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Title: My Three Years in a German Prison

Author: Henri Beland

Release Date: July 4, 2015 [EBook #49350]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Dianna Adair and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


My Three Years
In a
German Prison


Illustrated with photographs specially secured
in Belgium and Germany





IIt Is War1
IIThe German Tavern-Keeper and the Brabançonne9
III“Thank You”13
IVDoing Hospital Work14
VThe Capture of Antwerp25
VIThe Exodus33
VIIA Day of Anguish39
VIIIThe Germans Are Here46
IXA German Host53
XThe Word of a German59
XIBritish Citizens64
XIIMatters Become Complicated69
XIIIA Desolate Major77
XIVIn Germany87
XVThe Stadtvogtei91
XVILife in Prison98
XVIIMeals à la Carte105
XVIIIActing Jail Physician116
XIXInteresting Prisoners127
XXMaclinks and Kirkpatrick137
XXIA Swiss and a Belgian144
XXIISensational Escapes160
XXIIIHope Deferred170
XXIVA Colloquy176
XXVIncidents and Observations185
XXVITalk of Exchange195
XXVIITowards Liberty203
XXVIIISome Recollections213
XXIXOther Reminiscences224
XXXAn Alsatian Non-Commissioned Officer242
XXXIIn Holland and in England252
XXXIIThe Militarists and the Militarized268


The AuthorFrontispiece
The Digue at Middelkerke12
Madame Beland at Starrenhof38
Feeding Poor Boys at Capellen56
Group of German Officers68
A Sample of German Perfidy (letter)80
Dr. Beland and Fellow-prisoners144
Ludendorf and Von Buelow256




It was the 26th of July, 1914. My wife and I were walking leisurely in the park of a village in the Pyrenees, the sun shedding its warm, quickening rays in the Valley of the Gave when, suddenly, a newsboy approached us carrying under his arms a bundle of newspapers, and crying at the top of his voice, “War! War! It is War!”

I stopped him, asking at the same time, “What war?”

“Why, the war between Austria and Serbia. The paper will give you all the details,” he answered.


As a matter of fact, the paper he was selling, “La Liberte du Sud-Ouest,” contained the text of the now and forever famous ultimatum of Austria-Hungary to the little Balkan power.

The following day, at each important railway station we passed through on our way from Bordeaux to Paris, fresh editions of the French newspapers were brought to us, each containing strong, passionate comments on the diplomatic document which threatened the peace of Europe.

In the compartment of the train where we sat the conversation was animated. That Austria was at her perfidious tricks again was the consensus of opinion generally, although the best informed ones realized that it was ambitious and treacherous Germany which inspired Austria.

We stayed a few days in Paris on our way to Antwerp. Our impression of the French capital was that, even in that diplomatic torment, the city maintained a remarkable calmness. Of course, the sole topic of discussion in the cafés, on the[3] boulevards, in the busses and the trams was the war, but there appeared to be a complete absence of that agitation which one who has visited Paris in normal times is well aware of.

I wished to send a telegram to Belgium, but was told that all lines had been taken over by the military authorities and that my message would probably be delayed a full day or more.

On the day of my leaving Paris for Antwerp I paid a visit to the Honorable Mr. Roy, Canadian High Commissioner, and asked him what he thought of the diplomatic situation. The eminent representative of Canada expressed grave anxiety, and said he feared a declaration of war between Germany and France was imminent.

At noon the same day my wife and I started for Antwerp on the Paris-Amsterdam fast express, passing through the territory of France and Belgium which within two months was to be the scene of horrors of war that have appalled the whole world. Far were we then from thinking that those cities–actual beehives of[4] industry–and those fine farm lands, bearing fast-ripening crops and inviting the harvester’s scythe, would be within a few weeks devastated, pillaged, plundered and burned.

The agitation was great in Antwerp; the city yeomanry had been called to arms, and on this same evening, July 30, rumors were already in circulation that Germany had sinister intentions and that she was actually preparing to violate Belgium’s neutrality.

The mere mention of such an act, which meant trampling upon all international laws, stirred the Belgian people to a high pitch of indignation. The same evening we arrived at the village of Capellen, situated six miles north of Antwerp, on the Antwerp-Rotterdam highway.

On the following day, Saturday, August 1, we started for Brussels, en route to Ostend, and thence to Middelkerke, a charming seaside resort, where we were to spend the rest of the summer season. Middelkerke is situated half way between Ostend and Nieuport, recently evacuated by the[5] Germans, and which has been the division line between the German and the Belgian armies for four years.

An incident of which I have a personal knowledge shows that Germany intended to violate Belgium’s neutrality from the outset of the imbroglio between Austria and Serbia. We were about to leave Brussels for Ostend and had already boarded the train when a well-known citizen of Ghent and his wife entered the already crowded compartment where we sat. They apologized for their intrusion, but in such pressing times one had to travel as best one could, and it was with sincerity that we accepted the apologies of the couple for intruding in such a way in the compartment allotted to us.

After exchanging cards, the gentleman related that the day before he and his wife were returning in an automobile from a tour in Germany when, near the frontier, they were stopped by German military. Their papers were examined, but notwithstanding their credentials as Belgian subjects, and proof that they were on their[6] way home from a holiday trip, their automobile was seized and they were compelled to stay the night in a hotel. The room assigned to them was on the ground floor where they were unable to sleep owing to the tramp, tramp, tramp of German regiments marching to the German border. The troops were singing “Deutschland über Alles,” and the rumble of the drums never ceased from early evening until the following morning. This happened in a village situated within two or three kilometers from the Belgian frontier, on the night of July 31. Germany’s ultimatum to Belgium was not presented until two days later.

On the journey from Brussels to Ostend, which was much delayed owing to the throng which, moved to fear by all kinds of wild rumors, were eager to reach home, another incident occurred:

In the section of the train where my wife and I were seated were four other passengers in addition to the couple I have already referred to. They were three Austrian ladies–a mother and her two[7] daughters–and a man–a well-known owner of racing horses from Charleroi. The three ladies apparently belonged to the highest society. They were on their way to Ostend where they intended taking a steamer for England, where the mother said her son was a student.

The conversation between the sportsman and the three ladies turned on the tenseness of the situation then existing between Austria and Serbia. The man was very outspoken in his denunciation of Austria. The elder lady, naturally, defended her country.

“The Serbians,” the man replied, “may not be above suspicion, but there are other things equally suspicious, and this war which you are about to declare on a small country may be the act of the Austrian Government directed to extend its territory in the Balkans. It is dictated above all by the Autocrat at Potsdam, who is holding the stakes and will direct every move to satisfy his immoderate ambition.”

The lady, I must say, while moderate in her retorts, was nevertheless obstinate in[8] denying that Germany had anything to do with the Balkan imbroglio, but the racing man was also obdurate, and with what turned out to be extraordinary accuracy he predicted that within a few days France, Russia and Great Britain would take up the cudgels on behalf of Serbia and enter the fray.

The conversation was still going on when the trainman announced Ostend.



Great agitation reigned on the beach at Middelkerke on August 3, 1914. The newspapers had just published the text of the Kaiser’s ultimatum to the Belgian Government. The indignation was at its highest pitch. The population could not conceive that the German Emperor, who had been entertained in Brussels a few months previously, who had been the guest of the King of the Belgians and the Belgian nation, could stoop so low as to insult both King and people. From the villa where we lived we could watch the crowds congregate on the beach. From time to time groups would leave the main body and, forming into a procession, would march to the front of a tavern, whose owner and keeper was a German. On the front of[10] this tavern were three large signs advertising the merits of a certain brew of German beer. The crowd had to give vent to its indignation in some way, and the German signs were a tempting target for the irate population. It took but a minute to pull down the lower sign. The use of a ladder was required to pull down the one above. While this rather comical performance was going on, the surging crowd yelled and hollered, and called upon the voluntary wreckers to pull down the topmost sign which adorned the front of the third story. The ladder was too short. When this was realized, a delegation was sent to the tavern-keeper to demand that he himself go up and pull down the obtrusive sign.

At first the man demurred, but seeing the increasing excitement he decided to obey the summons. A few seconds afterwards his rubicund face appeared at a window near the roof of the building and, not without difficulty, he succeeded in pulling down the sign, while the whole beach rang with the echoes of the crowd singing and[11] a brass band playing Belgium’s national anthem, “La Brabançonne.”

The following morning the proud and noble reply which the King of Belgium made to Germany’s ultimatum was published. A herald read the royal proclamation at all corners of the streets leading to the beach, amid the acclamations of the younger folks. Meanwhile sinister rumors were circulating. Some were to the effect that Vise was burning; others that Argenteau had been destroyed; that civilians had been executed; that devastation and terror reigned in the region situated east of the Meuse river; that the Germans, without even waiting a reply to their provoking summons to Belgium, had invaded Belgian territory–which fact the reader now knows to be true–according to the statement made to me a few days previously on that Ostend train by the couple returning to Ghent from a trip through Germany.

I particularly recall the anguish of a brave old lady, Mrs. Anciault, who owned and was staying at a villa at Middelkerke,[12] but who resided in the suburbs of Liege. She had for several days been without news of her husband and children who had remained at home at Liege.

We then resolved to leave Middelkerke and return to Antwerp and Capellen.


The cross denotes the Cogels Villa, now destroyed, where Dr. and Madame Beland stayed



We had left Middelkerke, “armes et bagages,” as we say in French. When I say arms and baggage it is a mere figure of speech, as our fowling-guns had been confiscated by the municipal authorities at Middelkerke and had been placed in the town hall. This precaution was taken in all communes of Belgium, to avoid untimely intervention of armed civilians, who, prompted by justified but unlawful indignation, might have committed acts which, under international rights, are contrary to the laws of war. An edict calling upon all citizens to surrender to the municipal authorities all kinds of arms in their possession had been posted and read everywhere, and, with rare exception, all Belgian citizens had strictly obeyed the decree. It may not be out of place to state here that[14] when the German authorities subsequently claimed that the Belgian Government was an accomplice of the civil population which, the Germans alleged, fired on German soldiers, they were only trying–but the effort was in vain–to find an excuse or justification for the inhuman acts they committed in Belgium.

On August 5 we left by train for Ostend on our way to Antwerp. A state of war then actually existed between Germany and Belgium. There were five people in the same compartment–three children, my wife and myself; one seat remained vacant.

The train was pulling out of the station when an excited individual, quite out of breath, rushed to our compartment, opened the door, but, before entering, turned and said–repeating the phrase several times in English–“Thank you,” to a person he left behind, at the same time waving his hand in farewell.

Entering the compartment, the newcomer took the vacant seat, and as I had[15] heard him speaking English, I asked him, “Are you English, sir?”

“No,” he replied, “I am an American.”

“Well,” I continued in English, “if you are an American we belong to the same continent; I am a Canadian.”

He did not appear to relish my overtures, but turned to admire the landscape from the window.

“May I inquire where you are going?” I ventured to ask after a short interval of silence.

“To Russia,” he answered.

“But why?” I said. “My dear man, you will never reach Russia; Germany is at war with Belgium, and I don’t see how you can get through to Russia.”

“Oh,” he said, “I shall go by way of Holland.”

His abruptness and reserve convinced me that he had no desire to continue the conversation. I began to entertain suspicions of the stranger, and my wife, who occupied the seat opposite to us, indicated by a significant glance that she, too, thought there was something extraordinary[16] in the demeanor of our travelling companion.

The train was running at express speed and a few minutes later we reached Bruges. On the station platform an expectant excited crowd had gathered.

The passenger I had addressed took up his suitcase and was hurriedly leaving the train when fifty voices in the crowd cried together: “C’est lui! C’est lui! C’est lui!” “It is he! It is he! It is he!”

On the platform the man was immediately taken in charge by four or five gendarmes, who asked him abruptly: “Are you German?”

He made no reply, but nodded his head affirmatively.

He was surrounded by the irate crowd and several individuals attempted to take him by force from the custody of the gendarmes, who, however, maintained their guardianship and protected the stranger against the threatened assault, though with great difficulty and at the risk of their own lives.

What happened to this man, or where[17] he was placed, I do not know. Was he the belated traveler he pretended to be, or was he actually a spy? I cannot say, but if he was a spy in the employ of Germany, and if he ever goes back to his country, one story he will be able to relate will describe the narrow escape he had at Bruges from the violence of a crowd of Belgians whose righteous indignation had been aroused by the insult to the nation’s honor and dignity by the great Central Empire.



It is unnecessary for me, I think, to insist here upon the patriotism displayed by the Belgian nation. All classes of the population, rich and poor, young and old, of all ages and of both sexes, were anxious to help the national cause of their country, threatened by the Germanic monster.

During the first days of August, 1914, on all sides I was asked the question: “Mr. Beland, what do you think England will do?” And I had from the outset a sincere conviction, which I expressed freely, that if Germany dared to execute her threat to violate the neutrality of Belgium Great Britain would declare war on the invader.

I recall most distinctly a demonstration which took place on the beach at Middelkerke, on the day Germany’s ultimatum was published. In the North Sea in the[19] offing the people could see what, to the naked eye, looked like a bank of clouds. Through the glasses, however, one could plainly perceive a squadron of British warships. When the news was announced the reassuring effect it had on the population was touching, and when I promptly called for three cheers for the British squadron the response was fervid and prolonged. From the moment it became known that Great Britain had signified to Germany that she would enter the fray to avenge the honor of Belgium and uphold the sanctity of treaties a tremendous confidence, an atmosphere of serenity, replaced the anxiety, depression and fear that had occupied the minds of all.

It was then that I went to Antwerp and offered my services as physician to the Belgian Medical Army Corps. I was given a cordial welcome and I took up my duty at St. Elizabeth Hospital, directed by Dr. Conrad, one of the most prominent and celebrated physicians of Antwerp, indeed of Belgium.

This hospital was in charge of Sisters[20] of Charity, whose name I now forget. Let it suffice to say that these noble women showed a devotion beyond human praise and reward. They were indeed martyrs to their cause.

It was toward the middle of August that the first wounded began to arrive at the hospital, coming from the centre of Belgium. All the physicians, except myself, were army physicians and had been enlisted at the outbreak of the hostilities.

It was on August 25, if I remember well, that the first German air raid was made on the City of Antwerp. It is difficult to convey an idea of the manner in which this event filled the citizens with terror. The Zeppelins were then unknown to the ordinary population. Twelve civilians–men, women and children–were killed by the bombs dropped by the raiders. On the following morning there appeared in La Metropole, an Antwerp newspaper, an article advising the burial of the victims at a certain place in the city, and the erection of a monument bearing the following inscription:[21] “Assassinated by the German barbarians on the 25th of August, 1914.”

The indignation of the public was great. The presence of German subjects in Antwerp had become impossible. Most of them, however, had by that time left the fortified portion of the city.

Every morning I used to bring with me to the hospital a copy of the London Times, and when we had a few moments of leisure the other physicians would gather around to hear the translation of the principal items of news.

Brussels was occupied by the Germans on August 18; Antwerp had now become the centre of the Belgians’ resistance; the seat of the Government and the general staff of the army had been transferred here.

In America one had not yet a full conception of the popularity of King Albert and of Queen Elizabeth among their subjects. Very few sovereigns enjoy to such a large extent the love and confidence of their people.

One day I had left the hospital and was[22] running toward the wharves on hearing that a detachment of German prisoners captured by the Belgians was to pass that way. I shall never forget the spectacle offered on that occasion by the entire population of the city crowding the main streets and avenues to get a glimpse of these German soldiers, invaders of the sacred soil of Belgium. And it was while wending my way through the streets to get a nearer glimpse of the captives that more than ever I realized how the Belgians resented the insult inflicted upon them by the barbarian hordes. The prisoners looked tired and haggard; they were covered with dust and mud; the sight was pitiable.

When returning to the hospital I encountered, half way down a narrow street leading to the Cathedral, a group of small boys who were making an ovation in honor of a young lady, neatly dressed, and accompanied by a small boy eight or ten years of age. The boys were joined by adults, who continued to cheer the Queen and the Prince as they passed through the[23] Place de Meir towards the royal palace. For it was the Queen and her son walking unostentatiously on the street. From every door and every window men, women and children continued cheering: “Vive la reine Elizabeth! Vive le petit Prince!”

In the last weeks of August and during the first three weeks of September, the Belgian troops concentrated in the fortified positions of Antwerp, and made several demonstrations against the Germans, who then occupied Brussels and Malines. At the hospital we were notified in advance of these sallies by the Belgian army, so that we might prepare ourselves to receive a fresh contingent of wounded the following day.

The wounded brought into St. Elizabeth Hospital were not, as a rule, very seriously injured, although at times and at first sight one would have believed them mortally injured. Happily, up to this date there had been no artillery attack on Antwerp. It is wounds resulting from artillery fire that are the most dangerous and the most frightful to look upon.



It is out of question for me to try to relate in full justice the military events which attended the attack and capture of Antwerp by the Germans.

Divers histories of the war, published in French and English since 1914, have reported the principal phases and details of the memorable event. I will confine myself then to certain incidents which I witnessed, and in which I participated.

Antwerp, as is well known, was reported to be impregnable. The city itself is surrounded by walls and canals. In addition there was a first chain of forts known as inner forts, and another chain of forts known as outer forts.

About September 26 or 27, 1914, it became apparent in Antwerp that the Germans were making a serious strategic demonstration[25] against the city on the side of Malines, situated half way between Antwerp and Brussels, and only five or six miles distant from the outer forts of Antwerp.

The military critics have often discussed the reasons which prompted the German high military command to undertake the conquest of the famous fortified position. It appears that what decided the Germans, more than anything else, to undertake the siege of Antwerp was the necessity to offset, in the minds of the German people, the painful impression created by the retreat of their army at the famous battle of the Marne. The Germans, you will remember, were forced to withdraw from both banks of the Marne between the 4th and the 12th of September, and a few days afterwards plans were made by the enemy to attack Antwerp.

Malines and a few villages on the south-west were first occupied, after which the attack was started against Antwerp through the outer forts on the south and south-east of the city.


The question was asked several times why did the Germans concentrate their first attack this way, when it would have been easier for them to capture the city by attacking from the west, whence they might have cut off any retreat of the Belgian army towards the North Sea. Between Thermonde and the frontier of Holland there is only a narrow border of territory which the Germans could have taken easily. It is still unanswered.

I have been assured that the Germans, after taking possession of a village named Hyst-Op-Den-Berg, had only to tear down the walls of a house to find, ready for use, a concrete base for a heavy and powerful piece of artillery.

Was this one of the numerous pre-war preparations of the Germans? No one can tell now, but it is a fact from this point the German artillery was able to bombard the forts of Waehlen, Wavre, Ste. Catherine and Lierre, which were the first ones destroyed.

At that time a large number of wounded soldiers were being brought to the hospital[27] every day. Every time a new batch of wounded was brought in the doctors would, after rendering first aid, gather round in order to obtain some details of the progress of the battle. The reports became more and more alarming. The Germans were making their way steadily toward us. It was next reported that enemy detachments had crossed the Nete river; that in a short while the artillery would be able to bombard the city itself.

I remember particularly a lieutenant of artillery who was under my care at the hospital. He described to me the scenes which took place during the bombardment of the fort he occupied. He told me that although accustomed to the tremendous detonation of the guns, he could not find words to adequately express the effect of an explosion caused by the firing of a shell from a 28-centimetre howitzer or a 42-centimetre gun.

I think it was on Saturday, October 3, that the news spread like lightning that Mr. Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty of Great Britain, had arrived[28] in Antwerp. A few hours later we were told at the hospital that the English statesman had gone back, after assuring the Belgian authorities that help would be forthcoming immediately. As a matter of fact, on the days immediately following, British Jack Tars arrived in Antwerp. They crossed the city from l’Escaut to the forts on the south-west amid the indescribable enthusiasm of the population, and took position in the Belgian trenches.

The confidence of the people in the besieged fortress, which had become somewhat shaken, was at once restored and rose higher than ever. And I desire here to express my admiration for the conduct of the British naval squadrons, which was beyond praise. Their behavior and courage were alike unequalled, and whatever criticism may have been advanced in the British press at that time of sending these naval forces into Belgium, it is my sincere belief that these troops played an exceedingly important part. While they did not prevent the fall of Antwerp, they succeeded, at all events, in holding back the[29] German advance for a time, and covered the Belgian army’s retreat, first through the city, thence to the other side of the Escaut, in the country of Vaes, toward St. Nocalos, Ghent, and Ostend. The British marines were the last to leave Antwerp. During the night of October 8-9 a small number of them fell as prisoners into the hands of the enemy; others evaded the Germans by crossing into Holland; the remainder followed in the wake of the Belgian army.

Antwerp itself was bombarded for thirty hours unceasingly. The bombardment started in the evening of Wednesday, October 7, and continued until the following Friday morning. During this time it was estimated that no fewer than 25,000 shells fell into the city, shaking it to its deepest foundations.

We remained at the hospital until the following day, Thursday. We had removed the majority of our patients to Ostend. Only a few remained under the care of the brave nuns. I myself was preparing to leave, when a shell burst right in the[30] centre of the operating room close upon the ward where I was occupied. I was slightly wounded, and I left the hospital a few minutes later.

This was on Thursday, October 8, and as I rode on my bicycle through the now deserted streets I could hear above my head the whizzing of the shells fired by the enemy in the direction of the Belgian army headquarters.

The Belgian army headquarters were then at the Hotel St. Antoine, on the Marche aux Souliers (shoe market), a small thoroughfare which leads from Place de Meir to Place Verte. On the day following the fall of the city, I rode back to Antwerp on my bicycle, and to my great surprise I saw that while every vestige of buildings on the opposite side of the street had disappeared–blown into atoms by the German shells–the Hotel St. Antoine had not been touched. The shells had merely grazed the roof of the building before crashing down the opposite side of the street.

The night of October 8-9 was terrible[31] and sinister. From the roof of the house we lived in, at Capellen, we observed the city being devoured by the flames. From the spot where we witnessed this awful scene, it looked as though the whole city were on fire. The oil reservoirs were burning at the same time that other parts of the city were being consumed by the devastating element. In the midst of this horrible carnage, we could see the tower of the great, magnificent cathedral pointing, like the finger of God, toward heaven. It was visible for a minute, then invisible–swallowed up in enormous tongues of fire. In the distance toward the south, where total darkness prevailed, we could observe from time to time flashes of the explosions caused by the German artillery vomiting its volleys of shells on the burning city.

It was an appalling spectacle which lasted through the night. The formidable vibrations caused by explosions repeated on an average of 300 per minute was an experience which is still painful for the imagination to dwell upon. Then on the[32] morning of Friday, October 9, a dismal silence followed the carnage on the fortified city. Antwerp as a Belgian fortress was no more!



What a touching spectacle–that of a whole people fleeing to another country! This sight we witnessed in all its tragic pathos. While the Germans approached from the east and south-east towards Antwerp, the population of Malines and the neighboring villages, the people of the villages situated between the outer and the inner lines of the forts, the inhabitants of Duffel, Lierre, Contich, Viedieux and fifty other villages had poured into Antwerp, and when it became evident, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the city would be subjected to the bombardment of the German artillery, all these brave people, probably 300,000 in number–men, women, and children–who had sought refuge in Antwerp, where they hoped they would be safe from the onslaught of the Huns, scattered in all[34] directions to escape the threatening fire. Some 200,000 people, perhaps, crossed the Escaut river and fled, some in the direction of Holland, others toward Ostend. Between 250,000 and 300,000 traversed the highway which leads from Antwerp to Holland.

During the last days of the agony of Antwerp, I was the witness of the constant departure of this desolate people towards Holland.

I had to journey each morning on my bicycle from Capellen to Antwerp and return in the evening. In the morning I had to ride against the surge of escaping refugees; in the evening I rode with the tide, as it were. How can I describe the pathetic sights I witnessed during these days of horror? I saw men and women–many far advanced in years; some of them carried young children on their backs, some in their arms; others pushed carts and wheelbarrows and small vehicles of all kinds, which contained these people’s whole belongings, remnants of the wreck of their homes; beds and bedding, furniture[35] and clothing, religious books and articles of piety. In this great moving caravan were cows and goats, horses and sheep, and the ever-faithful dog–all being led away by the refugees–truly a shattered cohort wending its way with bowed heads, drawn faces, weary eyes, haggard and livid. I say it was a terrible, heartrending sight to witness, one that I hope God will prevent me from ever seeing again.

I shall never forget one case, more pitiful, perhaps, than all the others. It was that of an old man who was pushing a wheelbarrow in which sat his old wife, crippled and paralyzed. It was night, about 9 o’clock. We invited the old couple to spend the night in our home.

During the last week of Antwerp’s resistance, hundreds of refugees would enter the enclosure of our home at Capellen and there improvise for themselves a refuge for the night in the bushes or under the trees. Others, the older men, the women folk and the children, were lodged in the building. Rooms, corridors, garrets, and even the cellars were filled to capacity.


