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Title: A Captive at Carlsruhe and Other German Prison Camps
Author: Lee, Joseph Johnston
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Captive at Carlsruhe and Other German Prison Camps" ***

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive.)

Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

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  | Each 3_s._ 6_d._ net. |

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  “Now you shall have no worse prison than my chamber, nor jailer than


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  The first day--The search--Letters of divorcement--A reading
    of the Pickwickians--Fellows in misfortune--A sculptor--A
    Sappho--The bell for the dead--Sedan--The vulture               15


  Carlsruhe camp--Crumbs from the rich man’s table--Tea with
    Colonel Turano--Shamrock for dinner!--First letters and
    parcels--A Nazarite--Christmas at Carlsruhe--Sketching the
    Commandant                                                      29


  Funeral of a prisoner of war at Carlsruhe--First freedom for
    a year--In the streets--A wreath from the Grand Duchess of
    Baden--The Rev. Mr. Flad--A lecture on Abyssinia--A black
    mood                                                            45


  Entertainment in exile--The camp theatre--“Asile de
    Nuit”--Scene-painter, scene-shifter, poster-artist, actor,
    prompter, “noises-off,” and playwright--“A Chelsea Christmas
    Eve”--“A Venetian Vignette”--A nightingale “off”--“How
    he Lied to her Husband”--“The Rising of the Moon”--“The
    Homeland”                                                       59


  Victims of the cruiser _Wolf_--Suicide of a Japanese
    captain--“In the dark and among the ice”--A bottle
    message--Clinging to office--The Debating Society--The vines
    and vineyards of France--“Happy in all things--saving these
    bonds!”--A straining of the Entente--A “stirring time”--A
    voluntary fast!                                                 80


  Air raids--British airmen brought down--Dust to dust--An
    inimitable imitator--Songs from Coimbra--A German
    bombardment--March, 1918--The bath attendant--Our
    orderlies--Gustav--Imprisonment “for revolt”                    96


  Carlsruhe at its kindliest--The chestnut trees--Aspen and
    poplar--The new hut--“Torrents of Spring!”--Linguistic
    efforts--A surprise to Mother--A dinner with the
    Italians--The last day in Carlsruhe                            113



  The journey--“A Roman holiday”--Our new quarters--The
    old tower--The _Kantine_ and the catering--“Much
    reading----”--“East Lynne,” by Carlyle!--Our walks
    abroad--The stork tower--Birds of a feather                    131


  Escapes and escapades--“_Achtung!_”--The flight that
    failed--Confinement in the “Tower”--Massacre of the
    innocents--“Patience” and impatience--Ragging the
    Commandant--“His Excellency wishes”                            153


  The _Marienkirche_--Organ pipes for munitions--Madame
    Reinl--For the dead--A Polish baptism--Adventures
    afoot--“_Kuchen!_”--The ancient road-mender--“In since Mons!”  170


  The Revolution--“_Bientôt la paix!_”--A smuggled copy of
    The Times--Abdication of the Kaiser--The passing of
    the Commandant--The Red Flag is flown--Latitudes and
    liberties--Sketching in the streets--“_Nach der Heimat!_”--A
    soldiers’ ball--“_Warum ist der Krieg?_”--Murillo’s
    “Immaculate Conception”                                        185


  In Berlin during the Revolution--“Thank God, Britain has
    won!”--The _Dom_ and the Galleries--The Palace--“_Für Ebert
    und Hasse!_”--The Hindenburg statue--Liebknecht and Rosa
    Luxemburg--The machine-gun waggons come up--Caricatures
    of the Kaiser--Captivity de luxe!--“Are you English
    officers?”--Freedom--“_Es ist vollbracht!_”                    203



  A Corner of Carlsruhe Camp  _Frontispiece_

  Fellows in Misfortune                   15

  A Reading of the Pickwickians           21

  A Sculptor                              23

  The Unter-Offizier                      25

  Christmas Day at Carlsruhe              28

  Arrival of the Parcel Cart              29

  The Chapel at Carlsruhe                 31

  Col. Albert Turano                      33

  The Camp Commandant at Carlsruhe        38

  A Game of Cards                         41

  Funeral of a British Prisoner of War    44

  A Serbian Colonel                       45

  The Catholic Priest                     51

  The Rev. Mr. Flad                       52

  An Italian Major of Mountain Artillery  56

  Playbill, “The Rising of the Moon”      58

  Our Orchestra                           59

  A Carlsruhe Concert Programme           62

  “A Chelsea Christmas Eve”               64

  “A Venetian Vignette”                   70

  “How He Lied to Her Husband.” Playbill  72

  “J’invite le Colonel.” Playbill         73

  One of our Orchestra                    79

  Engineer of the “Hitachi Maru”          80

  Captain of the “Tarantella”             84

  A Serbian Officer Prisoner              86

  A Rehearsal                             88

  Twice Wounded                           95

  Orderly Hanet, “Le Père Noël”           96

  Funeral of Two British Aviators        100

  Captain Teixeira 104

  Orderly Toulon, Chasseur Alpini        110

  The two Serbian Colonels take the Sun  112

  Lt. Bertolotti                         113

  Lt. Caruso                             116

  Lt. Visco                              119

  Lt. Lazarri                            121

  Maggiore Tuzzi                         125

  The “Altes Amt,” Beeskow Lager         130

  The Outer Walls of Beeskow Lager       131

  The Prison Camp at Beeskow: An
    Audience with the Commandant         135

  The Old Tower, Beeskow                 138

  Herr Solomon, the Kantine Keeper       141

  “Only One Book!”                       142

  The Stork Tower, Beeskow               147

  Prisoners All                          149

  The Prison Gateway                     152

  The Marienkirche, Beeskow              156

  The Late Lieut. Robinson, V.C.         159

  Caricature of the Camp Commandant      165

  Narrow Alley, Beeskow                  169

  Service for the Dead                   175

  Old Inn at Beeskow, now burned down    179

  “In since Mons!”                       183

  Kirchestrasse, Beeskow                 184

  The Oldest House in Beeskow            196

  Murillo’s “Immaculate Conception of
    the Virgin.” (_Painted by a French
    officer, prisoner of war, on the
    outer wall of the camp_)             200

  Captain Tim Sugrue                     202

  A Caricature of the Kaiser. (_Bought
    in the streets of Berlin during
    the Revolution_)                     213

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


[Illustration: Cap improvized from an aviator’s boot.

A modern Icarus.

Chausseur à pied.



As we limped and stumbled into Caudry in the dusk we presented a very
disturbing spectacle.

Two young French women stood at a cottage door, and, when our doleful
procession passed, one of them flung herself into her sister’s arms in
a paroxysm of grief.

The good folk of the town would have slipped bread into our hands, but
our German guards pressed them back with their rifles. Bayonets and
rifle butts could not prevent them, however, from flinging us words of
cheer and encouragement. “_Courage! Bonne chance! Bonne nuit!_”

How illogical is war! This very morning, as we entered the first
village in which German troops were billeted, we found them waiting to
serve us, with outset tables on which were clean glasses and pitchers
of clear water! Earlier, while the enemy attack was still developing, I
observed a German--himself at the charge, and with at his elbow Death,
the equal foeman of all who fight--wave a reassuring hand to a British
soldier prisoner who was showing signs of distress.

So in the dark we came to a grim factory, into which we were shepherded
for the night. We had had nothing to eat all day; we were to have
nothing to eat now. There was, however, an issuing of bowls of what,
for lack of a better name--or of a worse--was designated coffee.

There was now also to be a search, and a giving up of all papers,
knives, razors, or other steel instruments--bare bodkins by which
we might be disposed to seek redress, relief, or release. Search had
already been made at a German headquarters within a few miles of
the line. Prior to which, as we marched down heavily flanked by our
guards, I had, with surreptitious hand thrust into my tunic pocket,
succeeded in tearing up and scattering over the land, sundry military
papers, and the proof sheets of a book of mine in which were some very
complimentary references to the Kaiser. Here it was also that a wounded
fellow-officer, giving up his letters, and asking me to explain that
two from his wife he had not yet read, the gnarled old German officer
handed them back with a salute.

It was difficult to parade the men for search now. They raised
themselves on an elbow or sat up and endeavoured to shake the sleep
from their eyes, and then dropped heavily back upon the floor again.
Ultimately they were herded to one end of the factory, from which
they emerged in file, dropping as they passed their poor, precious
epistolatory possessions--letters with crosses and baby kisses--into
an outstretched sack. One man approached me and asked that he might
retain papers, including a written confession, necessary to divorce
proceedings against his wife. I put the case to the German officer;
he put it to his military conscience, and decided. Yes, they might be

That first night I slept without dreaming; it was when I awoke that I
appeared to be in a dream.

At noon next day I received the first meal of which I had partaken
for the last forty-eight hours. It consisted of a mess of beans and
potatoes, which I, being then in fit state to sympathize entirely with
Esau, found more than palatable. Later, in the afternoon, when a red
sword lay across the western sky, we marched to Le Cateau. Here there
was a separating of sheep from goats, the senior officers being housed
somewhere with more or less of comfort, doubtless, while all below the
rank of Captain were packed into another discarded factory, whose only
production for some time to come seemed likely to be human misery.

Followed four melancholy and miserable days, whose passing was not to
be measured by figures on a dial or dates upon a calendar, but by the
clamour of appetites unappeased; by the entry of our dole of bread and
our basin of skilly. In our waking hours we discussed only food; by
night we dreamed of monumental menus displayed on table-covers of snowy
whiteness. Scenting a possible profit, a German soldier insinuated into
the camp and put up for auction some half-dozen tins of sardines, to
the provocation almost of a riot.

Our billets were dirty and verminous. Properly organized and harnessed
there was a sufficiency of performance and activity in the fleas to
have supplied the motive power to the whole factory! We could not
shave, because we had no soap nor steel; we could not wash, because the
water was frozen in the pump, and icicles hung by the wall.

If there was little to eat there was even less to read, the only
literature in the whole company consisting of one Testament and one
Book of Common Prayer, and these being in continual demand.

On the fifth day there came a break in the monotony, some sixteen of us
being removed to the headquarters, where had been an examination on our
arrival. As we waited for admittance a few French folk gathered around,
and two girls from a house opposite made efforts at conversation. Our
guards menaced them not too seriously with their bayonets, whereupon
they scampered for their house and slammed the door. In a few minutes
the door was cautiously opened again; there was a ripple of laughter,
and two mischievous faces, with a mocking grimace for the Army of
Occupation, appeared round the post.

In our new quarters eight of us occupied one room. Report had it
that the walls, besides various pieces of pendent paper, had ears,
a dictaphone being supposedly secreted on the premises. That being
so, the Germans are never likely to have heard much that was good of


A search disclosed treasure in the shape of sundry parts of the
Pickwick Papers, not certainly the famous original parts in their
green--shall we say their evergreen covers?--but sections devised for
the simultaneous satisfying of a number of readers. These parts we
carefully gathered together, when it was discovered that the immortal
transactions began with the celebrated bachelor supper given by Mr. Bob
Sawyer at his lodgings in Lant Street, in the Borough. Here, indeed,
was matter to cause gastronomic agitation in starving men! Yet, need
we, then, go supperless to bed? Shall we not also become Pickwickians,
and, constituting ourselves members of the Club, drop in upon the party
as not entirely unwelcome guests? And so I read until “lights out” sent
us perforce to bed.

Recalling that it was my birthday, and by way of a gift to myself,
I succeeded in persuading the _Unteroffizier_ to purchase for me a
sketch-book and pencils, with which I amused myself and comrades
by a series of portrait studies of more or less veracity. One of
these my fellows in misfortune was a sculptor who had exhibited at
the R.A., and who now exhibited a photograph of one of his works--a
statue of Sappho--which he carried in his pocket. We two decided
to hang together--unless we were shot separately--as we had heard
amazing reports of ateliers to be secured in certain _Läger_ by humble
followers of the arts graphic and plastic.

During all the days of our stay here, and precisely at four o’clock
of the afternoon, a bell tolled solemnly from the church under whose
shadow we lay. It was for the burial of German soldiers killed at

Early on a Sunday morning, while the stars still shivered in a frosty
sky, we set out to entrain for Carlsruhe, very optimistically with one
day’s rations in our pouches, and that a day’s rations which would have
shown meagre as the _hors-d’œuvre_ of an ordinary meal. We arrived at
Carlsruhe on the evening of Tuesday, and in the interim would probably
have succumbed to starvation for lack of food, if we had not been in a
state of suspended animation owing to the cold.

[Illustration: A SCULPTOR.]

Only one incident of that journey do I desire to recall. In the middle
of the night I awoke shiveringly from a fitful sleep to find that the
train had come to a stop in a large station. I glanced idly from the
window, and an arc lamp lit up a great signboard, on which was painted
in large ominous letters the one word--SEDAN.

From Carlsruhe Station we passed through streets not uninteresting
architecturally, and without exciting undue curiosity or comment, until
we came to the Europäisches Hotel. This to famished men seemed to
suggest something at least of hopeful hospitalities, but, on entering,
the place was obviously as barren of festivity as a Government Board
room. We shall have food to eat at five o’clock. At five we wept that
it had not come; at six, at seven. We wept even more when at eight it
actually arrived.

I observed then, and on subsequent occasions, that after a meal, myself
and Marsden (who, as befits a good sculptor, has fashioned for himself
a frame of fine proportion) were inclined to emerge from a more or less
languorous state and kick up our heels like young colts.


We discovered that by climbing on to the frame of the iron bedstead,
and clutching perilously at the ventilating portion of the window in
our cell, we could just succeed in gaining a glimpse of the street.
To the right we seemed to be in the neighbourhood of a zoological
garden or an aviary of some dimension. The only inhabitant of the cages
visible to us, however, was a large vulture, which sat there day after
day, an unchanging picture of sullenness and stolidity. I wondered if
perchance it scented or visioned the red fields which lay not so many
miles away.

And so the days passed. After considerable agitation I succeeded
in securing a few volumes of the Tauchnitz edition, amongst them
Stevenson’s “The Master of Ballantrae.” This possibly, however, induced
in me a greater home-sickness for Scotland than ever.

[Illustration: THE UNTEROFFIZIER.]

Finding a draught-board to our hand outlined upon the table, and making
counters of paper white and blue, we four prisoners on a day played for
the championship of the cell and a superadded stake of four thin slices
of bread. I won somewhat easily, being a Scotsman, and something of a
player as a boy; indeed, heaven forgive me! it was I who suggested the
game. As victor, however, I was seized with compassion and compunction,
so that, while I retained the title, I returned to each man his share
of that staff of life, on which, it has to be confessed, we were
having to lean somewhat heavily.

At last came the order that we were to shift from the hotel to the
_Offizier kriegsgefangenenlager_. Whereupon, clapping my steel helmet
upon my head, and thrusting my uneaten morsel of bread into one of my
tunic pockets, I was ready for the road.


       *       *       *       *       *



As we passed a sentry and turned in between high palisades heavily
fortified by barbed wire, I had a feeling of disappointment, if not of
dismay. I had hoped to live more closely to Nature, whereas Carlsruhe
Camp lay in a central part of the town, and was overlooked at almost
every point by high buildings, hotels, restaurants, and mansions. The
few trees were, of course, meantime bare of leaves, and there were no
traces of grass in the long stretches of court between the huts.

In the _salon d’appel_ we were searched. My sketch-book was
scrutinized, critically, perhaps, but not uncharitably, and I was
permitted to keep it. Of what other poor possessions I now had, only my
signalling whistle was taken.

Dinner that night consisted of soup, followed by _Sauerkraut_.
Breakfast next morning, in my case, consisted of a cold shower bath and
anticipations of lunch at midday!

There was a little chapel at Carlsruhe used alternately and
harmoniously by English Churchmen, Roman Catholics, and Nonconformists.
While we awaited service on this first morning of my arrival there
was a distribution of biscuits--briquettes of bread really--which
were received from their Government by the French officer and orderly
prisoners at the rate of seventy per man per week; a plentitude which
permitted of the orderlies trading them among the less-favoured British
officers at anything from fifty pfennig to a mark each.


On the present occasion, when the baskets had been carried away, a
few crumbs and sweepings of the biscuits were left upon the floor,
while we stood around with our backs to the wall and our hands in our
pockets. Presently one prisoner put forth an apparently accidental
foot, which covered probably the largest of the pieces. Then, somewhat
shamefacedly, he stooped and picked it up. Upon which signal, with one
accord, and with as close a resemblance to a flock of city sparrows as
anything I ever saw, we swooped down upon the fragments. For my share I
succeeded in securing two pieces of quite half an inch square!

