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Stitch in Time.


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LIFE IN GERMANY. Glimpses in the Homes of the Poorer Classes. How the Rural Labourers Live. Work from 5 am. till 10 p.m. The following letter has been addressed to the 'Express' by Mr Evan Edward Thomas, Jkl.A., son of Mr Evan Thomas, Park-street, Newtown. It is an honest attempt to deal impartially with the conditions which obtain principally in rural Germany. Mr Thomas has been travelling about various parts of Germany for several months and has kept his eyes-as the Yankees say-well skinned, and carefully noted all that goes on around him. It is a candid statement, and of its kind is a more valuable impression than the few days' tour which the Tariff trippers had in the Fatherland. At present so much interest is being taken in matters concerning Germany that it would be well, perhaps, if I would try and give you some idea of what I myself have seen in Germany. I may say at the beginning that I am not going to write from a party point of view, because if I did what I would say would be biassed and prejudiced, and, therefore, any comparison of prices in Germany with prices in England cannot help you to compare the standards of living in both countries. The first part of my time in Germany I lived with a German pastor in a peasant village in the State of Hanover. The village was a large one, and was v&ty different from anything that I had seen in England. The road through it was very roughly paved with large stones, and it was so very uneven that large pools of water had collected all over it. The houses were not built close together, but between them there was a space of about a foot wide. Through this narrow opening the peasants threw all their dirty water, and it ran into the street; there it was left to stagnate until the Saturday evening, when the peasants usually cleaned their front door-steps. Most of the houses had stone steps leading to the door; this left a space between the first floor and the street level. This space was two or three feet high, and it was here that the peasant kept his pigs and his goat. Underneath the window was a latched door; this was the pigs' entrance. At the top of the house there was a kind of garret, over which was a rude pulley arrangement. In this garret was kept the fodder for the oxen, and the pulley was used as a means of taking in or bringing out this fodder. At twelve o'clock each day a man from the village blew a whistle, which was a sign that all the pigs were to be turned out into the street for exercise until three o'clock. At three o'clock they were again turned back into their respective homes. Each day, from twelve to three, the village was paraded by about a hundred of these swine. Needless to say, such a place had a very fine variety of strong smells. GREY, NOT BLACK BREAD. As to the work of the peasants, both men and women worked out in the fields. It was harvest time when I was in the village of Adelebsen, and so the peasants were working rather harder than at other times. Both men and women had to be in the fields at five o'clock in the morning, and there they had to remain until ten o'clock in the evening. At one o'clock they had an hour for dinner, and at four they had another half-hour for what in England we should call tea. What- ever they ate and whatever they drank they had to bring themselves and to sit down on the ground as best they could and eat it. The land- owner did not, as in England, give to those who worked for him The run of their teeth." The great landowner in Adelebsen was the Baron and his land he rented out to a certain Herr Nlauberg. Herr Nlauberg engaged about a hundred Poles, i.e., people from the country of Poland, to work for him. Half of these were women and half men. Huge barns were erected for them for them to sleep in, one for the women and one for the men. They lived on black bread, potatoes, and fat bacon. Black bread is rye bread, and it is not black at all, but grey, although it is called black bread. It is eaten in Germany just as white bread is eaten in England. both baron and peasant eating exactly the same kind of bread. NO HOME LIFE. To return, however, to the Poles. They only work during the summer time. During the winter they return to Poland, because the German people do not like them, and drive them away when they have no use for them. They are all under contract labour. Sometimes the Polish women have children during the time they are working in Germany. One day a woman is work- ing in the fields, often without any shoes and stockings, often ankle-deep in the wet ground. The next day she is in the barn giving birth to a child, and on the third day she is again working in the fields. It is generally specifically set down in the contracts that illness in connection with the birth of children means a breaking of the contract, and when such a thing occurs many of the landowners will send a Polish woman who has thus broken the contract back to Poland without paying her anything for the work she has already done. How much these people are paid I really do not know. To come now to the life of these peasants, and I must say that perhaps it is easier to say what this life is not than to say what it is. One does not see pretty little cottages, with ivy-covered walls, with flowers in front of the door, as in England. One does not see cosy fires and family circles; the German peasant's house is almost devoid of furniture. There is, indeed, no home- life in Germany as there is in England the people have little time to indulge in such com- forts; both men and women have to work the whole day in the fields. Then there are no village halls and village debating societies; no village treats and no village merry-making. The peasant women have large numbers of children; eight and ten is the usual number, and many have fifteen children. These are fair-haired, and blue- eyed serious little creatures, who, when they are not in school, are helping their parents in some way or another. They are not the merry-playing creatures that one expects children to be, but they are serious and heavy; they are, indeed, already peasants, rather than children. THE WOMEN'S EXAMPLE. I come now to life as it is in Berlin. This is my first experience of life in a large town, so that I am afraid I cannot give you a very good idea of what life is like here. The city is a very carefully arranged one, and very clean. There are no slums here, and there is practically no destitution here. Beggars are very few, indeed; one or two I have seen, and they address everyone as either Herr Doktor or Hen Baron. A well-dressed man is a baron, and one not well-dressed is a doctor. The poor quarters are to the north and the east, and if on a fine warm day one should go to either of these part;; one would find there a kind of large wooded district just outside the working district, where the workmens' wives go to sit in the after- noons. One may see five or six hundred of them, all clean and neat, generally with blue blouses and white aprons, and their small childien with them. They are always working at something. They make clothes for the children, or knit, or something of that kind. The German frau is a most careful and painstaking woman; she is never idle, and the way in which she can make inexpensive meals is really surprising. The house frau with whom I stay oftep tells me that if