While the German in the street, thanks largely to Hindenburg, regards the military situation with optimism, he sees no grounds for pessimism in the present political situation. Italy and Bulgaria are regarded as “safe.”
How the Germans regard the economic, industrial, and financial situation is rather hard to estimate, because their practical patriotism keeps them from making any public parade of their business troubles and worries, if they have any. The oft-repeated platitude that you would never suspect here that a war was going on if you didn’t read the papers is quite just. Conditions—on the surface—are so normal that there is even a lively operatic fight on in Munich, where the personal friction between Musical Director Walters and the star conductor, Otto Hess, has caused a crisis in the affairs of the Royal Munich Opera, rivaling in interest the fighting at the front.
There are certainly fewer “calamity howlers” here than on Broadway during boom times, and you see no outward evidence of hard times, no acute poverty, no misery, no derelicts, for the war-time social organization seems as perfect as the military. In the last three months only one beggar has stopped me on the streets and tried to touch my heart and pocketbook—a record that seems remarkable to an American who has run the nocturnal gauntlet of peace-time panhandlers on the Strand or the Embankment.
Business is most certainly not going on as usual. You note many shops and stores with few or no customers in them. About the only people who are making any money are army contractors and the shopkeepers who sell things available for “Liebesgaben” ("love gifts”) for the troops in the field. Those businesses hardest hit by the war are in a state of suspended animation, embalmed by the credit of the State.
But, again, the influence of Hindenburg is wider than the east—and the west; it permeates the business world and stiffens the economic backbone of the nation. It is no exaggeration to say that the whole German people, barring the inevitable though small percentage of weaklings, is trying with terrific earnestness to live up to the homely Hindenburgian motto, “Durchhalten!” ("Hold out,”) or, in more idiomatic American, “See the thing through.”
First Allied Attack Described by an Onlooker
[From THE NEW YORK TIMES, March 8, 1915.]
Athens, Saturday, March 6, (Dispatch to The London Daily Chronicle.)—The bombardment of the Dardanelles forts, according to the latest news, proceeds with success and cautious thoroughness. It is now anticipated that before another two weeks are over the allied fleet will be in the Sea of Marmora, and Constantinople will quickly fall to the victorious Allies.
Two features of the operations make extreme caution necessary for the attacking battleships. In the first place, the number of mines laid in the strait has been found to be enormous. They must all be picked up, and the work takes considerable time, seeing that it must be done thoroughly.