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81 20 There are poems in Maria’s reader.When she reads the lines, she can sense a rhythm to the verses. One of them is, The Emperor is a kindly man, in Berlin does he stay, and were it not so far from here, I’d travel there today. Next to the poem is a picture of German Emperor and King of ­ Prussia, Wilhelm II, with his wife, Empress Auguste Viktoria. The emperor looks handsome; his uniform is decorated with many gleaming medals. The empress is wearing a lace dress with bows, a gem-studded diadem, and a heavy pearl necklace. Many stories of the noble deeds done by these two for their subjects accompanying the picture. Maria has read them all, and she loves the emperor and empress because they seem to be so good and beautiful to her; in her mind they come right after God and Emperor Charlemagne up in Heaven. Each year on January 27th, the emperor’s birthday, all the people wear their Sunday best, and the school and many of the houses are decorated with black, white, and red flags. The whole class goes to church to pray for the emperor. In school, they don’t have to study on that day. Instead, they sit in the art room in front of a bust of the emperor, and a teacher delivers a speech in honor of their ruler. Some children recite poems, and, at the end of the celebration, each child is given a sweet bread roll. In January 1911, Maria stands in Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz at noon to watch the magnificent parade. Feather plumes are fluttering, helmets and sabers are gleaming. Officers ride by on fine horses.The soldiers’ legs move like jumping jacks, pulled by a string, always up and down, up, down— higher than anyone would normally kick their legs. Flags are ­ carried, Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 81 4/26/2017 12:17:37 PM 82 Maria Wallisfurth cannons are paraded. The onlookers stand packed tightly together. The emperor must be a wonderful man! Maria has learned very early that every­ one has to obey him; but who would do otherwise? If called upon, one even has to lay down one’s life for the emperor. The many soldiers in their uniforms belong to the emperor, as do the towns and the lands and the schools and the train stations and much more. The market woman pays him money so that she is allowed to sell flowers and fruit, and the laborers and farmers and all other people, they all give money to the emperor. The emperor is so powerful! The summer is hot and long and there seems to be no end to it.The people complain that it is dry and dreadful. Maria feels sorry for the farmers back home.The fields and pastures will be withering.On October 18,1911,when it is still so summery hot that it does not seem the least bit like fall, Maria stands with all the other children of her school at the Fischmarkt (Fish Market). Emperor Wilhelm II is coming today to Heinrichsallee (Heinrichs Avenue) to unveil a monument to his father, Emperor ­ Friedrich III, who ruled for only 99 days. Also today, a new fountain will be unveiled at the Fischmarkt.The people look at it with amusement because it is a ­ naked boy,a sturdy little lad holding a fat fish under each arm.Water ­ gushes out of the fishes’ mouths and splashes into the stone basin underneath. Normally, the Fischmarkt smells of the fish that women sell from large baskets. But today, it is gaily decorated with garlands, flowers, and flags. Maria is wearing a white bow in her hair. Like a long ponytail, it falls down her back. She wears her best dress. From ten in the morning until half-past noon children watch as more and more people gather in the square. All the children are holding flowers in their hands, but the flowers gradually begin to droop. Policemen with spiked helmets and long, curved sabers at their side keep the street clear.There is a succession of triumphal arches. Many of the policemen have moustaches like the emperor’s. The sunlight glitters on the shiny buttons of their blue uniforms. Hussars, mounted high on horses, form an honor guard in a semicircle. The horses prance nervously while agitated sergeants and officers dash to and fro, coming and going, and seeking their places...


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MARC Record
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