the men in Germany were like the women then Germany would be high." But I know that most of my readers will be anxious to know something of the political events in Germany. What about unemployment in Germany"? you will ask, and of the "Tariffs" and of the Dreadnought" policy ? THE UNEMPLOYMENT QUESTION. First, as regards unemployment. Whether there is more unemployment here than in England I cannot say, but there are certain circumstances which exist in Germany, but which do not exist in England, which tend to lessen unemplopment in Germany. The first of these is conscription. .In Germany every able-bodied man has to serve three years in the army. This means that in any town or village in Germany all the young men from about 18 or 19 to 21 or 22 are soldiers and cannot work, and this must lesson unemployment considerably. In the second place, there are not so many people engaged in trade and industry as in Eng- land, more people being engaged on the land. Now, unemployment belongs almost exclusively to industry, not to agriculture, and therefore a 1- more agricultural community or a greater peasant population is necessarily less affected by unem- ployment than one which is industrial. In the third place the agrarian policy of Germany has a great influence in lessening un- employment. Briefly, this policy is that of mak- ing the land support the people. Enough corn must be grown in Germany to supply the whole of Germany with bread. As Germany is not a large country, if this policy is to be effected, every square foot of land must be under cultivation. And this is what one sees, even the hedges have been pulled up because hedges Ps, divisions between pieces of land are -a great waste. hrousrhout the whole of Germany you will see scarcely any hedges, and you will see no waste land. If the same policy, or, at least, if some- thing of this policy were carried out in England I venture to say there would be far less unem- ployment there. TARIFFS AND THE PEOFLE. I must say something about the tariffs. First, as regards industrial tariffs I know very little, and I really cannot say how they affect the trade and unemployment in Germany. About agricultural tariffs and their effect on the peasants I can perhaps say something. Now, if tariffs in corn are to effect to purpose of making Germany support herself they n.u.st do two things:— (1) They must raise the price of foreign corn so that it will pay people to buy German rather than foreign corn. (2) They must tend to produce sufficient corn to feed Germany because if Germany cannot produce her own corn the tax on foreign corn will only tend to make bread dear. GOOD FOR THE LANDOWNER. It is the second of these requirements of a suc- cessful tariff that you must carefully consider. A large landowner with modern machinery which requires a minimum of labour can produce a largo amount of corn at a profit, but a large number of peasants with little land and with very crude machinery cannot produce corn to sell so that they can make a comfortable living out of their labour. Hence any tariff on corn in Germany which is to be successful must tend to keep the peasants on the land and must also tend to keep them poor. TLis is what is happening in Ger- many, especially in the South,and the peasants themselves are very dissatisfied. A tariff on corn is a very good thing for the large landowner; it puts money in their pockets, but for small land- owners it is disastrous. I should like to say something of the German policy of aggrandisement together with the Dreadnought and military policies which are con- nected with it. Germany wishes to do two things, She wishes to become a great industrial nation and also to be a self-feeding nation. This is the first thing. But in the second place there are two parties in Germany, there is the aris- tocracy. which is oligarchic, and which practically rules Germany, and which is responsible for the aggrandising and military policy of Germany. This aristocracy is almost wholly Prussian, so that Germany is virtually ruled by a Prussian oligarchy. And then there is the democratic and more humanitarian party, which is fighting against the aristocratic rule and which is seeking to secure for the Reichstag, or what in England we should call the House of Commons, a proper share of legislative power. The Reichstag, or House of Commons, in Germany, has practically no legislative power. Then the whole of South Germany is opposed to Prussian policy-to Dreadnoughts, militarism, and conscription. DEBTS FOR DREADNOUGHTS. But let us look at this Prussian policy itself and let us see what are its chances of success. Firstly, if Germany's trade is to increase she must have a larger coast line and more ports, and this can only be done by taking over Holland and Belgium. In the second place she has not enough land for her people; there are already too many people on the land. What she wants to do is to push her territory out east through Russian Poland, where there is a good deal of land" to spare, on which she could settle some of her superfluous popula- tion. In the third place almost half of Austria- Hungary is peopled by Germans, which will eventually mean that in the interest of the German people as a whole this part of Austria Hungary will have to belong to Germany. This is the Pan-German dream, and a dream which the Prussian Oligarchy is undoubtedly trying its best to realize. But Germany is having to pay a heavy price for the struggling after this ideal. She is enor- mously in debt over the Dreadnoughts; her people are already very much overt&xed, with the result that the peasants in the south and east cannot pay the taxes, and in Bavaria, at least, they have shown signs of revolt. More taxes will mean a revolt in the south. Often and often they wail," Prussia! Prussia! is our undoing! Conscription is having a bad effect upon the peasant population. The young men, who, up to eighteen years of age, have had to live hard- plain food, hard diet, and hard work, are at once drafted off to the towns and thrown into the middle of luxury. The result is disastrous. They come back to their native villages dissatisfied and discontented, and are no longer willing to work on the land. And most of the conscripts aie drawn from the villages. The figures are: From Berlin and such large towns, 8 per cent. of those who present themselves are bodily fit to be accepted; from the smaller towns 30 per cent., and from the villages 60 per cent. Any navy policy in England cannot consider this Prussian militarism as German opinion; it must take into consideration the pull on the reins, and if Prussia continues much longer in her present policy there will undoubtedly be serious trouble in Germany, because it presses too hard upon the agricultural population of the south and east. I have tried to give you as fair and as balanced an account as I can of what I have seen in Germany. I have not written it in the interest of any party, and doubtless there is much in it that both sides will appreciate. E. E. THOMAS.

Welshpool Pensions SubCommittee.

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Gair at yr Etholwyr.

Dolfor Rainfall for November,…

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Warning to Milksellers at…

The National Memorial.

The Welsh Church Commission.


Mr. Addie's Unfulfilled Promise

Injustice to Llanmerewig.

To Succour the Poor at -1.…


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