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Fall of giants, p.33
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       Fall of Giants, p.33

         Part #1 of The Century series by Ken Follett
 
Chapter 33

  CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE - November 11, 1918

  At two o'clock in the morning, the phone rang at Fitz's house in Mayfair.

  Maud was still up, sitting in the drawing room with a candle, the portraits of dead ancestors looking A down on her, the drawn curtains like shrouds, the pieces of furniture around her dimly visible, like beasts in a field at night. For the last few days she had hardly slept. A superstitious foreboding told her Walter would be killed before the war ended.

  She sat alone, with a cold cup of tea in her hands, staring into the coal fire, wondering where he was and what he was doing. Was he sleeping in a damp trench somewhere, or preparing for tomorrow's fighting? Or was he already dead? She could be a widow, having spent only two nights with her husband in four years of marriage. All she could be sure of was that he was not a prisoner of war. Johnny Remarc checked every list of captured officers for her. Johnny did not know her secret: he believed she was concerned only because Walter had been a dear friend of Fitz's before the war.

  The telephone bell startled her. At first she thought it might be a call about Walter, but that would not make sense. News of a friend taken prisoner could wait until morning. It must be Fitz, she thought with agony: could he have been wounded in Siberia?

  She hurried out to the hall but Grout got there first. She realized with a guilty start that she had forgotten to give the staff permission to go to bed.

  "I will inquire whether Lady Maud is at home, my lord," Grout said into the apparatus. He covered the mouthpiece with his hand and said to Maud: "Lord Remarc at the War Office, my lady. "

  She took the phone from Grout and said: "It is Fitz? Is he hurt?"

  "No, no," said Johnny. "Calm down. It's good news. The Germans have accepted the armistice terms. "

  "Oh, Johnny, thank God!"

  "They're all in the forest of Compiegne, north of Paris, on two trains in a railway siding. The Germans have just gone into the dining car of the French train. They're ready to sign. "

  "But they haven't signed yet?"

  "No, not yet. They're quibbling about the wording. "

  "Johnny, will you phone me again when they've signed? I shan't go to bed tonight. "

  "I will. Good-bye. "

  Maud gave the handset back to the butler. "The war may end tonight, Grout. "

  "I'm very happy to hear it, my lady. "

  "But you should go to bed. "

  "With your ladyship's permission, I'd like to stay up until Lord Remarc telephones again. "

  "Of course. "

  "Would you like some more tea, my lady?"

  {II}

  The Aberowen Pals arrived in Omsk early in the morning.

  Billy would always remember every detail of the four-thousand-mile journey along the Trans-Siberian Railway from Vladivostok. It had taken twenty-three days, even with an armed sergeant posted in the locomotive to make sure the driver and fireman kept maximum speed. Billy was cold all the way: the stove in the center of the railcar hardly took the chill off the Siberian mornings. They lived on black bread and bully beef. But Billy found every day a revelation.

  He had not known there were places in the world as beautiful as Lake Baikal. The lake was longer from one end to the other than Wales, Captain Evans told them. From the speeding train they watched the sun rise over the still blue water, lighting the tops of the mile-high mountains on the far side, the snow turning to gold on the peaks.

  All his life he would cherish the memory of an endless caravan of camels alongside the railway line, the laden beasts plodding patiently through the snow, ignoring the twentieth century as it hurtled past them in a clash of iron and a shriek of steam. I'm a bloody long way from Aberowen, he thought at that moment.

  But the most memorable incident was a visit to a high school in Chita. The train stopped there for two days while Colonel Fitzherbert parlayed with the local leader, a Cossack chieftain called Semenov. Billy attached himself to a party of American visitors on a tour. The principal of the school, who spoke English, explained that until a year ago he had taught only the children of the prosperous middle class, and that Jews had been banned even if they could afford the fees. Now, by order of the Bolsheviks, education was free to all. The effect was obvious. His classrooms were crammed to bursting with children in rags, learning to read and write and count, and even studying science and art. Whatever else Lenin might have done-and it was difficult to separate the truth from the conservative propaganda-at least, Billy thought, he was serious about educating Russian children.

  On the train with him was Lev Peshkov. He had greeted Billy warmly, showing no sense of shame, as if he had forgotten being chased out of Aberowen as a cheat and a thief. Lev had made it to America and married a rich girl, and now he was a lieutenant, attached to the Pals as an interpreter.

