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Merchant Edge worth " requires your attendance
at Police-Re vier 6, " for purposes of legitimation."
" Legitimation " is no re^'ection on your birth. It
means merely the documentary substantiation of
the entries in the registration form. The assump-
tion so far is that you have been lying. Armed with
a passport you rush to PoUce-Revier 6. The police
are very polite, even human ; they ask if Cork is near
Edinburgh. You turn to go. An uncommonly tall,
broad-shouldered, skinny policeman, whose tunic is
wrinkled across in architectonic terraces, says,


" Wait a moment, please ! " He asks, " Where is
your de-registration form ? " " You have it there."
" You understand," he says. " We have your
registration form. We want the de-registration
form." And he explains that this is a document of
discharge, or ticket-of-leave, issued by the police
when you left your old address ; and that you
ought to have got it when you moved. You say
you did not know. " There are no registration
certificates of either kind in England." He smiles

Luckily such troubles end. Having sent for the
House-Book of your former dwelling, and got it
accepted instead of de-registration certificate, you
settle down in peace, and cease to shine as the sus-
pect burglar of Konkursplatz. So you think . . .
October the 13th is a rainy morning, and you are
sitting in an icy tub conceitedly thinking you have
the one tough skin in Berlin-Schoneberg. A mina-
tory knock comes to the bathroom door. You peer
round. It is the architectonic policeman. He is
surprised to find you naked. " I thought this was
the dining-room," he apologises. " I heard liquid
flowing, and thought you were pouring out coffee."
And he holds up the cream-hued registration form,
points to something illegible in the column, " Re-
ligious Confession," and asks alarmingly :

" What is that ? "


" Protestant," you answer.

" What is a Protestant ? "

" A Protestant ... a religion."

" There is no such reUgion. Do you mean Evan-
geUcal ? "

" Yes ; Evangehcal."

" Then you belong to the Prussian State Church ? "

As membership of the Prussian State Church has
minatory fiscal implications, you answer at once :

" No."

" Then you are a Dissident."

" No . . . not exactly."

" I see. If you are neither Evangehcal nor Dissi-
dent, you are plainly a Roman Catholic."

Your coffee — that is your tub — ^is flowing over ;
and you are tired. The policeman enters you up
as Roman Catholic ; says, " You forgot to put your
wife's maiden name in the duplicate, Guten M or gen " ;
and goes.

This time your spirits are excellent ; the pohce-
man himself has admitted that all is in order. But
at eight o'clock on the evening of November 4th
new trouble comes. You have just sat down to
dinner, and begun an argument with Letitia, who
asks why the police have not caught the murderer
of Frau Widow Torkel. " The Lokal-Anzeiger," you
answer, "says the police are overworked." At this
moment Hedwig enters and whispers that there is


a policeman in the hall. Convinced this time that it
is a case of handcuffs, and that you yourself are the
murderer of Frau Widow Torkel, you walk to your
doom. It is the architectonic policeman. He says,
" Guten Abend! " and apologises ; but as you are a
Briton he does not say that he heard you swallowing
bouillon, and thought you were filling your tub.
Your blunders, it seems, are — (i) filHng the column
" State-Citizenship " with englisch, whereas it should
be gross-brittanisch ; and ignoring three of the more
important questions in column number eleven :
" Whether you are living in your own apartment or
in a lodging ; if the latter in whose apartment ;
whether you are living in a sublet apartment, or in
a sleeping-corner, or in service ; whether the apart-
ment is in a front-house, or a side-wing, or a back-
house ; whether you live in the cellar, or on the
ground-floor, or on the first-floor, or on the second-
floor, and so on ?

You are pleased to issue unfined from these com-
pHcations ; and you soon forget the registration.
In fact, for weeks you see only one policeman ; and
that is slovenly Herr Detective Officer Schall, who
works for the Foreign Office. He asks you abruptly :
" Do you know Herr French Newspaper Correspon-
dent Moulin ? " " I do," you answer. " Nobody
reads his silly telegrams." This is your comradely
way of saving M. Moulin from being put under


observation as a publicist of influence. You tell this
to M. Moulin ; and he thanks you. He says it's
strange the police have not yet caught the mur-
derers of Frau Widow Torkel, Herr Brewer Wenzcezc
and the schoolboy Pieper ; and you give him your
cutting from the Lokal-Anzeiger , explaining that the
police are overworked. He says : " Have you got
through your registration troubles ? Then thank
your stars." You thank them.

