World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 8.

The Drummond sisters were born and raised on the Clarence River in Australia.

Early in the 20th Century they lived in Berlin, Germany, and worked for the opera company there, for many years.

When war broke out in 1914, they were ‘trapped’ for some time – Behind Enemy Lines. This is their story, in their own words.

Still No Good News

‘Lute’ continues the sisters’ story of their plight of being – Behind Enemy Lines

Friday, August 14th 1914- Haeckel, the celebrated Jena scientist, has published an article ascribing to England the blame of the war. “England’s Blut Schuld”, he calls it. He says that the 4th August , 1914, will be one of the blackest days in her annals, and on Sir Edward Grey falls the weight of his wrath. On the other hand, Carnegie publishes his article, and on the Kaiser falls his condemnation. But as Maximillian Harden, the great Socialist editor, remarks: “What’s the use of looking for a cause or the origin of the war? It was in the air, and nothing could prevent it.”

Fraulein Birkenhagen, Jean’s German teacher, called this morning. She’s such a good old sort, offered to lend us money if we were in need etc. She’s taking a course of first aid, ready for the lazarettes.

Fancy, a post card turned up today from Purmall, dated the 30th July. She wanted another pair of bathing shoes sent (this makes the 6th pair in two months),and a pound of coffee. She never mentioned the war, as it broke out on the 4th August. Really, in some things she’s queer. To every friend she wrote a card asking for something or other. She must love getting parcels. She’ll be quite safe in Italy. Won’t there be an excited chase on the high seas when Canada ships its million bags of flour?

The first batch of Americans left yesterday for Holland- about 1000 in all. I think three American battleships are waiting to take the many thousands home. The luggage firm took all their trunks and paraphernalia gratis as a token of good feeling.

Monday, August 17th– We’re still holding out in the heart of Berlin. There has been nothing at all in the papers since the 14th, except that on Saturday all the men who have never served in the army (“Ungediente Landsturm”)are called out, and must go through a course of drill, ready for the day of extremity. Soon there’ll be only invalids and old men left. It’s a dreadful state of affairs. On Friday night the General Staff left Berlin in twenty-four automobiles, and on Saturday the Kaiser departed, so now we’re quite without any importance. The War Department went round buying up all the chocolate from even the smallest grocery shops, but they would take none with a French brand on it. Funny, hunger doesn’t generally ask after the trade mark.

All the stations and bridges round about are guarded by men with loaded rifles, and when Jean, Inez and self went out on Saturday to pay a visit we had to pass under one. We were feeling very guilty, as we looked ‘foreigners’ but enjoyed the excitement of walking past the armed defender of the Vaterland.

Groceries, in fact, everything are scarcely a penny dearer, but the want and distress are extraordinary. Shop girls, servants, factory girls, none have any money, nor any means of support. Every private person who can afford it is feeding children and mothers daily, and the various public bodies are doing their best to relieve the suffering. People are begging from door to door. We just had a man here who looked quite starved. One is glad to help even in a small way.

The famous doggerel of which I told you, has had another line added to it. It runs thus:- “Jeder Schuss ein Russ, Jeder Stoss ein Franzos, Jeder Tritt ein Britt.” (Every kick a Briton). Don’t we come off disparagingly?

I also saw in the paper an excellent example of the different points of view:-

An Englishman said,”Parliament will fight till its last penny”; the German replied,”And the Germans will fight until their last drop of blood.” Since reading this another light was thrown upon the subject:”The Servian will fight until his last cartridge”. The Salvation Army has also been examined, it being, of course, an English institution. No more pennies collected in Germany were to be sent across the Channel,and if this body can continue its good work is doubtful. The reply of the Salvation Army must have surprised the officials, as it was shown that not a nickel coin collected went to London; on the contrary, the branch here, not one member of which is English, has never been able to subsist without the subsidy from London.

A countess was shot in her automobile on Friday on her way to the Red Cross depot, and the next morning a lieutenant and his chauffeur was also treated in the same way by non-discriminating sentries. The War Office was mad. It said these deeds were downright murder, and for the time it could only re-interate that there wasn’t one foreign automobile in the whole of Germany.

To be continued


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