Pamphlet, "The Wooden Idol of Berlin"
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THE WOODEN IDOL OF BERLIN Every country has its customs the origins of which are lost in the obscurity of time. Some negroes of Central Africa hold in particular veneration wooden idols representing evil spirits. When the poor negroes fear some danger or wish to obtain some favour they fix a nail into the statue of the Spirit so that the pain caused thereby may help the Spirit to remember their prayers. And so it happens that when the idol has received a certain number of prayers, no empty spot remains on his whole body. It is like a monstrous pin-cushion, and the guardian of the idol becomes rich. Explorers who, at the risk of their lives, have been able to travel lately in the country of the white man in Central Europe, called Germany, have observed there an absolutely analogous religious custom, which dates from the most distant ages. In particular there is in Berlin (which is the chief town of the tribe) a colossal statue representing, as they say, the Spirit of War, which is called "Marshal Hindenburg." The idol stands stiffly erect. The face is broad, very ugly and ferocious, with a terrible moustache. On fixed days the chief men of the tribe, adorned with their best feathers, march past the statue, executing a sort of religious dance which they curiously call "the Goose Step." x (37)1199 [image of idols]