from the book ‘Behind the Scenes in Warring Germany’
'With the American Red Cross'
'on the Russian Frontier'
by Edward Lyell Fox, 1915

An American Hospital on the Eastern Front

left : coverpage
right : the author (far right) and a German officer

a German horse-drawn ambulance


A gray morning crept up somewhere beyond the Russian plains and in the half light, the church tower and housetops of Gleiwitz loomed forbiddingly against the dreary sky. A butcher was opening his store as our droschky clattered down the cobbled streets of the old Silesian town. The horses' hoofs echoed loudly; only a few stragglers were on the streets. Coming to a square, massive building of yellowish brick — you instantly had the impression that Gleiwitz had grown up around it. We saw a blue coated soldier standing on the steps.

"Where is the American Hospital?" we asked him.

He stared at us in a puzzled way and, using that German expression which seems to fit any situation: "Ein Augenblick" (in a minute), he proceeded to give our driver elaborate instructions. Off we rattled, down another vista of gray cobbles and squat gray houses, and presently we stopped before a clean-looking house of stucco, before which paced a soldier in the long dark gray coat of the Landsturm.

"Where is the American Hospital?" we asked.

It was too much for the soldier; he called for help. Help came in the person of a stout, florid-faced officer with flowing gray mustache. To him we put the same question, and his face lighted.

"You want Doctor Sanders, Gut, Gut!"

And climbing into our droschky, his sword hanging over the side, close to the wheel, he told us all about the part Gleiwitz was playing in this war, while the cobbled streets rang to the beat of the horses' hoofs. We learned that we were way down in the southeastern corner of Germany, not far from that frontier point where three empires touch; we learned that every night if the wind was good they could hear in Gleiwitz the distant rumble of cannon.

And he was telling us those things when we saw coming down the sidewalk, a familiar color. It was the olive drab of the United States army, and under a brown, broad- brimmed campaign hat, we saw a round, serious face.

"That looks like our man," Poole said to me. A few nights ago Dr. Sanders had been described to Poole and me, and we had come here to see what he and his American outfit were doing down close to the Russian frontier. It was indeed our man, and when he saw us, the serious face broke into a broad grin.

"They telegraphed me you were coming — mighty glad to see you." And Charles Haddon Sanders, whom, if you went to Georgetown University, you knew as "Sandy," climbed into the droschky.

"Gosh, it's good to see an American. What news have you got?" And Dr. Sanders' merry eyes twinkled. "How about it — come on, loosen up! You must have left the States a month after I did." A look of concern clouded his chubby face, and I wondered what worrisome thing was on his mind. "Say," he said, "you're a baseball fan, aren't you?" When I told him I was, he seemed relieved. "Tell me," he begged then, "Walter Johnson didn't sign up with the Feds, did he? I have a hospital in Washington, you know, and whenever Griff's boys are home, I am out there at the park, pulling hard."


evacuating German wounded


And this was the first thing one heard in a city of war! The puffy, mustached sanitation officer bid us good day; the droschky moved on. All the way down the old cobbled streets of dreary Gleiwitz, Dr. Sanders kept talking baseball; not once did the subject of the war come up. I wondered if he were avoiding it as long as possible; later when you learned what he had seen, you could not blame him. Presently our droschky drew up in front of a rather shady-looking cafe. It had all the appearance of being the Maxim's of Gleiwitz, a sordid place, reflecting all the sordid dreariness of the town. Wondering why the doctor was getting out here — he had not seemed that sort — he said that this was as far as we went. I looked again at the place. It was a gray-stoned building, on the corner of a cafe, then a hotel entrance, then a gateway. I followed him through this gateway and we came into a cobbled inner court facing a wing of the building that appeared to be a theater; at least the sign over the door read, "Victoria Theater." By now I had begun to guess it, and when a blue-coated German Landwehr opened the theater door, I was quite sure.

