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VAGABONDING THROUGH
CHANGING GERMANY



Books by
HARRY A. FRANCK



VAGABONDING THROUGH CHANG-
ING GERMANY

A VAGABOND JOURNEY AROUND
THE WORLD

ZONE POLICEMAN 88

VAGABONDING DOWN THE ANDES




THE GERMAN SOLDIER IS BACK AT HOME AGAIN



VAGABONDING THROUGH
CHANGING GERMANY



HARRY A/FRANCK

Author of
'a vagabond journey around the world" "zonk policeman i

"VAGABONDING DOWN THE ANDES" ETC.



Illustrated with Photographs
by the Author




HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS
NEW YORK AND LONDON



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JUL -9 ici2u



Copyright 1920, by Harper & Brothers

Printed in the United States of America

Published June, 1920

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CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

Foreword xjjj

I. On to the Rhine . , , i

II. Germany Under the American Heel 24

III. Thou Shalt Not . . . Fraternize 52

IV. Knocking About the Occupied Area 68

V. Getting Neutralized 84

VI. The Heart of the Hungry Empire 112

VII. "Give Us Food!" . , . 137

VIII. Family Life in Mechlenburg 159

IX. Thus Speaks Germany 178

X. Sentenced to Amputation 199

XI. An Amputated Member 219

XII. On the Road in Bavaria 248

XIII. Inns and Byways 271

XIV. "Food Weasels" 290

XV. Music Still Has Charms 321

XVI. Flying Homeward , . 343



ILLUSTRATIONS

The German soldier is back at home again Frontispiece

The downfall of a statue at Metz Facing p. 2 '^

A TROPHY OF WAR. A GERMAN MAIL-CAR SERVING THE ARMY

of Occupation " id-
American "M. P.'s" directing traffic in the town of

COCHEM " lO

The bridge of boats at Coblenz " 19

American army automobiles before the headquarters of

THE Army of Occupation on the bank of the Rhine.

Across the river the great fortress of Ehrenbreit-

stein, flying the Stars and Stripes " 19

German civilians lined up before the back entrance to

American headquarters, awaiting permission to explain

WHY they wish to TRAVEL OUTSIDE OUR ZONE OF OCCU-
PATION " 23

American "formal guard-mount" in a square of Coblenz " 23

German officers — in the days before the armistice . . " 30

A busy time on the German front " 30

An American "Watch on the Rhine" " 39 .

Doughboy guards on a railway bridge over the Rhine,

WITH their brazier COAL-FIRE " 39

The Rhine steamers ran as usual, but they were com-
manded by Marines and carried American Doughboys as
passengers " 46

American nurses entertaining Australian soldiers on an

excursion up the Rhine " 46

Forced to fraternize in spite of himself " 50/

There were some real artists among the American troops

WHO made the Rhine excursion " 50

The former Crown Prince in his official face, attending
the funeral of a German officer and count, whose
military orders are carried on the cushion in front " 55

The heir to the toppled throne wearing his unofficial

AND more characteristic EXPRESSION " 55



ILLUSTRATIONS
Hobnobbing with Belgian guards at the eastern end of

THE DiJSSELDORF BRIDGE Facing p. 62''

German boys were more apt than not to wear father's

old uniform " 62

Back on the farm " 67V'

Barges of American food-stuffs on their way up the Rhine " 71 /
British Tommies stowing themselves away for the night

on barges anchored near the Holland frontier ... " 71
A ball-game or a boxing-match v/ithin the barbed-wire
inclosure of the American camp at Rotterdam was

SURE TO attract THE CHIEF SuNDAY AUDIENCE .... " 78V

A CORNER OF Rotterdam " 78

Coachmen waiting for fares at a Berlin railway station " 82.
An American army automobile before the Adlon on Unter

den Linden " 82

Not von Tirpitz in disguise, but a Berlin hackman scanning

THE crowd for POSSIBLE CLIENTS " 99,

The MASSIVE wooden Hindenburg still stares down the
Sieges Allee, but few come now to nail home their

homage " 99

Berlin taxicabs hobble along on Ersatz tires " 103

Bicycle-riding is no longer the favorite sport in Germany " 103
Posters tell Berliners when and where they can get six

ounces of marmalade or a pound of potatoes .... " lie.
An appeal for recruits to "protect the Fatherland from

the menace of Bolshevism" " no

A MEETING of PROTEST AGAINST THE PEACE TERMS ON THE STEPS

of TEE Reichstag building " 114^

A funereal procession of protesters marching down Unter

DEN Linden " 114

A former German soldier selling American and English

tobacco and cigarettes on Friedrichstrasse . . . . " 131
A German Feldwebel, or "top sergeant," selling news-
papers IN the streets of Berlin " 131

