While some government officials foresaw the disaster which would come to Germany if this national vanity was paraded before the whole world, their advice and counsel were ignored. Consul General Kiliani, the Chief German official in Australia before the war, told me he had reported repeatedly to the Foreign Office that German business men were injuring their own opportunities by bragging so much of what they had done, and what they would do. He said if it continued the whole world would be leagued against Germany; that public opinion would be so strong against German goods that they would lose their markets. Germany made the whole world fear her commercial might by this foolish bragging.
So when the war broke out and Germans were attacked for being uncivilised in Belgium, for breaking treaties and for disregarding the opinion of the world, it was but natural that German vanity should resent it. Germans feared nothing but God and public opinion. They had such exalted faith in their army they believed they could gain by Might what they had lost in prestige throughout the world. This is one of the reasons the German people arose like one man when war was declared. They wished and were ready to show the world that they were the greatest people ever created.
The German explanation of why they lost the battle of the Marne is interesting, not alone because of the explanation of the defeat, but because it shows why the shipment of arms and ammunition from the United States was such a poisonous pill to the army. Shortly after my arrival in Berlin Dr. Alfred Zimmermann, then Under Secretary of State, said the greatest scandal in Germany after the war would be the investigation of the reasons for the shortage of ammunition in September, 1914. He did not deny that Germany was prepared for a great war. He must have known at the time what the Director of the Post and Telegraph knew on the 2nd of August, 1914, when he wrote Announcement No. 3. The German Army must have known the same thing and if it had prepared for war, as every German admits it had, then preparations were made to fight nine nations. But there was one thing which Germany failed to take into consideration, Zimmermann said, and that was the shipment of supplies from the United States. Then, he added, there were two reasons why the battle of the Marne was lost: one, because there was not sufficient ammunition; and, two, because the reserves were needed to stop the Russian invasion of East Prussia. I asked him whether Germany did not have enormous stores of ammunition on hand when the war began. He said there was sufficient ammunition for a short campaign, but that the Ministry of War had not mobilised sufficient ammunition factories to keep up the supplies. He said this was the reason for the downfall of General von Herringen, who was Minister of War at the beginning of hostilities.