I. A. R. (Ida Alexa Ross) Wylie.

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With many Illustrations. Demy 8vo, 15s. net.

YVETTE GUILBERT: Struggles and Victories. By
YvETTE GoiLBKRT and Harold Simpson. Profusely Illus-
trated with Caricatures, Portraits, Facsimiles of Letters, etc.
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WAGNER AT HOME. Fully Translated by Effie Dunreith
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II. A,, F.s.A, Fully Illustrated. Demy 8vo, lOS. 6d. net.

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MY GERMAN YEAR. By I. A. R. Wylie, Author of "The
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Claude Champion De Crespigny. Fully Illustrated. Demy
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A CENTURY OF BALLADS (1810-1910) : Their Com-
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HOME LIFE IN IRELAND. By Robert Lynd. Illustrated
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> > 1










Published igio


I. The Reason of it — Introductory
II. South German Towns in GE^


III. The Two Types

IV. The Magic Circles .
V. Karlsruhe Sociabilities

VI. Christmas

VII. The Students and the Emperor's
VIII. The Duel

IX. The Coat of many Colours

X. The German Woman .

XI. Sporting Matters
XII. Manners maketh Man

XIII. Marriage— Before and After

XIV. Another Fable— Cheap Germany
XV. The Theatre and Musical Life

XVI. Education

XVII. The Poor in Town and Country
XVIII. National Spirit
XIX. Which contains an Appeal and an Apology


l and Karls


. 23

. 36

• 51

. 67

s Birthday

. 84

. no

. 124




. 162












• . •


lN Apology .




The Black-Forester's Home in Winter . . Frontispiece

. 89




A Student's Corps House

A Student's Mensur .

Students in Full Uniform .

At the Manoeuvres

At the Manceuvres— Waiting for Zeppelin III . 141

Ten Years Later— Reserve Men after a long Day's
March . . . . . . .145

The Black Forest in Winter 1

Ski Party in the Black Forest J

Ski-Touring . . . . . . .166

Ladies' Ski Race— The Winner . . .168

A Military Hunt . . . . . .171

Campagne-Reiten . . . . . .174

At the Campagne-Reiten . . . . .177

A Corner of Berghausen ..... 260

Field- Workers . . 1

\ 262

Women Field-Workers J

A Typical Village Scene . . . . .265

The Crown Prince and Prince Maximilian of Baden

—Kaiser Manoeuvres . . . . .268

The Emperor and the Grand Duke of Baden-
Kaiser Manoeuvres . . . . .271




IN these nervous days, when peaceful British
householders retire to bed with the black
possibiHty before them of waking up to find them-
selves overwhelmed by German airships, German
Dreadnoughts, German soldiers, and — worst of all —
German pohcemen, in other words, to find that their
dear Motherland has been transformed into a German
colony, there is " of making many books no end "" on
the subject of our future conquerors and oppressors.
The authors are sometimes intensely serious — as be-
comes the situation. They belabour us with statistics
and calculations — differing according to their own
poHtical opinions — which show with horrible clear-
ness how our cousins are growing mentally and
physically. They lead us into a maze of German
law and German politics ; they give us vague scraps
on German art and literature, and leave us with the
bewildered impression that we have been shown the
internal workings of a huge, ugly piece of machinery
which excites alarm, a certain amount of admira-
tion, — certainly no love. And then comes the second



class of what might be called " German Literature."
It is the book written by the peaceful British house-
holder himself in leisure hours after his fortnight's
trip abroad. He has been to Berhn, and stayed
perhaps at a not very expensive boarding-house, and
has therefore every right to speak on German society,
German manners, and German customs, and to con-
demn everything ofE-hand. He has strayed into some
Grerman theatre, so he can talk fluently on the German
drama of to-day ; he has had a furious discussion
with a postal official who obstinately refuses to
understand his own language, so he can with all
justice complain of German officialdom ; in the
restaurant he has discovered that his reiterated
*' Kellner ! " is treated with less respect than the
raised finger of a smart young Prussian officer, so
German miUtarism forms a big heading, with signi-
ficant side-shots at conscription in general. He ends
up with a broad survey of his impressions, which are,
as a matter of fact, no impressions at all, but the
crystallisation of his own prejudices. On the whole,
this second book is a sort of extension on the text,
" God, I thank Thee I am not as other men," and it
leaves us smugly self-satisfied and aggressively
contemptuous ; it is pleasant to find that our pre-
conceived ideas of the mannerless heathen which it
describes were after all fully justified.

