The whole of Altheim went mad last night, processions, bands, marchings all night, and such a noise that at last a nurse had to come out from the Lazarett near the Park and beg the revellers to think of the poor wounded sick, and spare them. No one could sleep! The last blow has come, our church is closed!
We are buoyed up with hope, as they talk of our getting away this week! It will be delightful to leave this perpetual bell-ringing and flag-waving and Vaterlandslieder behind us!
The sentimentality of the Germans is amazing! They cannot even insert a simple notice of a death on the battlefield without this sickly parade, “Heute starb den Heldentod furs Vaterland, unser innigste-geliebter einziger Sohn,” etc. Always a “hero’s death” and “for his Fatherland.” A fresh “Bekanntmachung” has appeared, we prisoners of war are not to leave the town, not to stand in groups (“rotten” they call it) talking in the streets, to be in our houses at 9 p.m., etc. Two ex-Frankfort prisoners have been sent for by the Chief of the Police accused of indiscreet talking. “I hear,” said the great man, “you say you were fed on nothing but bread and water in prison.” “No,” said Mr. ——, “I had soup in the middle of the day, and coffee and bread at night, and in the morning.” “Then why do you tell lies!” Such utter childishness, to believe every scrap of unkind gossip!
I heard a small boy singing to-day:
“Wo liegt Paris, Paris liegt Hier, Den fingen drauf’ Das nehmen Wir.”
I pray it may not prove prophetic, but they all talk of occupying Paris as a certainty, and the German Emperor has invited a number of his Generals to dine with him there on the 12th of September. I hear that a doctor went into the Prince of Wales’ Hotel to-day, and saw stuck up in the hall the words: “Das Seegefecht in der Nordsee” (in which of course we were victorious). He tore it down and stamped on it. An altruistic German waiter thinking to please the English guests had put the first sheet of the “Frankfurter Zeitung” in a prominent position to console them for the many defeats we are supposed to have had. John Burns’ speech at the Albert Hall is reported in full in the German newspapers, headed “Eine Rede des ehemaligen Englischen Minister, John Burns. England gegen seine wahren interessen” (a speech of the former English minister, John Burns. England against her true interests). No passports yet! No release! This suspense is wearing!
Joy at last! Even the “Frankfurter Zeitung” acknowledges that there has been a fight in the North Sea, and that we have sunk German ships, but, of course, it was “overpowering numbers and larger ships” that did it, and the Germans covered themselves with glory as usual. I came home and hung out my flag, the best I could do, a red silk dressing jacket, lined with white, and draped over a blue silk parasol, which I tied knob out, to look like a pole.
On our church door to-day was posted a typewritten notice: “We have smashed your army on the French Continent,(!) and we will smash you too if you dare to ring your bell!”
An account has come of the battle of St. Quentin. The “Frankfurter Zeitung” calls it “decisive,” and says that the German army has cut off the English army from its base.
Nothing new. The German papers, as usual, full of their victories and their piety, and their patriotism, and their “Kultur,” and goodness knows what not besides. Both Kaisers praising each other and distributing iron crosses ad lib., early though it be in the day. No mention of English troops or England, except to abuse the “Verflüchte” English.
A train of wounded men arrived yesterday, and bandaged and lame soldiers are to be seen limping about the town, looking ghastly pale and ill. At the Lazarett behind the “Prince of Wales’ Hotel” there are many sad cases. The Red Cross Society has made every provision for their comfort and happiness possible. Sheets have been hemmed, pillow cases sewn, bandages got ready. The Germans, however, are chary of admitting English women to share their labours, and those who go and offer to help meet with a very chilly reception.
I saw Dr. G—— this morning. He begged me to be most careful what I said. Two patients of his (English) Levantines were talking on the Terrace, and one said to the other, “We had better shave off our moustaches, or we shall be taken for military men.” They were promptly arrested, having been overheard by a spy. We are now ordered to get health certificates, which are to go to Frankfort, and be forwarded to the military authorities in Berlin. There is an idea that we may go away on Tuesday next. We have found out that our passports never went to Berlin at all, but are lying at this moment in the drawer of that old demon in the “Polizei-Amt.”
A chauffeur at the Bellevue was arrested to-day and taken to Frankfort. He is only twenty, a Glasgow lad, and absolutely harmless.
I am so sick of “Heil Dir im Sieger Kranz” that as the children pass my villa shouting it or “Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland?” I go out on my balcony and retaliate by singing “Rule Britannia.” Small children with flags and paper cocked hats, toy swords and tiny drums march through the streets, day after day, singing patriotic songs, whilst (poor dears!) their fathers are being slaughtered in thousands. No reverses are ever reported in the German papers, nothing but victories appear, and Germans are treated like children. If it were not for the “Corriere della Sera” we should be tempted to believe the Allies in a bad way. The “beehrte gäste” departed this morning. At the station a band played, flags were waved, and every American man and woman was presented with a small white book which contained the telegrams which passed between the belligerent nations at the beginning of the war. Again we hear that Copenhagen is to be our destination.
The clouds are lifting, thank God! Cheering news has come that we are to be allowed to leave this delightful country in eight days’ time; most likely we shall have to travel either by way of Switzerland or Denmark. Those sagacious personages in Berlin seem to imagine that the secrets of the Rhine fortresses will reveal themselves to us as we go by! What a compliment to our powers of clairvoyance!
Fraulein G—— has just been in to see me. Usually she is a most pleasant, gentle little woman, kind and charming; now she is full of scorn and hatred of England. She says the Englishmen were arrested because they were heard to say that German papers were “full of lies.” “So they are,” said I, “and you can go now and get me arrested too.” “Oh, no,” said she, “I would not tell on you!” In spite of her magnanimity I cannot think our interview was a success. We argued until I said, “If we are to remain friends, we must not discuss the war. I cannot think England wrong, and as a loyal German you think Germany right. Don’t let us talk about it any more.”
The “Frankfurter Zeitung” declares that no workmen in England will fight for their country, only the “mercenaries” who are well paid to risk their lives. Oh, this life is hard to bear! Such intense, frightful hatred speaks in every look, in every action of our enemies. It is consoling to remember that their own Nietzsche says: “One does not hate as long as one dis-esteems, and only when one esteems an equal or superior.”