  The population of Omsk cheered the battalion as they marched from the railway station to their barracks. Billy saw numerous Russian officers on the streets, wearing fancy old-fashioned uniforms but apparently doing nothing military. There were also a lot of Canadian troops.

  When the battalion was dismissed, Billy and Tommy strolled around town. There was not much to look at: a cathedral, a mosque, a brick fortress, and a river busy with freight and passenger traffic. They were surprised to see many locals wearing bits and pieces of British army uniform. A woman selling hot fried fish from a stall had on a khaki tunic; a deliveryman with a handcart wore thick army-issue serge trousers; a tall schoolboy with a satchel of books walked along the street in bright new British boots. "Where did they get them?" said Billy.

  "We supply uniforms to the Russian army here, but Peshkov told me the officers sell them on the black market," Tommy said.

  "Serves us bloody well right for supporting the wrong side," said Billy.

  The Canadian YMCA had set up a canteen. Several of the Pals were already there: it seemed to be the only place to go. Billy and Tommy got hot tea and big wedges of apple tart, which North Americans called pie. "This town is the headquarters of the anti-Bolshevik reactionary government," Billy said. "I read it in The New York Times. " The American papers, which had been available in Vladivostok, were more honest than the British.

  Lev Peshkov came in. With him was a beautiful young Russian girl in a cheap coat. They all stared at him. How did he do it so fast?

  Lev looked excited. "Hey, have you guys heard the rumor?"

  Lev probably always heard rumors first, Billy thought.

  Tommy said: "Yeah, we heard you're a homo. "

  They all laughed.

  Billy said: "What rumor?"

  "They've signed an armistice. " Lev paused. "Don't you get it? The war is over!"

  "Not for us," said Billy.

  {III}

  Captain Dewar's platoon was attacking a small village called Aux Deux Eglises, east of the river Meuse. Gus had heard a rumor there would be a cease-fire at eleven A. M. , but his commanding officer had ordered the assault so he was carrying it out. He had moved his heavy machine guns forward to the edge of a spinney, and they were firing across a broad meadow at the outlying buildings, and giving the enemy plenty of time to retreat.

  Unfortunately, the Germans were not taking the opportunity. They had set up mortars and light machine guns in the farmyards and orchards, and were shooting back energetically. One gun in particular, firing from the roof of a barn, was effectively keeping half of Gus's platoon pinned down.

  Gus spoke to Corporal Kerry, the best shot in the unit. "Could you put a grenade into that barn roof?"

  Kerry, a freckled youth of nineteen, said: "If I could get a bit closer. "

  "That's the problem. "

  Kerry surveyed the terrain. "There's a bit of a rise a third of the way across the meadow," he said. "From there I could do it. "

  "It's risky," Gus said. "Do you want to be a hero?" He looked at his watch. "The war could be over in five minutes, if the rumors are true. "

&
nbsp; Kerry grinned. "I'll give it a try, Captain. "

  Gus hesitated, reluctant to let Kerry risk his life. But this was the army, and they were still fighting, and orders were orders. "All right," Gus said. "In your own time. "

  He half-hoped Kerry would delay, but the boy immediately shouldered his rifle and picked up a case of grenades.

  Gus shouted: "All fire! Give Kerry as much cover as you can. "

  All the machine guns rattled, and Kerry began to run.

  The enemy spotted him immediately, and their guns opened up. He zigzagged across the field like a hare chased by dogs. German mortars exploded around him but miraculously missed.

  Kerry's "bit of a rise" was three hundred yards away.

  He almost made it.

  The enemy machine gunner got Kerry perfectly in his sights and let fly with a long burst. Kerry was struck by a dozen rounds within a heartbeat. He flung up his arms, dropped his mortars, and fell, momentum carrying him through the air until he landed a few paces from his rise. He lay quite still, and Gus thought he must have been dead before he hit the ground.

  The enemy guns stopped. After a few moments, the Americans stopped firing, too. Gus thought he could hear the sound of distant cheering. All the men near him fell silent, listening. The Germans were cheering, too.

  German soldiers began to appear, emerging from their shelters in the distant village.

  Gus heard the sound of an engine. An Indian-brand American motorcycle came through the woods driven by a sergeant with a major on the pillion. "Cease fire!" the major yelled. The motorcyclist was driving him along the line from one position to the next. "Cease fire!" he shouted again. "Cease fire!"

  Gus's platoon began to whoop. The men took off their helmets and threw them in the air. Some danced jigs, others shook one another's hands. Gus heard singing.

  Gus could not take his eyes off Corporal Kerry.

