In a previous chapter I have spoken of the organisation of the children, a factor which should not be left out of consideration.
* * * * * Having considered the assets, let us turn to the debits.
The German casualty lists to the end of 1916 total 4,010,160, of which 909,665 have been killed or died of wounds. My investigations in Germany lead me to put the German killed or died of wounds at 1,200,000, and the total casualties at close to 5,000,000. If we assume that 50 per cent. of all wounded return to the front and another 25 per cent. to service in the interior, we must also consider in computation of man-power that the casualty lists do not include the vast numbers of invalided, and the sick, which almost balance those that return to the front. This means, in short, that the net losses are nearly as great at any one time as the gross losses. Consequently, according to my estimates there must be at least 4,500,000 Germans out of action at this moment.
In a war of attrition it is the number of men definitely out of action which counts, for the German lines can be successfully broken, and only successfully broken, when there are not enough men to hold them. The Germans now have in the West probably about 130 divisions.
Hindenburg’s levies in the late summer were so enormous that I am convinced from what I saw in Germany that she has now called almost everything possible to the Colours. One of Hindenburg’s stipulations in taking command was that he should always have a force of half a million to throw wherever he wished. We have seen the result in Rumania, and the men skimmed from the training units then have been replaced by this last great levy from civilian life.
Therefore, with something over 11,000,000 men called up, Germany has now 6,000,000, or a little more all told, many of whom are not at all suited for service at the front.
Germany on the defensive at the Somme certainly lost at least 600,000 men. Attrition, to be sure, works both ways, but if the Germans are out-gunned this year in the West to the extent expected their position must become untenable. The deadly work of reducing German man-power continues even though the Allied line does not advance. I know of a section of the German front opposite the French last winter which for five months did not have an action of sufficient importance to be mentioned by either side in the official reports, yet the Germans lost 10 per cent. of their effectives in killed.
The more munitions the Allies make Germany use, the more fat she must use for this purpose, and the less she will have for the civil population, with a consequent diminution of their output of work. Germany simply cannot burn the candle at both ends.
The poor of Berlin live in the north and east of the city. I have seen Berlin’s East-end change from the hilarious joy of the first year of the war to an ever-deepening gloom. I have studied conditions there long and carefully, but I feel that I can do no better than describe my last Saturday in that interesting quarter of the German capital.