Those were indeed hungry days, when a man’s wealth was not to be
calculated by the amount standing to his credit at Messrs. Cox & Co.’s,
or even by the abundance of his blankets, but by the number of French
biscuits which he had succeeded in securing. Here of all places in the
world might one see a Brigadier-General crossing the square carefully
balancing a mess of pork and beans upon a plate, or nursing the
contents of a tin of sardines upon a saucer!

To be invited to tea by a friendly and more flourishing mess was
the greatest beatitude that could befall a man. In these cases of
ceremonious call the guest always carried his own crockery and cutlery.


One such pleasant refection, with Col. Albert Turano, Artiglieria
Italiano, lingers very pleasantly in my memory. In view of his rank
the Colonel occupied alone a small chamber in one of the huts. On the
wall was a crucifix, and a few reproductions of religious paintings and
decorations by the Danish artist, Joakim Skovgaard. A shelf of Italian
books, a deal table, two stools, and an iron bedstead, with above it
a plant, to be unnamed by me, but which looked as if it might develop
into a tree, in a flower-pot so tiny that it seemed as if it might have
done service as a thimble. The Colonel prepared the coffee with great
care, and served it with much courtliness. The entire contents of his
larder consisted of a few fragments of hard French biscuits. These we
steeped in the coffee, and of this quite delectable sop partook with
much contentment.

In talk we turned over the art treasures of Venice and Florence, and
when I referred to Dante, and particularly to the episode of Paolo and
Francesca, the Colonel produced from his breast pocket a little marked
copy of the “Divina Commedia,” in a chamois-leather case, which he
had carried through the campaign, and read me the passage in Italian.
Followed cigarettes, and a joint vow that if we foregathered in London
our dinner at the Trocadero would be completed by just such a cup of
coffee--_à la_ Carlsruhe! Some time later, while he was being changed
to another camp, the gallant Colonel succeeded in effecting his escape.

In retrospect the menu at Carlsruhe seems to have consisted of
interminable plates of soup, followed by sauerkraut and anæmic
potatoes. No effort was made--nor was there any need--to stimulate our
appetites by surprise dishes or kickshaws; although on St. Patrick’s
Day a wild rumour went round the camp that we were to have boiled
shamrock for dinner! Some officers could achieve five plates of soup
at a meal; one could rarely venture to brave the day on less than
three. On Thursdays and Sundays there was a morsel of meat--the veriest
opening and immediate closing of the lid of the flesh pot, as it were.
On certain days, apples--for which we lined up in a queue--were to be
bought at the _Kantine_ at one mark per pound. Sardines cost five to
six marks a tin; other prices were in proportion.


The coming of one’s first letter was a memorable event in camp life.
The immediate impulse was to retire with it to the remotest corner of
the court--as a dog with a bone, or a lover with a _billet-doux_--and
there devour it, and for days after one was continually impelled to a
re-perusal. A Portuguese officer who had made a vow, Nazarite-wise, not
to shave or cut his hair until such time as news would come from the
far country, was three and a half months in camp before he received
his first letter. Then, amid loud laughter and cries of “_Barbier!
Barbier!_” he departed with the precious epistle in his hand, and later
in the day made his appearance, looking not unlike a shorn lamb!

The arrival of the first parcel was an event of even more general
interest and import. If it were a clothing parcel it would contain
a change of raiment, as grateful and as welcome as the wedding
garment. If it were a food parcel it enabled you to extend pleasant
hospitalities in more necessitous directions--one of the privileges and
compensations of camp life.

You pass your bread ration to the recently arrived officer who is your
neighbour at dinner. “Do you care to have this bread, old chap? I have
plenty.” He is an Australian, and there is considerably over six foot
of him to be fed. He gives a gulp and a gasp now. “My God,” he says, “I
thought I wasn’t to be able to say ‘Yes’ quick enough!”

I received my first parcel after two months of captivity. One officer,
after the lapse of many barren moons, received twenty-six packets--an
entire waggon load--at one time! Give me neither poverty nor riches!


On Christmas Day, the Germans, if they could not give us peace on
earth, probably made effort at an expression of goodwill even to
_Gefangenen_! Dinner, at all events, consisted of soup, potatoes, an
ounce or two of meat, one pound of eating apples, and a quarter of a
litre of red wine--decidedly a red _litre_ day! Christmas trees were
raised and decorated in the _salon d’appel_; the Camp Commandant gave
gifts to all the orderlies; a raffle, organized by the French officers,
took place, when I was so fortunate as to secure a bar of chocolate,
and there was a further distribution of apples at night, the gifts of
La Croix Rouge, Geneva. I have probably not eaten on one day so many
apples of uncertain ripeness since last I robbed an orchard as a boy.

In the chapel the Lieutenant--a layman--who customarily took the
Anglican services, read the hymn from Milton’s “Ode on the Morning of
Christ’s Nativity,” and several carols were sung. I may say that all
such services concluded with the lusty singing of a verse of “God Save
the King.”

[Illustration: THE CAMP COMMANDANT.]

Roll-call in the morning was at ten; in the evening at 8.45; lights out
at nine o’clock. I shared a hut with seven other officers, three of
them aviators, who had all, like Lucifer, son of the morning, fallen
to earth violently and from varying altitudes. On New Year’s Eve we
blanketed our windows, kept lights burning, and at midnight drank a
modest glass of port to the coming year.

Our scale of dietary not conducing to exuberance of spirits, or urging
to violent exercises, most of the officers spent a considerable part of
these short winter days in reading or in card-playing. As unofficial
limner to the very cosmopolitan camp, my pencil was kept continually
sharpened in effort to capture the varying characteristics of some
seventeen different nationalities.

One day I found the Commandant looking over my shoulder. He was keenly
interested, suggested that he might give me a sitting, and reverted
several times to the question of price. Finally I hinted that while I
could not dream of accepting monetary recompense, he could, if he cared
to be so complaisant, connive at my escape by way of part payment!

No one, I believe, ever escaped from Carlsruhe Camp, though various
efforts were made by tunnelling. To make exit by a more direct method
three high palisades and barbed wire fences had to be scaled, and that
in almost certain view of numerous sentries without and within. Sitting
by the barbed wire in a remote part of the court, a _Posten_ outside
would open a little slit in the paling and turn upon me an eye which
was alone visible, rolling round watchfully, and with much of the
effect of the Eye Omnipotent with which we were awed in boyish days.

We saw and heard little of the life of the surrounding town. Now and
then a housemaid would shake a cover or a cushion from a window in
one of the overlooking houses, or the _Hausfrau_ herself might gaze
gloomily forth. One night after we had retired to bed, and certainly at
an hour not far from midnight, we heard what appeared to be a quartette
of girls singing outside in the street. We flung open the windows and
listened with vast pleasure to a very beautiful rendering of what may
have been an Easter hymn; possibly a more pagan chant to the Goddess of

[Illustration: A GAME OF CARDS.]

Sometimes, of an afternoon, one would hear from the other side of the
palisade the sound of marching men--a sound as seemingly resolute and
relentless as the progression of Fate. Sometimes came the playful
and laughing cry of a little child. One day as I read and mused in
“Rotten Row,” two schoolboys, doubtless home for the week-end, and at
all events perched holiday-wise upon the roof of an hotel, made their
presence known to me in pleasant and friendly fashion by a cheerful
whistle. Having attracted my attention, they proceeded with true boyish
humour and with eloquent turnings of the head, to invite me to a
companionship upon the roof!

On a June evening, walking with a French Commandant, and endeavouring
to recount to him in French one of the fables of La Fontaine, we were
brought to a pause by what was a wistful picture to us at one of
the overlooking windows--a father, a mother, and sweet little girl,
enjoying the quiet twilight hour together. The Commandant, when we had
resumed our walk--which we did whenever we were discovered--confided
to me that he had three boys, of ages gently graduated, and that the
youngest, Michael, was very sad because he had not seen his father for
so long a time.


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: A SERBIAN COLONEL.]


One morning at roll-call the German N.C.O. all unwittingly called,
“Captain H----!” Then more insistently, “Captain H----!” And still

There was no reply. Captain H---- had died in hospital the night before
of pneumonia, contracted through exposure when his ship was torpedoed.

I was appointed to represent our hut at the funeral. That morning,
immediately after breakfast, something of a stir was to be observed
about the camp, and presently the officers who had been elected to
attend the funeral began to assemble in front of the Commandant’s hut.

Many of the uniforms presented considerable compromise; several of us,
myself included, who had been taken in shrapnel helmets and trench
equipment, having borrowed Sam Browne belts and aviators’ caps. The
Serbian Colonels, however, were decidedly _brave_, if slightly bizarre,
in their brand-new brown greatcoats, with crimson facings, lapels
and linings, their horned caps and general appearance conveying to
my mind a somewhat whimsical impression of armed, aggressive, and
mail-sheathed beetles. The Italian Major of mountain artillery was
there with a slanting feather in his cap, while the Commandant himself
was resplendently martial in his spiked helmet, with, for decoration,
the Iron Cross and, I think, l’Aigle Noir.

Three or four great wreaths, sombre with fir branches and bay,
and bearing coloured streamers, are allocated among the various
nationalities represented, and forming up more or less in processional
order, the party, followed by the somewhat envious gaze of those who
remain behind, moves towards the gateway. Some of our number have not
been outside these gates for well-nigh a year; one officer, indeed,
has preferred to forego this opportunity of liberty for an hour or two
in order that he may achieve a complete year of incarceration in the
_Kriegsgefangenenlager_, his anniversary falling due in a few days.

I myself have been captive in this camp for less than two months, yet I
feel a panting and palpitating as we wait for the guard to turn the key
in the gate; I seem to breathe more deeply when we have passed into the
street. In a word, as he moves among us, the senior British officer has
warned us that we are on parole.

Two electric tram-cars, connected, await us, and we mount and take
our places. It is a cold morning, one of the coldest for some
months. A small crowd which has collected gazes silently and not
unsympathetically upon the scene. The group consists mostly of
children, going schoolward, and perhaps it is owing to the severe cold,
but their faces are pinched and thin. It moves me mightily to imagine
that we are in any sense of the word at war with these little ones.

As the car speeds through the streets we rub the frost from the panes
and gaze out upon the world like a batch of schoolboys on an excursion.
Old Maier, the German orderly, indeed, takes particular pains to point
out to us places and objects of interest as we pass; the _Stadthaus_;
the monument to the Margrave Charles William, founder of the city,
which encloses his dust; the various churches. The architecture is
interesting, although, as I understand, we are moving through the least
opulent parts of Carlsruhe.

On the outskirts of the town the cars stop in front of a church, where
is drawn up a German guard of over a hundred, with a brass band, and
a firing-party of fifty men. We file into the chapel, and the wreaths
are laid upon the black coffin, which rests under the shadow of a great
cross with a bronze Christ. This, and a painting of a miracle of
healing, are the only adornments of an interior which is dignified and
harmoniously coloured in greys and greens.

“That is the General of the district with the Commandant,” whispers
Maier in my ear.

The service is brief and simple. The Lutheran pastor, in black cap
and white bands, delivers a short address, reads a few passages from
the Scriptures, and engages in prayer. Then the bearers take up their
bitter burden and pass down the aisle. One green wreath lies on top of
the coffin; it falls off, and I stoop down and replace it. As we reach
the door Maier is once more at my ear. “That wreath is from the Grand
Duchess of Baden!”

As we pass down the steps the band is playing somewhere in front,
softly and sorrowfully, then there is a few minutes’ silence while the
procession passes into the avenue leading to the cemetery. Here and
there are a few desolate-looking civilians. Now comes the sound of
drums; something between a distant thunder-roll and the heavy dropping
of rain in a thunder shower. Chopin’s “Marche Funèbre.” I have never
heard it played in a more fitting environment. The dark-grey body of
German soldiery winds among the trees, which throw up gaunt, leafless
branches agonizingly against a dull grey sky.

How illogical is war! I have seen a hundred men--as many as are here
assembled for the burial of one--huddled into what was practically one
common grave! Surely we are not come forth entirely to bury the dead
with ceremony; but to persuade ourselves, to prove as convincingly as
may be, that the ancient courtesies, the old kindlinesses, are not
entirely dead and buried!

As the music passes into the lyric movement of the march I see
wistfulness in the faces of some of the veteran warriors; regretfulness
in the very stoop of their shoulders. There is something moving at all
times even in the formal and ceremonial grief of man; it is accentuated
when he is clothed in the full panoply of war.

A short service over the grave, then the firing-party throw their three
volleys into the air, as if making noisy question as to the scheme of
things at the unanswering heavens. The brasses seem to make mournful
reply that no answer has indeed been vouchsafed. Then, the body being
lowered into the grave, each of us casts upon it three shovelfuls of
earth, making the sign of the Cross or saluting the military dead
according to our creed and conception. And so we leave the poor dust,
till it be disturbed by music more insistent and clamorous than the
clarions of men!

[Illustration: THE CATHOLIC PRIEST.]

A French soldier who has died in hospital is also being interred,
and, though it is bitterly cold, we all wait until the cortège has
arrived, and the burial service--in this case performed by the
Catholic priest--has been carried out. As we return through the
avenue we overtake the sad, solitary figure of a widow in sombre
black leading a boy of six or seven by the hand. Both figures are
suggestive of refinement, both faces are pale, and that of the mother
is grief-stricken. As we pass I am so near that I almost brush them.
I turn and look back at the boy, whose face is full of beauty. The
insistent gaze of an enemy officer seems to frighten him, and he
shrinks closer to his mother’s side.


[Illustration: THE REV. MR. FLAD.]

The Rev. Father Daniels, the Roman Catholic priest to whom I have
referred, made regular visitation to the camp, and we had, furthermore,
occasional ministration from a Protestant divine, the Rev. Mr. Flad.
This gentleman appeared in our midst with great suddenness one morning,
and there was much ado to beat up a creditable congregation for him.
This ultimately being forthcoming, and at the moment when the pastor
was inviting us to accompany him with a pure heart to the Throne of
Heavenly Grace entered Hans with an urgent and whispered message, which
turned out to be an invitation to lunch from the Grand Duchess of
Baden. The summons left the good padre obviously preoccupied during
the service, and necessitated a postponement of the Communion until the
afternoon. This led to a suggestion that the pastor might lecture us in
the evening on his experiences in Abyssinia.

The father of Mr. Flad was a missionary in Abyssinia during the reign
of King Theodore. His mother, a friend of Florence Nightingale, was
a deaconess in the Church. When trouble arose between the King and
the British Government--through the ignoring of the former’s letter
suggesting a latter-day crusade for the liberation of the Holy Land
from the Turks--Flad senior and fifty-eight other Europeans were
imprisoned, and many of them had to undergo the punishment of being
chained to a native soldier for four and a half years.

The native soldier, it is a relief to learn, was changed every week--a
transaction which one can imagine as being welcome as a change of linen!

Ultimately Flad was despatched as Ambassador from King Theodore to
Queen Victoria, with whom he had two interviews at Osborne, his wife
being meanwhile held as hostage for his return. “I have here your two
eyes and your heart,” said King Theodore.

During these difficult and dangerous years Mrs. Flad kept a diary,
which was published, but which is now out of print. With the coming of
Lord Napier the prisoners were released, and King Theodore came to a
tragic end by his own hand. The pastor is hopeful of some day taking up
his father’s work and he passed round a book printed in Geëz, I take
it, a page of which he reads every day. His father used to tell him how
in the native cafés he had heard discussion as to whether the Queen of
Sheba who visited King Solomon was ruler of Abyssinia or Arabia.

One need not be in Abyssinia to be chained to a black mood at least,
if not a black man. Sitting in the court at Carlsruhe, watching the
barbed wire shake and shiver like a man in an ague to the play of my
foot, I have been seized with a sudden fear of the horrors from which
I have emerged. This fear in retrospect, so to speak, was greater far
than anything I can confess to have felt in actuality; as if one who
had boldly and blindly crossed a profound abyss on a tight-rope should
faint or falter, grow dizzy and fall, having reached firm ground once
more; as if one had all the past still to pass through, and it were not
possible that one should safely pass through it.

