Riots are Frequent Throughout Germany

Ernest Hemingway

Toronto Star Weekly/September 30, 1922

Cologne.-British officers back from Silesia tell how British troops had to escort the French troops out of the country after the plebiscite in order to prevent attacks that would have brought on bloody fighting.

The British guard over the departing French troops prevented an out­break, but the Germans’ hatred of the French was so great that they exacted reprisals on their own people who had been overfriendly with the occupying army. German women who had been seen in public with French officers were seized, their heads were shaved and they were hooted around the streets. Other German girls known to have had closer rela­tionship with French officers had their clothes torn off, their heads shaved, and were driven out of their towns.

The enormous equestrian statue of William Hohenzollern, that stands at the Cologne side of the beautiful Hohenzollern bridge across the Rhine, bears all the marks of another recent occasion when the Ger­man showed what he is still capable of being. Both spurs on William’s giant iron boots were broken off and the blade of his sword is gone. These were smashed off in an attempt by some of the Cologne citizenry to over­throw the big statue in a brawl that started out as a revolution and ended as a small-sized riot.

During the attack on the statue, a policeman appeared and tried to quiet the mob. The mob threw the policeman into the river. In the cold, swift swirl of the Rhine against the base of the bridge, the policeman hung on to one of the abutments and shouted up that he knew who was in the mob and would see that they were all punished. So the mob swarmed down and tried to push the policeman loose into the current. It meant drowning for the policeman to let go-and he hung on. Then the mob chopped his fingers loose from the stone with the hatchet with which they had been attacking the statue.

It was a German policeman and a German mob. And all over Germany conflict goes on between German police and German mobs. In the north there are riots against the high cost of living, that are quelled by the police with machine guns. In the south there are riotous demonstrations in favor of Hindenburg, Ludendorff and a return to the monarchy in Munich at which the police quell the dissenting Republicans with clubs.

Meantime, in order that the profiteers on both sides shall not allow any of the money being spent to get out of their hands, Herr Stinnes and a group of French contractors have concluded an agreement that all mate­rial supplied by Germany to France for reconstruction shall come through Herr Hugo Stinnes.

Stinnes is to receive six percent by agreement on everything that passes through his hands. It is the final refinement of the whole profiteering business, whereby the profiteers of both countries get together and form a profiteers’ trust, so that nothing can get away from them at either end. And the great reconstructed-devastated regions scandal, which is begin­ning to be talked about under their breath by many people, as a coming blowup that will make the Panama Canal scandal and the Marconi scandal pale into nothing, gets nearer and nearer.

(Source: Dateline: Toronto. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1985)

The works of Ernest Hemingway and other American journalists are now freely available at The Archive of American Journalism. Visit our bookstore for single-volume collections–-ideal for research, reference use or casual reading.