February, 1936




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TENTH SERIES.—VoL. IV.—(XCIV).—FeBruary, 1936.—No. 2.


ahaa occupies a prominent place in ecclesiastical annals,

and we find numerous references to it in the pages of Holy Writ. Yet it is not easy to determine to what part of the eastern world the term Ethiopia” applies in the course of history. At one time there were two regions that bore the name: Eastern Ethiopia, including all the races dwelling to the east of the Red Sea as far as India; Western Ethiopia, stretch- ing from Egypt as far south as the southern boundary of Mauretania. The Ethiopia which is now so often discussed is a mountainous, volcanic country in Northeast Africa, bounded by Eritrea on the north, French Somaliland, and British Somali- land on the east, Italian Somaliland on the southeast, Kenya on the south, and by the Soudan on the west.

There is some confusion as to whether the country now being invaded by the Italian army should be called Abyssinia, or Ethiopia. Dr. Gotthell, Professor of Semitic Languages at Columbia University, says: “‘ The plateau region which is the heart of modern Ethiopia and the stronghold of the present kingdom has been known to historians for a long time as Abyssinia. The name comes from the Arabic Habash’ or ‘Habish’. Among the tribes of Semites from the Yemen, in South Arabia, who settled in this plateau region many centuries before the time of Christ were the Habishats ’, and their coun- try was called ‘Habish’. These Semitic immigrants are held to have founded the civilization from which that of Ethiopia derives.” Gotthell contends that the Gallas, Somalis, Danskils


and other subject peoples of the lowlands and outlying provinces are to be distinguished from the “Abyssinians of the plateau region because these tribes are racially Hamitic rather than Semitic, and thus do not have the same culture. Budge? makes a similar distinction, and tells us that the name “Ethiopia” comes from the Greek, meaning “land of the burnt-faced men”. As used by early geographers, the term was applied to various unexplored regions of Asia and Africa. Until far into the last century, “Ethiopia” appeared on the maps as a vast region vaguely located in equatorial Africa, while “Abyssinia” was the name given to the heart of the country now officially known as Ethiopia.

The natives have long insisted that their country is Ethiopia and not Abyssinia. For them the term “Abyssinia” and ““Habish have a derogatory implication, and the Ethiopian is insulted if one calls him an “Abyssinian or Habishat ”. The words are the equivalent of the English mongrel” or outcast and are used by the Ethiopians themselves when they wish to express contempt for some inferior member of their race.

Nothing of an accurate nature seems to be known of the political beginnings of Ethiopia. There is a legend that it dates politically from the time when the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon. This visit is recorded in the Book of Kings (3-10). It is possible that this queen made an alliance with Solomon. Legendary embellishments that seem to have begun in Hebrew antiquity have given rise to the story that the queen whom the Ethiopians call Makeda had a son, Ibn Hakin, of whom the paternity is ascribed to Solomon, and that he became a ruler in Ethiopia, and thus the kings of Ethiopia are descendants of Solomon. The legend is perpetuated in the title of the present ruler of Ethiopia, whose official designation is King of Kings, Lion of Judah, Defender of the Christian Faith, Haile Selassie, Emperor of the Ancient Kingdom of Ethiopia, the Chosen of God ”.

Leaving the legendary, we are on firmer ground regarding the story of Ethiopia when we come to the Christian era. We read in the Acts of the Apostles: ““ Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying; Arise, go toward the south, to the way that goeth down from Jerusalem into Gaza... . And rising

1 History of Ethiopia.


up he went. And behold a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch, of great authority under Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge over all her treasures, had come to Jerusalem to adore. And he was returning, sitting in his chariot, and reading Isaias the prophet. And the Spirit said to Philip: Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip running thither, heard him reading the prophet Isaias. . . . And the place of the Scripture which he was reading was this: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb before his shearer, so openeth he not his mouth. . . . And the eunuch answering Philip, said: I beseech thee, of which does the prophet speak this? ... Then Philip . . . preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came to a certain water; and the eunuch said: See, here is water: what doth hinder me from being baptized? . . . They went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.” (Acts 8: 26ff.)

We are informed by reputable authorities that the name of the eunuch baptized by Philip was Judich, and that he brought the first seeds of Christianity to Ethiopia. But the real evan- gelization of the country took place at a much later date.

