England actually declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914 but my grandfather didn’t learn of it until he saw the newspapers the next day. I’m always amazed when I realize that it was almost three years before the US joined her Allies – Britain, France and Russia – and sent troops to Europe under General Pershing. Here’s a link if you’re interested in learning more about why England declared war on Germany.
Went out before breakfast and read in an extra paper that England has declared war against Germany. That makes things much more serious for us. We must not say anymore that we speak English, must say only “Amerikaner”. People are tearing off signs “On parlais francais” and “English spoken here” which some stores advertise on their windows, and even chiseling them out of the walls. I went in to a book store to look for a book in English, some fellow went out and told a policeman and he walked in to catch the Englishman. I had to get all my papers out again, but the proprietor of the store and his son, who spoke English well, stood up for me and wouldn’t let the officer take me. They told me to stay inside until the crowd went away, and the old man wrote a card in German saying: “This gentleman, who has already been arrested by the police, is an American, and has applied for his passport at the American Consulate” so I could show that if I were arrested again before I got my passport. They were awfully good to me in that store, and I am going to write to them after the war is over. The young fellow even offered to go with me to the Consulate, but I got there alright by myself and even got my passport.
Met Basset just outside coming for his – we had decided to travel alone that day to escape attention. We went down to the Grand Hotel and introduced ourselves to Chris Heurich and his wife. They were as glad to see us as though we had been old friends and old Mr. Heurich, thinking we were worried or scared, tried his best to inspire us with confidence, and did. He offered to help us with money or anything else, and made us promise to come round once a day at least. I never met nicer people than Mr. & Mrs. Heurich and Mrs. Heruich’s sister, Miss Keyser, also from Washington. They have lots of money but are just plain, good people, the most respected of all the 128 Americans in the Grand Hotel. Mr. Heurich is about 60 and looks German and talks rather brokenly.
It is really funny how our hopes go from top to bottom several times a day. Sometimes we imagine we will be out of it in a week or so, perhaps there will be a special train for Americans to Scandinavia and the US will send ships to take us home. Next moment we can see no hope at all. Someone reports that the banks have stopped paying and we rush there to cash a check or two or three and find it is the same as ever. It is a world war, and we must take our chances just like everyone else. We shall try to learn German, keep as well and healthy and make the best use possible of the time.