A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 115


EMPLOYEES DISMISSED


by the Serbians, made it necessary for the Germanic allies to call up the Landsturm. Now market-place, theatre, bar, and avenue were cleared of the crowds who had done so much fighting with their lips. The summoning of the Landsturm came, to some extent, as a surprise, for even the day before many people appeared to have thought that this last call on the population of the nation in arms could be avoided. What it meant to the country can be shown by a single instance.

The tram system of Berlin, probably in peace time the most effective as it was the cheapest in any European city, employed about nine thousand men as drivers and conductors. Three thousand of these were called away by the first mobilization order, but when the order summoning the Landsturm was promulgated the company found itself with about a thousand men to continue its work. These were employed at once as drivers, whilst the conductors were replaced by women, in many cases the wives of men sent to the front. They were paid at an average rate of about fourpence an hour. Similarly, the companies controlling the taxi-cabs, so far as they had not simply withdrawn their cabs altogether, obtained permission to employ a number of women who held licences as drivers. In place of petrol, which was virtually unobtainable, owing to the commandeering of all supplies for the army, they took to using benzol, which itself became very scarce, and even alcohol. Very soon there was an outcry about this employment of the wives of men already sent to the front. It was pointed out that these women were already insured, so far as possible, against actual starvation, by the government.

On the other hand, there were many thousands of young women, mostly unmarried girls, who had been thrown out of work by the ruthless dismissals carried out by the large stores, wholesale houses, and factories. So far as the factories were concerned the dismissals were to a great extent unavoidable, since the men trained to control the machinery, overseers, foremen, clerks and managers, were all now bearing arms. But it would appear that the huge stores, which had gradually become the foremost feature of the shopping world of German cities, acted immediately after the outbreak of war upon principles which were hard to reconcile with the patriotic announcements pasted on their windows. At the end of August, when the legal notices of dismissal took effect, many hundreds

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