The conversion of Ethiopia to Christianity actually began in the early part of the fourth century, during the reign of Con- stantine the Great, when two Tyrean Greeks, Edesius and Frumentius, possibly brothers, began to preach the Gospel there. As boys, Edesius and Frumentius had been taken by their uncle Metropius on a commercial voyage along the shores of the Red Sea. While coasting along its western side their vessel was captured by the natives, and all on board, excepting Edesius and Frumentius, were massacred. They were taken into slavery and later brought to the royal household. Here they gained the favor of the king and were kindly treated. Shortly before the king’s death they received their freedom. On the death of the king, the widowed queen appointed them teachers of the young prince, Erzanes, and they acquired great influence throughout Ethiopia. When the prince became of age, Edesius returned to his family at Tyre, but Frumentius remained in Ethiopia and became its Christian apostle. But being a layman he realized that he could accomplsh little. He went to Alexandria, where the great Athanasius occupied the patriarchal


see, was ordained, consecrated bishop, and named head of the Ethiopian Church, under the title of Abba Salama (“‘ Father of Peace”). Thus the Ethiopian Church became identified with Alexandria, and the official Church of Ethiopia stands as a branch of the Church of Alexandria. Frumentius established his episcopal see at Axum, and from that time Axum has been known as the Holy City of Ethiopia. This recently was captured by the Italian invaders, and apparently they have spared it from destruction.

After the passing of Frumentius, during the reign of the Emperor Constantius, who was an Aryan, heretical bishops and missionaries came to Ethiopia, and with them came Mono- physitism and persecution of those who had remained faithful to the doctrines taught by Frumentius and his disciples. About three centuries later monasticism came to Ethiopia, and it is said that the Ethiopic version of the Bible dates from this period. This, however, did not exercise any great influence on the Chris- tian growth of the people, as the Ethiopian language, known as Geez (“original speech”), was superseded by Ambhraic, a dialect which arose in Amraha, and is mixed up with African elements. At present Geez is a dead language, used only in the service of the Coptic Church. It is also used by priests of the Ethiopian rite who are in communion with Rome. I have been informed that Geez bears the same relationship to modern Ethiopian as, for example, Latin bears to French.

As stated, the religious belief of the official Church in Ethiopia is Monophysitism; but it is said that its theologians do not seem to be agreed as to what this specifically teaches. Among other tenets the Ethiopian Church teaches that in the Incarnation there are three kinds of Birth: the first, the Word begotten of the Father; the second, Christ begotten of Mary; the third, the Son of Mary, begotten the Son of God the Father by adoption, or by His elevation to the divine dignity—the work of the Father anointing His Son with the Holy Spirit.

Only the councils held before Chalcedon (451) are recog- nized, because at Chalcedon the monophysite heresy was con- demned. ‘The Apostles’ Creed is not used, and only the Nicene is part of the liturgy. The primate is called Abuna, who is metropolitan of Axum and is always a Coptic monk, appointed and consecrated by the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria. He


is assisted by a Coptic metropolitan and four Ethiopian bishops. The Abuna alone has the right to anoint the king, and to ordain priests and deacons. He exercises considerable power, even in secular affairs. The Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary says: “The clergy are illiterate; the morality and observance of the fathful is bad, and grossly superstitious practices are alleged. The sacraments of Confirmation and Extreme Unction are taught but not administered, and Penance usually only at the hour of death. The church numbers about 8,000,000 mem- bers; from about 1558 to 1632 it was again in communion with the Holy See. . . . Catholics use the same eucharistic liturgy as the dissidents, with the anaphora of St. Basil, and the rest of the rite is in process of reform for Catholic use; Pope Pius XI ordered that this revision should be carried out with the best Abyssinian traditions; in the meantime the Roman Ritual, etc. are used, translated into Gheez. About 0.5% of the users of this rite are Catholics.”

A college for seminarists of the Ethiopian rite was estab- lished in Rome by Pope Benedict XV, in 1919. Married men may be ordained to the priesthood, but in fact most of the clergy (in communion with Rome) are celibate. The Abyssinian Abba Michael Ghebre, martyred in 1855, was beati- fied in 1926.

