Cooper, Ethel – April 1917
Yesterday I suddenly came to a conclusion. I read in the ‘Times’ that 20 women had landed in England from Germany, and that arrangements were being made for more facilities with civilians on each side. It was the last day of the quarter, and I ran at once to my landlady and gave notice. She received me kindly but sceptically – it was for the fourth time that I was giving notice! – and said that she would not trouble to advertise the flat till I told her I had received my pass.
I shall apply to leave by way of Switzerland, and ask Mrs. Oldenbourg to keep any money for me that may arrive in the meantime, for one is not allowed to take more than M.200 with one, and as M.200 is worth rather less than £6/10/- that won’t take me even to England.
I confess that I expect to have the application refused again, but I must make another attempt.
I have been quite busy this week. I went to a lawyer and am getting an application to leave the country drawn up formally. I am not saying a word about trying to go to anyone – not till I get some sort of answer, but I shall pack as much as I can without its being noticed, for if I do go, I may be given a very short time in which to get out.
Every day is bringing a declaration of war – America and now Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Cuba.
I paid a round of visits today, and in each house found people anxiously studying field-maps and wondering how far the ‘deliberately planned retreat’ was going to take them.
Here is the second week of April, and still not a bud or blade of anything green is to be seen, and there is a driving wind with sleet and bitter cold – this winter can find no end.
Tomorrow Mrs. Jaeger is giving three or four of us an Easter present in the form of an invitation for the whole day. We are to be there at 9 o’clock for breakfast of ham and eggs – Midday dinner with pickled pork, afternoon tea with cake and scones, and supper, with cold meat, salads, and to crown all, a plum pudding. Really if anyone deserves the Victoria Cross, Mrs. Jaeger does for the way in which she tries to help her countryfolk through these hard times! Her Emil sends her huge hampers every week, and when I say that it goes against my grain to eat the things that have been wrung out of those poor starving Poles, she says, ‘Well, I feel like that too, but now that I’ve got it, I’m not going to let a Boche have any of it!
We seem to be pushing forward slowly on the West front, and our list of prisoners is cheering, but it looks as if it would be hard work to get the Germans out of St. Quentin – that is a town that they are evidently sacrificing anything to hold.
If I get my pass, my idea was to go to Switzerland.
Once over the border the whole world is open to one, and you can’t imagine what that thought means after living for nearly three years in a rat-trap.
On Friday I had a summons to the police and was questioned about my application to leave. My lawyer had been very canny and given as a reason that I was almost without money, and should fall a burden to the State if I stayed here! So I kept to that tone, and was lucky in having a new official there, a gentle incompetent person, who was finally quite sorry for my desperate situation.
The ammunition factories have been striking this week – they want peace and more pay and more bread. In Berlin and Magdeburg the factory hands were just put into uniform on the spot, and told they would be shot if there were any disorder. If this people ever gets up a Revolution, then I shall look upon sheep and rabbits as also capable of such a thing.
No news about my pass yet, but Miss Lange who put in her application last week was refused in three days, so the long delay looks really hopeful.