Then comes the third type. It is frankly humorous,
and has cast ofiE all didactic pretensions. We laugh
from beginning to end at the funny fat German
baron, the funny fat German poUceman, the funny
iat German officer. The author has somehow or
other picked up some stray pecuUarities, and turns


them to admirable comic effect ; and though we are
still contemptuous, our contempt has become mingled
with a humorous pity.

Of these three kinds we vastly prefer the last two.
The first is altogether too serious. It excites our
anxiety, and presents us with facts which we would
much rather not know, and, naturally enough,
awakens no sort of kindly feehng in our hearts for
the people it has set out to describe. We are not
fond of machines which, to all appearances, are created
solely for the purpose of reducing us and our national
pride to pulp. The other two books do not alarm
us ; the one is mildly instructive — we feel that we
can afterwards found our instinctive dishke for the
Germans on definite authority — the other amuses us.
We read both with chastened appetite.

And so we go on, hating, despising, tolerating, or
ignoring the race to which we are so closely connected,
not according to our knowledge, which is often nil,
but according to our characters and our inherited
prejudices. The many books have not helped us;
our short travels have done less than nothing to
clear our outlook, overhung as it usually is with
insular self-satisfaction. We have stayed at hotels
and judged the Germans by so-called "types,"" which,
if they were EngHshmen in England, we should
ignore as exceptions. Of the inner hfe of the real
" types " the average Englishman knows and sees
next to nothing, and he goes home to his own country
with the sincere conviction that there is no man
Hke an Enghshman, and no country hke England.

" Germany without the Germans would be all
right '" is the text to a caricature in some German


comic paper of a check-suited, flat-footed, much-
bewhiskered Englander on the tour of inspection,
and such is, as a matter-of-fact, the conscious or
unconscious opinion of most of us. And yet —
although I would never dare suggest that there is
any man like an Enghshman — I would venture to
point out the possibiHty that a man may be unlike
and still perfectly agreeable, even — be it said in
whispers — with his certain advantages. Whereby
I have betrayed my standpoint, and let the incorrig-
ible anti-German beware ! It is a standpoint, I
must hasten to add, taken not out of prejudice nor
as the result of unusual circumstances. Ordinary
experience alone has led me to regard the people
amongst whom I Kve with respect and affection,
but ordinary experience is, paradoxically, the most
difficult experience to obtain. This appHes not
only to Germany but to every country. Nowadays
it is within the means of nearly every one, even to the
poorest clerk, to travel at least once in a Kf etime and
see somethingof foreign lands, but just such a traveller
can of necessity only see things from an unusual
standpoint — that of an outsider and a guest. Whether
he is rich or poor makes no difference. Whether he
stays at a cheap boarding-house or at a first-class
hotel makes no difference either. The fact remains
— he is a guest. Even if he has introductions, and
is allowed to penetrate into the circle of certain
families, he cannot rid himself of that one great
disadvantage, and let no Enghshman, be he ever so
observant, imagine because he has dined twice at
Hen B.'s table, that he really knows what sort of a
man Herr B. is, or what sort of Ufe he leads. Her


B., like every other human being, does not carry his
heart on his sleeve, and he does not turn out his
household gods for the inspection of a stranger. He
may be worse, and he may be a great deal better
than he seems — of that his guest cannot judge with
any certainty.

