Page 3526

3526 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

to do so as a patriotic duty. As the woolen

and cotton cloth wore out, resort was

had to clothes made of paper. Suits of

paper were worn by millions. Like all

substitutes such cloth had its drawbacks.

Naturally, of course, it could not be washed

and soon became torn and worn out. A

statement in the Kieler Zeitung ran:

"The custom of burying the dead in

their valuable clothes is the means of

great loss of much good cloth. The loss

of such cloth is now irreparable because

of the war. For the public good, before

which the individual must bow, it is necessary to break this old custom. It should

be taken under consideration that the

dead should be clothed in burial shrouds

made of paper, and should be covered

with a sheet of similar material. Pillowslips could likewise be made of paper.

In view of existing conditions, it seems

unsuitable to clothe the dead with shoes

and stockings."

Prayers constantly ascended to heaven

from individuals and ministers for good

harvests. These prayers were not always

answered by the power that the Kaiser

was fond of calling "the good old German

God." All sorts of food substitutes were

evolved. A South Jutland newspaper

reported in 1917 that two new war dishes

had proved to be rare delicacies, namely,

boiled nettle leaves and tea brewed from

cow-slip blossoms.

The Germans had always been noted as

a nation of heavy eaters, and the shortage

of food bore heavily upon them. A great

part of their conversation now concerned

things to eat, and a part of the hatred

which the Germans felt toward England

was due to the fact that the British blockade condemned them to short commons.

Food tickets were the rule, and everything

possible was done by the authorities to

conserve the food supply. Yet there

were many irregularities, and the rich

invariably succeeded in obtaining more

food than the poor. Maximum prices

were fixed upon certain staple commodities,

and it was provided that no one should

obtain more than a certain quantity. The

sale of other articles, especially luxuries,

was left unregulated, and people with

money could buy these things provided

the supply held out. Public kitchens

were also established for the poor. Despite every effort to stimulate production

and conserve food, most Germans were

constantly hungry, and, by the end of

1916, a neutral observer reported that

there was not a big girth to be found any

longer in all Germany, formerly the land

of big girths.

Economy and the use of substitutes did

something to ease the economic pressure,

but could not remove it. For example,

benzol was substituted for gasoline, aluminum was made to do duty in place of

copper for some purposes; by a chemical

process the excess supply of sugar was

transformed into albumen by being combined with ammonium sulphate and was

used to feed stock. On the other hand,

millions of cattle and hogs were slaughtered

because of lack of food to feed them, the

supply of bread was reduced to a fraction

of the normal consumption, the supply

of meat was inadequate, the people subsisted mainly upon vegetables, particularly potatoes, and the problem of where

to obtain clothing became a pressing one.

The Germans and Austrians were not

actually starving, at least so far as most

of the people were concerned; but they

were subjected to hardships, they were

hampered in innumerable ways, and they

were experiencing slow economic strangulation.

In the spring of 1916, it was the opinion

of many neutral observers that if the

Allies should continue to hold the Teutons

in reasonable bounds and should themselves

continue willing to pay the price of victory,

they would be certain to win the war,

even though they should not win any

overwhelming military successes. Men,

money, munitions, and sea-power were all

on their side. The only doubtful factor,

barring the possibility of some invention

that would enable the Central Powers

to gain control of the sea, seemed to be

Allied determination.

The German submarine campaign

against Allied warships and merchant ships