The Ethiopian College is the only institution of learning within the confines of Vatican City, and is known as the Pon- tifical Ethiopian College. Connected with it is the church of St. Stephen, where may be seen numerous inscriptions in the Ethiopian language. Shortly after the Vatican-Lateran Pact was signed, Pope Pius XI is said to have remarked: “‘A black spot on the white will never be amiss.” More recently, a new house was built for the college, while the church of St. Stephen was enriched with several recent Ethiopic discoveries. This college, by the way, cannot bring about complications at the present time, as the students there are all from the colony of Eritrea, and consequently Italian subjects by birth.

In the Coptic Church of Ethiopia the duties of priests con- sist in celebrating the liturgy three or four times a day, purify- ing houses, utensils, tools, etc. Deacons bake the eucharistic bread, clean the church and sacred vessels, but they dare not enter the Holy of Holies” where the ark is preserved. This


ark is a “‘ piece of liturgical furniture called taboot, and is held in great reverence, especially the taboot at Axum, the Ethiopians asserting that it is the Ark of the Covenant, brought thither by Menelik I, son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba; in other churches the ¢aboot is honored as a symbol of the title of the church.” The debteras or teachers, are not ordained; nor are the alakas, who take care of church temporalities. In addition to the secular priests in Ethiopia there is a large contingent of monastic clergy, under the headship of an official known as the Etsh’ égé who ranks next in importance to the Abuna. The monastic brethren need little education, and the requirements in the exercise of the ministry are apparently not very exacting. “There are no proper dioceses or parishes. On account of the carelessness with which ordinations are conducted it has been questioned whether (Ethiopian) orders, and consequently sacra- ments, are certainly valid.”

Churches, such as they are, are numerous. In the north the churches are built square, but in the south they are circular, like those of the Templars. Men and women have separate en- trances. In the northwestern corner of each church is a room called the Beatalhem or “‘ House of Bread ”, where the bread for their liturgy is prepared and kept. Within the outer courtyard (Kunyaimalt) is a second courtyard, or Kudist, corresponding to the Holy Place in the Jewish Temple, and within this again, facing the east, is the makdas, or Holy of Holies, which none but priests may enter, and here is contained the ark of the covenant or taboot—a framework consisting of four upright posts sup- porting a transverse shelf for the Holy Books, sacramental vessels, processional crosses and censers.

Both churches and monasteries are endowed with valuable landed estates and herds, and the priests (of the State Church) derive substantial incomes from fees and gifts, supplemented by emoluments accruing from their duties as registrars of sales and other secular transactions. The laity are not allowed to read the Gospels or writings of the Apostles but only the Psalter, which they are said to know by heart and sing on every pos- sible ceremonial occasion ”.

The Ethiopians observe the Jewish Sabbath as well as the Christian Sunday, fast every Wednesday and Friday, have several Lents, and keep many festivals of the Orthodox and the


Catholic Church. They abstain from pork and other un- clean” food. Both sexes are circumcised, and every one who is a Christian receives at Baptism a cord of blue silk, called mateb, which he or she must wear around the neck as a badge of Christianity. Yet they all boast a descent from the holy seed of Israel and obey many prescriptions found in Deuter- onomy and Leviticus.” Not all of the inhabitants, however, belong to the State Church or to Christianity. Many of them are pagans, and celebrate many pagan rites. There is a con- siderable Jewish population—the Falashas—who are said to be spiritually forlorn

For several centuries little is known of the Catholics in Ethiopia. In the thirteenth century Dominicans entered the province of Tigre and effected many conversions, but after a short period of success they were all massacred. Their con- verts fled to the mountains, and hid in caves until finally they died of starvation. They are known as the Holy Sleepers ”, and their memory is still venerated by Catholics in Ethiopia. Franciscans entered the country two centuries later, but they were obliged to retire after an heroic attempt to revive the faith there. Jesuits from Portugal began missionary work in Ethiopia in 1555, and labored there for nearly a century. They were then obliged to abandon the field owing to the fierce opposition of the Coptic clergy and the hostile attitude of the king. Then followed a series of persecutions during which many missionaries and native priests were massacred. After the destruction of the Jesut missions, French Capuchins from Cairo and Friars minor from Jerusalem made an unsuccessful effort to revive the Faith in Ethiopia: two Capuchins—Blessed Agathange of Vendéme, and Cassian of Nantes—were martyred in 1638. Then the Holy See decided to await a more favorable time to resume missions in “‘ the land of barbaric splendor

