494 images of Germany just before World War I - part 1

Friday, May 06, 2016

During the early 1900s a French journalist named Jules Huret spent a number of years in Germany, and published two books in 1912 and 1913 based on his reports sent back to Le Figaro. The way he described being in the country is so riveting that you almost feel as if you are there with him, seeing Germany as it was during the very last moments of Europe's long period of peace. As the book is in French I translated one third of Huret's books and published it on Lulu Press, and hope to do the remainder when I have the opportunity.

What also makes the books interesting however is the large number of photographs, very rare for a book this old. The two have some 500 photographs in total, and are all captioned. I have gathered them together here and translated the captions, sometimes haphazardly because it really is a *lot* of content.

If you can read French you can read the original books here, and here.

Part 2 continues here.

A soldier like all the Hohenzollern and supreme commander of the army, Wilhelm II holds the constantly sharpened German sword, following his own word, so threatening to world peace.
The Royal Castle is a vast rectangular building with four floors. Its main facade extends along the Spree and is decorated with a monumental entrance surmounted by a 70 metre dome.
The Cathedral is in the Italian Renaissance style. The German taste for the "colossal" has unfortunately spoiled it, in decking it out with a 114-metre dome, out of proportion to the building.


On the Linden. -- The Emperor, on return from the parades of Tempelhof and Spandau, always returns to the Royal Palace by the great Linden road, a kilometre-long avenue in the centre of Berlin. To the left, the palace of the Crown Prince; to the right, the Arsenal, the royal guard, the University, etc.

The Brandenburg Gate is inspired by the Propylaea and its Doric columns support the famous Quadriga of Victory that Napoleon had had brought to Paris and which the Prussians brought back to Berlin in 1814.

The Siegesallee, or Victory Avenue, goes through the Tiergarten (animal garden) from north to south. Its side-alleys are adorned with statues of 32 German sovereigns, erected from 1898 to 1901, at the expense of William II.

Berlin viewed from a dirigible. -- This reduced panorama, viewed from the gondola of a dirigible, shows us the centre of the city. In the foreground is the Tiergarten (animal garden) with, on the left, the Reichstag and the Statue of Victory; on the right, the Brandenburg Gate and the Linden, with their double row of trees.

Old Berlin. -- Behind the proud front of its new streets, Berlin, like Paris, has its flaws, its shameful corners, its leprous streets, its rickety houses where teems an ambiguous and miserable population.
Berlin. -- On top, on the left, the statue of Goethe, the famous poet who wrote Faust and Werther. On the right: a corner market in Berlin. Bottom: Leipzigerstrasse, one of the most animated roads in the capital.


Large maneuvers. -- Every year in autumn, the German army carries out highly developed maneuvers where, under the eye of the Emperor, strategic science, tactics of the great leaders and the maneuvering quality of the troops are exercised.
The Mausoleum of Charlottenburg. -- Of the four tombs that the Hall of the Hohenzollern contain, those of Queen Louise and Frederick William III, on the bottom, are true masterpieces; the two others, beautiful as well, are occupied by Emperor William I and Empress Augusta.


German Dirigibles. -- The aircraft cruiser that one can see moving over the Bay of Heligoland belongs to the category of rigid craft, which easily do 75 kilometres per hour.

The Army. -- Top: The changing of the guard. Middle: The Emperor reviews troops at Camp Döberitz. Bottom: Bodyguards of the Emperor in full uniform.
Service in the field. -- The German army is constantly held in suspense; they conduct frequent exploration exercises, reconnaissance activities that make the soldier more flexible, give him the initiative and familiarize the sergeant with reading maps.
The Hussars of Death owe their name to the skull that adorns their headgear. In the first row in the middle of the officers we see Princess Victoria Louise, Honorary Colonel of this regiment.
On the move. -- During the autumn maneuvers villages within the radius of operations witness long processions of troups that fill the streets with a transient animation.

Tempelhof. -- At the gates of Berlin where the steeples and towers loom on the horizon is the immense field of maneuvers known as Tempelhof where 20,000 men can freely move about and where generally are held the imperial inspections.



The Emperor on horse, in the front of his staff, follows closely from the top of a hill the different phases of an engagement.


A soldier like all the Hohenzollern, Wilhelm II sometimes directs operations and shows, it is said, more enthusiasm than true military knowledge.

