreary, desolate appearance. This is the only camp where I was able to obtain any evidence of harsh treatment on the part of the Germans. I have, however, secured some pictures in which these punishments are shown. They are not particularly bad, consisting usually of strapping a prisoner to a post by tying him about the knees and waist, with his hands fixed behind his back. They are made to stand in this position four or more hours. In Winter, or in extremely warm weather, it might be pretty disagreeable. These pictures were taken, of course, long ago, for now this sort of thing could not happen. No prison camp in Germany had a more diversified lot of prisoners than did Cottbus. I am told that at one time one saw French Colonials and negroes in the same barracks with Chinese, English and Frenchmen. The Germans refused to separate the nationalities, claiming that as they were allies they should be perfectly willing to bunk together. One postal card shows the following nationalities to have been present at the same time: Arabians, Greeks, Cossacks, English, Russians, Algerians, Italians, Tokinese, French, Belgians, English sailors, Ariamites, Serbians, Senegalese and Sudanese. Even here, however, something was done for their amusement. They had their own orchestras and theatrical clubs, as postal cards in the shop windows testify.
Spreewald is n most interesting place. The River Spree, upon which Berlin is built, spreads out over an area more than ten kilometers long, into a perfect maze of small rivulets. These are said to number two hundred. The ground is low and covered with forests, and in Winter much of the country is flooded. In this region there are numerous little villages and communication between these hamlets is entirely by water. In Winter, when they cannot use the boats, they resort to sleds and skates. The place was settled years and years ago by the Wends, who, apparently, are natives of Bohemia, and in all of these hundreds of years they have clung to their native costumes, customs and language.
We drove to Burg, which is the chief village, and were much amused at the costumes we saw. It was like stepping into another world. The men were dressed in tight black trousers, with high boots, short coats and black hats. The women seemed to plan their dress according to age; the older ones being in severe black, with enormous black hats surmounted by a head piece like a fan, They apparently wear hoop skirts, which surely measure two yards across. How they navigate I cannot see. The younger women and children dress in much the same style, only in most vivid colors. One receives somewhat of a shock to see these people, dressed in medieval costume, spinning gaily along on bicycles. Their hoop skirts and huge hats from the time of Frederick the Great do not harmonize with such modern means of locomotion. Their faces are exceedingly hard and rugged, and they do not look as though they are of a high order of intelligence.
We took a little boat in the center of the hamlet of Burg and were poled along one of the many streams. It was certainly a beautiful sight. At places the stream is so narrow that two boats can hardly pass. Rows of trees line the banks and their branches interlace overhead so as to give the appearance of a leafy tunnel. The oarsman stands in the stern of the boat, very like a gondolier, but he poles the boat instead of rowing it. I was interested in noticing how carefully they preserve the banks. I saw literally miles of basket work, which keeps the banks from caring in.
Dotted about in the Spreewald is the inevitable restaurant, and we alighted at one and tried a glass of their beer. It is the only thing that made us realize that Germany was at war - the beer was practically without alcohol. The rest of the Spreewald has been left untouched by war.
We came across one unusual sight. Evidently it was a picnic, and hordes of boys were diving off the banks and swimming in the stream. To our astonishment, they had pitched, nearby, two American pup tents, which probably had been captured when some of our boys were taken prisoners.
The principal industry of this neighborhood seems to be the visitors, who come here in hundreds during the Summer, and the sale of toys. They make dolls and dress them in the Spreewald costume; also, miniature models of the boats which they use.
On the way back to Berlin we again saw numerous parties walking about the woods. They seemed to be as happy and care free as could be. Young and old, boys and girls, with packs on their backs, and always dressed for an outing. The German men, on these trips, often dress in the Tyrolese costume, with bare knees and ankles and little green hats. Many of these groups were singing, others carried mandolins and stringed instruments, which were invariably decked in bright ribbons.
We got back to Berlin in time for supper, happy but tired from our day's exertion. My face is sun-burned as a beet, except for a white streak across my cheeks which was covered by my chin strap.
Perhaps the most vivid impression I carried home with me, was the difference between the urban and suburban German. From the moment we left Berlin, the people were friendly and courteous; men raised their hats to us as we sped along the road, and children waved. The country people, especially those in the Spreewald, seemed happy, and so far removed from the troubles and cares of a country at war. There were no signs of hunger and no frowns on the faces - plenty of friendly curiosity and a very marked desire to be helpful. In contract to this, I lately walked in the Tier Garten and was, of course, stared at. One child called me a "pig dog", which, in German, is a very bad name. I pretended not to hear him. A little later a man who was walking toward me carrying his hat in his hand, as so many Germans do, raised his hat so as to shield his face from me, the idea being that I, an enemy officer, was such an abhorrent sight that he must protect himself from viewing it. It was childish, of course, but I thought of it yesterday while out in the country.
I saw a lot of wheat growing yesterday. It is very tall and quite thick, but has not big heads like our wheat. Germany raises no corn. There were flowers everywhere, the hawthorn is in bloom and it is particularly pretty. I think, however, the horse chestnuts are my favorites - they remind one of Christmas trees. Their blooms stand up like candles. The Tier Garten is full of them. As the bloom falls to the ground, it turns from white to red, and is beautiful even in the dust.
BERLIN, June. 10, 1919. Last evening I was talking to a German lawyer. He comes from Wies-baden [sic] and was telling me of the farce called a "Rhine Republic." He thinks, and is indeed probably correct, that this Republic is fostered by the French and that Dr. Dorten is merely the tool of Clemenceau. It will, of course, come to nothing.
I was particularly interested in what he thought was about to happen in Berlin. He says Berlin has bloody days ahead; that there is sure to be a revolution with a good deal of street fighting. The people, he thinks, are much dissatisfied with the present Government, and whether the Government signs or does not sign the peace treaty, it will fall. He says there is an element favoring Ludendorf, which may attempt to take hold of things, but he does not believe such a movement would last.
This morning I went to a picture gallery, in order to see this new type of art. I wish I could describe some of the futurist pictures to you. Form and color mean nothing. A red sea, a blue horse or a black rose are quite the thing. The joke of it is that the painter sells these pictures, actually finds people to buy them. It is delicious. Fortunately, among these moderns there are some who do not go to such extremes.
To my mind these extremes in art are merely an expression of Bolshevism. Undoubtedly artists, and others of their like, have produced in the liner arts the same extremes that Bolshevism represents in the social order. There is in this city an institution known as the Storm - why the name I do not know. It is, however, an odd mixture of an association of artists holding extreme views, and a publishing house. I find that there is not only futurist art, which embraces painting and sculpture, but that they have also a literature of their own, just a little worse than our free verse, also a distinctive drama, and a type of music which reminds one strongly of our jazz.
The most extreme thing I have seen in this line was a painting which looked like a gigantic checker board, only there were more colors represented in the squares. The title of this picture was, "My Parents." Thinking it a trick picture of some sort, I attempted to trace the lines of a face in it, but unsuccessfully. The young attendant at this exhibit then explained that this was the very height of art and was an "objectless picture", that is, a picture without an object depicted. When the artist thought of his parents these little colored squares came into his mind. I asked the attendant why he had not called the picture by some other name, as it would certainly do for anything besides the artist's parents. He immediately used the old defense, "Oh, you cannot understand!"
BERLIN, June 12, 1919. I went to another picture exhibit yesterday. This, however, was of an entirely different kind. All the artists who had been drawn into the war, depicted their life in the field, and many of them, the horrors of war. This exhibit was splendid.
We had quite a long meeting of the sub-commission yesterday, and I must say I am somewhat depressed. The whole Eastern front seems to be closed. We simply cannot find a hole through which to push these poor Russians. I feel it is the Poles who block all of our efforts. I cannot understand the authorities at Paris, why do they not tell the Poles what to do and then see that they carry out their directions. Poland has already gotten so much and owes her very existence to the Entente, and yet she pays not the slightest attention to the Entente's wishes. I suppose it is because I have not all the facts in the case, but none of us understand it. During May and this month Haller's army has been returning to Poland right across Germany. The German newspapers declare that this very army is being used against them in the neighborhood of Posen. The Poles gave their word of honor that if this army were returned to Poland, it would be used simply for police duty. It must be a bitter pill for the Germans to have to haul thousands of men and car after car of artillery, which they feel will be turned against them.
The Chicago Tribune is carrying on its campaign toward getting American soldiers back home. Written across the top of the front page, in huge letters, in every edition, one sees, "GET THE YANKS HOME, TOOT SWEET." Perhaps it is the constant seeing of this heading which has depressed me so.
BERLIN, June 13, 1919. Today is Friday, the 13th, and is the day that the Boche should get the Allies' answer to their counter proposals. This, probably, is a bad sign for the Boche. Within a week we ought to hear something definite.
Today is also noteworthy in that Rosa Luxombourg is to be buried. You remember, she and Liebknecht were leaders in the January revolution. Both were killed, but Rosa's body was never found. Lately, however, it was found in the canal, just as they suspected. So today the wheels of industry are to stop for three hours. They have a passion here for stopping work, although they rave about lack of raw stuff. I cannot believe anyone wants to work badly. Last Sunday and Monday were holidays, Whitsuntide. The Tuesday following is always taken as a holiday to rest up from Whitsuntide. Many did not come to work Wednesday and Friday they stop for three hours. Saturday is a half holiday. Can you beat that for a week's work?
I was at the Roumanian Captain's house last evening. Madam was skillful enough to invite an English woman who has just returned to Germany. She makes her living by giving English lessons and is the Captain's English teacher. By this arrangement we could talk English instead of German.
The Roumanians entertain their guests with all sorts of little childish things. They go into shrieks of laughter when you sit on a chair and are greeted by the wail of a cat, because of some instrument under the cushion which makes that sound. They never tire of passing what is apparently a box of cigarettes, and lo! there is a piece of glass over the cigarettes so that you cannot reach them. Again you attempt to knock your ashes into an ash tray and by touching some spring the tray flies into a dozen pieces. These same toys are produced and laughed over at every visit.
LATER. This morning we saw the workers, or rather those who should work, parading with their red flags through the streets. There is another strike threatened by the Communist element, but Noske says he will prevent it.
Col. Ryan and I have been attempting today to secure large quantities of vaccine for use in Russia. He evidently has received some instructions from Red Cross headquarters in Paris. I think they expect Petrograd to fall and want to be in position to cope with smallpox, typhoid and cholera. This body of Red Cross men in Berlin is probably closer to Petrograd than any other, so we attempted, unsuccessfully, this morning to secure the vaccine. I acted merely as interpreter.
BERLIN, June 14, 1919 There are no newspapers today. In fact, yesterday only a few were published. I think it is due to Rosa's funeral, but there is some talk of a printers' strike.
I learned today that there is a movement on foot to establish an art gallery in the palace of the ex-Crown Prince. I shall certainly make it my business to see this exhibit.
We are gradually reducing our personnel. You can imagine what joy it gives me to commence tearing down our force rather than augmenting it. Almost daily I send one or two of our medical officers back to France.
