I went farther eastward through the Kottbuser district to the Kottbuser Ufer on the canal, along which, a couple of hundred people waited in an orderly column without any guardian—another evidence of the success of the drastic measures of July and early August, when the demonstrations against the war were nipped in the bud. These people were waiting for the free advertisement sheets from the gaudily painted yellow Ullstein newspaper building across the square. They had to stand by the side of the canal because a queue of several hundred people waiting for potatoes wound slowly before Ullstein’s to the underground potato-shop next door.
I had not heard a laugh or seen anybody smile all day, and when darkness fell on the weary city I went to a cheap little beer-room where several “bad,” but really harmless Social Democrats used to gather. Among them was the inevitable one who had been to America, and I had become acquainted with them through him. They talked in the new strain of their type, that they might as well be under the British or French, as under their own Government.
Their voices were low—a rare event where Germans gather at table. They did not plot, they merely grumbled incessantly. The end of the war had definitely sunk below their horizon, and peace, not merely steps to peace, was what they longed for. There was the customary cursing of the Agrarians and the expressions of resolve to have a new order of freedom after the war, expressions which I believe will not be realised unless Germany is compelled to accept peace by superior forces from without.
I left the dreary room for the dreary streets, and turned towards the centre and West-end of Berlin, where the cafe lights were bright and tinkling music made restricted menu-cards easier to bear.
Suddenly the oppressive feeling of the East-end was dispelled by the strains of military music drawing closer in a street near by. I hurried towards it, and saw a band marching at the head of two companies of wounded soldiers, their bandages showing white under the bright street lights of Berlin.
The men were returning to their hospital off the Prenzlauer Allee from a day’s outing on the River Spree. Scores of followers swelled to hundreds. The troubles of the day were forgotten. Eyes brightened as the throng kept step with the martial music. A roll of drum, a flare of brass, and the crowd, scattered voices at first, and then swelling in a grand crescendo, sang Deutschland uber Alles. To-morrow they would complain again of food shortage and sigh for peace, but tonight they would dream of victory.
IN THE DEEPENING SHADOW
A little, bent old woman, neat, shrivelled, with clear, healthy eye and keen intelligence, was collecting acorns in the park outside the great Schloss, the residence of von Oppen, a relative of the Police President of Berlin.