"Doctor, I suppose you have your office here," I remarked.

He laughed outright. "Office," he said, "this is my hospital."

And I thought of the place, the cafe, the hotel, the entire building of which this was a part. He must have known what was passing through my mind.

"I know," he remarked, "I felt the same way when I first saw it. It seemed funny, putting a hospital next to a rough house like that. But it was the only place they had left. By the time we got here, every school and public building in the town was filled with the wounded."


a red Cross column


As we entered the lobby of the theater I saw that it had been transformed into a corridor for convalescents. The stench of iodoform assailed you. Four German soldiers, their arms or legs bandaged, were sitting at a rough board table drinking beer, which you perceived, as a waiter appeared with a tray full of steins, came by way of a connecting passageway from the cafe next door.

"Better that they drink the beer here than water," remarked the doctor. "We've had some typhoid and cholera cases in Gleiwitz." Now the utterance of that word cholera has a magical effect. In the war zone it can completely spoil your day; no doubt Dr. Sanders must have noticed my uneasiness, for he hastened to add: "There's no danger; we've got all those patients isolated outside this building, and if you haven't had an injection of cholera toxin, I'll give you one."

Reassured, I ventured further into the building, and pushing back a swinging door, I saw opened up before me a strange picture. Imagine a theater, its walls washed white, its orchestra stripped of chairs and in their places row after row of hospital cots; a curtain of fireproofed steel, hid the stage, from it hanging the white flag with the red cross, and beside it the stars and stripes and the red, white and black; imagine the boxes filled with rough, hastily made wooden tables where nurses sat making out their reports, a theater where instead of an overture, you heard groans and sometimes a shriek from one of the white cots.

"The soldier is only having a nightmare," Dr. Sanders explained. "They come in here sometimes not having slept for three days and they go off asleep for hours and hours — you wonder how long you can put off dressing their wounds to let them sleep — getting these nightmares every once in a while, and yelling out that the Russians are after them. Nearly every soldier who has a nightmare yells that same thing, queer, because none of them fear the Russians at all."


a German surgical team


Suggesting that we would come back to see the ward more thoroughly, Dr. Sanders led us through the lobby and into what appeared to be a cloakroom. Only now the coat racks were half concealed by huge packing cases marked "American Red Cross," and leaning against the wall you saw two brown stretchers of the United States army; and on the floor army sterilizer chests, while all around shelves had been built holding supplies and medical books. You noticed an operating table in the center of the room and in a corner a little stand for anesthetics.

"This is our operating room," smiled the doctor; "you never saw one like it before, did you? Neither did I. But for our purposes it fills the bill."

In the lobby we met two boyish surgeons, one, Spearmin, tall, angular and competent- looking; the other, Stem, a University of Maryland man who was preparing for a surgeonship in the United States army when he got the chance to go to the war zone, and, boy-like, went. Spearmin and Stem handle the wounded. Sanders does the executive work.

"We get plenty of work to do," Doctor Spearmin told me, "and you want to do everything for those fellows that you can. They are the pluckiest lot of men I ever saw. They stand pain better than most of the average hospital cases that I had in Baltimore."

Later we were to learn more of those men stretched their length on the white cots, and the way they stood pain, but Dr. Sanders had a dressing to make upstairs, in a cloakroom once used for the patrons of the balcony. Now it was Antechamber of Death. As we climbed the stairs, the doctor explained: "We keep our most serious cases up here. Whenever we feel we have to put a man in this room, he generally dies. We've only lost six men, though, and we've had five hundred cases, some of them shockingly wounded."

You caught the undernote of pride in the doctor's voice, a sensing of which you had felt at the hospital's very door. Pride seemed to be in the air; you read it in the faces of the nurses; the younger doctors, Stem and Spearmin, showed it, pride because they had turned the one notorious resort of Gleiwitz into an American hospital. And, it is significant — and it was a German officer who told me this — into a hospital of such efficiency that the German Sanitary Authorities always ordered that the worst cases be sent to Dr. Sanders and his assistants; this with thirteen other military hospitals in Gleiwitz.