BERLIN, June 15, 1919. We have had a busy day indeed. What was yesterday a secret, has today been more or less made open by the issuance of an order, "to be ready to move at an hour's notice." For days the topic uttermost in the minds of all has been, will they, or will they not, sign the peace treaty. Of the pleasantness of our stay, and perhaps indeed our safety, depend on this, you can imagine that we are much interested. The issuing of this order means that the Germans will not sign and that we will soon be at war again. Not much of a war, of course, but I fully expect a revolution here. We will have to get out, but I think the Germans will probably respect the Red Cross, under which we work, especially so, now that they have learned what the world thinks of them and their tactics. We may, however, have some unpleasant experiences on the way out. Of course, every German in France will be held until we are safe. You see the Allies have some pretty good hostages: 800,000 German prisoners and that big Peace Delegation now at Versailles. I imagine the Germans will look out for our safety on their account.
I have all my records together, ready to move, My packing will not amount to very much. My only concern is an officer at one of the prison camps who is still in the hospital. I must arrange for his safety and comfort in ease we do go, This man has had a desperate operation for appendicitis at a camp in East Prussia. We were much concerned and no little amused at the telegram we received from his Major, which read somewhat as follows: "Captain So and So has been operated on for appendicitis. Inform his family that he will die and send a coffin." I advised the Chief of Staff to disregard the telegram, and, fortunately, the man is making a slow but happy recovery, I have already taken the matter up with Hecker, who assures me that should we leave, the officer will be humanely and properly treated. I shall leave one enlisted man to wait on him.
This feeling of an impending move and the knowledge that we are in the enemy's capital and that war is about to re-commence, gives us more of a thrill than I can describe. It has acted like a tonic on all, and every officer here feels as though life were again worth living.
The city is full of barbed wire, machine guns and barricades again, in anticipation of the revolution. I notice in the Wilhelm Platz a number of machine guns mounted on trucks. These are to be rushed to any points in the city where the revolution may break out. I suppose we will be again asked for our passes. Mine is almost worn out from rubbing against my pocket.
BERLIN, June 16, 1919. Yesterday all the British ships at Danzig were ordered to weigh anchor at sunrise, and those that could not get out received orders to keep steam up.
I still think that the Boche will sign. There are no newspapers again today, but everyone to whom I have talked, says that they will not.
By way of preparing for my exit, I have just been destroying a lot of old letters and papers. I do not want these to fall into German hands. In re-reading your letters it is interesting to note that although I have done a lot of kicking about not receiving mail, I have failed to receive only eight letters in October, eight in November, two in December, seven in January, two in February, none in March, two in April and four in May. Some of those crossed the ocean three times, but eventually I did get them. One letter came in eighteen days, that is the quickest news I have received. Another has been at A.P.0. 929, 714, 727, 729, 762 and finally reached me. I call that perseverance.
BERLIN, June 17, 1919. Again no newspapers. This is the fourth day without them, and, as Mr. Pattullo pointed out yesterday evening, it was ever so just before something really big was about to happen. The Government does not dare suppress the papers as they did before the Armistice, because that would be like the old regime, so they now resort to having a printers' strike, which stops the news from getting to the public just as effectually. We see by the little sheets which are handed about the streets, that the Boche received the Entente's answer yesterday and has five days to shoot or give up the gun.
I am this morning having my bedding roll stripped of all extraneous stuff, and am sending home a lot of things that I wall not need. I wish to be in position to travel light, if travel we must. The air seems full of mystery now and everyone jumps when a door bangs. I am thoroughly enjoying it. Schereschewsky is much worked up. Today be brought me a cap and a long cape, explaining that should we have to leave hurriedly, to hide my uniform would save me many insults and perhaps some bodily ham. He insisted on leaving these with me.
10 P. M. The peace treaty ultimatum was published in certain newspapers which appeared here late this afternoon. I have been unable as yet to get hold of one of them.
BERLIN, June 18, 1919. We are still perfecting our arrangements for a quick get-a-way. Everyone is against me in my belief that the German authorities will sign the treaty. I am predicting that Erzberger will sign tn the place of Brockdorff-Rantzau. It would be a shrewder thing for them not to sign and offer no resistance, but to let the Entente occupy the country, relieving them of all responsibility and throwing it upon the Entente. The people on the streets have not changed particularly in their attitude toward us.
I hear that the German Government has asked the Inter-Allied Commission to stay and to keep up this work, no matter what comes. That, of course, would place us in an impossible position. We have news of the unfortunate hostile demonstration which was made against the French Delegates [ Note: perhaps he means the German Delegates. TBP ] at Versailles. I am glad to know that Clemenceau made such a quick apology. It is too bad that it happened - the Germans will never stop talking about it, and then, too, they might throw a few stones at us in case we have to depart.
BERLIN, June 20, 1919. The newspapers of yesterday afternoon began to talk of the advisability of signing the treaty, in other words, to manufacture sentiment in that direction. Today's papers carry similar articles. They seem to fear that the individual states of Germany, particularly Bavaria, may sign the treaty separately, thus dismembering the old Empire.
Rumor has it that we are to leave Berlin, treaty or no treaty; that we are simply waiting for the necessary orders for our withdrawal to reach us from the Supreme War Council via Spa. Therefore, we stay packed and ready.
BERLIN, June 21, 1919. Last evening I dined with Gen. Potocki. He and his wife and several other Russians dined at the Bristol Hotel. I was glad to meet some Russian ladies. They are interesting and vivacious talkers, and, being ladies, they were about the same as everywhere else in the world. It is not the classes, but the masses who make the difference between nations. There is a feeling on the part of some of these Russian officers that the Czar is not dead. Gen. Minot insists that he still lives.
We are still up in the air as to what will happen to us. G.H.Q. wants us to get out, but just now has no power over us, because we are under Marshal Foch. When he will give the word to go, I cannot tell. If we do leave, I presume we will be replaced by a civil commission.
The Cabinet resigned yesterday in a body, just as I thought they would. Erzberger will go into power.
In looking over some books just now, I came across my copy, English translation, of the peace conditions. In view of the uproar caused in the United States by not publishing these conditions, it is interesting that I bought this copy on May 24th. The German translation was on sale two days before that. The book stores are full of French, English and German translations.
All the big men in Germany seem to be busy writing their version of the war just now. It is odd to look into a book store window and see authors advertised whose names we used to read in the newspapers with such fear: Berthmen-Holweg, Von-Jagow, Ludendorf and all the rest. Is it not strange that the losing side should so quickly rash into print, each one trying to explain that he was not at fault? Someone said that it was ever thus, and that contemporary history is not history but merely conversation. I wonder when Foch will write his Memoirs!
For the last week we have been busy congratulating the English on the flight across the Atlantic. We have been particularly careful to do this, on account of the unfortunate remark made by Hawker, if he really made it.
BERLIN. June 22, 1919. I have never seen Berlin more quiet or normal looking than right now. One sees many more men at work than before; they are repairing the sidewalks in many places and making an attempt to clean the streets again.
As I watched the crowd from my window yesterday, the thought occurred to me that in all the five months that I have been here I have seen just one expectant mother. Surely the old order changeth. I feel sure their birth rate, of which they used to be so proud, is taking a decided tumble.
Maj. Sylvester, who recently received the D. S. C., was yesterday presented with the Croix da Guerre with the Palm. It seems that the French are going over our records and are giving the Croix da Guerre to many of our soldiers whom we have decorated for bravery in action. To receive two decorations in the enemy's capital during the war, is not bad. Poor me! I shall come home innocent of all glory or high deeds of valor. We laughed over the way in which Col. Parker, acting in Gen. Harries absence, presented this decoration. Instead of making a ceremony of it, as Gen. Harries would have done, Col. Parker had just a few of us in his office. On the stroke of the hour he read the citation and pinned the cross on Sylvester's chest. There was an embarrassing silence, broken finally by Sylvester, who said: "If you men will come down with me, I will buy a drink." Col. Parker is very matter-of-fact, and the pomp and ceremony of life does not appeal to him.
Speaking of decorations, Gen. Harries, while at Chaumont the early part of this month, was presented with the D. S. M. by Gen. Pershing.
We are annoyed a good deal just now by the Germans listening in on our telephone conversations. As we never have anything very important to say, they are putting themselves to a let of needless trouble, and, of course, we can hear them every time. Our Signal Corps has arranged for English speaking girls to answer our telephones. This has been a great convenience for those of us who cannot speak German.
10 P.M. The wildest rumors are afloat today; listen to this one: "The treaty will be signed by the new Cabinet, then in about ten days the old regime will return," some even say the Kaiser. "They will repudiate the treaty as a scrap of paper and gather an army, just now supposed to be in Eastern Germany, and war will be started all over again." We still have no news and are sitting tight.
BERLIN, June 23, 1919, It is perfectly evident from the morning papers that peace will be signed. This is just as well, for the Armistice ends today. We are wondering how long it will take a civil commission to relieve us.
The papers are full of accounts of the sinking of the German fleet at Scapa Flow. A rather cunning trick, I believe, unless England winked at it in order to get the German war ships out of the way. It will be a pleasure to listen to Maj. Thorburn's excuses. [German sailors sank their fleet at Scapa Flow in spite of precautions taken by the English who supposedly had control over it. It was supposed to be surrendered to the Entente as part of the Armistice.]
News has just come that the French flags, captured in '70, have been taken from the Military Museum and burned. According to the treaty, they were to be given back to the French.
Feeling in the city is only fair - so far they treat us all right, however. Some of our officers say they have heard growls and curses from the people. Troops are continually moving about the city, probably to impress the people and prevent rioting.
We played bridge again last evening, which was not a very festive way of celebrating the end of the world war, I admit. While playing, news came that the German Delegates in Versailles "Could announce that Germany would sign." As usual, this is to be taken with a grain of salt; maybe they will, and maybe they won't, what difference does it make? So, instead of cheering, etc., we read the wire -- "and passed."
I think there was very little celebration in the city, but as I was not out, I cannot say definitely. They will celebrate later, for they want peace at any price - regular Bryan-ites. Already they begin to fraternize with us. One told me that now "we are no longer enemies, etc." Another element is quite fresh; the Scapa Flow and the burning of the flags incidents have made them feel their oats. While playing cards last night, we were warned that a gang was about to force the hotel and clean us up.
This tendency to fraternize has expressed itself recently in attempts at the resumption of commercial relations. A young German officer came to me one evening and most mysteriously told me that he could furnish us with any amount of Salvarsan. I informed him that we had no need of Salvarsan and could not imagine why he offered it inasmuch as we made Salvarsan in our country. This he greeted with a shrug, declaring that no one but Germans could make the drug. He had been in America five years ago and Americans knew nothing of its manufacture at that time. I told him that we had learned to manufacture many things since he left our shores, not only drugs, but dyes and other things, for which we were once dependent upon Germany. Such dependence was now ended for all time.
He claimed that the German product would undoubtedly be demanded, and that if I surreptitiously smuggled the drug through the Customs House, I could sell it at an enormous profit, because he would sell it to me at a very low figure. He then struck a tragic attitude and said that I might depend upon his word that he would deliver the drug to me, adding, "I believe you have as high a regard for the word of a German officer as you ever did." I told him, with emphasis, that my regard for the word of a German officer was just as high as it had ever been, but he failed to see the point.
The idea of a German officer suggesting a scheme to defraud both his government and mine did not seem to strike him as unusual and he could not understand why I insisted upon his leaving my office.
Another drug firm sent a representative to me, seeking my opinion as to the future for German drugs in America after the war. I declined to be drawn out on this subject until they finally pressed me to tell them what I, personally, would do relative to their products. They probably received little comfort from my answer, for I assured them that if there was any way out of it I would never prescribe a German drug again.
