If this scrubbing is done at night, clean sand is scattered over the streets to prevent the horses or men from falling... It costs more than 2,000,000 marks a year to keep the streets clean, and there are 700 street-cleaners. The civil service rules obtain even as to these boys, and their wages are raised after they have been working on the streets for three years.|
The buildings are kept as clean as the streets, and every man has to wash down his house about so often, and it is against the law to put up bill boards or to paste posters on the houses.
When Buffalo Bill was here he was almost crazy because he could not get any place to plaster up his big posters of his "Wild West" show, and the only arrangement by which posters can be put up is in connection with round sheet iron tubes, which are on the corners of the streets, and which are about fifteen feet high and of the diameter of a hogshead. They are especially for the pasting of bills. They are not unsightly, and on them you can find the theater advertisements and business posters.
Within the past few months the Urania Company have been putting up advertising pillars all over the city after a plan which forms perhaps the best advertising scheme in existence. These pillars are about fifteen feet high, and they are by no means unornamental. They are as big around as a flour barrel, and are octagonal in shape, and they are the most valuable guide that any city can have.
They are connected with the observatory of the city, and there is a clock on each of them that always gives the correct time. Above the clock there is a star showing the points of the compass, so that you can tell the direction from any place you may happen to be. Below this star there is a globe which moves by machinery, and which tells you the positions of the stars from day to day. Besides this stands the clock, which has four round disks in different sides of the pillar. One of these gives the time in Berlin. Another gives the world time and a third shows how the earth stands in the solar system from day to day.
Below this, with shades throwing an electric light upon them at night, are places for advertisements, which are in frames under glass. These revolve every minute, and mixed up with the advertisements are tables of information about the city. In one of the plates below them there is the time of trains leaving the city by all the roads, and another plate shows you the condition of the barometer, the thermometer and of the humidity of the air from hour to hour and keeps a record of it.
Upon these pillars you can always find the nearest police station and the nearest branch post office, and there is a little plan of the section of the city in which the pillar stands, with the streets plainly marked, so that by going to one of these you can always find just what you want without asking questions.
I do not know the cost of these advertising pillars, but as new ones are being rapidly put up I judge they must be profitable. Such other street advertising as is done is with the sandwich men or by dodgers. You find men distributing bills everywhere, and there are plenty of grotesquely-dressed figures carrying bill boards. The people advertise very well in the newspapers, and, altogether, they make their wants known without defacing the buildings.
THE GERMAN POLICE.
Speaking of the German police, they put on more airs and are far more obnoxious to strangers than the policemen of St. Petersburg. The Berlinese are said to have been very modest and unassuming before they whipped the French, but since then their conceit has grown immeasurably, and a German soldier or a German policeman struts around with more airs than a village drum major.
He has a high idea of his authority and he meddles with all kinds of business quite as much as do the policemen in Russia. It is the boast of the government here that it knows every night just where every one of its subjects sleeps, and the moment you arrive at a hotel you are asked for your name, your place of residence, your profession, and this is forwarded by the hotel keeper to the police. If you take a lodging in the city outside of a hotel you are asked for your passport, and if you stay any time, an investigation will be begun of your antecedents, and your biography thus gathered will be filed away here.
I have a friend in Berlin who left Germany about twenty-five years ago and went to America, where he became an American citizen... He concluded to keep house here...
Said he: "I was surprised... to find how much they did know. After I had lived in my house three months, I got a notice to come and pay my taxes, and I went to the tax office. I was asked what my name was and where I lived, and they found me in a moment, and one of the clerks pulled out a book and said: 'Yes, Mr. Blank, you came to Berlin August 1, and you registered at the Central Hotel. You stayed there a week; when you went to a pension on Frederichs strasse and stayed there two weeks. Then you went back to the Hotel Central, and it was just three months ago that you took your present rooms, paying 150 marks for them.'
"I was thunderstruck at what the man knew, but he had everything right and he had gotten the amount of my rent from the landlord, which had been turned in according to law. They tax you here on your income, and they get at your income by looking at your style of living. It is generally estimated that a man spends one-third of his income for house rent, and as I paid 150 marks for rent they estimated that I made 450 marks a month...