On the following morning these poor refugees would start again on their distressing journey towards Holland–the long, sad walk of a whole people leaving behind them their beloved country, their souls tortured by grief and anguish.

On Friday, the day Antwerp fell, the German troops entered the city at about 9 o’clock in the morning, and what I relate now was conveyed to me personally by a German officer, who took part in the attack on Antwerp and was billeted in our house for more than three months after the capture of the city.

When the Belgian military resistance ended–that is, during the night of the 8th to the 9th of October–the Germans, as I have already stated, continued to bombard the city, but in the morning at 7 o’clock the artillery’s action ceased. Two hours later the order was given to a regiment to pass inside the walls of the city. The Germans thought they would have to fight foot by foot within the walls. For some reason, the opinion prevailed that the whole Belgian army–between 90,000 and 150,000 in[37] number–had concentrated for a last stand within the walls of the city itself.

The Germans, who, according to the information given to me by the officer I have mentioned, had only 55,000 men, actually feared to meet the Belgian army in close battle. But the order was given to enter, and regiment after regiment, with fixed bayonet, marched into the city, alert but quietly, as though in constant dread of being surrounded.

The city was virtually empty. No civilians or military were to be found. The German troops were ordered to halt in front of the Athenée, and a group of officers were directed towards the Belgian army headquarters, in order to obtain information. They were met by one lone janitor, who heroically refused to state where the Belgian army had gone.

The deputation of officers next crossed to the City Hall, where the principal municipal officials awaited them. Here also information as to the direction the Belgian army had taken was refused.

A demand was then made by the German[38] officers for the surrender of the city, but the municipal authorities replied: “As the city is under the command of the military authorities, we have not the necessary authority to surrender it.”

And that is why on the following day a German officer staying at Capellen told us that the situation at Antwerp was rather precarious. While the Germans occupied the ground, the city had not surrendered!

Antwerp had only fallen. The Belgian army had withdrawn towards Ostend. It had traversed the coast road to Nieuport, where the troops took up their position. We all know now what an important and heroic part they played behind the locks of Nieuport. But the whole Province of Antwerp had fallen under heel of the Hun!


In the rear of Starrenhof, her residence in Capellen



Friday, October 9, 1914, was a day of anxiety and fear for the city of Antwerp and the villages situated inside the fortified position. The Germans were within our midst, and from 9 o’clock in the morning the soldiers of the Kaiser began to extend their positions around the fortress, along the routes from the east and south-east. What was to become of Capellen? was a question asked by all of us.

All along the paths of the park of Starrenhof (residence of Mrs. Beland-Cogels), on the Antwerp-Holland highway in front of the Town Hall, groups of people who were left gathered to discuss the situation. Each asked the other: “When will the Germans reach here?” And fear was deeply lined on all faces, for the reports had reached us from the villages in the centre[40] and in the east of Belgium which were far from reassuring as to the probable conduct of the German soldiery.

Refugees from the village of Aerschot, who were lodging at the farm of the chateau, drew a startling word picture of the tragic events which occurred at that place. Murder and arson had held sway for several days. In brief, the whole population of Capellen, including the refugees, were in a state of great nervousness.

Night fell on the city and the surrounding country without the Germans having put in an appearance. At about 9 o’clock, while our family with their friends were talking together, a fearful explosion was heard. What had happened? Each of us had different ideas, but the most plausible explanation was that a Zeppelin, flying over the village, had dropped a bomb into the yard of the chateau. Then the true explanation burst upon us suddenly. The fort nearest to the chateau was that of Erbrand, distant about one kilometre from us. The commanding officer of the garrison had ordered the fort blown up previous[41] to its evacuation. The shock was so tremendous that an oil lamp burning in the hall where we sat was extinguished, and several windows were shattered. The bombardment of the city had broken electric light wires and the gas conduits were wrecked, so that oil lamps and candles were our only means of obtaining light.

Naturally, the explosion did not tend to soothe our nerves, and the entire family remained together in a large hall for the rest of the night. Beds were improvised and each of us obtained what rest was possible in the exciting condition of the time, which was very little.

About 1 o’clock in the morning a servant girl knocked at the door and told me that a man wished to see me. It was a Belgian, who urged me to at once leave with the family for Holland. He informed me that the Germans had left Antwerp a few hours previously, and were fast approaching Capellen; that they had already reached the village of Eccheren. They were pillaging and burning everything on the way. The[42] man added that he himself was on his way to Holland with his aged mother.

“Where do you come from?” I asked him.

“From Contich,” he replied.

“Where is your mother?”

“I left her in a farmer’s house nearby,” he said. “I will go back to get her presently and take her to safety.”

“It is well,” I told him, “and I thank you for the warning you have given me.”

When leaving the house he urged again: “You have not a moment to lose. The lives of your wife and children are in danger,” he persisted.

After his departure I ordered a servant to awake everybody in the building–our immediate family and relatives from several places who had been lodging with us since the bombardment started. We held a family council–a real war council, if ever there was one. All were inclined to follow the man’s advice and start off for Holland. The dear old parish priest of Schouten, a distant relative of the family, wished us to leave at once.


I suggested that my wife and the children should go, taking with them all the baggage they could carry, while I would remain with Nys, an old and faithful servant who had been with the family for over thirty years. The old servant was quite willing to stay, but, as one might suppose, my wife objected to this arrangement. “We shall all remain together, or we shall all leave together,” she said.

Thereupon I proposed that we should take counsel of an old resident of Capellen, Mr. Spaet, a man of wisdom and experience, of German origin, but who had lived long in the country and could claim Belgian citizenship for upwards of forty years. He had two sons in the Belgian army. This proposal was accepted unanimously.

I accordingly left to see Mr. Spaet, wending my way through the line of fugitives who were still crowding the highway at this early hour of the morning.

Mr. Spaet was at home. In reply to my questions, he said he had no advice to give me, but insofar as he himself was concerned[44] he intended to go back to bed as soon as I left him. I returned to the chateau somewhat reassured, and, addressing the members of the family and our friends, who had in the meantime made preparations to leave for Holland, I said: “Every one goes back to bed.” I related my conversation with Mr. Spaet, and then we all returned to bed, but, I am sure, none of us to sleep.

Subsequently another fearful explosion shook the house. It was the second fort–that of Capellen–which had been blown up. The large building in which we lived shook to its foundations.

A few minutes afterwards the same servant who previously knocked at the door of the hall came up again. She stated that our previous visitor had returned and demanded to see me. I went to him a second time. He repeated his monition, told me not to postpone the carrying out of his previous advice, but to act upon it immediately.

My suspicions were aroused by his manner and persistence, so I said to him:[45] “What about the other residents of Capellen?”

“They have all gone,” he replied.

“And Mr. Spaet?” I asked him.

“Mr. Spaet is now in Holland with the others,” he said, without a tremor.

I knew that the man was lying, and if he was capable of lying he would be capable of stealing. He was one of those human jackals whose sinister plan it was to precede and follow the armies and plunder the houses as soon as the occupants had left them. I turned to the man and said: “Now, you, sir, take counsel of your own advice to me, and leave at once.” He went. But what a night was that one …!

At daybreak a radiant sun gilded the autumn foliage. As I opened a window I saw that the women and children who had sought refuge in the park of the chateau were still sleeping. The Germans had not yet arrived. They were not very far away, however.



On the morning of October 10, at about 9 o’clock, a messenger called at our house and, on behalf of a group of citizens, invited me to the City Hall. I was at a loss to know why my presence was wanted there, and decided to go at once. The City Hall was no more than one kilometre distant, and on my way I had to cross the unending procession of refugees slowly wending their toilsome way in the direction of Holland.

At the City Hall, I was met by a number of representative citizens of Capellen. They asked me to join them in receiving the German officers, who were then due to arrive at any moment. I could realize how hatred was accumulating in the German heart against Great Britain, for was Britain not the prime cause of their present[47] check–the actual obstacle of the military promenade which the Germans had for forty years dreamed of making from the German frontier to Paris? The initial plan of the German high command had been frustrated, and for this disastrous failure they would hold that the English were naturally and justly responsible. I, therefore, suggested to my fellow-citizens that in my quality as a British subject I was more likely to be a hindrance than a help to them. They insisted, however–and with some plausibility perhaps–that the German officers would not know to which nationality I belonged, and that it was of immediate importance to make as good a showing as possible in numbers–there were not more than five of us all told, the others having crossed the frontier into Holland. Under the circumstances, I accepted their proposal and agreed to stay with them and meet the incoming Germans.

At 10 o’clock an individual burst into the room in which we were assembled and[48] made the simple announcement: “Gentlemen, a German officer is here.”

Before the fall of Antwerp I had a close inspection of a number of German prisoners of war as they marched in file and under Belgian escort along the streets of the city, but I had never yet seen either near, or at a distance, a real Prussian officer, and I must confess that my curiosity was greatly aroused by the announcement of the imminent arrival. Ere we had time to advance to meet him, there he stood in the doorway, dressed in the uniform of a captain of German artillery and wearing the pointed helmet. He gave us the military salute, turned to Mr. Spaet and, speaking in German, said that in civilian life he was a lawyer and practised his profession at Dortmund. He looked at each and every one of us several times as though searching our souls to discover what were our inmost feelings and sentiments. He was manifestly surprised by the fact that Mr. Spaet, a Belgian, could speak such perfect German, and inquired of him how he had acquired his knowledge of his own[49] language. Mr. Spaet replied frankly and honestly and then asked:

“What must we do?”

“Nothing,” replied the German officer. “However, you will not have to deal with me; I am only a scout. It is with Major X—, who will be here shortly, that you will have to make arrangements.”

With these words he took his leave, and a few minutes afterwards an automobile, containing the real negotiator, a Prussian major, who was accompanied by a very elegant officer, stopped in front of the Town Hall. This major typified the Prussian officer my imagination had pictured. Resplendent in uniform and glittering helmet, with blonde moustache trained a la Kaiser, he stood erect as a letter I, and stiff as an iron rod.

At the time there was, as in preceding days, a large crowd in the public square fronting the Town Hall. It was the direct route from Antwerp to Holland, and there were now accumulated here refugees from the four corners of the fortified position. Seemingly annoyed by such a gathering,[50] the Prussian major demanded an explanation, which Mr. Spaet gave without hesitation.

“Whither are these people going?” he inquired.

“To Holland,” Mr. Spaet told him.


“Because they seek refuge from German fire,” answered Mr. Spaet.

“But since Antwerp has fallen, there is no further danger,” stated the major. “Tell these people to return to their homes. They will not be molested.”

Naturally we feared many requisitions would be made upon us.

The major informed us that only horses would be taken. “We must have horses,” he added.

But it was explained the only horses in Capellen belonged to the farmers, and these animals were absolutely needed if the crops were to be garnered.

“Well,” said the major finally, after further explanations,[51] “only one infantry company will be sent to Capellen, and you must see that the officers are well treated. As to the soldiers, well, you may billet them anywhere you like–in the schoolhouse, for example.”

The German officer demanded to know in what condition were the forts around Capellen. We told him our present impression was that they had all been destroyed by the garrisons immediately before their evacuation. He took two of our party with him in his automobile and made a tour of the forts of Capellen, Erbrand, and Stabrock. He brought us back to the Town Hall and then departed. I never saw him again.

In the afternoon of Saturday, October 10, a company of infantrymen arrived in front of the Town Hall. At the word of command, two soldiers left the ranks and entered the building. A few minutes afterwards the crowd witnessed the humiliating and supremely painful ceremony of the lowering of the Belgian flag, which had flown from that flag-staff for nearly one hundred years, and in its place was hoisted the German standard. Capellen then was definitely subjected to enemy occupation.[52] As Capellen is situated at the extreme north of the fortified position of Antwerp, consequently the German flag floated as the breeze blew from the frontier of France to the frontier of Holland.

And mourning entered every home.



“Do please hurry, and return to the house, my dear sir and madame, for the Germans are there.”

It was a young lady who thus addressed us on the sidewalk midway between the church and the chateau. My wife and I were returning from church when we were thus apprised that the Hun was more than at the gate–that in fact he was beyond it, and actually in the house awaiting our return. We hastened our footsteps homeward. The first thing we observed was an automobile standing opposite the main entrance.

In the house we found ourselves in the presence of a German officer of medium build. He bowed very low to my wife and myself, and then explained that the automobile standing at the door in charge of[54] three soldiers belonged to him. He spoke the French language and demanded lodgings.

Such an unexpected request was perplexing, to say the least. We could hardly refuse it, although, candidly, we did not relish the proposition in the least. I explained that the house was full of refugees, who were our relatives; that they had been with us for over a week, and that under the circumstances it would be difficult, if not quite impossible, to find fitting accommodation for him. He insisted, however, saying the three soldiers who accompanied him–a chauffeur, an orderly and a valet–could sleep in the garage, and he alone would require a room in our house. I thought that in stating my nationality he might change his mind; so I said to him: “I am very anxious to return with my wife to Canada, for I am a Canadian, consequently a British subject.”

“I know that,” he replied. “I know that.”

I have to confess that I was astonished to learn that he knew my nationality. What[55] a marvelous service of espionage these Germans had!

“Yes,” he added. “I can say definitely that you must not leave Belgium. There is nothing to prevent you remaining here, even if you are a British subject. I have also learned that you are a physician, and that as such you served in hospital at Antwerp. You need have no fear, then, in remaining here; you are protected under laws of military authority.”

I exchanged a glance with my wife and together we reached the same conclusion. We would receive this officer in the house, find accommodation for his servants, and, for ourselves, we would remain in Capellen. As a matter of fact, we were very happy to be able to reach this decision, as Capellen, at that time, had no other medical doctor. Several of the local physicians had joined the army, and others had gone to Holland. I might, therefore, be able to render some service by remaining. My wife was at the head of a charity organization long established at Capellen, and which, in consequence of the war, had become[56] of exceptional utility and importance. This was how we came to remain, and the children with us.

The German officer came from Brunswick. Goering was his name. For two years he had been attached to the German Embassy in Spain, and later he was for eight years at the German legation in Brazil. He had, it must be acknowledged, acquired a great deal of polish through his international experience. He spoke English and French fairly well. He had none of the haughtiness and self-conceited characteristics of the ordinary Prussian officers. But he entertained no doubt about the ultimate success of the German arms, above all at that moment when the world-famed fortress of Antwerp had just fallen into their hands. He professed to believe that German troops would land in England within a few weeks, and this opinion was shared by his three military servants. The Germans were already in Ostend, and from that place an expeditionary force was to be directed against England. That project was on every one’s lips.


The arrow and the cross designate Madame and Miss Beland


This officer remained with us for about three months, leaving at the end of December. I must acknowledge again that I never found in him the typical Prussian officer. This is easy to conceive when one recalls that for ten years immediately preceding he had lived in foreign countries, and associated with diplomats and attachés of embassies and legations of many countries. Naturally, he believed in the superiority of the German race. He boasted of German culture. He was convinced German industry was destined to monopolize the world’s markets. He insisted that France was degenerate, that Britain had not, and would never have, a powerful army, and said Dunkirk and Calais would surely be captured within a few weeks, etc., etc., etc.

During October and November of that year it was possible, although the frontier was guarded by German sentries, to cross into Holland on any pretext whatsoever. One might go there to buy provisions so long as the sentries were satisfied the party intended to return. It was only at Christmas,[58] 1914, that the frontier between Antwerp and Holland was “hermetically closed”–if I may use this term. At the distance of about one kilometre from the frontier, a post of inspection and control was established. Here on Christmas Day the most absolute control of passports was ordered. No one could cross unless provided with a permit issued by the German administration in Antwerp. We were, therefore, at that time cut off from all communication with the outside world.

Winter had come; distress was great in Belgium, and but for the foodstuffs and clothing forwarded from the United States and Canada–but for the charitably disposed rich families, who can tell what horrors the population of the occupied territory would have gone through.



Towards the end of October, 1914, two or three weeks after the evacuation of the fortress of Antwerp, His Eminence Cardinal Mercier issued a pastoral letter to his clergy and people entreating the Belgians who took refuge in Holland during the terrible weeks of the bombardment of the northern region of Belgium to return to their homes.

This letter contained a special provision which is remembered to this day. The Cardinal stated that, after a conference with the German authorities, he was convinced the inhabitants of the Province of Antwerp would be exempt from all annoyances and would not be molested for any personal delinquency.

“The German authorities,” the Cardinal added,[60] “affirm that in the event of any offence being committed against the occupying authority this authority will seek out the guilty party, but if the culprits be not found, the civil population need have no fears, as they would be spared.”

This was quite clear. The episcopal document was, of course, published in Holland and, consequently, many thousands of refugees returned to their homes in Belgium.

About the 15th of December of the same year–that is to say, about two months after the Cardinal’s letter appeared–two Capellen lads, 14 or 15 years of age, boarded a locomotive standing at the station, where it had been left by the engineer and fireman while they went to dinner. The boys amused themselves with the lever and soon had the engine running backwards and forwards alongside the station platform. Here they were caught by German soldiers who carried them off to Antwerp, where they were summarily tried, and sentenced to serve three weeks in jail.

The incident was considered closed; but not so, as we shall see. On the following day, Major Schulze, if I am not mistaken,[61] the commanding officer at Capellen, requested the burgomaster to supply him with a list of twenty-four citizens, including the parish priest, the Rev. Father Vandenhout, and a former burgomaster, Mr. Geelhand. These twenty-four citizens, it was ordered, would be divided into groups of eight men each, and each group would, in turn, keep guard on the railroad every night from 6 o’clock until 7 o’clock the following morning, and this until further orders. This raised a hue and cry in the village. The citizens asserted, with reason, that the boys guilty of interfering with a locomotive had been caught; that the offence was not serious–was, in fact, nothing at all but the pranks of two boys. Everybody now recalled Cardinal Mercier’s letter, and the assurance upon which it was based, as given by the German authorities, namely, that no personal delinquency would be followed by reprisals against the civil population. What was to be done? Counsel was taken on all sides. The principal citizens met secretly and decided[62] to submit the case to the Governor of Antwerp, General Von Huene.

But it was of no avail; the twenty-four citizens whose names appeared on the list were compelled to keep guard in front of the station during the cold, wet nights of December and January. On Christmas eve, the group to which the old priest, Father Vandenhout, belonged was on guard. This priest, about 70 years of age, and seven companions paced to and fro in front of the station, throughout a cold and stormy night. It was not until the 15th of January that an order from Antwerp ended this arbitrary ruling of the local military authorities.

It was at about that time that a new officer appeared at the chateau with a request that we should receive him in the house. This man was much less pleasant in manner than his predecessor. He had not lived in Spain or in Brazil. He had come straight from Eastern Prussia. He was violent and arrogant. He treated his orderly with extreme severity. The house trembled each time he started to scold the[63] man, and this happened frequently enough. The officer left after a stay of three weeks, and God knows we never regretted his departure.

Once again we were free from the Germans’ presence. True, we could hear their heels tramping on the road outside, but under the domestic roof the family lived quietly in peace.

One of the Capellen physicians having returned from Holland, my wife and I decided, after consulting the children, to take steps to leave the occupied country, with the intention of crossing later to Canada.



Early in February, 1915, my wife and I went to Antwerp, and called at the Central Office for the issuing of safe-conducts (passports). We submitted to the two officers in charge our request to be authorized to leave Belgium.

“Where do you wish to go?” inquired one of the officers.

“To Holland,” I replied.

“For what purpose?”

“In order to embark for America.”

“Why go to America?”

“Because I wish to return home to Canada, where I reside.”

“Then you are British subjects?”


The officer appeared surprised. He turned to his comrade, and then looked at us, my wife and I, from head to foot.


“You are British subjects?” he repeated.

“You are right.”

“How long have you been in Belgium?”

“I came to Belgium before your arrival–that is to say, in July,” I replied.

“What are you doing here?” he inquired.

A colloquy between the two officers and ourselves followed for a few minutes, during which it was easily explained that my presence in Belgium had nothing mysterious about it, even from a German viewpoint.

Apparently convinced that he was not in the presence of a spy employed by the British Government, the first officer confessed that he could see no serious objection to the issue of a permit for our leaving Belgium, but he said that insofar as British subjects were concerned explicit instructions had been given, and he could not then give us the passport we requested without being first authorized to do so by the chief of the military police, Major Von Wilm. He advised us to see the major,[66] and we proceeded to carry out the advice. On our way to the major’s office I remarked to my wife that it was quite possible I might never come out of this office, once inside. We went on, however. Major Von Wilm received us courteously, and listened attentively to our story.

He, too, was convinced, apparently, at least, that I was not a spy. He did not anticipate any obstacle to the issuing of a passport, but he said he would have to talk the matter over first with the governor of the fortress. He advised us to return to Capellen and await instructions.

A few days afterwards we received a letter from the major. It read as follows:

Antwerp, Feb. 8, 1915.

Mr. and Mrs. Beland,

Sir and Madam:–

Regarding our conversation of a few days ago, I have the honor to inform you that a safe-conduct will be granted to you on two conditions. The first is that Mr.[67] Beland will formally undertake never to bear arms against Germany during the continuance of the war, and second, that all properties belonging to you in the occupied territory of Belgium shall be subjected, after your departure, to a tenfold taxation.

(Signed) Von Wilm.

It then remained for us to decide what to do. I deemed it advisable to return to Antwerp and discuss at greater length with Major Von Wilm, particularly the question of the tenfold taxation. After a prolonged conversation with him, and after receiving renewed assurances that I might remain in the occupied territory without fear of annoyance, molestation, or imprisonment on account of my profession and medical services I was rendering the population, we decided to remain without further protest until the month of April. By this time the taxes would be paid. In the meantime this high German official, who conducted important functions in the Province of Antwerp, pledged himself to discuss with the German financial authorities[68] at Brussels the question whether the onerous conditions of a tenfold taxation upon all the properties we owned in Belgium might not be removed. The ordinary taxes were duly paid in April, and I again visited the major at Antwerp, urging him to enter into negotiations with the German financial authorities on the question already alluded to.

Once more he promised to take the matter into consideration as soon as his occupations would allow him; once more he assured me of proper protection, and told me I might continue in perfect security. There could be no question at all of my being interned, he said, and as to the question of taxes, he had no doubt whatever that the matter would be settled to my entire satisfaction.


Cross indicates Von Wilm who was instrumental in the arrest and internment of Dr. Beland



Military police inspection at this period became much more stringent. If one were walking along the street, or visiting a neighbor, or making a sick call, he was liable to be kept under the closest surveillance. It was not an uncommon experience in the course of a walk in the garden to suddenly perceive the ferret-like eye of an official watching you from a cluster of foliage nearby. As a matter of fact, we felt our every movement was spied upon. The least infraction of the regulations imposed by the occupying authority–and God knows the number of these regulations; they were posted everywhere–I say the least infraction was punished by a money fine or with a jail sentence.

It was a few days after the sinking of the Lusitania. All British hearts felt a[70] new bitterness. At the same time a greater feeling of arrogance was reflected from the German mind. The Boches had unbridled their terrorism on the seas, and they now would attempt to make their conduct more appalling in occupied territory.

All of this stimulated our desire to leave Belgium to return to Canada.

On May 15, at 8 o’clock in the morning, I was apprised by a messenger that my presence was wanted at the Town Hall. It was not without a feeling of some apprehension that I made my way towards that building. In the office of the Mayor where I was introduced, I saw the Mayor and a non-commissioned officer. The Mayor, who was one of my friends, said, with a significant glance towards me: “This gentleman wishes to speak to you.”

“What is the matter?” I asked.

“You must go to Antwerp,” replied the non-commissioned officer.

“Very well,” I said, “I will go immediately on my bicycle.”

“No,” said the non-commissioned officer,[71] “you had better leave your bicycle here at the Town Hall. I wish you to accompany me.”

A few minutes later we arrived at the station which was transformed, like all the other stations in the occupied country, into a military post. The non-commissioned officer directed me to a waiting room where there were a group of several soldiers chatting and smoking.

One of these soldiers at a word of command came forward, put on his pointed helmet, slung his rifle over his shoulder, and simply said: “Commen sie mit.” I was right in interpreting his remark to mean “Come with me.” For the first time in my life I had the honor (?) of parading along the street in the company of a disciple of Bismarck!

The people of Capellen, who knew me very well by this time, hurried to the doors to see me pass. A few minutes afterwards we arrived in Antwerp. I was conducted to the Bourse, a large building, which had been struck and damaged by a bomb during the air raid of August 25.

The Germans had established in the[72] Bourse an office for the “control of foreigners.” I did not know of this as yet, but it was not long before I was made aware of it. I was taken into a large room on the door of which I had noticed the name of the officer in charge. He was Lieut. Arnins. I ask the reader to remember this name. I shall never forget it, nor the personage himself.

In the office was a long table with a soldier at each end; an officer, small of stature, and with a puny face, and a non-commissioned officer, bigger in build than his companion. The officer addressed me, speaking with undue violence: “Sir,” said he, “you would have avoided the annoyance of being brought here, under military escort, if you had reported yourself, as it was your duty to do.”

“I was not aware that I had to report,” I replied.