Vender of turnips on a Berlin street corner .... " 135

The "milkman" in a small town of the interior .... " 135
A Sparticist shell made it possible for a few Germans to

get meat without tickets " 142

The appalling emptiness of the market-places .... " 142
Even the seagulls followed the American flag when the

food-ships came in . . " 146 ■

The Gothic thatched roofs of Mecklenburg " 151-



ILLUSTRATIONS

The "hands" who toiled in the market-garden were not

NOTED FOR THEIR STRENGTH OR YOUTH Facing p. 151

The Handelsgartner and one of his employees .... " 158'

"Heinie" and his two iron crosses " 158

The Schwerin castle is perhaps the most imposing in

Germany " 163^

A tobacco line in a German city " 163

A corner of the ex-Kaiser's palace after the Sparticists

GOT done with it " 167

Germans reading the peace-terms bulletins before the

OFFICE OF the "LoKAL Anzeiger," ON Unter DEN Linden " 167

A coachman OF Munich reading the peace terms . . . " 174

The German soldier is not always savage of face ... " 178
The German's artistic sense leads him to overdecorate

EVEN his merry-go-rounds " 178

A street figure in German Poland " 183

The village pump in the Polish section of Germany . . " 183

A soldier of the new Poland " 190

It needs only a pair of silver eagles on his cap to make

a German soldier Polish " 190

The Rathaus, or City Hall, of Posen " 195

"Bismarck," typical of all the German statues in Poznan

TO-DAY " 199

Russian women of the "Battalion of Death" .... " 199

This was formerly the "Bismarck Caf£" " 206 1

Shop signs in Poznan have obliterated their German

WORDS " 206

A Polish woman of the country districts on a visit to

Poznan " 210

In the market-place " 210

Polish women of the markets " 215

There were eggs by the bushel in the province of Posen " 215

Street-car conductors of Poznan " 222

All males doff their hats as they pass this sign of their

FAITH in Poznan " 222

Cheese! Who said German Poland was hungry? ... " 227

A peasant's house in the province of Posen " 227

Munich was a blander, gentler, less verboten land ... " 231
Soldiers examining the Ausweis of those entering a hotel

used as headquarters of the troops that reconquered

Munich " 238



./



ILLUSTRATIONS

One of the many detachments t^at freed Munich from the

SpARTICISTS Pacing p. 238

Military discipline was still strict among the troops

HOLDING Munich " 242

Troops entering Munich after the fleeing Sparticists " 242
A "hard-boiled" German band-leader, with nearly twenty

YEARS of military SERVICE " 247

Soldiers of a Bavarian volunteer corps " 247

Bavarian volunteers " 254/

A corner of Munich that was not popular during the

DRIVING OUT OF THE SpARTICISTS " 254

A SQUARE OF Munich " 259/

I set out FOR the NORTH " 259

A Bavarian hop-field ready for the climbing vines ... " 263 y

Hop-poles set up for the winter " 263 ,

On the road in Bavaria, near Munich " 270'/

A small part of the crowd of school-boys who gathered

around me in a Bavarian village " S70

A typical Bavarian Gasthaus, or tavern-inn " 274"*/

a sky-blue porcelain stove in the drinking-room of a

Bavarian inn " 274

The Rip van Winkle dwarf with the silver coins as vest ,

buttons " 279 v

A Bavarian among his cronies in a Gasthaus " 279

The cows of Bavaria wear not only a bell, but a wooden

COLLAR " 286V

Looking up one of the May-poles that are erected in

Bavarian villages on May-day " 286

"Hamsterers" setting out on Saturday afternoon to buy ,

food in the country " 291 V

"Food weasels" returning from foraging the country-
side " 291 ,

An outdoor bowling-alley in a Bavarian village ... " 295'

A "Hamsterer" returning with a prize " 295

Bavarian women working in the fields " 302"/

Bavarian peasants returning from church " 306'

On their way home from church the children carry their

shoes in their hands " 306

Entrance to the home of Wagner in Bayreuth .... " 31 1^
The Sanoerverein, or "glee club," of Bayreuth, with

whom I SPENT A DAY " 3^^



ILLUSTRATIONS

Women and oxen — or cows — were more numerous than

MEN and horses IN THE FIELDS Facing p. ^l8 ^^

The Bavarian peasant does his baking in an outdoor oven " 318
Women chopping up the tops of evergreen trees for fuel

and fodder " 323'/

The great breweries of Kulmbach nearly all stood idle " 323

TSCHIRN, the last VILLAGE OF BaVARIA, WAS ENTIRELY BLACK,

with ITS SLATE ROOFS AND WALLS " 327 ^'^

The end of my German tramp was down through the avenue

OF chestnuts into Weimar " 327

A member OF THE Bayreuth Sangerverein " 334'/

My last German host was nearly six and a half feet tall " 334

The man who "flew" me from Weimar to Berlin ... " 345''