"Every man who makes more than $105 a year here is taxed on his income, and everything under the sun in Berlin pays a tax of some sort or other."
THE KAISER RUNS BERLIN.
You are not in Berlin long before you find that the Emperor runs the city. The soldiers of his army are more dictatorial and offensive in their manners than those of Russia. Germany is supposed to have a free press, but a correspondent cannot write anything against the Kaiser here any more than he could against the Czar in St. Petersburg...
Speaking of the Kaiser... It is not many months since by his orders Berlin got new Sunday laws, and the store are now only open from 10 a.m. to 12, whereas they used to be open all day long. Now only the cigar stores and eating establishments are open, and though the servants and laborers have a rest, the people are disgusted... in the past the clerks had to work in nearly all the stores until 10 o'clock at night, and in the factories the laborers were forced to put in Sunday mornings in the cleaning of machinery. The police now enforce the closing of the stores, and the people, though they growl, submit.
HOUSE SERVANTS AND THE POLICE.
You can't hire a servant girl here without going to the police, and you have to make out two statements whenever you hire a servant. One of these statements is for your landlord and the other is for the police. They describe the girl just as a passport does... You have to state where she came from, and when she leaves you have to send in another statement saying she is gone. If you say she is good and honest, and the reverse is true... you are liable to be fined for giving her a false recommendation...
One of the curious institutions of the city is an intelligence office, as it might be called, where records of these passports are kept, and where you can go and find out just where any man or woman is stopping. If John Smith, who owes you a bill, moves to another part of Berlin to escape you, you have only to go to this office, and by paying a few cents you will get a report which will tell you just where he has lived in the city and where you may find him at present.
There is no chance for a man to escape or hide here, and the argus eyes of the government are always upon you.
FRANK G. CARPENTER.
The New York Times, January 31, 1915, p.5:|
BERLIN NIGHT LIFE UNDER A WAR BAN
Martial Law Demands Dignity in Amusements and 3 A. M. Is Closing Time.
THEATRES AND OPERA OPEN
"Earnestness of the Times" Reflected There in the Audiences and the Plays.
PATRIOTISM IN VAUDEVILLE
All the "Acts" Appeal to the War Spirit-- Hotels Again Are Full of Guests.
From a Staff Correspondent of THE TIMES.
BERLIN, Dec. 28.-- It is curiously characteristic of the steady-going German temperament that with a world war on their hands, the military authorities have found time to busy themselves with problems of moral reform and especially have seized upon the favorable opportunity offered by the war to try to break up Berlin's famous "all-night life," which, to many thoughtful citizens, had brought undesirable notoriety to the capital.
The process is simplicity itself now, for Germany is theoretically under martial law, though you would never suspect it--except at the frontiers--for military, police, and civil authorities are managing to co-operate closely without stepping on their mutual toes.
The man who signs the orders in the interest of decency and decorum is one Gen. von Kessel, who rejoices in the further title of "Oberkammandierende in den Marken," or Commander in Chief of the Marks.
The mailed fist first fell on the so-called "Animierkneipen," a Bacchanalian institiution that has baffled even a sometime Broadway reporter, but which, I am informed, are somewhat of a stripe with the lower order of London night clubs that flourished around Leicester Square and Greek Street before the war.
Next, a few jabs of the military pen gave the quietus to public dancing and closed up all the all-night dance halls, while all-night drinking was, theoretically, disposed of by fixing the closing hour for all and sundry cafés at 3 A. M., which compares liberally with London's 11 o'clock curfew.
These widesweeping reforms were ostensibly made "for reasons of discipline, public order, and safety," but the underlying motive is to maintain a note of dignity, even in amusements, consanant with "the earnestness of the times," a phrase which you meet over and over again.
This all-pervading note of dignity is one of the most admirable things you discover here. It extends even to their enemies. No street vendors sell parodies of the Victoria Cross or pamphlets or caricatures villifying King George or the Czar. The long arm of the martial law keeps a sharp eye even on humorous picture postals, and pounces on them whenever their humor verges on vulgarity.