On the 8th of December you are developing
snapshots of the Stadion, when the architectonic
pohceman knocks poHtely and enters in a trail of
light. He holds up a sheaf of registration forms.
"It's only a formality," he says. " Would you
mind explaining. Here is your certificate when you
first lived at Charlottenburg ; here is your first
Berlin certificate, nineteen hundred and six ; here
is the paper you filled in at Stettin when you arrived
there from Derby, Scotland, on June the third —
June the eighth, I mean — nineteen hundred and
nine ; here is your Halensee paper, and here . . .
Excuse this trouble. But in the Charlottenburg
paper you call yourself a Protestant ; in the Berlin
paper you are a Lutheran ; in the Derby paper
an Evangelical ; in the Halensee paper a member
of the Church of Ireland ; and now, it appears, you
are a Roman Catholic. Would j^ou mind explain-
ing . . ."


" Certainly. Most of them are the same . . ."
" I know. But assuming that a Protestant and a
Catholic are the same, how can you account. ... If
you have changed your religion four times you must
produce the Religions-Change-Certificates. . . ."
And he explains, carefully premising that it is not
his business, what you must do if you want a
Religions-Change-Certificate. You must apply to
the District Court for permission to change your
religion, and pay a shilling fee. The Court may not
withhold permission ; but it may first dispatch Herr
Pastor Dittebrand to plead with you and make
clear that you know your mind. Thereon you get
a certificate recording your change of faith. " It is
dangerous," says Herr Dr. Ing. Gamradt, "to enter
yourself indiscriminately as Anglican, Lutheran,
Irish Church, and Roman CathoUc — you risk being
assessed with Church-tax by aU these churches at

You are impressed by this registration system as
an effective way of controlling aliens and natives ;
and are doubly impressed when next day you read
in the Morgenpost that Herr Ilja Lewy of Rathenau,
falsely registered with the police as Count Louis
Chmielnicki, of Cracow, has fled after marrying
three West End widows and robbing four. You are
further well impressed by the courtesy shown during
investigation. Considering the vast police authority


such efficiency and polish are miraculous. For it is
true that the police are overworked. Their functions
are endless. You read in the Morgenpost of August
ist that Herr Police-President Jagow has forbidden
hat-wearing in the theatres ; on August 2nd, that
he has forbidden hat-pins in hats ; on August 3rd,
that he has fixed the ist October for opening autumn
sales ; on August 4th that he has forbidden artists
to paint public automobiles with purple grape-
festoons on a silver background ; on August 5th,
that he has expelled twelve hundred artists from
sixth-floor studios ; on August 6th, that he says
pedestrians must cross Friedrichstrasse at an angle
of 43 "37 ; on August 7th, that he has forbidden Wil-
mersdorf to build a swimming-bath. The dis-
cretionary omnipotence of Herr Police-President
are shown by the motives of his swimming-bath
decision. He holds that Berlin has enough recrea-
tion. It is in his competence to say when four
million citizens have enough recreation. If police-
men with such powers are ordinarily civil and help-
ful (the most so when addressed insinuatingly as
" Herr Sergeant-Major ") the charges commonly
levelled against the Prussian constable are certainly

Bravest of police institutions here is the station-
ing at street crossings of constables versed in English.
At many important corners stand scholarly men in


blue, with sleeves showing Union Jacks, effectively
embroidered upside down. And Stars and Stripes.
The flags are signals to helpless Britons and Ameri-
cans that here is English spoken. Our little friend
Bernal Harley lately wagered that he would puzzle
the most learned of them with a simple question ;
but he lost his bet. He chose as victim the Unter
den Linden constable whose normal day goes in
answering Americans from Mo. and Va., who pant
to learn if the Cathedral is the Kaiser's palace, and
if the Brandenburg Thor is called after the God of
Thunder. After asking a number of simple ques-
tions which the constable answered at sight, Bernal
tried to puzzle him with : "I seek the address of
Herr Professor Jank whose labours on logic ..."
" Whose what ? " " Whose labours on logic ..."
" I apprehend. If you will buy labels for luggage
take the third. ..." Everywhere Bernal got intel-
ligible answers ; and he came home vowing that
England must rejoice thus to enforce her culture on
alien breeds ; and have it proclaimed even by
constable's elbows that her sons, alone in the world's
fifty nations, speak no tongue but their own.