Perhaps this sounds very obvious, but it is sur-
prising how many people there are who would
rightly hesitate to give their opinion on an acquaint-
ance of a fortnight ^s standing, and who are yet ready
not only to criticise but to condemn a whole nation
on evidence stretching over an equally short period
of time, and based probably on still more superficial
observation. This mistake, or whatever you please
to call it, is not by any means confined to Enghsh
people. I suppose it was first brought home to me
by an absurd book on England, written by a German
after a six weeks' sojourn in my country, during which
time he had strayed from one horrible experience to
another, under the impression that they were the
natural and inevitable experiences of every one. Of
course one is indignant over the consequent criticisms,
because they are based on — for us — obviously false
data. But we must remember that in six weeks an
honest, painstaking student of national habits and
customs can gather together enough perfectly genuine
material on which — unless he is blessed with an extra-
ordinary degree of tolerance — he will consider himself
justified in founding a most condemnatory criticism.
I have experienced this, alas! in my own person.
A year or two ago I was travelhng in England with
a German friend. I had been foolish enough to
boast to her about the politeness of our poHcemen,


the obligingness of the people in general, the excellent
" moral '' of our soldiers and sailors. In one month
we encountered nothing but off-hand, sulky police-
men, insolent cab-drivers, disobhging shop-people, and
on one fatal occasion a whole trainful of reeling soldiers
on their way to India. Of course, these were excep-
tions — I knew it; but could I expect my German
friend to beHeve it ? That gave me a lesson which
I shall not forget, and it has since been more deeply
engraved on my memory by the specimens of Enghsh
people I have met abroad. They have all too often
brought small credit to their nation, and I have often
wished, when Hstening to the criticism of fellow-
countrymen over the land in which I Kve, that they
could suffer some of the humihations I have had to
suffer ! I beHeve then that they would be more
careful of dehvering judgment even on the most —
apparently — convincing evidence. I beHeve they
would then reaHse that people can only be judged
from the inside, and that it is only possible to judge
from the inside after years of intimate acquaintance
with their ordinary Hfe. That is what I call learning
by experience. It is not learning by experience to
travel through a country with a notebook and pencil
in hand, picking up statistics and characteristics and
building up generaHties on what might easily prove
to be exceptions. Statistics have no meaning what-
ever until one has learnt to understand the temper
of the people they concern, and, as I must repeat,
understanding can only come with years. This
leads me to the reason of it — the reason why I have
ventured to add a modest volume to the pile that
have been written on the same subject. It is not


in everybody's power — much less to everybody's
taste — to make their home abroad in order to learn
to appreciate the foreigner. It has been my lot to
do so, and I feel that a less pretentious effort, made
neither by a diplomatist nor a journalist nor a
business man, but by an ordinary private person,
hving the ordinary German hf e in an ordinary German
town, might do more than a dozen heavy statistic-
laden reports to reveal the fact that one can be
Enghsh and yet sincerely, warmly attached to one's
German cousins, both as individuals and as a nation.
I do not pretend that my experience is everybody's
experience, or that my German year is the year of
every distant corner of the Empire. I merely claim
that it is typical, that the Germans I have met are
typical, and that my impressions are sincere and



IF I venture to describe Karlsruhe, I do so with
two, I hope, sufficiently good excuses — firstly,
that I cannot give an account of my German year
without the correct mis en scene; secondly, that
Kalrsruhe is in itself a good type of most German
towns. I dare say a great many Germans will
protest against this statement. Karlsruhe typical !
Karlsruhe representative ! I can almost hear the
indignation of the Miinchener, the Frankfurter, the
Mannheimer, and all the rest of those who look upon
Karlsruhe and such small " residenz '" as the dullest
spots on earth. And yet there is, I trust, method in
my madness. To take a great commercial centre
as " typically German "" seems to me a self-admitted
error, because the typical German is not commercial.
He is not fundamentally a money-maker, and is only
acquiring that talent by force of circumstance and
through imitation of others. Moreover, where there
is commerce in Germany there are always two Jews
to one Christian, and the Jew is not a German, much
as he would Uke to be, and it is not in his power or
in the scope of his character to hve the typical
German life. Therefore we can safely put Frankfurt


