A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 120


HOW GERMANY WELCOMED THE WAR


population into the firing line. German economists had always reckoned that the real pinch would not come until eight or ten weeks after the outbreak of war, and it was because she realized this that Germany, so far as one could judge from published statements, had always largely depended on sudden overwhelming strategy and tactics rather than upon a long war, fought to the last man and the last gun. Victory must come, her economists appeared to believe, either speedily or never, and this was the real clue to that curious parrot cry of her newspapers, "Paris within a month." A long war, Germany well knew, would be decided behind the firing line.

Not until the war had been in progress for nearly a fortnight was it possible to see how changed was this German people from the hardy folk that had fought forty years previously. Little by little her population had been drawn to the great urban centres, her people had grown accustomed, if not to luxury, at least to conveniences. Their palates had been spoiled for hard fare by delicacies. Their tastes had grown less stern and their requirements greater. It may have come, therefore, somewhat as a shock to those who still preached that the Germany of 1914 was the Germany of 1870 grown richer and better prepared, to find that edicts had to be issued, one after another, restricting the amusements of the people in war time.

Between August 15 and the end of the month one finds such announcements successively. Cafés and dancing halls were only allowed to present such music as suited the circumstances of war time. Ragtime was not to be tolerated, songs must be either grave or patriotic, theatres were to present only pieces of a warlike or patriotic nature, musical comedy was virtually taboo, and the tingel-tangel, the café chantant and the cabaret were recommended to close their doors. The Saturday and Sunday dances beloved of German maidservants were suppressed, and the nation was warned that in this grave crisis of its history gravity must be enforced where it was not voluntarily practised.

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