German Artillery. -- A battery has taken its positions for combat under the amused eye of onlookers. Behind every piece, the pointers (cannon aimers) on their feet and the servants on their knees, are at their regulatory position.
River Passage. -- In the absence of fords or boat bridges, the horses cross the rivers swimming, while the riders keep their heads above the water.
Left: An Ulan patrol. Right: Sentry on outpost.
Top: a cavalry charge. Bottom: Infantry maneuvers.
Foreign officers invited to the maneuvers follow the phases of military operations.
A wireless telegraph post.
Military Aviation. -- The departure of an airplane to the large maneuvers. The pilot and his aide verify the different parts of the craft before taking flight.
Against aerial enemies. -- To defend against the fast and powerful enemies that dirigibles and airplans have become, those in ballastics have envisioned the special gun pictured here.
The Emperor at the Maneuvers. -- A questionable strategist, Wilhelm II has no shortage of military sense. His presence at the maneuvers stimulates the zeal of the generals for whom he controls and discusses the initiatives.
The Standards -- Gleaming in gold embroidery, the flags of the newly created regiments march past the Emperor, prested by the standard-bearing officers.

Presentation of the Flag. -- Each year the arrival of the recruits results in an impressive military ceremony where the young soldiers swear, before the Emperor, loyalty to their flag.
Almost always some prince attends the great military maneuvers. At a halt shown here one can see the regent of Brunswick, wearing a fur shapska.
Treptow is one of the favourite places to walk for Berliners found there during the summer where one finds beautiful shade conducive to naps and vast terrain good for practicing sports.
A meeting in open air. -- A massive Social Democratic gathering in the park of Treptow, close to Berlin. The crowd cheering the speaker.
The Street in Berlin. -- Berlin, like Paris, has popular styles: grumpy cab drivers and good children, sweepers in felt hats with rooster feathers, milk vendors with their merchandise on the open street.
Bavaria Square. -- This large square, adorned with gardens with green lawns, is remarkable overall for the architecture of the houses that line it and which all belong to German art nouveau.
Blücherplatz. -- Though quite far from the centre, this square connects to Linden by the Friedrichstrasse. It is located quite close to the military quarter and the Berlin field of maneuvers.

Wannsee is a lake a half hour from Berlin where one comes to bathe during the summer months.


Wannsee. -- The most lovable carelessness presides at these swims; men and women are mixed picturesquely together, to the great detriment of German modesty so vaunted by the country.
Wannsee. -- No booths at Wannsee, those are an unnecessary luxury. Men and women spread out on the sand in the nude, undressing without care to the looks of their neighbors.

Norderney is the beach the Berliners find fashionable. During the season it offers the most picturesque spectacle, with its multicoloured tangle of cabins and shelters in wicker.

Hotel Adlon. -- With its front on the Pariserplatz, the Linden and the Wilhelmstrasse, the Adlon is the largest and most luxurious hotel in Berlin.
The Kaiserhof. -- Among the major hotels in the German capital, the Kaiserhof occupies a leading position. It is at night the worldly meeting place for Berlin high society.
Grunewald. -- Almost at the gates of Berlin, the route leading to Potsdam makes its way through the great and beautiful forest of Grunewald, populated with restaurants and cafes that the Sunday crowd invades when summer arrives.
The pleasures of winter. -- Skating is the favourite sport of Berliners who indulge in it with passion in vast spaces arranged for this purpose, even in the centre of the city.
The Defiliercour. -- A ceremony in which the young girls of nobility in age to appear at the Court, in long dress and veil, are presented before the Emperor and Empress by the grand mistress of the imperial house.
The Tiergarten is Berlin's equivalent of the Bois de Boulogne. In one of its parts is the Zoological Garden, and in the cafes found there are friendly antelopes that approach consumers.
Frederick the Great. -- From his granite pedestal above, the warrior and philosopher king, wrapped in his ermine mantle, seems to be contemplating this Prussian grandeur of which he was the great artisan.
Wannsee. - On the vast sandy beach along Lake Wannsee, workers and the petty trades of Berlin meet and merge in a democratic jumble.
Wertheim House is a retail house of novelties in the genre of the Louvre and the Bon Marché, but less imposing. Even meat is sold here and a portion of the floor is occupied by a restaurant.

Tietz. -- The rival house of Wertheim, and almost as large and lavish. It boasts the largest exhibition rooms in the world for fashion and couture.

Berlin. From left to right: General Von Bülow, Equestrian statue of Friedrich Wilhelm III, General Von Scharnhorst.

Berlin. From left to right: Wilhelm I. The same on horse. A Brandenburg delegate.

Wannsee. -- From place to place along the beach, "boards" are furnished with tables where the bathers, upon leaving the water, can have a beer while finishing drying.

Norderney. -- German modesty does not tolerate this kind of frolicking anymore at Norderney; men and women bathe separately today, five hundred metres of each other.

Norderney. - The pier-walk, for the same puritan reasons, is arranged far from where bathers frolic, which does not add to the amenities of this beach.

Norderney. - The most happy at Norderney are the children who can take part in all the games of their age without having trouble with the prudishness of the Prussian administration.

Working gardens. -- On the outskirts of large cities, owner companies split huge tracts of land into plots that they lease for a nominal fee to city workers.

