The majority struggle on in the distorted belief that Germany was forced to defend herself from attack planned by Great Britain, while the minority are kept in check by armed patrols and “preventive arrest.”
The spirit of “all for the Fatherland” is yielding to the spirit of self-preservation of the individual. Everywhere one sees evidence of this. The cry of a little girl running out of a meat shop in Friedenau, an excellent quarter of Berlin, brought me in to find a woman, worn out with grief over the loss of her son and the long waiting in the queue for food, lying on the floor in a semi-conscious condition. It is the custom to admit five or six people at a time. I was at first surprised that nobody in the line outside had stirred at the appeal of the child, but I need not have expected individual initiative even under the most extenuating circumstances from people so slavishly disciplined that they would stolidly wait their turn. But the four women inside—why did they not help the woman? The spirit of self-preservation must be the answer. For them the main event of the day was to secure the half-pound of meat which would last them for a week. They simply would not be turned from that one objective until it was reached.
And the soldiers passing through Berlin! I saw some my last afternoon in Berlin, loaded with their kit, marching silently down Unter den Linden to the troop trains, where a few relatives would tearfully bid them good-bye. There was not a sound in their ranks—only the dull thud of their heavy marching boots. They didn’t sing nor even speak. The passers-by buttoned their coats more tightly against the chill wind and hurried on their several ways, with never a thought or a look for the men in field-grey, moving, many of them for the last time, through the streets of the capital. The old man who angered the war-mad throng before the Schloss on August 1st, 1914, with his discordant croak of “War is a serious business, young man,” lives in the spirit of to-day. And he did not have to go to the mountain!
ACROSS THE NORTH SEA
After my last exit from Germany into Holland I was confronted by a new problem. I had found going to England very simple on my previous war-time crossings. Now, however, there were two obstacles in my path—first, to secure permission to Board a vessel bound for England; secondly, to make the actual passage safely.
The passport difficulty was the first to overcome. The passport with which I had come to Europe before the war, and which had been covered with frontier visees, secret service permissions and military permissions, from the Alps to the White Sea and from the Thames to the Black Sea, had been cancelled in Washington at my request during my brief visit home in the autumn of 1915. On my last passport I had limited the countries which I intended to visit to Germany and Austria-Hungary. I purposed adding to this list as I had done on my old passport, but subsequent American regulations, aimed at restricting travellers to one set of belligerents, prevented that.