Last evening at the table, Capt. Mann perpetrated a joke at my expense. After rapping for attention, he announced that an officer present had received a citation, the presentation of which would be made informal, because of our precarious position in Berlin. He asked Capt. Barbour to read the citation and to present the medal. To all intents and purposes the paper which Barbour read was quite official. It declared that I had, while at Langres,
". . heedless of an intense barrage of rum chaud, a heavy interdictory fire of cognac, and a strong enemy retaliation of benedictine, remained at my post, de liquor, in the sector known as 'Rosie's Place,' until evacuated by a French gendarme and three American M. P. 's, thus setting an example that is in keeping with the best traditions of the medical service --- and when our raiding party was returning across No Woman's Land, this officer, though badly injured by a gin ricky, returned and carried to safety a disabled comrade who had become entangled in the enemy's vin blanc during the battle of Combien."
Capt. Barbour then pinned on me a most enormous pasteboard medal. Anyone who has been to Langres will understand the references. In my come-back, I thanked them heartily and stated that I was, most of all, grateful that Capt. Barbour had not kissed me on both cheeks, as do the French. Quick as thought, Barb our explained that as the kiss was the only thing the French were ever known to give to an American, he had hesitated to use it.
BERLIN, June 26, 1919. I was in three parts of the city yesterday, trying to get a line on the attitude of the Germans toward us. Berlin seems very normal. There is more work going on and the streets are being cleaned, sidewalks repaired and telephone cables laid underground. Almost no work is being done toward the completion of the underground railway, and I could discover no building. The people apparently pay less attention to Americans than usual, or at least they did yesterday. They are glad of this peace, most of them wanted to sign, I believe, but not one out of a hundred feels any obligation toward fulfilling the treaty. The sinking of the fleet and the burning of the flags are an evidence of this. Both of these incidents represent broken faith, but that means little to Germany. One must make a distinction between the individual German and the official German. The first is fairly honest and will keep his word pretty well; at the same time, however, he will break his official word and never realize that it was wrong. The astounding part of it is, that they cannot realize the obligation of official honesty in dealing with other countries. You cannot explain it to them; they cannot grasp it any more than a child can grasp the fourth dimension. This, to some extent, is reflected in their daily life. If a German asks you if you have been to the opera and you say, "No", do you think that satisfies him? It does not. He will ask you three or four times, "Really, have you not been there?" That one should state the simple truth the first time does not occur to them.
The English are having a great time explaining the sinking of the German fleet. At first they made little remarks that gave you the idea that England condoned the act. If this is true, it shows bad faith on England's part, and then, too, why did they save thirty of the destroyers? The Daily Mail is in a rage about it, and demands a full investigation. The fault probably lies in the Armistice's terms, which allowed the Germans to stay aboard their ships. France is as sore as a bear over the whole thing, although I believe the loss of the flags has made her even more indignant.
I went, after the flag incident, to the statue of Frederick the Great, in order to see the remains of the flags. By that time, however, every trace had been removed. The story goes that a few men telephoned the director of the museum and asked permission to examine these flags. Inasmuch as they were being packed, ready for delivery, the request did not seem unreasonable, and was granted. Upon gaining access to the museum, they presented a pistol to the head of the caretaker, and carried the flags to the middle of Unter den Linden and burned them at the foot of the statue of Frederick the Great.
At the British Mission this morning, Gen. Malcolm invited me to accompany him in a private view of the Military Museum. As the museum has been closed since the war, we were asked to present ourselves at the rear door. Herr Binder, the director of the museum, met us and showed us every courtesy. I think he know every object in this enormous place, and probably there is no better military museum in the world. On can trace the ancestry of almost every implement of warfare back to the most remote times, and it was interesting to note how modern trench warfare had simulated conditions prevailing during the Middle Ages.
One great hall in this museum was formerly used for assembling the new officers on the first day of each January, where, in the presence of the Kaiser, they took the oath of fealty to him.
Among some of the pictures in this hall, is that of the surrender of Sedan. Herr Binder did not stop long before this picture. Herr Binder, by the way, is the gentleman who was hoodwinked over the telephone into allowing the French Flags to be taken.
Capt. Aschmann and I went to the Reichstag Building this morning and asked to be allowed to inspect it. The caretaker refused, and finally told us that the whole building was being disinfected. During the revolution in November, troops have been quartered in the building and it is now so infested with vermin that it is necessary to disinfect it. Can you imagine this happening to our Capitol at Washington?
BERLIN, June 27, 1919. Today we expect some interesting developments. The Spartacus have announced that for the next eight days they are going to run things in Berlin just to show their strength. As a matter of fact, they are much chagrinned [sic] because they expected to start a revolution, based on two grievances; first, that Germany did not sign the peace treaty, and second, that a certain Ledebour was convicted. Now that the Government will sign the treaty, their first grievance is taken from them. Ledebour is a desperate criminal of the Liebknecht type, who was thrown into prison last December. He is the most feared man in Berlin, because everyone expected him to set up a reign of terror, directed against the rich. As a matter of fact, he has lately been set free. This takes away the second grievance. The Spartacus do not care a rap about either the treaty or Ledebour, but they did want a pretext to start something. Now, they are angry because they have gotten what they said they wanted. Of course, revolutions always start with a strike, and we understand that the street cars are not running. It will not amount to much because Noske is very strong.
The British part of this Commission has moved into new quarters, the old Embassy building being too small, They have rented what was at one time the Austrian General Staff offices, which are situated very near the German General Staff office building. It is not nearly as convenient for us as was the Embassy.
BERLIN, June 28, 1919. Today the Peace Treaty should be signed, and as it is 5 P. M. we should have had peace for about two hours. I can notice no difference. Capt. Mann and I took a turn in the Tier Garten just to see the people and size them up. One lady(?) spit at us, and a gentleman(?) called us "pig dogs" and shook his fist at us. So you see, even at peace they remain Germans - one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. It has not been officially announced that the treaty was signed. Berlin is full of soldiers, probably a precaution against such trouble as has occurred at Hamburg.
The strike started by the Spartacus has come to nothing, and the Government has stood firm.
Three officers and myself are to dine with Mrs. H. this evening. This shows the influence of her long stay in Germany - four men and one lady. In the many houses where I have been a guest the hostess has either been the only lady present, or she has invited one other. If we hear that the treaty has been signed we may turn tonight's party into a celebration.
BERLIN, June 29, 1919. Everything is still quiet, although the newspapers are full of talk about "a dictated peace," etc. The city was rarely so full of barbed wire and troops as right now. Barbour thinks the people are in a very ugly mood. In his walk this afternoon he saw plenty of evidence of it. The prices these people must pay for food is enough to anger them. Today cucumbers, which ordinarily sell for 20 pfennigs, were advertised for 2 marks 50, and apricots, which one always bought for 5 pfennigs sell for a mark and a half. Even telephone rates have doubled. Rooms at this hotel that once were as low as 6 marks are now 18. From our point of view this is still very cheap. But to the German a mark is worth 25 cents. Germany will never again be on the cheap basis of pre-war years. Recently I was shown a restaurant in the Kurfursten Damm where, in 1913, one could get a splendid five course dinner, beautifully served and with music, for one and one-half marks - about 36 cents. Such prices were too low indeed.
BERLIN, June 30, 1919 The mark has dropped to sixteen for a dollar, and for one hundred francs one can obtain two hundred and fifty marks. This is contrary to my expectations, for I thought that peace would raise the value of the mark. Fortunately, it does not affect me, for my spare money is in United States postal money orders.
News has come that tomorrow a general strike is to be declared: every line of industry is to be affected. This may affect our mails and if so, there may be a gap in my letters. We will probably be withdrawn quickly if the strike proves serious.
Several papers appeared this morning with huge black borders, in token of their sorrow over the signing of the Treaty. I missed my guess as to who would sign - Bell and Mueller having. done so. I predicted Erzberger.
I have been reviewing numerous reports from the camps lately, and am enclosing two which may interest you. The first is a comparison of the diet upon which our Russians subsisted when we arrived, with the one upon which they are now feasting. The other report is a comparison of the sanitary conditions of the camps. One of these reports is for February and one for June:
GERMAN MENU SERVED TO RUSSIAN PRISONERS OF WAR.
Bread: 285 Grammes Daily.
GERMAN MENU SUPPLEMENTED BY AMERICAN ISSUE OF FOODSTUFFS
Bread: 600 Grammes Daily.
|SANITARY REPORT, FEB. 1919.
1. Public Buildings and Grounds
Buildings constructed of wood and plaster; filthy; no sanitation; scraps of food thrown into corners which is mouldy and sour. Windows are never opened. Barracks are badly overcrowded, some of them contain twice as many men as they should. Grounds filthy. Other barracks are unoccupied and still contain rubbish and clothing left by ether prisoners. Prisoners do not use latrines, but defecate and urinate wherever they happen to be, leaving a path in the company street only large enough for one person to walk in at a time, without stepping in the filth. Prisoners eat raw vegetables, the peelings of which are dumped in the handiest place causing piles of decaying food. which gives the entire camp a sour odor.
|[SANITARY REPORT, JUNE 1919.]
1. Public Buildings and Grounds
In good condition, swept daily. All rubbish is placed in boxes and hauled away. Windows are opened daily. All barracks have the correct number of men to the required amount of airspace. Prisoners have again acquired the habit of using the latrines and do not defecate in the company street. Russian sanitary squads collect all garbage and sweep the streets daily, keeping the grounds in good condition.
|2. Drainage, Sewerage, Waste Disp.
Poor drainage; camp located, in a hollow; pools of water stand, when it rains. Drainage ditches are full of stagnant urine. Sewerage system clogged. Latrines in bad condition, only roofs and rails upon which prisoners sit are left, rest of building burned for fuel. Latrine pits full, uncovered and exposed. All waste stays where ever it is thrown.
|2. Drainage, Sewerage, Waste Disp.
Although camp is located in a basin, the old drainage ditches have been opened and new ditches dug, making drainage very satisfactory. Sewerage system in good condition -and all waste water is properly carried away. Latrine walls replaced, pits boxed again, properly cleaned. Latrine squad works daily keeping latrines clean and putting in lime. All waste is collected daily, hauled array from camp and buried.
|3. Sanitary Appliances.
No filters. Sterilizers can accommodate clothes of about 100 prisoners at a time. No incinerators.
|3. Sanitary Appliances.
The sterilizers working daily. Clothes of about 750 men sterilized daily.
|4. Water Supply
City of Merseburg.
|4. Water Supply
City of Merseburg.
|5. Food Supply.
Food given prisoners is either partly frozen or decayed and is given in the form of soup. Mostly vegetables. Canned milk used in the hospital; no milk used in camp.
|5. Food Supply
Of good quality and sufficient in quantity. The German issue is supplemented by the Inter-Allied Commission issue of 140 grammes of meat and other food stuffs daily. Canned milk is used in the hospital.
|6. Clothing of the Men.
Poor. It is mostly a mixture of military and civilian clothing, most of which is in rags. No socks. Shoes are mostly wooden.
|6. Clothing of the Men
Good. The Commission has issued the prisoners socks and underwear. The Germans have issued shoes to most of the prisoners who have not been supplied by the Red Cross.
|7. Prevailing Diseases.