Singularly enough, the mission field in Ethiopia was redpened largely as a result of the ethnological and geographical researches in Ethiopia by the brothers d’Abbadie, both of whom were born in Ireland. They published several important works regarding Ethiopia. Certain English travellers and Protestant missionaries declared that the d’Abbadie brothers “‘ were employed by the French Government for religious and political purposes”. Their researches and explorations revealed many interesting


facts about Ethiopia, and, presumably as a result of the labors of the d’Abbadie brothers, two Italian missionaries—Fr. Justin de Jacobis (a Lazarist), and Fr. Massaia (a Capuchin) —ven- tured into the Ethiopian land. One of them entered it from the north, while the other entered it from the south, possibly from what is now Italian Somaliland. The story of these two missionaries reads like a romance. At first they disguised them- selves as traders, gained the good will of the natives, and finally revealed their purpose—to preach the Gospel of Christ. For some time they were faced with great opposition from local princes (ras), but they continued their work and in time estab- lished vicariates. As regards Fr. de Jacobis, the declaration of his virtues (first step toward beatification) has taken place. On the occasion of the promulgation of the decree that pro- claimed this heroism, the Holy Father invoked the protection of this great Italian and Ethiopian by adoption”. It is quite significant that this pronouncement was made almost on the eve of the Italo-Ethiopian conflict.

At the present time, without reckoning the ecclesiastical jurisdictions within the Italian sections (Eritrea and Moga- discio) , the Catholic missions in Ethiopia include the Vicariate of Ethiopia, the Vicariate of Gallas, the Prefecture of Kaffa, and these are, in addition to Ogaden, which is under the juris- diction of the vicariate of Djibuti (French colony).

The Vicariate of Ethiopia, in which Lazarists have been labor- ing since 1838, reckons but 5,000 Catholics, served by eleven Lazarist priests who are Europeans, thirteen native priests, four Sisters of Charity who are French, and twenty native Sisters. The paucity of Catholcs is explained by the fact that in 1849, when the Prefecture of Erythrea was established as a result of being occupied by the Italians, some 30,000 Ethiopian Catholics came under the jurisdiction of Italian Capuchins.

The Vicariate of Gallas is served by Capuchins from the French Province of Toulouse, and numbers about 11,000 Catho- lics, served by seventeen French Capuchins, fifteen native priests, thirty-two European Sisters, twenty-nine native Sisters, six European lay brothers, and fourteen native lay brothers.

The Prefecture of Kaffa, established in 1913, is served by Italian missionaries of the Consolata (Turin). ‘There are nine- teen missionaries, five lay brothers, and forty-seven Sisters, all of whom are Italians.


La Vie Catholique (Paris) tells us that according to the satis- tics of October 1931, the Lazarists have five churches, five chapels, and conduct a minor and a grand seminary. In addi- tion, by agreement with Monsignor Jarosseau, they have opened a school at Addis Ababa, where Sisters of Charity have been serving since 1927. Here they conduct a dispensary, a work- shop, and a school which had a hundred boarders in 1932. The Capuchins have been particularly active, and, according to a report for the year 1931, have established, in addition to many churches and chapels, ten dispensaries, three hospitals, ten orphanages (where some 500 children are cared for), forty primary schools, a high school, two colleges, and two seminaries. But their most appealing institution is the leprosarium at Harar. This institution is practically a small village, and was estab- lished some years ago by Fr. Marie-Bernard, who was aided in this undertaking by an Ethiopian prince, Ras Mekonnen. ‘The actual management of the institution is entrusted to the Fran- ciscan Sisters of Calais.

The largest number of native Ethiopian Catholics is to be found in Eritrea, where there is a native ordinariate of the Ethiopian rite. This was erected in 1930, and the Ordinary is a native, Chidane Maryam Cassa. It has a Catholic population of some 30,000, with seventy-six secular priests, and seventy- eight regulars, all of whom are natives. ‘To aid this ordinariate the Pontifical Ethiopian College in Vatican City was established.