  He walked slowly across the meadow and knelt beside the body. He had seen many corpses and he had no doubt Kerry was dead. He wondered what the boy's first name was. He rolled the body over. There were small bullet holes all over Kerry's chest. Gus closed the boy's eyes and stood up.

  "God forgive me," he said.

  {IV}

  As it happened, both Ethel and Bernie were home from work that day. Bernie was ill in bed with influenza, and so was Lloyd's child minder, so Ethel was looking after her husband and her son.

  She felt very low. They had had a tremendous row about which of them was to be the parliamentary candidate. It was not merely the worst quarrel of their married life, it was the only one. And they had barely spoken to one another since.

  Ethel knew she was justified, but she felt guilty all the same. She might well make a better M. P. than Bernie, and anyway the choice should be made by their comrades, not by themselves. Bernie had been planning this for years, but that did not mean the job was his by right. Although Ethel had not thought of it before, she was now eager to run. Women had won the vote, but there was more to be done. First, the age limit must be lowered so that it was the same as for men. Then women's pay and working conditions needed improvement. In most industries, women were paid less than men even when doing exactly the same work. Why should they not get the same?

  But she was fond of Bernie, and when she saw the hurt on his face she wanted to give in immediately. "I expected to be undermined by my enemies," he had said to her one evening. "The Conservatives, the halfway-house Liberals, the capitalist imperialists, the bourgeoisie. I even expected opposition from one or two jealous individuals in the party. But there was one person I felt sure I could rely on. And she is the one who has sabotaged me. " Ethel felt a pain in her chest when she thought about it.

  She took him a cup of tea at eleven o'clock. Their bedroom was comfortable, if shabby, with cheap cotton curtains, a writing table, and a photograph of Keir Hardie on the wall. Bernie put down his novel, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, which all the socialists were reading. He said coldly: "What are you going to do tonight?" The Labour Party meeting was that evening. "Have you made a decision?"

  She had. She could have told him two days ago, but she had not been able to bring herself to utter the words. Now that he had asked the question, she would answer it.

  "It should be the best candidate," she said defiantly.

  He looked wounded. "I don't know how you can do this to me and still say you love me. "

  She felt it was unfair of him to use such an argument. Why did it not apply in reverse? But that was not the point. "We shouldn't think of ourselves, we should think of the party. "

  "What about our marriage?"

  "I'm not giving way to you just because I'm your wife. "

  "You've betrayed me. "

  "But I am giving way to you," she said.

  "What?"

  "I said, I am giving way to you. "

  Relief spread across his face.

  She went on: "But it's not because I'm your wife. And it's not because you're the better candidate. "

  He looked mystified. "What, then?"

  Ethel sighed. "I'm pregnant. "

  "Oh, my word!"

  "Yes. Just at the moment when a woman can become a member of Parliament, I've fallen for a baby. "

  Bernie smiled. "Well, then, everything's turned out for the best!"

  "I knew you'd think that," Ethel said. At that moment she resented Bernie and the unborn baby and everything else about her life. Then she became aware that a church bell was ringing. She looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. It was five past eleven. Why were they ringing at this time on a Monday morning? Then she heard another. She frowned and went to the window. She could see nothing unusual in the street, but more bells began. To the west, in the sky over central London, she saw a red flare, the kind they called a maroon.

  She turned back to Bernie. "It sounds as if every church in London is ringing its bells. "

  "Something's happened," he said. "I bet it's the end of the war. They must be ringing for peace!"

  "Well," said Ethel sourly, "it's not for my bloody pregnancy. "

  {V}

  Fitz's hopes for the overthrow of Lenin and his bandits were centered on the All-Russia Provisional Government, based in Omsk. It was not just Fitz, but powerful men in most of the world's major governments, who looked to this town for the start of the counterrevolution.

  The five-man directory was housed in a railway train on the outskirts of the city. A series of armored railcars guarded by elite troops contained, Fitz knew, the remains of the imperial treasury, many millions of rubles' worth of gold. The tsar was dead, killed by the Bolsheviks, but his money was here to give power and authority to the loyalist opposition.

  Fitz felt he had a profound personal investment in the directory. The group of influential men he had assembled at Tŷ Gwyn back in April formed a discreet network within British politics, and they had managed to foster Britain's clandestine but weighty encouragement of the Russian resistance. That in turn had brought support from other nations, or at least discouraged them from helping Lenin's regime, he felt sure. But foreigners could not do everything: it was the Russians themselves who had to rise up.