Gentle and scholarly as are Prussia's pohcemen,
they are perhaps too austere to fall in the group of
all too human bureaucrats. " And all other bureau-
crats," says Letitia, but she errs. The Prussian
bureaucrat is very human. He pushes his humanity,


says Herr Dr. Gamradt, to the verge of fraud ; and
he crowns his humanity in being humanly found out.
For ages he has traded on his unimpeached incor-
ruptibiUty ; on his Cimmerian gravity ; on his
Olympian remoteness from all-too-human unofficials.
Yet now it seems, he is a whited sepulchre ; he has
fallen in the eye of the nation ; and when once-
respectful Herr Gamradt spies him in the offing he
keeps his hat on his head.

Not that his sin is mortal. It is mere prestige-
kilHng. He has gone on the Stage. Fact is the
super - Scottish State {" ubey-schoUisch," saj's the
Vossische Zeitung, writing on Thrift) pays him ill.
And since here — even in tariff-reformed Prussia —
bread costs pfennigs, he secretly supplements his
super-scottish wage by making the world laugh and
cry. Grand opera, concerts, the bearable legitimate
drama, the base variety show, even the meek fifty-
pfennig kino, yield him wealth. For him as citizen
and parent, says Gamradt, these are decent expe-
dients ; but with profane men the}' degrade his
bureaucrat's dignity and they take black bread
from the mouths of artists no richer than him-

It was all due to the income-tax. The income-tax
organism here is even less human than Britain's ;
and even sharper in seeing that citizens do not
humanly err. In the paper on which j^ou assess your


wealth you must supply a list of your family,
servants, and all dependents ; and you must state
the rent of your flat. So that if you support two
children, three nieces, and five servants, and pay
£300 in rent, it is useless measuring, as you would
in cheaper England, your total income at £309.
Like the registration system, the taxing system is
highly effective ; for Herr Professor Dr. Hans
Delbriick shows that one-fourth of Prussian income
derived from land pays its lawful dues, while the
remaining three-fourths stays, evasively untaxed,
in the human Prussian purse.

It was a breach of this just system which led to
the exposure of bureaucrats. Herr Venetian-Blind-
Manufacturer Kliemsch-Charlottenburg had been
shamefully forced by Herr Income-Tax Assessor
Flatau to pay on his real income ; and he flew to
drown his woe in a Friedrichstadt Lokal. When the
woe was soaked to insensibility he began to notice
surroundings ; and he saw in the orchestra a familiar,
dignified face collaborating with a fist that was
banging a tambourine. It was Herr Income-Tax
Assessor Flatau. Herr Kliemsch upset his mug ;
flew, vengeance-winged, home ; and spent a fort-
night gathering damning facts about bureaucrats
who degrade their high vocation by playing the
buffoon and taking black bread from the mouths
of artists as poor as themselves. And he wrote a


letter to the TageUatt, and signed it " A Clown out
of Work."

The facts startled. Olympian bureaucrats, whose
noonday haughtiness turns the public green, meta-
morphise nightly into mild trombonists, into curled
jeunes premiers on suburban footlights, into betrayed
husbands for French kinematograph films, into
circus Hussars whom the clown kicks to make a
Berlin holiday. In the capital alone, wrote Herr
Kliemsch, two hundred bureaucrats thus increase
their wage — there are some who earn a pound a
week as statesmen and two pounds a week as buffoons.
Class keeps to class. Treasury runners shine in
Wagner and Debussy ; subaltern insurance writers
serve in night cafes ; and there are post office clerks
who stand at theatre doors and sell programmes
humbly to men to whom they haughtily sell

Naturally the Kliemsch exposures brought on
war. The bureaucrats kept calm — the exposures at
least confuted Lassalle's unmannerly " idle as a
post office clerk." But Actors' and Musicians'
Unions sent thirty tear-stained petitions begging
the Kaiser's ministers to make cease the abuse.
They said that a whole seven thousand actors,
musicians, buffoons, circus Hussars, and betrayed
French husbands are chronically out of work, and
that bureaucrat competition is the cause. The


super-scottish ministers answered that Prussia is
free ; that healthy competition . . . that in ex-
ceptional cases they might possibly . . . The
Unions said, " The Stage is supporting public
servants because the State is too mean to pay them
a living wage." And they wrote pamphlets on
A Municipal Housing Expert as Comic Aunt ; and
signed them *' A Clown out of Work."

