JUDGING from the reports of recent visitors to Germany the eyes of the German people have not yet been opened by defeat so that they recognize the evils of the late imperial régime. Mr. Barker, who has lately been staying in the Fatherland, relates his impressions in the Quarterly Review:—
To my surprise and dismay I found that the people in general were utterly unacquainted with the wrongs suffered by the Allies and with the crimes perpetrated by the German forces. Assertions that Germany had wantonly begun the war and had carried it on with incredible barbarity were received either with wideeyed surprise or with emphatic incredulity. Even well-informed men of the world belonging to one of the liberal professions— bankers, lawyers, doctors, etc.—told me, as if they still lived in 1914, that the war had been “forced” upon peaceful Germany by France, Russia, and England, who had formed a criminal conspiracy against Germany, into which Belgium had entered; that France and Russia had made the struggle inevitable by invading Germany in the midst of peace; that Russia had been animated by the lust of conquest, France by the passion of revenge, and England and America by sordid, commercial envy. The Germans with whom I conversed
either had not read the revelations of Prince Lichnowsky, Dr. Muhlon, Karl Kautsky and others, or they dismissed them as fables and hallucinations. They knew nothing about the massacres of thousands of civilians, the wanton destruction of towns, churches, farms and mines, the deportation of women and girls, the starving of the conquered peoples, the extensive robbery of goods and of works of art, the bombing of hospitals, the sinking of hospital-ships, etc. They told me that the German military and naval forces had fought a clean fight, but that the Allies had disgraced themselves for all eternity by starving German women and children by means of the blockade, by sending colored barbarians to fight civilized Germans, by murdering helpless German sailors, reminding me of the “Baralong” affair, etc. Having explained to me that right had been on Germany’s side throughout, they protested loudly against the inhumanity of the Peace of Versailles, against the extortionate terms enforced by the Allies and against President Wilson’s faithlessness. Believing that the war had been forced upon an innocent Germany, the men and women whom I met could not conceive that Germany was bound to make reparation to the limit of her capacity for the damage she had done in France, Belgium, and elsewhere. The Germans, while eloquently telling me of their own sufferings, never mentioned the far greater sufferings of devastated France, Belgium, Russia, Italy, Serbia, etc. Only two persons whom I met habitually admitted Germany’s wrong. Because of their attitude, they were ostracised by all their acquaintance.
The ignorance of the German people seemed to me inexplicable until I began to study the German press and to explore the book-shops. I then discovered that the German publicists, professors, politicians, and generals were strenuously engaged in keeping alive the legend of Germany’s innocence and of the wickedness of the Allies which had been firmly established during the four and a half years of the war. The German publicists and journalists, who, under Government pressure, had unceasingly proclaimed Germany’s innocence
during the whole course of the struggle, had either become victims of auto-suggestion and of auto-intoxication, or think it injudicious to disavow their former writings and reveal to their readers the startling truth. The unfortunate result of this continued campaign of deception is that all Germans, a few well-informed people excepted, live under the impression that they are the victims of a conspiracy and are suffering a great wrong. The legend of Germany’s innocence is being “scientifically” established by the leading soldiers, statesmen, and historians, and it may before long find its way into the school books. Hence it seems likely that the coming generation will grow up with a burning sense of injustice suffered at the hands of the Allies. A passionate hatred of the victors is being aroused among the German people, and thus the foundations are firmly laid for a war of revenge.
Writing on the same subject in the Times (London, Eng.) Mrs. J. London Smith, who has been working in connection with the Franco-American Committee for the Protection of Frontier Children in France, says:
In Germany I visited a number of German factories to the north of Frankfurt. I talked with many of the workmen, and they seemed to realize that work was necessary; many of them expressed the sentiment that Bolshevism meant only another war, and they were tired of fighting. But these workmen, after stating that they were willing to work, always added that they would not work if they had to pay France. I spoke to one of them, who expressed surprise to me that the French were angry with them. “After all,” he added, “if the English and Americans can forget the war, why shouldn’t the French? It was not our fault that the fighting was in France.”
The people that I talked to, including members of the Reichstag, seemed to
think that the people were like lost sheep under a Republic; they said: “Though
we have no Emperor the Government still functions in the name of the Empire.” I was surprised to find that postcards of the Kaiser were still being sold. This was the case in all the villages, towns, and cities that I visited; and it is worth noting that in the Sieges-Allee in Berlin, among all the statues of'the Hohenzollern family there is not even a single nose broken, in spite of the revolution.
At Frankfurt I desired to send a telegram in French to Metz. The concierge declared he would not send the telegram in French; it could, however, go in English. “Why not?” I protested, “Metz is in France.” "Yes,” he replied, “for the moment it is, but it will not be for long.”
I found in a great many of the factories that the Germans were averaging about six hours’ work a day. They complained of lack of coal; but I also found evident inequality in the distribution of coal; one factory would have it while its neighbor went short.
There was a great deal of new building in the way of rather elaborate workmen’s houses and factory development. In a large chemical factory that I visited a laboratory had been completed during the last two months, when by its side the building that had been heretofore used fcr the purpose looked quite adequate. It was equipped with every modern appliance. It is evident that a great deal of money is being spent on railway construction, roads, bridges, etc. Of course, this gives employment to the people, which may be necessary; but one could not help asking oneself whether a nation which owes what Germany owes should be allowed to spend quite so much on its own municipal development. And this though I myself feel very strongly that Germany should be given every chance to make herself industrially prosperous.
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