A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 118

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HOW GERMANY WELCOMED THE WAR


extravagance in all classes were justified more by the sudden cessation of this demand for luxuries than by any apparent weakening of the stamina of the nation in its hour of need. Of the many thousands of men, and more especially of women, who found themselves suddenly without employment and without means of subsistence, a large proportion had been employed in the production of articles unknown, or almost unknown, to the nation which fought the war of 1870; and the growth of luxury recoiled sooner upon the heads of those who had ministered to it than upon those who had indulged therein.

In Germany no less than elsewhere there was not only an over-lapping of charity, but also at the outset a remarkably unintelligent employment of voluntary assistance. This was most noticeable on the whole in the case of the post office. Whilst there were crowds of women clamouring for any employment of any kind that would give them a roof to cover them and bread to eat, the German post office began to employ as volunteers the sons of good families to fill the places of postmen, letter-sorters and other officials sent to the front. Protest after protest appeared in the popular press, but some weeks passed before the government made up its mind to remedy the shortcoming, which in well organized Germany was, to say the least of it, less to be expected, than elsewhere.

The measures taken for getting in the year's harvest were, on the other band, both prompt and so far as could be judged thoroughly effective. So soon as the mobilization was completed, the government announced that a large number of free tickets would be issued to suitable persons of either sex willing to be transported where the need for harvest hands was greatest. In particular, these free tickets were issued to people desiring to return from the cities to homes in the country, where the harvest was still in progress. It was calculated that in such cases the cost of maintenance was reduced from nearly three pounds to about fifteen shillings a month – that is, of course, the cost to the state in the way of consumption of food, light and the other necessities of existence whereof Germany soon found herself obliged to be extremely economical. Wherever schools could be used in the early days without long transport by rail, the schoolboys were virtually compelled to assist in the work of the harvest; and even later, when the potato crop was being gathered, they were employed to collect the bundles of dried

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