When the Overseas despatches first reached the United States the newspapers printed them in a spirit of fairness. They gave the other side, and in the beginning they were more or less accurate. But when international relations between the two countries became critical the news began to be distorted in Berlin. At each crisis, as at the time of the sinking of the Arabic, the Ancona, the Sussex and other ships, the German censorship prevented the American correspondents from sending the news as they gathered it in Germany and substituted “news” which the Krupp interests and the Imperial Foreign Office desired the American people to believe. December, 1916, when the German General Staff began to plan for an unrestricted submarine warfare, especial use was made of the “Overseas News Agency” to work up sentiment here against President Wilson. Desperate efforts were made to keep the United States from breaking diplomatic relations. In December and January last records of the news despatches in the American newspapers from Berlin show that the Overseas agency was more active than all American correspondents in Berlin. Secretary of State Zimmermann, Under-secretaries von dem Busche and von Stumm gave frequent interviews to the so-called “representatives of the Overseas News Agency.” It was all part of a specific Krupp plan, supported by the Hamburg-American and the North German Lloyd steamship companies, to divide opinion in the United States so that President Wilson would not be supported if he broke diplomatic relations.
Germany, as I have pointed out, has been conducting a two-faced propaganda. While working in the United States through her agents and reservists to create the impression that Germany was friendly, the Government laboured to prepare the German people for war. The policy was to make the American people believe Germany would never do anything to bring the United States into the war, but to convince the German public that America was not neutral and that President Wilson was scheming against the German race. Germany was Janus-headed. Head No. 1 said:
“America, you are a great nation. We want your friendship and neutrality. We have close business and blood relations, and these should not be broken. Germany is not the barbaric nation her enemies picture her.”
Head No. 2, turned toward the German people, said:
“Germans, President Wilson is anti-German. He wants to prevent us from starting an unlimited submarine war. America has never been neutral, because Washington permits the ammunition factories to supply the Allies. These factories are killing your relatives. We have millions of German-Americans who will support us. It will not be long until Mexico will declare war on the United States, and our reservists will fight for Mexico. Don’t be afraid if Wilson breaks diplomatic relations.”
The German press invasion of America began at the beginning of the war. Dr. Dernburg was the first envoy. He was sent to New York by the same Foreign Office officials and the same Krupp interests which control the Overseas agency. Having failed here, he returned to Berlin. There was only one thing to save German propaganda in America. That was to mobolise the Sayville and Tuckerton wireless stations, and Germany did it immediately.