Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons_ Wesel, Sennelager, Klingelputz, Ruhleben
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Title: Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons
Wesel, Sennelager, Klingelputz, Ruhleben
Author: Henry Charles Mahoney
Editor: Frederick Arthur Ambrose Talbot
Release Date: April 8, 2006 [eBook #18134]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SIXTEEN MONTHS IN FOUR GERMAN PRISONS***
E-text prepared by David Clarke, Cori Samuel,
and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries
|Note:||Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries. See http://www.archive.org/details/germanprison00mahouoft|
Transcriber's Note:The original printing contained gaps in the text, varying insize from a few words up to several lines. This appears to havebeen a deliberate act by the author, editor, or printer. Thesegaps have been reproduced here.
HENRY C. MAHONEY
FREDERICK A. TALBOT
AUTHOR OF "THE NEW GARDEN OF CANADA,"
"CONQUESTS OF SCIENCE," ETC.
LONDON AND EDINBURGH
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & CO., LTD.
From an official photograph taken by the German Government forattachment to the passport. The embossed imprint of the stamp of theKommandantur of Berlin may be seen.
It was whilst suffering the agonies of solitary confinement in themilitary prison of Wesel that I first decided to record my experiencesso that readers might be able to glean some idea of the inner workingsand the treatment meted out to our unfortunate compatriots who weretravelling in Germany at the outbreak of war and who have since beeninterned.
From the moment of my decision I gathered all the information possible,determining at the first opportunity to escape to the Old Country. Aswill be seen I have to a degree been successful.
Owing to the grossly inaccurate and highly coloured reports which havebeen circulated from time to time regarding the life and treatment ofprisoners of war, the story has been set out in a plain unvarnishedform. There are no exaggerations whatever. Much of the most revoltingdetail has been eliminated for the simple reason that they areunprintable.
In nearly every instance names have been suppressed. Only initials havebeen indicated, but sufficient description is attached to enablepersonal friends of those who are still so unfortunate as to beincarcerated to identify them and their present situation. Likewise, inthe cases where I received kind treatment from Germans, initials onlyhave been introduced, since the publication of their names would onlyserve to bring punishment upon them.
On Friday afternoon, July 31, 1914, I shook hands in farewell with myfriend Henry C. Mahoney. He was going to Warsaw and was full ofenthusiasm concerning the new task which was to occupy him for at leastthree months. Owing to his exceptional skill and knowledge, practical aswell as theoretical, of photography in all its varied branches, he hadbeen offered, and had accepted an important appointment abroad inconnection with this craft—one which made a profound appeal to him.Despite the stormy outlook in the diplomatic world he felt convincedthat he would be able to squeeze through in the nick of time.
Although he promised to keep me well informed of his movements monthspassed in silence. Then some ugly and ominous rumours came to hand tothe effect that he had been arrested as a spy in Germany, had beensecretly tried and had been shot. I did not attach any credence to thesevague, wild stories. I knew he had never been to Germany before, and wasau courant with the harmless nature of his mission.
A year elapsed before I had any definite news. Then to my surprise Ireceived a letter from him dispatched from the Interned BritishPrisoners Camp at Ruhleben. As a matter of fact I learned subsequentlythat he had previously written six letters and post-cards to me, butnone had reached me; most likely they had been intercepted andsuppressed by the German authorities.
The letter intimated that he had prepared a voluminous account of hisexperiences. Two or three days later I learned from another source thathe had been "having a hard, rough, and exciting time," and that hecould relate one of the most fascinating and sensational storiesconcerning the treatment meted out to our compatriots by the Germanauthorities. I also learned that a closely written diary and a mass ofother papers were on their way to me; that they were in safe keepingjust over the frontier, the bearer waiting patiently for the mostfavourable moments to smuggle them into safety. This diary and otherdocuments contained material which he desired me to make public with allspeed in order to bring home to the British public a vivid impression ofwhat our fellow-countrymen were suffering in the German prison camps.
The papers never reached me. Why, is related in the following pages. Inprosecuting discreet enquiries to discover their whereabouts I learned,early in October 1915, that "Mahoney will be home before Christmas." Myinformant declined to vouchsafe any further particulars beyond thecryptic remark, "He's got something smart up his sleeve."
Knowing full well that my friend was a man of infinite resource andinitiative I was not surprised to learn a week or two later that"Ruhleben knew Mahoney no longer." He had got away. His plans had provedso successful as to exceed the sanguine anticipations which he hadformed.
