A British Perspective on Germany
Frederic William Wile, former berlin correspondent of the Daily Mail, published, according to the Vossische Zeitung, the following and rather judicious article on the problem of food provisions in Germany.
Barely a day passes without at least one Englishman or woman, who shows genuine interest in the events of the war, wanting to hear the “truth about Germany” from me.
“What is the story of the Berlin food riots?” - “Are the German people starving?” These are the questions I am constantly asked.
The tone of these questions proves to me that they are the basis for two opposing ways of thinking. The first notion would like to see Germany collapse and be brought to near economic ruin. The second, opposing, notion would like to distance themselves from the destruction of Germany, otherwise they believe that we should grasp the idea of an unending war that will lead to our own destruction. I believe that the correct solution lies somewhere in the middle of the opposing notions. I am personally inclined to believe, that Germany is undoubtedly in a bad state, and that it could be worse still but not so bad that one could predict the collapse of Germany in the near future. My answer to the question “the truth about Germany” is, therefore, that English citizens must overcome their convenient illusion that their enemy faces decay and defeat. The British wish, that Germany will be as poorly off as possible, does not constitute imminent defeat. The Huns must be defeated in land battles; their ships must be destroyed. This will result in their inner destruction. If words could annihilate army and fleet, the war could have already been won; a lot has been said, speculating about Germany’s downfall.
Lloyd George left his fellow Englishmen an important statement about Germany, a true statement he coined regarding their spirit. He recalled that over a year ago, England “had more to fear from the Kartoffelbrot-Geist (lit. “spirit of potato-bread;” the spirit of German resilience in the face of hunger) in Germany than from Hindenburg’s war tactics.” In order to realize the “truth about Germany,” a modern Englishman just needs to take to heart one thing, so powerfully uttered by the Minister of Munitions: “The Kartoffelbrot-Geist!” What does it mean? It is zeal and self-sacrifice. Not the zeal one achieves with words alone, not the self-sacrifice one only intends, but rather true exertion and true perseverance. The leadership is up to the government, but the bookkeeping is up to the people. This is millions of miles away from the typically English practice of waiting and watching which leads to regret. The government commands, and the people eagerly obey.
My friends tell me that the force of my gathered information about Germany is such that every Englishman must now believe that they are close to starvation. Such a conclusion is unwarranted; Germany is not dying of starvation. It is “short” on sustenance as a whole, and no one would find anything that Germany is not “short” on.
I am often asked “don’t the Germans actually suffer under these conditions?” Without doubt! It may not be comfortable for them, after many peaceful years of resource abundance, to be forced to sink to a lower standard of living during the war. Yet, they do it, and they don’t grind their teeth, they just endure it, and that’s the most important part. I am also often asked “but for how long will they be able to suffer through those hardships?” They just survived the three most critical months of the year - those long weeks that have to pass before the fields are ready for harvest. If the weather over the summer stays favorable, they will be able to bring in the most enormous harvest that Germany has ever seen. They planted seeds everywhere: in the metroparks, on the meadows in the city, in private flower beds, and even on every balcony. Every inch of topsoil that is able to produce food has been utilized.
When we talk about Germany’s harvest, we must also consider the great territories of Austria-Hungary, Germany’s allies, as well as their Turkish and Bulgarian cohorts. Furthermore, we have to consider that Germany’s legions are occupying parts of Poland, belgium, France, Serbia, and Montenegro.
We must also take into account that the most fertile areas of Europe are now under total German control; prisoners of war and submissive populations are tasked with maintaining the fields, and with these areas under local control the champions for German culture may continue to fight, reinvigorated and elevated.
I was also asked, “How can we get to the Germans?” I know only one way off the top of my head; one must rely on heavy military and naval power - mechanical, physical, explosive and strategic in nature- to try to conquer the Germans. One must also take control of the administrations of nutrition, finances, and budgets, as well as the organizations of regulation.
I am of the impression that the allies can bring forth all of the above in good time; however, to do so every mother, son, and daughter in England has to adopt, voluntarily or by force, German “Kartoffelbrot-Geist”, including individual deprivation and perseverance.
Furthermore, somehow and somewhere a type of resilient spirit in the framework of the army and naval administration must be expanded, which may not offset that of the German commanding officers, but may come to surpass it.
Contributors: Timo A., Eleanor B., Max D., and Bret W.