Feeling of the German People
Complete Confidence in Victory and Resentment Toward England
[By a Staff Correspondent of THE NEW YORK TIMES.]
BERLIN, Feb. 12.—To the neutral American, intent only on finding out the truth, the most thought-provoking feature here (overlooked by foreign correspondents because of its very featureless obviousness) is the fact that Germany today is more confident of winning than at any time in the three months I have been here. This confidence must not be confused with cocksureness; it is rather the “looking forward with quiet confidence to ultimate victory,” as General von Heeringen phrased it. Even more important is the corollary that, while the Germans have apparently never had any doubt that they would win out in the end, this “ultimate victory” does not seem so far off to them today as it did three months ago.
To one who has had an opportunity of personally sounding the undercurrents of German public opinion, this quiet optimism that has become noticeable only in the past few weeks (totally different in character from the enthusiasm that followed the declaration of war) has seemed particularly significant. Three months ago I was incessantly asked by Germans “how the situation looked to an American,” and “how long I thought the war would last.” When left to answer their own question, they almost invariably remarked: “It may last a long while yet.” Today neutral opinion is no longer anxiously or even eagerly sought. The temporary need for this sort of moral support seems to have passed, and there are many indications that the well-informed layman expects 1915 to see the wind-up of the war, while I have talked with not a few professional men who have expressed the opinion that the war will be over by Summer—except against England.
This unanimous exception is significant because it indicates that to the German mind the war with Russia and France is, in prize-ring parlance, a twenty-round affair, which can and will be won on points, whereas with England it is a championship fight to a finish, to be settled only by a knockout. The idea is that Russia will be eliminated as a serious factor by late Spring at the latest, and then, Westward Ho! when France will not prolong the agony unduly, but will seize the first psychological moment that offers peace with honor, leaving Germany free to fight it out with the real enemy, England, though as to how, when, and where the end will come, there is less certainty and agreement. Some think that the knockout will be delivered in the shadow of the Pyramids; others, and probably the majority, believe that the winning blow must and will be delivered on English soil itself.