On December 9, 1915, the day after his return to his wife and children,who had been keyed up to the highest pitch of excitement by the welcomenews, we met again. His appearance offered convincing testimony as tothe privations he had suffered, but I was completely surprised by theterrible tale he unfolded.
When the story narrated in the following pages was submitted to thepublishers they received it with incredulity. After making enquiriesconcerning Mr. Mahoney's credentials they accepted his statements asbeing accurate, but my friend, to set the matter beyond all dispute,insisted upon making a statutory declaration as to their accuracy inevery detail.
People in these islands were stirred to profound depths of horror by thecold-blooded murders of Nurse Cavell and Captain Fryatt, of whose trialsnothing was heard until the sentences had been executed. A certainamount of curiosity has been aroused concerning the Teuton methods ofconducting these secret trials. Henry C. Mahoney passed through asimilar experience, although he escaped the extreme penalty. Still, thestory of his trial will serve to bring home to the public some idea ofthe manner in which Germany strives to pursue her campaign offrightfulness behind closed doors.
Frederick A. Talbot.
|I.||Arrested as a Spy||11|
|II.||Committed to Wesel Prison||29|
|III.||How Germany Drives Her Prisoners Mad||44|
|IV.||My Secret Midnight Trial||60|
|V.||Waiting to be Shot||74|
the black hole of germany
|VI.||Our "Luxurious Hotel"||91|
|VII.||Breaking us in at Sennelager||105|
|VIII.||Badgering the British Heroes at Mons||119|
|IX.||The Persecution of the Priests||136|
|X.||Tying Prisoners to the Stake—The Favourite Punishment||148|
|XI.||The Reign of Terror||165|
|XII.||The Reign of Terror—Continued||180|
|XIII.||"The Bloody Night of Sept. 11"||196|
|XIV.||The Guardian of the Camp||209|
|XV.||The Aftermath of the 11th||225|
|XVI.||Free on "Pass" in Cologne||237|
|XVII.||Re-imprisoned at Klingelputz||253|
|XVIII.||The Camp of Abandoned Hope||266|
|XIX.||Organising the Communal City of Ruhleben||280|
|XX.||How I Made Money in Ruhleben Camp||301|
|XXI.||How The American Ambassador Was Deceived||316|
|The Author as he appeared on the Day of his Release from Ruhleben||Frontispiece|
|"The Bloody Night of September 11, 1914"||198|
|The Aftermath of the "Bloody Night"||226|
|Facsimile of the Pass issued by the German authorities to the Author on|
his leaving Sennelager for Cöln-on-Rhein
ARRESTED AS A SPY
"Start August First. Book tickets immediately."
Such were the instructions I received at Brighton early in July, 1914,from Prince ——. A few days previously I had spent considerable timewith this scion of the Russian nobility discussing the finalarrangements concerning my departure to his palace in Russia, where Iwas to devote two months to a special matter in which he was deeplyinterested, and which involved the use of special and elaboratephotographic apparatus, microscopes, optical lantern and otheraccessories. I may mention that the mission in question was purely ofscientific import.
During the discussion of these final arrangements a telegram was handedto the Prince. He scanned it hurriedly, jumped up from his seat, andapologising for his abruptness, explained that he had been suddenlycalled home. He expressed the hope that he would shortly see me inRussia, where I was promised a fine time, but that he would instruct methe precise date when to start. Meanwhile I was urged to complete mypurchases of the paraphernalia which we had decided to be imperative forour purpose, and he handed me sufficient funds to settle all theaccounts in connection therewith. That night the Prince bade me farewelland hurried off to catch the boat train. My next communication from himwas the brief instruction urging me to start on August 1.
Shortly after his departure there were ominous political rumblings, butI, in common with the great majority, concluded that the storm wouldblow over as it had done many times before. Moreover, I was sopre-occupied with my coming task as to pay scanty attention to thepolitical barometer. I completed the purchase of the apparatuses, packedthem securely, and arranged for their dispatch to meet me at the train.Then I remained at home to await developments. I was ready to start at amoment's notice, having secured my passport, on which I was described,for want of a better term, as a "Tutor of Photography," and it was dulyviséd by the Russian Embassy.
Although the political sky grew more and more ominous I paid but littleattention to the black clouds. The receipt of instructions to start atonce galvanised me into activity to the exclusion of all other thoughts.I booked my passage right through to destination—Warsaw—and uponmaking enquiries on July 31st was assured that I should get through allright.
I left Brighton by the 5.10 train on