A WOMAN tucked ME INTO FLYING-TOGS " 345

A SON OF Bavaria " 352"

A daughter of Bavaria — with her school lunch .... " 352



FOREWORD

I DID not go into Germany with any foreformed hypoth-
eses as a skeleton for which to seek flesh; I went to
report exactly what I found there. I am satisfied that
there were dastardly acts during the war, and conditions
inside the country, of which no tangible proofs remained
at the time of my journey ; but there are other accusations
concerning which I am still "from Missouri." I am as
fully convinced as any one that we have done a good deed
in helping to overthrow the nefarious dynasty of Hohen-
zoUemism and its conscienceless military clique; I believe
the German people often acquiesced in and sometimes
applauded the wrong-doings of their former rulers. But
I cannot shake off the impression that the more voiceless
mass of the nation were imder a spell not unlike that cast
by the dreadful dragons of their own old legends, and that
we should to a certain extent take that fact into considera-
tion in judging them under their new and more or less
dragonless condition. I propose, therefore, that the reader
free himself as much as possible from his natural repulsion
toward its people before setting out on this journey through
the Himgry Empire, to the end that he may gaze about
him with clear, but unprejudiced, eyes. There has been
too much reporting of hearsay evidence, all over the world,
during the past few years, to make any other plan worth
the paper.

Harry A. Franck.



VAGABONDING THROUGH
CHANGING GERMANY



ON TO THE RHINE

FOR those of us not already members of the famous
divisions that were amalgamated to form the Army of
Occupation, it was almost as difficult to get into Germany
after the armistice as before. All the A. E. F. seemed to
cast longing eyes toward the Rhine — all, at least, except
the veteran minority who had their fill of war and its
appendages for all time to come, and the optimistic few who
had serious hopes of soon looking the Statue of Liberty
in the face. But it was easier to long for than to attain.
In vain we flaunted our qualifications, real and self -bestowed,
before those empowered to issue travel orders. In vain did
we prove that the signing of the armistice had left us duties
so slight that they were not even a fair return for the salary
Uncle Sam paid us, to say nothing of the service we were
eager to render him. G. H. Q. maintained that sphinxlike
silence for which it had long been notorious. The lucky
Third Army seemed to have taken on the characteristics
of a haughty and exclusive club boasting an inexhaustible
waiting-Hst.

What qualifications, after all, were those that had as their
climax the mere speaking of German ? Did not at least the



VAGABONDING THROUGH CHANGING GERMANY

Wisconsin half of the 33 d. Division boast that ability to a
man? As to duties, those of fighting days were soon re-
placed by appallingly unbellicose tasks which carried us
still farther afield into the placid wilderness of the SOS
trebly distant from the scene of real activity. But a pebble
dropped into the sea of army routine does not always fail
to bring ripples, in time, to the shore. Suddenly one day,
when the earthquaking roar of barrages and the insistent
screams of air-raid alertes had merged with dim memories
of the past, the half-forgotten request was unexpectedly
answered. The flimsy French telegraph form, languidly
torn open, yielded a laconic, "Report Paris prepared enter
occupied territory."

The change from the placidity of Alps-girdled Grenoble
to Paris, in those days "capital of the world" indeed, was
abrupt. The city was seething with an international life
such as even she had never before gazed upon in her history.
But with the Rhine attainable at last, one was in no mood
to tarry among the pampered officers dancing attendance
on the Peace Conference — least of all those of us who had
known Paris in the simpler, saner days of old, or in the
humanizing times of war strain.

