A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 106

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HOW GERMANY WELCOMED THE WAR


accomplished. Industrial life in Germany was cut short at the blare of a trumpet. So, too, was the life of leisure. In Hanover, for example, towards evening crowds were wont to stream out to the great beer restaurants among the trees near the city. Now, as then, the gardens, with their scrubbed deal tables and their long lines of chairs, were awave with little flags and pennons; now, as then, amongst the large and more popular restaurants one saw here and there the smaller, less gorgeous hostelry over whose rustic gate stood the ancient sign of German hospitality: "We will not break the ancient rule; you may cook your own coffee and bring your own stool." But now all these gay summer resorts were empty. The guests, the waiters and the innkeepers themselves were gone. Alongside a little river the railway runs. About every 100 yards stood a sentry, often an old man armed with a shot gun and without a uniform. Anchored to the bank a mile or two from the nearest station lay a little fleet of pleasure boats, the cushions piled together about the stern, a tarpaulin roughly thrown over the engine, and the owners (for the most part, doubtless, officers) called away in the middle of their summer cruise to join their regiment in the reserve. At local stations piles of luggage were to be seen—desolate holiday trunks, folding perambulators, a bundle of spades and little coloured flags wherewith the Germans delight to deck their sand redoubts by the seaside. When the mobilization order came trains were seized and luggage thrown out.

Doubtless there was in this, as in many other matters, a little too much zeal. Not all the wild confusion into which the civil population was thrown was by any means necessary. It is significant, for example, that twenty-four hours before the order for mobilization was given international trains approaching the German frontier were held up and passengers compelled in some instances to walk to the nearest frontier station. But it must be remembered that in all her recent history Germany had never had an opportunity to practise the mobilization of her whole army, and the wonder is, perhaps, that it worked as smoothly as it did. From the moment when war became inevitable, Germany—or, at least, Prussia—carried out to the letter the rule devised by her general staff—"take care of the civilian only when you have taken care of everything connected with the forces." The outbreak of war was the signal for the complete abdication of the civil power. The hour for which the German military caste had

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