The New York Times/1918/06/21/German Hunger Spreads Disease

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German Hunger Spreads Disease

Published Friday, June 21, 1918


Spain Affected by German Sickness and Other Countries Will Be, Says Hollander.


Whole Nation Described as Spiritless from Underfeeding and Curbed by Iron Rule.

Copyright, 1918, by The New York Times Company.

Special Cable to The New York Times.

THE HAGUE, June 20.—"The mysterious sickness now prevalent in Spain comes from Germany and will doubtless soon reach other countries," said a Dutch tailor who recently returned from Germany. "Conditions among the civil population of Germany are terrible. Workmen die at their work from lack of nourishment.

"If a workman cuts or wounds himself he rarely recovers, as the wound gets inflamed and swells to an enormous size. Water accumulates and then spreads all over the body until he dies. This water is supposed to be due to under-nourishment and to come from the enormous quantity of turnips now eaten by the Germans of all classes.

"I, my wife, and our three children once had nothing to eat but boiled turnips with no fat for three days, and yet I had other than ordinary means of getting food, and was getting good wages. The workmen at Essen especially are dying by hundreds, although no one hears of it.

Fear Suffering After War.

"The people are, of course, earning tremendous wages, and are able to save, and this is a compensation, but there will not be much to be done in Germany after the war, and I for one will not return. Living will be impossible there, owing to the tremendous taxes, and everything will be ersatz for a long time. Even at present it is impossible to get underwear except that made of paper.

"The Government is clever in constantly telling the people that Germany was attacked and that England wants to shatter the German Empire, and this to a workman means taking away his bread. This fallacy, which people of all classes firmly believe and the fact that the people are powerless under the iron heel and tyranny of militarism, which increases rather than decreases, has kept the people from revolt, besides, the people are so apathetic from lack of nourishment that there will never be a revolution.

"The soldiers at the front are still well fed, much better fed than those in barracks, but even the latter are better fed than the civilians. Believe me, we are badly off in Holland, but it is paradise compared to conditions in Germany.

"People do not realize outside of Germany what this slavery to militarism is and how powerless people are. 'A man only becomes a human being when he becomes an officer,' a German Lieutenant said, and this is the spirit in Germany at present. The German people will, however, carry on the war, because they are powerless to resist the military and because they believe they have been attacked."

Point to Allies' Sea Control.

Fear of an economic war is fast gaining ground in Germany and the people are being educated slowly and by degrees to the idea that Germany has not yet won the war in spite of the sacrifices of the big offensive, and that the economic trumps are still in the hands of Great Britain and America. The Rhenish Gazette points out to Germans that the Anglo-American world is still considering the defeat of Germany in this war. This idea appears to be a surprise to the paper, which argues that the Entente first hoped for a military victory with America's help.

"It is now repeatedly stated on both sides of the Atlantic," it says, "that Anglo-America would not consider that Germany had won the war even if she drove the English and American armies from the Continent and forced France and Italy to make peace. They would then set their hopes on a sea war and believe that they could beat Germany thus and would cut her off from all export and import trade, without which Germany cannot exist."

The paper quotes long extracts from answers to a round robin of the German Brazilian Trade Association on the question whether England and America could cut off all trade from the Central Powers and so defeat them. The article concludes with the argument that in the first place "Anglo-America" would be financially ruined if unable to export goods and raw materials and that "to blockade continental Europe from world communication and from foreign sources of raw materials might end the war, but in another way than England and America imagine. Not Germany and her allies would reap the consequences of this blockade, but England and America."