World War I – Behind Enemy Lines.- The Drummond Sisters- 11.

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.

No News but German News

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

The lists of dead and wounded are now being daily published and it must make the heart sick to scan these closely written long columns. The wounded also are in the Berlin Lazarettes, only the ‘slightly’, of course, as the serious cases are not at first transported. They are attended to on the spot in the temporary or field hospitals.

Jean has gone off to see Hilders. They are mad to get to England. Their money is exhausting itself, and they are consequently beginning to feel uneasy. Mrs Hilder is over 60, and I’m afraid wouldn’t stand a life of want and privation.

We had a card from Miss Waller this morning. She was out to see us on Sunday, but unfortunately we missed her as we spent that afternoon at Uncle Hoppe’s. She’s coming again tomorrow.

Inez was also here this morning. Her trousseau ardour is not at all damped, and she’s sewing away and buying all kinds of pretty things, for her future home in Africa. She went down to the American Embassy to see if any of the departing American Embassy  would post a letter from the United States to Africa. She wasn’t successful. I’m afraid it would be rather risky for anyone to go away with closed English letters. Of course all the people whom Inez asked were strangers to her. She said she’ll try at the railway station. My letter was not returned from Switzerland, so perhaps Miss Irvine has it ere this.

Imagine what the Kaiser must feel like if it’s true that Japan has declared war! It would turn me either into a devil of despair or revenge.

We read the most frightful things about the Belgians. One woman chopped off a wounded soldier’s head with an axe. They have the knocked the tombstones off the German graves, have killed right and left in a most terrible manner. I can’t think that it’s true. You see, we only have German newspapers, and already we’ve found them out in fibs, convicted out of their own writings, and as we never did place much confidence in the ‘Lokal-Anzeiger,’ we’re left half the time to get the truth out of the English and French lies that are derisively printed. I wonder how will it all end. That great nightmare of the world being overpopulated can now be laid to rest. For millions of the world’s best men will be sacrificed before these war lords have satisfied their political aims; and the women, well, half of them will be dead too, judging by the already thin and starved faces one sees about.

Berlin has opened its first charity kitchen today, where, for the sum of one penny (10 pfennigs) the really poor can get a dinner. The charity works going on and being organized are legion. Everyone is doing something to lessen the want. Take, for instance, our world, the musical and theatrical one. In every German town, however small, is a theatre or theatres. This means not only artists, but workmen, mechanics, orchestra directors, etc. The “ Deutsches Opern Haus” employs a personal of 600. And in Berlin alone are dozens of theatres. Extend your vision over the whole of Germany, which, I think, in legitimate opera houses totals the goodly number of 300 alone. Then come the countless kinos, varieties, dramatic ventures, concerts and so forth. Can you picture in a slight degree the misery of the artistic profession during war? Trained to nothing but their theatrical work, and having little money and over-strained nerves, what are they to do? Shops can’t employ them, as they long since dismissed practically the half of their working staff; factories are closed as there are no men to work them. Charity, such as Red Cross, etc is done by ladies with means and voluntarily. For downright hard work they are unfitted, and anyhow this market is already overstocked. I often wonder what will happen if the war drags on into months. Germany reckons, with this last effort of putting eleven million men in the field.They can’t fight on empty stomachs, and as prisoners also have to be fed there looms very faintly but visibly on the horizon a food problem.Perhaps I’m pessimistic- but we’ll see.

Thursday, August 20th– Yes, it is really true. Japan has really demanded Kiao Chao from Germany! In the words of Bill Adams: “Well, I’d be blowed!” This is the last straw. Now I can plainly see that matters no longer rest in the hands of men- the gods have taken charge of the reins, and the nations are to be tumbled about in a difficult move.

Isn’t fate a coquette? At the beginning of the war the Germans were praying for the Japs to come in and tickle the Russian bear’s tail, as they put it. They were all jubilant how these smart fellows would thrash the Russians; what good friends they were to Germany, how clever they were. What excellent military pupils, etc. Well, now the Germans have them in the war ( but on the wrong side).

Of course, England gets all the blame and ignominy of this fresh step. She is termed the stage manager of this great war. Do you think we can flatter ourselves so far as to think that the world jumps when England presses the button? I wonder what the outside world thinks of this new phase! What do you think at home?

The Germans have had fresh victories in Belgium, Alsace and on the Russian border, and the Turks are praying hard in Constantinople for their successes, so things are more even. This is the first time that public prayers have been offered up in the Mosques for a Christian race. The prayers of the righteous do avail much, but somehow one looks upon the Turk more as a scallywag than as a pious saint.

You remember the fuss about the German women trying to flirt with the captive Belgian and French officers on the railway stations. There’s been a great to do. No more females are allowed on the stations when unwounded prisoners arrive, and the Red Cross women must show their official card, and must have on simple frocks. The first adventurous and gaily-inclined female caught making eyes at the much desired foreign officer is to have her name placarded over the country. It appears that in 1870 the women were also very ready to help the handsome captive to wile away the weary weeks of captivity, and went so far as to scatter roses on their invalid beds.

In this country a strange mixture of qualities? I never did think they possessed what are called ‘honour and morals.’ Evidently the War Office doesn’t trust the women either, as in the proclamation it asks the women: So to conduct themselves that they can look their husbands, fathers and brothers in the eyes when they return home after having defended the honour of the Vaterland.”

To be continued


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