— of which it is said that every third person may be
a Christian, but more probably is not — on one side,
together with all similar towns, and look elsewhere.
As to Miinchen, it is the city of the musician and the
artist, and consequently stamped with very marked
and individual quahties, not in the least typical of the
average German. And then the Miinchener, hke the
BerHner, like the Londoner, is above all things a
Gross-Stadter, a man of the world who has rubbed
off the original characteristics of his race, and his
home and his surroundings as a natural result have,
in retaining a certain local colour, lost their national
distinctiveness. It is in the lesser towns, in the
miniature capitals, that one finds the German in his
native state, working and hving undisturbed and un-
influenced by the foreign stream which flows past to
the great cities. Just such a capital is Darmstadt,
Stuttgart, Niirnberg — lastly, Karlsruhe. With its
own palace, its parhament, its mint, its polytech-
nicum, its State theatre, its own special laws and
ordinances, it is a German town "pur sang, and the
Germans who inhabit it, from the aristocrat of the
Court circle down to the httle tradesman, are genuine
types. I feel, therefore, that in giving a brief de-
scription of Karlsruhe, I am giving a fair idea of
dozens of middle-sized South German towns. I
emphasise South German, because South Germans are
in many respects a distinct race from their northern
compatriots, and the difierence in character naturally
leaves its trace upon their surroundings. I shall
come back to this point later when I speak of the
people themselves. For the present it is sufficient
to remark that there is a difference, and that I am


concerning myself chiefly with the race with which
I am personally best acquainted.

It is a Httle difficult to draw an arbitrary line
between North and South, and there is a large part
which belongs distinctly neither to the one nor the
other, and must therefore be roughly described as
Central Germany. Bavaria, Wiirtemberg, and Baden
form the decidedly southern element. Of the three
states Bavaria is the most important — if only because
of its famous capital — but Baden reckons itself, and,
to do it justice, is reckoned, " the model state," and
in its comparatively small dimensions embraces the
most beautiful and richest tracts of Germany.
Adorned by the glories of the Black Forest, watered
by mighty rivers, blessed with a fertile soil, an
inteUigent people, a Hberal-minded Grand Duke, a
hberal-minded government, it is indeed an enviable
little country, and deserves the many flattering epi-
taphs which it bestows upon itself and also receives.
Its capital is Karlsruhe — a fact which, as Macaulay
would have said, every schoolboy knows. But I
have taken into consideration that not everybody is
a schoolboy, and that it is just conceivable that the
name *' Karlsruhe " may awaken, at least in some
minds, Kttle but a vague notion that Karlsruhe is,
well, somewhere in Germany. Such is my German
home, therefore — a town of something over 100,000
inhabitants. If you asked any one of them what
they thought of the place, they would tell you without
hesitation that it is the dullest place on earth, that
there is nothing doing, that the people are stifi and
" langweilig," that the theatre is not what it was,
that the shops are twenty-years behind-hand in


everything, that the Kving generally is bad and ex-
pensive — en fin, that anybody who Hves there wilHngly
is an acknowledged fool. After which description
you would naturally expect to find the trains filled
to overflowing with emigrating crowds. This, how-
ever, is not the case. Without any apparent reason
Karlsruhe grows from day to day, and the people who
once settle never seem to move on. I know indeed of
one lady who argued herself into such a state of indig-
nation that there was nothing left for her to do but to
go. She tried Miinchen, and then she came back.
This is the only case that I know of. My German
Friend — she may occur often in my narrative, so
under this title let her be henceforth known — declares
that when she first settled in Karlsruhe twenty-five
years ago she felt that she was taking the first step
into her grave. I fancy her opinion remains un-
changed, but somehow, though we are constantly
considering other places with an eye to " moving
on,"" we never really get any further, and I doubt
if we ever shall.