“That’s false,” asserted the officer in a voice louder than before.[73] “That’s false. I have had posted in all the municipalities of the Province of Antwerp a notice enjoining the subjects of countries at war with Germany to report themselves before a given date. You could not ignore this.”

“Most assuredly I was not aware of it,” I said. “Will you please tell me where, in Capellen, you had this notice posted?”

“At the Town Hall,” the officer answered.

“Well,” I continued, “I reside at about one kilometre distant from the Town Hall, and I have no occasion to go there.”

“It is useless for you to attempt to explain,” he declared. “You have knowingly and wilfully avoided military supervision, and take notice that this is a very serious offence.”

“Sir,” I replied, “when you affirm that I have avoided military supervision, you are placing yourself in contradiction with the facts. What you say does not conform with the truth.”

The officer jumped to his feet as if moved by a spring.

“What is that you say?” he demanded.

“Simply that I never had any intention to disobey the regulations you have posted up,” I answered calmly.


“You take it in a rather haughty manner,” he said. “Do you think we are not aware that you are a British subject?”

“I never thought so,” I replied.

“You are a British subject, are you not–you are a British subject?”

“You are quite right–I am a British subject.”

“It is well for you that you do not deny it.”

“Reverting to the accusation you have made against me,” I said, “let me ask you a simple question: If it is established that the chief of the German military police here, in Antwerp, knows me personally; if he and I have talked together at length; if he knows my nationality and under what circumstances I am in Belgium; why I came here; what I am doing, and what I hope to do, will you be of the opinion still that I have infringed the regulations knowingly and wilfully in not reporting to this office?”

The German officer was visibly abashed. He went to the telephone and spoke with the chief of police. He became convinced[75] that what I had said was true, and while not so violent as hitherto, he said, in a haughty manner: “Well, you ought to know that in the quality of stranger you are not allowed to go around without a card of identification. We will give you your card and you must report yourself here every two weeks.”

The officer had to give full vent to his wrath on somebody, so, turning to the soldier who had remained near me, he said, brutally, “Los!” (Go!)

The soldier, poor slave, turned on his heels, struck his thighs with his hands, looked fixedly at his superior officer, and walked hurriedly from the room.

An hour later, and feeling really not too much annoyed by my trip, I returned to Capellen, where I was surrounded by my family and a group of friends all anxious to know in every detail what happened to me on my visit to Antwerp.

Apparently I was safe. With my card I might go freely among my patients. At the end of two weeks’ time I reported myself[76] in Antwerp, where my passport was examined and found to be correct.

I still was allowed to breathe, with all my lungs, the air of freedom!



One can readily realize that a journey to Antwerp under the escort of a German soldier had rather humiliated me. I wrote a letter of protest to Major Von Wilm, relating all the incidents of the day.

A few days afterwards I received a reply from this officer, who explained that my arrest was owing to a denunciation; that he had supplied the German military police with all necessary information; that everything was now properly arranged, and that I need have no inquietude as to the future.

I succeeded in taking with me to the prison later this letter written by Major Von Wilm, and I also was able to smuggle it out of Germany on my release. The reader will find the letter reproduced elsewhere in this story. It is a document[78] which I consider of the greatest importance. In it the chief of the German military police in Antwerp is on record as declaring over his signature that I need not be uneasy as to the future, as I should be allowed to enjoy immunity.

This immunity, however, was to be of short duration. On June 2, when I believed I had been freed from all annoyance, two soldiers presented themselves at the house and requested me to accompany them to Antwerp. I felt convinced that surely this time it was to be a simple visit to an office of some kind, but unaccompanied by inconvenience or vexation.

I left the house without hesitation, taking with me only my walking cane. One of the soldiers spoke French. He appeared to think my call to Antwerp was a mere formality, and that I might be allowed to return to Capellen the same evening.

Arriving in Antwerp, the soldiers conducted me to a hall situated near the kommandantur on des Recollets street. In this hall I saw a large number of people whose appearance was not very reassuring.[79] There were men and women who, judging by appearance, were all more or less bad characters.

Left alone by the two soldiers I made a close observation of this doubtful-looking crowd, and the non-commissioned officer who was in charge of them. I tried in vain to recall the place where I was, and so decided to secure the information from the non-commissioned officer. “Well,” said I to him. “What place is this? What am I brought here for? What do they wish to get from me? Do you know?” The non-commissioned officer did not answer. He just shrugged his shoulders as though he did not understand what I said. I thereupon gave him my card, together with a message for the major. A few minutes later an officer appeared and requested me to follow him. It turned out to be Major Von Wilm’s office into which I was now introduced.

“Mr. Beland,” he said, “I am desolate. New instructions have just arrived from Berlin and I must intern you.”

I had not time to express surprise or[80] utter a word of protest before he added: “But you will be a prisoner of honor. You will lodge here in Antwerp at the Grand Hotel, and you will be well treated.”

“But this,” I said, “does not suit me. First of all, my wife and family are not aware of what is happening to me. In any event I must go back and inform them of my predicament and obtain the clothing I shall need at this hotel.”

Visibly embarrassed through being unable to grant my request even for one hour the major was unable to reply at once. He pondered, walked a few paces in front of his desk, then what was Prussian in the man asserted itself and he said: “No, sir, I cannot permit you to return to Capellen. You may write to madame; tell her what has happened, and I will forward the letter by messenger.” This was done.

The major made every effort to convince me that my detention would be of short duration; that all that was required was evidently to establish my quality as a practising physician; that as soon as documentary proof of this could be placed in the hands of the German authorities I should be liberated and restored to my family.


Antwerpen, 21./5. 15.

Werten Herr Beland!

In diesem Moment erhalte ich Ihren freundlichen Brief vom 19. Ich hoffe, daß Ihre Vorladung beim Meldeamt ein befriedigendes Resultat gehabt hat; ich habe nochmals mit dem Vorstand des Meldeamtes gesprochen und höre, daß Sie diese Unannehmlichkeiten einer Denunziation zu verdanken haben.

Die Sache ist jetzt in Ordnung und wird sich nicht wiederholen.–


Von J. Wilm


Antwerp, May 21st, 1915.

Dear M. Beland!

I receive at this moment your kind letter of the 19th.

I hope that your appearance before the Police Bureau has had a satisfactory outcome; I have spoken once more with the head of the Police Control office and I learn that you owe this inconvenience to a denunciation and it will never occur again.


(signed) Von J. Wilm


One can easily come to believe what one fervently desires. I deluded myself with the hope that my sojourn in this hotel was only temporary.

A young officer was ordered to accompany me to the Grand Hotel. On the way he allowed me to stop at a stationer’s store long enough to buy a few books. Shortly afterwards we arrived at the hotel.

Every public hall had been converted into military offices. The officer who accompanied me, having exchanged a few words with some of the soldiers, the latter glanced at me as though I were a curious animal.

“He must be an Englishman–yes, he’s English, all right,” several of those repeated in turn, all the time staring at me unsympathetically.

Finally I was conducted to the topmost floor of the hotel and there shown into a room. I was locked in and a sentry kept guard outside. My jailers had the extreme kindness to inform me that I must take[82] my meals in my room; that I must pay for them and also pay the rent of the room. His German Majesty refused to feed his prisoner of honor!

On the following day, Friday, June 4, my wife arrived at the hotel, more dead than alive. She was, as one may easily imagine, in a state of great nervousness. Before coming she had asked and obtained permission to occupy the room with me and share my imprisonment. Well, as one should bear all things philosophically, and as we were in war times, as many millions of people were much worse off than we might be at this hotel, we accepted the inevitable and settled down to our present little annoyance with perfect resignation.

On the following Saturday the children came to visit us. We saw them enter the courtyard on their way to apply for a permit to see us. As they waited we hailed them from the window. Two soldiers immediately rushed from the office and addressed us with bitter invective because we had dared to speak to our own children and because the children had been[83] “audacious” enough to speak to us! What a terrible provocation that children should exchange greetings with their parents!

The children were cavalierly ejected from the courtyard and we saw them no more that day. But on the following morning, by special permission, they were allowed to speak for a few minutes with us. The same day, at noon, the major visited us in our room, transformed into a jail cell.

His face was gloomy. His whole bearing betrayed much anxiety and uneasiness. He brought us bad news.

“I am desolate,” he said again. “I am heart-broken, but Mr. Beland must leave to-day without fail for Germany.”

Imagine the dismay of my wife and of myself at this abrupt announcement!

I ventured to protest. I reminded the major of the assurances he had previously given me. I repeated to him that in my quality as a physician I ought not to be deprived of my liberty. I asked him why was it that the competent authorities at Berlin had not been informed of the medical[84] services I had been rendering at the hospital and to the civil population since the beginning of the war? Altogether I made a very strong plea in protest against the execution of the latest order.

Perturbed and embarrassed the major mumbled some sort of an explanation. The instructions had “come from someone higher in authority than himself”; he had “tried to explain my case to them,” but they “would not hear him”; “all the British subjects in Germany and occupied territory were to be interned without delay.” The major assumed an air of haughtiness I had not noticed hitherto.

“At two o’clock this afternoon you will have to depart,” he said. “A non-commissioned officer will accompany you to Berlin and thence to Ruhleben.”

Ruhleben is the internment camp for civilians of British nationality. The shadow of a very real sorrow pervaded that room. I did not know what to say. Two hours only remained in which my wife and I might be together. She persisted in her entreaties that she might bear me company[85] to Germany, only to meet with an absolute refusal every time.

The Major had the delicacy (?) to inform her that her company, even to the station merely, was not desirable!

Punctually at two o’clock on June 6 a non-commissioned officer stood in the room to which during the past three days we had become reconciled, as to a new little home where the children, living only a few miles away, might visit us once or twice a week.

All was declared ready for my departure. It was a solemn moment, and profoundly sad. My wife and I were separated. I did not know then–and it was perhaps better–that I should never see her again in this world.

At three o’clock the train arrived at Brussels, where we had to wait for an hour to connect with the express which ran from Lille to Libau in Russia.

By four o’clock we were steaming at a good speed in the direction of Berlin, passing through the country sights of Belgium. We crossed through Louvain, which had been burned, and through a large number[86] of towns and villages which showed the effects of bombardment and other horrors of war; thence through Liege, Aix-la-Chapelle, and Cologne, where we arrived at about nine o’clock.



Overcome by the tidings of what was to be my fate I had no inclination for lunch before I left Antwerp. In the evening I was seized by the pangs of hunger, and as there was a dining-car on the train I suggested to my guardian that we should take dinner.

My companion, however, did not understand one word either of English or French. I was unable to speak German at that time so our only mode of communication was by gesture and signs. The spectacle must have been quite comical to an onlooker. Finally I made the man understand that I wanted something to eat. In the dining-car we met with little encouragement. I understood the conductor to explain that the tables were reserved exclusively for officers and persons accompanying[88] them. As my escort was but a non-commissioned officer we were politely but firmly refused refreshment.

At Cologne our every attempt to reach the station restaurant failed. The place was overcrowded, and my guardian naturally was very apprehensive that I might escape amid the throng. In this event he would have been severely punished. There was nothing to be done, so we returned to the train.

What a night was spent in that compartment among German travelers, taciturn or snoring!

Happily the nights in June are short. Soon dawn appeared radiant. I marveled at this wonderful reawakening of nature. As early as four o’clock I was able to resume my reading.

At nine o’clock we reached Berlin and I saw for the first time the capital of the German Empire. On the station platform a man whose name I was never able to ascertain glided beside us. He was dressed in civilian clothes, and after exchanging a few words with the non-commissioned[89] officer it became manifest that he had assumed charge of the party. Outside the station this civilian, in all probability an officer of high rank, motioned me to get into an automobile. Then, addressing me in excellent French, he said: “Is this your first visit to Berlin?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“Berlin is a very beautiful city,” he asserted.

I made no reply. We proceeded to drive through the streets–where to, I did not know. I had been under the impression that I was to be conducted to Ruhleben, the internment camp for civilians. I wondered whether I was being conveyed to a hotel or a boarding house, where prisoners en route to the camp were temporarily lodged. My chief hope was that I might obtain some food. It was now more than twenty-four hours since I had anything to eat. On our way to Berlin the non-commissioned officer had nibbled some bread he had in his knapsack, but I had no opportunity to break my fast.

The automobile was passing along a[90] beautiful avenue. “This is Unter Den Linden, the finest avenue in Berlin,” said my new companion. One can be anti-German, and at the same time acknowledge that this thoroughfare is a charming one to behold. It stretches from the Brandenburg Gate to the Imperial Palace on the river Spree.

We passed the Imperial Palace and immediately afterwards turned into narrower streets. After a drive of about fifteen minutes we arrived in front of a huge building whose walls were a dirty grey. It was, as the reader will have guessed, the jail. I had arrived at my destination.



We were in front of the Stadtvogtei. It is a prison well-known in Germany. In times of peace it lodges persons who are awaiting trial before the Court of Assizes, and to it political prisoners are consigned. It is situated on Dirksen street, about two hundred yards distant from the Alexandre Square, and adjoins the police headquarters. It is of immense construction, divided into triangular sections.

We halted at the front entrance and a few moments later we were admitted into an office where we found two soldiers, one a sergeant-major, and the other a non-commissioned officer. Up to this time I was not aware of the character of the place to which I had been brought. In fact, I was under the impression that it might, after all, be an hotel reserved for prisoners passing[92] through Berlin. I had always in mind the information which had been given to me in Antwerp, namely, that I was to be interned at Ruhleben. I imagined this was a mere halting place where I should be given something to eat and afterwards taken to my ultimate destination.

I looked around, first examined the office and then observed the two soldiers. My first companion, the non-commissioned officer, and the civilian entered into conversation with the two soldiers. The non-commissioned officer took a document from his pocket, transferred it to the sergeant-major, who examined and signed it, and then gave it back to the non-commissioned officer.

The man in mufti, whose rank or profession I never knew, shook hands with me, while the two soldiers in the office stood to attention, their attitude being one of mingled respect and fear which is familiar to all who have visited Germany. The man then left me.

The next instant the non-commissioned officer invited me to accompany him along[93] a dark corridor, thence up two flights of stairs to a cell which was already occupied by three prisoners.

I was at a loss to know what was to become of me. A confusion of ideas crossed my mind, but I could not now define any one in particular. I addressed my new companions in French, but they did not understand me. I next spoke in English and this time I had the pleasure of knowing that I was understood.

“Are you English?” I enquired.

“Yes,” they said.

“But what are you doing here?”

“Here,” they answered with a sad smile, “we are in jail!”

“In jail!” I repeated. “And I?”

“And you,” they said with the same sad smile, “you also are in jail!”

The names of the three English citizens I learned soon afterwards. The first was a Mr. Robinson, a jockey, who had lived in Germany for many years. He spoke German perfectly. The second was a Mr. Aaron, a naturalized British subject, a broker by profession, born in Austria, but[94] who lived in Berlin. The third was a Mr. Stuhr, of Antwerp, who spoke German well, but French and English imperfectly. He was, I think, a machinist by trade.

I asked my companions if it were possible to obtain something to eat, explaining at the same time that for the past twenty-four hours I had been without a particle of food.

“Well,” said Robinson, “bread was distributed this morning at eight o’clock. There will not be any further distribution until to-morrow morning at the same hour.” It was less than encouraging.

“But,” I said, “there must be means of getting nourishment. Surely they will not deny my request when they know that I have been without food for so long. There must be a means to get food of some kind, somehow?”

That same sad smile and their demeanor told me as convincingly as any words could that my hopes were useless. They knew from their experience that I would get nothing to eat until the next morning.

“However,” said one of them,[95] “I have some bread left over from this morning. I will give it to you, and Robinson will make some coffee.”

Robinson, a short, good fellow, his sleeves rolled up to the elbow, brought from under the table an alcohol lamp and proceeded to the making of coffee. What a contrast to the comfort of the large hotels!

At about half-past nine o’clock that day I took my first meal in jail. It consisted of a crust of black bread and a cup of coffee, without milk or sugar. But to one as famished as I was, even this seemed a feast, and I expressed the gratitude I felt to my new companions for their kindness.

As I sat at the table, eating my frugal repast, my companions paced around the room. It was really a cell. An iron-barred window about six feet above the floor ran up the rest of the wall to the ceiling. From where I sat, the sky was visible above the walls of the prison yard. In the cell were four beds, made up as bunks. Placed at the table from which I was eating were four small wooden seats, without backs or[96] arms. The walls were whitewashed, and in the centre of the massive iron door was a grating which would permit the guards to observe everything that took place in the chamber. There was a daily inspection, at about ten o’clock in the morning. The sergeant-major appeared and going from floor to floor he ordered the door of every cell opened in turn. He would scrutinize every occupant haughtily and then make his departure.

Seated at the table, my back towards the door, I was absorbed with my own thoughts–and my black bread–when Robinson, gliding towards me, lightly pulled my sleeve to invite me to get up. Realizing that something was going on behind me I half turned and I saw the sergeant-major, more Prussian-like than ever, standing in the doorway.

After we all had risen, he cried out in a stentorian voice: “Guten morgen!” It sounded to my ears more like an insult than a morning salutation. “What did he say?” I asked Mr. Aaron.

“Merely good morning,” he replied and[97] at once added: “But every time this man bids you good morning, it sounds as though he were saying: ‘Go to the devil!’” He was Sergeant-Major Gotte.



That section of the Stadtvogtei wherein I was confined could give shelter to two hundred and fifty prisoners in about one hundred and fifty cells. Some of the cells contained as many as eight prisoners and a large number of them did not measure more than 12, 13, or 15 cubic metres. The scantiness of these cavities forced the occupants to keep the window constantly open if they would have sufficient air to breathe.

The sections, as I say, were triangular in shape, the open space inside the triangle forming a yard, where prisoners were allowed to take a few hours’ exercise in the afternoon. Each and every cell had a window which opened on to the yard. Inside, a corridor followed the three sides of the triangle, and the windows in these corridors,[99] which opened outwardly, were opaque, so that one’s view was blocked entirely. The windows were all iron barred. The building was one of five storeys counting the ground floor. On this floor were situated the dark cells or dungeons of which there were fourteen. The windows were darkened with outside shutters. Here were confined English prisoners who escaped from the internment camp of Ruhleben, and were recaptured on their way to Holland or Switzerland. According to an arrangement between Great Britain and Germany on the subject of punishment to be inflicted on civil prisoners who tried to escape from their respective internment camps no prisoner was to be kept in close confinement for longer than two weeks after recapture.

The Kommandantur of Berlin, and particularly Capt. Wolff, who appeared to be the “big gun” on the aforesaid Kommandantur, decided to place their own interpretation on this clause of the agreement. It was at about this time that we saw carpenters at work in the yard making more[100] window shutters of the kind I have already mentioned, and afterwards whenever one or more British prisoners were overtaken after an attempt to escape from the camp they were each thrown into a dungeon where for four days they were kept in absolute darkness, and on a diet of bread and water. On the fifth day the window-shutter would be lowered sufficient to admit a little light, and soup such as other prisoners had took the place of water and was served with the bread. The prisoners were then subjected to four more days of close confinement in total darkness, at the end of which time they were again given a little light and the extra soup. The ordeal with four more days in the dungeon, making fourteen days altogether. Then these poor fellows were set free, that is to say they were free as we were–allowed to move around the cells from eight o’clock in the morning until seven o’clock in the evening, the monotony being broken by a few hours’ exercise during the afternoon.

Prison life was supremely monotonous. The nearest approach to recreation was the[101] “privilege” of watching other prisoners passing in and out. About ten prisoners were discharged every day, and about the same number were admitted.

The section of the jail in which we were confined was under the primary management of the Kommandantur of Berlin. The Kommandantur was represented at the jail by an officer who remained there during the whole period of my incarceration. His name was Lober Lieutenant Block. Under that officer was a sergeant-major, and under the sergeant-major were seven non-commissioned officers and a doorkeeper, ranking as a non-commissioned officer. Two of the non-commissioned officers occupied an office on the ground floor. The others were assigned to duty on the several floors where they acted as inspectors or watchmen. The sergeant-major was responsible for the general superintendence of the jail and he made an inspection every day. As to the head officer his dignity was such that he would not condescend to pass through the[102] corridors more than two or three times a week.

A mania which appears to be general among German officers and non-commissioned officers alike is to be both loud and violent every time they speak to subordinates or prisoners. Not a single day would pass without the walls ringing with the echoes of the cries and threats these men uttered to certain prisoners.

The poor Poles! What invective and abuse they had to endure!

I mention the Poles specially because from Poland there passed during my three years of captivity to the prison of the Stadtvogtei a greater number of prisoners than from any other place. Of two hundred and fifty prisoners quite two-thirds were of Polish origin. The other prisoners included English, French, Italians, Russians, Portuguese; in fact, all the nations at war with Germany were represented. At times there were Arabs, Hindoos, African negroes, Japanese, and Chinese.

What may surprise the reader is the fact that the four central powers[103] themselves–Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and Turkey–held constantly some of their own subjects in this prison. Germany never had less than from five to ten of her subjects in the jail. They were mostly political prisoners who were reputed to be a menace to the security of the German empire. I shall have occasion later on to speak about two prisoners, in particular, Socialist members of the Reichstag. But more than Germany and her allies and the countries with whom they were at war were represented in this prison. At different times, prisoners belonging to the neutral nations of Europe–Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Switzerland, and Spain–were guests at the Stadtvogtei.

How was this? the reader may ask. It is as easy to explain the imprisonment of these people as to explain the incarceration of German subjects. A Dane or a Hollander would visit Berlin on business or for other purposes. He would naturally frequent the cafés, and there enter into conversation with some Germans. If he imprudently ventured to criticize German[104]y’s foreign policy or her conduct of military or naval operations his fate was sealed. He would be allowed to return to his hotel; he would sleep peacefully the rest of the night, quite ignorant of the ugly fact that a sword was suspended over his head; but at seven o’clock the next morning, he would inevitably be called upon to follow a constable to the nearest station, whence he would be delivered over to the Stadtvogtei, the veritable clearing house of Germany. He would be ignorant of the cause of his imprisonment, and only after days, perhaps weeks, of protest and correspondence with the legation or embassy of his country, would he be submitted to an examination by the gentlemen (?) of the Kommandantur. If, eventually, he succeeded in regaining his liberty, he would be taken from jail direct to the frontier, without having the opportunity even to call back at the hotel for his personal baggage.



The manner in which war prisoners and interned civilians were fed and treated in Germany gave rise, as we all know, to bitter complaints and more bitter controversies in the newspaper press of the allied countries. The repeated complaints of the prisoners themselves, in their letters to friends in Great Britain, and through the United States Embassy is a matter of record. Let me relate an incident which is not lacking in interest: Among the Englishmen who were interned at the Stadtvogtei was a Mr. F. T. Moore, civil engineer, who was in Luxemburg when war was declared. He was captured when that principality was overrun by the German troops, and subsequently sent to Treve. After several months’ solitary confinement he was court-martialed on a charge of[106] espionage. He was condemned to the prison at Berlin, and here we met and became friends. At the outset Mr. Moore wrote a post-card to his wife in England telling her the condition of his health and incidentally referring to the kind of food that was supplied to us. His description was something of a masterpiece. “The food we are getting here,” he wrote, “is unspeakable. It is enough to keep a man from dying, but it is not sufficient to keep a man alive.”

It required, one may readily imagine, a certain courage to send such a statement through the mail. On the following day the censor himself called at the jail, and carried the card in question direct to Mr. Moore’s cell. It was represented that Mr. Moore had committed a grave imprudence in writing to England in this manner, and when Mr. Moore submitted that there was no exaggeration, that it was the truth and nothing but the truth, the censor retorted that if Germany did not provide more substantial and better food for her prisoners it was due solely to the British blockade.

The jail’s menu as I knew it during the[107] three years I was interned varied very little. It consisted of one piece of black bread weighing eight ounces, distributed each morning at eight o’clock. At eleven a.m. we were served with what was ridiculously termed the “mittag essen,” that is to say, “the mid-day meal.” It consisted of what they were pleased to call porridge or soup. At five o’clock in the afternoon the acting-officer would return, this time accompanied by two Poles, who would distribute another variety of soup. There is soup “and” soup. The liquid which they served to us did not belong to the category of real soup. The ingredients were varied, generally they consisted of turnips, cabbage, and sometimes a few beans. It was never good, but sometimes it was worse than others. Generally it was bad in the morning and always worse at the afternoon serving. Apparently, the Poles suffered more than we did. On many an occasion one of these unfortunate men has come and begged a biscuit or a piece of bread from me.


“The soup we get,” he would say, “is nothing but colored water.”

I myself never ventured to taste the afternoon soup. The color and odor were alike too repulsive. I believe it was rejected by all the Englishmen interned here.

In 1915 the economic conditions of Germany continued relatively favorable. There was, apparently, nothing alarming in the situation. Prisoners were permitted to give orders once each day for provisions of all kinds, and the orders would be filled to the extent the prisoner had money to pay for the same. But early in 1916 a significant change took place. The citizens were then placed upon strict rations, and in March notices were posted in the corridors of the jail to the effect that efforts to obtain victuals from outside were forbidden. The menu I have described thenceforward became inevitable for each and every one of us.