To me, on such an occasion, appeared my buoyant young Italian friend
Cotta, who, passing an arm through mine, haled me off for a glass of
the atrocious white wine of the country--or at least of the _Kantine_.
Thereafter we walked together in the Close, Cotta giving his English an

“Yes, I speak English very well, very well. Have you see the donkey?”

The little donkey, which, yoked to a little waggon, brings us on most
days a load of parcels, and which has become so friendly to an alien
officer that even in charge of a somewhat obdurate driver it will make
a sudden detour from its course in order to shove its muzzle into my
hand, was grazing in the circular grass plot in the centre of the

“It is the better German in the camp!” says Cotta. “Ah, I am very sad,
very sad,” he proceeds. “I have no letter from my girl, and the Germans
have take from me her photograph. Damn! damn!”


       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: OUR ORCHESTRA.]


Man cannot live by bread alone--nor may he, even with a supplementary
basin of soup! Immediately after dinner on the Saturday evening of my
arrival in Carlsruhe, a steady stream of officers set in towards the
_salon d’appel_. Being still without chart or compass as regards the
camp, I also drifted in this direction, and found that at the far end
of the hall a stage was erected, and that a cosmopolitan audience was
already gathered in the expectant dusk of the auditorium. A few rows of
forms from the court served as dress circle and stalls; later arrivals
brought their own chairs or stools from the dormitories; standing in
the background, the orderlies, obviously washed of their week’s labours
in the kitchen or the camp, were the gods, and from their Olympus gave
occasional encouragement, or passed comment and criticism upon the

On this particular evening, together with various musical and vocal
efforts, there was a very capable representation by a cast of French
officers, of Max Maurey’s comedy in one act, “Asile de Nuit.” Prior
to the enactment, and for the benefit of those in the audience who
might be innocent of French, a British officer gave out the _motif_ in

As I sat contentedly in my place--the burden of the wearinesses of the
last weeks fallen from my shoulders--it was borne in upon me that much
of the success of a play is in the eager and receptive mood of the
audience; also that in the naïve freshness of an amateur performance
is a charm which has too frequently perished in the more finished
production of the professional actor. At all events, in “Asile de
Nuit”--the “Night Refuge”--I found indeed refuge for the night!

Monsieur the Superintendent of an--uncharitable--institution, is
pompous, proud, and overbearing, particularly to his unwelcome clients.
It is just on the closing hour of nine, and he is preparing to depart
for the business of his favourite café, when one of these waifs blows
in. Monsieur storms at the tramp for the lateness of the hour, for the
ludicrousness of his name, for anything and everything, and ultimately,
after passing him over to a brow-beaten assistant for the condign
punishment of a bath, goes off himself for a beer.

He returns almost immediately, quite chapfallen. He has learned that
the Superintendent of another “Refuge” has been dismissed for failing
to entertain an angel unawares in the person of a disguised journalist.
He is persuaded that the piece of ragged illiteracy which he himself
is harbouring is a pen also charged and pointed for his undoing.
Consequently the amazed vagrant is overwhelmed with clothing from the
Superintendent’s own wardrobe, cigars from his private cabinet; he is
even finally permitted to escape the last indignity of ablution!


Into the service of the theatre I immediately found myself intrigued
and impressed, in the somewhat composite character of scene-painter,
scene-shifter, poster-artist, actor, prompter, “noises-off,” and
playwright. My first essay in this latter capacity was entitled “A
Chelsea Christmas Eve,” the scene being a studio, embellished with
sundry artistic audacities--nudes and nocturnes, post-impressionisms
and cubisms--and from the cardboard window of which was a view of the
Thames, including the Tower Bridge!--there entirely for economical
reasons, and not geographic.


So pleasant, nevertheless, was this little make-believe interior that
we rarely entered for a rehearsal without discovering and disturbing
sundry reading animals who had crept into it as a quiet and congenial
environment, and who frequently and regretfully suggested that it would
be desirable as a permanency. During the performance the on-coming of
a monstrous and realistic pie, built--not baked--in a wash-hand basin,
filled with boiling water, and covered with a richly-coloured cardboard
crust, was nearly provocative of an assault upon the stage by a hungry
and overwrought audience!

Another dramatic effort, devised for the bringing on to the stage of my
good friends--and the good friends of all the camp--Bertolotti, Calvi
the pianist, and Lazarri the sweet singer, was “An Italian Vignette.”
The scenery, which was painted on paper readily reversible, so that
one could very literally have “a prison and a palace” on each side,
I evolved from pleasant if somewhat untrustworthy recollection of a
fortnight’s stay in Venice many years ago.

_There is a glorious city in the sea._

_The sea is in the broad, the narrow streets_--and that after such
sort as proved somewhat disconcerting to the two Venetians present in
camp. Owing to the circumscriptions of the stage the scene was more
suggestive than realistic, the gondola, instead of entering from below
the Ponte dei Sospiri, swimming in a canal running parallel with the
Bridge of--Sighs--but of no dimensions!

As regards dresses, it was possible to hire through “Hans,” the German
orderly, one evening dress suit, one blue ditto, one odd pair of
quite unmentionable “unmentionables,” and one Homburg hat. To prevent
effort at escape these garments had to be returned to the authorities
immediately after each performance. Nothing in anywise approximating
to a garb mediæval being obtainable, each man--and “woman”--must dress
the part to the best of possibilities.

Clelia (Lieut. Smith), for example, of whom I, as Marco, was supposed
to be enamoured, trusted to hide his identity--particularly as
disclosed by his feet--in a few yards of chintz, rather unhappily of
identical pattern with the stage curtain! A cardigan jacket, frilled
and ruffled with an edging of white linen torn from a frayed pocket
handkerchief, made a quite presentable doublet for me. Toulon, the
French orderly’s _béret_, turned up at the corners, and bearing red
plumes, held in place by a shining tin pipe-top, served as headgear.
The lid of a boric ointment box suspended from my black lanyard formed
a distinguished-looking decoration of merit; the tasselled cord of a
dressing-gown made an admirable sword-belt.

An Italian military mantle completed my costume. A mandolin--an
instrument of torture to be dreaded above all others, but which
musically was mute in the piece, and pictorially represented a
guitar--was borrowed from an orderly.

In passages where “A Venetian Vignette” did not awe the audience it
at least amused it. Owing to an eleventh-hour timidity on the part
of two of our Italians I had to touch the light guitar and raise my
voice in apparent song, while off, Lieut. Calvi, with piano muted with
newspapers, and Lieut. Lazarri, with distended larynx, supplied the
actualities, and this with such success that the many new-comers among
the audience, knowing neither Joseph nor Lazarri, were deceived, and I
received a very ill-deserved ovation for Toselli’s “Serenade.”


The Portuguese Captain Teixeira, who had wonderful imitative faculties,
so that twice I have seen him hypnotize young birds to within a few
inches of his hand, as a nightingale “off,” “trilled with all the
passion of all the love songs that have been sung since the world
began”--an interpolation made by the dramatist in his dialogue to
permit of an effect so original! “Noises off” tolled the bell--the
great kitchen poker--which was intended to warn the lovers of the
fleet passage of the hour, just about five minutes behind time, making
his thus tardy entry on the principle that nothing be lost.

Lieut. H., who had taken part in bull-fighting in Southern America,
gave me the _coup de grâce_ in his own fashion, between the shoulder
blades, and, judging by the force, with a momentary forgetting of the
fact that he was only in Southern Germany. With a “Mio Dio! Io sono
morto!” for the sake of local colouring, I and the curtain fell almost

“The Secret: A Shudder in 3 Scenes,” was probably most memorable
from the secret fact that it secured me a few inches of forbidden
candle, which I used in surreptitious reading after “lights out”
for some nights after. “The Brigand: a Musical Absurdity,” written
by a versatile Roman Catholic padre, was apparently sufficiently
realistic to procure me the first visit next morning from an officer
in the audience who had lost his watch! Unrehearsed effects in
this performance were the igniting of the cardboard brazier by the
toppling over of the candle set within to illuminate it; the rolling
across the stage of an empty and otherwise rather suspicious looking
bottle, and the violent antipathies evidenced by “Bobby,” a French
officer’s adopted fox-terrier, which I had to keep at bay with my
double-barrelled cardboard blunderbuss.

[Illustration: A CARLSRUHE PLAY-BILL.]

Emerging from the hall within a few minutes of roll-call and with our
faces masked by the vigorous colourations of our brigandage “under the
greenwood tree,” we discovered to our dismay that the water supply had
been cut off. For days afterwards my knees had a brownness unknown to
them since I discarded the Black Watch kilt.


A very creditable performance was given of Bernard Shaw’s one-act play,
“How He Lied to Her Husband”; Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being
Earnest,” abridged to one act, was essayed with great earnestness. The
French players gave us some very adroit performances, particularly of
such comedies as Labiche’s “J’invite le Colonel.”

One day there arrived in camp Lieut. Martin, late of the Abbey Theatre,
Dublin, a little Irishman with a big brogue, a fund of humour and of
its concomitant, good humour, and a budget of news of literary import,
as that W. B. Yeats was married, and that G. B. S. had taken his place
at the theatre.

It was suggested to Martin that we might stage one of the Irish plays.
He had had copies of a number of these in his valise when he was
captured, but, of course, these were lost. He was able ultimately,
however, to write out from memory Lady Gregory’s “The Rising of the
Moon,” and for my guidance he gave me a little paper model of the
staging as designed originally, I imagine, by Jack Yeats. For the
performance the German authorities lent us a huge beer barrel--entirely
empty. The cast was an all-Irish one, Lieut.-Colonel Lord Farnham
playing the part of Sergeant of the R.I.C., Lieut. Martin playing the
supposed ballad-singer.

A week later, when Martin departed for another camp, he slipped into my
hand a scrap of paper bearing a scrap of philosophy from “The Rising
of the Moon”: “’Tis a quare world, and ’tis little any mother knows
when she sees her child creepin’ on the floor what’ll happen to it, or
who’ll be who in the end.”

Well, I hope that I may yet chance across the humoursome little
Irishman once more before the final--setting of the sun!


While we were thus making effort to entertain ourselves within the
camp, outside in the Fest Theatre in Carlsruhe there was a performance,
for the benefit of the Eighth War Loan, of “The Homeland,” a war vision
by Leo Sternburg. A translation of this appeared in the _Continental
Times_, a ridiculous and half-illiterate propaganda sheet which we
could receive thrice weekly at a cost of 2.70 marks per month.

The scene is the battlefield. Ahasuerus, the Wandering Jew, moves amid
the dead men that lie about. The dawn is coming up the skies. Soldiers
of the Medical Corps carry stretchers to and fro. Occasionally the
mutter of the distant battle rolls over the scene.

The Wandering Jew laments that he has been unable to find extinction
even in this welter of the world war. A dying soldier greets him as a
messenger from the Homeland:

Give me your hand--that hand from home. They have not left me to die
alone in a strange land. They have sent me greetings.


SOLDIER: Your hand----

AHASUERUS: You have it. It is well. The most homeless of men stands
before thee--he is as homeless as thou.

SOLDIER: As I! I who die for home--I homeless!

AHASUERUS: Thou art in error. The homeland would not die for _thee_.

The Wandering Jew goes on to speak of apathy among the people, and
reminds the soldier that “not only arms win victories to-day. The
war of all men against all men has been unloosed. War against the
woman and the child. War against fields and forests and farm and
house. Peaceful labour turns to battle. The metal of the church bells
fights. The seed fights as it falls into the furrow. Money marches in
ranks.... But ... men eat and sleep and wax fat. They hear of the death
of millions, and say: ‘Yes, yes.’ Gods that descend before their very
eyes, and the wonders of a heroism half divine, no longer move their
senses--no sacrifice can stir them out of their daily rut. They have
but one care to trouble them--it is that you might return greater than
when you set forth.”

SOLDIER (emphatically, to the men of the Medical Corps): Away! away!
I would die of life and not of death.... Let me lie down beside mine
enemy, he that hath endured what I have endured, he, as a comrade that
understands me.

AHASUERUS: Come, thou mayst deem thyself blest in that thou diest so
that thou mayst not behold a race of lesser men. Ye have grown beyond
human compass in the fires of your time, your heads would strike the
ceilings in your little chambers.

Ultimately, however, new troops enter, and one of these gives
reassurance to the dying man.

SECOND SOLDIER: Property hath converted itself into armies, and the joy
of riches means only the capacity to give.... Coffers and chests fly
open. Countesses bring their silver, the legacy of famous ancestors,
the old maid-servant her hoarded wage. The widow gives up her golden
chain, the last love gift of her dead mate; the merchant his gains,
and the old peasants the walnut tree in whose shadow they played as
children.... The whole land becomes a mighty armoury ... they hammer,
hammer, hammer, day and night.

DYING SOLDIER: Do you not hear the thunder of Wieland’s hammer? The
ringing armour of the Valkyries? Do you not hear the hoof-beats of
their stallions?

SECOND SOLDIER: Yea, rivers and fields, mountains and woods dream
anew their German dreams.... Silently the women offer up their
beauty ... the park of roses becomes the potato patch. The savant is
his own servant. The mother can no longer mother her child. Work puts
out the torch of love ... but all bear this ... they bear it for the
sake of the blood which flowed for their sake.

SOLDIER: I die ... I die happy.

[_He dies._]

AHASUERUS: O Fate! This moment outweighs all my two thousand years of
torment. I am reconciled with my sorrow, in that the centuries have
spared me to behold the mighty heroism of this people.


[Illustration: ONE OF OUR ORCHESTRA.]

       *       *       *       *       *



Carlsruhe _Kriegsgefangenenlager_ being what was known as a
Distribution Camp, there was a continual coming and going of officers.
Here we had no continuing city. An occasional prisoner might linger
on--as if entirely overlooked and forgotten--for a year or even two;
in the majority of cases, however, the stay only extended for a few
weeks, sometimes merely a few days. On three consecutive weeks the cast
for one of our plays was removed almost _en bloc_. Friendships were
formed overnight, to be violently disrupted by departure on the morrow.
In our little world was a complete epitome of life.

One afternoon in early March there arrived in camp a cartload of trunks
and sea-chests bearing strange hieroglyphics, with a rumour that these
would be followed by the officers of various nationality, including
Japanese, captured from the ships sunk by the notorious German cruiser

Two days later they arrived, sailormen from the seven seas, British,
American, Australian, Scandinavian, so that the next morning their
blue suits and brown boots gave the _salon d’appel_ the appearance
of a mercantile marine office when a crew is signing on. Some of the
Captains, grizzled and weather-beaten, had an easy gait, a quiet laying
down of the foot, which inevitably suggested the bridge or the moving
decks of ships; different entirely from the more formal military
stride. Some of them were doubtless glad to stretch their legs, having
been cruising in the piratical _Wolf_ for a year or fifteen months.

The Japanese officers made me very heartily welcome to their hut, on
a shelf in which I noticed immediately on my entry a little statue of
Buddha. While I sketched some of these placid, not readily fathomable
faces, I heard, in broken English, the tragic story of the broken life
of their Captain, the Commander of the _Hitachi Maru_.

The Captain had intended suicide from the time he lost his
vessel--thirteen of her crew were killed in the fight--and simply
awaited his opportunity. This came to him in the darkness and amid
the floes of Iceland, when the _Wolf_, with fangs red with blood, was
running back for Kiel.

Engineer Lieut.-Commander K. Shiraishi, of the Imperial Japanese Navy,
is speaking, his immobile face--so that I may complete my sketch--as
rigid as that of the little Buddha which I can see behind him. He
has shared a berth with the Captain, and tells me that on the night
of his disappearance he left the cabin, “and he come not back.” He
had slipped quietly overboard--“in the dark and among the ice”--thus
embarking on a final voyage, new and strange.

“All night we hear the ice grinding past the ship,” said my
Lieut.-Commander, without the flicker of an eyelid. “In the dark--and
among the ice!”

Returning to my hut, by a literary coincidence not uncommon, I opened
Joseph Conrad, and read in “Il Conde”: “He put the tip of his finger
on a spot close under his breast-bone, the very spot of the human body
where a Japanese gentleman begins the operation of the Harakiri, which
is a form of suicide following upon dishonour, upon an intolerable
outrage to the delicacy of one’s feelings.”