  How much could the directory achieve? Although it was anti-Bolshevik, its chairman was a Socialist Revolutionary, Nicholas D. Avkentsiev. Fitz deliberately ignored him. The Socialist Revoutionaries were almost as bad as Lenin's lot. Fitz's hopes lay with the right wing and the military. Only they could be relied upon to restore the monarchy and private property. He went to see General Boldyrev, commander in chief of the directory's Siberian army.

  The rail carriages occupied by the government were furnished with fading tsarist splendor: worn velvet seats, chipped marquetry, stained lampshades, and elderly servants wearing dirty remnants of the elaborate braided and beaded livery of the old St. Petersburg court. In one carriage there was a lipsticked young woman in a silk dress smoking a cigarette.

  F
itz was discouraged. He wanted to return to the old ways, but this setup seemed too backward-looking even for his taste. He thought with anger of Sergeant Williams's scornful mockery. "Is what we're doing legal?" Fitz knew the answer was doubtful. It was time he shut Williams up for good, he thought wrathfully: the man was practically a Bolshevik himself.

  General Boldyrev was a big, clumsy-looking figure. "We have mobilized two hundred thousand men," he told Fitz proudly. "Can you equip them?"

  "That's impressive," Fitz said, but he suppressed a sigh. This was the kind of thinking that had caused the Russian army of six million to be defeated by much smaller German and Austrian forces. Boldyrev even wore the absurd epaulets favored by the old regime, big round boards with fringes that made him look like a character in a comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. In his makeshift Russian Fitz went on: "But if I were you I'd send half the conscripts home. "

  Boldyrev was baffled. "Why?"

  "At most we can equip a hundred thousand. And they must be trained. Better to have a small, disciplined army than a great rabble who will retreat or surrender at the first opportunity. "

  "Ideally, yes. "

  "The supplies we give you must be issued to men in the front line first, not to those in the rear. "

  "Of course. Very sensible. "

  Fitz had a dismal feeling that Boldyrev was agreeing without really listening. But he had to plow on. "Too much of what we send is going astray, as I can see by the number of civilians on the streets wearing articles of British army uniform. "

  "Yes, quite. "

  "I strongly recommend that all officers not fit to serve be deprived of their uniforms and asked to return to their homes. " The Russian army was plagued by amateurs and elderly dilettantes who interfered with decisions but stayed away from the fighting.

  "Hmm. "

  "And I suggest you give wider powers to Admiral Kolchak as minister of war. " The Foreign Office thought Kolchak was the most promising of the members of the directory.

  "Very good, very good. "

  "Are you willing to do all these things?" Fitz said, desperate to get some kind of commitment.

  "Definitely. "

  "When?"

  "All in good time, Colonel Fitzherbert, all in good time. "

  Fitz's heart sank. It was a good thing that men such as Churchill and Curzon could not see how unimpressive were the forces ranged against Bolshevism, he thought dismally. But perhaps they would shape up, with British encouragement. Anyway, he had to do his best with the materials to hand.

  There was a knock at the door and his aide-de-camp, Captain Murray, came in holding a telegram. "Sorry to interrupt, sir," he said breathlessly. "But I feel sure you'll want to hear this news as soon as possible. "

  {VI}

  Mildred came downstairs in the middle of the day and said to Ethel: "Let's go up west. " She meant the West End of London. "Everyone's going," she said. "I've sent my girls home. " She was now employing two young seamstresses in her hat-trimming business. "The whole East End is shutting up shop. It's the end of the war!"

  Ethel was eager to go. Her giving in to Bernie had not improved the atmosphere in the house much. He had cheered up but she had become more bitter. It would do her good to get out of the house. "I'll have to bring Lloyd," she said.

  "That's all right, I'll take Enid and Lil. They'll remember it all their lives-the day we won the war. "

  Ethel made Bernie a cheese sandwich for his lunch, then she dressed Lloyd warmly and they set off. They managed to get on a bus, but soon it was full, with men and boys hanging on the outside. Every house seemed to be flying a flag, not just Union Jacks but Welsh dragons, French tricolors, and the American Stars and Stripes. People were embracing strangers, dancing in the streets, kissing. It was raining, but no one cared.

  Ethel thought of all the young men who were now safe from harm, and she began to forget her troubles and share the joyous spirit of the moment.