But I was wondering if the other patients, the men in the orchestra, had come to know what the little room upstairs meant, and if they had heard the cry from that Austrian's bed, and if so, what their thoughts were, if they had all thanked the Almighty for their lesser plights. You felt they had.

"Come on, now," suggested the doctor, "we'll go and talk to some of the patients. Sister Anna can speak German."

Sister Anna you discovered to be a resourceful-looking woman of middle age, dressed in Red Cross gray. She was sitting at a table reading "Alice in Wonderland," and she said that she had spent the last ten years in New York at the Lying-in-hospital. Her capable manner impressed you, and when Dr. Sanders whispered: "She was the best supervisor on the Red Cross boat that brought us all over, and I was mighty lucky to get her," you agreed with him. She was walking on ahead between the rows of blue gingham-covered cots and presently she stopped before one at the end of the line. It is a part of the German hospital system to have a metal sign-board on a post behind each hospital bed, and upon this we saw printed the soldier's name, a private, Kaiser, of the 148th Infantry. His wife was sitting beside his bed, a rosy-cheeked woman who recalled one of our middle Western farm girls. Quiet and calm, satisfied that her husband was in the best of hands, she smiled thankfully at Sister Anna and the doctor. Her husband was wounded in both the arm and leg and oddly enough by the same bullet, which, with a little smile, he picked up from a bed table to show us.

"It entered his arm above the elbow," explained the doctor, "went clean through, hit an electric torch in his pocket, glanced off that and went into his thigh. It was an interesting case. On the other side of his thigh, I found the wound of exit. Imagine my surprise when in a few days I discovered that the bullet was still in his leg, and that the exit wound had been made by a piece of bone breaking through."

It seemed that Private Kaiser could understand a little English, and he nodded eagerly. We asked him some questions, and it developed he had been a school teacher in Hamburg.

"I was wounded near Brounsberg in East Prussia," he told us. "It was towards evening, almost dark, and not thinking the Russians could see us, we got up to dig a trench. I was alone, way off at the end of the line when I was shot. It did not hurt me much when the bullet hit me. It took me off my feet, though I spun around twice before I fell. No one saw me and I lay on the ground for ten minutes. Then I was able to get up, and I walked away to the hospital. How I did it I can't tell you, but all at once my strength seemed to come back."

"Probably nervous shock made him helpless," explained the doctor in an undertone, "and when that passed he was able to help himself a bit."

We were going down the line of beds, talking to another patient, when the doctor said it was time for lunch, and that we might visit the patients again in the afternoon. Two of the nurses — there are fourteen American girls at Gleiwitz — walked back with us. I asked one of them, a young Boston girl, why she had come to the war.

"I don't know," she said. "I had made my application for a Red Cross nurse, and I was ready to go to Mexico. Then I got word that they wanted nurses in Europe, so I packed up and came along on twenty-four hours' notice.

"What I've seen of the war here, though," she said, "is not half so terrible as it was in the English Channel. We were on the coast of France one morning when I happened to see a big round thing in the water. I thought it was a mine, and I guess I screamed. Then I thought it was a dummy, but it wasn't that, it was a body, and there were six other bodies, all sailors from those English ships that the submarine blew up. Isn't there some way I could go back home without going through the English Channel? I can't bear thinking of seeing anything like that again."

I told her she could probably take a steamer at Naples or Copenhagen, and she seemed greatly relieved — she who had seen mangled men without a flicker of her nerves. Presently she left us to cross what was evidently the aristocratic street of the town.

"They are going over to a little club — the city club," explained the doctor; "that's where we take our meals. We'll go to my room first, though, if you like, before dinner."