Prussia's bureaucrats, says Herr Gamradt, thus
decay to buffoons because of all civilian workers
they are paid the least. Only Soldiers, on nine
shillings monthly, envy them. In Prussia, Dr.
Gamradt adds, wealth grew nearly seventy per cent
in the twenty years after 1886 ; and industrial
wages went up thirty per cent in ten years after
1897. But bureaucrats' wages remained unchanged ;
and up till 1909 many thousands were passing poor
on £40 a year. A lavish legislature yearly talked of
better wages ; but super-scottish ministers said the
State had no money. Four years ago they gave way.
To-day there are seventy different wage-classes ;
and the lowest wage for bureaucrats (but not the
lowest wage for State employees) is £55. The
highest class rises from £700 to £850. High officials
are badly paid. Ministers of Prussia get £1500 ;
most Imperial State Secretaries £2000 ; the Foreign
Secretary is required to dine diplomats into im-
becility on a thin £2500 ; and Wilhelmstrasse has


Privy Councillors who keep Europe a-tremble on a
meagre £12 a week.

Not only bureaucrats suffer from the State's
sharp thrift. The public feels it too. The State
neither stamps nor O.H.M.S.'s its letters ; but sends
them unstamped, and collects pennies and half-
pennies at your door. This not only when the
State's relation to you is that of complainant and
monitor, but always. When you order the State
to install a telephone, thus degrading it to trades-
man's rank, it makes you pay postage both ways ;
you wait for the telephone a month, and once a
week, even though you make no complaint, the
State sends you an unstamped " coUect-on-dehvery "
post card, saying that the telephone will come.
When a milkman to whom you owe three marks
goes bankrupt, the Official Receiver bombards you
for months with unstamped letters telling you of
the many ways by which you may observe and
break the law. A gymnasium director named
Neumann once sought to make the State pay its own
halfpenny ; he fought the case through three judicial
instances, recovered the halfpenny, and forced the
State to pay two-thirds of the costs.

Cause of official penury is official plethora. There
is too much bureaucrat ; and too little work ; and
the surplus energy goes in elaborating a " Chancel-
lory style " which would brighten a Pekin literatus.


Too many ill-paid clerks who work little are more
profitable to the State than too few well-paid clerks
who work hard. The greater the bureaucrat army
the firmer the grip of the State. Herr Dr. Gamradt
thinks that an eighth of the male Germans whom
the census returns as independently wage-earning
are either permanent officials or casual State or
municipal employees. He gives the number as
2,350,000 as against 17,000,000 private workers.
His authority is the Reichstag Member Naumann
who years ago put State and municipal officials at
1,200,000. These were officials — Beamte — in the
narrow sense, and there are half a million more
State-railway men who rank as '* workers." The
official State-railway staff is 360,000 ; the official
post and telegraph staff 320,000 ; the school
teachers 183,000. To public employees of all kinds
£170,000,000 is paid ; but, shared by two million
bureaucrats, the sum, says Herr Gamradt, is small.
The bureaucrat is even poorer in liberty than he
is in pence. His politics are watched. Naturally he
may not be a Socialist ; but even the bureaucrat-
Radical has a thorny time. Herr Gamradt says that
this has got worse since Bismarck thirty years ago
produced a royal ordinance proclaiming that their
oath of service compels officials to support Govern-
mental policy. When rural commissaries with seats
in the Diet voted against a Government Canal Bill


they lost their posts. The bureaucrat's vote at
elections is — thanks to the open ballot — carefully
controlled. Also social slavery oppresses him.
Berlin municipal clerks are forbidden to live in the
suburbs unless doctors swear they must. Because
a cashier latety made off with some hundred marks,
Berlin Municipality required all its fifteen hundred
cashiers to be officially photographed " in order to
facilitate tracing of future embezzlers " ; and it
added insult to injury by appraising its bureaucrats'
portraits at sevenpence a head.

Probably the higher bureaucracy suffers from
Reich sverdrossenheit, that psychopathic state induced
by realisation that the Empire has not fulfilled its
promise. To public servants the Empire has brought
no substance, but it has stolen the old glory. Under
the German Bund officerdom ruled, unchallenged,
Berlin. Officials had no money ; but others
had less. With the Empire, quickly came rich
industrial men with social pretensions ; gracious
Kaisers titled them " Commercial Councillor " ; and
they gratefully edged officialdom and officerdom
out of the dearer streets into mild Charlottenburg's
suburb. In happier days bureaucrats and bellocrats
kept one-horse victorias, and men without victorias
stared. Now Herr Commercial Councillor Uth has
three motor-cars, and he can afford to run over a
Privv Councillor. In Berlin's brief season Herr


Privy Councillor plays — outside Court entertain-
ments — no role. Fat men from Westphalia and
Silesia monopolise Berlin's Park Lane, the Tier-
gartenstrasse ; buy the best theatre seats, drinks,
and women, and generally lord it, making a show
aU the grander because the Junker aristocrats keep
in their country homes.