Only ordinary sickness with exception of two cases of erysipelas. Thirty cases of tuberculosis in hospital, not counting those loose in camp. No venereal inspection on account of lack of discipline; evidence of considerable venereal disease in camp.
|7. Prevailing Diseases.
No contagious diseases and only ordinary sickness prevails. Venereal disease is prevalent, but it is impossible to induce the prisoners to take prophylaxis.
|8. Venereal Statistics
|8. Venereal Statistics
That a German Sanitary Squad be sent to this camp to remedy sanitary conditions, also that benzine be sent here for the odorless evacuator."
We are quite proud of this record.
BERLIN, July 1, 1919. The big strike is on. I have not been out as yet, but it is easy to tell by the large crowds walking. No street cars are running and every sort of equipage is crowded with passengers. The porter, who has just brought the breakfast tray, says that the underground has stopped and that there is a complete railroad strike. If this latter is true, then Berlin is in a bad way, for these three million people must have daily connection with the outside world to live, -- so must we, by the way. It will be a great inconvenience if the Coblenz train is stopped. Fortunately, we have quite a bit of food on hand.
Yesterday the Wilhelmstrasse was wired off just beneath my windows, and then in about two hours the wire was taken down. How they know when danger threatens and when the crisis is over, I do not understand. Noske is doing some funny things lately. Yesterday he lost, it is believed, a good deal of his prestige by countermanding an order to suppress the strike. His best weapon, up to now, has been to deal straight and to hit as hard as he could, but apparently he has commenced to vacillate, and any vacillation will mean his downfall.
BERLIN, July 3, 1919. Yesterday at the meeting of the Sub-committee, Col. Parker announced that he had resented orders for the United States troops to withdraw. You can believe I am delighted. We have no idea how long it will take to collect camps and get them back to the Coblenz bridge-head. Travel is so uncertain that several weeks may be necessary. Headquarters will certainly move out last.
Berlin is still on foot. This is the biggest strike I have seen yet. The different kinds of vehicles resorted to are most amusing, even roller skates have been pressed into service. Regular routes have been chosen by numerous wagons and one sees them crowded with men, women and children, apparently as happy and contented as though on the street car.
It has been said that there has been some attempt at profiteering on the part of the drivers, but, a recognized tariff has sprung into being for the different distances traveled, and if the driver demands more than that everybody descends from his wagon and leaves him with the bag to hold, for, in the new order of things, the passenger does not pay until his destination is reached. One experience like this usually cures the profiteer.
For, let it not be supposed that Germany has been free from profiteers. She calls them "shieber", which means one who shoves the price up. One hears these people scored every day, as well as those who made fortunes out of the war. Some of the Government officials have had to flee the country on account of the illegal profits they have made during the war. The Hungarian Food Dictator is now such a fugitive, having made, it is supposed 2,000,000 marks while in office. Everyone is mad for money. Recently a taxi chauffeur demanded of me 60 marks. I remembered former experience and by merely shouting at him, he came down one-half. Taxi fares, by the way, are not measured by the reading on the dial. Those were pre-war prices. For two in a taxi the dial reading is doubled and for three it is trebled. Even then the chauffeur often consents to drive you only after demanding this double or triple fare "plus 10 marks."
There has been no disorder as yet, thanks, probably, to the presence of so many troops and machine guns.
This afternoon Col. Parker and myself were invited to accompany Gen. Malcolm to a private view of the Hohenzollern Museum. It is devoted to the history of the Hohenzollern family. Among the interesting things there is a huge picture of the proclamation of the German Empire, at Versailles. No picture portrays the Germans at the height of their power better than this one. The old man who acted as our guide was silent as he came to this picture. I heard him murmur to another German present: "I can never speak of that picture now without my voice breaking." What a difference the fifty years have brought: In that same hall a French painter will now depict the triumph of Germany's enemies over her: "He who lives by the sword, shall perish by the sword." May the Entente remember that and not be tempted to live by the sword!
I asked the guide to show me the table upon which Emperor Napoleon signed the Declaration of War in 1870, for I knew it was in the museum and had wondered that the French had not demanded it, as they did the flags. The Germans carried it from Paris in '71. The director promised to show it to me later, but he never did, and I am wondering if it is hidden away somewhere out of reach of the French.
Gen. Harries is sick in a Coblenz hospital. He has written asking me to run down if I am not too busy. I shall get away in a day or two.
BERLIN, July 4, 1919. Almost everyone, except the heads of departments, is going on the boat ride given by the "Y". It is a beautiful day and the Havel River is full of pretty scenery, so I should like to go along. We, however, are to work out, with the British, the scheme for withdrawing our troops. I am anxious to see our English friends today, because I wonder if they will say anything about our celebrating the 4th of July.
The withdrawal of our troops from Germany embarrasses them a good deal, for we have a staff in nearly thirty main camps. Instead of their staffing a like number of camps, as they intended, they have been almost entirely unable to secure officers and men. About three weeks ago they did take over one camp. Col. McCready asked today what in the world the Commission was to do if we withdrew, and Col. Parker told him that we had had a thousand officers and men here for six months and it is time someone else took up the work.
I, lately, had a talk with a woman of the middle class, who lives in Pomerainia. She told me of huge amounts of linen and laces that the German officers sent home from Belgium. She herself had seen this. The officers kept their orderlies riding back and forth from the front bringing these things, as well as food, coffee and sugar. She also told of the number of cattle that had been brought out of Belgium, and is the first German to whom I have talked who thinks that the demand for 140,000 cows is a just one. All the rest of them forget that it is simply a demand for what was stolen. I believe I have heard more complaints over the demand for these cows than any other one thing.
This woman also told me of the way Russian and other prisoners of war were treated. As a rule the treatment was kind. She had seen some acts of cruelty, for instance, her brother stopped a German guard from beating a Russian.
She said the German women made themselves ridiculous running after the prisoners of all nationalities in a shameless ways and that many, many of the children in Germany today were the children of Russian and French fathers. This created quite s scandals especially upon the return of the trusting husbands, who, she declared, were no better than their wives. They, too, had not been true to their marriage vows while in Belgium. This, however, did not seem to disturb her as much as the fact that they came home diseased. She says that the German women believe the French and Belgians turned their most disreputable women loose upon the poor innocent Boche in an effort to ruin his health. She evidently does not know that since the Armistice, the Belgians have cut off the hair of every woman who was known to have associated with a German soldier. I asked her whether she believed it was true, as I had heard, that seventy per cent of the girls in Berlin, over seventeen years of age, were no longer pure. She said she believed this, and would put the age at fifteen. As she has lived in Berlin for a year, I expect she knows. It is dreadful to think of.
LATER. Col. Parker and I have been almost all day at a meeting with the English and French. They are trying to obstruct our withdrawal by saying that we can only move on Marshal Foch's orders. Col. Parker, however, pointed out that the Inter-Allied Commission was composed of four Generals; American, British, French and Italian, and that any personnel which these Generals might have with them did not belong to the Commission, but to the Military Mission of that particular country. This information was a bomb shell in the camp of the "enemy". We then discovered that they had already taken the matter up with Marshal Foch, through Gen. Dupont, trying to get the Marshal, as head of the Supreme War Council, to order Gen. Pershing to have us stay. As it is against our announced national policy, (which is to get American soldiers home) I imagine Pershing will refer the matter to Washington. If the Supreme War Council had backed us up and made the Poles behave themselves, we could have repatriated the whole lot of these Russians before now, but the Council did not see fit to do this and the consequence is that the border has remained closed.
You will notice on my letter today that the censor's stamp is no longer necessary. This seems almost like old times.
BERLIN, July 5, 1919. I am quite happy over the promotions we have been able to secure for the enlisted men of the Medical Department. Out of the five here, three have received promotions, so that now we have only non-commissioned officers. They appreciate it, too, I can tell you.
Berlin is still walking, but I think the strike is about broken. Vehicles have been brought in from the surrounding towns and everyone is getting along so well that the street car men want their jobs back again. The newspapers today announce that the new German flag is to be black, red and gold. These are the Belgian colors and I wonder at their selection.
BERLIN, July 6, 1919. The life of the average German has taken on a new phase in these strenuous times. Gambling in Berlin is rampant. There are three race courses near here, though only one of them is in use right now. Great crowds stream out to this track. I understand that the betting runs into enormous figures. German money is worth so little that the people seem mad to get rid of what they have. All over the city "spiel clubs" have sprung up, even in the best districts. These clubs are nothing in the world but gambling joints, where every device known to the gambler is in use. People of all classes visit them. They are operated sub-rosa, and now and then the police break them up, but they are sure to re-establish themselves in another house.
It is claimed that the use of morphine and cocaine has been greatly augmented. Some blame this on the reduction in alcohol, but it is probably due to hunger and to depression incident to the hard times.
The busy corners are occupied by hawkers of various sorts, who sell, for the most part, pamphlets. I believe Germany prints more than any other country. These pamphlets deal with every topic under the sun. Just now everybody has his own solution of the future of Germany. Lately, I heard one of these hawkers announcing that his particular pamphlet proved conclusively the Kaiser had lost his mind. I wonder if he would have dared such a thing a year ago.
Every wall in Berlin is adorned with posters. Some of these advertise the various art exhibits. Many, just now, are used to stimulate interest in the return of German prisoners. They depict the most woeful scenes among the poor Germans held in foreign lands - such thin faces you have never seen. As a matter of fact, the German prisoner is inch better off than his countryman at home. Many of the posters are striving against Bolshevism. These are probably the most striking. Bolshevism Is depicted either as a huge gorilla, armed with a fire brand, or as a demented woman. They are dreadful to look at. A collection of these posters would be most interesting,
The new army organizations are attempting to recruit by posters; the youth of Germany being urged to join new battalions. I use the word "youth" advisedly, for many of them seem to be mere boys of seventeen. The assurance of three meals a day is a big drawing card to enter the army. As usual the Army gets the best food to be had.
There is quite a battle royal going on between posters advertising various dance halls, where one may dance twenty-four hours in the day, and another set which warns Germany against so much pleasure hunting. These last display the typical figure of Germania dancing with a hideous skeleton, - the legend reading that Germany has gone mad in her lust for pleasure and is now dancing herself to death.
Lately we have noticed the re-appearance of policemen on the streets. It looks almost like pre-war times. They are very soldierly looking, in dark greenish blue uniforms and wearing a long sword. They are now conspicuous on all busy corners.
We do not notice that women are doing a very great part of the work. They are often seen driving mail wagons and acting as conductors on the street oars, but they have not, in a general way, replaced the men.
BERLIN, July 7, 1919. Col. Parker and I had dinner last evening with some friends of his. Our hostess was an American, married to a German. He lived in Chicago so long that he speaks and acts almost like one of our own people, The other guests were all Americans or English speaking Germans. One German interested me greatly because he was the husband of Madame Gadsky. I remember at the time of the Bernstorff trouble in America, that Capt. Hans Tauscher was sent back to Germany. It appears that he had lived in Washington for twenty years, and had sold fire arms to the American Government. After his unpleasant adventure just before we entered the war, he returned to Germany and fought until the Armistice. However, it was he, it is said, who concentrated the American prisoners of war in such camps as Rastatt, near the Rhine, so that they could be easily repatriated.
Our hostess was telling me of how hard it was to secure food in Germany, even now, so long after the Armistice. Her description of what was called "turnip Winter", when all Germany subsisted on that vegetable, was distressing. She showed me the measure of the mount of butter a German is allowed per week. It is about what we would have at one serving. Even then, she explained, the butter was not always to be had, by any means.