The Gare de I'Est was swirling with that incredible
tohubohu, that headless confusion which had long reigned
at all important French railway stations. Even in the six-
teen months since I had first seen Paris under war condi-
tions and taken train at Chaumont — then sternly hidden
under the pseudonym of "G. H. Q." — that confusion had
trebled. Stolid Britons in khaki and packs clamped their
iron-shod way along the station corridors like draft-horses.
Youthful "Yanks," not so unhke the Tommies in garb as
in manner, fomed human whirlpools about the almost un-
attainable den of the American A. P. M. Through compact
throngs of horizon blue squirmed insistent poilus, sputtering
some witty bon mot at every lunge. Here and there circled

2




THE DOWNFALL OF A STATUE AT METZ



ON TO THE RHINE

eddies of Belgian troopers, their cap-tassels waving with the
rhythm of their march. Italian soldiers, misfitted in crum-
pled and patched dirty-gray, struggled toward a far comer
where stood two haughty carabinieri directly imported from
their own sunny land, stubby rifles, imposing three-cornered
hats, and all. At every guichet or hole in the wall waited
long queues of civiHans, chiefly French, with that uncom-
plaining patience which a lifetime, or at least a war-time, of
standing in line has given a race that by temperament and
individual habit should be least able to display patience.
Sprightly grisettes tripped through every opening in the
throng, dodging collisions, yet finding time to throw a co-
quettish smile at every grinning "Sammy," irrespective of
rank. Wan, yet sarcastic, women of the working-class
buffeted their multifarious bundles and progeny toward the
platforms. Flush-faced dowagers, upholstered in their
somber best garments, waddled hither and yon in generally
vain attempts to get the scanty thirty kilos of baggage, to
which military rule had reduced civilian passengers, aboard
the train they hoped to take. Well-dressed matrons labori-
ously shoved their possessions before them on hand-trucks
won after exertions that had left their hats awry and their
tempers far beyond the point that speech has any meaning,
some with happy, cynical faces at having advanced that far
in the struggle, only to form queue again behind the always
lengthy line of enforced patience which awaited the good
pleasure of baggage- weighers, baggage-handlers, baggage-
checkers, baggage-payment receiving-clerks. Now and then
a begrimed and earth-weary female porter, under the official
cap, bovinely pushed her laden truck into the waiting
throngs, with that supreme indifference to the rights and
comfort of others which couples so strangely with the social
and individual politeness of the French. Once in a while
there appeared a male porter, also in the insignia so familiar
before the war, sallow and fleshless now in comparison
2 3



VAGABONDING THROUGH CHANGING GERMANY

with his female competitors, sometimes one-armed or shuf-
fling on a half -useless leg. It would have been hard to find
a place where more labor was expended for less actual
accomplishment.

At the train-gate those in uniform, who had not been
called upon to stand in line for hours, if not for days, to get
passports, to have them stamped and visaed, to fulfil a
score of formalities that must have made the life of a civilian
without official backing not unlike that of a stray cur in
old-time Constantinople, were again specially favored.
Once on the platform — but, alas! there was no escaping
the crush and goal-less helter-skelter of the half-anarchy
that had befallen the railway system of France in the last
supreme lunge of the war. The Nancy-Metz express — the
name still seemed strange, long after the signing of the
armistice — had already been taken by storm. What shall
it^.gain a man to have formed queue and paid his franc
days before for a reserved place if the corridors leading
to it are so packed and crammed with pillar-like poilus,
laden with equipment enough to stock a hardware-store,
with pack-and-rifle-bearing American doughboys, with the
few lucky civilians who reached the gates early enough to
worm their way into the interstices left, that nothing short
of machine-gun or trench-mortar can clear him an entrance
to it?

Wise, however, is the man who uses his head rather than
his shoulders, even in so unintellectual a matter as boarding
a train. About a parlor-coach, defended by gendarmes,
lounged a half-dozen American officers with that casual,
self-satisfied air of those who "know the ropes" and are
therefore able to bide their time in peace. A constant
stream of harried, disheveled, bundle-laden, would-be pas-
sengers swept down upon the parlor-car entrance, only to
be politely but forcibly balked in their design by the guards-
men with an oily, "Reserved for the French Staff." Thus

4



ON TO THE RHINE

is disorder wont to breed intrigue. The platform clock had
raised its hands to strike the hour of departure when the
lieutenant who had offered to share his previous experience
with me sidled cautiously up to a gendarme and breathed
in his ear something that ended with "American Secret
Service." The words themselves produced little more effect
than there was truth in the whispered assertion. But the
crisp new five-franc note deftly transferred from lieutenant
to gendarme brought as quick results as could the whisper
of "bakshish" in an Arab ear. We sprang o4ightly up the
guarded steps and along a corridor as clear of humanity
as No Man's Land on a sunny noonday. Give the French
another year of war, with a few more millions of money-
sowing Allies scattered through the length and breadth of
their fair land, and the back-handed slip of a coin may be-
come as universal an open sesame as in the most tourist-
haunted corner of Naples.

