My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
Germany's Turning-Point

HERE are a few pleasant recollections of the last years of peace. One of them is the trip in the cruiser Magdeburg in 1913 at the invitation of the Admiralty. I had written an article in honour of the Emperor Wilhelm II's Silver Jubilee for Admiral Löhlein, which was published in the Marine-Rundschau. The invitation was his way of saying thank-you.

My Baltic cruise lasted a week. The memory of it is saddened by the fact that the Magdeburg and her hospitable Commander were sunk shortly after the outbreak of war.

During this trip something happened which I have never again experienced: I was seasick. Not, I must admit, on board the cruiser but in a little torpedo-boat on a choppy sea.

Towards midday the Captain invited me to lunch in his tiny cabin, next to the caboose. The meal began when a cook staggeredin with a plate of soup which he upset over my suit. Profuse apologies and embarrassment. Then we waited for the next course. It never came. At last the captain lost patience and demanded to know what had happened. The cook's voice sounded through the servinghatch: "That's the third omelette that has fallen into the fire, sir."

An awkward situation. But what could the Lieutenant-Commander do against a rough sea? Our omelettes landed regularly among the coals instead of on our plates.

"Can I offer you some cheese?" said the Commander pleasantly. I had already been half an hour in the tiny stuffy cabin. Sometimes the port wall was above my head, sometimes I lay on my back gazing at the starboard wall. Now, when the Commander said "cheese" my stomach suddenly rebelled. Instead of replying I pressed my hand to my mouth, staggered up the few iron rungs of the companion-ladder and, once on deck, held tight to the railing and leaned over the side. Fortunately I had fetched up on the lee side. There was no more talk of lunch on board His Imperial Majesty's torpedo-boat.

Another pleasant memory is of the visit of a group of forty distinguished Turks whom I shepherded on a tour through Germany. Thereby hangs a tale.

-123-

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