From my host I learned that he was a newspaper correspondent during the war, and had been intrusted by his paper to investigate the charges brought by the Allies of cruelty during the deportations from Belgium. He stated that he deplored very much the policy of deporting these people, but that he had honestly attempted to run down one case of cruelty and had failed to find any, and he declared that due consideration was given to holding families together. Do you believe that?
The papers we receive from Paris are telling of how the Americans celebrated the fourth in that city. One of our officers who went on the boat ride given our boys here, has just told of the co-incidence in the name of the little boat. It was Kaiser Wilhelm II. He also said that the German band on board played "The Stars and Stripes Forever" many times during the day. Inasmuch as the boat ride started on the Spree River, some wit has said that the Yanks went on a Spree. Frederick the Great would probably turn over in his grave if he realized that our boys played baseball in Sans Soucci park.
BERLIN, July 9, 1919. There is little news today. The British are elated over the feat of their air-ship in crossing the Atlantic, and we are congratulating them.
The Peace Treaty was ratified at Weimar. That poor, little town is not the least bit happy over its selection as the capital of Germany. It was so content to lead its life in the refined atmosphere of art and literature, and now for politics to be rudely thrust upon it is not at all to its taste.
The German officer who wished to supply me with salvarsan to smuggle into America, has evidently been busy in spite of my declining his proposition. Today a German chemist, from Elberfeld, came to me, saying that he had the reminder of my order for 26 kilograms of the drug. Upon my explaining my ignorance of the matter, he related that a German had come to him and placed the order, telling him that he would take all the chemist had on hand, the rest to be delivered to me in Berlin. As evidence of his good-will he gave the chemist a check for 40,000 marks and told him that he could collect the balance from me upon delivery of the order. He also told the chemist that he had two American soldiers outside to carry whatever stock was then on hand. Unfortunately, the chemist, dazzled by the large order and believing that "Americans are made of gold," did not even go to look at the two supposed American soldiers. He turned over 2 kilos of salvarsan to the man, accepted the check and went to work to make the remainder. I advised him to bank the check at once and see if it was good. He promised to let me know about it, but never came back. He had told me that the balance of the salvarsan was at the Potsdam station, in the check-room, and that it was left in my name. Later in the day Aschmann and I went to the station and learned that a large package had been left there in my name but that it had been called for and, as the man had the proper check, it had been surrendered. The whole thing is "risky". Perhaps it was thought that I might buy the drug if it were brought to me.
COBLENZ, July 12, 1919. I am at the Coblenzer-Hof, which is a hotel taken over by our army for field officers. The General has a room here, but is just now at the hospital. He looks well and hopes to be out in a few days.
On my way down from Berlin I was able to stop at Cologne for a few hours, where we must change trains. I embraced the opportunity to see the Cathedral. The English have so taken Cologne that it looks like an English city. English soldiers swarm every street and those who are on duty in front of headquarters, salute you so smartly that it startles you. It is interesting to see the Germans salute our officers in occupied territory.
I had lunch at the Ewige Lampe, which they have turned into an Officers' Club. It is quite a famous old German restaurant, but you do not hear a word of German there now.
The ride from Cologne to Coblenz is very beautiful, but one sees little from the train. At the hospital I was introduced to Lt. Col. Turnbull, who is the Commanding Officer, and he showed me over the place. By great good luck this hospital was finished just before the war started, and, inasmuch as it is a military hospital, it does seem a strange "coincidence." Our troops have used it during our occupation. The appointments are perfect.
Splendid re-construction work is being done in our hospitals. Men are no longer allowed to lie with idle hands, waiting for a broken bone to heal. Nurses, skilled in such work, interest them in various occupations, which vary from stringing beads to working in brass. The atmosphere of the place is dominated by a cheerfulness such as was seldom seen in a hospital in former times. Once a week there is an exhibit of what the soldiers have made while lying in bed, and it is truly wonderful what they have accomplished. Everybody at this hospital seems to be having a good time. Just now the cherries are ripe and Gen. Harries amuses himself distributing baskets of them in the different wards. Dances are given several times a week, and everything is done to make life pleasant for the inmates as well as for the nurses and officers on duty.
I had the pleasure, later in the afternoon, of meeting Col. Grissinger, who is just relinquishing the post of Chief Surgeon of the Army of Occupation, and whom I had known at Fort Thomas three years ago. I also met his successor, Col. Bruns. They were both interested in hearing, about Berlin.
Last evening Gailmard and I took a long walk up the Rhine. This is one of the most beautiful parks in all of Germany. It seems that Coblenz was a favorite stopping place of the Empress Augusta, who came here each Summer, and she had this part of the Rhine valley beautifully laid out.
I wish I could describe to you the view from our dining room at the Coblenzer Hof. It overlooks the Rhine, and directly across is Fortress Ehrenbreitstein, known as the Gibraltar of Germany. This rocky fortress is now surmounted by the American flag, and, as the name, means, "the broad stone of honor", I know of no more appropriate place for our flag to fly. No doubt the descendants of certain Hessians who came to fight us in the Revolutionary war can see that flag where it now is. I am enclosing a post card which I picked up today. It represents an American Fourth of July celebration of Ehrenbreitstein. I do not know whether this celebration took place or not, but the picture shows real sky rockets, Roman candles and all, being shot from the Gibraltar of Germany.
The traffic on the Rhine is not what it used to be, but we Americans can still learn a great lesson from it. The pontoon bridge directly in front of my window, is constantly being opened to allow the passage of boats. These are more like canal boats than anything else, and four or five of them are usually pulled by one stout tug. It is a pity our streams are not utilized in the same manner.
Almost every day there are excursions from here to Mayence, so that our boys are enabled to see the Rhine in its. most beautiful parts.
COBLENZ, July 14, 1919. The air is filled with the "going home" spirit. Rumor is busy, and everyone is talking of it so you may know that I am happy.
I have been exploring this city a bit today, and learn that it is a very old town. There are Roman ruins to be seen, and it was here that Charlemagne's [sic] empire was divided among his three sons.
COBLENZ, July, 16, 1919. Gailmard and I are just back from a beautiful drive up the valley of the Mosel. It is quite as beautiful as the Rhine valley. The steep hillsides are covered with terraced vineyards. So precipitous are these hills that it seems impossible for vegetation to grow. The thrifty German, however, has carried the earth in baskets on his back up the slope, and, in some way, has gotten it to stick long enough to grow the precious vines. Every little space is utilized. The ruins of age old castles dot the highest points.
It is impossible to describe the grandeur of some of the views in the Mosel valley. The river twists and turns so that you feel at times that you are running into a pocket, until you get clear to the end and then see the turn to the right or left. It reminds one of the canons in Colorado.
We went to Treves, which is our advance G. H. Q. It is the oldest city in Germany. In the first century it boasted 60,000 people, as the many Roman ruins testify. In modern times Marshal Foch had his headquarters in this town. I saw many of my friends here, among whom was Lt. Col. Wilson, whom you know.
COLBLENZ, July 18, 1919. This morning Marshal Petain came to Coblenz with a brilliant staff, and decorated many American officers and men. The Marshal wears seven stars on his sleeve and has a most military bearing. He gave not only the Legion of Honor to many of the Americans, but also the Croix da Guerre, with and without the Palm. I saw Maj. Gen. Howze decorated, who was at one time in command of the 38th Division. I enclose you a clipping of the ceremony from the Amaroc News, the newspaper published by our Army of Occupation.
I was most interested in a little by-play which I noticed after the ceremony. As usual, the fortunate officers and men were photographed. The enlisted men formed in a rank immediately behind the officers. When Gen. Howze noticed this he insisted upon the enlisted men standing with the officers and placed himself between two of the men. Probably it is this spirit which has made him such a successful leader, and which will help our army always to be free of Bolshevism.
COBLENZ, July 20, 1919. Gen. Harries gave us a great treat yesterday by taking Gailmard and myself to Weisbaden. There probably is no more beautiful ride on earth than that along the Rhine. The General's Packard limousine sped over the road in record time. We left about nine in the morning and motored by the left bank to just above Bingen, then crossed and drove down to Weisbaden. We passed not far from tho City of Ems, where the famous interview occurred between William the First, and Benedetti. The beauty of this trip is beyond description. The river is truly called "ruhig", which means "quiet", for it flows along, without a ripple, between very steep mountains whose sides are covered with vineyards. The crumbling, picturesque ruins, which crown each mountain craig [sic], breathe tales of robber barons of years ago.
We had a splendid dinner at the Nassau Hof and then walked about the town. The shops are wonderful, and all of us bought trinkets and little remembrances, The General gave each of us some present to remember the day, mine being a miniature sword paper cutter. In a toy shop the General pointed out a skipping rope, which was made of paper, saying, "They were reduced to this, and yet some maintain that the British blockade did so little."
Weisbaden is the mecca of our Army of Occupation, it being considered quite the prize trip to be allowed to go there. This is probably due to its reputation as a sporty town, and to the fact that many French people have been attracted there since the French occupation.
We came back by way of Mayence, which is the bridge head held by the French. General Mangin is in command of the place, As Gen. Harries had served at the front in Mangin's army, he wished to present his compliments, but we found that Gen. Mangin was away for the day. Mangin is greatly beloved by his men, in spite of the fact that he has won the name, among them, of "The Butcher", from the prodigal way in which he spent life to attain his military objectives.
In Weisbaden we noticed a church with a temporary roof. Evidently the original roof had been of copper, which had found its way into the melting pot.
The trip down the river is perhaps more beautiful than the trip up. Maybe it was the soft afternoon light that produced this impression. The famous Mouse tower was a disappointment, because its roof is crowned by a signal station - an odd mixture of the ancient and modern. Such ruins as Ehrenfels, seen in the afternoon glow, are simply splendid. The National Monument is not imposing, placed as it is so that it may look miles away through a mountain gap into France. Once this figure looked in triumph at Lorraine, but now it must be in sadness.
Today Maj. Webster took me out to Shloss Eltz, a beautiful ride, just a short distance from Coblenz. This is one of the most picturesque castles near the Rhine. Maj. Webster is the official entertainer, his time being taken up with showing visitors around the American bridge head. Representatives from foreign armies are continually coming, even from China, Japan, Siam and South American countries. By far the largest part of his duties are devoted to visiting Senators and Congressmen, who have been appointed on all sorts of investigating committees and who have found it necessary, in making those investigations, to tour not only the battle lines but the occupied area of Germany. The way some of these gentlemen have acted is certainly unusual. It is whispered that one of them, connected with a large department store at home, quietly made some very advantageous purchases for his firm, despite the fact that we are not supposed to have commercial relations with the enemy.
COLOGNE, July 21, 1919. I left Coblenz last evening and reached this city just in time to miss the train for Berlin. The train from Coblenz was crowded to the doors. Several compartments are set aside for the use of Entente officers, but eventually some German women asked if we objected to their riding with us. Two English officers, who were present, said they had no objection, and, of course, I had none. By the time we reached Bonn, however, our compartment was as full as could be. The English M.P. attempted to clear the Germans out, and seemed utterly astonished when I told him that I had no objection to the women remaining. He took my name, however, and I may be reported.
I newer saw people kiss and hug each other so openly as do these Germans. It was disgusting.