Nevertheless, a little of the old night life, I am told--almost unrecognizable in its new and subdued war paint--is still on tap in the Charlottenburg district, and the famous resorts, former favorites of sight-seeing Americans, are still doing business, though behind closed doors and drawn blinds, not only on the Kurfuerstendam but even around Friedrichstrasse, while the "earnestness of the times" has hatched out here a typical New York institution--the policeman who has eyes but sees not, the detective who does not detect.
Opera Still Popular.
Of the dignified amusements there is no dearth in Berlin. The opera season continues in full swing, and the war has made no noticable change in the quality or quantity of the performances. The season is a success even from the American criterion of the box office. Wagner, of course, continues to rule the operatic roost...
Berlin's theatrical season has probably suffered less from the war than New York's. The fact that the theatres and music halls, as, in fact, all other places of amusement, continue to be crowded, is due partly to the fact that many soldiers from the "provinces" on leave are coming to Berlin to see the town for the first time in their lives...
I have been continuously puzzled by the mystery that money seems plentiful in Germany, and is being spent much more freely in Berlin than in London three months ago.
The theatregoer could take his pick last night, for instance, among Ibsen's "Peer Gynt" at the Lessing Theatre, Strindberg's "Rausch" at the Koenigrätzer Theatre...
Change in Lighter Plays.
There are also twoscore comedies, operettas, musical comedies, and new "war revues." ...Under the title "What are We Thinking Of?" the new Metropole revue offers seven skits and sketches, including "The German Michel," "Hindenburg's Camp," and "In the Trenches," a skillful mixture of racy humor and a dash of earnestness and bathos, just enough to get it by the censor.
Equally well patronized are the vaudeville shows, the Ice Palace, the Winter Garden, and all the other gardens and palaces. The serious searcher into the spirit of things cannot spend two hours to greater advantage than at the Winter Garden, where you get many an interesting line on the war psychology of the masses. The lower down you get in the scale of amusements the stronger the patriotic note...
By way of variety, the Eight Germanias, chorus girl grenadiers, go through military exercises and evolutions, the manual of arms, and the goose step, in a style worthy of the guards, finishing with a salute of the German and Austrian colors amid loud applause...
The moving pictures that conclude the programme are of course war films--and you might almost have guessed it, the reel you saw showed English prisoners being marched by Landstrum guards to their barracks... the prisoners were all laughing except one lanky Scotsman, who looked glum...
At any one of a dozen vast concert halls you can still enjoy beer and Beethoven simultaneously in undiminished quantities, if you come early enough to get a place at a table. The famous Philharmonic Orchestra has not been turned into a field gray brass band. Strauss and Nikisch have conducted, and according to advertisements will do it again...
Hotels Again Full.
The big hotels have not been so full since the American "refugee" rush was at its height, due largely to the many notables who are forced to lead a nomadic life on war business. The ever-closer co-operation of the Austrian and German Armies is indicated by the large number of high Austrian officers whom you now see about the Berlin hotels. The palmrooms of the Kaiserhof and Adlon are crowded at 5 o'clock coffee and whiskey time. Americans are running over from London in increasing numbers. They gravitate naturally to the American bar of the Adlon.
About every other one is said to be "writing for the magazines." These all confidently believe that they are "bound for the front," but their bivouac in Berlin is likely to be a long one. When they get back home they will probably go gumshoeing for the joker who started the report that American writers were being welcomed with open arms by the German military authorities.
There is no sign of any shortage of food or drink, present or impending. Menus and portions have not shrunk nor have prices been raised. The only basis for the "famine" yarns that bob up in the allied press is the fact that small white rolls are passed around on silver salvers as if they were Kohinoor diamonds, this owing to the military edict that bread baskets mustn't be left standing on tables, a standing temptation to guests to eat more bread than they really need, and that rye bread must be offered to guests simultaneously with white and that no fresh bread can be baked after 2 P. M.
These military measures appear to be purely precautionary, to wit, to conserve the stock of wheat till the next harvest and beyond, and are only another illustration of the fact which has struck me over and over again, that the Germans are taking no chances, preparing for every conceivable contingency and overlooking no bets to win.
Life in Berlin is uncannily normal now--or seems so.
[Bread rationing in Berlin began a few months later; meat rationing in June, 1916.]