  When they passed the theaters and entered the government district, the traffic slowed to a crawl. Trafalgar Square was a heaving mass of rejoicing humanity. The bus could go no farther, and they got off. They made their way along Whitehall to Downing Street. They could not get near number 10, because of the crush of people hoping for a sight of Prime Minister Lloyd George, the man who won the war. They went into St. James's Park, which was full of couples embracing in the bushes. On the far side of the park, thousands of people stood outside Buckingham Palace. They were singing "Keep the Home Fires Burning. " When the song ended they began "Now Thank We All Our God. " Ethel saw that a slim young woman in a tweed suit was conducting the singing, standing on top of a lorry, and she reflected that a girl would not have dared to do such a thing before the war.

  They crossed the street to Green Park, hoping to get nearer the palace. A young man smiled at Mildred, and when she smiled back, he put his arms around her and kissed her. She returned the kiss enthusiastically.

  "You seemed to enjoy that," Ethel said a bit enviously as the boy walked away.

  "I did," said Mildred. "I'd have sucked him off if he'd asked me. "

  "I won't tell Billy that," Ethel said with a laugh.

  "Billy's not daft, he knows what I'm like. "

  They circled the crowd and reached the street called Constitution Hill. The crush thinned out here, but they were at the side of Buckingham Palace, so they would not be able to see the king if he decided to come out onto the balcony. Ethel was wondering where to go next when a troop of mounted police came down the road, causing people to scurry out of the way.

  Behind them came a horse-drawn open carriage and inside, smiling and waving, were the king and queen. Ethel recognized them immediately, remembering them vividly from their visit to Aberowen almost five years ago. She could hardly believe her luck as the carriage came slowly toward her. The king's beard was gray, she saw: it had been dark when he came to Tŷ Gwyn. He looked exhausted but happy. Beside him, the queen was holding an umbrella to keep the rain off her hat. Her famous bosom seemed even larger than before.

  "Look, Lloyd!" Ethel said. "It's the king!"

  The carriage came within inches of where Ethel and Mildred stood.

  Lloyd called out loudly: "Hello, king!"

  The king heard him and smiled. "Hello, young man," he said; and then he was gone.

  {VII}

  Grigori sat in the dining car of the armored train and looked across the table. The man sitting opposite was chairman of the Revolutionary War Council and people's commissar for military and naval affairs. That meant he commanded the Red Army. His name was Lev Davidovich Bronstein, but like most of the leading revolutionaries he had adopted an alias, and he was known as Leon Trotsky. He was a few days past his thirty-ninth birthday, and he held the fate of Russia in his hands.

  The revolution was a year old, and Grigori had never been so worried about it. The storming of the Winter Palace had seemed like a conclusion, but in fact it had been only the beginning of the struggle. The most powerful governments of the world were hostile to the Bolsheviks. Today's armistice meant they could now turn their full attention to destroying the revolution. And only the Red Army could stop them.

  Many soldiers disliked Trotsky because they thought he was an aristocrat and a Jew. It was impossible to be both in Russia, but soldiers were not logical. Trotsky was no aristocrat, though his father had been a prosperous farmer, and Trotsky had had a good education. But his high-handed manners did him no favors, and he was foolish enough to travel with his own chef and clothe his staff in new boots and gold buttons. He looked older than his years. His great mop of curly hair was still black, but his face was now lined with strain.

  He had worked miracles with the army.

  The Red Guards who overthrew the provisional government had proved less effective on the battlefield. They were drunken and ill-disciplined. Deciding tactics by a show of hands at a soldiers' meeting had turned out to be a poor way to figh
t, even worse than taking orders from aristocratic dilettantes. The Reds had lost major battles against the counterrevolutionaries, who were beginning to call themselves the Whites.

  Trotsky had reintroduced conscription, against howls of protest. He had drafted many former tsarist officers, called them "specialists," and put them back into their old posts. He had also brought back the death penalty for deserters. Grigori did not like these measures, but he saw the necessity. Anything was better than counterrevolution.

  What kept the army together was a core of Bolshevik party members. They were carefully spread through all units to maximize their impact. Some were ordinary soldiers; some held command posts; some, such as Grigori, were political commissars, working alongside the military commanders and reporting back to the Bolshevik Central Committee in Moscow. They maintained morale by reminding soldiers they were fighting for the greatest cause in the history of humankind. When the army was obliged to be ruthless and cruel, requisitioning grain and horses from desperately poor peasant families, the Bolsheviks would explain to the soldiers why it was necessary for the greater good. And they reported rumblings of discontent early, so that such talk could be crushed before it spread.

  But would all this be enough?