As a matter of fact, when the inhabitants have
cleared the atmosphere with a good inevitable German
grumble, they will generally admit that Karlsruhe
has its advantages — especially for a certain class of
people. I doubt if the commercial folk enjoy them
to the full extent, for, as is natural in a Grand-Ducal
" residenz,"" the privileged classes — the mihtary and
official circles — have by far the best of it, but for
these latter Karlsruhe has indeed a good deal to
offer. It is just big enough to allow for social
festivities on a moderately grand scale, and
it is just small enough to allow each small


personage to play a big and brilliant part in the
public eye. And apart from its social advantages,
there are certain other points in its favour which
even the most determined grumbler would find it
hard to deny. In the first place, it is a comparatively
new town. Some two hundred years ago a certain
Grand-Duke Karl, having quarrelled with his parHa-
ment and, generally speaking, come to loggerheads
with his capital, turned his back on the whole trouble-
some society, and went in search of " peace at any
price." He beheved that he had found it in a lovely
sylvan spot a few miles away from his original
" residenz," so, to spite his parhament, and also to
repair his shattered nervous system, he set to work
and built a castle in the midst of the forest, thereby
hoping to have created for himself a refuge from the
bickering and nagging of his unruly subjects. Under
the mistaken impression that he had succeeded he
christened the place Karlsruhe (Karl's Best or Peace).
Alas ! this action proved all too premature, for within
a short time his renegade people, weary of their lone-
liness, deserted the old capital, and a few years later
their disconsolate ruler awoke to the fact that his
peaceful refuge had become a veritable town, and the
name " Karlsruhe '' a bitter irony. The poor Duke's
feelings must have been very keen on the subject,
for the stone at the entrance to the old Schloss bears
the following melancholy if resigned inscription —

" In Anno Domini 1715 1 was wandering in a wood,
the abode of wild beasts. A lover of peace, I wished
to pass my time in the study of creation, despising
vanity, and paying a just homage to the Creator.
But the people came also, and built what you here


see. Thus there is no peace so long as the sun shines,
except the peace which is in God, and which you can,
if you will, enjoy in the middle of the world. 1728.'^

Surely an irrefutable argument against the demo-
crat who would prove that princes are an unloved
and unsought after race !

At any rate, willingly or unwillingly, the good Karl
had laid the foundation of a new capital ; the old
one languished as a punishment for its unruliness,
and is to-day an historical but somewhat dirty and
uninteresting village, which in time will probably
be swept clean and incorporated with the capital
as a suburb. Karlsruhe, on the other hand, grew and
prospered. In the beginning no more than a semi-
circle of houses surrounding the Schloss-Platz, it
spread out in regular fan-hke order until it reached
its present dimensions.

Thanks, therefore, to its recent foundation, it is
exceptionally clean and well kept. When I say
" exceptionally " I mean a good deal, for my im-
pression of German towns as a whole is of cleanliness
and order. The clearer, drier climate may account
for this to some extent, but I think the real explana-
tion Hes in the stern rule of the State or — in this
particular instance — of the Town Council whose
lynx-like glance pierces into the uttermost corner,
and sees to it that that corner is made as habitable
and as decent as is humanly possible. I do not think
that the Enghshman would fancy that lynx-eye,
although its interference is on the whole quite pater-
nal, and not half so objectionable as is made out by
people who wish to prove that the German is the
most pohce-buUied man on earth. As a matter of


fact he is not bullied — he is " looked after." You
can best imagine the situation if you consider every
state in Germany as a " House '' in some big College,
with its esfrit de corps, its own laws and customs,
but under one all-uniting head. To carry the analogy
to the end, the people are of course the students,
divided into higher and lower classes, the masters

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Online LibraryI. A. R. (Ida Alexa Ross) WylieMy German year → online text (page 1 of 21)