Through War Torn Europe: An official trip after WWI told in the words of James Gordon Steese
Number Ten
Hotel Continental, Paris,
Tuesday, August 12th, 1919.
We spent Saturday evening in Strassburg, a very quaint old city full of canals. It was one of the strongly fortified positions in the War of 1870-71. My hurried impression is that the inhabitants are now all Boche and rather resent having been taken back by France. In fact, all along the line from Wissembourg south, we got the impression that there is a lot of political bunk about this Alsace-Lorraine question.

Be that as it may, many of the people were quite surly in their manner towards us. They all seemed to speak German, and either actually or pretended to understand French with difficulty, even allowing for our poor French. The town is surrounded by a string of detached forts, making it a great entrenched camp or area like Metz. The high gabled houses, with three or more stories to the garrets and little round bulls-eye windows pierced through the shingled roofs in rows to correspond, reminded one of all the stories one has ever read about impecunious authors working "sous les toits".

The ride up the Rhine Valley by train was not notable in any way. The country looks very much like the States except for the stone houses, So far as the topography is concerned, it might just as well have been Pennsylvania, Kentucky, or Missouri. The German people, generally, seemed about as usual, I imagine. The Belgians look more like our kind of people than either the French or Germans. There seemed to be no good-looking Germans; rather, they are positively plain or worse.

From Strassburg to Paris took us 21 hours, as against the regular 11 hour express service. After being shunted around for three hours out in the neighborhood of the fortifications, we reached Paris late Sunday night. We had time to see some of the night life before breakfast.

Monday was spent shopping and sight-seeing, We did a number of cafes in the Montmartre district in the evening. Of course I went up in the Eiffel Tower.

We leave at noon today for England and Scotland. The big party has broken up, but four of us are still together. We are now having a terrible time getting back our laundry, cleaned uniforms, shoes, etc., which the hotel promised faithfully yesterday would be ready this morning. The whole retinue of servants for this floor is in a flutter trying to get our stuff back, store the bags we are leaving behind, and get our other bags down to the taxis.

It is now 11:30 A. M. My taxi awaits. The station is miles away.

I hope I make the train. More later.

End Notes and Bibliography