  Grigori and Trotsky were bent over a map. Trotsky pointed to the Transcaucasia region between Russia and Persia. "The Turks are still in control of the Caspian Sea, with some German help," he said.

  "Threatening the oil fields," Grigori muttered.

  "Denikin is strong in the Ukraine. " Thousands of aristocrats, officers, and bourgeoisie fleeing the revolution had ended up in Novocherkassk, where they had formed a counterrevolutionary force under the renegade General Denikin.

  "The so-called Volunteer Army," said Grigori.

  "Exactly. " Trotsky's finger moved to the north of Russia. "The British have a naval squadron at Murmansk. There are three battalions of American infantry at Archangel. They are supplemented by just about every other country: Canada, China, Poland, Italy, Serbia. . . it might be quicker to list the nations that don't have troops in the frozen north of our country. "

  "And then Siberia. "

  Trotsky nodded. "The Japanese and Americans have forces in Vladivostok. The Czechs control most of the Trans-Siberian Railway. The British and Canadians are in Omsk, supporting the so-called All-Russia Provisional Government. "

  Grigori had known much of this, but he had not previously looked at the picture as a whole. "Why, we're surrounded!" he said.

  "Exactly. And now that the capitalist-imperialist powers have made peace, they will have millions of troops free. "

  Grigori sought for a ray of hope. "On the other hand, in the last six months we have increased the size of the Red Army from three hundred thousand to a million men. "

  "I know. " Trotsky was not cheered by this reminder. "But it's not enough. "

  {VIII}

  Germany was in the throes of a revolution-and to Walter it looked horribly like the Russian revolution of a year ago.

  It started with a mutiny. Naval officers ordered the fleet at Kiel to put to sea and attack the British in a suicide mission, but the sailors knew an armistice was being negotiated and they refused. Walter had pointed out to his father that the officers were going against the wishes of the kaiser, so they were the mutineers, and the sailors were the loyal ones. This argument had made Otto apoplectic with rage.

  After the government tried to suppress the sailors, the city of Kiel was taken over by a workers' and soldiers' council modeled on the Russian soviets. Two days later Hamburg, Bremen, and Cuxhaven were controlled by soviets. The day before yesterday, the kaiser had abdicated.

  Walter was fearful. He wanted democracy, not revolution. But on the day of the abdication, workers in Berlin had marched in their thousands, waving red flags, and the extreme leftist Karl Liebknecht had declared Germany a free socialist republic. Walter did not know how it would end.

  The armistice was a dreadfully low moment. He had always believed the war to be a terrible mistake, but there was no satisfaction in being right. The fatherland had been defeated and humiliated, and his fellow countrymen were starving. He sat in the drawing room of his parents' house in Berlin, leafing through the newspapers, too depressed even to play the piano. The wallpaper was faded and the picture rail dusty. There were loose blocks in the aging parquet floor, but no craftsmen to repair it.

  Walter could only hope that the world would learn a lesson. President Wilson's Fourteen Points provided a gleam of light that might just herald the rising sun. Was it possible that the giants among nations would find a way to resolve their differences peacefully?

  He was infuriated by an article in a right-wing paper. "This fool of a journalist says the German army was never defeated," he said as his father came into the room. "He claims we were betrayed by Jews and socialists at home. We must stamp out that kind of nonsense. "

  Otto was angrily defiant. "Why should we?" he said.

  "Because we know it's not true. "

  "I think we were betrayed by Jews and socialists. "

  "What?" Walter said incredulously. "It wasn't Jews and socialists who turned us back at the Marne, twice. We lost the war!"

  "We were weakened by the lack of supplies. "

  "That was the British blockade. And whose fault was it that the Americans came in? It was not Jews and socialists who demanded unrestricted submarine warfare and sank ships with American passengers. "

  "It is the socialists who have given in to the Allies' outrageous armistice terms. "

  Walter was almost incoherent with rage. "You know perfectly well that it was Ludendorff who asked for an armistice. Chancellor Ebert was appointed only the day before yesterday-how can you blame him?"

  "If the army was still in charge we would never have signed today's document. "

  "But you're not in charge, because you lost the war. You told the kaiser you could win it, and he believed you, and in consequence he lost his crown. How will we learn from our mistakes if you let the German people believe such lies as these?"

  "They will be demoralized if they think we were defeated. "

  "They should be demoralized! The leaders of Europe did something wicked and foolish, and ten million men died as a result. At least let the people understand that, so that they will never let it happen again!"

  "No," said his father.

 
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