Mr. Gerard is not the only official whose path has not been strewn with roses in Germany. Our military attache has not been permitted to go to the German front for nearly a year, and the snub is apparent in the newspaper and Government circles of Berlin. He is probably the only one left behind.
The big Press does not use League of Truth material and certain other anti-American copy which would be bad for Germany, to reach foreign critics’ attacks. Many provincial papers, however, furiously protested against the recent trip of the American military attache through industrial Germany. It was only the American, not other foreign attaches, to whom they objected.
All this is useful to the German Government, for it keeps the populace in the right frame of mind for two purposes. In the first place, a hatred of America inspired by the belief that she is really an enemy, gives the German Government greater power over the people. Secondly, should the Wilhelmstrasse decide to play the relentless submarine warfare as its last hand it will have practically united support.
IN THE GRIP OF THE FLEET
There is only one way to realise the distress in Germany, and that is to go there and travel as widely as possible—preferably on foot. The truth about the food situation and the growing discontent cannot be told by the neutral correspondent in Germany. It must be memorised and carried across the frontier in the brain, for the searching process extends to the very skin of the traveller. If he has an umbrella or a stick it is likely to be broken for examination. The heels are taken from his boots lest they may conceal writings. This does not happen in every case, but it takes place frequently. Many travellers are in addition given an acid bath to develop any possible writing in invisible ink.
In Germany, as it is no longer possible to conceal the actual state of affairs from any but highly placed and carefully attended neutrals travelling therein, the utmost pains are being taken to mislead the outside world. The foreign correspondents are not allowed to send anything the Government does not wish to get out. They are, moreover, regularly dosed with propaganda distributed by the Nachrichtendienst (Publicity Service of the Foreign Office).
One of the books handed round to the neutrals when I was in Berlin was a treatise on the German industrial and economic situation by Professor Cassell, of the University of Upsala, Sweden.
He came upon the invitation of the German authorities for a three weeks’ study of conditions. In his preface he artlessly mentions that he was enabled to accomplish so much in three weeks owing to the praiseworthy way in which everything was arranged for him. He compiled his work from information discreetly imparted at interviews with officials, from printed statistics, and from observations made on carefully shepherded expeditions. Neutral correspondents are expected to use this sort of thing, which is turned out by the hundredweight, as the basis of their communications to their newspapers. We were supplied with a similar volume on the “Great German naval victory of Jutland.”