I shall have twenty-four hours here, for which I am not sorry. I have just seen Maj. Bradley, who was on the Armistice Commission, at Spa, and he has invited me to dine with him this evening at the hotel set aside for English officers. I was glad to see that he had been decorated, in recognition of his services at Spa.
10 P. M. I had lunch at the Officers' Rest House, where I met an Irish padre, who is serving with some Scotch Canadians. We surely get to be international. He told me that one of the largest bells in the Cathedral, known as the "Kaiser Bell", had been melted, in an effort to offset the bronze shortage. I knew that many, many bells from churches in Alsace had been taken. Indeed, the Cathedral of Strassburg lost all save two, but that they would strip such noted edifices as the Cathedral of Cologne, I did not believe.
BERLIN, July 22, 1919. Back at my billet in Hotel Adlon, and very glad to be here. I had quite a time getting away from Coblenz. After engaging my compartment twenty-four hours ahead of time, I discovered, when the train came in, that my reservation had been sold over my head, and that a Boche was comfortably occupying it. I thought it about time to do a bit of bluffing, so I demanded to see the train conductor and the station master. Fortunately, Bradley stayed by my side and backed me up in everything I said. When these two functionaries appeared, with their red caps covered with gold lace, I explained to them the trouble and asked them to find a compartment for me. They answered that the train had been sold out and that I would have to wait another twenty-four hours. I then ordered them to hold the train until proper reservations were secured. Not only was I without a berth, but our regular courier was in the same plight. They wanted to know upon whose authority I did this, and I told them that I spoke in the name of the Inter-Allied Commission. Fortunately, they did not ask me which Commission, and the bluff worked to perfection. After a great deal of frantic talking, which lasted about forty minutes, they found me a berth. At one time they came and asked how long I was going to hold the train, and when Bradley told them that we were perfectly comfortable smoking on the platform, and would stay a week, if necessary, they lost hope and turned the Boche out of his compartment and gave it to me. I might add that the courier was also taken care of.
Upon my arrival in Berlin I find that the strike is over.
BERLIN, July 23, 1919. You will be glad to know that requisitions have already been sent in for officers of the Regular Army to take our places. A civil commission was not mentioned. Indeed, the most vivid impression which I brought back from Coblenz was the feeling, which everyone shared, that the army was on the move homeward.
BERLIN, July 24, 1919. One of the our medical officers has just come from Breslau. He has done a particularly good piece of work while in that city. There are some eighteen hospitals in Breslau, and, inasmuch as there were sick Russians in each of these, I got the Major to concentrate them in one hospital and to send all those able to travel to our camp at Lamsdorf.
The Major discovered, while at Breslau, that there were numerous Russians working in mines in the neighborhood, and, upon investigating their condition, he found some of them working under truly deplorable circumstances. They were herded like hogs, living in filth, with no conveniences and being worked more than twelve hours a day. He not only demanded that these conditions be remedied at once, but took the precaution to pay an unexpected visit to several of the mines and convinced himself that the owners had acquiesced with his wishes.
BERLIN, July 25, 1919. Yesterday I saw a body of German troops pass down the Wilhelmstrasse and two of the infantry companies carried the old German flag. We have often seen small flags tacked on their wagons and gun carriages, but this is the first time I have seen the old colors carried, as you might say, officially. Germany is supposed to have had a revolution, and to have gone back on everything for which the old flag stood, and besides, she has chosen an entirely different flag, yet here were German troops marching along under the old one.
Berlin is almost normal now. Prices of staples are perceptibly lower; coffee, for instance, that did cost thirty marks per pound can now be gotten for six. Just now the entire city is very much worked up over having to pay 1,000,000 marks for the killing of the French Sergeant, Mannheim. He was stabbed in a street fight. But this is exactly what Germany did when anything went wrong in Belgium - it is her own policy. The Germans even says "That was the way the Kaiser and his crowd acted - they did all of those bad things. We have gotten rid of them, and, therefor, we should not be punished." They forget that they willingly carried out the orders, ands anyway, they must pay the piper for having been so stupid in letting the Kaiser lead them about by the nose.
BERLIN, July 29, 1919. An evening or so ago, Col. Parker gave a little dinner, at which I sat next to a New Orleans girl who had married a German. She told me that during the war it was her husband's duty to read all the foreign newspapers, many of which found their way into the country. Inasmuch as he is a linguist, he was well fitted for this work. He is a banker by profession. He had to translate into German all of the articles relative to the war, and send this digest to the headquarters of the German Army. Of course, such newspapers were never allowed to get to the people - only the authorities saw them, because they told the other side of the war story.
This lady said it was at times perfectly dreadful to read in the German papers that Germany was about to win; that she had nothing to fear, and so on, and to know that these were tales without the slightest foundation of truth. Her husband read in English, French and Italian papers a totally different story, and these stories rang true. For instance, he knew that Bulgaria was about to give up two months before she did. All the Entente papers said so. Yet the German papers did not mention a word of it until three days before Bulgaria quit, and all the time maintained that all was well with their ally.
I have talked with numerous Germans who maintained that the authorities published weekly a list giving the total of American troops sunk by their U-boats. They said these figures ran into hundreds of thousands and the largest number of American troops which they ever conceded had landed was placed at about 200,000. When I explain that only about 200 had been lost at sea, and that more than 2,000,000 did land, they are utterly astonished.
There is a big scandal over certain peace offers which the Vatican made in 1917, and about which the German people are just learning. Up to this time they had been lead to believe that the Entente refused their peace offer, when the fact is Germany never did answer the question, "What is to become of Belgium?", so that the Allies could never talk peace. It makes the people wild to think how they were hoodwinked, but if they had won, they would have justified all of this deception. This righteous indignation is coming about fifty years too late.
BERLIN, July 31, 1919. Barbour and I yesterday visited an art(?) exhibit, of which we had just heard. It is exactly like kindergarten work. An exponent of this cult explained to us that to draw and paint objects as they are, that is, to paint a ball round or a box square, is childish. It is a photograph. Art should express ideas, not form. If she were to paint a rose, she would just put a dab of red paint on the canvas, and then try, by "warm colors" around it, to express its fragrance. She seemed very much afraid that we would believe this art a product and example of German kultur, and was very emphatic in stating that it existed in other countries. All of which shows that they know, deep in their hearts, that it is a travesty of art.
The evening papers announce that the new German Constitution has been adopted.
Lately we have been taking some automobile rides into the country, and I have been interested in watching the Germans harvest their wheat. I have seen only one self binder at work, and believe that the agricultural implement firms in America have a big field after the war. Most of the harvesting is done by cradle, women following after binding the wheat by hand. It does seem that a lot of wheat would be lost in this manner.
BERLIN, August 1, 1919. Five years ago this war started, and we, who are kept here so long after the excitement is over, are wondering when it will ever end. The papers this morning are full of accounts of what happened in Berlin at that time, some of them printing the Kaiser's martial speech delivered from the castle. Eye witnesses have described this scene to me, and it must have been a brilliant spectacle.
One paper gives the minutes of a meeting held by the German leaders just before the Armistice, which proves that as early as August, 1918, they realized that there was no hope for them. To read these telegrams and the minutes of this meeting should be a big lesson to everyone. The Germans put up a very bold front, but this shows that the fear of God had entered their hearts at that time. We all remember the dark days in the Spring of 1918, when it looked as though nothing could stop the Germans, still no one thought of quitting, and by holding on we won. The enemy evidently has his troubles, too, and they may be a heap worse than our own.
Today I have seen the new German flag flying, for today it became official by ratification of the National Assembly.
One also sees everywhere, what is known as the war flag, a white flag with the German eagle in the center and the iron cross in the upper comer. I notice on one pole that the war flag flies above the National colors. This is because the war flag represents the Kaiser, and the Kaiser was above the Fatherland. You know their motto was, "With God, for King and Fatherland," giving preference to the King.
BERLIN, August 3, 1919. Recently I have had to detail a medical officer, Capt. Aschmann, to inspect certain ships which lie at Hamburg, and which are to be used in transporting 2,000 Georgians and half as many Cossacks and Turks to the Black Sea. It is estimated that the trip will take about four weeks and Capt. Aschmann is to look after the sanitary condition of each of the vessels and to see to it that plenty of medical supplies are aboard.
BERLIN, August 4, 1919. The Germans are very much worked up just now over the new law that has been proposed. It seems that there is a great shortage of houses. Berlin lacking some twenty-five thousand. They have decided that those having more than a certain number of rooms must share the house with another family. The idea is not a socialistic one. The expense of the house is to be shared by all living in it, not solely by the owner of the house, as was once proposed by the Socialists. They have resorted to many schemes for building temporary houses, the most favored being to erect these in court yards.
Another scheme is to re-stamp all paper money. One sees only paper money in Germany today, even coins of nickel having disappeared. Paper money is issued in all denominations, not only by the Government, but by cities, large and small. How much is back of this paper no one knows. There is to be a graduated tax on the actual mount of money in each person's possession, and this is to be arrived at by making it obligatory to bring the money to the bank and have it stamped. After a certain date unstamped paper will be valueless. Once at the bank the Government can appropriate its portion of each man's possessions. This will particularly affect those wiseacres who have sent bundle after bundle of marks to Holland in order to have them in a safe place. Unless they can get this money back and have it stamped, it will be valueless, and if they attempt to get it back they will lose a large proportion of it by the tax. Undoubtedly some of the spending craze just now sweeping over Germany is due to not knowing the actual value of the money in their possession and to the fact that they may lose a large proportion of it at any time.
BERLIN, August 7. 1919. Yesterday at a meeting of the entire Commission, Gen. Dupont read a telegram from Marshal Foch, in which it was ordered that the Allied Missions leave Berlin as soon as possible, and turn the Russian prisoners of war over to the Germans. Last night at supper, Col. Parker said that he had received the order relieving us and ordering us to Brest. Was ever a man as happy as I? We are ordered to do this immediately. Gen. Harries gets here this morning, and I imagine he has his plans well formulated for our exodus.
BERLIN, August 8, 1919. The entire Commission meets at eleven this morning to decide upon the details of turning our work over to the Germans. They are somewhat flabbergasted at being saddled with this old responsibility. When we interferred they were sending the Russians out of Germany fast enough, but not in a very Christian way. Then we fed and clothed the Russians in a manner far above the average for the German civilian. If we withdraw our help now, it is really going to be quite difficult for the Germans, because the Russian will be hard to handle when he finds his food cut back to the old rations. As a Military Mission, it is impossible for us to stay: we have a perfect right to withdraw our help from the Russians at any time we please, but it does not look exactly square to me, and the German Government will probably make some counter proposals.
A rather peculiar thing about the status of the Russian prisoners of war is, that after Germany and Russia signed the peace of 1916, these Russians were technically no longer prisoners of war, because there was peace between the two countries. But Germany never gave them their liberty, probably keeping them as hostages. With the signing of the Peace at Versailles, the Russians revert to the status of prisoners of war, because, by the Versailles Treaty the Germans renounced the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.
The German War Office is paying the Americans a large compliment just now, by asking us to provide officers to conduct trains to Serbia, Roumania and to Italy to bring back German prisoners. Medical Officers seem to be the most available for this, and several have been detailed. Capt. Roberts, an Infantry Officer, took a number of Greeks to Fiume lately and not only brought back all the cars with which he started, but found seven German cars and brought them along. The German War Office has never ceased to wonder at his audacity. Just one American officer can take these trains past international boundaries, commandeer locomotives, keep the cars from being stolen and bring the whole train back to the starting point in as good or better shape as when started. No one else in Europe can do that, and the Germans trust no one but an American.
