Empirically Yours

It's 1871. It's the 15th of April. It's Saturday - and the latest issue, number 72, of the third volume of The Graphic hits the streets. On page 342 is a report of the return of the Landwehr guards to Berlin. Followed a few pages later by a nice picture of the event, with wives and lovers. It all looks a bit wanton if you ask me.


Return of the LANDWEHR guards to Berlin

THE Landwehr Guards, who are the picked men of the Prussian army, and who have done many gallant deeds during the late war, were the first of the German troops to return to Berlin. Their transit through Germany was one of continued ovation, The carriages, which seven months ago, decorated wlth laurels, and inscribed nach Paris, served to carry them to the seat of war, were now more profusely ornamented than ever, whlle the inmates wore garlands of flowers, and flourished large nosegays on the top of their needle-guns, and the points of their bayonets. At the various stations through which they passed they were vociferously cheered by the large crowds assembled to welcome them, and wherever they stopped hundreds of hands were stretched out for them to shake, and innumerable were the seidels of beer and the sausage sandwiches which were proffered for their refreshment. Should also one of the troops belong to that particular town, he was instantly transformed into a hero, and was proudly recognised and greeted by his fellow-citizens. His wife was sure to be there to claim him, and his children would be handed over to his fellow-soldiers, who, for the most part family men themselves, would duly praise and admire the quiverful of their comrade.

At Berlin, however, where most of the Guard belonged, the excitement on the arrival of the train was most intense. Phlegmatic as the Germans usually are, they lost all command over themselves at the sight of these men who had done so much for Germany; who had been victorious in so many hard-fought battles; who had repelled the dreaded French invasion with an almost unparalleled celerity; and had turned the tables on their invaders by overthrowing and almost eradicating an army once thought to be the most powerful in the world. Still, in spite of the tremendous welcome which greeted them at the station, the troops did not forget that discipline which has been one of the chief causes of their success, and after one warm embrace and a hearty shake of the hands, fell into the ranks for one more march past the palace of their beloved Kaiser, and of their almost worshipped commander, the Crown Prince. They marched down that famous avenue, the Linden, attended by thousands of cheering Berliners, and halting at the Imperial Palace, shouted "Long live the Emperor!" and were kindly bowed to in return by William I. himself, who came out on the balcony to thank his troops for their greeting. The Guards then proceeded up the Friedrich Strasse to the place appointed for disbanding. Here the strict discipline which they had hitherto so rigidly kept up, was relaxed. The women broke through the ranks, and hung round their husbands, brothers, or fathers, with a tenacity which the half-ashamed, half-pleased soldiers were unable to shake off. The children followed their mother’s example, and soon men, women and children were welded into one heterogeneous crowd, all marching to the Jäger Strasse. There the welcome word "halt" was heard, the Colonel waved a hearty adieu, the Captain took leave of his men in a few touching words, one tremendous cheer for the Landwehr was given and the soldiers were dismissed to their homes, and were free to embrace and hug their family belongings to their heart’s content, and to return to their peaceful avocations of seven months ago. The return of these troops, however, made a sad impression upon many of the gazers, for not all of those who had so gallantly marched out of the town last year had returned, and the ranks seemed terribly thin to those whose relations or friends were lying under the cold sod of a battle-field. But à la guerre comme à la guerre, they had died for their fatherland; and is it not the duly of a good citizen to sacrifice everything, even to his life, for the good of his country?

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