The penury of the higher bureaucrats is not salved
with political glory. As these profess — in Herr
Dr. Bethmann-Hollweg's words — to be above all
parties, no party troubles about them. Though
ministers — Imperial and Prussian — are at heart
stout Conservatives, the Reichstag and Landtag
Conservatives, having no chance to be ministers
themselves, will not gratuitously risk odium by
identifying themselves with irresponsible adminis-
trators' acts. It is only when he falls that the
bureaucrat becomes a national hero. Dernburg and
Wermuth are instances. When Dernburg found
that he could not get on with Herr Dr. v. Bethmann-
Hollweg, and gave up office, his countrymen, till
then indifferent, found him a hero and martyr.
While Wermuth was finance minister his was a
colourless name. Men said he was the usual safe,
unsympathetic bureaucrat with small talents,
with no tormenting principles. When he quarrelled
with Bethmann-Hollweg 65,000,000 men realised he
was the best financier the Empire has had, and


grateful Berlin showed its high regard by making
him its Oberbiirgermeister.

The system is perverse, but good. The hope of
attaining loss of office spurs to work. Herr Bureau-
crat Canzius slaves for his country thirty tedious
years — as referendar, as assessor, as rural com-
missary, as government-president, as provincial-
president, as states-minister. All men ignore him.
His pictures smile in no newspapers ; no one writes
praise of his hats ; no one elopes with his wife.
And at last, fatigued with obscurity, he provokes
trouble. He tells his factious Chancellor that
brandy rebates are bad, or that Schleswig's Danes
must learn to plough with zebus ; and he goes to
bed resigned, ennobled, and free. He wakes famous.
Editors print his unfamiliar face wreathed in laurels ;
cities beg him to be Oberbiirgermeister ; and " man
of principle," " martyr to conscience," " at last a
real statesman " whiz round his ears till death.

The bureaucrat is human. Yet fallen from his
estate (to the variety stage), unpaid, unpopular, he
still stands above colleagues in less favoured lands.
The Briton, as Gamradt says, has not only small
respect for officials, but lacks even the word, for no
man says, *' Smith is an official," and " Smith is a
civil servant " may be praise of the cook. The
fonctionnaire, the tchinovnik are no rivals. Democ-
racy has clipped one's omnipotence ; thieving above


his rank has got the other in gaol. The Beamier
stands alone. His coat-tails are potent as a pasha's
horse-tails. The portfolio under his shiny sleeve is
an arcanum. He is surly but placable, dignified and
condescending, calm — even when kicked by circus
clowns — devoted to duty, impeccable, remote.



Of humblest friends, bright Creature, scorn not one.

( Wonh-worth.)

IT is getting on towards evening, and no work
has been done ; for all day long from our
kitchen comes a distracting murmurous buzz
about marks, pfennigs, registry offices, bridegrooms,
greedy devils, and boots. It is straw-haired Hedwig
talking to next-door's cook. Judged by her tear-
soaked protests Hedwig pants for marriage, but is
checked by the gross venality of Prussian love. The
cook agrees with Hedwig ; and the acoustically
efficient dwelling rings.

"If he asks for more than a thousand marks,"
screams the cook, " he's a greedy devil."

" I . . . told him ... I had . . . eight hundred,"
sobs Hedwig. " He said . . . that wouldn't . . . pay
for his boots."

" Then marry Wilhelm," saj^s the cook. " He
limps and I hate his trousers. But he's strong. . . .
You could open a dairy." And she bangs the door
and goes.

From this dialogue we judge with drilled intuition



that dinner will be late, and that Hedwig will shortly
leave us to get married. As dinner is always late ;
as six Hedwigs, Marthas, Lisas, Friedes, Huldas,
and Antonias have already left us to get married, I
take small notice. But Letitia breaks into tears.
She is up again, she sees, against the immemorial,
universal serving-maid-question, which plagues you
in Paris, drives Romans to Libya, and slays each
regenerative silence at Hampstead afternoon teas.
It was only yesterday Letitia came to me with pre-
monitions, for she overheard a kitchen conversation.
" It's my opinion," said next-door's cook, " that the
family Edge worth is suspicious. Why have they all

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Online LibraryEdward EdgeworthHuman German → online text (page 2 of 20)