I at once communicated with the authorities in England–more particularly with Sir George Perley, Canadian High Commissioner in London, telling them of the[109] situation to which we were reduced as regarded food. But we were restricted to such abbreviated formula that it was impossible to represent the situation as it actually existed–the situation, that is to say, of relative famine. Exceeding care had to be taken, or our letters would never have passed the censor. We each adopted what seemed to be the best measures in the circumstances to obtain relief from the painfully meagre prison fare. The postal service was, not unnaturally, very uncertain and irregular between the two countries. We entertained the hope, however, that at the end of three weeks, at the latest, foodstuffs would reach us from England. But it was three months ere the welcome parcels containing the much needed provisions were delivered at the jail. During that period of waiting we were able to realize something of the hunger the poor Poles suffered at all times, for with very few exceptions they were deprived of outside relief. It would require many volumes to faithfully relate the tortures of hunger these interned Poles went through.[110] Many times I saw one of their number delve into a garbage can and extract therefrom potato peelings that had been cast there. The Poles would put salt upon the peelings and devour them with avidity.

Then, at about this time, a notice was posted on the wall in the little triangular yard notifying all whom it might concern that henceforth potato peelings must be deposited in a receptacle placed at the end of the corridor. The peelings, we were informed, now had a special value, and they were to be guarded as feed for the cattle, more particularly the cows. On the day this notice appeared, five or six of us–all British prisoners–were engaged in the kitchen cell preparing a stew. Suddenly the sergeant-major appeared in our midst. He was a quick-moving, nervous man; he invariably talked in a loud voice and gesticulated vehemently.

“Have you read the notice that has just been posted up?” he demanded.[111] “From now on you will not be allowed to throw away the potato peelings, as you have been in the habit of doing. Fodder for the cattle has become very scarce and you must guard the potato peelings, all of you, and deposit them in the receptacle you will find placed for that purpose at the end of the corridor.”

The sergeant-major waited for a reply to, or a comment upon, the new order, but we kept our interest concentrated on the dishes in front of us and remained mute. He glared at the group and said: “Understand me, gentlemen; understand me well, for I hope you will not force me to inflict punishment upon you through disobedience of the new rule.”

Another period of silence followed and then one of the company stepped forward. He certainly had a keen sense of humor, and was not devoid of courage. “Mr. Sergeant-Major,” he said, “I beg your pardon, but I eat the peelings from all the potatoes I receive.”

We choked back the laughter the incident provoked, and the sergeant-major, at a loss to interpret the man’s observation, looked first at one and then another. But we maintained our gravity, and, apparently[112] undecided whether to laugh himself at the joke or to give vent to wrath the sergeant-major turned on his heel and walked from the cell. I wonder–did he understand?

From June, 1916, to the date of my liberation, I received, in quantities just sufficient, provisions which were regularly forwarded to me from England, and sometimes from Canada. I have frequently been asked if the parcels which were directed to me from time to time arrived at their destination? To this I am able to reply, “Yes, in a general way.” It has been proved that the postal employés of Germany committed fewer thefts than were committed on the railways. I would sometimes receive a parcel which had been opened, and from which some of the contents had been extracted. Some parcels that I know were sent never reached me. It was easy for us to check the delivery of parcels as each contained a number.

Individual prisoners sometimes received parcels that had been sent express by railway. As a rule they were larger than[113] could be sent through the postal service, and only very rarely did these parcels reach their destination whole. Almost every time they had been broken open and four, five or six pounds of the contents were missing. Invariably it was a case of theft. It may not be inopportune to state here that in 1917 some of the German newspapers reported that claims against the German express companies for loss aggregated thirty-five million marks, whilst in the preceding year these claims amounted to only four or five million marks. This is evidence that there was an enormous increase in the number and extent of the robberies in 1917.

In 1916, we obtained permission from the inspector of prisons to place a gas stove in one of the cells, and here between eleven o’clock and noon one might see the prisoners of British nationality gather for the purpose of cooking their mid-day meal. The management of this kitchen was confided to one man of our choice and each prisoner making use of the stove contributed a small sum of money towards the[114] cost of the gas. There was an overseer named to guard against the waste of gas. He kept a quantity of hot water constantly on hand for the use of the prisoners. The water was sold at the rate of one pfennig per quart. The Polish prisoners, in the winter months especially, would frequently come to buy hot water. The poor fellows had to resort to drinking hot water to stimulate circulation in their empty stomachs. Every British prisoner was besieged in his cell every day by beggars. The Poles in turn besought bread to eat. I was a witness every day of the never-failing generosity of British captives and there must be to-day thousands of Poles who, after passing through this jail, retain an imperishable memory of the charity and compassion of men who, fortunate in receiving victuals from outside, cheerfully shared them with fellow prisoners less fortunate. These Poles, especially, now that they are free to return to their own devastated country, must have nothing but words of praise for those who did all they possibly could in very dire circumstances[115] to alleviate their sufferings and hardships.

Naturally, it was impossible to attend to more than the most urgent needs of anyone. There were, on an average, from ten to fifteen British subjects confined at one time in this cell, while at no time were there ever fewer than one hundred and fifty Poles. The British authorities at Ruhleben camp deserve a special word of praise for the never-failing interest they showed towards not only the prisoners of British nationality in Stadtvogtei jail but also towards the Poles, and the deported Belgians particularly. During the time I was at the head of the relief committee of the jail I received on many an occasion very large cases of biscuits and other provisions for distribution amongst the most needy of all subjects under confinement. I had as an assistant in this work, Mr. Hinterman, a Swiss, to whom I shall have occasion to refer subsequently.



During the three years of my captivity in the jail at Berlin I frequently had occasion to exercise my profession as a medical doctor. Medical care was supposed to be given to the prisoners by an old practitioner of Berlin, a Dr. Becker. He visited the jail every day between the hours of nine and ten o’clock in the morning. Sick prisoners, accompanied by a non-commissioned officer, went to him in his office, which was situate in a section of the building adjoining the jail proper. Exactly at ten o’clock the aged doctor would leave his office, not to return until the following morning. For twenty-four hours every day I was the only physician in the section of the jail I occupied. The adjoining sections, which were likewise of triangular shape, were occupied by German soldiers[117] who had been accused of breach of discipline. On several occasions I was called upon to give medical attention to some of these soldiers while they were awaiting trial before a court-martial. During the daytime I was free to visit these patients, going from cell to cell. At night, however, I was locked in my own cell like the other prisoners, and if something happened in the neighboring section a non-commissioned officer would arouse and conduct me to the place where my professional services were required. This happened very often. I was in this way not infrequently called to attend to a prisoner who had attempted suicide. In no fewer than ten instances it was a case of actual suicide, committed in some cases with a revolver; in other cases with a razor and sometimes by strangulation. No experience was more appalling than to hear in the dead of night the report of a gun. The walls would vibrate, the prisoners would be aroused from sleep, and one would ask the other who now had preferred a sudden end to a continuance of misery. A few minutes after[118] the report my cell door would be opened by a non-commissioned officer. He would request me to follow him in order to ascertain the cause of death or render medical aid to an injured prisoner, as the case might be.

Services which I rendered to prisoners of all nationalities, and oftentimes to non-commissioned officers, placed me in a favorable position with the guards. There was no attempt to restrict the freedom of my movements inside the prison, and in this way I was able to aid less fortunate prisoners, either with medical attention or by providing food where the need was most urgent. I received cordial co-operation from my fellow captives, more especially from the English-speaking. One had only to make an appeal on behalf of a prisoner to at once receive from others tea, biscuits, margarine or any little delicacy that was available. No sacrifice was too great if these men could only relieve, if only in a small measure, the distress of their fellows.

One of the most pathetic cases which[119] came within my personal observation was that of Dan Williamson. Twice he had escaped from Ruhleben camp. After his first recapture he was interned at the Stadtvogtei, where he remained for about a year. Then he was sent back to Ruhleben camp. A few months later he escaped again. In company with a companion named Collins he succeeded in passing the German sentries and was on his way towards Holland when he and his companion were arrested. They were brought to the jail in Berlin. At that time recaptured prisoners were being punished by solitary confinement in dark dungeons for two weeks at a time. Williamson and Collins were placed in separate dark cells–two of the fourteen with the dark shutters which I have previously referred to. One day, at about five o’clock in the afternoon, a terrible noise was heard. This was succeeded by what appeared to be the pounding of the walls. Threats were overheard. A non-commissioned officer appeared at the door of my cell and informed me that Williamson had just attempted to commit[120] suicide; that he had been found covered with blood, and that a blood-stained razor with which he had attempted the deed had been taken from him. Meanwhile the noise of the blows against the wall of the neighboring cell continued. My informant said: “Williamson is making all this noise.” I reflected that a man of so much apparent vigor was not in immediate danger.

At the request of the non-commissioned officer I proceeded to the door of Williamson’s cell. I was attempting to speak to him through the small aperture in the middle of the door when my words were interrupted by a heavy blow on the door from the inside. Instinctively I withdrew and decided that it would not be wise to open the door at the moment. Williamson evidently had a weapon of some kind in his possession, and it was supposed he had succeeded in tearing off one of the legs from the iron bedstead in the cell. I advised the non-commissioned officer to telephone to the police station for two constables, and a few minutes afterwards[121] these men appeared accompanied by two other non-commissioned officers of the jail. I suggested that we should first open the door of Collins’ cell, which was immediately adjoining the one occupied by Williamson. This done, I advised Collins to stand on the threshold of Williamson’s cell and try to appease his friend. Then the door was opened. Williamson leaped from his cell like an enraged tiger let loose from a cage. He struck his friend Collins, knocking him to the ground, and he would have beaten the fellow unmercifully had not the whole party of us seized Williamson and overpowered him. He was like a man who had lost his reason. I was about to speak to him when he cried out: “Give me my razor so that I may end it all.” His clothes were covered with blood. On his right arm was a deep wound, though not a long one. It had manifestly been inflicted with some sharp instrument.

While the others held him I obtained the necessary dressing and at once gave the wound the surgical treatment it required and dressed it. Then the constables[122] handcuffed him, carried him into a distant padded-cell, locked the door and left him for the rest of the night. Before I left him, however, I asked if there was anything I might possibly do for him. Williamson, poor fellow, looked at me with a blank stare and said nothing. I urged my request, but it was in vain. He would not say one word.

My mind was preoccupied with the man until the next morning, when I asked one of the non-commissioned officers to accompany me to the cell where Williamson had been placed. Arriving there we found the prisoner standing in the middle of the cell. He fixed his haggard eyes upon us, but he remained mute to my “Good morning.”

“Well, how are you feeling now?” I asked him.

No answer.

“Did you sleep?”

Again there was no answer.

“Come, come, my dear, good fellow,” I said,[123] “cheer up; I have brought you some warm tea and some biscuits. Do you wish for anything else? If so I may be allowed to bring it to you.”

Williamson still stood silent, with his cold stare fixed upon me, unmindful of all I said to him. I placed the cup of tea and the biscuits on the mattress, which was the only commodity in the cell, and once more I tried to make him understand me, but it was of no avail. His lips were as though sealed. And so we left him–the officer and I. A report was at once made to the prison doctor, Dr. Becker, who, when he arrived at nine o’clock that morning ordered Williamson into hospital. Three weeks afterwards he came back to the jail, looking much better. But the same night I was again called to his cell by a non-commissioned officer. Williamson lay stretched on the floor near his bed suffering from an acute fit of epilepsy. After we had him calmed down we placed him on the bed and I talked with him for an hour. He was calm and self-contained. He gave me news of some British prisoners of war–some of whom were wounded–whom he had met at the Alexandrine Street Hospital[124] where he had been a patient himself during the three preceding weeks. It was then that I resolved to apply to the German authorities for permission to serve at this hospital as surgeon to the British prisoners. I communicated my intention to Williamson.

“You may make your application, doctor,” he said, “but it will be refused.”

“Why do you say that?” I inquired.

“Because these people will know that, in the position you seek, you will see too many things and get to know too much.”

Williamson’s prediction was right. My request, made a few days later, was refused. In the meantime Williamson had another fit of epilepsy. He was at that time in the cell of a Mr. Hall, another Englishman. It was between five and six o’clock in the afternoon. Non-commissioned officers hastened to the cell, and, frightened by the serious turn Williamson’s illness had taken, they made a joint report to the officer in charge, who at once interviewed Dr. Becker on the subject. The outcome was that Williamson[125] was released from the jail. I never was able to ascertain where he was taken. I believe he was sent to an asylum for the insane, and from there he would be exchanged.

One night we were awakened by a series of detonations coming from outside the jail. What could it be, we wondered. There we were right in the heart of Berlin, and there was unmistakably a serious disturbance of some kind. Was it a riot? Was it the noise of an encounter between the gendarmes and a band of workmen on strike? We could obtain no answer to these questions at the time, but soon afterwards I was informed of what had taken place. Shortly after hearing the noise of the first shots I was called from my cell to ascertain the cause of the death of a soldier who had been brought from the battle-front to Berlin to be locked up at Stadtvogtei pending trial before a court-martial. This refractory soldier, the guards reported, had behaved himself well all the way from Flanders to Berlin, but directly he reached the front of the jail he became[126] unruly, broke from his guards, and escaped. The guards went in pursuit. There was an exciting chase around the walls of the jail, which are seventy-five feet high. The fugitive soldier was gaining on his pursuers when one of the latter fired on him. Thus it was a dead soldier, and not a live prisoner, that the guards brought into the jail. He had been struck by five bullets, and the only duty I was called to perform was to declare the man dead. I did this in the presence of the doorkeeper, the night watchman, and the two guards. Early the next morning, aroused by some commotion, we all stood on our chairs and stretched our necks in order to get a glimpse from the windows of what was going on below. The men had come to remove to the morgue the body of the soldier who had been killed by one of his former companions-in-arms.



Among the interesting prisoners I knew in the Stadtvogtei during my long captivity there are several who deserve special mention. Early in 1916 there were frequently heard proceeding from a section of the jail near the division where I was confined the tones of soft music. For a time we did not know whether the music came from the outside or the inside of the building. Conjectures were in order. Some of my companions believed the music was played by a talented violinist who was held prisoner as we were. Others ventured the opinion that the sweet strains emanated from a house in the immediate neighborhood of the prison. One day the Sergeant-Major informed me during his tour of inspection that I was to be permitted to visit a French prisoner confined in an adjoining division of the jail. He[128] said the prisoner was known as Professor Henri Marteau. The name, I at once recalled, was that of a celebrated French musician whom I heard during his visit to Canada some twenty years ago.

“Whenever you feel inclined to call on the Professor,” the Sergeant-Major said, “I will accompany you to his cell; but I have to inform you that while you are making your call the door of the cell will be locked upon you, as the Professor is condemned to solitary confinement. It is to be permitted him to return your call, and if he chooses to do so, your door will likewise be locked while you are together.”

Not unnaturally, I was very anxious to meet this distinguished Frenchman and on the following day I asked the Sergeant-Major if he would be kind enough to conduct me to his cell. I found the Professor one of the most charming and interesting men one could wish to meet. He was then about forty-five years of age, and manifestly an artist to his finger-tips. This is the story he told to me:

At the outbreak of the war he was[129] practising as a professor of the violin at the Berlin Conservatory of Music, and as a French subject, he was ordered interned at Holzminden, in the internment camp designated for civilians of French nationality. A few months later, by the express order of the Emperor, he was granted his liberty in Berlin. Mr. Marteau had married an Alsatian lady, whose sympathies, like those of so many of the people of her Province, were known to be entirely with France. The professor and his wife were admitted to the best society of Berlin, and shortly after Bulgaria had entered the war, Madame Marteau, at a society gathering, expressed the sense of her displeasure at Bulgaria’s stand. Her words were reported to the military authorities, and a few days afterwards two detectives called at the professor’s residence with an order that he and his wife were to be interned. Madame Marteau was taken to an internment camp reserved for women, and the professor was removed to the Stadtvogtei.


“But, my dear sir, why were you interned–you, a professor of the Berlin Conservatory of Music?” I asked him.

“Merely because of my wife’s remarks,” he answered with a delicate smile in which it was impossible to detect the slightest shadow of reproach.

The day following our interview the professor returned my call. He was, of course, accompanied to my cell by a non-commissioned officer, who, according to instructions, locked us in the room together. Mr. Marteau brought with him his marvelous instrument upon which he had been granted the privilege to play during his imprisonment. It was his music which had charmed our ears on previous days.

On this occasion he was kind enough to entertain me with several selections from Bach and Gounod. The Poles, as is well known, have a passion for music, as, indeed, have the Russians, and they flocked to the windows and were charmed by the enchanting music. Every selection was heartily applauded. The entertainment caused a pleasant sensation in the prison, and when the professor visited me again the next day, there was the same enthusiastic[131] audience to enjoy his masterly performance.

Suddenly it was interrupted by the appearance of the Sergeant-Major at the door of my cell. Ignoring the professor’s courteous bow, he cried in a harsh voice: “This cannot be allowed; you have no permission to play here.” The officer left as abruptly as he came, and the door was closed with a bang.

I must be excused if I do not report the remarks that were made at the ill-mannered behavior towards Professor Marteau, who was as refined as he was distinguished.

This worthy man was the father of two charming daughters, aged four and five years respectively, but in spite of his requests–repeated over and over again during his three months’ confinement in the Stadtvogtei–for the privilege of receiving visits from his children and for permission that they might call to see their mother, the Kommandantur categorically refused to grant the petition.

A few months afterwards Professor[132] Marteau was granted provisional liberty. He was permitted to leave the jail and go and reside in the village of Mecklembourg, where he had to report himself daily at the municipal hall; but his movements were confined to the radius of the village boundaries.

During our intercourse, I frequently expressed the hope that, after the termination of the war, we might have the pleasure of welcoming him on a return visit to Canada and the United States. I told him that he might be assured of the greatest triumph an artist of his outstanding talent could hope for.

Two other prisoners, both equally interesting, I had for companions–one for three months, and the other for five months. They were Messrs. Kluss and Borchard, socialistic members of the Reichstag. I did not get so well acquainted with Mr. Borchard as with Mr. Kluss; in the first place, because we were not together for so long, and secondly, because he was in solitary confinement for part of the time. However, I retain very pleasant[133] memories of Mr. Borchard, and I have been able to keep the copy he gave to me of a famous letter he addressed to the German Emperor. It was a masterpiece. In it he resumed all that a man of his talent and political faith could urge against the autocratic system of Germany. I do not know, of course, whether or not it was that letter which resulted in his liberation from prison.

With regard to Mr. Kluss, he remained in jail for what seemed a very long time. He was invariably friendly with every prisoner. He visited one cell after another and talked with every occupant. And his conversation was most interesting. He was a man of wide learning–a scholar, in fact. Often we discussed together the different political institutions of Germany. One incident in which he played an important part during his captivity is worthy of mention. Once a year the general commanding officer of Berlin made a visit of inspection at the jail. General Von Boehm, about seventy years of age, and deaf as a post, was the commanding officer[134] at this time. Well, one fine morning this high officer, surrounded by his myrmidons–one colonel, two majors, two captains, and a number of lieutenants–arrived at the jail. The clanking of their swords and spurs preceded them as they climbed the stairs and walked along the corridors. At each cell door the General would halt and ask each prisoner:

“Have you any complaint to make?”

When the question was addressed to me, I replied: “I submit I have just reason to complain, as a physician, of being interned, and as such I shall not cease from claiming my liberation.”

“Very well,” replied the General, and he continued his tour of inspection, repeating the one question at each cell. The majority of the prisoners made no reply, but when several of them answered: “Yes, I have a complaint to make,” the General said, “Very well then; go down into the yard.”

By the time he had concluded the inspection some twelve prisoners had answered the stereotyped question in the affirmative,[135] and they were assembled in the yard.

Amongst them was the Socialist Deputy Kluss. The General and his camarilla appeared in due course and the prisoners were invited to give voice to their complaints. Seemingly frightened, they all remained silent with the exception of Mr. Kluss. He stepped into the centre of the yard and there commenced to make a formidable arraignment of the German military authorities and the arbitrary regulations of which he said he was one of the victims. Kluss knew very well that General Von Boehm was deaf, and this gave him just reason to raise his voice. Thus we were all able to hear a veritable platform oration pronounced in a voice vibrant and penetrating. One may imagine how amused we prisoners were by this incident. The General went through the motions of listening to the whole discourse; he pretended to hear it, and would occasionally nod his head as though he quite approved of what was being said.

At one stage of his speech, Mr. Kluss likened the methods of the German military[136] authorities as they were directed against him to the worst barbarities of the Middle Ages. One of the officers accompanying the General endeavored to silence the speaker but it was of no avail. Nothing could stem the flow of the man’s eloquence!

When the address was ended, General von Boehm, who evidently had not heard a single word, merely remarked, “Yes, very well,” and was about to move away when Mr. Kluss obstructed his path and cried out: “What is the answer, General–give me an answer, please.”

The General, realizing that he was being addressed again, moved to one side and repeated, “Yes, quite so; very well; very well,” and this time passed on. We did not see him again.

Kluss received the congratulations of the German subjects who were with us and who believed they were the victims of a vicious system and a gross injustice on the part of their Government.

Incidentally, I may say that Kluss was a fervent admirer of Liebknecht.



The names of two prisoners, Maclinks and Kirkpatrick, recall to my mind one of the most tragic events of my prison life. Maclinks was already in the Berlin jail when I arrived in June, 1915. The door of his cell bore an indication that he was a British subject. He spoke English fluently, and if one may believe what he said of himself he was for several years the correspondent of the London Times at Vienna, where he lived. According to all initial appearances, Maclinks was a loyal British subject. He associated with the British prisoners, who in turn would visit him in his cell. He had great talent and intelligence.

Some months later there arrived at the prison a young Englishman named Russell. He had been arrested at his place of[138] residence in Brussels. A friendship immediately sprung up between Russell and Maclinks and they spent much of their time together. One fine day, or rather one bad day, Russell was peremptorily ordered to leave the prison for a destination which was not known to him. He was not allowed to take with him any of his books or papers.

“Put on your overcoat and hat, and follow me,” was the abrupt order given him by the officer at the door of his cell. A minute later and Russell had departed.

The incident aroused an intense feeling among us. What had happened? Why had Russell been ordered away without a minute’s notice? What added to our apprehension was the fact that at the bottom of the stairs on the ground floor we saw two armed sentries, and they accompanied Russell from the prison.

On this same day one of the Kommandantur’s officers, Captain Wolfe, had visited the jail, and it was known that while here he had an interview with Maclinks. We were getting very suspicious of Maclinks.[139] Why? Well, for an infinity of reasons, which I have not space here to enumerate. The British prisoners would have no more relations with him. Only one man continued to speak to him from time to time. He was a Mr. Kirkpatrick.

Confident, perhaps, that Kirkpatrick would continue to be his friend in any event, Maclinks several days afterwards made a confession. He showed Kirkpatrick the copy of a letter purporting to be the one he had sent to the military authorities, and in this letter Kirkpatrick read that Russell had been denounced by Maclinks as having been a spy in the employ of the British Government in Belgium. Kirkpatrick was more than amazed, but before he could make any observation, Maclinks explained that he was an officer in the reserve of the Austrian army, and that his conscience had prompted him to do what he considered to be his duty and denounce Russell. Kirkpatrick could no longer contain himself. He stood up and threatened that if Maclinks did not leave[140] his cell immediately he would throw him out.

The news quickly circulated through the prison, creating an atmosphere which is difficult to describe. The evening was very dismal. We all felt uneasy and depressed as though our every action was being spied upon. Who knew what might happen to anyone of us? It might be the fate of oblivion or it might be condemnation to execution. Life had become intolerable in the presence of this emissary of the enemy–Maclinks. On his side, existence was made so miserable for him that he finally requested to be removed, and a few weeks later he left the jail, never to return.

One noteworthy feature of this spying business in Germany is that the authorities can never trust, but are constantly suspicious of the spies they employ. Maclinks, it is true, was allowed to leave the Stadtvogtei, but he was not allowed his full liberty. Authentic information we were able to obtain subsequently was to the effect that he was moved from one prison to another.


Kirkpatrick, who was the oldest prisoner amongst us, was much liked and highly respected–he was in fact, as we often told him, our “guide, philosopher and friend.” And his Scottish humor was of the best quality.

For example, he would see two or three of us sitting together at table partaking of canned beef and bread, and very seriously he would say: “Really, boys, I cannot understand how you can be so unfeeling as to enjoy such luxuries when the poor German people are on the verge of starvation. Don’t you know, gentlemen, that you are here to purge a sentence a thousand times merited?”