Protestant missions do not seem to have had great success in Ethiopia. The first mission was initiated by Peter Heyling, of Liibeck, in the closing days of the seventeenth century. It was not attended by any results. At a later date the Anglican Missionary Society seems to have been more successful, and we are told that the “circumstance which gave occasion to the attempt was the translation into Amharic of the Bible (1808- 18). The British and Foreign Bible Society bought and printed the translation, and in 1830 Gobat and Kugler were sent to Ethiopia. Others followed; but they seem to have accom- plished little. The latest Protestant effort was made apparently by the Seventh Day Adventist congregation of Tacoma Park, Washington, D. C. We have no data regarding the activities of the missionaries; and the only item we have seen regarding them is that some time ago they were advised by their sponsors to move out of the danger zone. Possibly they have done so.


Many have wondered why the Church, despite its numerous educational and other activities, has not made greater progress in Ethiopia, and they contrast the progress made in other sec- tions of Africa with that made in Ethiopia. There are many reasons to account for this seeming lack of progress. The fact is that Catholicism is officially banned in Ethiopia. According to a law of the State, preaching of the Catholic religion is pro- hibited, and that consequently missions have no legal existence within its borders. Then again the all-powerful Coptic hier- archy is not favorably disposed toward the preaching of the doctrines of the Catholic Church. That it is enabled to make any progress at the present time is due to the fact that the Negus (Haile Selassie) is favorably disposed toward the Catholic clergy. Haile Selassie, so we are told, was brought up under the influence of Monsignor Jarosseau, the venerable prelate who is Vicar Apostolic of Gallas. There appears in a recent report of the French Capuchin missions a statement which I have clipped from La Vie Catholique: it is here offered in trans- lation: The Vicar Apostolic continues his plea (for recogni- tion). He has been able to secure the establishment of a Pre- fecture Apostolic of Somaliland, and urges Prince Taffan (the present Negus) to seek admission into the League of Nations. This move has been successfully carried out. . . . This makes Ethiopia an independent nation and assures it freedom from foreign aggression. . . . This is most important against Moslem extension.” Despite the kindly offices of Monsignor Jarosseau, he has not been permitted to reside in Addis Ababa, though it is said he comes to the capital occasionally.

Possibly another reason for the conciliatory attitude of Haile Selassie may be found in a visit made to Ethiopia by a Ponti- fical Mission in 1929. This Mission was sent to Ethiopia by the Holy Father as an act of courtesy, in return for a visit made to the Vatican a short while before, by Ras Taffari. The Mission was headed by Monsignor Marchetti-Selvaggiani, then Secretary of the Propaganda, and now Cardinal Vicar of the Holy See. It is interesting to note that an American priest, a member of the Maryknoll Society for Foreign Missions, accom- panied Monsignor Marchetti-Selvaggiani, as secretary. Not- withstanding the favorable disposition of Haile Selassie there is much local opposition to Catholic activities in Ethiopia. In


addition to the antagonistic attitude of the Coptic clergy, local princes (they are numerous in Ethiopia) make continual re- quests for presents, either in money or in objects of value— a veritable system of extortion that sometimes threatens to strangle the missions ”.

Since the outbreak of hostilities in Ethiopia many have ex- pressed anxiety regarding the missions. But evidently they have not suffered materially so far. It is said that the Missionaries of the Consolata have abandoned their procure in Addis Ababa and have retired to the prefecture in Kaffa. The Sacred Con- gregation of the Propaganda allowed half the personnel to re- turn to Italy, but all have refused to avail themselves of the permission. Only the Sisters who nursed in the Italian hospital at Addis Ababa have retired, and have gone to Djibuti on the Somaliland front, to aid in the hospitals there.

It seems, if one can believe despatches, that many Ethiopian natives and some of the Coptic clergy have surrendered to the Italian forces, and it is significant that when the Italians took possession of Axum the Coptic Abuna said: ““ We know that Rome has always brought civilization in that which refers to our church and our religion. The law of Rome is a spiritual right which springs from goodness and force of its idea.” This is a remarkable pronouncement; but many express doubt of its sincerity.

