Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 357 pages of information about Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons.

It was on June 1 when I embarked upon my engraving venture, and my two apprentices and myself were kept hard at it the livelong day, the pressure of business being so great.  My own working hours, so long as daylight permitted, were from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.  About September I concluded the moment to be ripe to consummate my one absorbing idea—­to get home.  I was now in a position financially to complete the plans I had laid long since.  I had to tread warily, but by the end of October I was secure in my position.  Still, although confident of success, I did not relax my interest in business, because my plans were just as likely to go wrong as to succeed at the last minute.  Moreover at the end of November I had the intense satisfaction of learning that my profit as a result of five months’ trading was L150!  I considered this to be extremely satisfactory.  An average profit of L7 10s. per week exceeded my rosiest anticipations, and it now seems additionally remarkable when I recall the limited confines and the restricted clientele of Ruhleben Camp.  But the greatest satisfaction I have is knowing that I completely outwitted my oppressors, because I was not supposed to trade as I did.  It was a telling example of stolen fruits being the sweetest.



As is well known the British prisoners in Germany have only one person within the Central Empires to whom they can appeal for protection, and through whose good offices alone they are able to secure redress of their grievances.  This is Mr. Gerard, the Ambassador of the United States of America to Germany.  Mr. Gerard has toiled indefatigably and unremittingly upon our behalf.  In his magnanimity and determination to give a square deal all round, he has made the signal error of accrediting the Germans with being a highly-developed, civilised, and cultivated race.

Unfortunately for Mr. Gerard’s sense of duty the German does not accept the principles of the precept, “Do unto others as you would others should do unto you,” but has evolved a code of his own construction which is peculiarly Teutonic—­“Do unto others as you know others will not dare or deign to do unto you!” The American Ambassador has always responded promptly to any calls for his intercession and has ever listened courteously and patiently to tales of woe.  Whenever he has considered the complaint to be well-founded he has spared no effort to secure an immediate improvement in conditions.  Yet it is to be feared that many of his recommendations have never been, or have only been partially and indifferently, carried into effect.

In his determination to hold the scales of justice evenly Mr. Gerard has been prone to accept the German at his own valuation.  Every prisoner in Germany to-day knows from painful experience that the Teuton’s word counts for nothing; it is not worth the breath expended upon its utterance, or the paper upon which it is written.  The German is an unprincipled liar and an unmitigated bluffer, in which art, if such it may be called, he has become a super-master.

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Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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