Thanks to the industrious activity of the tenants, the ground once bare has nice cabins; gardens are emerging where roses and vines grow.

The successful initiative of the Gartenlauben gives workers a healthy and inexpensive place of leisure; large areas there are equipped for children's games.

Working gardens -- Every Sunday a joyful murmur fillt the vast rural town; families get together and dances are organized.

Almost every day for several weeks in Friedrichfelde, a village 14 kilometres from Berlin, a convoy of twenty-five thousand geese arrives from all parts of Germany and Russia.

Right after they leave the cars they form a column and march majestically and loudly, lined up just like German soldiers going to a parade.

The bath. -- After the fatigue and jolts of a long voyage by rail, the geese are made, upon their arrival, to make their way into large pools to rid themselves of the dust of the road.

The inspection. -- The geese then march one by one before an official veterinarian. Those that are recognized as improper for consumption are culled; the ones that are doubtful are subject to quarantine.

Goose Park. -- Geese recognized as healthy are immediately put into the vast enclosures where merchants come to make their choice. They stay there for hardly any time at all, hardly one day, given the abundant consumption of goose meat in Germany.

The Spreewald. -- Very pretty with their caps with long protrusions, blooming like red and white flowers, the young Wendish girls go by boat to Sunday service.

Virchow Hospital with twenty-four pavilions is spread over an area of 27 hectares and can accommodate 2,000 patients; it holds a staff of 682 people; doctors, nurses, and employees.

Virchow Hospital. - In the large bright rooms, enlivened with plants and odorless flowers, beds of lacquered iron align with the irreproachable whiteness of their linen.

The Spreewald. - Exclusively devoted to vegetable growing, the Spreewald mostly feeds the Berlin market. Thus one sees every day moving through the channels a long string of boats loaded with vegetables moving towards the capital.

To the markets. -- Having arrived at the gates of Berlin, the Wendish products are landed and placed in cars that transport them to the various markets of the city.

In the land of the Wends. -- As soon as she is of age to work the young Wendish girl prepares her wedding bundle; she spins the wool of her dress and her linen herself for her marriage.

A Wendish marriage. -- Unlike men, the women have retained their picturesque national costume, where the white of muslin shines on the brilliant velvet of their skirts.

Left: The Wends, with their large caps and flowing skirts, resemble butterflies. Right: The winter, on channels imprisoned by ice, where the only flow takes place above on skates.

Hygiene in Germany. -- In all the cities, bathhouses have model laundromats where the laundry is washed and bleached using electrical methods.

Laundry is done by electrically operated machines and is the towels are turned and folded by the women.

In Charlottenburg, each building must have three special containers: one for ashes, the other for paper, and a third for garbage.

All waste, rubbish and waste paper is transported by trucks around Berlin into a special enclosure where a final sorting is done.

Water service. -- One of the curiosities to see around Berlin is the huge "filter field" where all water intended for consumption in the capital goes through a great layer of coke and mixed sand that removes all impurity.

Street hygiene. -- The Germans are rightly proud of the cleanliness of their cities where the most advanced cleaning equipment abounds. Berlin alone has 22,000 sweepers.

Hygiene for children. -- Physical culture is honored in Germany and in the schools the children are required to perform daily exercises in gymnastics and flexibility.

Public baths, large in number and very comfortable, give the public access to pools, hot and cold baths, showers, etc., for very modest prices.

Spreewald. -- In this beautiful country bereft of roads, deliveries of any kind are made using flat-bottomed boats, and the drivers themselves have their own canoe for home delivery of daily mail.

The banks of the Rhine between Mainz and Cologne are full of renowned sites where the picturesque vies with the grandiose. Here is the curious Rheinstein Castle which stands majestically on the rock peak.

Schools in open air. -- The Waldschule (forest school) of Charlottenburg is located in a vast forest of which it occupies two hectares. It is open from Aprel to December. Resting hour.

When the weather is bad the children nap after meals in a shed open to the south and protected from the rain by a projecting roof.

During the summer the courses and lessons are done in the relaxing calm of the forest. A lesson in natural history.

To the delight of the schoolchildren, pleasure and utility are brought together. Besides the object-oriented lessons, here is a course in music.

Mainz. Overview. -- The old city with its approximately 115,000 souls is pretty, pleasant and beautifully maintained. It gives more an impression of a city of luxury than a city of work.

Schillerplatz. -- It is on this spot that military concerts take place on Sunday, and where the officers and soldiers of the Grande Armée of Napoleon casually and brilliantly paraded by 120 years ago.

The wooden tower. -- Among its curiosities, Mainz counts this medieval tower in an interesting style.