Modestly the doctor spoke of his room, but to our surprise he stopped in front of one of the few imposing-looking houses in Gleiwitz. It was one of those venerable places which makes you think that the man who lives there must about own the other inhabitants body and soul. Occupying about four hundred feet, corner frontage, towering amid symmetrical lawns and flower beds, guarded by a ten-foot iron fence, the old-fashioned house stood back like a castle.

"Nothing like it," said the doctor with a smile. "It belongs to one of the richest men in Silesia. He's at the front, in France. He's a captain, by the way, just won the Iron Cross. His wife is in Berlin for the winter, so we're here, Spearmin, Stem and myself, with ten servants to wait on us, and the best of everything for the asking. Not bad, eh?"

While we were listening to a baseball story of the doctor's, we took in the luxurious appointments of his room. Then you thought of the makeshift hospital and how topsy- turvy war turns everything. From his valise, the doctor produced a Russian bayonet, hat and cartridge belt.

"They cost me two marks," he said, "for the whole outfit. I bought them from the driver of an Austrian ammunition wagon. Have a cartridge?" and he passed the belt as one might pass a box of candy. They were ugly-looking bullets, not as pointed as the Germans'. The bayonet also was uglier, curved like an old-fashioned saber.

"It's no good alongside the German bayonet, though," explained Dr. Sanders; "that's longer and straighter. You ought to hear how some of the wounded over at the hospital talk about their bayonets. One fellow was telling me the other day that he had ripped it through the stomachs of three Russians." And even the doctor, hardened to such things, made a grimace.


a German field Lazaett


After a luncheon, where, like the father of a large family, the doctor sat at the head of a long table with his nurses and assistants around him, everybody asking if the Christmas mail from the States had come, we returned to the hospital. We found great excitement. Two officers had been there, the orderly explaining that one was the sanitation commander of all hospitals at Gleiwitz, and that the other was Captain Hoffman of the garrison. What did they want? The orderly didn't know, but it must have been something very important, for they had told him to say to Dr. Sanders that they would return in half an hour, and for him please to be there, whereupon the orderly, to my amazement, looked at me a little suspiciously; indeed, his eyes followed me into the lobby.

"What's the matter with that chap?" I asked the doctor.

"Oh, he's spy crazy," replied Dr. Sanders; "you see, they caught two Russians here the other day, and the captain he speaks of presided at the trial. They put the spies up against the wall of that old barn over there. We could hear the shooting."

The doctor's tone was so casual that you concluded spy-killing to be commonplace at Gleiwitz.

"Come down here a second," continued the doctor. "I want you to take a look at a couple of patients."

As you walked between the cots you were conscious of the gaze of the wounded turned hopefully on this business-like American. Of the peasant class nearly all the soldiers seemed to regain hope at the sight of him. So it was with the two boys off in a corner by themselves. They were rather slender fellows, amazingly young, with mischievous faces. "They live next door to each other," said the doctor, "in a little village in Schleswig-Holstein. The one on the left had a bullet in his brain, the other had his arm fractured by a piece of shrapnel."

"How old are they?"

"The boy who had the bullet in his brain," said the doctor, "is not yet seventeen; the other is a few months older."

They met you with a bold smile, fun darting from their mischievous eyes, like American boys might smile at a foreigner. You saw that they wore the clean, light blue jackets that mark every patient of the American Red Cross, but you thought of the dirty, gray-green uniforms and how long these boys had lain before they were picked up. And then, like many youngsters you see in the first classes of a high school, they became self- conscious, giggling like girls at a first party, and you thought of them at war; and a shuddery sensation came over you.


left : a Red Cross field-chapel
right : a German Red Cross nurse


"You think it's terrible, don't you?" he said. "Wait a minute."

He beckoned Sister Anna, and she joined us.

"Sister Anna," he said, "ask that boy with the brain wound to tell the story that he told me the other day."

Sister Anna's manner was reluctant, and you doubt that she wanted to hear that story again. But she put the request in German, and instantly the eyes of the little fellow grew bright.