Captain Meadows, of the _Tarantella_, the first steamer sunk by the
_Wolf_, was a man of Herculean build, and quite apparently, and as
befitted the skipper of a ship named as his was, he had led the German
Commander something of a dance. Every morning, until he was caught in
the act, the Captain used to empty the water from his bath into the
sea, and with it a bottle giving the bearings of the _Wolf_, and some
account of her depredations. Even when the time came that two or three
German sailors flung themselves suddenly upon him, he succeeded in
“mailing his letter,” and when he received a vehement reprimand he made
retort that if the Commander thought it necessary to shout even louder
he might use his megaphone!


The _Wolf_ apparently employed a hydroplane with great effect in
locating her prey, and in evading capture. The Captain of the _Matunga_
showed me a snapshot--from which I made a sketch--of the last moments
of his sinking ship.


However unwillingly officers may have come to Carlsruhe, there was
always a certain loathness to leave for another camp, on the
principle, doubtless, that it is better to “bear those ills we have,
than fly to others that we know not of.” There was something hugely
diverting in the tenacity with which prisoners clung to whatever shred
of office or appointment they could lay claim to. The members of the
Cabinet cannot be more reluctant to leave hold of their portfolios than
were the _Gefangenen_ to pack up their portmanteaux.


One officer was Secretary for the English section; another was
Assistant Secretary, while there were a number of Committeemen whose
labours were not over-arduous. Two or three of us attended to the
distribution of food to the needy; two or three to the doling out of
clothing to the nude. Then there were the masters of music; pianists,
violinists, and at least one ’cellist; the dramatic entertainers
under the “O.C. Theatres”; and a group of choristers who in chapel
every Sunday evening at evensong did lustily raise their voices in
“Magnificat” and “Nunc Dimittis”; partly, it must be confessed, that
the Lord might let His servants _remain_ in peace!

[Illustration: A REHEARSAL.]

A Debating Society was formed, whose primary object, when the secrets
of men’s hearts are laid bare, will probably prove to have been the
providing of permanencies for the President and the Secretary. At these
meetings, by the way, we gravely discussed problems so original as the
Reconstitution of the Lords; the Influence of the Press; Classical or
Modern Education in Public Schools; and with equal gravity on a more
irresponsible evening the profound question, “Should bald heads be
buttered?” To the best of my recollection we arrived at the conclusion
that they should at least be boiled.

A French Captain, who in civil life was a wine merchant, gave a lecture
on the wines and vineyards of France, the designing of a series of
drawings and maps illustrative of which permitted me to pass out of my
captivity for a spell, and wander in the pleasant region of the Gironde.

These were our only feasible ways of escape at Carlsruhe. A bird might
flutter past the window of my chamber with a sharp little flight of
song. At once I was out and away with it, not necessarily to the
magnificences and splendours, but perhaps to almost penurious patches
and spaces on the outskirts of the dour old town of my nativity, where
pavement and grass-plot touch, and where, amid the lamp-posts and
the telegraph poles, there are familiar trees to be recognized and
loved--where, indeed, one may lift to the lips and kiss the hem of
Nature’s somewhat bedraggled skirt. And still--“You can’t get out!”
said the starling.

One morning, lying alongside him in my cot, I remarked to a
fellow-prisoner, “You look very happy.” To which, being well versed
in the Scriptures, he immediately retorted, “I am happy in all things
_saving these bonds_!”

It is not good for man to be alone, but doubtless _Gefangenen_ had a
little too much of the gregarious--one felt a recurring need for some
seclusion deeper than the common captivity. Such a place of retirement
I ultimately discovered, not in the chapel, but in the more mundane
environment of our tiny theatre, crawling mouse-like into a crevice
between one of the sidewings and the wall. Here I was safe from even
those who made their casual entrances and exits. Here also could I
read to the plaintive accompaniment of M. Calvi’s violin busy on a
Vieuxtemps “Air Varié,” or of M. Lazarri rehearsing a vocal number
for Saturday evening’s concert--could indeed afford time to cheer and
encourage these kindly artistes at the close of each piece by muffled
applause from a hidden but not entirely anonymous audience.

At one corner of my narrow cell was a portion of a window giving on
to the quadrangle, so that by raising an occasional eye I could see
how our little world was wagging. To the rear was part of a set scene
showing a lurid and blood-red sun setting over the waters, even in
which primitive art there was the suggestion of many sunsets that I
have seen; many that I yet hope to see.


Even in this quiet retreat, however, one could not count on being
entirely free from faction and fight. On an otherwise quiet Sunday
afternoon, an English aviator at the piano and a French officer with a
violin have fallen into feud over a matter of musical precedence, and
within a few feet of each other are playing at the same time entirely
different tunes, and that with vehemence and vindictiveness. The
pianist, firmly planted on the piano stool, where he has spent most of
the day, passes without pause or punctuation from Chopin to ragtime and
from ragtime to absolute incoherence.

The Frenchman sits on a form with his back to the wall--literally and
metaphorically--and vents his spleen on the catgut. I stand it for full
fifteen minutes by my watch, and then, going quietly into the empty
chapel and leaving the door sufficiently ajar, I open the organ, pull
out all the stops, brace my knees against the swell pedals, and so
burst into a sort of Grand Chœur in G.

When I emerged the Frenchman had fled and calm was once more settling
upon the piano keys. Blessed are the peacemakers!

Our piano was ultimately a “baby” grand, though its tone was less
infantile than suggestive of that of an old roué. Indeed, there was
little grand about it, except that there was so little “upright.”

Early next morning I discovered the French violinist in the court
taking a variety of exercise, running, circling on the horizontal bar,
and jumping over the forms and seats, in an effort doubtless to keep
the muscles and sinews of his body as taut as his fiddle-strings.


There was one respect in which we could quite legitimately claim to be
having a stirring time in camp, and that was as regards our ceaseless
culinary operations. Recurrently as cook it was one’s duty to see that
the members of one’s mess did not perish of starvation, surfeit, or
ptomaine poisoning. Frequently with inadequate means as regards fuel,
so that I have suggested to an officer endeavouring to thaw tinned
sausage over burning paper that he might try Thermogene! Personally I
achieved something of repute--or disrepute--for two dishes of my own
contriving, one a mock Scottish haggis, and the other what I am afraid
was little more than a mockery of English plum-pudding.

It was through no reflection on our cooking, however, but simply for
the reduction of a steadily increasing _embonpoint_ that one of our
number undertook a voluntary five days’ fast. Besides being under
ordinary conditions extremely good-natured by day, X had a mirthful
habit of laughing in his sleep, the only case in a considerable
experience of somnambulistic phenomena among soldiers during the war
which I have yet encountered.

In the early hours of the final morning of his fast he indeed laughed,
but in a minor key, just a ghost of a guffaw, with a very apparent and
pathetic tendency to merge into a sob. That morning he finished his
fast and his breakfast almost simultaneously. In order that he should
break the glad tidings gently, so to speak, to his famished and clamant
stomach, we had specially reserved for him a tin of rice and milk, very
happily designated “Amity.” This was followed up later in the day by a
handful of stewed prunes, and he was soon once more in his right mind,
if not so essentially clothed upon. He had, in fact, dropped just about
one stone in weight in these five days of fasting.

There was a suggestion that after the war some of us would be qualified
to publish a cookery book: “Mrs. Beeton Beaten!”

[Illustration: TWICE WOUNDED]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: ORDERLY HANET--“LE PÈRE NOËL.”]


Carlsruhe _Lager_ was located on the spot where a hundred people,
mostly women and children, were killed during an air raid on Corpus
Christi Day, 1916. A few days before the second anniversary our mess
was at tea in the hut, when Father Daniels, the German priest, arrived
in search of the Roman Catholic padre, and partook of a cup. Our talk
was of raids, of which there had been a succession, and of _the_ air
raid in particular.

“It happened,” said Father Daniels, “just outside the window of this
hut; there, where the pole is.” The pole is only a few feet away. It
is used as a bumble-puppy pole now. The trees around still bear marks
of the explosion; pieces of shell and shrapnel embedded in the stems.
There was no Corpus Christi procession, however, as so often claimed;
simply a crowding for admission into a circus and menagerie. Old Maier,
the German _Lazarette_ orderly, had a son wounded that day.

Carlsruhe and Mannheim both suffered heavily from our aircraft during
the period of my captivity. In one week there were eight raids--one
every day and two on Sundays, so to speak. In the early hours of the
morning we would awaken to the melancholy music of the warning sirens,
and, getting out of bed and into slippers, would find all the heavens
intersected by searchlights.

Soon the shrapnel would begin to fall heavily into the courtyard, the
pieces striking the ground and the roofs of our huts very viciously. In
the morning we could usually pick up a large amount of shrapnel, some
of the ragged shreds being almost a foot in length. During the night
the sounding of the air-raid warning signal was customarily greeted
by ironical cheers from the Allied prisoners; during a day attack we
would stand out in the court and watch proceedings, although, with a
commendable anxiety for our safety, the German authorities would urge
us to take cover.

One such air raid took place about nine o’clock on the morning of
the 31st May, the day after the festival of Corpus Christi. An
arrangement had been arrived at between the belligerents, I understand,
that no bombing should take place on that day, but, in their usual
absent-minded fashion, the Germans had committed a misdemeanour. So
here were our boys over first thing with a gentle reminder. This
consisted of ten bombs--a sort of decalogue of imperative “thou shalt
nots”--several of which fell quite near to the camp. Heavy damage
was done, and there were a considerable number of casualties among
the civilians. We were so unhappy, however, as to witness one of our
’planes brought down in combat, and later we learned that a second
machine had fallen.


This last fell into a marsh, and neither the craft nor the crew were
recovered. The other two men, however, were buried the following
afternoon. Besides representation from all the other nationalities
in camp, the funeral party included twelve British officers. After
selection of the aviator officer prisoners and the senior ranks five
places were still available, and these we balloted for. I drew a blank,
but R., successful, was not too keen about going, and I secured a gift
of his place, helping him to a decision, if truth must be told, by a
little present of two tins, each containing one hundred cigarettes!

This was my second time outside the gates during the whole of my seven
months’ captivity at Carlsruhe. The journey was the same as before,
though now was visible the whole wondrous work of Nature in these last
few months of spring and early summer. In church I sat in the second
row immediately behind General von Rinck, and could not help observing
how his grey hair and his grey, deeply-engraven face, harmonized and
were at one with the field-grey of his uniform, but that in that
face there was no note of answering colour to the red facings of his
tunic, or to the finely-arranged ribbons of his many decorations and

The service was similar to the former, and throughout the brief time
that it lasted the sides of the two black wooden boxes which lay before
the altar, a wreath at the foot of each, appeared to fall asunder, and
I seemed to see clearly the poor mangled bodies which were therein. The
same impressive music as we passed from the church and up the avenue to
the cemetery; the same word of command to the firing-party; the same
volleys fired upward into futility; the same tribute paid by each of
us, a spadeful of dust--to what would soon be but a spadeful of dust.
There is little variation in Death, or in the ceremonies by which we
endeavour to disguise from ourselves his distressing and disturbing
realisms. Being Saturday, there were many civilians in the cemetery,
staid old men who seemed to have come in from the country; students and
schoolboys standing at the salute; women weeping at the burial of the
dead who have caused their dead!

A few days later the civilians, mostly factory girls, killed in the air
raid were buried, but we neither heard nor saw any evidences of the
funeral. The German _communiqué_ read: “Shortly after 9 a.m. an attack
ensued on the open town of Carlsruhe. Ten or twelve bombs were dropped,
which fell, partly in open country, partly in gardens. Some damage to
houses caused. Unfortunately, four people fell victims to the attack;
six others were badly hurt, partly from their own fault. At 9.45 the
alarm was over.”

And--the four aviators and the four civilians were lying very quiet!


Sometimes, after “lights out,” a warning siren would be blown in camp,
which, to the initiated, simply made warning that Captain Teixeira,
our inimitable imitator, had been induced good-naturedly to give a
performance. Then might be heard the Captain sawing his way to freedom,
to the bringing in of the disconcerted guard. Followed imitation of all
the fowls in the farmyard, and all the feathers in the forest, or, most
humorous of all, “an infant crying in the night, and with no language
but a cry.” Perhaps I would suggest twins, whereat the Captain, who
is a family man, would revert to poultry, and give an imitation of an
exultant hen, whose cackling we found none the less realistic in that
we have a tin of “eggs and bacon” under way for to-morrow’s breakfast.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN TEIXEIRA.]

Captain Teixeira could not only imitate the song of birds. He was a
singer himself. Among many other manifestations of friendship, he
gave me a set of improvisations, “Songs from Coimbra”--Coimbra, a
University town and capital of the Portuguese province of Beira, giving
its name to that school of poetry which had inception in 1848 with
the publication of “O Trovador.” I have made effort to convert these
“Cantares” into English verse:


  Let my coffin be
    Of shape strange and bizarre--
  The shape of a heart,
    The shape of a guitar!


  If a man should be slain,
    And a cross mark his rest,
  He shall also have grave,
    Little brown girl, in your breast!


  There are caverns in my breast
    As in the bottoms of the sea
  Fashioned by tides of tears,
    And sorrows surging in me.


  Some day when I die
    O love, warm and rare,
  In a shroud let me lie
    Of your shadowy hair.


One afternoon German aviators bombarded the camp--very harmlessly,
however--with broadsheets, and not with bombs. After an exciting race
and scrum I succeeded in securing a copy. It was in the form of a
child’s catechism, with as heading a quaint woodcut of a town on the
Rhine. It commenced: “Mother: My child, lovst thou thy Fatherland?
Son: Yes, mother, Yes, with my whole heart. Mother: Why lovst thou thy
Fatherland? Son: Because there was I cradled.” It ended with an appeal
for the Eighth War Loan.

Although we had, of course, no access to English newspapers, the German
authorities permitted us to order the _Frankfurter Zeitung_ and the
_Berliner Tageblatt_, and from these the most imperative news was
translated and written up daily in a _communiqué_ book. During more
urgent periods _Extrablätter_ were posted up in the dining hut. Thus
news of the great German offensive in March, 1918 percolating into
camp caused us unutterable dullness and depression. Most of us seemed
absolutely helpless and hopeless in these dark days.

“I love my country,” said Lieut. H---- chokingly.

To make matters worse there was almost an entire clearance of the camp,
including many of the men who had added to the gaiety of such nations
as were here represented. Flags were flying, and in the distant streets
one could hear the sound of singing and cheering. Whether by chance,
however, or, as is possible, by more delicate design, none of the
banners, except the two official ones at the gate, were hung so high
in the surrounding houses as blatantly and jubilantly to overlook the
camp. In the case of the Russian peace, as in that with the Ukraine,
the flags were hung from the topmost stories; in the present instance
they were not hung above the level of the palisades, and were more
evidently intended for the man in the street.


The soldiers on sentry duty were rarely unfriendly, though they
were forbidden to have any intercourse with the prisoners. Certain
functionaries, however, we, of necessity, got to know more intimately.
Entering the bathing hut one morning, the attendant--a new man,
youthful, and of healthy and happy appearance; his predecessor was
the most morose and doubtless liverish of Germans--was reading a book
with a lurid cover giving an account of the U-boat campaign. He made
endeavour to hide the volume from my sight. I found that he had been a
sailor, and, among other English vessels, had served in the steamers of
the White Star Line. He was certainly decidedly at sea as to the duties
of his present office, his aim apparently being to give us a douche
with the cleansing properties of a hot and the tonic virtues of a cold
bath at one and the same time. All, however, in the happiest and most
friendly fashion.

One morning he was in beaming, if somewhat bashful, mood, and confided
to me that he had been married the previous night; showed me his
ring, and ultimately a photograph of the blushing young bride--who,
it must be confessed, looked decidedly older and more experienced
than her mate. He further informed me that she had “_viel Geld_,”
while he--rolling up his sleeve, and demonstrating--had nothing but
his muscles. Perhaps it was owing to over-much happiness, but on that
morning he seemed quite unable to manipulate the various screws and
levers, so that we were quite chilled before the coming of the cold


Our orderlies, like ourselves, were of various nationality, but there
was a consensus of opinion that the genius of the French soldier seemed
to lie most in the direction of that office. I, at all events, was
fortunate in my Frenchmen. First was our faithful Gustav--breaker of
cups and not too scrupulous a cleaner of the same, but nevertheless a
kindly and willing servant and a shrewd. When one morning, amid great
excitement and much embracing and kissing upon both cheeks by his
countrymen, Gustav left the camp _en route_ for France--his indifferent
health and the long period of his captivity entitling him to an
exchange--we were somewhat disconsolate.