It was the same Kirkpatrick who, on December 31st, when we asked him how he hoped to cross the threshold of the New Year, answered, “You will hear of me before to-morrow morning.” We all wondered what he meant. None of us had the slightest idea, but the answer came punctually, as he had predicted. At midnight, while the bells of the churches in the neighborhood marked the passing of the old[142] year, a window was heard to open in the darkness near us, and, as the last note of the bells died away, the first silence of the new year was broken by a stentorian voice singing “Rule Britannia!”

The patriotic hymn had scarcely ended when another window opened. It was that of the non-commissioned officer in charge of the prisoners, and he thundered forth an order for silence. I afterwards made inquiries amongst my prison companions to ascertain who it was that entertained and cheered us on the first of the New Year with the singing of this grand song, but I could not then obtain the information I sought. Then, at about nine o’clock, Kirkpatrick came into my cell, looking cheerful as usual. We wished each other a Happy New Year and I asked him, “Were you the brave man who broke the stillness of the morning with the echoes of ‘Rule Britannia’?”

He shook his head, but his significant smile was eloquent of the truth.

We had changed the subject when a non-commissioned officer appeared and demanded[143] to know the name of the nocturnal singer. We were each of us asked in turn, with the exception of Kirkpatrick. He had never been heard before even to attempt to sing a note, so the question was not put direct to him. Hence everybody who was asked, truthfully denied being the singer the jail authorities were seeking. The joke was a good one in the circumstances, and we enjoyed it immensely.



One of the interned cases which is likely to be heard of is that of Mr. Hintermann, a subject of Switzerland. In referring to the case in the course of a narrative of this kind it is obviously necessary to maintain a certain amount of reserve and not to make public details which might inopportunely throw too much light on the actions of certain officials who were then in the employ of the Department of Foreign Affairs for Switzerland. Mr. Hintermann was a Swiss by birth, and although he had been much abroad he maintained his nationality; that is to say, he never became a naturalized subject of any other country. He resided in London with his family and was connected with a very important firm in England’s metropolis. He went to Switzerland during the summer of 1915, and while in that country projected a trip to Berlin. Before he could go there he had to obtain a passport signed by the German Minister at Berne. This was done without the least difficulty, though his departure was delayed for a few days by someone in the German Minister’s office.


Dr. Beland (cross) and fellow-prisoners during internment


Mr. Hintermann finally left Switzerland, but he was arrested by two soldiers at the first station he reached after crossing the frontier on his way to Berlin. On being taken into the stationmaster’s office Mr. Hintermann saw on the agent’s desk a despatch from Switzerland containing a direct reference to himself. He was then taken under escort to Berlin and lodged in the jail where I was a prisoner. On the door of his cell was written these words: “H. Hintermann, Englander.” It did not take long for Mr. Hintermann to delete the word “Englander” and substitute for it the word “Swiss.” Someone immediately changed the word back again. This went on for some time. A few hours after Mr. Hintermann would write “Swiss” on the card, the word would be mysteriously[146] erased, and “Englander” written again in its place.

I knew Mr. Hintermann intimately. I knew that he had never been naturalized while in England, but I think the Swiss Government and the German Government were too easily persuaded that he had become a naturalized British subject. I am not at liberty to say at this moment by what process the two Governments were placed under this false impression, but I can affirm that during the three years I knew Mr. Hintermann he never once ceased to urge his right to liberty as the subject of a neutral country. Over and over again the two Governments were called upon by him to prove that he was a British subject, but the only reply he received was a categorical statement from the Swiss Legation in Berlin that the Department of Foreign Affairs at Berlin was well informed on this subject and had documentary proof that Mr. Hintermann had been naturalized in England. Mr. Hintermann, on his side, insisted with vehemence[147] that these documents, if they existed, were forgeries.

I am not allowed to tell more, but it is certain that the unwarranted internment of one of the best and most honorable men I ever met ended only with the armistice. It caused him incalculable damages in his affairs and great injury to his health. I am convinced that the victim of this denial to justice will seek redress somehow, and that the trials and tribulations he had to undergo will reverberate now that the war is practically ended.

Mr. Hintermann was a man of very high character. He was greatly esteemed by all the prisoners. Towards the more needy he showed great charity and alleviated numberless cases of suffering. Speaking German, French, and English with equal fluency, he was able to communicate with the prisoners of these nationalities, and in this way he came to realize their distress and sufferings and was thus the better able to apply what remedies were within his reach. All who knew him during his imprisonment will ever have a pleasant remembrance[148] of the man, and a deep appreciation of his invariable generosity and kindness of heart.

The subject of the deportation of Belgians was the main topic of discussion in the newspapers for some time and I cannot add anything new on the subject. It was with manifest reluctance that the German press finally admitted that Belgians had been deported, and were then in Germany. The accomplishment, however, was so palpable that denial was at last rendered impossible.

We received at one time and another a great number of these unfortunate people into our jail. They were, for the most part, Belgian subjects who had refused to work for the Germans. There were some who, after accepting the burden of hard labor forced upon them in the hope that in this way they might find some relief from the terrible situation that otherwise threatened them at Guben camp, at last rebelled against their task and the insufficiency of food. It was then that they were brought to the Stadtvogtei. On one occasion[149] there were no fewer than twenty-four of these prisoners amongst us, and towards them the British prisoners always showed a practical sympathy.

I cannot leave this subject without mentioning one notable case. It was that of a Belgian named Edouard Werner. He was a man twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, and of remarkable physique–tall, well proportioned, and very strong. He lived in Antwerp before war was declared, and was engaged in that city in the offices of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. His parents were Germans, but himself born in Antwerp, he decided, when he attained the age of eighteen years, to become a naturalized Belgian subject. He submitted to the requirements of the military laws of the country, but was exempted from service in the army and had in his possession papers to this effect.

Antwerp, it will be recalled, was occupied by the enemy on October 10, 1914, and a few months afterwards Werner received notice to report to the German authorities in the military district of Westphalia.[150] He refused to obey this order in spite of the insistence of his aged mother, who, a German herself, wished to see her son join the ranks of the German army. Two months afterwards a second notice was served on the young man reiterating the command to report for duty. Werner persisted in his refusal to obey, again in spite of his mother’s entreaties. Then a final notification was received that unless he complied vigorous measures would be taken against him. More in obedience to the wishes of his mother than in fear of the execution of the German threats Werner duly reported himself as commanded. He took with him his papers of identification and other documents showing that he was a Belgian subject, and that he had complied with the requirements of the military laws of Belgium. He was subjected to a severe examination in Westphalia.

“Why did you not report sooner?” he was asked.

“Because I am a Belgian subject,” he answered.


“It is false; it is false. You are a German–your parents both are Germans,” he was told.

“I do not deny that my father and mother are Germans,” Werner said, “but for myself I have chosen to become naturalized as a Belgian and I have in my possession documentary proof of this assertion.”

The examining officer asked to be allowed to see the documents. When they were produced the officer rejected the proof and refused to consider the young man a Belgian subject. Werner was told that from that moment he must consider himself enrolled in the German army and hold himself in readiness to leave immediately for Berlin. Accordingly he was sent to the German capital, where he was lodged in the barracks of the famous Alexander Regiment, in which no soldier is accepted unless he is at least six feet tall. Werner’s height was six feet two inches. He was put in uniform and started to undergo training. As he spoke French, German and Flemish fluently, he was a little later given employment in the office of the[152] sergeant-major, who assigned him to the work of correspondence and translating. He became more or less popular among the officers and non-commissioned officers who believed that he had become quite converted to German ideas. One day Werner applied for leave of absence in order that he might visit his mother at Antwerp; the major replied that it would be quite impossible to grant him leave of absence to go into Belgium, but if he had relatives in Germany he would readily be granted leave to visit them. Werner said he had an aunt residing at Hamburg, and he was granted three days’ leave to go and visit her.

It was a fête-day and Werner was to leave Berlin in the evening. In the afternoon, attired in gala uniform and wearing the plume-helmet, he accompanied one of his comrades on a tour through the city. He exhibited his holiday permit to his companion, at the same time expressing regret that it was not valid for Antwerp. His comrade took the permit from his hands, walked away with it from the table[153] at which they were drinking beer, and returned a few minutes later with the permit now reading that it was to allow the bearer to go to Antwerp instead of to Hamburg.

Delighted by his good fortune, Werner resolved to leave by the first train for Antwerp. At Cologne, and more particularly at Aix-la-Chapelle, the soldiers had to have their travelling permits checked. Now, it was against the military rules of the day to travel in gala uniform, such as young Werner was wearing, except under special circumstances. At Cologne and again at Aix-la-Chapelle astonishment was expressed by the officials when they saw Werner in full dress. He was asked for an explanation.

“Well,” he replied, “I am going to visit my mother and I wish to give her a pleasurable surprise, as she has never seen me in military uniform.” He was allowed to continue his journey, and at Antwerp his mother told him with pride that he looked more handsome than she had ever seen him look before.

Werner then conceived the project–perhaps[154] he had carried the idea in his mind from the outset–to change his uniform for a suit of mufti and escape into Holland. In order to do this he had to obtain the co-operation of one of his cousins. The plan was completed; civilian clothing was obtained; he made a parcel of his grenadier’s uniform and directed it to the barracks of the Alexander Regiment in Berlin. Then in the evening he and his cousin walked in the direction of Capellen, from which point they hoped to be able to cross the frontier during the night.

Here, however, they fell into a trap. A man, who afterwards turned out to be a spy in the service of the Germans, directed them to a certain coffee-house, where he said they would find a reliable man who would guide them safely across the border. At the coffee-house the two cousins were advised to spend the night at the mayor’s residence and hold themselves in readiness to cross the frontier early the next morning. This was the trap which caught them. The mayor’s house was occupied by German officers–a fact of[155] which Werner and his companion were equally ignorant. Escape now was hopeless. They were held as prisoners until next day, when they were searched and questioned. When it was ascertained that they wished to cross into Holland they were taken back to Antwerp and arraigned before the Kommandantur. Werner’s cousin passed through the ordeal easily enough and he was liberated. Werner hoped that his fate would be equally happy. His hopes, however, were speedily dashed to the ground. When he gave his name the officer pondered a minute, then he spoke to someone over the telephone and, turning to Werner, asked abruptly:

“Are you not Edouard Werner?”


“Are you not a deserter?”


“But did you not belong to a regiment in Berlin?”


“Then how do you explain your presence here, and in civilian clothes?”

Without waiting for a reply, the officer,[156] fuming with rage, and in a voice which made the attendants tremble, ordered Werner to prison. Thence he was arraigned before the German Police Commissioner, who, threatening the most dire punishment, said to the prisoner in an aside: “You will now know what it is to be dealt with by the Prussian military authority. I would not give much for your skin, young man.”

Werner was taken back to prison and a few days later transferred to Berlin. Here he was thrown into a dungeon, and the next morning appeared before the regiment major–the officer who had in the first instance given him a permit to go to Hamburg. This man nearly choked with rage when he saw the prisoner.

“Take him from my sight; take him from my sight,” he repeated.

Werner was taken away, was put back into uniform, and only then would the major consent to see him again. On this occasion he once more gave way to a fit of passion. He banged the table with his fist and menaced Werner with all kinds of torture,[157] going so far as to threaten to have him executed. Once he paused in his wrath to ask what had become of the uniform Werner wore when he went away.

“I sent it back to barracks here,” replied Werner.

“It’s a lie–a lie,” roared the major.

“Well,” insisted the prisoner, “it is easy to prove if my statement is a lie. Will you be kind enough to inquire if a parcel in which I wrapped the uniform at Antwerp and directed here has been received?”

Inquiry promptly revealed the fact that the package in question was received at barracks a few weeks previously. The prisoner was kept in jail pending trial by court martial. He refused the offer which was made of counsel to defend him, and when duly brought before his military judges he was asked what he had to say before sentence was passed upon him. He replied, in effect, as follows:


“I am a Belgian, and it was impossible for me conscientiously to take up arms against my country. When the first opportunity presented itself I returned to my country. I did not desert the German army, but merely went back to my country from which I had been taken by force and contrary to international law. In my opinion, to carry arms and fight for Germany against my own countrymen would be an act of treason. I have done nothing but act in accordance with the promptings of my conscience. That is my plea. Do with me as you wish.”

In a consultation between the officers one of them was overheard to say, “We ought not to give him more than fifteen years’ imprisonment.” Werner was taken back to his dungeon where he awaited sentence, but no sentence was announced to him–whatever judgment was passed he was never told what it was. But after a few weeks waiting he was taken from the dungeon and lodged in the Stadtvogtei without an explanation being given to him in any way. It was here that we became acquainted. It was here that he related to me his story, which appears to me to be sufficiently interesting to be related.


Werner remained in this jail for five or six months. At the end of that time he was urged to enter the German army. He peremptorily refused, and finally received an official document from the highest military tribunal exonerating him from the charge of being a deserter. We deliberated together on the chances of the recovery of his liberty, and a few days afterwards he was transferred to Holzminden. A Frenchman who was subsequently brought from this place to our prison informed us, in answer to our inquiries, that Werner had evaded the vigilance of the sentries and escaped into Holland, whence he had crossed to England, and a postal card recently received announced that he had joined the Belgian army and was looking forward to[160] “settling some of his accounts with the Hun!”


In prison life one question looms up every day before many of the prisoners. It is that of possible escape. During the three years I spent in the Stadtvogtei several escapes took place. It would take too long to relate here a story in detail of all the escapes which occurred. I would like, however, to mention the case of two prisoners who evaded the guards on three occasions; twice getting through the lines of the camp of Ruhleben, and once escaping from the prison where I was confined. The two men were: Wallace Ellison and Eric Keith. They were Englishmen, and at the outbreak of hostilities they lived in Germany. Mr. Ellison was employed with the United Shoe Machinery Company, at Frankfort, and Mr. Keith was engaged with a firm the name of which I do not remember.[161] He was born in Germany of English parents.

The first escape of both prisoners took place from Ruhleben camp at about the same time, but each in his turn had the misfortune to fall into the hands of Prussian Guards near the frontier of Holland. They were taken back to the jail at Berlin, where they were kept for several months in close confinement. Mr. Ellison was guarded solitary and alone for four months and a half. He was allowed no other food than the one daily serving of black bread and the two servings of the traditional soups.

Notwithstanding repeated applications to the German authorities for transfer to Ruhleben, they were forcibly detained in prison, because they refused to promise not to attempt further evasion. Numberless complaints were addressed by these prisoners to the Kommandantur and to the American Embassy in Berlin. All their efforts were unavailing. This happened in 1915 and 1916.

In December, 1916, what may be termed[162] a wholesale escape took place. It was cleverly prepared a long time ahead. The prisoners somehow obtained the services of an expert locksmith, himself a prisoner. He made a key with which they were to open the prison gate facing on Dirksen street. Arrangements had been made with minute care. Provisions were obtained and forwarded outside to places known only to the prisoners concerned. All was ready and the day named for escape. Eleven prisoners of British nationality were walking in groups of two and three in the jail yard between five and six o’clock in the afternoon, in accordance with the daily custom. The doorkeeper occupied a room near the outer gate. He was at this time talking to a non-commissioned officer. The conversation was of a nature to absorb his whole attention. Thanks to this fortuitous circumstance, the rescuing key was introduced, unseen by the guards, into the lock by one of the eleven prisoners. A moment after the gate opened and eleven British prisoners disappeared from the jail and[163] dispersed in the streets of Berlin. Ellison and Keith were amongst them.

There was a real sensation in the jail when the yard gate was found opened, fifteen minutes later. All the remaining prisoners were at once locked in their cells. It was the only means by which the authorities could ascertain exactly how many had succeeded in regaining their freedom.

The officer who had gone off duty at about four o’clock in the afternoon was apprised by telephone of what had taken place. Shortly afterwards he arrived in a state of great excitement. His first act was to throw the doorkeeper into a dungeon. By this time it had been learned that eleven British prisoners had disappeared. The detective office was notified, and telegrams were despatched to all the border towns in Germany, notifying the authorities to be on the look-out for the missing men. The whole force of detectives and the frontier guards were put on their mettle.

Of the eleven escaped prisoners, ten–to our great regret–were recaptured. Only one, a Mr. Gibson, got clean away. As to[164] Ellison and Keith, they were caught after ten days and ten nights of exciting, exhausting experiences. The weather was very cold at that time, and one may imagine what sufferings these two prisoners underwent while attempting to wend their way to the frontier. The ten captured prisoners were brought back to the jail one after the other. The regulations henceforward became much more stringent and it was out of all question for them to make any further application for transfer to Ruhleben.

However, towards August, 1917, under an agreement made between Germany and Great Britain, their hardships were somewhat lessened. One of the clauses of this agreement stipulated that all prisoners who had attempted to escape, and as a consequence were actually confined in prison, should be immediately returned to the respective internment camps. The German newspapers were received at the jail every day, and no sooner had the report giving the clauses of this agreement been read than most of the prisoners concerned professed[165] that they could foresee the dawn of their liberty. Ellison and Keith were particularly hopeful and they informed me that once at Ruhleben no long time would elapse before they would attempt to effect an escape into Holland.

Indeed, as early as September, they escaped from the Ruhleben camp, both on the same day, but acting separately. They rejoined in Berlin, and this time their attempt was successful. Together they succeeded in reaching Holland. A postal card addressed to me from that country by Mr. Ellison informed me of what had happened, without, of course, giving any details.

Amongst the prisoners who had sojourned for several months with these prisoners there was general rejoicing at their success. Last July I had the great pleasure of meeting Ellison and Keith in London. In the course of a never-to-be-forgotten evening we spent together, they related the events following their third escape. They told of their flight from Berlin to Bremen, from Bremen to the River[166] Ems, then through the marshes a few miles from the German-Holland frontier, and, finally, their calling, at three o’clock in the morning, upon a Dutch farmer, where they learned that they were well out of Germany. It was a delight to hear these two men describe the rejoicing that was manifested in the home of that farmer, at their good fortune. The farmer’s wife, a worthy Dutch woman about sixty years of age, got up from her bed to welcome these two Englishmen. She prepared a hearty meal, after which the farmer, his wife, and my two friends danced together round the room in a delirium of joy. Mr. Ellison has since joined the English army and Mr. Keith the American army.

Another sensational escape was that of a Frenchman named B—. This man, a soldier in the French army, formed part of a platoon which, at the beginning of the war, was surrounded in a small wood in Belgium, in the neighborhood of the French frontier. In order to avoid falling into the hands of the Germans, he and some of his friends took refuge with a Belgian[167] peasant. They discarded their uniforms and donned civilian clothes.

B— tried to flee to Holland by the north. He was caught and taken to the concentration camp for the French in Germany. After a few months’ time he again succeeded in getting away. He was dressed in a German uniform and even wore on his breast the ribbon of the Iron Cross. He was caught and thrown into a cell, at the Berlin jail. Here he was kept in solitary confinement, but finally was allowed to walk in the corridors just as we were allowed. Then he conceived the daring project of escaping through the roof, from his cell on the fifth floor of the building.

The windows of these cells, on the fifth floor, were underneath the roof which slightly overhangs, but which leaves no hold for the hand. The plan of this Frenchman was to saw through and remove an iron bar, get through the opening and climb on to the roof. This operation, which I was to witness, was duly executed. It necessitated, I must admit, a real acrobatic feat.


At eleven o’clock at night–so the prisoner informed me in advance–he would begin his attempt to escape. About that hour I stood on a chair so that my head was on a level with my window. In this way I could observe the Frenchman’s movements. We were on the same floor.

He managed to saw off the iron bar at its socket, and thus with a widened aperture he succeeded in passing through. He had protected himself with a towel tied to other bars in order to guard against a fall, which would inevitably have been fatal, since his window was sixty feet above the level of the paved yard.

My friend found a fulcrum on a small plank which he succeeded in placing at the top of his window, between the brick wall and the horizontal bars which hold the vertical bars. This plank projected about one foot beyond the outer wall. The working out of this scheme was exceedingly daring and dangerous, and almost incredible, and it was not long before the man, supporting himself with one hand on the little plank, reached, with the other, the[169] water spout fixed on the roof, a short distance from the edge. The next instant he disappeared in the darkness. But having reached the roof, he was not yet “out of the wood,” for the outside of the prison formed a wall seventy-five feet high. My friend, however, had made a rope about sixty feet in length. He adjusted one end to the lightning-conductor and let the other end fall down the side of the wall. He slid down this rope to within about fifteen feet of the ground, and from that distance dropped on his feet.

We never saw him again, nor heard what became of him. But everyone of us, the officials included, were agreed that this escape was one of the most daring and extraordinary that had ever taken place.



It was in the month of May, 1916. I had then been a prisoner at the Stadtvogtei for one year. Repeated requests made by myself, through the American Embassy, and made on my behalf by the Canadian and British Governments to secure my freedom, had been of no avail. Sometimes my requests were not even acknowledged. I began to fear I might remain a prisoner until the end of the war.

One evening, about seven o’clock, after all prisoners had been locked up for the night, a non-commissioned officer employed in the office of the jail opened my cell and stated that he had good news for me.

“What news?” I asked.

“You are to be liberated,” he answered.



“The day after to-morrow–Saturday. This news was telephoned a moment ago from the Kommandantur, and I have been instructed to inform you of the fact.”

I could not resist shaking the non-commissioned officer’s hand to thank him for the good news he brought to me. My door was hardly closed before I was standing on my chair at the window calling to my companions in captivity–that is to say, the men with whom I was in daily contact. I shouted to them the good news. They called back their congratulations and were sincerely happy at my good fortune.

The following day we appointed a real feast day when all the British prisoners should take part in celebrating the promise of my liberation. We decided to hold a reunion in my cell. We even resolved to organize a dinner! Remember, this was in 1916, when everybody in Berlin was subjected to food rationing. Our only diet was the prison menu. This meant that we had a real problem on our hands if we were to prepare an acceptable meal.

Invitations had been sent to all the British[172] prisoners requesting the pleasure of their company to lunch that same day, “in Parlor No. 669, in the International Hotel of the Stadtvogtei, to meet Mr. Beland and celebrate his approaching departure for England.”

The invitation cards bore the following instructions: “Each guest is requested to bring his plate, knife, fork, tea-cup, glass, and his own bread. Salt will be supplied on the premises.”

My table was placed in the centre of the cell. We had covered it with paper napkins, and had succeeded in obtaining some canned meat. At that time this was a marvelous accomplishment, believe me.

The dinner was a very joyful one. Toasts were proposed and congratulatory speeches were made. The following afternoon I was granted leave to go to the city. For the first time, after twelve months’ incarceration, I was allowed to walk the streets! It was late in May. The vegetation was luxuriant and for the first time in a year I enjoyed the liberty of walking among the verdant foliage and flowerbeds[173] of the square adjoining the prison. Never before had nature appeared so wonderfully beautiful. I was tempted to smile even at the Germans who walked about the streets.

Two hours later I returned to the jail, and learned that my departure, which had been fixed for the next day, would be delayed owing to the fact–so I was told–that a certain document had not yet been signed by the high command. It was represented to me that the signing of this document was a mere formality, and my release was a thing decided and assured. I was to be allowed to leave on the following Wednesday.

On the Tuesday, I was ready to start. My baggage was packed. Then I was advised once more that the missing document had not yet arrived; that I must wait a few days longer. Of course, I was very much distressed at this repeated delay, but I tried to be patient through the ensuing two weeks, which appeared centuries to me.

One day I was called into the office of[174] the jail. Major Schachian had come to explain that the Kommandantur in Berlin had really decided to give me my liberty, to allow me to go back to my family in Belgium, and particularly to be near my wife, who had been ailing for six months–but a superior authority had now over-ridden this decision.

One can conceive my disappointment. I remarked to that officer that being a physician I was being detained contrary to international laws; that, moreover, I had on several previous occasions received assurances from the military authorities in Antwerp that I should not be molested; that I had practised my profession, not only in a hospital, before the fall of Antwerp, but since that date among the civil population of Capellen. The officer did not attempt to deny all this, but he said: “You practised medicine for charity; you did not practise it regularly.”

Was it conceivable that a man of his position and intelligence could make such a remark? I was astounded, and dared to reply:[175] “I always understood the liberty of physicians in time of war was guaranteed by international conferences, because physicians are in a position to relieve the physical sufferings of humanity, and not because they may be allowed to make money.”

The officer saw he had made a bad break, as the popular expression has it. He attempted to effect a retreat in the best order he could. He was really embarrassed, and left me, while I returned to my cell, my heart bowed down by deception and disappointment.

A full year elapsed before any substantial change was made in my life of captivity.



I had been in prison then for two years, seeing nothing outside but the sky and a wall pierced by some fifty iron-barred windows. For two short hours, one year before, as stated in the previous chapter, I had been granted the privilege to walk on the streets, to breathe the free atmosphere of the city. My general health was bad. I could neither read nor sleep. Mentally I was seriously depressed. I had abandoned all hope of regaining my liberty before the end of hostilities.