"We were near Iwangorod," he began. "Max and I were on outpost duty and got cut off from our regiment. Night came and we started back to find them. We were passing through a little village, just five or six houses, when somebody shot at us." He paused, turning, as if for confirmation, to the other bed, where Max, half sitting up, nodded eagerly. "We'll fix them, Max," I said, "and we ran behind a house, so they couldn't shoot again. Then all lights in the windows went out — every light in the village. I was glad there was no moon. We got some wood, a lot of it. We fixed it in piles beside every house. We broke into a cellar and stole some oil. We emptied the oil on the wood, then we lit it, and ran to the next house, and lit it there." His eyes were burning feverishly. "Pretty soon we had the whole village on fire, didn't we, Max?"

"Ja! Ja!" cried Max, from the other bed.

And you realized that they were suddenly boys no longer, that their faces had reddened in a hectic way, and that into their young minds had come the frightful insanity of war. With a sickening feeling you turned from them, and going away, thought that only last July, back in that Holstein village, they doubtless had been playing the games that German boys play; then you heard Max cry out:

"And when we get better, Doctor, we're going back and each kill a hundred Russians!" And with his white hands you saw the boy lunge as though already he could hear the ripping steel. What if you were his father?

"There are many like that — eager to get out of bed and back to the front," said the doctor. "Not so young, of course, but they all want another chance at the game; that is, all but the older men. You ought to have been here the other day. Count Talleyrand- Perigord was here. He's the nephew of the great diplomat, French descent of course. The Count has an estate near here. He's a young chap. He's been simply splendid to us. I guess he never did very much work before; you can imagine how a young man of his position spends his time. When the war broke out he volunteered for the Red Cross, and they made him a sort of a personal escort for me, to see that everything goes right over here. He spends his entire time with us. He watches all the operations, is intensely interested, asks all sorts of questions about them, and goes with me from bed to bed, asking the men what they want, doing everything he can for them. I tell you it quite surprised me, a young man of his position, in the French nobility, bucking right down to things. Count Szechenyi, you know, who married Gladys Vanderbilt; he's stationed over just across the Austrian border. He came up the other day to see Count Talleyrand and they dropped in here in the afternoon to visit the patients. I had expected something different from Count Szechenyi. You- know what that Austrian count is. But he was just as democratic as if he had been a private in the ranks."

While talking, the doctor had been crossing the theater until he came to a side wall exit door that opened out on what appeared to be a promenade. It was glassed in, like a sun parlor and looked out on what had been a cheap beer-garden. Along one wall we saw a row of muddy brown and black boots. On the floor were piles of uniforms, German, Russian and Austrian, and knapsacks, drilled and nicked with bullets. Kicking over a filthy bundle of field gray, I saw that it was slashed.

"We had to cut most of the uniforms off the wounded," explained the doctor. "Most of them we have thrown out — we had to. If you could only have seen what those men looked like when they were brought in! We get them from the field hospital. This is the first hospital behind the lines, and when they are well enough to be moved, they are sent on to better quarters, further into Germany, but the way those fellows looked. Think of it, some of them had not had their uniforms off for three months. When we took off one man's boot, we found a blood clot two inches thick on the sole of his foot. It had run down from a wound on his leg. Why, some of those men were five days on the battlefield before they were found. One or two were out of their minds. You cannot conceive the horror of it! Later, I'm going to get one of those fellows to tell you his story."

The time had swiftly passed and as we came back into the theater, we saw two gray- cloaked German officers, and at their heels the orderly. They seemed very much excited, and I was sure now that they were going to ask the doctor if he was positive that I was not an English spy. It was something more exciting, though. They conversed in German, and I caught the words, "Eisener Kreuz."