Followed Robert, however, who told us that we might call him “Bobby,”
and who broke cups quite as effectively as Gustav, and cleaned them no
more efficiently. To us he was docility itself, but one morning, having
dressed with extreme care, and having found a substitute to wait upon
us, he went off mysteriously to town before breakfast, and on his
return informed us that he had been sentenced by the Germans to fifteen
months’ imprisonment “for revolt.” His offence was committed in the
first year of the war, and there was dubiety as to when the punishment
would commence. He showed me a photograph of his “_femme et enfants_,”
whom he had not seen in the flesh since 2nd August, 1914. Then he
wept. “Courage, Robert,” said I. “You will see your _enfants, après la
guerre_.” “Yes, but they will no longer be _enfants_!”


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: LT. BERTOLOTTI.]


With the coming of spring and early summer, Carlsruhe Camp, which for
many weeks had lain under deep snow, followed, at the touch of thaw,
by layers of mud and great pools of water, began to assume a more
pleasing aspect. In the centre of the court was a plot of green with
a bordering of rose bushes. On either side of this were two brief
avenues of horse-chestnut trees, which towards the middle of April were
in full foliage, the leaves hanging downwards like hands held demurely
or devoutly, the flowers showing like candles before an altar, or fairy
lights upon a fir tree at Christmas time.

A month later, sitting in the court reading, we would be bombarded
by blossoms from these chestnuts, as if they would say, Look! And
assuredly they were well worth looking at. Whimsically they reminded me
of rubicund country faces framed in old-fashioned white bonnets.

A prisoner myself, I imprison a few of these blossoms where they have
fallen between the pages of my book. In the fall of a blossom or of a
leaf from a tree there is the suggestion of a launch as well as of a

Outside the _Lager_ was a great poplar with a fine upward thrust and
sweep above the palisade; within was his tremulous sister, an aspen,
with leaves all aquiver like sequins upon the attire of a gipsy dancer.

Even the barbed-wire fences seemed to make effort to hide something of
their menace, the grasses and weeds growing at their feet, laying
frail hands upon them as if clinging to them for support.

[Illustration: LIEUT. CARUSO]

A new hut is being erected in camp, and in the early morning, among the
other perfumes of Nature, I noted with pleasure the smell of new wood.
After all, a wooden hut is but a tree forced and fashioned into another
growth. Pity it is, almost, that it in turn cannot bourgeon and bring

I am reading Turgenev. Lieut. Hunt passes me running; he is doing his
daily three times circuit of the camp. “Torrents of Spring!” he cries
laughingly, kicking up his heels colt-like, in reference both to my
book and to his own exuberance!


If we did not subsist by taking in each other’s laundry we possibly
survived death from ennui by teaching each other languages.

As I read I can hear Dr. Griffin’s deliberate and enunciating voice. He
is our most proficient of professors, and is giving a French officer a
lesson in English, with special reference to the pronunciation. “The
knife of the boy and the stick of the man. Have you the pen of the

Two wounded officers are pushed in through the gates--one in a bath
chair, the other on a stretcher on wheels. A gramophone is giving forth
a military march with well-nigh the full power of a military band. The
march finishes with “God Save the King,” and a number of the officers
stand to attention. A drayman, who has been delivering stores to the
_Kantine_, cracks his whip with a report like a revolver shot, until
the sentry opens the gate, and he passes out. From one of the adjoining
houses come flights of arpeggios from a piano well played.

One of my Italian friends, who, on the maternal side, is of Scottish
descent, is learning English, with the very tender idea of “giving a
surprise to Mother.” Bertolotti, another good comrade, and very apt
pupil of my own, approaches me after about a week’s tuition. “Good
morning,” he says. “Good morning.” Then, with more deliberation, “It is
a--bloody fool (beautiful) day!”

Even this, however, is not so bad as the story told of Commandant
Niemeyer of Clausthal, who, when some prisoners on parade showed
evidence of mirthfulness at his somewhat pretentious display of rather
dubious English, burst forth irately, “You officers think I know
nothing--but I know damn all!”

[Illustration: LT. VISCO.]

I must not pass from my Italian friends without reference to the
hospitable and, indeed, quite regal dinner to which the group
entertained me upon a certain Sunday afternoon. Major Tuzzi sat at the
head of the board, for the covering of which my hosts had succeeded in
conjuring up from somewhere or other a white table-cloth--the only one
I saw during my captivity. They had also achieved quite a variety of
dishes, all of undeniable cookery. Chief of these was a great trencher
of macaroni, in the consumption of which--because of the greater
deftness in manipulation of my friends, and the unbounded generosity
of their helpings--I was easily the last man. A right merry and
unforgetable repast, with more of kindly family suggestion in it than
any I had in Germany.


On Friday morning the 5th July, between six and seven, “Hans”
entered our room, and fixing a sorrowful eye upon me--as one who
should enter the condemned cell to announce that it is approaching
eight o’clock--commenced his customary formula, “Well, gentlemen,
I’m sorry----” I knew that the hour of my departure had come, and,
before he had finished speaking, had mentally begun to pack up.

[Illustration: LIEUT. LAZZARI]

My chief emotion was exhilaration at the notion of a change of
environment after just two hundred days of captivity at Carlsruhe. I
bought a suit-case--chiefly composed of cardboard--into which I made
as diplomatic a packing of my sketches and papers as might be, in case
of trouble in that direction during the search which prefaces our
departure as it did our advent.

“Naked we came into the world,” but I discovered that I had gradually
amassed very considerable possessions. Bundled most of them into a
woven straw sack which had held French biscuits, and which had already
done me comfortable service as a rug in front of my couch. Handed
over the cash-box--I had been appointed cashier of the camp the night
before--and gave account of my stewardship to the Brigadier-General
who was senior British officer in camp. 3.50 marks expended to repair
broken violin strings; 6.20 marks received from an orderly, being the
billiard-table takings for two days. Then farewells to be said all

Teixeira embraces me in true Portuguese fashion, Tuzzi wrings my hand
and repeats sadly, “It is necessary,” a phrase which we have both
come to use in pressing upon each other little presents of tobacco
and edibles. Lazzari gives me to understand that his robust tenor
will be mute to-morrow night, Calvi that his heart-strings as well
as those of his violin are broken. And so we pass into the “silence”
room for search. It turns out in the present instance to be a mere
formality--the interpreter puts his hand into my portmanteau and makes
a few pressures, as if he were feeling for heart-beats rather than for
hidden devices and designs.

We partake of soup--the last plate of an uncountable series--and then
we form up outside the court. We hear that we are bound for Beeskow,
near Berlin.

We answer to our names, and take up position in fours; there is a
hoarse order, and a clicking of magazines--the guards are loading
their rifles. The officer reports all correct, salutes, and then
motions us forward with a movement of his hand, and thus, amid cries
of encouragement and injunction from our comrades who remain, we get
into step, and pass through the gates. My last vision of Carlsruhe
_Kriegsgefangenenlager_ shows me the British Brigadiers and the Serbian
Colonels returning our salute; Maggiore Tuzzi, with a look of settled
melancholy upon his face, and Capitaine Teixeira, standing aloof, with
his hand upon his heart, as suggesting that I shall ever have occupancy

[Illustration: MAGGIORE TUZZI.]

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: “ALTES AMT,” BEESKOW LAGER]

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: A “VERBOTEN” SKETCH.]


The journey from Carlsruhe, in Baden, to Beeskow in der Mark presented
a marked contrast to the nightmare, the shivering and sleepless
progression between Le Cateau and Carlsruhe in mid-winter. We occupied
second-class carriages, well and warmly upholstered, and these we held
without change throughout the journey of thirty odd hours.

The people encountered _en route_ were entirely civil, and not
over-curious. Every second woman seemed to bear upon her back--besides
the apparent burden of the war--a basket; every third man a rucksack.
Everywhere were visible evidences of intensive agriculture; the making
the most of a possibly not too opulent soil. Tillage right up the
hillslopes; potato patches almost up to the six-foot way. Continually
we alternated field and wood; brown boles of fir and pine, with, hidden
in their duskiness, the white stems of the silver birch, like flashes
of summer lightning.

We had just a glimpse of Heidelberg, with its castle on the hill, and
arrived at Frankfurt towards six o’clock in the evening. We marched
through the crowded station--which in one of its wings bore evidence
of a recent air raid--to a hall where we had a meal of macaroni and
rissoles served by a pert and self-possessed boy of eleven clothed in a
precocious suit of evening dress.

Next morning Weimar, with its quiet memories of Goethe and Schiller;
Merseburg, with its vast and unquiet Krupp works, springing up here in
precaution against possible air raids on Essen. And so, about nine of
the clock on Saturday evening, after a divergence from the main line,
the train pulled up at Beeskow, where it became at once apparent that
practically all the youngsters, and a large number of the grown-ups of
the town, had turned out to witness our arrival.

It was the nearest thing to taking part on the wrong side at a
spectacle or victory that I had yet experienced--of being “butcher’d to
make a Roman holiday”--and yet it was soon evident that there was not a
sufficiency of “hate” in the whole crowd to cover a 50-pfennig piece.
To most of the children this was the first sight of the _Engländer_,
and they had obviously expected much more of monstrosity and oddity
than was forthcoming, and were disposed to be mirthful on very easy

A Lieutenant of the Cameron Highlanders, dressed in an arrangement of
the garb of old Gaul, which permitted of carpet slippers, puttees, and
an orderly’s peaked cap, consequently received most of the attention.

Presently we came to a red-brick building of grim and ancient aspect,
with still visible evidences of an ancient moat. Turning up a rudely
cobbled way, we passed through an old wooden gateway, which, opened for
our admittance, closed immediately again, making a welcome shutting-out
of the noise of the rabble. We were in a sloping courtyard of
circumscribed appearance, with a square old red-brick tower standing up
in the dusk, and a surrounding of other buildings, with rolling roofs,
having rounded dormer windows in them.

Most of the other officers were disappointed at a first impression of
the place. “Lee’s happy,” said one, “because he’s got an old castle to

Before we could presume on bed--for which, having spent a sleepless
night in the train, we were more than ready--there had to be a
searching of baggage. This brought me no little searching of heart,
my impedimenta, as an old-timer, being easily the heaviest, and
containing sketches and journals which I desired to preserve. I was
busily explaining the multitude of these note-books by hinting at my
theatrical activities at Carlsruhe, when another of the examining
officers produced from one of my portfolios what at first sight might
have seemed to be a somewhat incriminating sketch of that camp. Beyond
a rather flattering interest in my artistic efforts generally, however,
the drawings were passed without trouble, but the _Oberleutnant_ said
that it would be necessary to retain for perusal one book of my journal.


I found that my dormitory was located in what had been a bishop’s
palace, the arms still being visible on either side of one of the
windows. Passing up a very old and dirty, but not uninteresting
staircase, and through a somewhat dingy and dilapidated dining-hall, I
obtained sanctuary with eleven other officers in an equally dingy and
disreputable room, the ancient oaken cross-rafters of which had been
painted to a ridiculous imitation of marble! Notwithstanding, there was
small likelihood of my dreaming “that I dwelt in marble halls.” Lights,
for this night only, were not turned out until midnight, though I have
it on my conscience that I endeavoured to mislead the _Feldwebel_
into the belief that this was the customary hour at Carlsruhe.


Hot coffee--_Ersatz_--made from acorns, was served at eight o’clock
next morning; at nine, to the sound of hammer-blows struck upon the
old, red-rusted coulter of a plough swung from a wooden frame, we
mustered in the court for roll-call. There were three officers--the
Commandant, an elderly gentleman, with an obviously explosive temper,
and a decidedly unmilitary stoop; the _Oberleutnant_, portly and
complacent-looking; and the Lieutenant, a young man, and the only one
of the trio to have seen service in this war. He was here, indeed,
because he had been very badly wounded. The orders of the camp were
read by the interpreter, who would doubtless have looked rather
_distingué_ in evening dress, but whom a private soldier’s uniform
rendered stiff and gauche.

He was sufficiently gracious to give me some details as to the history
of our new domicile, the _altes Amt_, and the squat old _Turm_. The
place was erected in 1252 by Barons or Knights, in whose hands it
remained for a couple of centuries. These Barons becoming financially
indebted to the Bishops of Frankfurt-on-the-Oder, and Lebus, the
buildings ultimately passed into their possession, and were used as
an ecclesiastical residence. About the beginning of last century they
reverted to the Crown, and finally to the Corporation of Beeskow. It
was looked upon as a punishment camp, and we were the first British
prisoners to be held there.


We had a _Kantine_, run by a civilian named Herr Solomon, who, however,
because of his dilatoriness, and an easy deferring until to-morrow of
what should have been ordered to-day, was always known as “Morgen,
Morgen!” The _Kantine_, which was open daily from 11 to 1, and 5 to
7 evening, contained a selection of commodities ranging from a lager
beer--which was very essentially a _Lager_ beer--to a solitary example
of a variation of Sandow’s chest-expander, for which no purchaser was
ever forthcoming. Something to expand a still lower compartment of our
anatomy was what we were in continual search of.


The catering here, however, which was also in Herr “Morgen, Morgen’s”
hands, marked a great advance on the Carlsruhe kitchen. The finer hand
of femininity was quite apparent in the cooking, a number of women from
the country being employed, and we usually were served with a soup
which we could eat without loss of self-respect. Being in the centre of
an agricultural district, we had a good supply of potatoes and certain
vegetables, and when we were able to supplement these with a slice of
bully, we did not do too badly.


Immediately on our arrival at Beeskow I was appointed to the enviable
post of librarian, but found myself in the unenviable position of
having no library. I accordingly placed upon the notice board the
following urgent appeal:

[Illustration: “ONLY ONE BOOK!”]

This rather tickled the camp, including the German officers,
who immediately responded with a gift of some twenty volumes.
Unfortunately, these were entirely in German, through which only one or
two of the officers could even spell their way, but they were in the
nature of a godsend to M. Bloch, a Russian dentist, who was the only
foreign officer in camp, and who spoke German as fluently as one may
speak that influent tongue. _Pro tem._, then, I considered myself as
acting to him in the not onerous capacity of private librarian.

A few fragments of Tauchnitz editions were very literally “fluttering”
around the camp, and on these I affixed wherever possible the seal
of my office--and a touch of seccotine. I also sent out appeals to
the Christlichen Vereine Junger Männer, Berlin; to Sir Alfred Davies,
and the Camp Libraries Committee, London; while I made ordering of a
formidable list of Tauchnitz publications. Berlin responded almost
immediately with thirty volumes of varied sort, mostly the gift
apparently of private citizens.

In several of the works I observed a bookplate, inscribed “Sophie,
Mein Buch,” and representing a very green and very flourishing Tree
of Knowledge, bearing five apples of a more than tempting redness, a
rising sun, and an open volume. Somehow the bookplate conjured up
before me a vision of the gentle Sophie, fresh as the dawn, and rosy
and ripe as the pictured apples.

With this collection and the odds and ends floating about the camp I
decided to open shop, though my shelves would only afford a fraction of
a book per man. Accordingly at nine o’clock in the morning, immediately
after roll-call, I headed a regular rush and stampede to the library;
undid the padlock, swung wide the door of the book cupboard, and
declared the library indeed open.

As senior officer of the camp, the Colonel had choice of the first
volume, after which it was a case of first come first served. For a few
minutes the floor space in front of my cupboard presented something of
the appearance of a football field with a “rugger” scrum on, and then
I closed the door upon only two books--and these the second volumes of
two-volume novels. In less than a month, however, I had several hundred
books under my charge.

One day the German interpreter handed me a note of four volumes
which he was desirous of having on loan. These were: “The Poems of
Robert Burns”; “The Adventures of Tom Sawyers”; “An Ideal Husband,”
by Oscar Wilde; and “East Lynne,” by----Carlyle! This last rather
nonplussed me until I recalled that the name of the greatly-wronged and
long-suffering solicitor in the novel--which one might say had solved
the problem of perpetual emotion--was Carlyle.

It was this same interpreter who, donating to the library a small
guide book of Beeskow, first tore off the cover which carried a map of
the town and environs. “As a good German,” he said, “it is my duty to
prevent you from escaping.”


Having adhibited our signatures to a form of parole stipulating that we
should not make effort to escape, under penalty of death, during such
time as we were out for exercise, on the third or fourth day after our
arrival we went out for a walk under conduct of Lieut. Kruggel.

