A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 105

The home of the Lonsdale Battalion 1914-1918
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A Popular History of The Great War   ·   Volume 1: The First Phase - 1914   ·   Chapter 6: How Germany Welcomed the War
How Germany Welcomed the War

WITHIN a few hours of the order for general mobilization the whole German empire underwent an extraordinary change. At every railway station there suddenly sprang up not camps of tents, but long lines of pitch-pine sheds, every board ready cut so that it could be dropped into its place. When the first detachments of reserves appeared, according to the time-table in the hands of every sergeant, at their appointed station they found shelter from sun and rain, and long tables whereon the Red Cross organization had prepared water, lemonade, and even sausages. So exact were the arrangements in all these respects, at any rate throughout Prussia, that on the receipt of the order for mobilization even ice was ready to cool the drinking water. From every village throughout the huge empire little knots of men began to trudge to the stations whence they would be transported to their regimental headquarters. Although nominally all were not required for eight or even ten days, on the fifth day of mobilization (Thursday, August 6), the open country appeared as if suddenly it had been swept of all inhabitants. In the golden cornfields stood wagons half-laden; here and there a ladder leaned against a half-finished rick; even the women had disappeared, and the only sign of life over mile after mile of the great plain was a silent figure, standing rifle in hand, by a bridge or level crossing.

For years people had talked about and discussed the German mobilization; vague legends had been published of partial mobilization in 1911, and again in 1912, and earlier during the Moroccan crisis; but never before in the history of Germany—or, indeed, in any other country—had there been any experience of this sudden stopping of work of a busy nation, this sudden draining of town and country of every man of military age. Already, on Saturday, August 8, a number of factories had closed through want of men. Vast transport organizations had suddenly ceased work for want of horses and lorries. By Tuesday the work of desolation—there is no other word to describe it—was fully

← 104   ·   105   ·   106 →
(page index)