Saturday, 27 October 2012

Fracas in a German Cafe

The British. They've a long history of causing trouble abroad. Especially when drink is involved. I can't help thinking that the response of the British vistors would be remarkably sinmilar today.

It's an odd period when this happened, just a year before the outbreak of WW I. The hostile reaction of Mr. Haeuser to the british tourists betrays the already tense relationship between Britain and Germany in the run-up to the war. As does the tone of the newspaper report, which implies the punishment was too harsh. I imagine their reaction would have been different had it been a German tourist glassing someone in a London pub.


BERLIN, Wednesday.
A smart fine was inflicted on a British subject to-day by the local court at Rathenow, near Berlin, for the gross audacity of beating a German in his own Fatherland.

On August 8th an English gentleman was motoring through Brandenburg with party including his secretary. They stopped in Rathenow and, his secretary and chauffeur sat at the table and ordered beer. A master builder, Karl Haeuser by name, was the same room. He was apparently drunk and thought fit to annoy the foreigners, first by making faces and then by making audible remarks such as "English swine."

He finally came to the table and tried engage the strangers in conversation, which the latter declined. At this stage Haeuser, noticing that the lid of the secretary's earthenware beer mug was not down, placed his own mug top of it and claimed a drink in accordance with the well-known German drinking custom.

The secretary, losing his patience, sprang and threw the beer over Haeuser and struck him a blow over the head with his mug, making four-inch wound.

The British visitors, who offered Haeuser compensation, which he refused, were allowed to leave Germany on bail. They were examined by commission and did not appear to-day.

The prosecutor asked for a fine of £2 10s. against for insulting the British party, and fines amounting altogether to £6 against the English secretary.

The court, consisting of a judge and two lay assessors, sentenced Haeuser to a fine of £2 10s., but in the case of the secretary found the prosecutor over lenient on the ground of the "gross audacity of beating German in his own fatherland" and fined him £2 10s. for insulting Haeuser by pouring beer over him, and £17 10s. for assault.—Reuter.

It was stated by the Berlin "Lokolanzeiger" at the time the affray, that the motoring party hailed from Liverpool, with the exception of one, the manager of a London commercial firm."
Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Thursday 29 January 1914, page 7.
I've drunk a lot in Germany but I've never come across that custom of claiming a free beer. I'll have to try it out myself, should I come across someone with the lid of their stein up. Or maybe not. Seems like a good way to get yourself thumped, as Haeuser did.

I think the seecretary got off lightly. Smacking a stranger over the head and leaving a four-inch wound sounds like a serious assault to me.

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