I felt that it would be useless for me at that moment to explain certain very important omissions in the German White Book. Anything would look white in comparison with the yellow journal I had just read. But I knew, and tried to explain that the particular newspaper combination which printed such rubbish was well known in America for its inaccuracies and fabrications, and although it was pro-German, it would sacrifice anything for sensation. But the good woman, being a German, and consequently accustomed to standardisation, could not dissociate this newspaper from the real Press.
The German submarines are standardised. The draughts and blue prints of the most important machinery are multiplied and sent, if necessary, to twenty different factories, while all the minor stampings are produced at one or other main factory. The “assembling” of the submarines, therefore, is not difficult. During the war submarine parts have been assembled at Trieste, Zeebrugge, Kiel, Bremerhaven, Stettin, and half a dozen other places in Germany unnecessary to relate. With commendable foresight, Germany sent submarine parts packed as machinery to South America, where they are being assembled somewhere on the west coast.
The improvement, enlargement, and simplification of the submarine has progressed with great rapidity.
When I was in England after a former visit to Germany I met a number of seafolk who pooh-poohed extensive future submarining, by saying that, no matter how many submarines the Germans might be able to produce, the training of submarine officers and crew was such a difficult task that the “submarine menace,” as it was then called in England, need not be taken too seriously.
The difficulty is not so great. German submarine officers and men are trained by the simple process of double or treble banking of the crews of submarines on more or less active service. Submarine crews are therefore multiplied probably a great deal faster than the war destroys them. These double or treble crews, who rarely go far away from German waters, and are mostly trained in the safe Baltic, are generally composed of young but experienced seamen. There are, however, an increasing number of cases of soldiers being transferred abruptly to the U-boat service.
The education of submarine officers and crew begins in thorough German fashion on land or in docks, in dummy or disused submarines, accompanied by much lecture work and drill. Submarine life is not so uncomfortable as we think. With the exception of the deprivation of his beer, which is not allowed in submarines, or, indeed, any form of alcohol, except a small quantity of brandy, which is kept under the captain’s lock and key, Hans in his submarine is quite as comfortable as Johann in his destroyer.
Extra comforts are forwarded to submarine men, which consist of gramophone records (mostly Viennese waltzes), chocolate, sausages, smoked eels, margarine, cigars, cigarettes, and tobacco, a small and treasured quantity of real coffee, jam, marmalade, and sugar. All these, I was proudly told, were extras. There is no shortage in the German Navy.