But one day the old jail physician, a very kind man, Dr. Becker, visited me in my cell. We had previously talked together on medical matters. He knew, of course, that I was habitually called to attend the sick during the twenty-three hours he was absent every day from the[177] prison. He had placed at my disposal his little dispensary. Indeed, from the medical point of view, one can truthfully say that between the prison doctor and myself diplomatic relations were never severed.

The object of his visit to me now was to inquire about my health. He had noticed that my general appearance left much to be desired.

“Well, how are you?” he asked on entering my cell.

“Bad,” I replied.

“I am truly sorry,” the doctor remarked. “I have observed lately that you appeared to be far from well.”

“The fact is,” I told him, “I cannot sleep nor eat. I am very nervous, and I feel weak and depressed.”

The old German practitioner eyed me critically through his spectacles, and it seemed to me that through his glasses I could see reflected a feeling of genuine sympathy.

“But,” he urged,[178] “you are a physician. You know, perhaps, just what it is that is particularly ailing you.”

“Nothing more than the effects of continuous, close confinement,” I answered. “You know, I have been deprived of fresh air and exercise for the past two years.”

“But, surely,” he exclaimed, “you go out when you feel so disposed!”

“What do you mean?” I asked him. “Do you profess to believe that I have the privilege of going out of the prison for exercise, according to my free will?”

“I do,” the doctor replied.

“Well,” I rejoined,[179] “all I have to say is that I cannot understand how you, the doctor of this prison, have never learned that during the two years I have been here I–like every other prisoner–never am permitted to go on the street. I may say that during this period the only occasion on which I was allowed to go outside was just one year ago. I was then granted special leave to visit the stores to buy a few things necessary to my departure for Belgium. I had been promised liberty, and the promise was not fulfilled. With the exception of this outing of two hours, I have been confined within the walls of this prison continuously for the past two years. You know how vitiated the atmosphere of these corridors becomes, since hundreds of prisoners must traverse them every morning as they are engaged in the work of cleaning their cells after thirteen hours’ seclusion therein. You know the yard in which we are permitted to spend a few hours each afternoon. You know as well as I do that when one has walked seventy paces he has traversed the whole limit of the three sides of the triangle. This yard is bounded by walls seventy-five feet high; thirty-five toilet cabinets, as well as the cell windows and the kitchens, open on to it, and I believe its atmosphere is even worse than that I breathe in my cell.”

“Well,” said the doctor after listening to me with an air of pained attention, “I am surprised. Why don’t you make application to the authorities asking to be allowed to go into the city, for a daily walk? I will support your demand.”

I thought the opportunity favorable to tell the doctor what I thought of the[180] arbitrary conduct the authorities had shown towards me.

“Well, you will excuse me,” I said, “if I say that I cannot act upon your kind suggestion. It has become impossible for me to ask any favor from the German Government.”

“Why?” he asked.

“Because each and every fair, reasonable and just request which I have hitherto made has been either ignored or refused. God only knows how many requests and petitions I have addressed to the German authorities during the last two years.”

“What did you ask for in particular?” he inquired.

“First,” I said, “I protested against my internment, pointing out that in my quality of physician it was contrary to international laws to keep me in captivity. In reply, I was told there was no documentary proof that I was a doctor. This was at the beginning of my captivity. Through the American Embassy I obtained from the Canadian College of Physicians and[181] Surgeons, and from the university from which I was graduated, the documents which established that I was a licensed and practising physician. I was informed in the month of October, 1914, that these documents had been remitted to the competent authorities here, in Berlin. I then renewed my demand for liberty. I repeated over and over again my requests, but without any other results than that of seeing, after two or three months’ anxiety and trouble, an officer of the Kommandantur who came and took my deposition to prove why I came to Belgium in the first place and what I had done in that country since my arrival. All these things the authorities had known for a long time. I had to sign an insignificant transcript of the proceedings made by the officer, who left me with an ill-concealed air of mockery at my misfortunes.

“My wife,” I went on, “was taken ill. For many months her illness advanced. The news received each week from my children and the doctor indicated clearly that recovery was hopeless. I begged to[182] be allowed to visit my wife. I received no answer to my request. During the last two weeks of her illness I was notified by telegram that the case was urgent and I was urged to hasten to my wife’s bedside. I besieged the Kommandantur with daily petitions for leave of absence, but no answer was vouchsafed. I offered to pay the expenses of two soldiers to accompany me from Berlin to Antwerp, and to return the next day. This request was curtly refused. My correspondence was held up for about twelve days and during that critical time I was without news of my family, and after these twelve days of unspeakable anguish an officer informed me that my wife was dead. I implored him to go immediately to the Kommandantur and ask permission to accompany me to Antwerp and Capellen that I might be present at the funeral. His reply was[183] ‘Madam was buried two days ago!’

“You will understand, doctor, that after being treated in such an inhuman manner, it is quite impossible, while I maintain my self-respect, to ask for any favor from the German Government. I was refused justice when I entreated for what was just. I have nothing to demand now.”

My statement perceptibly saddened and embarrassed the old doctor. Apparently I had opened his eyes to a phase of German mentality which he had not hitherto realized. He hesitated for a few seconds and then promised that he would at once take steps to alleviate my suffering and relieve some of the pressure of the hard prison regime.

He fulfilled his promise. Two days afterward instructions were received which bore this out. At the same time it should be remembered that the German authorities were mindful of the possibility of reprisals from Great Britain after the fact had become known in London that my health was seriously threatened by my internment. The new instructions now issued to the jail authorities stipulated that I was to be permitted to go out of the jail on two afternoons of each week, under the escort of a non-commissioned officer. I[184] was to be allowed to walk in a certain park, but must not communicate with anybody during my promenades. Moreover, the officer and his prisoner were to make the short journey to the park and return by railway. I, of course, at once availed myself of this privilege to go out and breathe the fresh air twice a week, and this contributed to a very appreciable extent to re-establish my health, physically and mentally.



A few weeks after entering prison I was called into the office on the ground floor, where I found myself face to face with a person entirely unknown to me.

“I am Mr. Wassermann, manager of the German Bank,” said this visitor, in introducing himself. “Are you Mr. Beland?”

“Yes, sir; I am,” I replied.

“Then be seated,” he continued.[186] “The day before yesterday I received a letter from one of my fellow-countrymen who is resident in Toronto. He informs me that he has learned from the Canadian newspapers that you are interned here, and he asks me to interest myself on your behalf. My friend adds that he, himself, has not received the slightest annoyance from the Canadian Government. Will you tell me if there is anything I can do for you?”

“You could, no doubt, obtain for me my freedom,” I told him.

“I would like to do it,” he answered, “and I will do all that I can in order to be useful to you, but I really do not know to what extent I may succeed. Is there anything else I can do?”

“Nothing that I know of.”

“Is your cell comfortable?”

“I occupy a cell in company with three others.”

“Would it be more agreeable to you if you were assigned to a cell exclusively your own?”

“It would, indeed,” I said, “for then I could work with more comfort.”

Mr. Wassermann then left me, and a few days after our interview I was removed into a cell reserved for myself alone on the fifth or top floor of the prison. Here the atmosphere was purer than in the other cell, as there was better ventilation. It was brighter, and I had a wider outlook of the sky. I occupied this cell for three years.


The prison was heated by a hot-water system, which was shut off each day at about two o’clock in the afternoon, so that in the evening the atmosphere generally was very cold, so cold in fact, that frequently I would have to go to bed as early as seven o’clock, directly the cells were locked, in order to keep myself warm.

We were allowed to write two letters and four postal cards each month. This was a rule which applied to all prisoners in Germany, without distinction. A letter addressed to a foreign country was detained for a period of ten days, and all correspondence sent by us or directed to us was minutely censored, detention of the letters and censure of the letters being practised as a “military measure.” During the whole period of my imprisonment I never received one single copy of a Canadian newspaper, although I know now that quite a number were from time to time addressed to me.

Courses of instruction in French, English,[188] and German were given daily at the jail, but only on very rare occasions were there any religious services, either Protestant or Catholic. I recall only two or three occasions during the whole of my captivity on which I had the privilege of attending chapel, which was situated in another section of the prison.

German newspapers of all shades of political thought were received in the jail, whether pan-German, Liberal, Conservative or Socialistic in their tendencies. But we were not allowed to read either English or French newspapers, though we knew the big dailies of Paris and London were available at the principal news stands in Berlin. This does not mean, however, that I did not get a glimpse at both English and French newspapers during my captivity. It sometimes happened that one or other of the incoming prisoners had either a London or Paris newspaper concealed in his pockets. There were other means also through which we were able from time to[189] time to obtain newspapers from the allied countries.

Christmas is always celebrated with great pomp in Berlin. On Christmas Eve the prisoners enjoyed a small celebration amongst themselves. There was a Christmas tree, and two or three officers of the Kommandantur, accompanied by a few ladies, came and distributed gifts, which were, for the most part, of the nature of provisions for the most needy of the prisoners.

On Christmas Eve, 1915, enough food was distributed to give each prisoner a good meal. In 1916, when food had become scarce, there was no distribution of provisions, but each prisoner received as a gift an article of underwear or a new pair of socks. In 1917, there was a Christmas tree, but no gifts of any kind. The economic situation in the interior of Germany had become such that neither food nor clothing were available for the prisoners.

In the course of one of my walks in the[190] park during the last year of my imprisonment, I saw the then idol of the German people–the great General Hindenburg. Accompanied by an officer, he was driving in an automobile along the street which borders the Tiergarten. My escort and I were on the sidewalk when the famous general passed. I had a distinct view of his features. When we got back to the jail my companion announced with great gusto to his fellow-officers that he had seen General Hindenburg. As they received his announcement with incredulity, I was called upon to corroborate the statement of my escort, and then they looked upon me with actual envy. According to their way of thinking, I was one of the luckiest men on earth! The mere sight of so great a general, they thought, should be regarded as a red-letter day in a man’s life history! Such was their veneration, respect, and admiration for the chief of staff. Bismarck in all his glory was never arrayed in such a halo of glory as Hindenburg wore in the mind’s-eye of the Germans of that day.


The German people are not demonstrative. They are taciturn and dreamy. One day I was on the station platform waiting for the train to take me and my guard to the park. The noon editions of the newspapers were on sale and were being bought with avidity. They contained some sensational story or another. It was, according to the best of my memory, the report of the Austro-German offensive directed against the Italians in November, 1917. The advance on the enemy and the capture of forty thousand prisoners were announced in scare headings.

After glancing over the news myself, I turned to observe the attitude of the readers around me. I continued my observations as the train moved out of the station, and I did not notice one smile among the whole crowd of Germans; nor was there any apparent desire on the part of any man to discuss the events with his neighbor. To them the news appeared to be one of the most natural events in the world. I asked myself: Have these people commenced to realize that all these victories[192] do not bring the war any nearer to the end they desire? Or, has their feeling of enthusiasm become deadened by three years of unrelenting fight? I leave it to the reader to appreciate now, in the light of subsequent events.

The first American citizen interned in the Stadtvogtei was an unhealthy-looking man whose name I now forget. It was during the absence of Mr. Gerard, the United States Ambassador, in the month of October, 1916, I believe. This man claimed that he never would have been interned if Mr. Gerard had been in Berlin. He often expressed to us fears as to the security of Mr. Gerard. He was under the impression that Germany desired his disappearance, and that on his return to Germany the United States Ambassador ran a great danger of being sent to the bottom of the sea. He was convinced that Mr. Gerard was extremely hated in Berlin and was considered the enemy of Germany’s interests.

It may not be out of place to mention[193] here that at one time there was quite a controversy in the German newspapers concerning Mrs. Gerard. Certain sheets had accused Mrs. Gerard of lack of good manners, and this to the extent of having on one occasion pinned the Iron Cross to the collar of her pet dog and to have promenaded the streets of Berlin with the animal thus “dressed up.” The alleged incident created such a stir that the semi-official newspaper “Le Gazette de l’Allemagne du Nord” published an editorial on the subject. It was therein stated that the allegations against Mrs. Gerard were false and that Mr. and Mrs. Gerard had conducted themselves always in a manner absolutely above reproach.

Very seldom a day passed without one of the non-commissioned officers submitting this question to the British prisoners, “When shall we have peace?” The answer was invariably the same: “We did not know.” How could we? However, the question gave the Prussians an excuse for prolonging a conversation, during[194] which we would be told that Germany wished for peace, but that the obstacle was England. On more than one occasion several among us–notably a Belgian named Dumont, who never minced his words–retorted: “But why did you start the war?” On one occasion a non-commissioned officer, to whom this question was directly put, insisted that Germany never wished nor planned the war, neither did she start it.

“You are quite right; you are a thousand times right as to starting it,” cried Dumont, giving expression to his anti-German sentiments, “it was not Germany that started the war. We, the Belgians, started it!!!”

The remark was greeted with general laughter, and the non-commissioned officer, in confusion, turned on his heels and left us.



April 19, 1918, will ever remain a memorable date for me. I had just received a request to present myself at the Kommandantur, and a non-commissioned officer was waiting on the ground floor to conduct me to the office. What was the matter now? It had not infrequently happened that a prisoner, after being summoned to the Kommandantur, was never seen by us again. He had been summarily transferred to another prison. My present request, therefore, was not very reassuring. However, I could not hesitate to obey the order. As we were leaving the jail, my escort commenced a conversation in a perfectly casual manner.

“Can you guess why you have been summoned to the Kommandantur?” he asked me.


“Yes,” I replied.

“Well, why are you called there?” he insisted.

“Because I am to be granted my liberty,” I hazarded.

“You are quite right,” he said. “But please, do not state that I told you this, for if it were known I had spoken I should be severely reprimanded, perhaps actually punished, for having communicated this news to you.”

At the Kommandantur, which I now visited for the first time, I was at once ushered into a hall and into the presence of Captain Wolfe, the officer who had been in the habit of visiting the jail from time to time in order to take depositions of prisoners. He appeared, as far as the jail was concerned, to be the “big boss” of the institution. That man left a very unenviable impression on the minds of all the British prisoners who passed through the jail. As for myself, I shall find it very hard to forgive him for having ignored the multiplication of requests I addressed to him during my three years of captivity.


As I approached his table he looked up, but he made no sign nor uttered a word until I politely bade him good morning. Then he condescended to speak.

“Good morning,” he replied. “I have asked that you be brought here in order that you may be informed that you are soon to be liberated.”

“When?” I asked.

“Next week.”

“What day?”


“Is this certain?” I ventured.

“What do you mean?” he demanded, quickly.

“I am asking you if this time I am really to be liberated?” I said.

“I have told you that your liberation is to be granted; for what reason do you ask now whether it is certain? Do you doubt my word?” he asked.

“Well,” I replied,[198] “I recall the fact that two years ago you communicated to me at the jail news identical with the announcement you now make to me. Nevertheless, I am still your boarder.”

His eyes sought the ceiling vaguely, as one searching his conscience in order to ascertain if there were any reason for self-reproach. Then with a feeble smile he admitted that what I said was true. “Well, on this occasion,” he said, “you may rely upon what I tell you.”

The fact was, I was to be exchanged for a German prisoner in England. The terms of the exchange had been fixed and it was to take place immediately. I had nothing to add, except to express my satisfaction at being, at last, free to leave Germany.

In reply to a question I put to him, he told me that my status of a member of Parliament and a former Minister in the Canadian Government had been responsible for my long detention. He further said that all the documents, papers, catalogues, books, correspondence–everything, in fact, which would be likely to be of any service to me after my liberation, and which I might wish to take with me, would first have to be submitted to the censors in Berlin.


Consequently on returning to the jail, I started to make a selection among the papers and books I had collected and the letters I had received in the course of my captivity. I made up a fairly large-sized parcel of them and sent the package at once to the censor. Everything was duly censored, placed in envelopes, carefully sealed and initialed, and returned to me at the jail.

This all took place on Saturday. On the following Monday, First-Lieutenant Block, commanding officer at the jail, hurriedly came to my cell, saying: “I have good news for you. The German Government, through me, offers to allow you to pass through Belgium, on your way to Holland, in order that you may have the opportunity and pleasure of visiting your children near Antwerp. They are now awaiting an answer from you. Do you accept?”

“My answer will be short,” I said. “I accept with thanks.”

Three years had elapsed since I left Capellen. During that long time I had not[200] been allowed to receive one visit from my daughter or the children of my wife, who had remained at Capellen.

“This will take a few days,” said the officer, “because the several military posts which you will pass, in Belgium, will have to be notified.”

“I have no objection to wait one, two or three weeks if I may have the precious privilege of seeing my children again before going to England,” I said.

“I will communicate your answer at once to the department of Foreign Affairs,” the officer then remarked.

Three days later, the same officer informed me that he had been chosen to accompany me to Brussels and thence to the frontier of Holland. He appeared particularly happy in anticipation of fulfilling this duty. As to myself, I had no objection to make, as this officer had been in contact with me for more than two years, and it would be preferable to travel with some one with whom I was familiar. Moreover, First-Lieut. Block had united his efforts with my own when I solicited[201] permission to go to Belgium during the long illness of my deceased wife.

I had waited through one week, and then another, when the officer–always the same–arrived one day with a gloomy countenance which reflected bad news for me.

“Bad news?” I inquired.

“Yes,” he said; “bad news, surely.”

“I know what it is,” I said. “They refuse to let me pass through Belgium.”

“You have said it.”

I could not repress a movement of impatience and annoyance.

“How is it possible that such a thing can happen?” I asked. “Didn’t you inform me two weeks ago that the German Government had already decided to let me pass through the occupied territory so that I might go and see my children?”

“Yes,” he said.

“Then what authority is it that is so highly situated that it can override a decision taken by the Government?”

“It is the military authority!”

“Well,” I said, rather dryly,[202] “when shall we start for Holland?”

“As soon as you are ready.”

“Then, we will leave this evening or to-morrow. The sooner the better, now,” I told him.

Our departure was accordingly arranged to take place on Friday night, May 9.



One cannot but look forward with feelings of deep emotion to the moment when he will leave a prison where he has been detained for three years and where he has made sincere and devoted friends. A large number of those who had been my companions in captivity had already left the jail, but there remained some ten prisoners of British nationality–particularly three or four–who were very dear to me.

On the Friday, some hours previous to the time of my departure, I obtained from the sergeant-major permission to receive in my cell, between 7 and 8 o’clock in the evening, all the British prisoners. The reader will remember that the cells were usually locked for the night at 7 o’clock. These men then assembled in my cell and there for this last hour we talked over the[204] events of the war and the probable length of their detention. Notwithstanding the joy I felt at the prospect of getting out of this hell, I regretted leaving behind me those with whom I had shared the lonesomeness of captivity, shared the hardships received at the hands of our jailers, and deprived of liberty and the beneficence of their mother country.

The train was to start at 9 o’clock, and my escort and I were to leave the jail at 8 o’clock. It was at this hour that I said farewell to these worthy fellows. I was a free man. They were to remain prisoners. We were all under the influence of a powerful emotion.

The train was due to depart from Silesia Station. I was accompanied thereto by three military men: an orderly, a non-commissioned officer, and an officer. The officer was to accompany me as far as the frontier, and when we reached the station, he said he proposed to ask the authorities to allow us to occupy a compartment exclusively to ourselves, as we would have to spend the whole of one night on the train.[205] With this end in view, he interviewed the station master, and when the train arrived at the station this official considerately placed a compartment at our disposal.

The officer had to give what was accepted as a valid reason of state in order to obtain this privilege. It was the transportation of a prisoner of British nationality through German territory. This was sufficient. The conversations “this British prisoner” might have overheard had he been allowed to mingle with others on the train, might have been indiscreet and of a nature calculated to harm the German interests should they be repeated in England!

Whether that was the correct view of the matter or not, or whether other reasons prompted my companion to make the demand, certain it is that a whole compartment was placed at our disposal, and in order that it should not be “besieged” by other passengers a notice was affixed to the glass pane of the door opening into the corridor of the train to the effect that in the compartment there was a British prisoner.[206] To this intimation was added the one word: “Gefahrlich,” which in German means: DANGEROUS!

When I afterward read this notice, which had been posted against myself, I could not repress a smile.

All trains which leave the Silesia Station en route for Holland must cross the city of Berlin and pass in front of the famous Stadtvogtei prison. I was aware of this fact, and when we reached this point–the train was then traveling at full speed–I stood at the window to get a last look at those dark grey walls which during three long years had separated me from the outer world. To my great surprise, I saw that the sergeant-major had allowed my former companions in captivity to open one of the windows on the fifth story of the jail and there they stood waving their handkerchiefs as a sign of farewell. “Poor, unhappy fellows!” I said to myself.

The next morning at 8 o’clock, we arrived at Essen, the town where the famous Krupp works are situated. Here we had[207] to change trains. The incoming train was late, and the officer and I had to pace up and down the platform of the station of that great city for fifteen or twenty minutes before the train, which was to convey us near the frontier, arrived. Then we took our seats and reached our destination at about noon. But my troubles were not yet over. I had to wait a little longer to obtain absolute freedom.

Through a mistake by the orderly my baggage had been checked through to a more northerly station. Inquiries were made by telegraph and we received a reply from the officer in command of the military post addressed advising patience and the baggage would be returned the following day. Thus we were compelled to remain for the night in this German frontier village of Goch, where it was a serious problem to obtain mid-day and evening meals as we were without food cards. However, when one, after prolonged confinement, is breathing the air of comparative liberty, and knows that the morrow will give him absolute freedom, he can,[208] without much difficulty, overcome the pangs of a hungry stomach!

At noon the next day the trunks which had strayed returned to me safely, and I was ready and anxious to continue the journey over the remaining two or three miles which separated us from the frontier where final inspection was to take place and adieux said.

I was on that day–Sunday, May 11, 1918–the only passenger bound for Holland. The train consisted of a locomotive and one coach. We halted at a small temporary station and my personal belongings were duly deposited in line. The arrival of “a prisoner of British nationality,” had been anticipated, and German inspectors of both sexes surrounded me and my baggage. The duty of the women was to examine female passengers, and as they had nothing to do in the present instance they remained as spectators, passive, but interested!

The inspection was very minute, and, I must add, was not intelligently executed. The non-commissioned officer charged especially[209] to inspect my baggage proved himself to be an extremely stupid fellow. In one of my trunks he observed a small leather note-book bearing the gold-lettered inscription: “Tagebuch,” which means a diary. He put it on one side with the apparent purpose of confiscating it. I protested, and I asked why he wished to retain what was really a new note-book, as there was no writing in it? He replied that the little book “contained printing,” that his instructions were to confiscate everything written or printed.

What stupidity! I thought to myself. I again pointed out that the note-book contained not one word of writing, and that the only “printed matter” was the small engraved label on the cover. But this did not convince the stupid fellow. He failed to grasp the fact that the passing of this innocent, unspotted little note-book could not possibly menace the German Empire with dire calamity!

Lieutenant Block, who accompanied me and knew me well, was manifestly annoyed. I ventured to remark:[210] “I exceedingly regret such procedure as this in the examination of my personal property, because under such a process you must necessarily confiscate all my shirts, all my collars, and all my cuffs.”

The man looked bewildered.

“I don’t understand you,” he said. “Why must I confiscate those articles?”

“Because, like the note-book, they each and every one have something printed thereon,” I said. “And what is more serious, instead of the printing being German, which you understand, the names printed on the shirts, collars, and cuffs, are those of English or American firms, which you may not understand.”

The inspector was embarrassed, even vexed. The color rushed to his face and he handed the note-book to Lieut. Block with a gesture as who would say:[211] “Here, take it, and the responsibility that attaches to it. If you like to run the risk of leaving this Britisher in possession of the note-book, do so. I wash my hands of the possible danger!”

Lieut. Block returned the book to me without a moment’s hesitation.

A large number of photographs addressed to me either from Canada or from Belgium were confiscated, although they had previously passed the censorship in Berlin. A certain number of photographs, however, escaped the eagle-eye of the inspector. They included those which the reader will find illustrating this story. As to the other printed or written documents which I brought out of Germany, they were subjected in Berlin to a severe censorship. They were those documents which had been placed in sealed envelopes and checked by the chief censor. These were passed at the frontier without further examination.

The moment had now arrived for me to go my way. The frontier was but a few yards distant. My baggage was put back into my compartment, the officer accompanied me to the door of the coach, we exchanged a few words, shook hands, and separated.

I will use a sentence here to testify on[212] behalf of this officer, First-Lieutenant Block, that in the course of my sufferings he did all that lay in his power to obtain from the authorities the privileges I repeatedly applied for. Our efforts, as I have shown, were unavailing, but this was not Lieutenant Block’s fault.

Mr. Wallace Ellison, who published his “Recollections” in Blackwood’s Magazine, has given similar testimony regarding Officer Block. His two years’ contact with the prisoners of British nationality gave him an opinion of us far different to the misguided views he held previously.

The train started and an hour and seven minutes later we were at the frontier station, in Holland. From the window of my compartment, I could see inside the station the little customs inspectors of Queen Wilhelmina!

I was free! What a grand feeling is that of liberty after three years’ captivity! Every tree, every leaf, house, seems to smile on you!

At five o’clock the same afternoon, I was in Rotterdam.



