An escort appeared to accompany us to the mysterious “hotel” about which the Commandant had been talking so glibly. We swung out of the prison. Glancing at the clock I saw the time was 8.30 p.m. As the main gate clanged behind me I pulled myself together, a new man. My eight days’ solitary confinement had come to an end.
We tramped the street, the people taking but little notice of us. Presently we met a big party of tourists advancing and also under escort. They proved to be the passengers of the pleasure steamer Krimhilde, who had been detained. When they saw me, unkempt, ragged, blood-stained, and dirty they immediately drew away. They took me for an excellent specimen of the genus hobo. Within a few seconds however they learned something about my experiences and became very chummy. F—— K—— communicated the fact that we were bound for an hotel, and the spirits of one and all rose.
The escort who had accompanied us from the prison here handed us over to that accompanying the tourists and we marched to the station. A train was waiting and we stepped aboard at nine o’clock. There appeared to be as many soldiers as passengers. The members of my party confidently thought the train was bound for a point near the frontier or a restricted area by the seashore. But I was not to be lulled into a false sense of security. I questioned one of the officers and ascertained our destination. Returning to the party I laughingly asked, “Do you know for what hotel we’re bound?”
“No! What is it? Where is it?” came the eager request.
“The military camp at Sennelager!”
THE BLACK HOLE OF GERMANY
OUR “LUXURIOUS HOTEL”
Although it was 9.25 Tuesday evening when we boarded the train in Wesel station, en route for the “luxurious hotel where we were to receive every kindness consistent with the noblest traditions of German honour,” there did not appear to be any anxiety to part with our company. There were about sixty of us all told, and we were shepherded with as pronounced a display of German military pomp and circumstance as would have been manifested if the All-Highest himself, had been travelling. Wesel station swarmed with officers and men who apparently had nothing else to do but to perambulate the platforms, the officers swaggering with typical Teuton arrogance, and the humble soldiers clattering to and fro in utter servility, merely emphasising their existence by making plenty of noise with their cumbrous boots and rifles.
At midnight the train started. The majority of my companions were the male passengers of military age who had been detained from the pleasure steamer Krimhilde while travelling up the Rhine. The military authorities in charge of the train received bulky sheafs of papers, each of which related to one passenger, and was packed with the most minute details. I am afraid my record must have been somewhat imposing, inasmuch as I commanded considerable and unappreciated attention from the military, while my fellow prisoners regarded me with a keen curiosity.