The train which left Berlin on the night of February 10th carried the happiest group of Americans which had been in Europe since the war began. Practically no one slept. When the Swiss border was reached the Stars and Stripes were hung from the car windows and Americans breathed again in a free land. They felt like prisoners escaping from a penitentiary. Most of them had been under surveillance or suspicion for months. Nearly every one had had personal experiences which proved to them that the German people were like the Government—there was no respect for public sentiment or moral obligation. Some of the women had upon previous occasions, when they crossed the German frontier, submitted to the most inhuman indignities, but they remained in Germany because their husbands were connected in some way with United States government or semi-public service work. They were delighted to escape the land where everything is “verboten” except hatred and militarism. The second day after Gerard’s arrival in Berne, American Minister Stoval gave a reception to the Ambassador and invited the Allied diplomats. From that evening on until he sailed from Coruna, Spain, the Ambassador felt that he was among friends. When the Americans accompanying the Ambassador asked the French authorities in Switzerland for permission to enter France the French replied:
“Of course you can go through France. You are exiles and France welcomes you.”
After the Americans arrived in Paris they said they were not considered exiles but guests.
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On the Kaiser’s birthday services were held in all Protestant churches in Germany. The clergy was mobilised to encourage the people. On January 29th I sent the following despatch, after attending the impressive services in the Berlin Cathedral:
“Where one year ago Dr. Dryander, the quiet white-haired man who is court preacher, pleaded for an hour for peace in the services marking the Kaiser’s birthday, this year his sermon was a fiery defence of Germany’s cause and a militant plea for Germany to steel herself for the decisive battle every one believes is coming.