Another banknote, as judiciously applied, unlocked the
door of a compartment that showed quite visible evidence
of having escaped the public wear and tear of war, due, no
doubt, to the protection afforded it by those magic words,
"French Staff." But when it had quickly filled to its quota
of six, one might have gazed in vain at the half-dozen
American uniforms, girdled by the exclusive "Sam Browne,"
for any connection with the French, staff or otherwise,
than that which binds all good allies together. The train
glided imperceptibly into motion, yet not without carrying
to our ears the suppressed grunt of a hundred stomachs
compressed by as many hard and unwieldy packs in the
coach ahead, and ground away into the night amid the
shouts of anger, despair, and pretended derision of the
throng of would-be travelers left behind on the platform.

"Troubles over," said my companion, as we settled down
to such comfort as a night in a European train compartment
affords. "Of course we'll be hours late, and there will be

5



VAGABONDING THROUGH CHANGING GERMANY

a howling mob at every station as long as we are in France.
But once we get to Metz the trains will have plenty of room;
they'll be right on time, and all this mob-fighting will be
over."

"Propaganda," I mused, noting that in spite of his man-
ner, as American as his uniform, the lieutenant spoke with
a hint of Teutonic accent. We had long been warned to
see propaganda by the insidious Hun in any suggestion of
criticism, particularly in the unfavorable comparison of
anything French with anything German. Did food cost
more in Paris than on the Rhine? Propaganda! Did some
one suggest that the American soldiers, their fighting task
finished, felt the surge of desire to see their native shores
again? Propaganda! Did a French waiter growl at the
inadequacy of a lo-per-cent. tip? The sale Boche had
surely been propaganding among the dish-handlers.

The same subsidized hand that had admitted us had
locked the parlor-car again as soon as the last staff pass —
issued by the Banque de France — had been collected.
Though hordes might beat with enraged fists, heels, and
sticks on the doors and windows, not even a corridor lounger
could get aboard to disturb our possible slumbers. To
the old and infirm — ^which in military jargon stands for all
those beyond the age of thirty — even the comfortably filled
compartment of a French wagon de luxe is not an ideal place
in which to pass a long night. But as often as we awoke
to uncramp our legs and cramp them again in another posi-
tion, the solace in the thought of what that ride might have
been, standing rigid in a car corridor, swallowing and
reswallowing the heated breath of a half-dozen nationalities,
jolted and compressed by sharp-cornered packs and poilu
hardware, unable to disengage a hand long enough to raise
handkerchief to nose, lulled us quickly to sleep again.

The train was hours late. All trains are hours late in
overcrowded, overburdened France, with her long unre-

6



ON TO THE RHINE

paired lines of communication, her depleted railway per-
sonnel, her insufficient, war-worn rolHng-stock, struggling
to carry a traffic that her days of peace never attempted.
It was mid-morning when we reached Nancy, though the
time-table had promised — to the inexperienced few who
still put faith in French horaires — to bring us there while
it was yet night. Here the key that had protected us for
more than twelve hours was found, or its counterpart pro-
duced, by the station-master. Upon our return from
squandering the equivalent of a half-dollar in the station
buifet for three inches of stale and gravelly war-bread
smeared with something that might have been axle-grease
mixed with the sweepings of a shoe-shop, and the privilege
of washing it down with a black liquid that was called coffee
for want of a specific name, the storm had broken. It was
only by extraordinary luck, combined with strenuous physi-
cal exertion, that we manhandled our way through the
horizon-blue maelstrom that had surged into every avail-
able comer, in brazen indifference to "staff" privileges,
back to the places which a companion, volunteering for
that service, had kept for us by dint of something little
short of actual warfare.

From the moment of crossing, not long after, the frontier
between that was France in 19 14 and German Lorraine
things seemed to take on a new freedom of movement,
an orderliness that had become almost a memory. The
train was still the same, yet it lost no more time. With a
subtle change in faces, garb,and architecture, plainly evident,
though it is hard to say exactly in what it consisted, came
a smoothness that had long been divorced from travel by
train. There was a calmness in the air as we pulled into
Metz soon after noon which recalled pre-war stations.
The platforms were ample, at least until our train began
to disgorge the incredible multitude that had somehow
found existing-place upon it. The station gates gave exit

7



VAGABONDING THROUGH CHANGING GERMANY

quickly, though every traveler was compelled to show his
permission for entering the city. The aspect of the place
was still German. Along the platform were ranged those
awe-inspiring beings whom the uninitiated among us took
to be German generals or field-officers instead of mere
railway employees; wherever the eye roamed some species
of Verboten gazed sternly upon us. But the iron hand had
lost its grip. Partly for convenience' sake, partly in retalia-



Online LibraryHarry Alverson FranckVagabonding through changing Germany → online text (page 1 of 29)