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Monday, 12 November 2012

The end of the war

Tuesday, November 12th., Yacht Club, London.

In Sunday's papers we saw the Abdication of the Kaiser.

"It is made known from Amsterdam that the Kaiser signed his abdication on Saturday morning at the German Headquarters, in the presence of the Crown Prince and Field-Marshal von Hindenburg. The Kaiser was deeply moved. He resisted abdication until he saw an urgent message giving news of the latest happenings in Germany. ' The Kaiser read the message with a shiver, and signed the document, saying, "May it be for the good of Germany." It was announced from Rotterdam on Sunday that the ex-Kaiser and the ex-Crown Prince had reached the Dutch frontier in motor-cars. They were awaiting the permission of the Dutch Government to proceed to Middachten, where Count Bentinck has offered them a castle as a residence. The Amsterdam correspondent of the London "Daily Chronicle" says that the Kaiser's visit to headquarters was intended to rally the army round him, but only officers, and those chiefly Prussians, placed themselves at his disposal. He conferred for several hours with the Crown Prince, Field-Marshal von Hindenburg, and General von Groener. Both generals advised abdication. Von Hindenburg said : "Delay will have terrible consequences in the army." The Kaiser was undecided when the conference ended. He made up his mind an hour later, after the receipt of communications from Berlin. London was in high spirits over the announcement of the abdication of the Kaiser. Crowds of people, in buoyant mood, thronged thestreets until late at night. There was tremendous cheering and outbursts of patriotic enthusiasm in the theatres and moving-picture halls
when the news was announced from the stage. 

Returned to town yesterday morning. In Lower Regent Street first news that armistice signed - a paper boy calling out in a subdued tone. 10.45. Maroons went off at 11, and excited the populace.
A large portion of the ministry staff got very excited. Buchan came in to shake hands. Girls very excited. I had to calm them. Lunch at Wellington Club. We had driven through large crowds part way up the Mall, and were then turned off from Buckingham Palace.
Raining now. An excellent thing to damp hysteria and Bolshevism. Great struggling to cross Piccadilly Circus twice. No buses. (It was rumoured that Tubes stopped. I believe they were stopped for a time.) It stopped raining. Then cold mire in streets. Vehicles passed festooned with shouting human beings. Others, dark, with only one or two occupants. Much light in Piccadilly up to Ritz corner, and in Piccadilly Circus. It seemed most brilliant. Some theatres had lights on their facades too. The enterprising Trocadero had hung a row of temporary lights under one of its porticoes. Shouting. But nothing terrible or memorable.

Yet this morning, Brayley, my valet, said to me the usual phrases: "You wondered where the people came from. You could walk on their heads at Charing Cross, and you couldn't cross Picc. Circus at all." When he came in with my tea I said: "Well, Brayley, it's all over." He smiled and said something. That was all our conversation about the end of the war. Characteristic.

Last night I thought of lonely soldiers in that crowd. No one to talk to. But fear of death lifted from them.

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