BERLIN, August 9, 1919. I have just accompanied Col. Parker on a shopping tour. He cannot speak German and used me as an interpreter. It is interesting to observe the rise in prices since our coming to Berlin. Germany is famed for the lenses of field glasses and kodaks. Last January one could procure a splendid glass for 190 marks. Today, for the same thing they demand 350. Many couriers coming up from Coblenz have been intrusted with the purchase of field glasses and kodaks.
Lately a fact has been borne in upon me that I had never realized sufficiently before. In studying the faces of the Germans on the streets, I always look for signs of hunger. It used to be worse than now, as some food does get in. But today I suddenly became aware of the fact that it is the women who show, and have always shown, the facial hunger signs more than the men. The bloodless lips, the hollow eyes and the waxy ears are seen in their faces. I spoke of it at the table and five other officers agreed with me that the women show the effects of the blockade more than others. I wonder if it is because the men stand the privation better, or whether it is that they simply take what there is to eat and let the women go hungry. I am tempted to believe the latter.
BERLIN, August 11, 1919. It begins to look like we might get to New York just in time to be tied up in a railroad strike. The way strikes are sweeping over the world is fearful. The morning papers in Berlin state that the German railroad people have decided not to strike. If the German workers really do not strike, and those of France, England and the United States continue to do so, the first thing we know Germany will be ahead of us in commerce. Now is the time for every one to work and to produce something: so much has been wasted by the war and all of this must be replaced. If the Germans do the replacing they will really have won the war. But I have no fear.
BERLIN, August 12, 1919. Everything is bustle and hurry, getting ready to leave. My office is finishing its final report on the activities of the Medical Department of this Mission. I have been really astonished at the amount of work we have accomplished.
Capt. Barbour has just laid some of this report before me. We have had as many as 9,000 sick Russians at one time. This was gradually reduced to about 7,500. Our tuberculosis experts examined approximately 130,000 Russian prisoners, isolating those who were infected. Over 2,000 cases were found. The deaths from tuberculosis have been fearful. We have lost nearly 500 Russians from this disease alone. The name of each Russian dying at the camps has been sent to this office, with all data possible, to be turned over to the Russian Red Cross.
The oculists have also done some splendid work, examining approximately the same number of prisoners, of whom some 2300 had trachoma. Our dentists found it hard to gain the confidence of the Russians, but even at that, they treated over 5,000 cases of dental trouble while here.
The health of our own troops has been remarkably good. We have had almost a thousand officers and men, and out of this number have lost only one. We have succeeded so far in preventing any epidemics among our boys. Indeed, in none of the camps has an epidemic been able to gain a foothold, even among the crowded prisoners. In all we had only one hundred and sixty-four cases of typhus to contend with. Ninety-one of these occurred at one camp and thirty-six at another. Both of these camps are situated near the Russian border and the infection undoubtedly came from refugees from Russia and from soldiers who had tried to get through the Bolshevik lines, and, having failed, returned to the nearest Russian prison camp. We have had only seventeen deaths from typhus. Almost no other infectious disease appeared, except one case of smallpox and six of diphtheria. Fortunately, influenza has not been prevalent, only forty-five deaths being reported. That insanity is frequent among the Russians is proven by the fact that we have been able to isolate nearly 500 cases among our charges.
Yesterday the Medical Officers were informed of the date upon which they might expect to leave. All, except Headquarters, will go on the 19th. We will leave a day or two later. We have been a very congenial family and there will be pangs upon our breaking up. It is odd that those of us who came to Berlin first wish to stay until the very end. Numerous officers have asked to be allowed to stay as long as possible. It is hard for us to realize that the end is right here, and there is a certain amount of pride in having stuck it out. We are all hoping that we will go home as an organization. Everybody hates a casual, and if the General can manage to take us as a whole, it will make our lot much easier.
Last evening Gen. Harries had four English officers in to dine. I suppose from now on there will be a number of little dinners given, just by way of saying farewell.
10 P.M. I have just received orders to be at the French Embassy to see Gen. Harries present Gen. Dupont with the D. S. M.
BERLIN, August 13, 1919. The presentation was quite a success. The French and Italians strutted about in their bright colors, red breeches and blue or black jackets, looking like peacocks. Even the English have a dab of red in their caps and on their lapels. We Americans present a somber crowd, but business-like. The others can do the dressing up, but they, and the Germans, know that when a job is to be done, the U. S. Army can do it.
Gen. Harries presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. Dupont with a very gracious speech. The French General responded, pausing after each sentence for Captain Shellens to translate. He thanked the President of the United States, Gen. Pershing, Gen. Harries, the American people, the American army, and especially the A. E. F., and most especially the American Mission in Berlin, in the name of himself, the French army, the French people, etc., etc. Dupont then took the occasion to present the Croix da Guerre to one of his officers and Gen. Harries handed Lieut. Gailmard a citation, signed by Gen. Pershing, commending him for his splendid work at Brest. It was a general love feast.
10 P.M. We are packing up. The first detachments from the camps leave tomorrow for the "S.O.S." From now on until the 19th, they will be passing through Berlin each day. Wild tales are flying about as to what we will do after leaving here. I wish I could give you some idea of the feeling that pervades everything. The halls are full of boxes and trunks. Instead of being cross as bears with each other, we smile and sing "Over There" with a new meaning, telling the folks at home that the "Yanks are coming" --back.
In talking to Gailmard about his citation today, I heard the story of what Gen. Harries accomplished at Brest and it is most amazing. When he assumed command of that port it was thought that possibly they could handle 1,000 men per day. Under the General's supervision, in the six months of his tour of duty, a few less than 1,000,000 men passed through the port. Just preceding the St. Mihiel drive, Gen. Harries received a telegram at midnight, ordering him to send all the iron rations in his possession to a certain point in France, and to do so as quickly as possible. His transportation officer informed him that there were eleven trains at Brest, seven freight and four passenger. The General ordered every man out and at six o'clock in the morning those eleven trains, filled from floor to ceiling with iron rations, and with soldiers on every car to see to it that they were not stopped, left Brest. The French went wild when they saw passenger coaches being used as freight cars, and that this amount of work could be accomplished in six hours and at night, astounded them. After the St. Mihiel drive, Gen. Harries received a telegram, signed by Gen. Pershing, which bore the laconic message: "You won that drive."
When the General took charge of Brest, it was impossible for him to secure material necessary for building barracks. His requisitions were ignored and he even resorted to salvaging nails in order to erect warehouses which were absolutely necessary.
When the Leviathan would anchor at Brest, it was customary to see, posted, lists of ship's officers who were to have "Paris" leave, for the first, second and third weeks of their stay in port. The fourth week was left vacant because it was thought probable that the ship might be unloaded and made ready for the return trip by that time. This happened only once after Gen. Harries assumed command of the port. The next trip, no leaves were granted and the big ship was "turned around" and started for New York in four days. Not satisfied, the General laid still further plans and finally established the record of "turning the Leviathan around" in thirty-six hours,
BERLIN, August 14, 1919. I can just write a note today for we are busy as can be, moving the detachments through Berlin on their way home.
The enclosed correspondence has passed today between the General and this office;
"UNITED STATES MILITARY MISSION
August 14, 1919
Major Albro L. Parsons, M. C.,
My dear Major Parsons:-
This Mission will soon be no more than a memory, so while it still exists I want to let you know how much I appreciate the conspicuous skill and energy you have contributed to whatever it may have succeeded in doing.
Your responsibilities have been very great---very much depended upon your judgment and activity---but you carried your burdens cheerfully to the journey's end. What you have accomplished as Chief Surgeon is beyond telling; for the present it will be sufficient for me to say that the Inter-Allied Missions, the personnel of this Mission, and--most of all--the hundreds of thousands of Russians and other prisoners in German hands are deeply indebted to you for limitless devotion.
My personal obligations to you are many; the sense of them will remain with me throughout life.
I am hoping that happiness will be the lot of you and yours. Take with you to the "Old Kentucky Home" the assurance of my affectionate esteem and be certain that I shall be your friend wherever you may be.
Brig. Gen. Geo. H. Harries,
My dear General:
With the breaking up of the United States Military Mission in the near future, the officers and other ranks of the Medical Department wish to express regret that service under your command is drawing to a close. Some of us already stand relieved from duty after seven months with this Mission.
We all agree that no duty has been more congenial than that with this Mission, and no leadership has been more inspiring.
In offering our respects to you, we take this occasion to add our sincere wishes for your future health and happiness.
A. L. PARSONS,
"UNITED STATES MILITARY MISSION
August 14, 1919.
Major Albro L. Parsons, M. C.,
My dear Major Parsons:-
Your letter of this date was a pleasing surprise for which I am deeply indebted to yourself and the entire medical personnel of the Mission.
Most heartily I reciprocate your good wishes and in so doing again take advantage of an opportunity to let you of the Medical Department know that I am deeply grateful to you for your service and for your personal feeling toward myself.
GEO. H. HARRIES,
BERLIN, August 15, 1919. We learned, fairly reliably, today that Headquarters will leave Berlin on the 25th.
BERLIN, August 16, 1919. Things are moving rapidly, already seven of our camps have cleared out. As you saw by the correspondence I sent you a day or two ago, notes are flying between different departments congratulating each other. We are all patting each other on the back, so to speak. The British have sent out a letter to all the Missions, thanking them for their co-operation.
I have never felt satisfied that the British Mission was entirely on the same basis as our Mission. It always seemed that they were playing a political and commercial game, rather than bothering with the Russian prisoners of war. I have heard, fairly reliably, that Noske has been to dine with Gen. Malcolm.
Today Gen. Harries issued his General Order No. 2, in which you can see we are all again thanked for our services:
"UNITED STATES MILITARY MISSION
August 11, 1919.
GENERAL ORDERS )
TO THE COMMISSIONED AND ENLISTED PERSONNEL OF THIS MISSION:
Having been directed by the Commander-in-Chief, A.E.F. to bring to a close the activities and existence of this Mission, it is opportune that I should make grateful acknowledgment of the services so effectively rendered by the Mission personnel.
The problems have been many but there has been no failure for which your faithful selves can be held responsible. The work in which you have engaged (some of you for more than eight months), has often been hampered by serious obstacles--which you have removed or surmounted so successfully that hearty congratulations are yours.
You have benefitted mankind wherever there was opportunity and whenever opportunity did not appear you sought it. The countries whose nationals have been in your kindly keeping should never forget your unselfish labors in behalf of the hundreds of thousands of their helpless ones in captivity.
Some of you are now homeward bound; others will soon follow, until the entire force of those whose fine spirit, arduous performance and excellent conduct merit high commendation has returned to the United States. Each worthy one of you may properly be proud of having shared in the most uniquely notable humanitarian enterprise of this historic period.
In wishing you safe return to happy homes I assure you of my great respect and of my intense admiration for as devoted a body of United States troops as any I have ever known. You have done credit to the Service and have added materially to the soldierly reputation of the American Expeditionary Forces.
GEO. H. HARRIES
BERLIN, August 17, 1919. This is a beautiful Sunday morning, still and warm, and the church bells are ringing as though everything is at peace. Berlin holds little of interest after the daily excitement of the past seven months.
