MOST GERMANS NOW UNBALANCED – Swiss Back from Leipzig Fair Report 90% Mentally Twisted – ARE BEWILDERED BY CHANGES – Declare Everything Is in Disorder and Streets Are Lined with Begging Soldiers and Civilians – Behave like Children – Berne – A number of Swiss merchants, who for years past have regularly attended the famous Leipzig fair, have now just returned, hardly able to express their amazement at what they saw there. It was not that there was nothing to interest them at the fair, but that while they were in Germany they could hardly believe that they were not in some other country, they did not quite know which. The merchants, manufacturers and others at the fair, with whom they had to deal, seem to be mentally unbalanced.
“Ninety percent of the people with whom I had to deal,” said one merchant, “really did not know what they were about. In visiting the various exhibits in Leipzig I would give an order for something. I would tell the man in charge that I would take, say, 500 gross of a certain article, No. 106. I would write the number down myself, and then of course I expected him to write it down too. Then I would order something else, and by the time I had finished giving my orders I would ask to compare my notes with his. Then, to my great astonishment, I would find he had either not written down the orders at all, or had written them down all wrong.
“At first I thought I had merely to do with the careless individual, but afterwards I found that nine out of 10 persons were in just the same state of mental confusion. I then talked to some of the other Swiss who were visiting the fair and found that they had had similar experiences. Once I lost patience and spoke very sharply to one man, whereupon he simply broke down and said he was sorry but he had been four years in the trenches of that he was no longer capable of doing his work as he did it before the war.”
Judging by all that these Swiss merchants observed in Germany, this mental weakness and incapacity is affecting not only men who have been a long time in the trenches, but also civilians – women who were at home and men who, for one reason or another, were never at the front. Some Germans known to these merchants before the war as shrewd, energetic, capable business men, now, they say, talk like children, as if they knew nothing whatever of the outside world or what has been taking place during the last four or five years.
In short, the German merchants seem completely dazed, bewildered and confused at present and do not know what they are doing.
What particularly struck all these Swiss merchants who have known Germany for many years past, was the lack of orderliness everywhere, not merely at the Leipzig fair but in the streets – a change for the worse which is commented upon now by all visitors to Germany. In the halls of the great Fair, which, before the war used to be as neat as the proverbial new pin, disorder and even dirt are everywhere.
The streets leading to the Leipzig fair word this year lined with wounded, crippled and blinded soldiers, selling postcards, boot laces and all manner of other trifles, or playing barrel organs with their military caps on the ground before them for people to throw anything they could afford. And this in a country where mendicants never used to be tolerated.
Act like Children.
[Each visitor to?] the Leipzig fair this year was allowed by the government to take with him 22 pounds of provisions. One with whom I talked took with him 5 pounds of chocolate, knowing what a precious gift it would be to some of his old acquaintances. In visiting one of the leading manufacturers he presented three of his daughters with half a pound each. The girls grasped him by the hand, with tears in their eyes. “We haven’t seen anything like it for years,” they said. “It will make us well.”
One evening this Swiss merchant, with two others, was sitting in one of the best restaurants in Leipzig when a lad walked around the tables offering postcards and matches for sale. He was very sickly looking, and the Swiss merchant put his hand in his coat pocket, took out a block of chocolate (about half a pound) and handed it to him. Immediately all the guests in the restaurant got up and surrounded the lad, gazing with amazement at the chocolate. Some of them asked the Swiss how he managed to get it.
Even in the restaurant, he said, the people who collected around the boy with the chocolate behaved like children. All this points to what is now being more and more clearly recognized – that the war and its conditions have caused a more or less abnormal mental state in the case of many persons. (The Owosso Argus-Press 15AUG1919 8)
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Brazilian Sci-fi from 1926 featuring the usual beautiful daughter of a scientist touting prohibition and racial collectivism in America’s Black President 2228 by Monteiro Lobato, translated by J Henry Phillips (link)
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