"What a piece of luck!" the doctor exclaimed; "one of my patients has been awarded the Iron Cross, and Captain Hoffman of the Gleiwitz garrison has come to make the presentation."


in a German Red Cross train
illustration by Fritz Bergen


We walked then to the bedside of a mild-looking man, who, you learned, was Landwehr, private Grabbe of the second Stralsund. A bulkiness to his leg under the covers showed where he had been wounded, and when he saw the gray-coated officers, a question leaped in his quiet eyes. You wondered if he knew and how many days he had lain there doubting and dreaming if ever they would come. The Captain strode towards him, held out his hand, and said, "I congratulate you." You followed the soldier's eyes as they watched the Captain's hands reach into his coat pocket and draw from it the band of black and white ribbon from which dangled the coveted cross. Without a word the Captain fastened it to the second button of the man's hospital jacket and stepping back, saluted him. You saw the soldier pick up the cross in both hands, stare at it a moment, while his eyes filled a little, and then his mild face turning wonderfully happy, he awkwardly expressed his thanks. As the last stammered word was spoken there burst from all the wounded a huzza. The nurses applauded and, overwrought, the soldier tried to sit upright in bed and bow his thanks. He had half succeeded when we saw him wince, and Dr. Sanders made him lie down. The congratulations over, we left him calling for pencil and paper, for at once he must write home about it. And you wondered how much you would have given could that one minute of this soldier's life be included in your own.

"Wait till I tell you what the fellow did," said the doctor, after the officers had bowed themselves away. "It is one of the duties of the Landwehr, you know, to guard the railroads. Late in October, when the Germans were retreating from their lines outside Warsaw, they had to hold the railroads to the last. This man's commander was ordered to hold back the Russians from a little railroad depot. Private Grabbe was given ten men and a machine gun and posted by a little house near the station. He had to keep back an overwhelming number of Russians until an entire battalion was on the train, and then with the little detail make a run for it. Well, as the Russians came in great force, his comrades retreated and left him there alone.

"As I told you, men get crazy in battle. Grabbe did not know that he was alone. He stuck by that machine gun, wounded and alone, mowing down the Russians until the whole German battalion — twelve hundred men — had withdrawn. Still he stuck to that machine gun, slaughtering them so, that by George! the Russians retreated. Grabbe's commander came up presently and asked him where the other men were. Grabbe said he didn't know and then the Commander saw that he was wounded."

Outside a violin began to play, and Dr. Sanders explained that often the local talent dropped in to entertain the wounded. The music continued and we went from bed to bed hearing the different stories; then the music stopped, and in a clear, though childishly quavering voice, a girl began a recitation in the lobby outside. Before he came to Gleiwitz, Dr. Sanders didn't know two German words. Now, as he told me, he knows three. Consequently, as the girl spoke on and the faces of all the wounded suddenly became grim, the doctor wondered why. Then here and there a man began repeating the girl's words, others, too weak to speak, following her words with moving lips. Higher and higher quavered her voice; and suddenly I recognized what she was saying. Before I could tell the doctor, though, she swept into a climax, to fierce "Jawohls" from the lips of the wounded.

"I don't know what you're saying," shouted Dr. Sanders, rushing into the lobby, "but stop it. It excites these patients."

He saw that I was grinning, and asked what the joke was. "It's on me, what was that girl speaking?"

"A new poem," I told him. "The name is: 'Murderous England.'"

"So that's it, eh? " And he went up to the girl, whose hair was braided down her back and whose cheap, bright pattern dress came barely below her knees.

"Now, little girl," he said, "when you want to come round to the hospital to entertain the prisoners, you learn how to speak 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' or something, Get Sister Anna to teach it to you! " And patting the child on the head, Dr. Sanders gave her a ten- pfennig piece, and asked her who had taught her the poem.

"Meine Mutter," replied the child.