Beeskow is a country town of four or five thousand inhabitants, and
possesses certain streets picturesque and paintable. There is a
red-brick church, with a steeple and a great sloping roof. On the old
walls, which still stand, are a series of towers, on the largest of
which, as if presiding over the town, were two storks, who gazed at us
as if with curiosity over the edge of their nest.

On this first morning we elected to visit the playing-field allotted
to the camp, which is situated about a mile distant from it. To the
professional eye of one of our number, an old internationalist, it will
serve for football, but not for cricket.

On the other side of the road, behind a _Gasthof_, and just on the edge
of a strip of forest, there was a tennis court, but it had obviously
not been played on for many a day. We at once commenced clearing the
ground, a task in which we were soon being aided by _mein Herr_ of the
_Gasthof_--who is proprietor of the court--his wife, and his daughters.

One of the girls has a rake, which she playfully aims at Lieutenant
Kruggel, who promptly throws up his arms and cries, “_Kamarad!_”


As we returned, a bald-headed, elderly gentleman standing behind
the gate of a villa garden spat upon the ground, and treated us to
a mouthful or two of morning hate. Lieutenant Kruggel apologized
profusely. Strange that the civilian should be uncivil--the soldier


In the little courtyard three or four white fan-tailed pigeons
fluttered about the roofs, like peace birds prematurely arrived from
oversea, while on the other side of the barbed wire was a small colony
of rabbits and poultry and pigs, the property of the German guard.
Then there was Jacob, a ferocious and fearless jackdaw with clipped
wings, who was not indisposed to be friendly, however. Certainly we
were companions in misfortune, my wings not less thoroughly clipped
than his. Ultimately, while I read, or even sketched, he would lie on
his back in my hand with his legs in the air, ever and anon opening a
drowsy eye. Long before I had seen them, however, he would have greeted
several of his own kind, if not his own kin, wheeling round the old
tower, and they would return answer.

[Illustration: PRISONERS ALL.]

Sometimes of a morning I would pick Jacob up as I passed to the bath,
and, perched upon my finger, he would participate with me in the
rigorous joys of the cold douche, the water rattling off his back
like rain from an umbrella. Latterly there were two jackdaws, and I
have watched a German sentry feeding them with spiders collected in
a matchbox, swinging them out on their own thread as an angler would
cast a baited line. After the Armistice these two delightful vagabonds
suddenly and mysteriously vanished. Rumour had it that they appeared on
a German table in a German pie!

[Illustration: THE PRISON GATEWAY]


Only one officer ever escaped from Beeskow Camp, and he only by the
dusty and tenebrous passage of Death. He was a Rumanian, and he
actually succeeded in scaling the high wall encircling the _Lager_, but
fell off into the dried moat and broke his neck.

Tunnelling under the ancient wall was the method that seemed to hold
out most promise of success, and a number of efforts were made in this
direction. These were all detected, however, at various stages of the
mining operations. One such discovery led to a regular hue and cry
and the hunt up for possible “holes.” Three or four _Posten_, one of
whom put a facetious finger to the side of his nose, came clattering
into the reading-room on this errand, when we all held up our feet to
facilitate matters! In explanation of the gaping hole found behind a
cupboard in one of the dormitories “rats” were suggested.

A new _Feldwebel_ who came to the camp seemed to have received strict
injunction to look daily at the bars of the windows to make certain
that there had been no tampering with them overnight. Thus he had
a habit of dropping in at unexpected moments to the library, the
dining-hall, or the dormitories, but always with an air of looking for
some one or something else. Assuredly he did not wish to impute to us
the using upon the windows of anything so unfriendly as a file.

One morning he came suddenly into our room, walked awkwardly and
self-consciously to the window, by which was standing a deck chair;
then, casting a quick, sidelong glance at the barred pane, he said
smilingly in German, “A very good chair,” and so departed.


This _Feldwebel_, by the way, although he arrived in July, came in like
a lion, and went out like a lamb, turning out to be the gentlest
German of them all. He was black-bearded as Thor or Odin, and at
his first parade, on the appearance of the Commandant and staff,
he bellowed “_Ach-tung!_” in a stentorian voice, which, if it did
not make us shake in our shoes, certainly caused us to smile in our
sleeves. Even the camp officers were amused, and Lieut. Kruggel laughed
outright. Next morning the poor _Feldwebel’s_ “_Ach-tung!_” was so
subdued and so robbed of its virility, that it was more stimulating to
our risible faculties than that of the day before. He had obviously
been requested to modify his powerful “word of command.”


One day I had been sketching the interior of the Marienkirche at
Beeskow, a sentry with loaded rifle sitting by me in the silent church.
He informed me that he also was an artist, but with his feet and not
his hands, and that he had danced at the London Hippodrome. That night,
after roll-call, the German, Lieutenant Stark, expressed a desire to
see the drawing.

As it was dark, I practically impelled him for a few paces to
the arc-lamp at the gate, at the very moment when three Captains
courageously made an effort to pass through the building used as an
office, which gives on to the garden, from whence access to the road
would have been comparatively easy. A further diversion was created
by a Lieutenant falling down in the court as if in a fit, though this
was nothing but a feint. The office was occupied by Germans, however,
and, softly and politely closing the door behind them, the trio turned
back. Captain Brown, by reason of his great stature--he was six feet
six inches--was readily recognized, and next morning the three officers
were brought up for attempting to escape, and sentenced to three days’
confinement in the “Tower.”

Imprisonment in this old strong place, by the way, was not looked upon
as a very grievous punishment. In fact, but for the disability of being
deprived of the daily walk, it was an improvement on our ordinary
condition. The prisoner had a room, a bed, a table, and a chair to
himself; a lamp, which he could keep burning long after “lights
out,” and meals sent up to him by a member of his mess punctually at
the appointed times. Then, as librarian, I allowed certain latitudes
in the supply of literature. To Captain Brown, as appropriate to
his position, I sent Tighe Hopkins’ “Dungeons of Old Paris”; then,
relenting, and remembering that he was a Scot and an Edinburgh man, I
followed this up immediately by Stevenson’s “The Master of Ballantrae.”


Another bid for freedom was made by Captain R., to whom for the purpose
I lent a red neckerchief and a civilian cap, which had somehow escaped
the authoritative eye and got through to me. R.’s scheme was to secrete
himself under a table covered with a blanket, at which a quartette
was playing a belated game of “Bridge” in the court under one of the
lamps and in close proximity to the barbed fence, cut the wire, and lie
hid in the shrubbery until such time as he might find opportunity of
passing out of the gate.

We had just sat down to dinner, when the violent ringing of the
_Appell_ bell announced to us that the plot had been detected. Next
morning I met a German soldier carrying a yard or two of barbed
wire--like a line newly baited--with which to replace the cutting
made by the Captain, and at parade a camp order was read notifying
all concerned that no more tables or chairs would be permitted in
the courtyard. Almost immediately thereafter, amid the groans of the
British officers, began a ruthless cutting down of the few shrubs and
saplings which adorned the yard and which could conceivably afford us
any hiding.

Even Lieut. Kruggel’s sunflowers and creepers, which provided a hedge
of privacy for his little cottage, had to be sacrificed, to his great
distress and disgust. In the afternoon three pumpkins sat forlornly
upon the three steps of the Lieutenant’s cottage, all that had been
left to him of horticultural adornment!

On another evening in October an officer, disguised as a German
_Posten_, boldly approached the gate with the somewhat optimistic hope
that he would be permitted to pass out unchallenged. He was detected
by the sentry, however, and came running back, taking off his disguise
as he fled. When the guards ultimately reached his room for a search,
he was playing “Patience.” Before making his venture he returned me
his library book, which, I observed with interest, was the Iliad.
Unhappily, there was to be no Odyssey for him on this occasion.

One morning at breakfast a civilian arrived in the dining-hall,
accompanied by a sentry, to execute some repairs upon the gas stoves.
He turned his back for a moment; the _Posten_ is reported to have
looked lovingly and longingly into a pot of rice, and lo, presto! a
couple of pairs of pincers belonging to the plumber had disappeared. No
trace of what they called the “tongs” being forthcoming before morning
roll-call, a search was instituted, during which time, except for the
senior officer of each room, we were excluded from our quarters. The
pincers were discovered next day, but for two mornings we were deprived
of our walks abroad.


There is a piece of music of amazing eccentricity and extravagance,
yclept “By Heck,” by Henri. It is what is known as a “Fox Trot,” and,
as recorded for the gramophone, is played by the Metropolitan Band. We
were sufficiently mischievous one morning to arrange that it commence
its erratic riot at an open window immediately the word “_Achtung!_”
from the _Feldwebel_ announced the arrival of the Commandant on parade.

The scheme worked beyond wildest imaginings. One blow from the hammer
upon the old coulter, and we tumbled out--and fell in. Simultaneously
with the second stroke the door of the Commandant’s room opened, and he
emerged, for all the world after the fashion of the little male figure
which used to issue from the old-fashioned weather-house when the day
promised fine, or foul, I forget which. It was certainly to be foul
this morning.


“_Achtung!_” We came to the salute, and simultaneously there came a
burst of mirthful music from the window. The effect on the Commandant
was electrical. He shook his fist at the open window, and in two or
three seconds had as many convulsed sentries tearing up the stairs to
stop the ribald strains. Meanwhile, with thumping of timpani, drum-tap,
cat-call, cock-crow, whistle, and motor-horn, the gramophone ground out
its litany, until at last it was pulled up with a jerk. The Commandant
had the instrument commandeered and sequestered in the tower, but
later, yielding to the plausibilities of Lieut. D., he returned it. “I
think I like theatre better in the morning,” was the new interpreter’s

The mere sight of our somewhat careless parade seemed sometimes
sufficient to throw the Commandant into a frenzy. One morning a
Lieutenant was caught smoking by the old man, who swung his arms
furiously, and passed sentence of three days’ confinement in the tower.
To relieve the tedium the prisoner must have taken a flute with him,
for towards evening melancholy notes floated from the barred window,
the air being “The Close of a Perfect Day!”


On a certain day in August, the result doubtless of our continual
complaint as to conditions in the _Lager_, His Excellency General
Waldhausen, Inspector of Prisoner of War Camps, paid us a visit. Rather
a soldierly type this old General, with gruffness and kindliness
apparently continually contending for the mastery. He shook hands with
the Colonel and some of the senior officers, and asked the name of each
of the others--to what purpose I cannot conceive, as most of these
names could convey nothing to him.

“His Excellency wishes that you are to gather round!” Thus the
interpreter. We gathered round very intimately, something to His
Excellency’s dismay, who had not anticipated such an encircling

Then His Excellency opened his mouth and spoke to us, and signalled
with his hand to the interpreter. The interpreter looked more than
usually pallid, and more than usually uncomfortable. He began in
trembling tones: “His Excellency wishes--His Excellency wishes--His
Excellency wishes you to know that we consider you no longer our

His Excellency casts glances, first at the interpreter, then at us, to
see whether his magnanimity has been rightly understood.

Then he talks again, and the interpreter, with knocking at the knees
and dismay in the eyes, essays to interpret.

“His Excellency wishes--His Excellency wishes--that you do obey
strictly the prescriptions of the camp.” The staff smile; His
Excellency looks suspicious. “Have they rightly understood?” One
of the staff suggests to him that some of the English officers are
laughing. Gruffness predominates at once.

The interpreter, more visibly nervous than ever, is incited to try
again. “His Excellency wishes--His Excellency wishes--His Excellency
wishes that----”

His Excellency fumes; His Excellency wishes that the poor
interpreter--now almost in a state of collapse--commit his message
to paper before he commit further indiscretions. There is a lengthy
confabulation and concoction of phrase, and ultimately the interpreter
reads stammeringly:

“His Excellency wishes you to know that he considers you as no longer
our enemies. His Excellency wishes you to know that he will do
everything he can possibly for your comforts. His Excellency wishes
you to strictly observe the prescriptions of the camp.” Thereafter His
Excellency gives audience, and, as a result, it is understood that a
card system of parole will be adopted; that an effort will be made to
combat the plague of fleas, and that otherwise there will be immediate

[Illustration: NARROW ALLEY, BEESKOW.]


Once a month we were privileged to attend the ancient Marienkirche,
where a service modelled as nearly as might be on the English Church
evensong was conducted by the German Lutheran pastor. The service,
including the sermon, which only lasted three minutes--a model brevity
for homilies--was sympathetic, simple, and not difficult to follow for
anyone with a slight knowledge of German.

As not infrequently, I probably received most benefit and benediction
from matters extraneous to the ritual. My ears would be assailed by the
sharp, almost metallic, tapping upon the windows of the leaves of the
elm tree outside, which may have sported thus to the winds of a century
or more. My roving eyes sought the Last Supper upon the reredos,
whereon it was to be observed that one of the Twelve is handing a
morsel to a dog, while the Disciple whom Jesus loved has his arm
affectionately through that of his Master. The interior of the church
is entirely white, with here and there a quickening and vivification in
a note of red or blue or brown on the altar, the pulpit, and the organ.

After the service, I wandered up the old wooden stairs to the choir
and organ loft, remarking the carven names and other havoc wrought by
generations of choir boys, and, indeed, impressed with a sense that
their roguish spirits were tripping up before me.

The organ is old. On the manual the sharps are in white, the naturals
in black. The blowing arrangement consists of a succession of three
movable beams, on which I had a glimpse of the old blower, like some
ancient, dilapidated god chained to his task and making ascent of
interminable flights of stairs. The organ had been stripped of all
but the very smallest of its metal pipes for the making of munitions;
doubtless they have gone hurtling through the air to deeper diapasons
than they ever sounded here!

In the ambulatory is an ancient and crude wooden Calvary; a great
tributary box “Für die Armen,” much bestudded with nails, and dating
from Luther’s day; also cases with medals of Beeskow men who have
fought for the Fatherland from the Napoleonic Wars onward. In the
pulpit is a quaint old hour-glass of four glasses; in the vestry a
church clock centuries old.

As we returned from one of these services the interpreter--the third
in succession--told me that as a young man he set out to adventure to
Iceland. He got as far as Swinemunde, when he met a young lady, and so,
as he said, “I got engaged instead.” “Such things happen,” he added
reflectively. I could only express the hope that never since had he
got into such hot water as he might have experienced at the Geysers!
The interpreter’s wife, by the way, was Madame Reinl, who has sung at
Covent Garden in such parts as Isolde, and who for a number of years
was a _prima donna_ in Berlin.


The Sunday after the signing of the Armistice a score of us attended
morning service. We had seats in one of the galleries facing the
pulpit, so that we could participate without being too conspicuously
present. As it was, the congregation evinced no undue curiosity, though
the three or four choir boys in the organ loft seemed to accept us
gratefully as something of a spectacle for the enlivening of a dull day.

The congregation was very sparse, and consisted mostly of elderly
women, sombre, sorrowful, almost emblematic figures; sad-faced, black
clad, lonely. The vast white interior seemed cold--was cold, so that
the organist, in his high latitudes, kept on his coat, with the collar
upturned, and during the sermon made excursion among the architecture
of the instrument. The pastor looked ill and depressed, and, with
obviously a sad heart, he commenced his discourse, “This has been a
heavy week for the Fatherland.”

On the following Sunday was held the yearly service for the dead.
There were six or seven hundred people present, again mostly women, and
again all in black. Many of them wept silently throughout the service,
others gave way now and again to audible outbursts of grief. I could
only see one living German soldier, but who shall say the spirits of
how many dead were there?

[Illustration: SERVICE FOR THE DEAD]


In our walks abroad we have frequently passed a humble little chapel,
which has been built for the numerous Poles who work on the farms in
the neighbourhood. One Sunday forenoon in October, when hints and
hopes of peace were in the air, I accompanied the padre and the Roman
Catholic party in camp to this chapel, and was witness of a very
interesting and picturesque baptismal ceremony.

The low-roofed room with its humble altar at one end, its walls hung
with the stations of the cross, and perforated with windows showing
the golden dying glories of the trees, was crowded with these rural
folks. The women and girls were wearing quaint and brightly-coloured
skirts and head-dresses showing pathetic effort after fashion and
fitness of attire for the occasion. A virile femininity this, obviously
built for child-bearing. In fact, most of the women seem to be in
an interesting condition, and the officiating priest has no fewer
than five infants to baptize. From these bundles of babyhood, which
look like white bolsters tied with brightly-coloured ribands, comes
a continuous, but not too vehement, crying, which, even to my not
unsympathetic ear, seems something similar to the squealing of little

Three women stand up, supported by their lawful lords, ungainly, in
unfamiliar Sunday garments, and diminutive beside their wives. Ever and
anon one of the women performs mystery and miracle with her fingers in
the mouth of her offspring to the temporary appeasing of its rage.

