This article was published in the Daily News and describes the correspondent’s escape from Berlin at the start of the Great War.
Mr H W. Nevinson was a hardened professional who had reported on the 1897 war between Greece and Turkey and also the Boer War. He became one of the most notable journalists of his time.
My Way Of Escape
Before dawn on August 6th a string of motors was waiting outside the Embassy, sent by the Kaiser’s orders to convey the Ambassador and his staff to a local station, a few miles away from Berlin. Again by the courtesy of Sir Edward Goschen, a few of us correspondents were invited to join the staff, and I hardly realized at the time from what a hideous destiny that invitation preserved me. I suppose I should have been kept shut up in Ruhleben or some similar camp for four and a half years ; I should have seen nothing of the war in Belgium and France at its beginning ; I should not have shared the splendour and the tragedy of the Dardanelles campaign ; I should not have known the intrigues in Athens, or the disastrous uselessness of the early attempt at Salonika, or the meaning of the advance from Egypt upon Palestine ; nor should I have been present at the final advance of the Allied Armies on the Western Front in August, 1918, or have heard the trumpet sound for the armistice in the market-square of Mons, or have accompanied our vanguard in the march up to the Rhine at Cologne. Of all those historic scenes I should have remained ignorant.
But from such loss our Ambassador saved me, and for twenty-four hours his train carried us all slowly lumbering through North Germany to the Dutch frontier.
On our way we passed or were impeded by uncounted vans decorated with boughs of trees and crammed with reservists going to the Belgian front. The men had now chalked “Nach Bruxelles” or “Nach London” as well as ” Nach Paris ” on the vans, and at every station they were met by bands of Red Cross girls bringing coffee, wine, and food.
At all the larger stations, too, the news of our train’s approach had been signalled, and to cheer us on our way all the old men, boys and women of the place had flocked down with any musical instruments they could collect, and, standing thick on the platform, they played for us the German national tunes, “Deutschland, Deutschland” predominating. They played with the persistence of the ” German bands” known to me in childhood. Sometimes, to impress their patriotism more distinctly upon us, they brought their instruments close up to the carriage windows, and the shitting tubes of the trombones came right into the carriage. Silent and unmoved, as an Englishman should, sat Sir Edward Goschen, looking steadily in front of him, with hands on his knees, making as though no sight or sound had reached his senses.