During seven weeks’ sojourn in this charming little country of Holland, in the course of the many walks I took along the countryside, in the woods and parks, my thoughts reverted to that prison where I had lived for three years. My mind recalled certain conversations and certain incidents.

I spoke a little while ago of Lieutenant Block and his courteous manner towards me. It should not be inferred, however, from what I stated, that Prussianism was obliterated from him. He had the Prussian officer’s demeanor. He did not attempt to hide that he belonged to the autocratic and irrepressible military caste.

It will be remembered that in 1916 the Kaiser issued a proclamation pronouncing the reform of Parliamentary institutions[214] in Prussia, and particularly the uniformity of electoral franchise for all citizens. Fear of the people is the beginning of political wisdom.

In Prussia, the representatives of the people are elected by three classes of electors, and although the Social-Democrats registered a sufficient number of votes to give them a third of the representation in the Prussian Diet, they were only a few deputies.

The Prussian Government, in conformity with the Imperial proclamation, had introduced a bill providing for the reform of the electoral franchise. The majority of the Prussian Parliament refused to adopt the projected law. At that time there was a violent controversy carried on in the German press on this subject.

There were in Germany then several newspapers with large circulations which could be designated as Liberal–that is to say, they were in favor of the principle of responsible government, not in Germany alone, but also in Prussia. They fought continually and stubbornly against the[215] pan-German doctrine. I may cite the Frankfurter Zeitung, the Berliner Tageblatt, the Vossische Zeitung besides Socialist newspapers like the Volkszeitung and the Vorwaerts. At the jail we received all the German newspapers. I was a subscriber to the Berliner Tageblatt, and this newspaper was the only one on my table. I had much admiration for the publicist, whose name is well known in France–Theodore Wolfe. This journalist repeatedly condemned German autocracy in his articles–he did it so often that his writings became popular with all of us. He was frequently so outspoken that we really expected to see him arrive one fine day in our midst.

The officer during his daily visits observed the Tageblatt lying on my table, a fact which more than once gave rise to an exchange of views between us on the political institutions of Germany, and particularly on the Parliamentary situation as it existed in Prussia at that time. The Prussian Diet had just refused to adopt the draft of the bill above referred to. That[216] same day the visiting officer entered my cell, his face beaming with smiles. He rejoiced–words were not strong enough, he said, to express the satisfaction he felt at what had happened. Prussia was to maintain her old system, the autocratic system under which this man was convinced she had achieved prosperity and greatness; and this it was that pleased him so much.

It is very difficult for us, accustomed, as we have become, to a democratic system, to conceive the voluntary abdication, on the part of a man of the standing and importance of Lieutenant Block, of all participation in the administration of public affairs. Here was a professor, a man between 35 and 40 years of age, who confessed and glorified in the fact that he had never voted! And when I expressed great surprise, and endeavored to ascertain from him what were the real motives of his abstention, he replied, with apparent sincerity: “Have we not got our Kaiser, who is at the same time King of Prussia, to efficiently govern the country?”…

Another instance which reveals something[217] of the real heart of a Prussian officer is the following: We were at the epoch of the catastrophe which fell upon Britain when Lord Kitchener was drowned off the Scottish coast. This news was reported to me, like all other news of a disquieting character, with great eagerness by the visiting officer. Others may be amazed at the lack of tact, to say the least, here shown, as we in the prison were each of us amazed in turn.

“Kitchener has been drowned,” announced the officer with glee.

The news drew from me a pained expression of sorrow.

“How regrettable,” I cried.

The officer drew himself up to his full height, and his eyes flashed as he retorted, “Nicht fur uns. Nicht fur uns.” (“Not for us. Not for us.”)

“Listen,” I retorted.[218] “The intention of my remark was to convey to you how regrettable it is that a soldier of the worth of Lord Kitchener, instead of finding a glorious death on the battlefield, should have perished in the manner reported.”

“Nicht fur uns. Nicht fur uns,” the Prussian insisted.

Many months passed. The man had evidently forgotten the incident of Kitchener’s death. One morning he came to my cell with face long, and expression sad. “Have you heard the awful news?” he asked me. “Richthofen has fallen.”

Richthofen, Germany’s most famous aviator, was dead after seventy-five great aerial victories.

“Yes, Richthofen has fallen,” the officer repeated. “Is it not regrettable?”

“Nicht fur uns. Nicht fur uns,” I answered without hesitation.

“How can you say that?” he said. “Is it not a matter of regret that a great hero like Richthofen should disappear?”

“Nicht fur uns,” I said again, not knowing what might be the outcome of my boldness.

“Why do you talk like this?” the officer asked.

“I am merely following your example,” I told him.[219] “When I ventured to express my regret at Lord Kitchener’s death, regret that a soldier of his valor had been drowned, and not killed in the manner of the valiant soldier he was, you made use of this expression. To-day Richthofen has fallen, but he fell in the arena where his skill and genius and valor earned for him an immortal name. Acknowledge that his loss is regrettable for Germany, but you cannot expect the countries at war with Germany will experience regret in the same sense that you feel it, although I am sure they will pay just tribute to his valor as an aviator.”

The officer left me a few minutes afterwards. I do not know if he appreciated the appropriateness of my remarks.

One day I had a sharp discussion with Captain Wolfe, of the Kommandantur at Berlin. This officer occupied the position of a judicial war counsellor and held a high and responsible office at the Kommandantur. He was naturally vested with considerable authority. Nobody realized this fact more than those who were detained against their will, and in spite of just protests, in the jail on Dirksen street.[220] Well, on the day to which I am referring Captain Wolfe visited the jail and condescended to hear me. That was his manner of answering the numerous petitions I had addressed to the military authorities during the previous months. Periodically I would undertake against the authorities what may be called an “offensive” for liberty. On this occasion I submitted to Captain Wolfe the fact that I had been arrested in a neutral country–that is to say, Belgium. I said that no foreign subject could lawfully be made a prisoner there, at least not until the military authorities had given all foreign subjects a fair opportunity to leave the territory.

“But Belgium is not, and was not, a neutral country,” Captain Wolfe protested.

“I do not understand you,” I said.

“Belgium,” he answered, “had become the ally of Britain and the enemy of Germany.”

“I still fail to understand you,” I said.

“Have you not read the documents which were taken from the archives at Brussels?” he asked.[221] “These official documents constitute a solemn confirmation of my pretension that Belgium was allied with Britain.”

As a matter of fact, the Gazette de l’Allemagne du Nord (Die Nord Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung), a semi-official newspaper, did publish during the course of the winter of 1914-1915 a series of documents alleged to have been found in the archives of Brussels. No doubt these documents were likewise published in all the allied countries. They purported to contain the draft of a convention between a military or naval officer of Britain and the Belgian authorities concerning an eventual landing of British troops at Ostend. I had previously taken cognizance of these documents and incidentally of a commentary by a Belgian military expert to the following effect: “The landing of British troops in Belgium was only to take place after the violation of Belgian neutrality by Germany.” This correction removed from the documents all vestige of hostility against Germany.

After the publication of these documents[222] comments from official sources were published in the press, and it was said, amongst other things, that the contents were known to the competent authorities in Germany before the declaration of war. I accordingly asked Captain Wolfe if this were true?

“It is,” he answered.

“Then how is it,” I further asked, “that the Imperial Chancellor, Von Bethmann-Hollweg, on August 4, made the following declaration before the Reichstag: ‘At the moment I am addressing you German troops have perhaps crossed the frontier and invaded Belgium’s territory. It must be acknowledged that this is a violation of the rights of the people and of international treaties. But Germany proposes and binds herself to repair all the damages caused to Belgium so soon as she shall have attained her military designs’?”

It is impossible to describe the officer’s embarrassment.

“Well,” he mumbled, in an effort to submit more or less of an explanation,[223] “it was because Belgium also peremptorily refused to let us pass.”

The tone and manner of his “explanation” indicated plainly enough that Captain Wolfe was capitulating.

In the pan-German newspapers more particularly, this attitude of Von Bethmann-Hollweg before the Reichstag was much criticized. It was declared that such a statement constituted a sufficient reason for his immediate release from Chancellorship.



During the years 1916 and 1917, and for the first part of 1918, Germany possessed one god and one idol. The god was Emperor William and the idol was Hindenburg. It will be remembered that at the outbreak of the war Hindenburg was a retired general leading a peaceful life at Hanover. Thence the Emperor recalled him from retirement and relative obscurity and gave him the command of the German forces operating in Eastern Prussia. At that time the Russians occupied part of the Baltic Provinces. The Emperor, in examining the theses made by the different German generals, discovered that Hindenburg, a quarter of a century previously, had treated in his thesis the subject of an invasion of Eastern Prussia. He then sent for Hindenburg and committed to him[225] the task of liberating the eastern territory from the occupation of the Russians.

We all know that Hindenburg accomplished this task victoriously and acquired for himself, particularly as the result of the famous battle of Tannenberg, a fame which surpassed that of any other Prussian general. Pressure was then brought to bear on the Emperor by his entourage with the object of placing Hindenburg at the head of the general staff; and, as a matter of fact, by a movement of the hand, Emperor William dismissed Von Falkenhayn, who was at that time chief of the general staff, and replaced him by Hindenburg.

The victory of Tannenberg was followed by several others, including that of Rumania, and then it was that the population of Berlin, no longer able to restrain their enthusiasm for Hindenburg, decided to erect in his honor a colossal monument on one of the public squares. The testimony of popular admiration took the shape of a wooden statue, forty-one feet in height, built at the end of Victory avenue, at the[226] foot of the immense column known as the Victory Column, erected after the war of 1871 to commemorate the victory of the Germans over the French.

Opportunity was given to me on several occasions in the course of the outings I was allowed to make during the last year of my captivity, to observe with what veneration the people surrounded this misshapen, inartistic monument standing in the centre of the Tiergarten. Twice every week, as I have previously explained, I was privileged to take a walk around the garden, under the escort of a non-commissioned officer, and on no occasion did I neglect to walk towards this statue. A large number of people, particularly old men and women, accompanied by young children, crowded at the foot of the column near this immense wooden image. They would look at it, examine it with the air of people admiring its proportions and artistic qualities. But what was more curious and interesting was the means adopted to collect charity funds through this new Trojan horse. A scaffolding surrounding the[227] statue furnished means for all to climb to the level of the head and contemplate from this close view the severe features of the great general.

At the foot of the scaffolding there was installed a species of ticket-office where one could purchase nails at a cost of one mark each (twenty-five cents). The purchaser of a nail was handed a hammer and accorded the privilege of driving a nail into the statue. The children particularly showed a great love for this sport. They could be seen crowding noisily round the ticket-office awaiting their turn, grasping in their little hands the silver coin with which to buy the nail. The ceremony of driving in the nail assumed a special character of patriotism. Hence it was quite a sight to see with what pride a child would return from performing the operation amidst the plaudits of the old men and the mothers. In this way large sums of money were levied and it is pertinent to say that Hindenburg was literally riddled with nails. One could choose the particular spot wherein to drive the nail–the feet, legs,[228] body, arms, or head. I remember that copper-headed nails were driven into the head, copper not being so scarce at that period as it became afterwards.

The art reviews of Berlin never dwelt at any length on the artistic qualities of the monument. As a matter of fact, it was an ugly object. One day, however, a violent controversy was started in the newspapers between two sculptors as to which of the two was the originator of this genial idea. What an ambition!

It is no exaggeration to state that the popularity which Hindenburg enjoyed in Germany at this epoch was greater even than the veneration with which the Emperor himself was surrounded. Indeed, several non-commissioned officers often told me confidentially that Hindenburg’s popularity was very much greater than that enjoyed by the Emperor. The ascendency Hindenburg acquired over the imagination of the people never, in fact, ceased to disturb the mind of the Emperor. For this reason, at each new victory achieved under Hindenburg, Wilhelm[229] would hasten eagerly to the battlefield and from the point where the victory was won he would flash a telegram to the Empress with the studied object of impressing on the minds of his subjects that his was really the strategic genius responsible for the success achieved. So much was this true that whenever a military operation developed itself in favor of Germany, either in Galicia or in Rumania, we knew how to predict, a day or two ahead, that a sensational despatch from the Kaiser to the Empress would be published in the newspapers. Rarely were we mistaken.

Among the prisoners of British nationality at the Stadtvogtei was one who, on several occasions, was suspected of exaggerated sympathies for the cause of Germany. He had become very unpopular, and many British prisoners refused to speak to him or have anything to do with him whatever. One day Mr. Williamson, to whom I have referred in a previous chapter, was called into the office to receive a package of provisions which had just arrived from England. After his package[230] had been examined, another parcel was offered to him with the request that he carry it to the Englishman–the one I have referred to as being under suspicion–whose cell was situated on the same floor as that occupied by Williamson. The latter, who spoke a little German, formally refused to take charge of the package, saying to the non-commissioned officer, and in the presence of others: “I will not take the package, for I do not wish to have anything to do with this bloody German.” Williamson then left the office, taking with him only his own package.

The incident caused some commotion, as the non-commissioned officers reported the unsympathetic remark made by one prisoner towards another. On the following day all the prisoners of British nationality were requested to go down to a cell on the ground floor, and there the officer in charge of the prison addressed to us a very severe remonstrance regarding the incident. I recall one remark in particular. It was to the effect that[231] “he did not venture to hope that we would openly renounce our sympathies towards Great Britain, but he would not tolerate for one instant any unkindly, disrespectful remark against Germany.” He cited the case in particular of Mr. Williamson and also that of Mr. Keith who, he said, was born in Germany, who had profited from Germany’s hospitality, who had received his education in the Public schools of the empire and who, nevertheless, every time an occasion offered itself, manifested his antipathy towards the country of his adoption. The officer finally menaced us with the remark that whoever was guilty in the future of disrespectful remarks would be severely punished.

This attitude of Officer Block created further prejudice amongst the British prisoners, and two of them, whose names I will not mention, organized a huge joke at his expense. Through a very clever stratagem, one of the pass-keys was juggled from one of the non-commissioned officers. This key would open every one of the doors inside the prison, but it would not open the outer door. With the aid of[232] this key the two prisoners in question conceived the idea of unmercifully teasing the officer.

With much difficulty we managed to smuggle into the jail a copy of the London Daily Telegraph twice a week, in spite of an interdiction of all English and French newspapers. Needless to say, the Telegraph was circulated amongst all the British prisoners, and after each and every one of us had read it, the operation was crowned as a great joke against Officer Block himself.

By the aid of the aforesaid key, then, the door of the office would be opened during the breakfast hour while the officer was away, or during the closing hours of the day after he had left the jail, and the forbidden Daily Telegraph placed on his desk.

The second time this was done the officer became very angry and placed a non-commissioned officer at his door during his absence. This created a little difficulty, but our friends were not to be rebuffed by such a small matter.

As I tried to explain in a previous chapter,[233] the section of the jail we occupied was triangular in shape. At seven o’clock in the evening a non-commissioned officer started to close the doors. He would first close the doors on one side of the triangle, and after doubling the angle he would start the operation on the second side. It was at this moment that one of the prisoners, occupying a cell on the third side, still open, would come surreptitiously with the famous key, open the door of one of the locked cells, and at the same time give the key to the occupant of the cell. He would then return hastily to his own cell. This was done, of course, very quickly and without being seen by the non-commissioned officer, who continued closing and locking the cells on the third side of the triangle, and then, under the impression that every prisoner was locked up, he would leave the jail.

In the course of the evening, or a little later, the British prisoner having a copy of the Daily Telegraph would, with the aid of the key, enter the office at the end of the corridor and succeed in putting the[234] newspaper on the desk of the officer. He would return to his cell and his door would remain unlocked all night. On the following morning the non-commissioned officer would start to unlock the doors, invariably retracing the steps he had taken the previous evening. The same prisoner, coming out from his cell in the morning, would hurry across the side of the triangle still closed and would be handed the key from the one who had performed the overnight operation; would turn the key in the lock, and return to his own cell. When the non-commissioned officer reached the last side of the triangle he would find all the doors locked.

This stratagem was repeated for about ten days and amused all the prisoners in the Stadtvogtei more than I can describe. The officer took every means imaginable to catch the culprit, but, happily, he never succeeded. Finally, when he decided to place a sentry at the door of his office throughout the night, the owner of the key was forced to abandon his practical joking.


Turkey was handsomely represented at the Stadtvogtei during a couple of years; the Turk prisoners were one Raschid and the other Tager.

Raschid was a young man, about thirty-five years of age. He was lodged in a cell on the floor above ours and there kept in solitary confinement. He was arrested while passing through Germany, because he, too, openly manifested his sympathies for France. Like Tager, his compatriot, he had received a French education, and had lived in Paris for several years. This poor Raschid, who was locked up all day long, was not allowed to read or smoke, but several among us when apprised of his hard lot succeeded from time to time in providing him with some French books, cigarets and also with a little food. Professor Henri Marteau, the celebrated French violinist, was particularly moved by the misfortunes of Raschid. He was allowed to play the instrument in his cell, which during the latter part of his captivity was situated on the side of the triangle facing the cell in which Raschid was confined.[236] And there he would draw from his violin marvelous strains that would send a ray of comfort to the poor Turk’s soul.

One night I was called to Raschid’s cell. He was very ill. And while we talked together I obtained a great deal of information from him. The conversation, being in French, was not understood by the attendant non-commissioned officer.

Raschid believed at that time that he had been entirely forgotten by the military authorities. He was confined for over five months before hearing one single reason why he was so barbarously treated. Then upwards of five months after his arrest, he was taken to the office of Gen. Von Kessel, high commanding officer in the Steps of Brandenburg. Raschid, with whom I talked on the day following this interview, related the incidents of his conversation with the great general. Von Kessel informed him that he would soon be liberated; that he would travel by express train through the Balkans on his way to Constantinople. The general asked him the following questions amongst others:


“How long have you been in jail?”

“One hundred and sixty-two days,” answered Raschid.

“How long have you been in solitary confinement?”

“One hundred and sixty-two days.”

Here the general burst out laughing.

“One hundred and sixty-two days!” he exclaimed; “how is that?”

“I do not know,” replied Raschid.

“This is strange! This is strange! This is strange!” repeated the high Prussian commander.

Without asking further information, the general sent Raschid back to his cell. A few days later Raschid left us for better surroundings.

Tager was a man about fifty years of age, who came to Berlin provided with a passport from the German Minister in Switzerland. He was to return to Paris, where he resided, but one day was arrested and brought to the Stadtvogtei. He was never told during his captivity–which lasted four months–why he was interned. For my part, I never knew any other reason[238] than that he had expressed pro-French sentiments.

One day he was informed that he was to leave the jail for a French officers’ internment camp. His departure was fixed for December 7, 1915. During his short (?) sojourn among us Tager won the esteem of the prisoners of British nationality. I was the only one, however, to whom he confided anything about himself. He informed me one day, in great confidence, that he was a Great Rabbi of Turkestan. Judging by the way he pronounced his title, one would believe that his rank in Mohammedan countries corresponded to that of a lord in England. He entreated me not to reveal this to anyone.

Well, the British prisoners met together in a cell and decided to offer him a luncheon at the jail on the day of his departure. It was a formidable enterprise.

On the day fixed, a table of fifteen plates was laid in my cell. The plates, I need hardly remark, had to be set very close one to the other! At one o’clock, three of us went as a delegation to bring Tager, who[239] did not understand what the whole thing meant.

Before luncheon, I told my British comrades that it was my intention to “reveal” to them, when the toasts were proposed, that our guest, Tager, was a Grand Rabbi of Turkestan, and although this title meant nothing to me or to them, I urged that they should display great enthusiasm at my disclosure and give Tager an ovation.

Luncheon was about to end, when I got up to propose the health of Tager. In concluding my speech, I duly informed my friends that I was about to create a sensation amongst them. Then, amid profound silence, I solemnly said that I deemed it my duty, notwithstanding the natural modesty of Mr. Tager, to reveal one of his titles to universal respect and admiration.

“Mr. Tager,” I said, “is a Grand Rabbi of Turkestan, a fact which he always hid from us.”

On this statement, everyone stood up and united in a loud chorus of “bravos.” Then, according to time-honored custom, one of the party led the popular refrain,[240] “For he’s a jolly good-fellow.” We had scarcely got through the first part of the song when Hufmeyer, a non-commissioned officer, burst into my cell and called on us to stop. He was too late, however. We had then given full vent to our enthusiasm for Mr. Tager.

Liebknecht was not the only one to draw upon himself the wrath of the military authorities in 1915, 1916, and 1917.

I shall never forget the pathetic sight presented by a worthy old fellow who was interned with us for many months. He was Professor Franz Mehring, a gentleman seventy-one years of age. In April, 1915, Mehring issued a proclamation in favor of an immediate peace. The proclamation contained not only his signature, but also those of Rosa Luxemburg and de Ledebour. This was sufficient to merit a taste of the Stadtvogtei. Mehring, like Borchardt, belonged to the Spartacus group. A very learned man and a fine talker, he enabled us to spend with him many interesting and never-to-be-forgotten[241] hours. These names of Mehring and Borchardt, of which I had guarded but a slight remembrance, have become of great importance since the revolution broke out in Germany. Mehring remained for some time in the jail. After his liberation he became a candidate for the seat left vacant by Liebknecht at Potsdam. He was defeated, but his subsequent candidature had a happier sequel in his election, for another constituency, to the Prussian Diet. He was returned by a large majority and at the time of writing is a member of the Prussian Parliament.



In a preceding chapter, I referred to an officer at the Kommandantur by the name of Wolff. He was a German Jew who could “give points” to Prussians! He displayed a large number of decorations, among which one noticed the emblem of a Turkish Order worn in the centre of the abdomen! Amongst ourselves we frequently made fun of this barrel-bellied officer, carrying a kind of crescent on his front! I wish to relate here an incident in which I was a participant:

Every Tuesday and Friday, during the last year of my captivity, I was allowed, as the reader knows, to take a walk in the Tiergarten accompanied by a non-commissioned officer of the jail. Orders had been given, however, that my escort was never to be a non-commissioned officer named[243] Hoch, an Alsatian. In the course of my conversation with Hoch, I had frequently expressed a desire to have him some day for my walking companion. He was quite willing, but the sergeant-major, in this instance, had the whole say and Hoch was not called upon for a long time to be my guardian. In the month of August, 1917, however, Hoch was requested to accompany me on my promenade in the park.

The instructions which had been given to the jail officials concerning me were very strict. I was not supposed to know that, but I knew it perfectly well. The non-commissioned officer, it had been ordered, was to leave the jail with me at two o’clock, proceed to the nearest urban railway station–that is to say about 300 feet from the jail–then board a train and go direct to the park. The promenade was to be made “inside” the park. I was not to be allowed to walk “outside,” neither to talk to anyone nor enter any other place.

On the afternoon I now speak of we had just left the jail, when I proposed to Hoch that we walk through the streets in order[244] that I might buy a few cigars. Hoch willingly acceded to my request and we entered Koenig street. We bought some cigars, and from this street we crossed to Unter-den-Linden avenue, which leads directly to Brandenburg Gate which opens on the Tiergarten. I mention these details to show that we took the shortest route from the jail to the garden.

On Unter-den-Linden avenue we suddenly found ourselves face to face with Captain Wolff, of the Kommandantur. The officer knew me well, having met me four or five times at the jail, where he came every week to take the statements of prisoners who, through petitions or otherwise, had complained of the treatment inflicted upon them.

He advanced towards me and spoke thus:

“You are going for a walk in the garden?”

“Yes,” I answered.

I carried a small parcel in my hand.

“And,” said he,[245] “you make some little purchases when you go out of jail?”

I thought it well to answer affirmatively.

“Au revoir!” said he sharply, and went his way.

I noticed that my Alsatian escort was very much annoyed by this accidental meeting. He remained taciturn all the way back to the jail.

Two days elapsed and Officer Block then came to my cell, anxiety being written all over his face.

“You went out this week?” he inquired.

“Yes, on Tuesday.”

“Where did you go?”

“To the park.”

“Did you go to any other place?”


“This is strange,” he said. “I have just received from the Ober-Kommando a document which contains a single phrase to the following effect: ‘Why have instructions been transgressed in the case of Dr. Beland?’”

I feigned bewilderment. I could not understand how we could have transgressed the orders, for, I remarked, we went direct from the jail to the Tiergarten.


“Did you meet anyone?” asked the officer.


“Who was it?”

“Captain Wolff, of the Kommandantur.”

“Ah!” said he, “there is the whole story. Where did you meet him?”

“On Unter-den-Linden avenue.”

“On Unter-den-Linden avenue!” the officer cried; “on Unter-den-Linden avenue?”

“Yes, and what harm was done?” I demanded. “Am I not allowed to promenade within the limits of the park? How can I get there more direct than by following Unter-den-Linden avenue?”

“Ah!” said he, “that is true, but it is not according to the orders we have received.”