Despite missionary efforts and its vaunted civilization ”, Ethiopia abounds in barbaric customs. This is especially true as regards the care of the sick and infirm. This statement is based on a report made recently by Dr. Jean Martinie, a French physician, who for many years was attached to a hospital in Addis Ababa. Dr. Martinie states that the natives have more confidence in their own sorcerers than in the graduates of medical schools, and that the natives prefer witch doctors to iodine and bandages.” After discussing some of the prevailing diseases of the country—leprosy, typhus, hydrophobia, and others—he says that virtually every disease is treated with the “cure of dark- ness”, which means that the patient is placed in a room where no light can enter, and “a hot stove installed under the patient’s nose is supposed to drive out evil spirits and keep the soul warm”. The manner of the native doctor—the Ouoguicha —and the magician—the tanroe ”—is suggestive of much of


the medical attention given to the sick. ‘‘ They shriekingly invoke all the spirits in creation, and then, in the presence of the patient, they sacrifice either a black or red goat: the sick person must then eat twelve different cuts of raw meat from the goat’s warm carcass.” Surgery, evidently, is extremely primitive. “If a leg cannot be cured it is cut off, and rusty hatchets are often used for the amputation.”

Hence, we may justly conclude that prevailing customs in the “land of barbaric splendor do not indicate a high degree of civilization.


Washington, D. C.


Y/ITHOUT the achievement of personal sanctity the min-

istry of a priest is likely to bear little fruit, and his life to be irksome and unhappy. His mission is to lift souls from the morass of sin to the solid ground of the friendship and love of God. But unless the shepherd of souls possesses sure footing in solid virtue, he cannot well lift others from the quicksands. Physician, heal thyself!” is the inevitable reaction of people to the doctor who prescribes a remedy for others but fails to apply it to himself. “I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection,” said the great Apostle to the Gentiles, lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a casta- way.” * Holiness of life is the first and the most indispensable requisite for the successful discharge of the duties of the priestly ministry. The priest’s whole life should be, therefore, a con- stant struggle for sanctity—a struggle against crafty foes and insidious dangers that ends only at death.

The very nature of the sacerdotal life gives rise to distinctive dangers and temptations. The layman can find the satisfaction of much of his human yearnings through the establishment of a home and family and a normal social life. The building up of his business offers a legitimate means of gratification for his acquisitive instincts. ‘The priest, however, is deprived of these natural means for the satisfaction of those driving urges which shake the framework of every human being, as volcanic forces shake the structure of a mountain range. Denied these external means of satisfying inborn human yearnings the priest is thrown back upon himself. He experiences a void, an emptiness, a loneliness that is peculiar to the lot of one who is in the world and yet not of it. It is a life which, without supernatural aid, is impossible, because it goes directly against the grain of human nature and runs against the current of instinctive life which has grown powerful and almost irresistible through long centuries of operation and growth.

As a consequence, the life of a priest much more than that of the layman is in very truth a constant warfare. The flesh lusteth against the spirit,” says St. Paul, “‘ and the spirit against the flesh.” Indeed, it is not too much to say that the whole

1T Cor. 9: 27.


spiritual life of man, and especially of the priest, consists of a struggle between the spirit and the flesh for the mastery of human life and conduct. Shall I follow the law in my mem- bers or the law in my mind? is the old question which confronts every man born into this world to-day as truly as it confronted and perplexed the Apostle to the Gentiles and his first father, Adam.

If priests are to gain a victory for mind and conscience in this struggle with the flesh and its concupiscence, they must plan their warfare in a careful scientific manner. In modern war- fare the effort is always made to ascertain the chief fortress of the enemy. For if the main stronghold of the enemy can be conquered, the enemy will have been dealt a crushing blow and the remaining minor fortresses will be easy to overcome.

Some miles east of Rheims in France there rises out of the level countryside a modest hill that was the scene of some of the most desperate fighting in the World War. It is known as Hill 101. Because it offered a splendid ‘place of vantage for the heavy guns trained on Rheims it was fought for desper- ately by the soldiers of Hindenburg. Realizing that if the Germans could be dislodged from this strategic location, their artillery would not reach Rheims, the French under Foch fought with equal vigor for the hill. More than half a dozen times it passed from the possession of the Germans into the French and back again. When finally