The remaining two women, who are seated, are in deep black, and their
husbands are not forthcoming. When their turn arrives, and they too
stand before the priest, there is something peculiarly pathetic in
the unconscious crying of these posthumous infants whose fathers have
doubtless fallen, just as I can behold the leaves falling from the
trees outwith the windows.

These humble folk, many of them, would desire to remain behind for
our service, but the guard has received special instructions from the
Commandant this morning, and the German soldiers turn them out. One
elderly dame makes a spirited demand for admission, and, the soldier
proving obdurate, she bides her time until his back is turned, then
enters and falls upon her knees facing the altar as if defying him to
turn her out.

The padre gives us a little homily on the approaching peace, with a
further urging of that “Peace which the world cannot give.”

On the march back to our _Lager_ we pass an ancient and dilapidated
hackney-coach, open to display to an admiring world two of our mothers,
with bundles tied with blue ribbon and red, in which the babies have
been entirely buried out of sight against a biting wind.



On the outskirts of Beeskow was a great _Kaserne_ or barracks of the
Garde-Feldartillerie-Regiments, from which in the morning we could
sometimes hear the bugle sing reveille. This is not dissimilar to our
own, and carries the same suggestion in it of the ascending sun. In
those dreary and difficult days the same heavy and uneasy suggestion
also, that it falls upon many ears as unwishful to hear it as they
would the Last Trump on Judgment Morn.

Sometimes we would meet a company of German soldiers coming back
from a route march or returning from the shooting range--a likely
enough looking lot, marching stoutly and singing lustily. When the
_Unteroffizier_ saw us he would give the order to march to attention,
which was very smartly carried out. In walking through the town we were
continually followed by the little children, who would clatter after us
in their sabots, in manner reminiscent of the “Pied Piper of Hamelin,”
making demand for “_Kuchen_.” They would even break into our ranks, and
insinuate their hands into our tunic pockets in search of the biscuits
which were sometimes tossed to them.

During a walk one afternoon we were overtaken by a sharp shower,
and sought shelter under the trees around some cottages. A little
girl watched us with a timid wonder, which ultimately gave place to
half-confidence. The rain increasing in violence, the mother threw open
her door in invitation, while she and the little girl retired to the
kitchen, leaving us the lobby, in which we sheltered until the worst of
the storm was over.

One day we met an aged woman bearing a burden of faggots through the
forest. When she cast eyes on us she suddenly put her hand to her
face and burst into bitter tears. One afternoon we passed an old
road-mender, whose carefully built piles of stones had much of the
order and durability of a wall, and on whose bent back was a tangible
token of the passage of years as big as any of his boulders.

On another occasion when we walked to the tennis court the German
Lieutenant’s wife was waiting for him at the _Gasthof_, and the two
partook of refreshment together at a little table under the trees. When
we marched back we found that she was still accompanying him on the
side-walk, which seemed to give to the whole parade a decidedly homely

On Saturday afternoons we played football with the orderlies, when, in
view of my advancing years and other discretions, I occasionally acted
in the more retired position of full back. Pleasanter for me, however,
was it to lie on my back in the forest, watching the young fir trees
swaying to the wind like the masts of ships, while ever and anon they
struck with a noise suggestive of the crossing of swords.

One of our orderlies, by the way, had been captured at Mons, and was a
typical soldier of the period. He and his mate were lying in a ditch,
up to the middle in mud and water, and under heavy fire. “I says to
him, ‘Put a little artificial flower on me grave--I’m fond o’ roses
myself.’” His teeth were knocked out by the butt of a soldier’s rifle,
and he was flung into a church. When he first saw a loaf he “charged
it,” toothless gums and all. He is still in the “eye for an eye, tooth
for a tooth,” attitude towards his enemies. And he has lost practically
a whole set!

Another orderly, who had recently been on commando, showed me his leg,
which was badly scalded. “That’s the sort of thing we do, sir,” he
said, “to prevent being sent down the mines!”

[Illustration: “IN SINCE MONS!”]

[Illustration: KIRCHESTRASSE, BEESKOW. One of many such sketches made
freely in the streets after the Armistice.]


From scraps of conversation with the sentries and the interpreter, we
knew by the middle of October that the Germans would sign an armistice
whatever the terms might be. One afternoon the “Top” and “Bottom”
of the house were engaged in a hockey match. As I stood on the road
watching the contested field, passed me a cart driven by a French
soldier prisoner of war. A German boy, burdened with a great sack of
_Kartoffeln_ for Beeskow, gave hail, and the soldier pulled up and
waited patiently until both boy and burden were on board. As he moved
off he saluted me, and cried cheerily, “Bientôt, la paix!”

I approached Lieut. Stark and asked him when the game was likely to
finish. “I suppose,” said he in his slow, deliberate English, “when
they have won enough.” The German civilian, who had some days before
surreptitiously slipped us a copy of the _Times_, was here again
to-day, and obviously anxious to unburden himself to some one. Lieut.
Stark, however, succeeded in hedging him off until the return journey,
when we in front overtook him on the footpath. While still two or three
yards behind him, I said, “Change your umbrella to your left hand!”
As we passed we were thus able to slip him a couple of packets of tea
in exchange for another copy of the paper, and also to arrange that
in future he place the paper behind a certain tree. These papers were
about a fortnight old usually, but they were very precious to us, and
were circulated in rotation to every officer in the _Lager_.

On Saturday evening, the 9th November, an _Extrablatt_, announcing the
“Abdankung des Kaisers,” found its way into camp, and created some
little excitement. At Beeskow we were within breathing distance of
Berlin, one might say, and we almost seemed to be haunted by a vision
of that haunted man who had striven, in his own egotistical way, to
fashion his country, and who seemed destined to see it shattered into
shards. There was a rumour that the officer at the _Kaserne_ had been
deposed, and, in expectation of trouble, all the shops in Beeskow
closed at six o’clock. In the dark outside we heard two or three shots,
but no one seemed able to explain them.


On Sunday morning, as it transpired, we paraded before the old
Commandant for the last time. Shortly after _Appell_ he was waited upon
by a delegation from the men, headed by a stout corporal who in peace
time is a North Sea fisherman, and informed that his services were no
longer required. With a touch of pride the corporal told me of his part
in the deposition.

When informed that he must resign, “_Warum?_” inquired the Commandant.
This was explained, but he still demurred. “I must wait,” said he, “for
instructions from headquarters.” “We give you your instructions,”
replied the corporal, “and you must go.”

Thereupon the old man wept. “_Er weinet_,” said the corporal, and he
drew a finger from his eye downward to demonstrate. Greater than the
Commandant wept in these days, I take it!

While we talked, standing on the road by the playing-field, came along
the civilian, who succeeded eventually in transferring to my possession
a copy of the _Times_ for 29th October containing a sensational
discussion in the Reichstag, and also a slip of paper folded to a spill
on which he had pencilled the terms of the armistice.

Over the barracks we found that the Imperial flag had been shorn of
its black and white strips, and that only a thin red shred stood out
menacingly in the wind from the staff.

A picket, with arms piled, was posted at the forked roads, and from
the caps of all the soldiers the badges had been torn. These men more
than ever seemed disposed to be fraternal; indeed, as we passed the
_Kaserne_ some of the soldiers at the windows shouted out that they
would be glad to play us a game of football now.

They deposed the Major who was in charge of the barracks, and the
Medical Officer--he of the dashing manner and the Airedale terrier, who
visited us for inoculatory purposes--had also to go. The Major and his
young daughter were in a hotel when the soldiers demanded an audience.
The Major endeavoured to escape by a back entrance, but was held, and
had the humiliation of having his epaulets torn off, while his sword
was broken and the pieces handed to the children standing around. So we
had the story.

In our own camp Lieut. Stark, who was a ranker, and also reputed to
be sympathetic to the revolution, was elected Commandant by the men’s
committee--distinguished by white bands on their arms--in spite of the
fact that Lieut. Kruggel was his superior in rank. The men took off
Kruggel’s epaulets and badges, and then saluted him.

It was in these troublous times that Captain U., who was being
transferred to another camp on account of his health, succeeded
in jumping off the train when it slowed down somewhere in the
neighbourhood of Storkow. The train was stopped, but no very effectual
search was made, and the Captain, retracing his steps, had almost
reached Lubben, when he was overtaken and held up by a gamekeeper on
a bicycle, and carrying a gun. He was brought back to camp, and had
a great reception, particularly from the members of his own mess, we
having prepared a sort of composite meal of breakfast, lunch, tea, and
dinner. U. was looking none the worse for two or three nights’ and
days’ exposure, and attributed his healthful appearance to “having had
something to do.” Lieutenant Stark imposed no punishment, his only
comment being, “This is not the good time for escaping; there will be
peace in two days.”


Under the new regime our privileges were considerably extended. A
few days after the Armistice, for instance, we were permitted to be
present at a cinematographic entertainment.

The show was held in a rather dull and sad little hall, on the roof
and walls of which, however, some artist had made valiant efforts at
decoration with impossible pots and vases of impossible roses--neither
white, nor red, nor even blue.

Behind the screen was a suggestion of a small stage, on which,
doubtless, tragedy histrionic had been achieved in the days
before tragedy overtook the town and the country generally. A
dispirited-looking woman seemed to be in charge of affairs, and
under her rather anxious direction our orderlies--all out for the
afternoon--wheeled a piano into the hall, on which Lieutenant Davies
and a German soldier, who has studied at the Berlin Conservatorium,
alternately played melodies classic and cinematographic during the
performance. A preliminary notice flung on the screen, “Rauchen ist
Verboten,” went unheeded.

The first film, which gave rather charming glimpses of German family
life, represented the adventures and misadventures of a poor little
girl, who, after drinking a magic elixir, dreamt that she had become
the daughter of a Graf. Mark Twain’s “Prince and the Pauper” in more
modern guise. Second item, the efforts of a policeman to bring home
his sheaves with him in the shape of a very sly and slippery tramp.
The third, a _Lustspiel_ in four most amatory acts, introducing the
customary machinery, so well known to the cinema stage, of love
missives, magnificent motor-cars, bedrooms and bathrooms; keyholes
betwixt these apartments; the never-failing porter with the inevitable
trunk which forms the last inevitable stronghold and sanctuary for the
inevitable hapless lover pursued by the inevitable unhappy husband.

Altogether, not too bad an entertainment for the money, which was
one mark per head--_Lagergeld_, we having not yet been supplied with
ordinary currency. This was the first night I had been out after dark
since my capture, and it was pleasant to step free upon the pavement,
and to see the comfortable lights in the shops. At a second cinema
entertainment, we had--by request--a series of pictures showing German
soldiers at work and play in rest billets.

In the outskirts of the forest stood the Gesellschaft Gasthaus,
with, in the window, announcement of an entertainment in the form of
an acrobatic act by “Les Original Alfonso Geissler.” The handbill,
highly coloured, represented in one part of it, Monsieur, in evening
dress, and with all the suavity of the dove, making request for a
glass of beer from Mademoiselle at a public bar; in a second tableau
discovers him, sloughed of his garb of respectability and, arrayed
in multi-coloured tights, displaying all the cunning and pliancy of
the serpent in marvellous contortions among the barroom properties.
The proprietor informed us that he and his wife and three sons--one
the hero of the handbill--were all travelling acrobats, that they had
appeared frequently in England, and that they were in Sweden when the
war broke out. It was observable that during the entertainment--which,
despite the bill, proved to be entirely cinematographic--the proprietor
obtained his incidental music by making demand upon several of the
talented among the audience.

In this connection a rather notable incident occurred, though here
it seemed to pass without note. A boy of about fourteen, who had
earned his admission by operating the cinema for the major part of
the evening, came quietly forward, took the violin from the rather
faltering hand of a young soldier who had been agonizing for the last
hour, and commenced to play with a sure and virile bow. He proved to be
a friend of our German soldier pianist, and like him has studied at the
Berlin Conservatorium.


I was now allowed to sketch freely in the streets without hindrance or
interruption, save for the presence of the younglings, which, after
all, need not prove distracting or disconcerting. On the contrary,
it may be even stimulating. Their criticism, for one thing, is
largely enthusiastic, and this sometimes proves contagious. “_Fein!_”
“_Hübsch!_” The pencil probably makes effort to prove worthy of such
compliment. Then again, there is generally something patient and gently
apologetic in the presence of a child, while one grown-up looking over
the shoulder is usually sufficient for disconcertment.

I am sketching the Kirchestrasse. The name, however, is not visible
at my end of the street, and I make inquiry of the little girl who
for the last ten minutes has been standing quietly by my side. She
misunderstands me at first, and upon my sketch-block writes her own
name, “Charlotte Reseler.” There let it remain to add the value of a
memory to the drawing.

On one such sketching expedition I was overtaken by a motor-waggon,
packed with German soldiers, straight from the front, who seemed
somewhat surprised to see me thus walking alone through the streets of
the town with a sketch-block under my arm. The waggon was decorated
with fir branches, while chalked upon the sides were such inscriptions
as “Nach der Heimat!” In the streets also were decorations, flags and
fir festoons, and garlands bearing the legend, “Willkommen!” One thing,
however, cannot be lifted from these streets, nor lightened into them,
and that is the dejection of defeat; the flush of victory.


I was sketching what is, since the burning of the “Grüne Baum,” the
oldest house in Beeskow. I had hardly started, when the proprietor of
the shop in the lower part of the building came running over, and,
talking too rapidly for my entire comprehension, gave me to understand
at least that he desired something added to my sketch. He disappeared,
and in a few minutes there was unfurled from an upper window a great
chocolate and white flag of Brandenburg. A little boy had all this
while stood quietly by my side, save when, quite unbidden, he went
over, and placed himself by the front of the house, just at the proper
spot, that I might put him into the picture.

He spoke now, but whether for my information or encouragement I know

“England,” said he, “hat gewonnen--Deutschland hat verloren!”

I turned to look at him; he was but nine or ten, yet his voice sounded
so forlornly that to me, standing in this street of gathering dusk and
down-trodden snow, there came a sense of the awful tragedy of defeat!


I cannot dance, but there is always a portion of the ball, at least,
to the beholder. Captain Sugrue and I had looked into the _Gasthaus_
at the Railway Crossing. It was an animated scene which met our
eyes. The saloon was decorated with flags and festoons of red roses,
while about eighty couples, composed of German soldiers and their
sweethearts--these last with countenances of a colour to match the
decorations--danced on almost without cessation. Certainly there were
intervals, but these were of the shortest duration. The cavaliers would
approach, possibly with a short bow; more frequently the overture was
merely a smart tap upon the shoulder, and they were off. A little
orchestra of piano, violins and ’cello, was housed on a little stage,
upon which at one time there mounted the Master of the Ceremonies to
announce the finding of a lady’s girdle.

Captain Sugrue and I also made various excursions afoot to townships
within a radius of ten or twelve miles from Beeskow. One of these
expeditions took us to the little village of Radinkendorf, where, after
some research, we found a very modest little _Gasthof_, where an old
woman undertook to supply us with coffee.

Whilst we waited, and she worked her coffee-mill, she invited us in
motherly fashion into an inner room for warmth. Presently the coffee
was prepared, and while we sipped it, “Where do you live?” inquired the
aged woman.

“Zu Beeskow,” I replied. “We are prisoners.”

“Ah, das macht nichts,” said the dame kindly. “Das macht nichts. We
are all human. Warum ist der Krieg?” distressfully, and touching her
forehead with her finger as if in despair of a solution. “Why is the
war? Why? Why?”

I could not tell her.

