It was not, however, the lines of suffering in those faces that impressed me, but that uncanny sameness of expression, an expression of hopeless gloom so deep that it made me forget that the sun was shining from an unclouded sky. The dejection of the police, of the soldier onlookers, of the walking wounded, and those upturned faces on the white pillows told as plainly as words could ever tell that the Guard had at last met a force superior to themselves and their war machine. They knew well that they were the idol of their Fatherland, and that they had fought with every ounce of their great physical strength, backed by their long traditions. They had been vanquished by an army of mere sportsmen.
My thoughts went back to Berlin and the uninformed scoffings at the British Army and its futile efforts to push back the troops of Rupprecht on the Somme. Yet here on the actual outskirts of the German capital was a grim tribute to the machine that Great Britain had built up under the protection of her Navy.
In Berlin at that moment the afternoon editions were fluttering their daily headlines of victory to the crowds on the Linden and the Friedrichstrasse, but here the mammoth vans were moving slowly through the streets of Potsdam.
To the women who stood in the long lines waiting with the potato and butter tickets for food on the other side of the old stone bridge that spans the Havel they were merely ordinary cumbersome furniture wagons.
How were they to know that these tumbrils contained the bloody story of Contalmaison?
HOW GERMANY DENIES
Germany, according to Reichstag statements, is spending millions of pounds upon German propaganda throughout the universe. The trend of that propaganda is:—
1. To attempt to convince the neutral world that Germany cannot be beaten; and
2. Above all, to convince Great Britain (the chief enemy) that Germany cannot be beaten.
The only factors really feared by the Germans of the governing class are the Western front and the blockade.
I went into Germany determined to try to find out the truth, and to tell the truth. I had an added incentive to be thorough and work on original lines, since I was fortunate enough to secure possession of an official letter which advised those whom it concerned to give no information of value to Americans in general. I also got accurate information that the Wilhelmstrasse had singled me out as one American in particular to whom nothing of value was to be imparted.
The German, with his cast-in-a-mould mind, does not understand the trait developed among other peoples of seeing things for themselves. He is unacquainted with originality in human beings. He thinks a correspondent does not observe anything unless it is pointed out to him.