The beginning in Berlin

A fantastic repost from our Facebook friend Small Town, Great War: Hucknall 1914-1918:

A Nottingham woman, Edith Cantelo, was touring Germany as the nations mobilised for war. Her account begins on 3rd August 1914:

“That night – or, rather, early next morning – there was a fearful row in the street. Trumpets were blown and flags exhibited at windows, and then we were informed of the declaration of war. When England declared war on Germany [2300, 4th August] there was still further excitement. We wondered how we should get back, for all the horses and motors were being used for mobilisation purposes and we were 20 miles from a station. The next day we got notice that we were going to be sent to Baden-Baden and handed over to the British Consul, who would get us through, via Hamburg, to England.

“We were sent away with only our hand luggage, and reached Baden-Baden at ten o’clock at night. Then we were kept two hours having our luggage carefully searched and our names and addresses, and descriptions taken down. We afterwards received a small ticket-of-leave paper, which we always had to carry with us to show to the police. We were also told that we must not leave the town.

“The people were very nice and the landlord of our hotel on one occasion stuck up for us. It happened like this. Some German people came to him one day and inquired where he kept the Englishers, at the same time making some very disparaging remarks. The landlord pointed out to the man that it was not our fault that England declared war, and that we could not help being there at that time.

“We borrowed money right and left and an English lady who had been brought from Todtmoos, but who was taken ill and went into a sanatorium, lent us a considerable sum.

”A German told me one say that the German Army expected to dine in London on Christmas Day. Another told me, ‘When we have got England we are going to make learning of the German language there compulsory. Every one will have to speak German. He said it quite solemnly and sincerely, and I replied that I was sorry for the people in England, as German was a very hard language.

“Really, we were afraid that we would not find any England left, for we got nothing but German news of victory after victory. Every time news of another great German victory came through the church bells in Baden-Baden were rung and flags were put out. They even put German flags out of our bedroom windows.

“They are very enthusiastic, and regard the war as a really sacred one. Their one motto is, ‘It is a just war, and God is with us, so we must win!’ They worship the Kaiser.

“Extraordinary stories of English brutality are current throughout Germany. One very prevalent was that the English soldier was provided with a kind of steel instrument with a hook. This he used to tear open the wounds of German soldiers and to take their eyes out. As a matter of fact, they later discovered that the thing was a patent meat tin opener!

“Although we were everywhere treated very kindly, I do not think I shall go to Germany again at any rate not for a considerable time.”

Enthusiastic crowds on the Unter den Linden, Berlin, 1914.

enthusiastic crowds on the Unter den Linden, Berlin, 1914.

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