An English Wife in Berlin
BERLIN, February 1916.—One daily hears stories which show the weariness of killing on both sides. A youth, just home on leave for the first time, was telling his sister the other day his experience. He had been out since the beginning and had been on every front in turns, but he says his time in Belgium at the very beginning was the most fearful of all, and the franc-tireur's warfare the most ghastly part of it.
One night, when they were just settling down to sleep after a hard day's march, they were ordered out to take a village where the inhabitants were supposed to have been shooting on the troops. No very definite inquiries were made as to the truth of these statements, but for safety's sake it was thought best to burn the village. And so these young officers were given the order to march into it in the middle of the night, and to kill every one they met in a house with a light in the window. In the first house which he entered with his men they met a woman coming down the stairs. They had to carry out their orders, and killed this woman, and so on throughout. Next morning a hundred men were brought out, and the order was to stand them against the village walls and shoot every tenth man.
The wives, the mothers, all the women of the village were there imploring mercy, but no mercy was allowed to be shown. These men, who were not even permitted to be blindfolded, were shot before the eyes of their womenfolk.
And this boy returns to his family to “enjoy” his few days' leave, and his family are disappointed that he does not seem to enjoy it, that he seems preoccupied, that the things that used to amuse him now no longer seem to interest him.
BERLIN, March 5, 1916.—Here we are in March, and in ordinary times we should be rejoicing that winter is nearly over and spring coming, but now one feels nothing but dread, for it means that the armies will come out of their winter quarters and slaughter will begin once more.
March 2 has become a real nightmare with me, it being the date of the opening of the new submarine campaign. The description I have heard of the large German submarines makes me tremble. So confident are the Germans of their success that they say they can even bear the brunt of battle with America, for they are strong enough to cross the ocean and return in safety. Many are even hoping for war with America, so that they need exercise no consideration, but torpedo every single thing on the sea