And he thereupon explained how, under these instructions, I was to go to the park, accompanied by a non-commissioned officer, by urban train without however passing through the streets. He added that while I was not supposed to know these[247] instructions, the non-commissioned officer would be punished if he “ignored them.” I expressed regret to see a fine fellow like Non-Commissioned Officer Hoch implicated in the matter. He agreed that Hoch was a dutiful man as a rule.

The idea at once occurred to me of saving Hoch from punishment if it were possible. I accordingly asked the officer to delay his answer to the Ober-Kommando for an hour. Having granted the request, he left me and I immediately went to the room of Non-Commissioned Officer Hoch.

Directly he saw me he realized that something was wrong.

“We are having some annoyances,” he said.

“Yes, but the matter is not very serious. This is the trouble we have to face.”

I related what had just taken place between the officer and myself, whereupon the poor non-commissioned officer, lifting his arms, exclaimed: “I am done for!”

“No, no,” I said,[248] “I assure you that all is not lost. There is a means to arrange matters.”

“How?” he asked.

“Well, according to regulations, one day each week you spend the afternoon in town. Let us suppose,” I said, “that the afternoon the instructions concerning me were read by the sergeant-major, you were absent.”

“Ah!” replied Hoch; “but I was present.”

“I am not asking you,” I said, “if you were present. I am affirming that you were absent.…”

“Very well,” said he, “but the sergeant-major will remember that I was present.”

“I will attend to this,” I said. “For the time being we will take it that you were absent when the instructions were read.”

I left him, and proceeded to the sergeant-major’s room. This officer was at that time a sick man, and had consulted me three or four times about some kidney trouble he was suffering. He was surprised to see me and asked the reason for my visit.

“Well,” I said,[249] “you remember the famous instructions concerning me? Three months ago, when you read them to the non-commissioned officers, Non-Commissioned Officer Hoch was out on his afternoon leave, was he not?”

“That is true,” he said.

“Well, on my last outing, I asked him to pass along Koenig street with me, and he consented.”

“Then there was no offence,” said the sergeant-major.

“Certainly not,” I agreed. “There is need only for a little explanation.”

I went on speaking of other matters, particularly of his illness, and leaving him then I hurried off to see Officer Block. I explained to him that when the instructions concerning myself were read three months previously Non-Commissioned Officer Hoch was absent.

“Well,” he said, “I will report in that sense.”

We waited four days for the outcome of this explanation, and during this time Hoch was in terrible fear. He imagined himself condemned to the dungeon or sent[250] back to the trenches where three of his brothers had been killed.

Finally, on the fourth day, Lieutenant Block told me he had received the answer from the Ober-Kommando. “The explanation,” the document stated, “is satisfactory, but Non-Commissioned Officer Hoch must be severely reprimanded.”

“I hope the reprimand will not be too severe,” I ventured to say.

Lieut. Block did not reply. A German officer never commits himself when discipline is in question.

He left me, and a few minutes later the Alsatian non-commissioned officer was summoned before him. The following colloquy took place between them:

“Non-Commissioned Officer Hoch?”

“Yes, my Lieutenant.”

“You went out with prisoner Beland last week?”

“Yes, my Lieutenant.”

“You passed along Koenig street and Unter-den-Linden avenue?”


“Yes, my Lieutenant.”

“You know now that this was against the instructions received?”

“Yes, my Lieutenant.”

“I reprimand you severely.”

“Very well, my Lieutenant.”

“You may go.”

“Very well, my Lieutenant.”

And Hoch turned on his heels and disappeared.

The next minute he was in my cell, laughing in his sleeve at the happy turn of events in the adventure.

One can see that the whole trouble resulted from an excess of zeal on the part of the notorious Wolff.



I had enjoyed for two days the charming hospitality of Holland when I was invited to visit the British General Consulate at Rotterdam. The previous day I was at The Hague, where I registered at the British Legation. Responding now to the invitation I left my hotel at ten o’clock and called at the General Consulate at Rotterdam. Here I was informed that it had been arranged that I should leave Holland on the following day en route for England, the voyage across the Channel to be made in a hospital ship. I remarked that it would be quite impossible for me to leave Holland so soon.

“Why?” I was asked.

“Because,” I answered,[253] “I received in Berlin the assurance that my daughter–who had been in Belgium for three years, and to whom the German authorities have up to the present time refused permission to leave–will receive a passport for the frontier of Holland. I must, therefore, wait until she arrives from Belgium.”

“But,” said the young officer in charge, “this will not do. The Legation expects that you will leave for England to-morrow. I would suggest, as we have only incomplete information on this subject, that you go to The Hague and discuss the matter there.”

The same afternoon I proceeded to the British Legation at The Hague, where I had the pleasure of meeting a charming officer of the British Navy. He explained that it was quite true that I was expected to leave for England the next day. I again urged my objection to this course.

“Am I not, after all, the one most concerned in this question of repatriation?” I asked him.[254] “It is of the utmost importance that I should stay in Holland until the arrival of my daughter, who has been detained for so long in Belgium. It will be almost impossible for me to maintain correspondence with her from England.”

The gallant officer admitted that from this point of view my presence in Holland was likely to be more useful and effective than if I were in England.

“At the same time,” he said, “you seem to overlook the fact that your case is a special one. You have been exchanged for a German prisoner in England.”

“I know this,” I answered.

“Well, then,” the officer continued, “this German prisoner whose liberty has been conceded in exchange for your release cannot leave England until you arrive there.”

Whatever spirit moved me, I could not help feeling a certain amount of satisfaction at hearing this explanation.

“Is what you have said quite true?” I asked.

“Assuredly,” was the answer.

“Then,” I said,[255] “why should I not let him stew in his own juice for a time? Two years ago I was informed when in jail that I was then to be liberated. They kept me in a state of anxious expectation for more than two weeks and then shattered my hopes for freedom. I quite approve your efforts to persuade me to proceed immediately to England, but you may take my word for it that I have not the slightest intention to leave Holland to-morrow, nor the day after, nor before, as a matter of fact, such time as the German authorities have released my daughter, who is detained in Belgium. You may inform the British authorities that, in this question of exchange, the most interested party declares himself satisfied that I consider myself sufficiently ‘exchanged’ to allow, if they think proper, the German prisoner to leave England. On the other hand, if the British Government consider it proper to retain its German prisoner until I arrive in England, I make no pretence to hide the fact that I shall feel an extreme satisfaction at the manner in which affairs have turned.”

The officer smiled and assured me that he would at once telegraph the result of our conversation to the British authorities.

I learned, however, that two weeks later on Von Buelow, who had been Krup[256]p’s representative in England before war was declared, and who had been detained in that country since the outbreak of hostilities, had arrived in Holland on his way to Germany. Von Buelow was the prisoner whom the British Government had consented to liberate in exchange for me. Three weeks later my daughter was liberated from Belgium. We met, after a separation of three years, at Rosendaal, and for the next three weeks, happy in our regained liberty, we enjoyed in a delicious atmosphere hospitality of this charming country, moving freely amongst the worthy Dutch population and admiring their old customs and strange garb. They were days of happiness never to be forgotten.

However, the hour when we would resume the journey towards our Canadian home would soon be at hand. Breathing the pure air of liberty, soul o’erflowing with a desire to see once more those landscapes of America we had not seen for four years, we proceeded to make the necessary preparations for crossing the North Sea to England.



For eighteen months these waters had been infested with pirates. Hereabouts the German submarines had two principal bases–one in Kiel Bay and the other at Zeebrugge. From these two points, and particularly from Zeebrugge, the German pirates could, in a few hours, menace an area as far as the English coast as well as the Rotterdam-Harwich sea route. This was their zone of operations par excellence.

And well we knew it! We had discussed the danger with Canadian officers, whose guests we were at Sheveningen where they had established for themselves the next best residence to a home. Here I was introduced by the gallant Major Ewart Osborne, of Toronto, and I have a very happy recollection of the few hours I spent there with him and his comrades.

We discussed submarines; we talked of Canada, and ventured to speculate as to the possible epoch of their return.

The British Admiralty had entire charge of the postal and passenger service between England and Holland. Convoys[258] went and convoys came; that is all we could tell. As to the hour of departure, the point of embarkation, the names of the steamers, the route to be followed, the port of arrival, passengers were kept in the most complete ignorance.

When a permit to cross to England was obtained, the traveler had to present himself every day between eleven o’clock and noon for instructions. Thus we paid daily visits at this hour to the British Consulate at Rotterdam. This went on for one week and then we were told verbally, and secretly, to board a train at a certain station, at a given hour.

We were, of course, delighted. We had left the Consulate barely five minutes, and were waiting on the platform of a tramway station, when an individual approached and addressing me in perfect English, with an accent peculiar to a London citizen, said:

“At what hour do we leave?”

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“Yes, at what hour do the steamers leave? I forget if it is this afternoon or to-night,” he replied.


“I do not know to what steamers you refer,” I said.

“I refer to the steamers on which ‘we’ are to cross to England,” he answered.

Holland during the war was literally overrun with German spies.

We knew this, because at the hotel in Rotterdam, where I stayed for a few weeks, “congenial” persons took advantage of any and every pretext to engage in conversation with me. I had been warned on my first visit to the Consulate against these “friends.”

When my interlocutor asked the first question I nearly fell into the trap. I was about to give him the information he sought when a suspicion flashed through my mind and put me on my guard.

To his last question, therefore, I answered, in a confidential manner:

“Exactly one week from to-day, at six o’clock a.m.”

“That was what I thought I understood,” said the man masquerading as an Englishman. His remark removed all doubts from my mind. I had been speaking to a spy.


On this day, June 30, travelers who had permits to cross to England proceeded towards Hoch Van Holland, where we arrived at seven o’clock in the evening. Five passenger ships awaited us at the wharf. We went on board, but no one knew the hour of departure–not even the ship’s officers, we were told.

Saturday night, Sunday, and Sunday night passed and the boats remained there. Not until a radiograph message was received could we leave Holland. Finally the expected message came, and at eleven o’clock on Monday morning we sailed from the mouth of the Meuse River. The convoy of five ships bearing thousands of passengers of all ages and conditions slowly advanced northwards, nursing the side coast of Holland until we reached Sheveningen. At this point we turned to the west and our boats headed towards England. We were barely out of the Dutch waters when, suddenly, a cloud of smoke appeared at the horizon in front of us.

What was it? We did not know. This black spot, hardly perceptible, grew bigger[261] and advanced towards us. It was the convoy which left England that morning and was now entering the waters of Holland.

What a grand spectacle it was! Twenty-four ships in three lines cut through the waves, each ship vomiting thick black smoke. In the centre, preceded by a daring cruiser, were the seven ships bearing passengers. On either side were eight leviathans of the sea, boats of a particular model. They ploughed the waters in all directions, seeking an enemy whom they would devour!

After some seemingly fine disorder there were exchanges of signals, a run to right here, a run to left there–the whole business taking but three minutes–the outlook was clear again. Seven passenger ships were sailing in security along the Dutch coasts, the protecting warships, seventeen in number, had turned back. The majestic convoy proceeding west, and modeled on the one which had just come east, was negotiating the passage of the most dangerous zone in the North Sea.


All went well until two o’clock in the afternoon. Then a mine field was signaled. Some of the mines, not completely submerged, could be seen on the surface of the water. They looked like so many soft felt hats. Cruisers and torpedo boats at once came into action. Their marvelous artillery men pointed their guns and fired. A second afterwards a terrific explosion from a mine, accompanied by a column of water shooting up towards the sky, told us that the aim had been accurate. After an hour’s running fire we had crossed the mine field, and were proceeding at good speed towards England, whose lights we saw at about nine o’clock. We were due to arrive at the mouth of the Thames at dusk.

From all sides were heard tributes of high admiration for this marvelous service of protection, extending over the world’s seas and maintained unceasingly, without rest or respite, by the intrepid sailors of the British navy!

We were about to cross the line of the two powerful lights, which marked the limit of the waters frequented by the submarine[263] pirates, when the seventeen warships approached quite near, as though to embrace us. Then, after exchanging a few signals, quickly, silently, they half turned round and were lost sight of in the offing. On the high sea, in the dark of the night, they went to fulfill another mission of humanity and protection. And each and every one of these brave sailors carried with him the homage of our unbounded gratitude and admiration.

On July 2, 1918, we arrived in England, and the inspection which I had dreaded so much on account of the numerous written works I had brought with me from Germany was of the most simple kind. At the inspection office at Gravesend, where I had the advantage of meeting some of the chief officials, they showed themselves exceedingly conciliating and accommodating towards me. They did not delay my journey to London, and promised that all my papers, documents, letters, etc., should be returned to me at the capital through the office of the High Commissioner of Canada. There was a big trunk full of these[264] documents, and I wish here to acknowledge the courtesy of the officials and to thank them for having kept their word so punctually and considerately.

Of my sojourn of four weeks in London I must mention three events which will always remain impressed on my memory. The first, of course, is the gracious invitation I received from his Majesty the King to visit him at Buckingham Palace. On the day arranged, at noon, I had the very great honor to be received by the King with a courtesy and a kindness which deeply moved me. It was impossible not to notice on his Majesty’s features marks of the anxiety and disquietude he had borne during the past four years. It was at the time of the new and terrible offensive of the Germans in Champagne, and it was also–though hoping for it we did not then know it–the signal for the counter-offensive which was to lead the allied armies from one success to another and so on to the definite breakdown of the German military machine.

I took leave of his Majesty, but not[265] without asking leave to express to him, on behalf of his French-Canadian subjects particularly, our congratulations and best wishes on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of his wedding, which had been celebrated the day previous at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

It was at about this time that I had the pleasure of meeting, after about four years’ separation, my stepson, an officer in the Belgian army, who had obtained leave of absence to come from the battlefields of Flanders to meet me in England. I had been accompanied from Holland by the second son of my wife. He had, at great risk to his life, crossed the electrical barrier which separated Belgium from Holland. His purpose was now to enter the Belgian army. The two brothers met for the first time in four years in the hall of a London hotel, and a few days afterwards both left England together and resumed duty on the fields of battle.

A few days before the date fixed for my passage to Canada I received from General Turner an invitation to visit the[266] Canadian camps at Frencham Pond and Bramshott. At Frencham Pond we saw the troops who had recently arrived from Canada. Here they received their first military training in England. They were afterward transferred to Bramshott, where their military education was completed.

At both places it was my privilege to address a few words to the Canadian troops, and to congratulate them on their fine deportment, which, I may add, excited general admiration alike in England and France. The day I spent with our Canadian officers and soldiers will remain one of the happiest remembrances of my life. More especially, I shall never forget the impression created by the march-past of the 10th Canadian Reserve Regiment (French-Canadian), Col. Desrosiers taking the salute. One could not witness such a demonstration without feeling throughout his whole being a thrill of enthusiasm and admiration.

I sought to express to the men the pride and gratitude we felt towards them, and[267] I promised to bring back to the Canadian people the message I could plainly read on their faces, which may be thus expressed: Courage, Patience, and Confidence in Victory.

As I write these lines the exploits of these brave Canadians, without distinction of race, have been crowned with success–have been enveloped in immortal glory. Victory, so long doubted, is reflected in all its radiance in the folds of their flag. All honor to them! History will record their deeds and heroism in letters of gold.

And the memory of those who have made the supreme sacrifice will be enshrined throughout this land with perpetual flowers, whilst the incense of our gratitude will continue to ascend until the last drop of the majestic rivers of Canada has rolled by their mournful homes on its way to the sea. Let us bow our heads to those who return from the mighty struggle and honor the memory of the still more glorious who, enveloped in the love of Britain, France and Canada, repose in the soil, witness of their exploits.



To properly understand the German mentality one must turn to the country’s military history. Germany–that is, Prussia and her forty millions of people; a few smaller kingdoms such as Bavaria, Saxony, and Wurtemburg; and some fifteen lesser States–was federated in 1871. In 1864 Prussia made victorious war against Denmark. In 1866 she carried on another victorious campaign against Austria. Then, in 1870, after an exceedingly adroit diplomatic campaign which assured the neutrality of the other great nations of Europe, she, by the falsification of a despatch, inaugurated the Franco-Prussian war. She dragged into it the other German States right under the walls of Paris, and at Versailles founded the German Empire, comprising twenty-six States, with the[269] King of Prussia proclaimed as Emperor.

She was at the zenith of her power. Bismarck the statesman, Von Moltke the soldier, were hailed as demigods after the conclusion of a treaty which wrested from France two of her Provinces and imposed an indemnity of five billions; these two men were held up to the universal admiration of the German people.

The artistic sense and idealism which had impregnated the German soul up to this period, even–which seems impossible now–under Frederic II., now gave way to the new-born Positivism. Bismarck had said: “Might is right,” and “One has only the right that Force can sanction.” These maxims had justified those who framed them in 1864, 1866, and again in 1870. Henceforward for the Emperor, for his entourage, for the hundreds of thousands of officers, war was to be an element, a factor, and the chief author of the nation’s grandeur. This was the spirit which dominated the classes, and it must be introduced to, and spread amongst, the masses. Literature, science and the arts were made[270] to contribute to the work of this new formation. But it was chiefly through education and legislation that the new principle was expounded. Veterans of the war of 1870 became so many tutors who trained the mind of the rising generation. The children were taken regularly to the museums where they were shown the flags and cannons taken from the enemy.

An old officer was showing these trophies to his two grandsons.

“Who is our enemy?” he asked.

“France,” replied the boys.

“We defeated them, did we not?”


“And we shall defeat all our enemies, present and future,” the veteran declared.

“Yes,” the children agreed.

“You are good and true children of the Fatherland,” their grandfather told them.

The standard reading-books in all the schools were full of stories recounting valiant and successful exploits of the German soldiers–cavalry charges, the taking of cities by storm, epic encounters with swords, all leading up to the exultant conclusion[271] that the glory of German arms had dazzled the world. The intellects of the youth were thus impregnated, saturated, with principles of militarism from the first days at school. And if one dared venture to raise a voice against the “sanctus sanctorum” of the caste born of the spirit of Bismarck and Von Moltke, he was silenced by force. Was not Germany, like Pygmalion, surrounded by enemies who were ever ready to pounce upon and crush her? Therefore all must be prepared to advance every means for self-defence. Everything undertaken to build up the enormous mechanism of the barracks and the munition factories was for protection and self-preservation. Against whom? Against a world of enemies. This was the bogey which the pan-German press paraded before a population stricken with terror. The next war was to be, as appearances were represented, one of defence. Military and civilians of this caste, estimated then at half a million adults, while seeking to hide their real intentions from the rest of the German population, of course from the[272] people of other countries, always invoked the name of Bismarck. He was made the great national hero. And what does Bismarck say? First that “Might is Right,” and then that “War is the negation of order.” Why does he say this? Everybody knows now. It is an old story. Wait. The Man of Iron has a purpose. Read further: “The most efficient means to force an enemy nation to sue for peace is to devastate its territory and terrorize its civil population.”

This new theory, based on the victory of 1870, so obtained, raised very little protest in Germany. It is monstrous, but it is true. And the disciples of Bismarck, having elaborated a finished theory on his guilty words and deeds, first shocked the good people of Germany, but the people soon became reconciled to the new faith. In short, a credulous people allowed themselves to be carried away by this wave of militarism which spread into the remotest corners of the territory.

As for the military caste itself, its members quite believed their prodigious preparedness[273] of forty years was destined to make Germany mistress of the universe. As for the masses, they were led to believe that all the preparations were a means of defence and protection. The sinister designs of the schemers were concealed from the eyes of the credulous, and those of the masses who realized the actual game of the ringleaders in the Empire dared not ask any questions. One is governed or is not governed. And these people were being governed.

Moreover, why trouble one’s conscience? Had not this system justified itself in 1870? These two Provinces, these five billions of moneys, wrested, extorted from France, were they not the two determining factors in the tremendous industrial impulsion which would open the gates to Germany’s commercial preponderance in all the markets of the world? No wonder the masses kept silent.

Intensive militarism, then, became a religion of the State. Philosophers, litterateurs, and historians having done all they could to attain the dreamed-of purpose,[274] others followed their lead. Each and every discovery in mechanics, optics, chemistry was studied and tested by its respective author in the light of the possibility of its practical adaptability and utility in the work of destruction.

The works of art also showed the effects of the enveloping atmosphere.

The Kaiser’s only daughter paraded in the uniform of a Hussar, while her august father talked of “keeping the powder dry.” One day, on his own domains at harvest time, he was seized by mad admiration at the sight of the millions of ears of golden corn.

“They remind me,” he said, “of the ocean of lances of my Uhlans.”

On another occasion, during a hunt near the French frontier, when the Kaiser was surrounded as usual by sycophants and toadies attired in all the resplendence of their military uniforms, the then Most Highest allowed a mysterious word to escape his lips. Having half drawn his sword, he snapped it back into its scabbard and exclaimed:


“They tremble in Europe.”

Then he burst out laughing.

And now came the decade which preceded the world war. Germany rejected Great Britain’s proposal that each side should limit its naval armament and halt for a while. Convinced at this time that her tremendous military machine was not only invincible, but irresistible, Germany applied herself feverishly to a mad rush of naval construction with the object of making her shores intangible. The idea was that in this way Britain would be kept quiet and Germany would be able to proceed to crush the Franco-Russian entente and obtain continental domination. From this to universal control only one step was required.

This was what the German military caste had in mind–that is to say, the Kaiser, the Crown Prince, and the 40,000 or 50,000 officers and civilians recruited from the nobility, high society, from the professions and the educated officials. And the crowd–the masses–would go to sleep each evening blinded to the facts, but convinced[276] that numberless enemies were preparing to pounce covertly on their Fatherland.

The great hope of the German Government from 1908 to 1914 was to get the war started without it being apparent that Germany provoked it.

But as so often repeated to us by that fine Swiss fellow, Hinterman, who was interned with us, the artifices of the Germans are easily seen through. And all the scheming of the events which preceded the invasion of Belgium, however clever it was, will not prevent history from bringing against William Hohenzollern and his entourage a verdict of guilty.

The interview at Potsdam, on July 5, 1914, in which the Kaiser and the Austrian delegates took part; the ultimatum to Serbia; the refusal of Austria to accept the very satisfactory and conciliating answer of Serbia–and this without previous consultation with Germany–does not all this show that everything was decided on July 5, aforesaid? The rejection by Germany of the proposal for a conference made by[277] Sir Edward Grey, British Minister of Foreign Affairs; the hesitations, the subterfuges of Von Jagow towards Monsieur Cambon, the French Ambassador; the entering of German troops into Belgium during the night of July 31–that is to say two days before the ultimatum of former Emperor William to the King of Belgium; the telegraphic correspondence between the Tsar of Russia, King George, and William II., all, indeed, carries on its face the stamp of Germany’s duplicity.

Of the underhand methods of the authors of the plot and murder at Serajevo, impartial history will tell later.

The mass of the German population when apprised of these historical facts disentangled from all pan-Germanic camouflage will not hesitate to stand as accusers of the real authors of the war; of those, finally, who were the cause of the collective aberration of the nation.

The flight of the Imperial family and the high officers to Holland will not prevent them from escaping the abhorrence of the German people. Can there be a more[278] exemplary and a more bitter punishment at the same time than that meted out to a sovereign by his own subjects?

A portion of this industrious and frugal people undoubtedly allowed themselves to be deceived by their rulers who betrayed them on a pretence of defence; another portion yielded to the temptation for gain and conquest; a few of them allowed themselves, perhaps–Oh, human weakness!–to be fascinated by visions of universal domination, but we are willing to believe that the great majority were but blind tools in the hands of an ambitious militarism.

The allied nations have won a complete, decisive, definite victory. The last head of the hydra of militarism seems to have been battered down for all time.

May peace now be restored for ever among men of good will! But in order to obtain this end, the flag to be hoisted on civilization by the League of Nations will have to bear in its folds the words: Justice, Toleration, Magnanimity!

Justice, that is to say, punishment for[279] the guilty, for the criminals, for the authors of the slaughtering and devastation.

Justice, that is to say, restitution and reparation. Justice, that is to say, indemnity for the millions of women and children who are deprived of their main support.

And why, some will ask, should I speak here of magnanimity? Does not the entire people of Germany and of her allies deserve the most severe condemnation?

In uttering here this word “magnanimity,” I only reflect the thought expressed by the leaders of the three great allied countries, on the day following the armistice: Lloyd George, Clemenceau, and Woodrow Wilson.

And as Mr. Winston Churchill declared on the 4th of July last, at Westminster:[280] “We are bound to the principles for which we are fighting. Those principles alone will enable us to use with wisdom and with justice the victory which we shall gain. Whatever the extent of our victory, those principles would protect the German people. We could not treat them as they have treated Alsace-Lorraine or Belgium or Russia, or as they would treat us all if they had the power.”

It is because the population of a country is composed for the most part of women and children, and because we could not, without stooping to the level of the methods employed in Belgium, for example, make war against women, against children, against property.

Justice will have a field of operations large enough, if it wishes, to reach the conscious authors of the war and of the deeds incompatible with humanitarian principles and contrary to international laws.

(The End.)

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