Deutschland und die Deutschen: part 1

Deutschland und die Deutschen (Germany and the Germans) was published in 1914 and is a type of graded German reader that introduces the country at the same time. The book itself does the best job explaining the concept:

It begins with a few pictures and a map and then goes straight into the experience of one John Bacon who will have more or less the same experiences as the ones the author himself had.

Chapter 1

1. A Letter

John Bacon, a young American, takes a trip to Germany. After a fortunate trip of ten days he arrives in Hamburg, from where he writes a letter to his parents.

Hamburg, the 10th of July 1912.

Dear parents!

Ten days have gone by since I left you, and only now an opportunity presents itself to write you a few lines. But when this letter reaches you I will no longer be in Hamburg, I will have continued my trip into the heart of Germany.

The trip over presented nothing unusual. We had for the most part very nice weather and so I was spared from seasickness. Only when we got close to Europe and were in the channel south of England did the sky cloud up, and it seemed as if we would also experience right before the end of the trip that the weather god can also be an unfriendly one; but our mighty ship paid no heed to the wind and the waves that sprang at it like a pack of predators after their prey they follow and which it shook off like raindrops; it continued its course and brought us happily into the harbor.

Hamburg is a nice city. The hustle and bustle in the harbor and on the streets is hardly different from that in New York. And you will understand that if you think that Hamburg is the largest trading city in the European mainland. Ships arrive daily from all parts of the Earth, richly stocked with foodstuffs and fuel that from here are transported by water or rail into the interior part of the country. Hamburg is an old city and previously belonged to the Hanseatic League. In the year 1842 a large part of the city was destroyed through a massive fire; but soon after “new life emerged out of the ruins”. But not just the fire but also the people have torn down many of the old houses, houses that no longer sufficed for the needs of the modern age, and in their place stand new, large buildings. The city has also expanded tremendously towards the outside, and so Hamburg is partly an old city and partly a modern city, so that during a tour around the city you believe yourself suddenly transported from the twentieth century into the Middle Ages. To me as an American it is, as you may imagine, quite interesting, since everything of ours is new and our cities back home lack that something that makes many German cities so charming.

So the first impression that I have gotten from Germany is good, and I burn with desire to continue my journey, to get more acquainted with the land of poets and thinkers.

Early tomorrow morning the trip continues to Berlin, where I plan to make it my home for the coming months. Live well, dear Parents; greet all my friends, and be yourself the most cordially greeted

from your loyal son