On another occasion Tim and I footed it to the small town of Friedland,
which at one time, apparently, has had a Jewish population. As we sat
together in the dusk by the stove in the _Gasthaus_, there entered
a German soldier obviously fresh--but as obviously fatigued--from
the front. He approached, recognizing our calling, but anticipating
kinship, and was rather nonplussed on discovering our nationality. He
told us that for the last days his company had been retiring at the
rate of thirty kilometres a day, and leaving almost everything behind

Before returning we paid a visit to the _Rathaus_--in the Middle Ages
the Castle of the Herren von Köckeritz. With his walking-stick Tim
measured the walls--which are of amazing thickness--to the no small
surprise of several members of the clerical staff who appeared at the

by a French officer, prisoner of war, on the outer wall of the camp in

[Illustration: CAPTAIN TIM SUGRUE]


On a Friday evening of early December, my dear friend and
fellow-prisoner, Captain Tim Sugrue, and I conspired to take French
leave from the German prison _Lager_ and make a bolt for Berlin. Six
o’clock next morning found us at the station; a little diplomacy and we
had obtained tickets--singles only, as we must return by a different

From Beeskow to Berlin is a run of two hours and a half. For the latter
part of the journey we are with business men. There is unfolding of
newspapers, and we catch sight of occasional headlines. Street fighting
in Berlin last night; 14 killed, 50 wounded. Anything may be expected
to happen to-day--which means that anything may be expected to happen
to us.

As we pass Karlshorst an obliging German directs our attention to it
as the German Derby; as we enter the environs of the town he has a
pointing hand for various features of interest.

Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse. As we make our way out through the barriers
among the crowd, a tall, handsome gentleman and a young lady--equally
handsome--who is obviously his daughter, seem to convey to us a
telepathic smile of friendliness. In a few minutes we find them beside
us in the throng; there comes a whisper in not entirely perfect
English, “Thank God, Britain has won!”--and then they are gone. With
a quick understanding the girl collector at the barrier permits me to
retain my ticket as a souvenir.

We have had no breakfast; we are hungry; we make so bold as to enter a
restaurant near the station. The waiter attends us, without apparent
curiosity, and as of long custom. For three marks we have a fried
haddock, some salad, and a cup of coffee. We could easily have paid
as much in London for as little--we could easily have paid more. For
proof of my veracity to future historians, I slip a menu card into my

From the instruction of a rather intelligent _Posten_ at Beeskow I have
taken the precaution to prepare a rough plan of the centre of this
most centralized of all great cities. We pass up Friedrichstrasse, and
at the point where it intersects Unter den Linden pause for a moment,
undecided as to left or right. It immediately becomes apparent that
we must not pause, even for a moment. We are already the centre of a
curious little crowd.

“What can I do for you, Captain?” Hat in hand, a youth of seventeen or
eighteen approaches. We explain that we are simply up for the day, so
to speak, and as I can see what is obviously the _Dom_ on our left, we
make off at a sharp pace down the boulevard.

The people have seen British officers before; it is only when it dawns
upon them that we are unaccompanied by a guard that their eyes begin to
open. There is no hint of hostility, however. Twice during the day we
are directly asked by civilians if we are in advance of a possible army
of occupation.

The _Dom_ is the St. Paul’s of Berlin, but it is less impressive. The
organist is here, however, blowing what are doubtless his own very
real personal sorrows to the roof. As he passes into a fugal passage
I observe that, as at Beeskow, the pipes of the instrument have taken

The picture gallery is closed to-day, but entrance is to be had to
the gallery of sculpture, and entrance we make. Tim is obviously
impatient; sculpturesque life is not sufficiently full-blooded for him.
Consequently I approach an attendant, and request that he discover to
us the most celebrated items of his collection. Whereupon is opening of
doors, unlocking of cabinets, up-pulling of blinds, and letting in of
more light generally.

Most celebrated of all is a Grecian sculpture of 480 B.C., taken from
the Louvre in 1870. When I suggest, as delicately as may be, that there
is danger of it having to make further journeyings, the attendant
sighs, and softly replaces the covering curtains. Young Hercules
killing the snakes; a Badender Knabe; Göttin als Flora ergänzt;
Trauernde Dienerin vom Grabmal der Nikarete aus Athens; a few hasty
impressions--but how refreshing; white clouds in a summer sky--and Tim
has haled me forth into the streets.

On the galleries, as on all similar public buildings, has been posted a
placard in vivid red, “Nationales Eigentum!” National Possession.

It almost might seem as if in these penurious days for Germany,
inventory of the national possessions had been taken, and, having been
found to be but scanty, decision had been arrived at to hold fast to
what few poor things appeared to be real and tangible! Everywhere
also one finds vehement posters in red, inciting--to order! Pictured
soldiers, open-eyed with terror, open-mouthed with message, beating
alarum drums; sailors frantically waving flag signals of distress.

Palaces, memorials, museums, bridges; with much that is to be admired,
Berlin seems so heavily encrusted and over-weighted with ponderous
decoration, as to convey an impression almost that the ground may
give way underfoot. That the solid foundations of things have given
way must be more than an impression with many of these drawn-faced,
dejected-looking passers-by. In the architecture there is a suggestion
of London, of Paris, of ancient Rome--a suggestion of ancient Rome
that is strongest, however, in a chill and deadly feeling of decline
and fall. On many of the buildings, and particularly on the Königl.
Marstall, is the markings of machine-gun fire--the guns have played
upon the windows quite apparently like fire hose for the putting out of
a difficult conflagration. On one of the palaces is stuck a sheet of
paper written upon boldly and carelessly with blue pencil:


_Nationales Eigentum_ with a vengeance! Whether they are using the
Royal suite for bureau or bedroom, or both, I know not.

At all points, and indeed acting as police for the city, are soldiers
and sailors of the security service with white bands on their arms.
Large parties of these men patrol the streets, with a peculiar movement
in the column due to juxtaposition of the measured military step, and
the easy swing of the sailor. We would pass such companies with a
more or less unseeing eye, but we are continually assailed by cheery
greetings of “Wie geht’s?” and “Guten Morgen!”

If we pause before a public building, a soldier or sailor immediately
approaches and asks if we desire to enter. In suchwise we get glimpse
of a number of the important public institutions, including the modern
and rather magnificent Royal Library. In the Royal Opera House, despite
the revolution, performances are announced for to-night of Verdi’s
“Otello,” for to-morrow (Sunday) night of “Rigoletto.”

Some of the streets running off Unter den Linden bear marks of
yesterday’s fighting; some of them are still big with agitation;
groups and queues of gesticulating soldiers and civilians. We pass the
Legations and through the Brandenburger Tor into the Tiergarten, and
take leisurely view of the Reichstag, looking deserted and dejected,
and as if all the glory of debate had departed from it for ever. Here
is the Siegessäule and the Denkmal to Bismarck, Moltke, and the long
lineage of German warriors. Here also is the Hindenburg statue, looking
decidedly forlorn and rather foolish. Tim and I decide that it would
hardly be expedient for us to drive in a couple of nails!


Now approaches a great procession of men and women, silent, sad,
slow-moving, sombre-hued save for the red banners which here and there
droop into the ranks and show through the trees like gouts of blood.
It is the Spartacusbundes Party, with Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg at
their head. They are doubtless come to mourn their dead of yesterday
and to demand redress and revenge. The procession winds its way through
the paths, and ultimately the speakers take up position beside the
statue of one of the Margraves, where Liebknecht’s father agitated
before him in less agitated times than these.

Liebknecht speaks now, fiercely and with arms outflung and disturbed as
the leafless branches of the trees which form a background. There is a
wild scream and the crowd commences to stampede. The motor-waggons of
the Security Service of the Social Democratic Party are coming up, grim
and grinning with machine-guns. A terrified crowd is a very terrible

My last experience of its blind whirl and bewilderment was when the
Germans shelled Béthune with big guns at long range on a market Monday
of August, 1916. We looked like having trouble now. “Through force of
habit they will doubtless take their sighting shots on us,” I said to

The soldiers have had orders, however, not to shoot unless they were
attacked, and the crowd gradually regains reassurance. Standing on the
outskirts of the throng, I bought an album of views of Berlin from a
poor little girl, and immediately after a similar collection from an
old woman equally poor and equally insistent.

My last recollection of Liebknecht is of a gesticulating volcanic
figure, and of a livid face, with the wild eyes and the distorted mouth
of a Greek tragic mask. He was killed a few weeks later, within a few
hundred yards of where we heard him speak.

We have during the day made incursions to various cafés, the
“Victoria,” and the one-time very cosmopolitan “Bauer.” In this last,
at just an hour before train time we are seated, at question whether,
our adventure having proved so successful so far, it be not financially
possible to carry it into another day. We decide that if we go fasting
during the morrow--a proceeding familiarity with which has rendered not
too fearful---we shall have purses sufficient to pay for a bed in the
hotel, and our return fares to Beeskow.

We have been sitting meanwhile amid a cheerless concourse. The people
enter, take their refreshment without any appearance of refreshing, and
so depart. “See,” says a Russian, just released from Ruhleben, who has
entered into conversation, “how they are dazed; how they are dreaming!
All of Germany is as a great empty building!”

The streets are crowded, and there is much excitement in the air.
Outside the Friedrichstrasse Station we make purchase of a series of
severe caricatures of the Kaiser, watched by quite a crowd who seem to
recognize the irony of the situation. We have no difficulty in getting
into a hotel, and we make no delay in getting into a very inviting bed.

[Illustration: A CARICATURE OF THE KAISER. Bought in the streets of


Behold next morning two British _Gefangenen_ in the capital of Germany,
pillowed luxuriously in bed, pulling the bell-rope insistently, and, a
waiter appearing, making demands for an immediate serving of coffee.
Not only so, but having search made in the German Bradshaw for the hour
of departure of the train which was to convey us back to prison, and
the time at which we could attend a celebration of Mass.

St. Hedewick is a great circular cathedral, not without a certain
impressiveness, particularly when crowded as it was on our arrival. The
service was in progress, and from the great organ came a sound like a
rushing mighty wind. When we emerged it was raining, and we decided to
call as invited on our Russian friend of yesterday. We made our way
to the address circuitously and laboriously, receiving direction--and
misdirection--from a sailor sentry, who left his post and accompanied
us for a ten-minutes’ march to put us on the proper car. “I have to
Hartlepool and Gateshead been,” he said.

The Russian family were delighted to see us, and extended what
hospitalities they could, generously and graciously. They advised us to
leave Berlin by the afternoon train, as the revolutionary storm which
was obviously brewing was expected to burst blood-red that day. “I will
see you to the station, then I shall not leave the house again.”

A nephew entering at this time, he undertook charge of us. As we stood
on the platform of the tram, there tore alongside of us a motor-car,
driven furiously, and full of soldiers and sailors who bombarded
us with copies of the revolutionary paper, the _Rote Fahne_ (Red
Flag), and with leaflets making call for a great mass meeting of the

I secured a copy. Among the named speakers were Rosa Luxemburg,
Liebknecht, Levi, Duncker.[1]

Arrived at the Gorlitzer Station, we found that there would be no
train till evening, and at our guide’s suggestion we three drank
chocolate--at five marks for three cups, including a 50-pfennig tip
to the waiter--and listened to the melancholy music in the great café
which used to be called the “Piccadilly,” but which at the outbreak of
the war was renamed “Das Vaterland.”

Returning to the station, we decided that our friend had best make
purchase of the tickets, to prevent possible conflict.

While we waited there leapt upon us an aggressive young woman.

“Are you English officers?” she demanded.

“We are,” said we.

“Thank God for that!” she cried. “I’m English too, though I’m married
to a German; and I love my country better than I love my husband, and
think I shall come home!”

As this presented a marital problem too profound for our plumbing, we
made the pretext of our friend’s return with the tickets to beat a
hasty retreat.

We arrived back in Beeskow about ten o’clock, rang the bell and
demanded admittance as good and dutiful _Gefangenen_. The _Posten_
opened the gate, and when he beheld us twain he very decidedly and
indubitably closed a knowing eye!


_It has come at last!_ And now that it has at last come it has
not brought that immediate and amazing emotion of exultation
which we had imagined and anticipated so long. We are leaving for
_Home_--_To-day_--in a few hours! The brain receives the message,
grasps it apparently, and passes it on to the heart. The heart hears,
doubtless, yet it only says, soberly, even sadly, “Yes, that is so.”
Perhaps later, after many days; after months; in after-years, maybe,
there will be the full realization that we have come out of captivity,
and we shall be moved even to tears!

Meanwhile, our boxes have to be filled; our cupboards have to be
emptied. My last recollection of the German soldiery--these legions of
a would-be modern Rome--is of their standing around while we piled into
their outspread arms our old pots and pans, boxes of broken biscuits,
and fragments of hardened bread. _Sic transit!_

Four o’clock. We pass through the gate of the old Bischofsschloss for
the last time. As we go down the street one of the officers shows me
the great padlock which he has carried off in his pocket as a souvenir!
If he had been a Samson, he would doubtless have preferred the gate

The people stand at doors and windows and wave us farewell. Auf
Wiedersehen! Some of the passers-by insist on shaking us by the hand
and wishing us God-speed. We have become familiar to them--and not too
fearful--during the past five months. At the station there is something
of a crowd; as the train moves out there is something of a cheer.

By nine o’clock we are once more in Berlin. We hire a whole squadron of
dilapidated hackney coaches and move in somewhat whimsical procession
for an hour through the already dark and almost deserted streets.

       *       *       *       *       *

Warnemünde. We pass immediately from the train to the quay, where the
Danish ship _Prins Christian_ is lying with steam up. A Danish officer
is in waiting at the gangway, and as each officer answers to his name
he passes over the ship’s side--a free man once more.

Lieut. Kruggel descends to the saloon to bid us good-bye. He shakes
hands all round.

“Es ist vollbracht,” I said.

“Es ist vollbracht,” he replied.

And with a military salute, he turned, and, a suggestion of sadness in
the stoop of his shoulders, made his way up the companion ladder.



[1] Two days later, in the train for Copenhagen, I gave up my seat
willingly to a little boy with a face of great intellectuality, who
was obviously in a very delicate state of health. This was accepted
gratefully for the lad by the two Danish gentlemen who had him in
charge. They told me that he was the son of Herr Duncker, Professor
of Philosophy in the Berlin University, and one of the leaders of the
Spartacusbund; that they were taking him to Copenhagen, where his elder
brother already was, partly because he was suffering from malnutrition,
but principally for safety, neither his father nor mother expecting
to survive the Revolution. A sister of eighteen or nineteen stays
with her parents. The boy’s guardians also informed me that the lad,
who was only nine years old, already wrote verse which would not be
discreditable to a young man, and that his brother had in a few months
become the chief scholar in the Copenhagen school.

       *       *       *       *       *




_The Times._--“There is real fibre and lifeblood in them, and they
never fail to hold the attention.”

_The Spectator._--“Of the verse that has come straight from the
trenches, the BALLADS OF BATTLE are among the very best.”

_Morning Post._--“There is staunch stuff in this little book of
verse from the trenches.... Here is a soldier and a poet and a
black-and-white artist of merit, and we wouldn’t exchange him for a
dozen professional versifiers who ... cannot write with a spade or draw
with a bayonet or blow martial music out of a mouth-organ.”

_Manchester Guardian._--“There is no shadow of doubt but that Sergeant
Joseph Lee’s BALLADS OF BATTLE are the real thing.... In its way this
little book is one of the most striking publications of the war.”

_Leeds Mercury._--“Many war poems have been published of late, but few
approach the BALLADS OF BATTLE in point of imagination, and vitality of
expression. There is a grim realism in the Sergeant’s poems, as well as
an intensity of vision that is at times almost startling.”

_The Bookman._--“Sergeant Lee is in the succession, spiritual
descendant of those balladists and lyricists who have made the name of
Scotland bright.... As for the manner of the book, it is good--it is
very good, it is notable.”

_Glasgow Herald._--“Sergeant Lee’s verses are as frank and straight
as we would wish a soldier-poet’s work to be; but behind all the
humour and grim realism there is a poet’s ideal humanised by a Scot’s
tenderness, and the serious poems are worthy of any company. Their
courageous cheerfulness is inspiring.”

_The Tatler._--“A little volume which I shall always hope to keep.
Mostly these vivid little poems were composed well within the firing
line; all of them are haunting--some because of their jocular
soldier-spirit, others for their wonderful realization of the silent
tragedy of war.”

_Sheffield Telegraph._--“A human, throbbing thing from the trenches. It
strikes vibrant notes of laughter and tears; now it weeps, and now it
is full of the exuberant joy of life; it is a living document authentic
and deep.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

The one footnote has been moved to the end of the text and relabeled.

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typos have been corrected.

Changes have been made as follows:

p. 83: “untolerable” changed to “intolerable” (an intolerable outrage)

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Captive at Carlsruhe and Other German Prison Camps" ***

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