The cathedral (east side). -- A Romanesque church with three naves with two domes each flanked by two tours. It contains treasures of all beauty.
The Iron Tower, another Mainz curiosity. In a Gothic style, this so-called iron tower, edging on modern, has a pleasing effect.


The Bridge on the Rhine. -- This bridge, of very beautiful work and pretty appearance, crosses the Rhine which is very large at this point, and connects Mainz to the large industrial suburb of Castel.

The banks of the Rhine. -- The remains of the castle of Rolandseck dominate the valley known as "the seven mountains". Its foundation is attributed to Roland. On the island of Nonnenwest one sees an ancient shelter.

Above the village of Caub stands the castle of Gutenfels, which has been restored. In the middle of the fleuve one can see an island topped by the curious castle of Pfalz, once built for tolls on the Rhine.

Mainz, marketplace. -- It is this place, one of the oldest in Mainz, that France's soldiers of the revolution planted the "tree of liberty" which since vanished.
The Nationaldenkmal (Niederwald Denkmal), 225 metres above the Rhine, consists of a base 25 metres in height supporting a Germania statue of 10.5 metres. It perpetuates the memory of the restoration of the German Empire.


The Niederwald, situated on the right bank of the Rhine, is famous for its hills covered with the famous Rudesheim vineyards. One can see above, minuscule here, the gigantic monument of Germania.

Bingen, on the banks of the Nahe, forms the border between Hesse and Prussia. Here is the chapel of St. Roch and the Klopp Castle with its modern tower.

Bingen, a well-known place for excursions, offers all sides to the charmed traveler a picturesque variety of locales from the friendly to the grandiose.

Frankfurt. - An old and wealthy city located in a fertile valley on the right bank of the Main, it was long the city where the emperors of Germany were elected. It has a population of over 410,000 inhabitants, and its trade and financial market are of the most important.

The Kaiserstrasse is one of Frankfurt's major routes; it crosses a beautiful new neighborhood and leads to a square containing a remarkable statue of Gutenberg.

The Rossmarkt. - One of the most beautiful squares in the city where the Kaiserstrasse ends, and where the monument to Gutenberg and his associates Furst and Schaefer was erected in 1858.

The Zeil. - Beginning at the Schillerplatz, the Zeil is of the streets of Frankfurt the one which offers the most animation. One can see a very nice main post office completed in 1894.

Left: The house where Goethe, the immortal author of Faust, was born in 1749. Right: The house of Rothschild, the last vestige of the old ghetto of Frankfurt.

The old Jewish street.

The Römer dates to the beginning of the 15th century (1405) and has a stepped gable front redone in 1898. From its balcony high up the elected emperors would throw gold down to the crowd on the day of their coronation.

The Rathaus, built from 1900 to 1903, is an annex of the Römer". Inside, the great room of the emperors (Kaisersaal) contains the modern portraits of the entire lineage of the emperors of Germany.

The Cygnus Hotel would have nothing particular about it if it were not connected to a painful memory to French national pride. The treaty that ended the Franco-Prussian war was signed here on 20 May 1871.

Grosse Fischergasse. - The large street of the Fishers has a picturesque appearance with its old houses, some of which are decorated with scenes in very interesting relief.

The Palmengarten, on the road of Bockenheim, is a nice park with quiet lakes, shady paths drawn with art, the delight of Frankfurters. It contains vast greenhouses with a varied and incomparable variety of flowering plants.


Krupp. -- The hydraulic press. Under the pressure of this powerful machine, which can go up to 5000 tonnes, the still red steel block receives its first forming.

Frankfurt. -- Two great poets, who were also two great friends: on the right Goethe, the author of Faust, and on the left Schiller, the author of William Tell.




Frankfurt -- The Bell Tower in Opera Square.

Frankfurt. -- Eschenheim Tower, which dates from the 15th century, stands at the entrance to the Grosse Eschenheimer Strasse.

Frankfurt. -- Tradition gave rise to Luther in this medieval residence with multiple overhangs dressed in slate.

Frankfurt. -- The Saalhof has undergone numerous changes over the centuries. Only the tower and its turrets on top have retained their original appearance.

The Palmengarten, located in the city itself on the location of the Winter Gardens of the Duke of Nassau, is almost unique in Europe in its exotic flora.

Frankfurt. - Among the many bridges which link Frankfurt over the beautiful river Main to its suburb of Sachenhousen the most beautiful is the Old Bridge, which existed already in 1222.

Left: Friedrich Alfred Krupp, who died in 1903. With him faded the name of Krupp. Right: Alfred Krupp, the founder's son, was the true "director" of the family.

The port of Frederic-Alfred Hutte at Rheinhausen. Six high furnaces 25 metres in height stand there side by side in front of the Rhine.

Krupp. -- This immense wheel is part of an electric drive extracting machine (line system). It has a diameter of about 4 metres and a weight of 22,000 kilograms.

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