Lady Harriet Jephson

Altheim, Germany

Altheim, Germany

Still no help! Innumerable wild rumours are flying about. They say that those who left Altheim have all come back, unable to get farther than Frankfort. We are beginning to feel hopeless. Nothing about England is in the German papers, and, of course, we see no others. It is quite terrible being without news. Last night there was great scrubbing and scraping of Altheim shop windows, and all the notices: “English spoken here” have disappeared.

There is a mania about spies in Frankfort, we hear, and some Americans yesterday were very roughly handled because their motor bore a French maker’s name. The Americans have returned to Altheim, and their motor has been taken to fight for the Fatherland! Our situation is dreadful, but we are keeping up brave hearts. Every day a fresh “Bekanntmachung” (notice) appears; that of to-day was addressed to the children and called upon them to gather in the harvest, the workers having gone as soldiers and turned their “pruning hooks” into swords. My postcards written in German have all come back. One cannot communicate with anyone outside Altheim. What a position! God in His mercy help us! It seems so strange to see German troops marching to the tune of “God Save the King,” yet it is Germany’s National Anthem too, and these are the words they sing to it:—

“Heil Dir im Sieger Kranz, Herrscher des Vaterlands, Heil Kaiser Dir!” etc.

A “Warnung” has now been affixed to trees in[18] the Avenue forbidding Russians, English, French or Belgians to go within 100 metres of the station. The Russians are being hardly used, but so far Germans are quite nice to us. Mrs. N—— tells me a gruesome tale of a Russian lady who left her hotel for Russia smiling, well dressed, and happy. At Giessen all Russians were turned out of the train and put into a waiting-room, and locked up there without any convenience of food, drink, or beds for the night. The following morning they were told to come out and soldiers marched them several miles into the country to a farm-house. Some of the poor creatures were faint from want of food, and others had heart disease, and fell exhausted in the road, the soldiers prodding them with their bayonets to make them get up! After several hours’ detention there, they were brought back to Altheim, where the poor lady arrived a pitiable wreck! What an experience! I have been packed up for days!

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