We then sat in the lobby for two hours, buying beer for the convalescents and listening to their stories. One man told us how, with two hundred soldiers, he had hid in a Russian barn, and that a shrapnel shell flying through the window had exploded, killing and wounding nearly every one in his company. Another told how he had been on outpost duty with seven other men, and that the Russians had begun machine gun fire at night. All his comrades were either killed or wounded, and he said that although he was only wounded in the arm, he did not dare to get up because the Russians maintained a steady fire for four hours, and that all he could do was to hug the ground with the bullets whizzing over him, knowing that he was growing weaker and weaker every moment. Another had a most interesting experience. While in a shallow trench, he had been hit in the arm and in the leg. The hospital corps got him. The stretcher bearers were taking him back, when suddenly it got too hot for them, and they had to drop him and run for cover. The firing ceased, and, seeing he was alone, the soldier crawled over to a dead German and picked up his rifle. He was half sitting with this in his lap, when he saw some Russians coming. He raised the gun and they ran, and then he discovered they were hospital men. He was cursing his luck, when one of his comrades, a little fellow, who had come back to find him, discovered him. They traveled back to the German lines at intervals of ten minutes, the little fellow having to put him down to rest every so often. Then the doctor began to tell me something about the wounds he had seen as the result of this war.

"What I marvel it is," said Dr. Sanders, "that a man can go into the battleline and come out alive. The amount of lead and steel that is sent flying through the air is appalling. Of course we will not have any statistics on it until after the war is over, but everything I can learn from the wounded, and from the nature of their wounds — and I have men here hit five times — they must be using far, far more ammunition, proportionately of course, than in any war in the world's history. By the way, judging from my patients, the Russians cannot be using dumdums. I have yet to find one in a man. For every three rifle ball wounds, we get two caused by shrapnel and about one quarter by fragments of bursting shells. We had a man who was hit by a piece of shell — and those fragments are terribly hot. It cut his throat to his ear, but it just stopped at the sheath of the artery. His life was saved by the minute distance. The Germans have the greatest confidence in us here. We have one man here who might have been sent on to another hospital five weeks ago. We didn't send him, though. It was almost a form of paranoia and honestly I dreaded sending that man away. I feared the nervous shock. Doctors who come from the front tell me that they have actually seen cases of men being killed, who only had a bullet wound in their hand. It was the nervous shock that killed them.

"You see those two Russians," and the doctor pointed towards two heavy-faced patients. "Well, they were in mortal terror that we were making them well so as to have more fun by killing them later. It took two weeks to convince them that they would not be put to death. They are pets here now."

The doctor was called away a moment, and as I watched him stride off, his sturdy figure carrying well the olive-drab of the United States army, I noticed again that the heads of the wounded turned, following him with thankful eyes, and it was not difficult longer to understand how these few Americans were able to come into the midst of strange Silesia, and transform that theater, where at night if they forget to shut the door, they can hear the ribald clamor from the cheap cabaret next door; it was not difficult to understand how they, all of them having their first experience with war, had developed an efficiency which the Germans had complimented by sending them the worst cases from the firing line. That sturdy, wide-shouldered man in army olive-drab personified something that made you thrill at the thought that you were an American.

But Dr. Sanders was not the last impression that I had of Gleiwitz, although he waved good-by to me at the train.

As I look back at Gleiwitz now, I can see the flat-floored theater with the gray nurses lighting lamps. The early twilight is coming through the windows. It is all quiet. In two hours the wounded will have supper, and here and there you can hear the deep breathing of sleep. In the lingering light the steel curtain has turned a vague gray and of the three flags, only our own is sharply defined. I see Sister Anna walking softly between the rows of gingham-spread cots, her kind, almost saintly face hallowed by the lamp in her hands. She is beckoning. She raises the lamp so that its pale reflection falls upon a bed. And there I see the boy from the Schleswig-Holstein village, who, with his chum, burned a Russian village, and whose ambition is to kill a hundred men; and the boy's face is buried in the pillow, his arm circling round it, like a baby asleep.


right : Mr. Fox's motor-car


Back to Index