The General used me today as interpreter when he was called upon by Gen. Petocki. The Russian wished to present Gen. Harries with the St. George Medal. On the face of this medal are the Roman numerals, "IL.", which indicate forty years of service in the Russian army. The medal had been presented originally to Gen. Petocki's father and the General now gave it to Gen. Harries in remembrance of what Gen. Harries had done toward saving the lives of Russian officers who were being thrust into the arms of the Bolsheviks, there to be given the choice of turning Bolshevik or dying on the spot. Gen. Harries had stopped this massacre. Gen. Petocki is about to leave to join Gen. Denikin, who is so successfully fighting the Bolsheviki just North of the Black Sea.
The presentation today was really a letter, in which all of this was set forth. The medal itself had been given Gen. Harries sometime before. Indeed, it attracted Gen. Pershing's notice one day and when he heard the story, he gave Gen. Harries verbal permission to wear the medal.
It was also announced, during this conversation today, that Gen. Harries is to receive the order of St. Stanislaus, and Gailmard and I are commissioned to find the proper ribbons and decorations at a shop in Berlin. To add to the General's already long list of decorations, we hear that he is mentioned for the Order of the Bath, as well as the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus (Italy), the Order of the Redeemer (Greece), the Order of the Star (Roumania), and the Order of the White Eagle, of Servia.
The report of the Medical Department of this Mission was finished today. Any credit is due to Capt. Barbour, for he wrote the entire thing. Inasmuch as my report is the first finished, Gen. Harries has ordered me to give Mr. Cyril Brown, correspondent for the New York World, a brief history of the activities of the Mission.
BERLIN, August 19, 1919. Last night Gen. Dupont, Maj. Caricarti and Capt. Origo dined with Gen. Harries. I enjoyed hearing Gen. Dupont speak of the future of the United States in world politics. He maintains that we must give up our policy of isolation, and are now in honor bound to take part in European activities.
The value of the mark is acting most peculiarly. Instead of its value increasing with the coming of peace, German banks are now offering seventeen and eighteen marks for an American dollar.
Berlin is having some trouble just now with bands of robbers, who break into her meat shops and bakeries. It is no unusual sight to see the battered show windows. The prices are so high that the poor are simply unable to secure their needs, and I imagine that some very worthy people may be driven to taking part in these raids. I think it is rather wonderful that we have had so little trouble in protecting the huge Red Cross stores of food at the various depots. Some weeks ago the stores at Brandenburg were raided and several thousand dollars worth of fat and condensed milk was carried off, but when you think how hungry these people are, it is not surprising that they lay violent hands on food when it is so close.
BERLIN, August 20. 1919. Last evening the final detachment of troops moved out, and now only Headquarters remain in Berlin.
We have just returned from the last of the meetings of the Commission. The heads of the different Missions are to dine here today. Friday, we are to dine with the Italians. We had a delightful time last evening at the light opera. It has been forbidden for us to go to the theater up to the present, but the Y. M. C. A. leased a large part of one of the opera houses and we thoroughly enjoyed getting out again.
Many of the chorus girls wore no stockings, and I am told that this was not an attempt to copy Paris, but it was actually due to their inability to buy silk hose.
BERLIN, August 21, 1919. At Gen. Harries dinner last evening I drew as a partner the Chief of the Belgian Mission, Maj. Willems. He proved to be a very pleasant gentleman and talked easily in German on one side to me, and in French to an Italian General on his left. He was at Namur and was captured in August, 1914, and remained a prisoner of war up to the time of the Armistice. Some of his anecdotes were quite funny.
It is a pretty sight to glance down a banquet table and see the uniforms of half a dozen nations. We had representatives from England, France, Belgium, Russia, Italy and Roumania, served by Germans.
I was surprised today to learn that the mark had dropped to 23 to a dollar. This, however, refers to American money. It is not the ordinary exchange. The Germans are so anxious to have in their possession actual American cash.
This reminds me of a balance sheet, which I lately saw in a German comic paper, "Uik", which is entitled, "A Balance Sheet of the War".
"PROFIT AND LOSS TO AUG. 1, 1919.
|Maintenance of Germany at The Hague Conference
Depreciation of enemy
The great Pan-German clique
Speeches of Kaiser
Sinking of Lusitania
The German Professors
Deportation Belgian workmen
Senseless destruction of enemy territory
Food organization at home
Activities of war press
|Patriotic spirit of war volunteers
The German soldier
Strength to endure
Eight patriotic poets,
German Republic, Incorporated (Formerly the Kaiser's Empire)."
BERLIN, August 23, 1919 Our floor of the hotel seems dreadfully deserted now, merely the Headquarters Staff is left. Everyone is busy closing out records. It gives me a thrill every time I pass all the boxes and trunks, which stand ready in the halls, marked for shipment.
Last evening we dined with the Italian, Gen. Bencivenga, and his Staff, at the Esplanade Hotel. We had a splendid dinner but had a hard time conversing. The General does not speak any save his own language and French. Gen. Harries took Capt. Shellens along to translate.
BERLIN, August 24, 1919. This morning I feel as though I am on my way. Everything is packed and I could leave in fifteen minutes. I have just finished marking little tags for my trunk and bedding roll, upon the reverse side of which I put my "home address." Does not that sound good? Orders have been handed me, by which I am to proceed, by way of Coblenz and Paris, to Brest, to report at the latter point not later than September 5th", and I am "to carry out the instructions of the Commanding General." His instructions, as far as I know, are to enjoy myself between now and the time we go on board.
Last evening we were dined by the English, and afterwards we played cards. The English are very keen about bridge. To my surprise one lady was present. I learned that she is a Bostonian, who married an English officer, and is now interested. in reconstruction work of some sort. She must be a great personage, for, it is whispered that she has two Generals working for her. She is a "Dame of the British Empire." This Order of the British Empire is one of two orders founded by King George during the Great War. It is open to ladies as well as men and is conferred upon those who have rendered conspicuous and valuable service to the empire. To my surprise I was ordered to breakfast tomorrow morning with Gen. Harries and this young lady. This came about in the following way: One of the General's orderlies has a reputation for making flannel cakes. The General was telling Mrs. Livingston of this accomplishment when that lady went into ecstasies and said she would love to eat flannel cakes once more before she died. Immediately the breakfast was arranged.
A contemptible trick has been played our Quartermaster by the Germans. We had food supplies on hand, when ordered to leave, amounting to several carloads. Inasmuch as Germany is short of food it was deemed wise to sell this to them. The bargain was made and they were supposed to take this material off our hands today. Maj. Jaka, our Quartermaster, was astonished when a German committee told him just now that they would not fulfill their contract. It was perfectly evident to all of us that it was a "squeeze" play. They thought that he would reduce his price rather than go to the trouble of arranging to take the food supplies out at this late hour. Jaka, however, was equal to the occasion. By hard work he has arranged for the supplies to go out the day after we do, and I have no doubt the Germans are much disappointed.
They tried the same tactics lately with an enormous amount of meat in Hamburg, which the Americans were ready to sell them, when they backed out at the eleventh hour. In this case also, their bluff did not work.
COBLENZ. August 26. 1919. As you see by the heading, I have bade unoccupied Germany good-bye.
Yesterday was an eventful day. At nine o'clock I called for Mrs. Livingston and Gen. Malcolm and brought them to Gen. Harries apartment. It was a pleasure to see the way the Dame of the British Empire consumed American flannel cakes.
At four o'clock Gen. Harries gave an At Home to all of the Missions. It was the biggest affair which has been given here. I never saw such quantities of food.
About ten of us formed ourselves into a reception committee and took charge of the guests after they had greeted Gen. Harries. It was a problem to seat those at the same table who could understand each other - the nationalities were so diversified. I finally landed with a Russian, Frenchman, Belgian and Italian, and the one language we had in common was German.
The hours for the party were from four to six, but at six no one had any idea of leaving. It was seven before we finally broke up. Between this time and midnight it was one grand rush getting away. Servants that I had never seen before presented themselves with expectant palms. At the depot there was really quite a crowd. I realized for the first time just how much "fraternizing" had been going on between our boys and the feminine portion of the enemy. Each soldier had from two to four Frauleins at the train to tell him Good-bye.
It was with mingled feelings that we finally got under way. Were I not coming home I should be sorry to leave.
Some very close friendships have been formed, which will be lasting. We are almost like one large family, welded together by common experiences and a mutual respect. The high sense of duty which pervades this Mission, officers and men alike, is a tribute to the leadership of Gen. Harries. No one worked harder for the Mission's success than he, and his example inspired all ranks.
We are dreadfully disappointed that we have not repatriated all of the Russians. We hate to quit with the job so incomplete. This failure, however, is due to causes beyond our control. It is hard to understand why we are ordered to turn our charges back to the Germans without some Allied supervision. Will this create the impression that we are quitters? Washington and Paris, probably know. Anyhow, our orders are definite.
What have we accomplished in our eight months' tour of duty in the heart of the enemy's country? Little enough, it may be said, if our efforts are to be measured by the numbers actually repatriated. Of the 300,000 prisoners whom we found here, two-thirds remain, but, on the other side of the ledger there is something to be recorded. Those 300,000 were cold, hungry, dispirited and hopeless, covered with rags and vermin, sick at heart and in body. We clothed them, fed them and cleaned them. Best of all, we awakened again in their breasts the feeling that they were not beasts, but men. The giving back of even a grain of self respect to each of these 300,000 dejected men is not a useless thing. Untutored as they are, each will carry back to Bolshevik Russia a tiny bit of American ideals, which may prove of untold value in stabilizing that tortured country.
Approximately one-half of these Russians were given a careful physical examination. The sick were sorted and instructed in the ways toward health. Granted, that many of these lessons will be forgotten, some have found fertile soil and will yield a rich harvest at a dozen distant points. Think of what it means to feed properly 9,000 sick and to give each sufferer just exactly the nourishment he must have to get well: Is that nothing?
Surely the thousands of Greeks, Roumanians and Serbians whom we tended and sent home will remember America kindly. It is no little thing to have planted a hundred seeds of friendship throughout the Balkans.
Lastly, our contact with the Germans was not without value. A thousand of us scattered In every corner of the old empire, were like so many missionaries. We were the living evidence to the population, six hundred miles from the front, that American troops were in the fight. The tangle of falsehoods as to the accomplishments of their U-boats, and the old women's tales of our brutality and craze for money, were given the direct lie by the men in O. D., who came on a mission of mercy, and went about their tasks in a most businesslike manner.
Nor will thousands of German wives and mothers soon forget that it was American officers who brought their sick and wounded-men out of Serbian and Roumanian captivity. These countries were loath to give up even the helpless captives taken from Mackensen's retreating army.
It was not a small lesson to the conceited German to be shown that we, too, could organize and bring order out of chaos, and this lesson was the more pointed because we succeeded where he had failed. We found German prison camps disorganized and we left them running smoothly.
I shall always remember a little incident which occurred at Ohligs, the frontier station in the English bridge head, We had descended to walk about while the formality of inspection was proceeding. Kodaks were busy snapping "last scenes", when the General asked for a group picture, The site he chose was a passage-way, and after the picture had been taken he pointed, with a smile, to a sign over our heads, It read: "Durch gang ver boten!"
|Aide de Camp (assistant)
Allied Expeditionary Force
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
General Head Quarters.
Railway Transport Officer